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Rich Christiano[Jeff Gerke]

Interview: James BeauSeigneur

[Photo of James BeauSeigneur] James BeauSeigneur (shown here with his wife Geri) is the author of the Christ Clone trilogy: In His Image (SelectiveHouse, 1997), Birth of an Age (SelectiveHouse, 1997), and Acts of God (SelectiveHouse, 1998.) He is a former intelligence analyst for the National Security Agency and former newspaper publisher. He taught political science at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and in 1980 was the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress running against Al Gore, who was the Vice President of the U.S. at the time of this interview. His published works include manuals on strategic defense and military avionics; newspaper articles; speeches for U.S. Congressional and Senatorial candidates; and lyrics for several published songs. He took part in the list in March, 2000. Thomas P. Roche, Greg Slade, and Kathy Tyers asked the questions, and here is an edited version of the question and answer sequence. You can find out more about James at the SelectiveHouse site.

GS: Where were you born?

Waltham, MA. My father was stationed there while in the Army. I lived there 9 months and it was not until a couple of years ago that I ever visited.

GS: Where did you go to school?

Edgewood, MD; Memphis, TN; 3 schools on Oahu, HI; Shelbyville, TN; 10 different colleges while earning my B.A.; post grad: MTSU in Murfreesboro, TN; TS in Nashville, TN; UT in Knoxville, TN.

TR: Army brat background. Do you consider yourself culturally southern? I noticed the French surname – do your people have a Quebec or Cajun background?

I guess I consider myself culturally western Christian. I'm not trying to get cowboy or holy on you. It's just that one result of living in a community (metro Washington, D.C.) of people from so many different countries and cultures is that you begin to understand how important a person's origins are to how he acts and thinks. I remember reading a book called The Civic Culture while doing doctoral work at the University of Tennessee. Before that I had the idea that people are just people and once you get past language, then, hey, we're really all the same. It took me years to realize just how naïve I was. In some cultures, for instance, dishonesty and theft are only bad if you get caught. People from certain cultures think it is a virtue to be rude to strangers. In some cultures women are just property. In some countries it is expected that men will have mistresses. About the only thing I've found to be consistent in every culture is one rule: no frontsies.

As for the name, Auguste BeauSeigneur and his family came from Thaincourt France in about 1850. Literally, the name means "beautiful lord." In French Bibles Seigneur is used for Lord. I was once taken for an angel by a French speaking lady whom I helped in the D.C. metro. She saw my name on the manuscript of my trilogy.

GS: What did you take in school, and why?

Political Science. I wanted to change the world.

TR: Do you still want to do this-- I mean, are you still a political activist, a 'religious right' figure, or is your writing ministry now how you aim at 'changing the world'?

If I were important enough for the media to classify, I think they would probably put me in the "religious right" box.

If God chooses to use my writing or anything else I have or am, He knows where to find me. I am at a point in life that I am available to God if he's got something he wants me to do, but I no longer wrestle to be first in line to be hanged.

GS: What is your marital status?

Very happily married.

GS: Do you have any children?

Two daughters: Faith, now a missionary in Romania, and Abigail, a college student and working for Young Life.

GS: How did you get started writing?

I started writing frequent (nearly every week) letters to the editor in 25 newspapers in Tennessee as I was preparing to run for U.S. Congress against Albert Gore, Jr. (a.k.a. Al Gore) in 1980. As you might have guessed, Al won. Later I wrote a slightly syndicated op-ed column called "Conservatively Speaking."

As for writing novels, I had a real interest in prophecy since I was young. In 1972 I read a novel called 666 by Salem Kirban. I had read some of Kirban's nonfiction books and was very impressed, so I had great hopes for his novel. I hope it's okay to be blunt... I thought 666 was dreadful, just plain silly. I also found Hal Lindsay's books to strain reality and common sense. These books left me wanting to see a well-conceived and well-written book on the subject. After kicking around a concept for a few years, in 1987 I began work on what became The Christ Clone Trilogy. I still wanted to change the world, but I had found politics to be a rich man's sport. My intention was to write a book that would use prophecy as a hook to reach non-Christians with the Gospel. As a result, the Trilogy is quite a bit different than what you'll find in most Christian bookstores.

TR: You are no longer writing a column or involved in journalism?

No. It was great fun but there are plenty of others eager to fill that role.

GS: What books have you had published? (not restricting yourself to SF titles)

I've had two very technical and very expensive books published for the U.S. defense industry. Military Avionics (1985) and Strategic Defense (1986), both published by Technology Trends International, sold for $1200 and $1500, respectively, so they're not the kind of books you'll find in the local library. The price was justified by the extensive research that went into each and by the value to the companies who bought them.

For the general market, my books are In His Image (1997), Birth of an Age (1997), and Acts of God (1998), published by SelectiveHouse Publishers.

TR: Do you still do such research work or do you now make your living solely on the 'Christ Clone' christian sf stuff and general mass market stuff?

Well, I have made my living in a form of sci-fi: writing proposals to the U.S. Government. I don't think most fiction writers actually make a living at it. Even some of the big names like Charles Sheffield (Hugo and Nebula Award winning sci-fi author) have regular jobs to pay the bills. As a matter of fact, Charles (also from the D.C. area) does some of the same kinds of work I do. These days I'm a consultant doing high level management on those sci-fi proposals I was talking about.

GS: Of your books, which one is your favourite? (including works in progress)

Hmmm. Well, I'm going to cheat a little on this and take the three books of the Trilogy as a single book and say, The Christ Clone Trilogy.

GS: Who are your influences as a writer, and why?

C.S. Lewis because of his message.

Tom Clancy because of his attention to accuracy and detail (at least in his early books.)

George Orwell because of his amazing story telling ability and his knowledge of the human character in the most inhuman conditions.

GS: What was the first exposure you can remember having to SF as a genre?

Watching a Saturday morning series called Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.

GS: What is your personal all-time favourite SF work, and why?

I don't know if Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure counts as SF exactly or not, but it was certainly the most clever use of time travel I've ever come across. ("Trash can . . . remember a trash can.")

GS: How did you become a Christian?

I was raised in a pretty dysfunctional home but the existence of God was accepted as fact and we did go to church occasionally (sometimes Catholic, sometimes Baptist.) When I was about 10 I started worrying about going to hell. I knew about the ten commandments so I decided I had better try to keep them. You know how well that worked. Shortly after that my older brother, Fred, who had been away at college and active in a college ministry, explained the Gospel to me. I had heard it all before but never put it all together.

For several years after that I knew I was saved but I didn't understand the idea of living for Jesus. I figured the only people who did that kind of stuff were preachers or nuns. Then came the Jesus movement of the early 1970's. I was hitch hiking across the U.S. and ran into a bunch of Christians in Kansas City. KC was crawlin' with Jesus freaks and Bible studies and Christian houses in those days. I discovered that being a Christian was far more than I had ever imagined.

TR: Are your parents Christians?

My mother is a Christian, but while I was growing up, the Gospel, as the way of salvation, was not discussed. The effect was that though she was a Christian, she might as well have just been a church attendee. My father has his own ideas on God which don't square much at all with the Bible. This is partly due to sin (i.e., making his god in his own image in order to make himself acceptable to that god), and partly due to a relatively mild case of paranoid schizophrenia.

TR: In what ways did your experience with KC Jesus Freaks change your opinions on what it was like to be a Christian? What all did you learn from them, and what do you think, in retrospect, about that movement?

I learned by example to have a personal relationship with Jesus, one that encompasses every part of my life, one that gives meaning to everything I do. ("Fur sure, man," as we would have said.) I think the Jesus movement was a move of God, and therefore "totally excellent, dude." There were the same kind of problems that come with anything that involves people, e.g., pride, false shepherds, all the stuff Paul told the Ephesian elders about in Acts 20. But there were a lot of people saved and discipled. That's what counts.

TR: What is the status of this movement today?

The Jesus movement has faded into the background, though some of the songs have become standards and DC Talk's Jesus Freak album did well. I think most of us have blended into mainstream Christianity.

GS: What church do you go to?

Funny you should ask. For the last 13 years my family and I have gone to Montgomery Evangelical Free Church (MEFC) in Derwood, MD. Recently, however, we discovered that our "best friends" had been working secretly for more than a year to dump the pastor. It's pretty complicated and pretty ugly. So now we're looking for a new church... and new friends.

TR: What are your theological distinctives that you would be looking for on issues like baptism, calvinism vs. arminianism, etc.?

Wow. That could be a very long discussion indeed, and I'm not sure that what I think will really make a big difference to anyone. There are people who have spent a lot more time on these subjects than me, so I'm going to limit my response to a couple of things. I believe in baptism of believers (i.e., only those who are old enough to understand salvation) and that the proper method of baptism is immersion. I think that a major mistake made by both Calvinism and Arminianism is the belief that the act of accepting grace is a "good" act and, therefore, is an act of which fallen man is incapable. This is addressed in Article 3 of the Articles of the Remonstrants and the doctrine of Unconditional Election by the Calvinists. I do not see acceptance of God's grace as being a "good," that is 'merit-worthy' act.

If I may speak analogously: In the war between good and evil, no one stands in line to sign up to be in God's army. If they did then you could say that those who volunteered had performed a merit-worthy act. But there are no volunteers. The only ones on God's side are those who were on the other side but have surrendered. And no one gets a medal for surrender. The prodigal son did not perform a "good" act by returning home; faced with the miserable failure he had made of himself, he simply chose to return to his father rather than eat pig food. The thief on the cross didn't perform a "good" act; he simply surrendered and called out for God's help. The other thief, however, chose pride over surrender.

GS: How did you come to go to that particular church?

When we moved to this area we visited several churches. MEFC seemed friendly and was doctrinally in line with our beliefs, so we stayed.

GS: How does your faith affect your writing?

Without Jesus there'd be no reason for any of it.

GS: What Christian book(s) (fiction or non-fiction) have had the greatest impact on your thought and writing?

The ones that come immediately to mind are all of the books of C.S. Lewis, and Footsteps of the Messiah by Arnold Fruchtenbaum.

TR: I have heard more positive stuff about Fruchtenbaum, but remind me who he is.

Arnold Fruchtenbaum was born in 1943 in Siberia, Russia. He is an excellent author and Messianic teacher and founder of Ariel Ministries. Check out his biography at http://www.ariel.org/bioagf.html.

GS: When you were writing The Christ Clone Trilogy, were there any theological "puzzles" you had to sort through to your own satisfaction before you could continue with the story?

Hundreds of them. The first one had to do with the whole idea that anyone would be stupid enough to take the mark of the beast. I didn't buy the idea that people would take it by accident or not knowing what it was. No one is condemned to hell for a mistake. It has to be intentional.

Even original sin was an informed and therefore defiant choice, not a mistake. Salvation is made to a lost world by faith in Jesus. I do not believe that anyone loses the opportunity to accept Jesus based on a mistake, e.g., taking the mark of the beast because they think it's a UPC or a library card (I speak in jest, somewhat, though I've heard more ridiculous suggestions.) Those who take the mark will know what it is. Some will take it in defiance, some will take it for convenience, i.e., to live a little longer.

Then too, there was the basic framework of end-times prophecy, specifically the seals, trumpets and bowls. Were they sequential, i.e., seals then trumpets then bowls, or was the intent to describe seven events in three different ways? Pretty basic stuff.

Later it got a lot more detailed. For instance, the first trumpet judgment (Revelation 8:7) describes hail, fire and blood being thrown down upon the earth and 1/3 of the trees and all of the green grass being burnt up. Not only did I have to figure out a scientifically sound scenario of how to make this happen, it all had to fit and make sense in the greater scheme, and it had to occur in a way which would not turn people to God. Then there was the puzzle about the people of Jerusalem, who if they were allowed to survive until the end of the Tribulation, would have had to have taken the mark; but if they did then they would have been damned, but if they were damned then why does Jesus go to the trouble of rescuing them? And what about the darkness of the fifth bowl judgment; I mean what's the big deal? So you turn on the lights, so what? that hardly seems worth mentioning, much less wasting a whole bowl judgment on it.

Any way, I was constantly writing myself into a corner with no idea how to get out. I just knew that I was writing it the way it had to happen to fit into the larger picture. I'd struggle over these things for months. Sometimes I'd find the answer while reading a scientific journal. Sometimes I'd get an idea from talking to one of several friends and relatives who are scientists or doctors. Sometimes, just all of a sudden, usually after prayer, the answer would just hit me. This should give you some idea why it took ten years to write the Trilogy.

GS: Is there a web site (run by you or fans) devoted to your work?

There is a web page run by the publisher at http://www.selectivehouse.com/ which features the Trilogy. The page has summaries and samples from the books. There's also a picture of me from my political days with Ronald Reagan and George Bush, another with Frank Peretti, and one of me about 50 pounds ago that was on the back of Acts of God.

GS: You include a fair number of real people in the trilogy. How have they reacted to being quoted or paraphrased? (Any lawyers knocking on your door?)

Because the Trilogy is very much reality based, I thought it best to build the story's foundation on real people and real events. I was very careful to present those events as they actually happened and using quotes that have been reported elsewhere in nonfiction works. There was one thing I changed in order to avoid problems, though. One of the Shroud's most vocal critics is a man who has on endless occasions presented very questionable reports on the Shroud's image. Other scientists have found no evidence to support his claims and, in fact, Dr. Heller, whose work on the Shroud I studied extensively, accused this scientist not only of bad science but of grossly mishandling the samples that were taken thus ruining some of what might have been learned. I initially included some of this information in the first book of the Trilogy. Before final production, however, it was learned that this guy loves to file nuisance law suits. Finally, I decided that it really didn't hurt the story to remove those references and so I cut them out to avoid a fight.

GS: How do you pronounce "Djwlij Kajm"?

With a southern accent.

GS: Why did Jesus seem so "rushed" at the end of Acts of God? I felt a bit let down that Decker was left wandering around the New Earth with most of his most important questions unanswered.

My intentions are as follows:

  1. The longer Jesus is physically in the scene, the more He would be expected to say. I am hesitant to put words in God's mouth.
  2. My intention was that Jesus answer the immediate questions and leave other things for the proper time. After all, there is eternity for all questions to be answered.
  3. I tend to think that once we are in the Millennial Kingdom most of our questions will lose significance and simply melt away.
  4. Before Jesus "leaves," he tells Decker (AOG, p. 417), "I am always with you." Twice after that (p. 421 and 432), we see evidence of questions being answered though Jesus is not physically in the scene. In Isaiah 65:24, God says of our life in the Kingdom, "Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear." So you see, it may seem to the reader that Jesus "leaves" on page 417, but in truth He is always there.
  5. Finally, my intention was to leave the readers wanting more, in an attempt to get them into their Bibles.
GS: Do you have plans for any more books?

I'm working on a collection of biographies. I can't reveal much about it yet. Quite a few readers have encouraged me to write a follow up book or series to the Trilogy, and I'm giving that some thought, but if I do anything with it, it will probably be several years from now.

GS: Do you consider "End Times" books to be a subset of "science fiction", or a specifically Christian genre?

People have taken many different approaches on end-times stories. Most that I've seen focus exclusively on the fulfillment of prophecy through natural or supernatural events caused by God or Satan. This is true for end-times stories by both Christians and non Christians, or perhaps I should say, it is true whether the author wants to stick to scripture or just make stuff up out of whole cloth. If you take the approach of the Blockbuster video stores, you will lump all such fare, as well as science fiction and fantasy, under the horror category. Or if we went by the standards of the Sci-Fi cable network channel, you'd lump all such fare, including horror, under Sci-Fi. (Don't you hate that?)

But back to your question... From what I've seen, authors of other end-times books simply do not make the effort of placing their stories within the bounds of science and therefore, they do not qualify as science fiction. Let me explain by example. Most stories dealing with time travel qualify as SF. They may not be good SF but they at least attempt to explain how the time travel occurs based on the use of some device of science. There are some exceptions, however. Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is clearly not SF, neither is the movie Somewhere in Time (though I thoroughly enjoyed both) because they happen due to something far more akin to magic than to science.

IMNSHO, if an end-times story does not at least make some pretense of a reliance on science to explain the events then it's not SF.

I think there are several things which qualify The Christ Clone Trilogy as science fiction. A few follow:

  1. the whole idea of cloning cells from the Shroud of Turin
  2. the additional use of of the Shroud cells for medical research by means of implanted DNA strands
  3. the explanation for how memory might be passed from an original to a clone through what science currently calls "junk DNA"
  4. the historical and biblical arguments made to support the idea that within the Ark of the Covenant there exists a state of time and space dimensionlessness
  5. the near future military technology of the Israeli war
  6. the explanation of the first four trumpet judgments given in scientific detail and yet entirely fulfilling the biblical descriptions of these events
  7. the concept that man is evolving to a god-like condition (boy that ought to upset readers who haven't read the Trilogy.)
KT: I'm curious about Selective House. Tell us more!

SelectiveHouse (kinda like Random House, but more choosey ;-) ) is a small publishing company whose focus is books and videos which bring the Gospel to a secular audience. In addition to the Trilogy, SelectiveHouse has also published the "Body and Soul Workout, " an exercise video with contemporary Christian music, that was featured on "Focus on the Family " in January 1999 and proved to be one of Focus's big sellers for the year. Because of its small size, SelectiveHouse has not been very successful in getting much shelf space in the bookstores, and instead relies primarily on internet and direct sales. Bottom line, Kathy, I wouldn't advise you to jump ship from Bethany House.

TR: Is your series likely to be available in an average chain secular bookstore?

Yes, but you'll probably have to ask for it. The distributor is Ingram Books.

TR: Were you a sci-fi fan before getting involved 'through the back door', so to speak, through prophecy novels, etc.? If you are a general sci-fi fan, what authors do you read?

Sci-fi has always been my favorite genre of literature and film. I especially love a good time travel story.

My reading is so eclectic and I'm such a slow reader and I have so little time for pleasure reading that I take most of my sci-fi in video format. I love the Back to the Future series; I don't miss Star Trek. As long as the story sounds even a little interesting and it's not a gore-fest, I'll watch it.

Before writing the Trilogy, since I had done no pleasure reading in so long, I read Ringworld and a bit of Hunt for Red October, and re-read bits of 1984 (which I've read at least 5 times over the years.) (No, I don't consider Hunt and 1984 as sf.) I liked the C.S. Lewis trilogy but not so much for the science fiction value. I read the unfinished Dark Tower (apparently though not definitely) by Lewis and found the sci-fi in that much better than the other books with Ransom. I also very much enjoyed Pierre Boulle's Monkey Planet a.k.a. Planet of the Apes.

GS: I had a notion, while I was reading the trilogy, that "Christopher" means something, and specifically something related to Christ. (I loved that bit where Goodman was momentarily confused when Decker alluded to it.) Did you plan to "say something" by the use of that name?

As In His Image indicates, Christopher is named after Christopher Columbus (how terribly un-PC! but Harry Goodman is a fairly old guy, so we must make allowances.) As Goodman explains, he named Christopher after Columbus because it was Goodman's hope that like Columbus, the clone of this super-advanced alien would lead mankind to a new world.

Once the first name was set, it was simply a matter of transferring it phonetically to Hebrew characters and using the Hebrew practice of Gymatria to determine its numeric value. Subtracting that value from 666 gave me the value of the phonetic spelling of the last name. Of the possible choices Goodman seemed appropriate.

GS: It seems like the U.N. is always the "bad guy" in Christian fiction (at least written by Americans.) Why did you choose to use the U.N. as Christopher's vehicle?

When I started writing the Trilogy back in 1987, the common wisdom among prophecy buffs was that the vehicle would be the European Common Market. I don't know of anyone who said it would be the U.N. back then.

But I don't really portray the U.N. as the "bad guy." Never do I suggest that the U.N. is evil, not even in an inherent sense. Rather, from the time the U.N. first comes into play and throughout the years of Jon Hansen's long administration, I portray the U.N. as a basically positive force. It is only later that Christopher uses it for evil. This is, of course, nearly(?) always the way evil works – by perverting the good.

Yet, I will allow that there are threads of evil which predate Christopher's arrival – Robert Milner and Alice Bernley, who are evil parallels of Simeon and Anna from Luke chapter 2. But Milner and Bernley are based very very closely on real people at the U.N.: former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Robert Muller, whom I interviewed for the Trilogy; and Alice Bailey, founder of the Lucis Trust.

Both Muller and Bailey are/were (Bailey died in 1949) extremely New Age in their orientation. When I interviewed Muller I asked him how many people at the U.N. were New Agers, Muller answered, "Nearly all of them, they just don't know it yet." I have an unpublished manuscript that Muller gave me. Some of it is pretty scary. It describes Christians as "evolutionary throw backs."

In the Trilogy, Alice Bernley's spirit guide, Djwlij Kajm, is based on Alice Bailey's spirit guide 'the Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul.' (The slight name change from Djwhal to Djwlij is based on a coincidence of the call letters of the two radio stations in the small town in Tennessee where I grew up - WHAL and WLIJ. The change from Kuhl to Kajm is based on using the same first letter and then selecting the next vowel or consonant for each subsequent letter, thus u becomes a [a e i o u, then recycling to a], h becomes j, and l becomes m.)

GS: I had the notion that Hansen's daughter would end up playing a more important role in the story than she did. Did you have other ideas for her which you didn't put in the final version?

Nope. I just like to make all of my characters big enough that readers will sense that each character's life is bigger than what I've captured on the pages where they appear.

TR: How would you describe yourself, eschatologically?

I believe the Tribulation is a still future event. I believe the Rapture precedes the Tribulation by several (at least seven years) in order to allow for the events during and after the Ezekiel 38-39 war and for the corruption of the earth. I believe in a literal Millennial Kingdom.

[Home][Creativity][Genres][Resources][Links][About Us]

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[David R. Beaucage][Kathy Tyers][James BeauSeigneur][Jefferson Scott][Walker Chandler][Alton Gansky][Ray Hansen]

[Emily Snyder][Randall Ingermanson][Theodore Beale][Steve Laube][Laura Lond][Frank Wu][Donita K. Paul][Brenda W. Clough][Bryan Davis][John Granger]

[Karen Hancock][Miles Owens][Robert Liparulo][Bryan Davis, part 2][Chris Walley][Kathryn Mackel][Gene Wolfe][Sharon Hinck][Wayne Thomas Batson][Lars Walker][Christopher Hopper][Jeffrey Overstreet]

Rich Christiano[Jeff Gerke]

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[David R. Beaucage] [Kathy Tyers] [James BeauSeigneur] [Jefferson Scott] [Walker Chandler] [Alton Gansky] [Ray Hansen] [Emily Snyder] [Randall Ingermanson] [Theodore Beale] [Steve Laube] [Laura Lond] [Frank Wu] [Donita K. Paul] [Brenda W. Clough] [Bryan Davis] [John Granger] [Karen Hancock] [Miles Owens] [Robert Liparulo] [Bryan Davis, part 2] [Chris Walley] [Kathryn Mackel] [Gene Wolfe] [Sharon Hinck] [Wayne Thomas Batson] [Lars Walker] [Christopher Hopper] [Jeffrey Overstreet][Rich Christiano][Jeff Gerke]