End of the world coming? Christian author offers scenario
Best-selling novelist speaks on Syria at Kansas Book Festival
Posted: September 7, 2013 – 8:33pm
New York Times best-selling novelist Joel Rosenberg doesn’t profess to be a clairvoyant or modern-day Nostradaumus, as some have pegged him.
The self-described evangelical Christian with a Jewish upbringing makes it clear he was a failed political consultant who turned to novels without any prior experience — and then oddly parts of or entire plotlines within his geopolitically driven books began to play themselves out (though not precisely) in real life, drawing national attention.
His latest — “Damascus Countdown” — is the last in a series of three novels detailing a scenario in which an Israeli prime minister pre-emptively strikes Iran to take out its nuclear sites and nuclear warheads despite the president of the United States’ warnings not to attack. Iran and Syria then team up to retaliate with weapons of mass destruction.
“That’s fiction,” Rosenberg told a packed audience Saturday inside the Statehouse’s House chambers during a presentation at the 2013 Kansas Book Festival. “That’s the premise of the series, and now we are where we are today.”
This scenario hasn’t come to pass, Rosenberg cautioned, but he said conservative talk show host Sean Hannity has said current events seem “pretty darn close” to what is written in the book series.
Some have linked the series with recent happenings in the Middle East (i.e. Syria) and a Bible prophecy in Isaiah 17 that has been interpreted as predicting the Messiah’s return and Armageddon will be that much closer to reality after Damascus, the capital of Syria, becomes an uninhabitable wasteland from war.
“We are watching the implosion of a modern-era state,” Rosenberg said, rattling off such numbers as 2 million Syrians who have fled, 5 million more internally displaced, and a rising death toll of varying levels of reported severity.
Rosenberg says what he does as a novelist is a sort of “War Games” exercise. He takes what he believes to be worst-case, what-if scenarios and from there postulates what could happen in his lifetime.
“I’m looking at geopolitical trend lines and projecting them forward,” Rosenberg said.
He repeatedly said he doesn’t wish for such scenarios to take place, but the wonder of fiction is that it allows a writer to play out a situation and provoke thoughts and discussion.
“I’m writing these novels because I fear these things will happen,” he said.
He noted that “not everyone agrees on how to interpret Isaiah,” nor a related prophecy in Jeremiah 49. The “confusing” and “controversial” texts don’t explicitly spell out when or how Damascus may fall.
“I don’t want to see it happen,” Rosenberg said. “But it’s going to happen at some point.”
He also said he isn’t saying Damascus will be judged by God this week or that it will even happen in his lifetime, but “for us to put our heads in the sand” and dismiss the prophecy as “hocus-pocus” isn’t an appropriate response.
After his presentation, which elicited repeated laughs as he described how he came to be known and anecdotes about how several world events seemingly were foretold in his novels, Rosenberg took questions from the audience.
A person inquired as to whether anything President Barack Obama says this coming week will change Rosenberg’s feelings about a military strike on Syria, which he is against.
Rosenberg said he doesn’t have confidence that Obama holds enough strength, discipline or morality to correctly handle the situation, though he doesn’t want to see Syrians continue to suffer.
Rosenberg wants the U.S. to succeed, but he doesn’t feel that will happen under Obama. He said he wants to be proven wrong, though.
“It’s painful to say that’s where I think we are,” Rosenberg said, urging people to pray for Obama and other leaders as the Bible