Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whoa! The WSJ Selling The Apocalypse?

No court this afternoon, so I stole some time to read a back issue of the Wall Street Journal. A good friend of mine who is a former federal prosecutor tried to explain to me earlier in the week why the SEC's prosecution of Goldman Sachs was a crock of ... well, feces. So I struggled through the financial pages trying hard to understand.

As I was getting set to toss the paper, I noticed a teal blue page with digital print almost an inch tall. "THE END IS HERE," IT READ. I unfolded the paper and saw that The Wall Street Journal had carried a full-page advertisement for the new Tim LaHaye book, Edge of Apocalypse.

"North Korean missiles have been launched. They will devastate Manhattan in 14 minutes. And that is only the begininng. ... This riveting first book of The End Series takes readers on a spectacular thrill ride that's been foretold for centuries and is playing out in today's headlines," the copy read. The ad sports a web URL. The first chapter of the book is already on Twitter.

I suppose I should not find it odd that the financial industry's paper of record, shall we call it the Grey Esquire?, would feature a book about doom, gloom and the end of the world. Wall Street is the sort of place, we've learned, where betting on failure is profitable business. But I've always regarded LaHaye as something of a crackpot.

Of course, I have never read LaHaye, and as I sat pondering the ad my curiosity was piqued. In a flash, I ordered a digital copy to be delivered to my Kindle. Every litigator knows that life is nasty, brutish and mighty dull in most courthouses, most days. The next time I am forced to sit and wait for the wheels of justice to begin turning, I plan to while away the time with LaHaye.

Apocalyptic literature strikes me as a fantastic portal into the collective unconscious. We are story tellers by nature. The ends we conceive in fantasy speak volumes about the lives we lead and the commitments we are prepared to make. I'll report soon on what LaHaye teaches about common culture. Whether a crank or not, he's got a large body of readers.

I wonder if he is required reading in product development at Goldman Sachs?

UPDATE: The link was only to the first four chapters. The work is entirely plot-driven; sort of like Jack Ryan meets Jesus at Starbucks. Chapters one through four set a hook, though. Can New York be saved from impending doom? The writing is not very engaging, but doom and gloom sells.