First and foremost, I must admit that I have never read any installment of the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. But sick curiosity has gotten the better of me and I decided to do a bit of research into just what this saga is all about. Everything I've heard about the series suggests that, Biblical preaching aside, the books carry paranormal and thriller overtones, certainly something I cannot ignore. My brother teaches World Religions at a university in Wisconsin. I asked him what he knew about Left Behind. He shuddered and said, "that way lies madness, Jonny. Madness." Undaunted, I pressed forward with my research. Once more I need to stress that I have yet to read one actual page of these books, so any impressions I offer here are ones of mere first blush.
Our story begins as The Rapture occurs. Those whom God has deemed "worthy" have been brought straight up into Heaven without needing to suffer death. Yet those who are unworthy are "left behind" (hey! I bet that's where they got the title!) The world falls into disorder and chaos at this turn of events. In the midst of the hurlyburly, a Romanian named Nicolae Jetty Carpathia (heh) becomes Secretary General of the UN. He promises to restore peace and order. What most of the left behinds don't know is that Carpathia is really the Antichrist, a leader whom most people will like and follow but who is actually leading us straight down the crapper. A few people catch on to this and become born-again Christians to try and stop the devil. Among them are Rayford Steele (snicker), a former non-Christian, womanizing airline pilot (surprised LeHaye didn't just go with "Quagmire" as the character's name.) There is also his daughter Chloe, Bruce Barnes (heh-heh), Ming Toy (cackle), and Cameron "Buck" Williams (guffaws, are you serious??) Together, these born again fundies form The Tribulation Force, a Bible-based strike squad out to bedevil the devil, save or stop the sinners, and fight in the race against time before God renders His final judgment or Carpathia (who at this point might as well be named "Alucard") starts World War III.
Really? Seriously? People read this stuff? They must. The series is a runaway best seller and it was made into a film starring (gasp!) Kirk Cameron. Sorry. This just doesn't seem like my cup of tea. I get enough preaching about the kind of Christian I should be just by existing in the morass of every day life. I get enough demonizing of "globalization" from right-wing fear mongers in the daily news. I don't need to turn to fiction for it. In a way, see these texts as bookends for Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code; sensationalist distortions but for opposite political ends.Ghost Dogg and Armando may be in for it. I'm toying with renting Left Behind )or Growing Pains II: The Search for Ben) and making them watch it was we get loaded. I suppose I might actually read Left Behind if I were in that Burgess Meredith episode of The Twilight Zone, where I'd be trapped in a vault at the onset of a nuclear attack with LB as my only book to read ("that's not fair...that's not fair at all.") But even then I'd have to think about it.
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