EDITOR'S COLUMN: Reflecting on the late, great Hal Lindsey

One of the best book titles of all time was Hal Linsdey’s “The Late, Great, Planet Earth,” of which he’s sold a zillion copies since it was published in 1970. I read that book, and ever since it has popped into my mind every time the Middle East is set to blow up.

The premise of the book is that what is happening in the Middle East is fulfilling biblical prophesy, and it’s only a matter of time until all hell literally breaks loose in a war-to-end-all-wars featuring Armageddon and the anti-christ, capped off by the second coming which arrives just in the nick of time for the good guys to win. There won’t be much left of the Earth as we know it, however, which is why he describes the planet as “late.”

Lindsey shamelessly mines the books of the Bible for any prophesy that may fit his scenario, lame as it may be. Nevertheless, his yarn makes memorable reading, and leaves a seed of wonder in the minds of millions: What if this guy is right?

If Lindsey is right, trying to bring peace to the Middle East is pointless, because everything we do for peace ultimately results in what we’re trying to avoid. Assuming, of course, we should try to avoid it by pursuing peace. Why put off the divine plan? In Lindsey’s view, he and a few others who are saved won’t even be going through the final tumult. They’ll be plucked up into the heavens first, leaving the rest of us to fight it out.

Since 1970, I’ve followed Lindsey from afar, out of a fascination for this doomsayer’s career. When there’s a crisis, it’s encouraging that at least one man is beaming with happiness inside. In 1973 during the Yom Kippur war, Lindsey was as excited as a kid in a candy shop, and was no doubt crushed when peace finally won out.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Lindsey saw it as the beginning of the final war. The Russians were bound for the Middle East where they would scoop up the oil fields and team up with their Arab allies to attack Israel. Lindsey just didn’t figure the Mujadeen would be so tough.

When the Soviet empire collapsed, so did Lindsey’s hopes for a quick trip the the end times. But then, 9-11 happened and Lindsey was back in all his glory. He tied this in with Bill Clinton’s failed efforts to find peace in the Middle East, and now forecasts an all-out war between Israel and its neighbors.

Of course, the final events aren’t quite set up yet. I watched Lindsey’s “news” show on Sunday night, and he figured the head of the European Union would take over peace negotiations before long. That has to happen, as the European Union is the heir to the Roman Empire which is crucial, for some reason. Some time after that, the antichrist will appear on the scene. But who could it be? It’s like picking an Oscar winner for worst tyrant: So many nominees, so few clear choices. Yasser Arafat? Too old. Ariel Sharon? Too fat. Vladimir Putin? No charisma. George W. Bush? Too confused. Britney Spears? Hmmmm...could be.

Interesting as Hal Lindsey’s theory is, I personally don’t give much credence to it. We should always work for peace. And Sunday night, Hal was looking quite gray and a bit bloated. Allow me to make a prophesy: Hal Lindsey will be late before planet Earth is.

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