The Left Behind series is a fictionalization of the end of the world, as conceived by Tim LaHaye, a non-denominational evangelical Christian, and written by Jerry Jenkins. The series is staggeringly popular among a certain type of Christian. I bought the first book in the series a couple of years ago, mainly because of a review I read on salon.com that charged LaHaye with antisemitism and other crimes related to the plot of the book. I wanted to read the source material to see for myself. I was thwarted by the low quality of the writing; I just have a very low tolerance for that. So I put it aside. My husband picked it up last week and started to read it. He doesn't have the same standards for prose; his favorite genre of book is the police procedural crime novel. He enjoyed the first Left Behind book, and is thinking of reading the second one now.
I have a lingering bad feeling about the series. My main source of discomfort at this point is the people who love it the most--the anti-intellectual contingent, the Bible-as-literal-truth crowd. As much as they claim to get their truth directly from the Bible, they are eager to read these novels instead: they are so much more accessible, written in simple prose that spells out in concrete examples exactly what will happen at the end of the world.
The books remind me of nothing so much as The DaVinci Code--a book I did manage to get through, and which made me very uneasy, because I knew as I read it that there would be thousands of people who took the fiction at face value as revelations of hidden truths. Left Behind is worse because it actually purports to be a revelation of truths.
Here's something in a similar vein, but more highbrow:
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?