Left Behind

I just finished reading the Left Behind series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.  How, I’ve been asked, did you find time to read twelve books?  Um…yeah, how did I find time to read twelve books?  Let’s suffice to say it was never during daylight hours. 

Reading is an amazing recharge activity for me.  When I burn out on writing – which I did after an intense start to the year – absorbing someone else’s work is like fueling up at the gas pump.  I’m ready to go again.  So, on to the Christmas script!  But first, let me tell you about this fast-paced series.

If you don’t know already, the title refers to the rapture – when Jesus whisks away his followers, both dead and alive, from the earth and up to heaven.   This event happens early on in the first book.  Thereafter, the plot revolves around those who were, well, left behind.  Obviously, the series is written from a Christian perspective and deals extensively with End Times prophecy laid out in the book of Revelation.

I found this series fascinating.  I believe the events written in the Bible really will come to pass, though I have meager understanding of them, so to immerse myself in a real-life illustration was captivating.  Mr. LaHay is an authority in Biblical prophecy, and Mr. Jenkins is a best-selling novelist.   Together they make quite a team.  If you enjoy sci-fi and fast action, this is the place to find it: monster horseman, a worldwide dictator, global war, demonic beings, suspense, tragedy and triumph, it’s all in there, believable and well-written.   The characters are very human, and you get to love them after going through so much drama together.  Their dialogue is effective, often witty, and the writing, while not lyrically beautiful, is smart and clean.  The books cover thousands of pages without losing momentum or appeal – not an easy task.

I do have a few complaints.  First, the series already feels dated.  It was started before the World Trade bombings, so it leaves out a huge chapter of recent history.  Of course this was unforeseeable, but the absence of the Muslim presence which has so dominated the last decade is detrimental to the books’ feeling of veracity.  I guess that’s a hazard of writing prophetic fiction.  Also, the series can get very preachy at times, something I dislike in fiction, but I suppose it goes with the territory.  This is especially true of the last book, Glorious Appearing.  I was thrilled when Jesus finally came back to defeat Antichrist, but He speaks only scriptural quotes.  It’s clever, the way the authors use Bible verses to this effect, and it shows an amazing knowledge of scripture, but page after page of this gets wearisome.  I did a lot of skimming.  And finally, a disproportionate number of characters are pilots.  Necessary for a global setting, but a little coincidental.

Overall, the twelve books of Left Behind were an enjoyable read.  They are tied so closely to beliefs I hold dear that they elicit a powerful emotional response.  And they make me want to check out the prophecies for myself…after I finish the Christmas play.

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