For reasons I can’t really explain, I’ve just listened to all three of the ‘Left Behind’ prequels in audiobook form.
These books hold a strange fascination for me. I’ll freely admit that it’s largely because I was reading the original series when I became a born-again Christian. These stories are deeply embedded in my memory. But when I first read them, I was just thinking about how glorious the future was going to be – as if the books were not just fictional descriptions of future events, but actual works of prophecy. The lines between fiction and prophecy were totally blurred for me.
Now, when I listen to them as a nonbeliever, I can’t help but be struck by how trite and silly they seem. The characters are totally unrealistic, the plot lines are predictable and full of pointless delays, and the dialogue is stilted and utterly unlike any kind of dialogue that real people have. Everyone seems to speak the same way, eschewing contractions for the full versions of words (in what seems like an attempt to conform with the formal, Victorian English of the KJV of the Bible).
The whole thing is ridiculous, and it’s packed with straw man versions of the arguments that atheists actually use. It’s amazing that I was ever so drawn into something like this…
And that doesn’t even begin to describe just how stereotypical the non-white characters are in this series. Jenkins and LaHaye actually portray the only explicitly African American characters as being stereotypically ‘sassy’ and obsessed with barbecued ribs. They could really only have been more racist if they’d gotten into a discussion of watermelon and chitlins… I mean, come on! Their straw man black people even started talking about how white people don’t know how to cook ribs! What the fuck?