Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day Thirteen

A Fictional Book

The prompt for today in the 30 Day Blog Journal is "A Fictional Book." To me, that seems kind of vague. I wasn't sure if that meant I needed to do another book review for something I've read recently. Typically, I write something about whatever I've read just as soon as I've read it. Right now I'm reading Mockingjay, but I'm not quite finished. I mean, I'm sure if I powered through the last few chapters I could write something today, but I don't want to rush myself.

So I decided to write about this book, Left Behind, that I read back during the college years. It's another one of those books that spawned a ridiculously long series of novels, to which I wasn't introduced until the fourth one was published. And this isn't so much a review of a book that I haven't even picked up in 10 years. It's more of a reflection.

You've probably heard of Left Behind. Even if you're not into Christian fiction, there's a chance you've come across it in one form or another. After all, it was made into a major motion picture starring the incomparable Kirk Cameron. Yeah, the movie really wasn't that good. And neither were its direct to video sequels, one of which added Lou Gossett, Jr. to the cast. It didn't help.

There was also a pretty controversial video game that came out a few years back. I don't remember all the controversy over it, but I remember it made plenty of headlines. I think it was something about the violence involved inside of a Christian-themed game.

But I really didn't plan on slamming the movies, the games, the graphic novels, or the line of action figures. Actually, I didn't plan to slam Left Behind at all. Let me just say, I thought the books were pretty good. They were decent stories. But, for what it's worth, they shouldn't be taken at more than face value.

When the series was at the height of its popularity, I remember hearing a lot of people talking about the events of the novels as if they were fact, not fiction. Walk into an Christian bookstore, or any Barnes & Nobel for that matter, and you'll find Left Behind safely tucked away in the section known as fiction. It may escape some people, but the truth is, these books were written by authors who are, yes, biblical scholars, but they are just people who are interpreting scripture for entertainment value.

I won't sit here and claim that the biblical book of Revelation will or will not happen the way Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins plotted it out. I seriously doubt that they've gotten it all right, step by step. But Revelation is open to a lot of interpretation. And to say that it's open to a lot of interpretation is a severe understatement.

That being said, I think the Left Behind books were pretty good. But I also think they became a bit too commercial after a while. Did they really need to write and publish 16 separate books to tell their story? And that's not even counting all the "young adult" books that were published alongside them. And did I mention the movies? The video game? Someone made a lot of money off one man's interpretation of biblical prophecy. I'm just sayin'.

1 comment:

  1. Good take on these books. Since Revelation is strange and certainly difficult to interpret, it is best to see what Jesus had to say about the last judgment and such matters and then make sure not to stray from his teaching when interpreting Revelation. Matthew 13, where Jesus gives the interpretation of his parable on the wheat and the weeds (tares, in the KJV) is a great starting point. Please visit my blog and leave a comment. Thanks!