Saturday, August 21, 2004

Left Behind

by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Up 'til now, the Left Behind series was something I've only experienced indirectly. I've read articles about the series. I paged through a couple of the comic book adaptions. And most recently I've been following Fred Clark's thorough dissecting of the book at Slacktivist. It was the latter that made me want to experience this first book of the series for myself. Mr. Clark is highly critical of the book and the comments for each of his posts are even more so. While I generally trusted Mr. Clark's assessment, I felt guilty of not seeking out a dissenting voice or, better yet, reading the book for myself. So when I saw the book at Poplar Creek library's free paperback exchange, I--despite Noodle's rolling eyes--picked it up. To my mild surprise, it wasn't as bad as I had heard. It was akin to a mediocre Star Trek novel. You're sympathetic to the story because you like the characters (or in this case, you like Christians), but the only reason you read it through is because the story keeps you curious enough to see how it ends. Once it does end, however, you have no desire to ever reread the book again. Left Behind is just that, a mediocre novel and bad speculative fiction to boot. Part of the problem is trying to write a story based on the Biblical book of Revelation. Revelation--be it a concrete prediction of the future or a collection of metaphors--makes for a lousy story. There are no real characters, no background story and no starightforward plot. If you want to read the Bible as a storybook, read the book of Acts. That's a great tale. Revelation, though, is just too durn confusing. And there's also the problem of tying Revelation into today's world. Revelation speaks of Babylon, Ethiopia, and other countries which either don't exist under those names or aren't major players in modern global affairs. Trying to shoehorn the modern world into a literal interpretation of Revelation is just too durn awkward. Or if there is a believable way to work it out, Mssers. LaHaye and Jenkins haven't figured it out. Since I'm an amilleniest and believe the pre-tribulation rapture to be as much a fiction as the rest of the novel, I'm tempted to dunk their book. But since it does tell the reader that Jesus died to pay for their sins--it's redeeming value, if you'll pardon the pun--I will rate it as waiting room material.

LibraryThing link

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