Salem Kirban's 1970 Photos of the Apocalypse Include a Giant Christbot

Categories: Studies in Crap

studies_in_crap_666_cover.jpg
​Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from Golden State thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

666

Author: Salem Kirban
Date: 1970
Publisher: Salem Kirban, Inc.
Discovered at: Community Thrift, 623 Valencia

The Cover Promises: The best way to combat the mark of the beast is to brand that mark upon the cover of a book you hope will be a best seller.

Representative Quote:

"Brother Bartholomew slipped on his robe and bright red cape, checked his Laser ring, and motioned to the steward to open the door. I remembered the old Bible pictures in my mother's Bible. He reminded me so much of Jesus. It was as though Christ himself were returning to the Mount of Olives, but not on a donkey, in a modern Year 2000 space craft." (page 117).

In the great tradition of Inferno, Left Behind, and any other fiction in which people who think differentially from the storyteller are damned for eternity, Salem Kirban's 666 is a grubby and confounding apocalyptic novel, one where a fanciful interpretation of the book of Revelation is paired with a chintzy futurism.

Writing in 1970 about the end times striking in the year 2000, Kirban dreams up -- and photo-iillustrates -- the usual anti-christ and rapture scenarios,despite the fact that neither of those appear in the actual biblical Revelation, which was an allegorical attack upon the pagan religions of Rome.

Kirban also gives us hovercrafts, pictophones, wrist radios, and this irresistible vision of our jetpacked future:

studies_in_crap_666_jet_packs.jpg

Well, one flying man, portly and in PJs, copied and arranged across the sky like the pattern on a tie. (Here's a fun prank: In health class, swap in that image for a magnified slide of sperm cells.)

Kirban's tale envisions life after the Rapture comes to a futuristic America divided not into states but six city-led regions, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago,and Dallas. Besides the flying men, there's a cannibalistic plot involving Christians becoming "protein cakes"; machines that control the weather, and a deadly food shortage:

"Scarcity of land had made it impossible to graze cattle and the population explosion had placed all meat at a premium. Hardly anyone could afford it at $600 a pound ... Worms, toads, termites, and grasshoppers are now made to look and taste like ham."

Government programs distribute "birth coupons" and have even made houses of worship into fee-charging museums that execute fundamentalists:

studies_in_crap_666_gallows.jpg

By 2000, Protestants and Catholics had come together to form THE UNITED CHURCH OF THE WORLD (caps are from Kriban), so ecumenical a body that it outlawed bible study in 1975 because to choose any of the many new versions would be a limitation upon "personal freedom." Worse, as Kirban's narrator notes, the UCOW has liberalized its attitudes toward the carnal:

"The sex filth I view today openly in the streets, in specifically built communion booths in churches - they call it the communion of love - was simply too shocking for me to think further upon."

It's worth mentioning that Kirban presented himself as an expert on the world to come. He wrote over forty books in his life, most non-fiction, and many concerning the end-times. One is titled I Predict. Another belongs on any shortlist for the worst book cover ever:

studies_in_crap_666_unlocking_bowels_cover.jpg

Kirban's apocalyptic predictions are -- like Tim LaHaye's or even the John who is reputed to have written the original Revelation -- rooted in current events. Early in 666, he runs this photo of newspaper headlines to illustrate how far we've fallen.

studies_in_crap_666_headlines.jpg

(I've searched several bible concordances, but I have yet to find any reference in scripture to "monkey brains.")

This whole dipshit shebang is distinguished by a prose style that is to literature what the sound of a cat puking is to opera. More impressive is Kirban's pre-Photoshop image manipulation. You can sample both here, where several shouty paragraphs about a trip to the airport follow a terrifying photo of drag Marc Maron:

studies_in_crap_666_car_still_aflame.jpg

Often, Kirban simply reprinted news photographs with new captions. Doing that, he could transform a hippie be-in into a field of corpses.

studies_in_crap_666_nyc_destruction.jpg

The caption says most of New York City had disintegrated, but people in the "fringe" area -- Central Park?! -- had merely been killed. Their balloons survived, though.

The best photos, though, are the ones he seems to have staged. Here is how the United States of Europe handles its citizens post-Tribulation:

studies_in_crap_666_branding.jpg
​Nobody frat-hazes like the anti-christ!

Because some of his photos are real, the book can occasionally unsettle. Below, what might be a news photo of actual human corpses is given a new caption to match the silly fiction:

studies_in_crap_666_bodies.jpg

Kirban's caption: "Bodies were carted to disposal centers, ground into protein cakes."

This is the first evangelical snuff book!

Let's skip over the rest of the real-looking shots of poverty and death -- what Kirban's narrator calls a "front row seat at history's holocaust of horrors" -- in favor of the hilarious fake-looking ones that predict our technological future.

Next: 1969's Vision of the Year 2000's Technology, Including Some Kind of Messiah Robot

My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
TODD
TODD

SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE! 

Headless Unicorn Guy
Headless Unicorn Guy

Oh, yeah.

666 by Salem Kirban, the "Eye of Argon" of the Christian Apocalyptic sub-genre. 

Still in print and selling on the Jesus Junk store circuit.

And that fad diet book of Kirban, "Unlocking Your Bowels"?  My writing partner knew someone who was into that "Godly Diet", and described it as follows:  You eat whole-grain bread and ONLY whole-grain bread.  Nothing else.  And you weigh and measure every turd you crap out while on this Godly Diet for some unknown reason.  And you can tell when the diet is working because you can see God's Holy Spirit shining forth from your eyes.  I wish I was making this up.

Mrchild
Mrchild

 I met the man of my dreasms on the place mentioned in my pic  it gives you a chance to make your life better and open

opportunities for you to meet the attractive young man and treat you like a queen!346457657

DengZoo2
DengZoo2

No way man, dude the 70s were jsut cool like that. Wow.www.Total-Privacy dot US

Terence
Terence

Looking at that photograph of the diabolical police officers, I realized that their branding iron would imprint the Mark of the Beast the wrong way round, searing poor Faye with the letters ddd. People are sure to ask her why, and what will she say then? 

Evil fail!

Truth
Truth

I noticed a clear error from the cover of the book:The Bible never called the Beast of Revelation 13 is the "Antichrist" .It is simply an assumption on the Authors part:http://truth.co.vu/antiidentit...

Blacktowercg
Blacktowercg

Not wishing to annoy anyone but there are two major flaws I can see straight away from the cover.  One is that Satan, the Devil, was only added to the Bible centuries later.  Ditto Fallen Angel.  So Satan never existed originally. The number of the Beast is not 666.  This was an error when the Bible was translated from Greek which gave the actual number of the Beast as 616.  I'm sure Wikipedia has an entry somewhere (I mean on the subject itself and not an entry into a fictional Hell).

TheDarkArtist
TheDarkArtist

It makes no difference either way. 666 or 616 both refer to the name Nero Caesar in the numerology popular in John of Patmos's day, first of all. 

Second of all, you'd find it hard to make the case that Satan was added to the Bible centuries later when Ha Satan, G-d's accuser, was a main part of the Book of Job, and a key part of the New Testament is Satan's tempting of Christ.

Third, and here's the key part: the author of these books is quite clearly unhinged. The "prophesies" that nutjobs like this guy, LaHaye, or Hal Lindsay spout are based on their own convoluted fantasies, not on any kind of Biblical prophecy.

As the amazing author of the Slacktivist blog once put it (and I'm paraphrasing here): real Bible prophesies tend to have the structure "if [x] then [y]." The prophesies according to these guys are "[x] then [y], then [z], ... then Jesus comes back and murders the Jews and non-believers."

[edit] to my second point, the concept of Hell was developed later to make Christianity appeal to pagans. Satan, however, is canon.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Does it really matter if it was added later or translated incorrectly?  Fiction is still fiction no matter how it was written.

Meatsack
Meatsack

Read it in the seventh or eight grade in 76 or 77, scared the shit out of me.

I had a relative that would give me those UFO, end of the world, conspiracy paperbacks, I read dozens of them crappy books.

666 stands out to this day in my mind, along with the Late Great Planet Earth and Chariots of the goods.

These books and movies started a cottage industry fooling idiots.

Headless Unicorn Guy
Headless Unicorn Guy

Read it about the same time as you.  Did NOT scare the shit out of me like Late Great Planet Earth did, but I'd been reading mainstream classic SF for some years previously.

After the likes of Cordwainer Smith (acknowledged as a Christian SF writer by everybody except the Christians -- go fig), coming down to Approved Christian fiction like 666 is all you need to know about the lack of imagination and creativity within the Christianese ghetto.  In a genre where imagination and "What if?" is the prime requisite.

Synfidie
Synfidie

side note: i think there was a sequal as mine had two books in one..with a white cover. 

Alan Scherstuhl
Alan Scherstuhl

Yes, there's a sequel called 1000. And another book where Kirbin offers photographs of what heaven is like. I'll be writing about both, eventually, I'm sure, but neither seems to have quite the epic queasy ridiculousness of 666. 

If I had read this when I was a kid, I would be a mess today.

Jtuck41
Jtuck41

I am Salem's grandson and I heard about all of these "crappy" beliefs and predictions that you mock here on this website since I was young. You should know he was an excellent and self made man who grew up in a school for fatherless boys and battled stereotypes because of his Lebonese background and dark skin all his life. As for all your wise and knowledgable statements ripping my grandfather, he died last year so please don't bother trashing him on your site any longer.

Synfidie
Synfidie

! I read this book when i was a teenager in the 90's! I thought it was actually pretty good, back then at least. I think my copy is upstairs in my library somewhere. 

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

San Francisco Event Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...