Brad's Reviews > Left Behind

Left Behind by Tim F. LaHaye
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Jun 23, 09

bookshelves: shabby
Read in March, 2002

It has been a long time since I read Left Behind, but I have one interesting memory of reading it that remains clear and is, I think, worthy of discussion. I'll get to that memory in a second, but first I must digress.

I read this book for a student of mine. She was a very nice lady who came into my English classes worried for everyone's souls (and I say this with all honesty). Left Behind was her favourite novel (her favourite book was The Bible, obviously), and she asked me to read it just after we finished Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. So I did.

Now back to that memory.

Early on I remember thinking, "What a brilliant book this would be if Tim LaHaye was a master of irony on the level of Jonathon Swift." Sure...nothing could save LeHaye's clunky prose, but if he conceived of Left Behind as a commentary on "fundamentalist believers" it would have been a stroke of genius approaching the level of A Modest Proposal.

Then I started reading it that way, letting myself imagine the story as a brilliant commentary, and it made the otherwise execrable experience thoroughly tolerable. I knew it wasn't so, and I couldn't really force myself to "believe," but it sure was more fun. I laughed more than I might have, I giggled more than I might have, and I actually wasn't moved to throw this book in our backyard firepit when I finished.

Indeed, when this piece of fundamentalist-pop-fiction kindling was over, I eschewed the flames and dropped it on the book swap shelf of our English Department. Drop a book, take a book is the theory, but there wasn't anything there I hadn't read before, so I simply left my copy of Left Behind for some poor, unsuspecting student to stumble upon.

And the next day it was gone.

I wonder who took that book? Probably a member of LeHaye's choir, but I'd love for one of my colleagues to have picked it up and read it with the same guilty pleasure I did. Perhaps then I wouldn't feel so sheepish.
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message 1: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker ""What a brilliant book this would be if Tim LaHaye was a master of irony on the level of Jonathon Swift." Sure...nothing could save LeHaye's clunky prose, but if he conceived of Left Behind as a commentary on "fundamentalist believers" it would have been a stroke of genius approaching the level of A Modest Proposal. ... I laughed more than I might have, I giggled more than I might have, and I actually wasn't moved to throw this book in our backyard firepit when I finished."

My favourite lines in your review.




Brad Thanks, Whitaker.


message 3: by Manny (new)

Manny Hm... sort of like trying to read Mein Kampf as though it were The Iron Dream? Perhaps that works too?



message 4: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon Tagging it with a BookCrossing ID and then you'd probably know where it went. :)

I've never read this series, although my church once aired the movie as a prelude to studying the book of Revelation. That study used The Throne, the Lamb & the Dragon A Reader's Guide to the Book of Revelation which turned out to be very good.

I am a believer, but I've not been the type of evangelist that takes the Chicken Little route (warning that not only is the sky falling, but so are demons, Satan, fire, brimstone, etc. etc.). I don't check my brain at the door when I attend a worship service and I try to be a living example of the Golden Rule.

I'm eternally grateful that I wasn't raised on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispensa... or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premille..., remaining ignorant of that debate until I was mature enough to digest it.


Kelly H. (Maybedog) Jon,

You are a kind, intelligent, interesting, thinking person. I don't think you would like this book. I have lots of friends who are devout Christians who think this series is drivel, including an Episcopalian priest. It has nothing to do with it being Christian or even about the End of Times.

Brad, you are very kind for reading this for a student. I read it for my fiance at the time who loved the series. He wasn't much of a reader and he told me I just had to give them a try. So I did, trying my best not to vomit throughout.

My hatred wasn't for the subject matter. Although I think that the likelihood of the Rapture actually happening is about as likely as my giving birth to a squirrel, it's an interesting premise. The problem is that these narrow-minded fools are judgmental, self-righteous and just bad writers. The movie The Rapture was ten times better and it was just so so.

My review is here if you're interested:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

BTW, I think Jenkins did all the writing and that LaHaye just contributed plot points and religious dogma. I read an article in Writer's Digest that was a dialog with Jenkins and Stephen King of all people (who was very gracious). Completely weird since King is a brilliant yet under-appreciated writer (because his genre is horror, few see him as much more than a talented hack) while Jenkins is just terrible.


message 6: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon Kelly wrote: "Jon,

You are a kind, intelligent, interesting, thinking person. I don't think you would like this book. I have lots of friends who are devout Christians who think this series is drivel, including..."


You are very kind, Kelly! And you're absolutely right - I would most likely not like this book.


message 7: by Brad (last edited Jul 01, 2009 06:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Jon wrote: "You are very kind, Kelly! And you're absolutely right - I would most likely not like this book. "

I have to say, though, Jon, I would love to read a review from you of this. I would be so fascinated to read what you think.

It doesn't sound like you and that fiance stayed together, Kelly. How did he take your feelings about the book once he realized you didn't agree?




message 8: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon You're going to make me read this book. :P

Well, as soon as BookMooch is back online, I'll see if I can mooch a copy (shouldn't be difficult since well-meaning Christians are foisting them off on everyone in sight).

Don't hold your breath though. :) I have quite a few better reads waiting in the wings. :P


Kelly H. (Maybedog) Oh, that's funny. He went so far the other way that he hates any discussion of religion now. When we met he was attending a fundamentalist church. I didn't try to convert him, I just presented my own views rationally and kindly and was as supportive as I could of him. He soon realized how intolerant they were when they told him I was the devil because men and women aren't friends. I didn't try to convince him it was awful, I just told him that I found bits of it difficult to accept. Just like I told him the history of the confederate flag and why it isn't a harmless symbol of southern pride to everyone although he thought it was. Eventually he was making jokes about rednecks and their confederate flags. So, too, he joked about the authors and the books, although he still read a few more saying he just liked the action.

No, we're not together anymore. He left me for the 18 year old daughter of the next door neighbor. They all live together and seem very happy. They're Jewish so I doubt he's into that fundamentalist propaganda stuff anymore. She wouldn't put up with it. It was for the best and I am honestly happy for them. How could I have lasted with someone who doesn't read? :)


message 10: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Readers and non-readers just don't mix. It sounds like you handled his fundamentalism really well, Kelly. I don't know that I could be so patient with people telling my partner that I am the devil. I think I would have handled that poorly.

Sorry, Jon. I don't mean to be a pain ;)


message 11: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon Brad wrote: "Sorry, Jon. I don't mean to be a pain ;) "

You're not a pain!


message 12: by Jon (last edited Jul 01, 2009 09:40AM) (new) - added it

Jon This is unreal! BookMooch (which just came back online) has sixty-two * copies of this book available. It's a conspiracy to get me to read it. :P

Mooching a copy now. :)

* Correction: 62 copies of the ISBN Brad read. There are 140 copies of the trade paperback avialable. :P


message 13: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Jon wrote: "This is unreal! BookMooch (which just came back online) has sixty-two* copies of this book available. It's a conspiracy to get me to read it. :P

Mooching a copy now. :) * Correction: 62 copie..."


That is madness. I may go get the sequel so I can share your pain, Jon. It seems only fair.


message 14: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker Although I think that the likelihood of the Rapture actually happening is about as likely as my giving birth to a squirrel, it's an interesting premise.

There was a rather good book I read some years back which traced the history of beliefs about the Apocalypse. It noted that early Christians believed that they would be tested during the Apocalypse before the coming of Christ. It was a test of faith. It is more recent belief that sees Christians spared the suffering via the Rapture. For me, that says a lot.


Kelly H. (Maybedog) Yes, I learned that in grad school, too, Whitaker. The history of Christianity is really quite fascinating, I think.

Brad, it helped that I was 3000 miles away at the time. I did tell him eventually our relationship couldn't go to the next step while he was at that church. But by then he'd already started skipping Sundays. I tried taking him to the Unitarian church but he thought it was too unstructured. It's not for everyone.


message 16: by Brad (last edited Aug 22, 2009 11:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad See...I always thought you were kidding about mooching it, Jon. I am really looking forward to your review, though.


message 17: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I don't know that I could be so patient with people telling my partner that I am the devil.

Oh, that's happened to me a number of times (grad school with tons of evangelicals). I just rolled my eyes and made fun of them later to my friends from San Francisco.


message 18: by Darryl (new)

Darryl Markowitz I had to look up the word execrable but I had a feeling of what it meant. But upon reading the dict.com definition I burst into laughter anyway. I aven't brought myslef to read them, though every once in a while as i peruse the bookstores I open one up to various pages and read a few lines...the pain is the same.


message 19: by Calico (last edited Nov 24, 2010 07:15AM) (new)

Calico Brad literally left Left Behind behind?


message 20: by Calico (new)

Calico Congratulations Kelly. You are experiencing The Literacy Rapture; it appears you made the cut. Better luck with your next fiancé.


message 21: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Murphy Thank you for your review. I wasn't really that interested in reading this series until I read your thoughts about it. Clearly, if a wanna be elitist intellectual like you appear to be portraying in your review doesn't like it, it must have some merit. It must be difficult for you to survive amongst the peasants who dare to believe a ludicrous idea like there might be something bigger and more important than themselves (you excepted, of course) in the universe. And then the authors have the gall to take the time to write about these ideas in a way that makes the difficult to understand and comprehend more palatable to a specific audience. I will agree that the writing is clunky at best, but I don't understand why you seem so threatened by the book as to feel the need to excoriate it so.


message 22: by Calico (new)

Calico John the Baptist everyone.


message 23: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Calico wrote: "John the Baptist everyone."

I actually snorted my orange juice through my nose. Ouch. Thanks a bunch, Calico ;)

What can I say, Mr. Baptist (sorry, John, I couldn't resist)? You were almost right, but I am actually an elitist pseudo-intellectual.


message 24: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Murphy And apparently you have a sense of humor about it, which is rare among your peers I am sure. I appreciate the reference made by Calico, and only wish my parents had chosen to name me after an ugly cat instead of a bathroom (I figured that would be the next John joke, so if I throw it out there first the joke is effectively defused). Didn't really mean to flame you in my post, just find it humorous that non-believers get so riled up and snarky about things that according to their own system of (non) beliefs really shouldn't matter to them in the least.


message 25: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I am not really sure where you get the riled up bit from, John, but I suppose I concede a level of snarkiness. I don't see, however, that there is anything wrong with being snarky about something one doesn't believe in. I, for instance, am not loving McDonald's, nor do I "believe" in anything they say in their advertising campaign, but I think I have every right to be snarky about it if I want. Don't I?


message 26: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Murphy Of course you "have the right"...even in Canada (I think...) Using your argument it is as though, at the behest of a friend who is a McDonalds manager, you went out of your way to walk into a McDonalds with the expressed intention of finding new and personally stimulating ways to ridicule it in front of the customers who are there. Of course, there aren't hundreds of millions of people around the world who base their daily lives on the quality of McDonalds food or the truthfulness of their advertising, so I am not sure the analogy holds. When I read the Communist Manifesto, I didn't spend a lot of time coming up with entertaining ways to deride it. I filed it away in my personal 'disagree' file and moved on. Anything else, in my opinion, would be giving it more power in my life than it deserves. Which goes back to my point...I personally am not a 'fundamentalist' but I don't have an issue with anyone who is. I am not an atheist, and do not have a problem with anyone who is. I would never think to insult their personal belief structure though. It seems to me that those who claim to be the most open-minded and tolerant are most often the least tolerant when it comes to things they don't agree with. Religion and the individual practice thereof is one of those issues that continuously baffles me how much sarcastic vitriol there is on the 'disagree' side.


message 27: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad And where, in this thread or the review that sparked this thread, have I been at all close-minded or intolerant? There was no vitriol at all in my review. You're taking the piss, surely?


message 28: by Calico (new)

Calico Sorry for talking during the production, but I can’t see the stage.

Would you believe I missed the entire disappearing people trick? This giant of a Roman metaphor sat down in front of me, and refused to take off his hat.

I’m starting to get bored.

I agree. Your vantage point is probably spectacular, but these metaphors keep ruining mine.


message 29: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Of course, there aren't hundreds of millions of people around the world who base their daily lives on the quality of McDonalds food

Oh, how I wish that statement were true. My Hoosier neighbors pretty much lived on McDonalds and Papa John's. I felt so sad for the their little malnourished, ketchup-stained rugrats...


message 30: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John Murphy Brad wrote: "And where, in this thread or the review that sparked this thread, have I been at all close-minded or intolerant? There was no vitriol at all in my review. You're taking the piss, surely?"

Okay, I'll concede the lack of vitriol in your specific post. It was mostly just condescending to religious people, who are the most likely to read it as they would be the most likely to want to read this book. I made the unfortunate error of 'assuming' you held religion and those who practice it in utter contempt based on your post and from there made a generalization about similar minded people I have encountered. If this assumption was misguided, I apologize. Again, my original intent was not to 'take the piss' (although I am not even really sure what that means other than the obvious), simply to point out that I find it humorous how people who generally present themselves as enlightened, open-minded, progressive, of superior intelligence etc. tend to quickly become closed-minded and turn to personal attacks and snarky insults when an issue is debated that they disagree with. You essentially mocked the most central belief of about 1/2 of the world's population by saying 'this book would be great if it were meant to be an ironic commentary on fundamentalist believers' and don't think you are being the least bit intolerant. Really?


message 31: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad John wrote: "You essentially mocked the most central belief of about 1/2 of the world's population by saying 'this book would be great if it were meant to be an ironic commentary on fundamentalist believers' and don't think you are being the least bit intolerant. Really? ..."

No, I don't think I was being the least bit intolerant, John. This is a site concerning book reviews, and I stand by what I said: if Left Behind had been an ironic statement it would have been brilliant. Its writing is generally awful, the hamfisted way it tries to put forward its ideas is laughable, but if all of that had been an intentional part of its message it would have been brilliant. (And you should note that I gave the book three stars. I actually had fun reading it, and that is expressed through my star rating).

I find the parts of The Divine Comedy I've read to be utterly brilliant, so too Paradise Lost, and one of the greatest poems, one of my favourite poems is The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. These are all text that are firmly grounded in that "most central belief of about 1/2 of the world's population" you're talking about, and I have mostly kind things to say about their literary merit.

Regardless, if I want to review any book in a snarky way, religious or otherwise I have every right to do so, and I don't think that means I am intolerant. For instance, I've been rather snarky to Twilight, but I am not intolerant of teenage girls, vampires, Mormons or romantic love stories. How many smarmy reviews have you read on this sight about books that aren't blatantly religious? Many I am guessing. Do you take those reviews as personally as you've taken mine?


message 32: by Calico (last edited Dec 29, 2010 11:32AM) (new)

Calico Agreed.

How does a comment on this particular book constitute disregard for the religious mind? All minds are religious. The variety and persistence of religion exposes religion as an innate feature of humanity. It is not a USDA rubber stamp. It is not a cross.

Even the ranks of atheism swell with true believers, men and women of myopic blind-faith convictions. There is no such thing as (non) belief, and all belief follows the same developmental current. Branding atheism as an unbelief is the most dangerous underestimation a Christian can make. A folly of the ego. There will always be zealots and crusades of the secular kind, totalitarianism to transhumanism.

Atheism, theism, nationalism, communism, progressivism, hedonism, consumerism — all pacifications are equivalent. All products are products of the same religion, an existential head in the sand. Each an interchangeable means of avoiding our own reflections.

This site is a catalogue of opinion. My review:

“The book tackles the subject of Christian faith from an absurdly literal perspective, which makes for an unbelievable plotline. Because of simplistic language, and a plot with a blatant agenda, it becomes increasingly hard to commit to what might have been a decent narrative.”

That is also my critique of modern Christianity. It is what it is. Try not to butter it up with presumptions.


Ashley Harrison ok well read what yall said and i didnt understand it. There was too many big words. Anyway, I've read this series and the kids ones and still too this day these are the only books I have ever cried to and I have read a lot of books. i loved them. and i finished them in about four months total, both series together, including the days my mom wouldnt take me to the library.


message 34: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad What other books do you like, Ashley? Are these your favourites, or is there something else that takes that title?


message 35: by Jeff (new) - added it

Jeff Lester The dramatic audio version of these books are amazing, great if you have to drive a lot.


message 36: by Reggie (new)

Reggie Awful writing or not....i think the basic message it's tryna pass cannot be overlooked. Me liked it


message 37: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I think I can overlook its basic message.


Denise lol, I'm just now reading it and wasn't sure I'd make it past the first few chapters, you've given me a way to get through it and possibly enjoy the journey.


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