I've been listening to The Left Behind books, a series of apocalyptic Christian novels. They're huge bestsellers but no one I know has read them. More San Francisco bubble, I guess.

The story is simple enough. The End Times are here, Christ has raptured the faithful, and the unfortunate folks left behind have to face Antichrist and the tribulations. What makes it work is the stories are told from a very ordinary point of view, individuals you can relate to. The books are basically potboilers with evangelical intent. The hero doesn't get the girl, he comes to Christ.

They're entertaining. The stories are simple and well told. The language is plain but well chosen. The character names are great: "Nicolae Carpathia", "Rayford Steele". And you have to love titles like "Tribulation Force" and "Soul Harvest". (See Slacktivist for an alternate view.)

Entertainment aside, the books' real intent is to convert. Not buying. I can't help but feel something sinister in this kind of proselytizing. The books aren't overtly offensive. But the head of the UN is the Antichrist, religious peace and unity is actually The Harlot of Revelations, there's a lot of excitement about 144,000 Jews converting to Christianity, and one of our hero's minor nemeses is an obvious lesbian who is made out to be a mean bitch "who wears sensible shoes". Not a worldview I choose.

Maybe when millions of people disappear suddenly I'll believe this literalist form of Christianity. In the meantime, the books make for a fun commute. If I run out of the main series, there are enough auxilliary books to rival Star Trek.

  2004-04-25 21:17 Z