Left Behind series popularity.

My S.O. works at Borders where she maintains the Religion section (she’s atheist too, so has her own entertaining shelving protocol - scholars up front, right wing nuts in the back).
She noted that the Left Behind series by Tim Jenkins was gaining a lot of popularity, they were selling large quantities of this mostly pulp fiction. I’ve flipped through a couple of them, and given the poor writing, can only assume that they sell so well because either.
A) the people buying them have poor taste in books
B) the people buying them are gullible enough to see this as a soon coming future

So, I’ve been playing around with some ideas to test B).

  1. Trying to convince her, the next time someone comes up with a couple of the books to say after ringing it up:
    (holding up handheld barcode reader)
    “Please hold out your hand so I can validate this purchase.”

  2. I have a couple of highly gullible Christian friends who forward me things like the internet chain letter which took this http://www.theonion.com/onion3625/harry_potter.html literally. I’ve been thinking of forging a chain letter I supposedly received and sending it on to them. One that claims the guv’mint is tracking Left Behind purchases. (Maybe include some friend of a friend story including black vans passing someone’s house, maybe a man quizzing a child after school about their parents beliefs).
    I can just see people driving 80 miles and making furtive book purchases in cash. :smiley:

Anyway, just mentioning it. And wondering if anyone would be gullible enough to make these plans entertaining.

Speaking as a Christian I have to say your ideas for little jokes are cold blooded and cruel… and damn funny. I’m a Christian but no longer a fundie southern baptist. I remember an endless string of books that all said the second coming was just around the corner. If you really wanna be mean, get a rubber stamp with a bar code on it.

I bought the first book in this series…
and I tried real hard to finish it, but just couldn’t drag myself through the bad writing.
Stranger OUT

Ok, first things first, it’s Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. I’m a nitpicker by nature, so I thought I’d correct that one.

I have read all 8 of the books as of now. Personally, I find them poorly written, and little more than pulp fiction-similar to the worst of the trashy romance novels.

Why do I keep reading them? Well, it’s sort of like a train wreck. You know it’s going to be bad, yet you look anyway. I have, however, stopped buying the books. I now borrow them from a friend.

By the way, even as a near ‘fundie’, I think it would be hilarious to see people’s reaction to her asking for their hand for validation. :stuck_out_tongue:

As funny as this would be, it has the potential to get you in a whole heap-o-troubles. Bad idea.

But the scanner thing at the checkout is brilliant!

LOL!! My carpool partner is buying the books and video tape for her family this Christmas. I wish I had the courage to pull this one on her. “You did pay with cash, didn’t you?” From what I’ve seen, Wal-Mart is about the biggest pusher of those books. Try to wrap them up in the conspiracy, too (shades of last year’s “signs declaring martial law found in Wal-Mart truck” rumors).

My last job, I worked at for five weeks (no, I’m not a flake. I had found myself suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed and I took it to have an income while I looked for something better) I spotted this gal in the break room reading Tribulation Force. I asked her if the Left Behind books were actually good. She said yes. A couple of weeks later, she was reading the fourth book in the series. Yeesh. I thought I was a voracious reader, but this chick puts me to shame. Anyway, I was talking to her about it, and she said the first three books were good, but after that they started to go downhill. Basically, the authors were trying to stretch a story that takes place in I think something like a three year time frame out to eight books, to cash in on the popularity of the original trilogy. Her comment was, “Well, it’s the end of the world. Once the world ends, it’s over. How many books can you stretch it out to?” Kind of like Stephen King in his automatic typewriter phase, when he was writing thousand page novels with four-hundred page stories.

I’ve paged through the first couple of books. They seem ok in a pulp-novel kind of way. I’ve been debating whether or not to read them for almost two years now. I’m Catholic, and the pre-millenial fundamentalist Protestant mindset of the books conflicts with what my own faith teaches, but I’m curious about how they would read as fiction.

A couple of passages I’ve read seem really preachy. The books were written to convey a message, with a story built around it, rather than to tell a story that has a message contained in it. What little I’ve read seems a bit awkward and clunky.

I recently rented the movie (I like to keep an eye on the competition), and I must say that it was preachy even by Christian movie standards. And don’t even get me started on the premise…

Manny, where do you see the potential for trouble? How could this be any different than the crap that is already clogging up email servers?

Where is C) People who just enjoy fun reading ??

I know that I, and quite a number of other people I know, buy the books because they are fun to read. It’s fast reading, a fictionalized interpretation of Revelations (which has always been an interesting Bible chapter to me) and is damn fun!! I really don’t think that poor taste in books has anything to do with it. No, they are not “literature” and are not “well-written” by classic or technical writing standards. However, it’s frustrating to think that a person is classified as having poor taste in books simply because s/he occasionally reads fluff? A well-rounded reader and avid Bibliophile reads all types of books, not just the “well-written” ones.

But I digress…

I like the bar-code idea best. I think it would be very funny, indeed. That’s got my vote. You should hide a camera to record people’s various reactions, too. I’d enjoy observing what happens…I’m always for a good social experiment!! Try it a couple times and let us know how it goes!!


I think part of the popularity is due to the fact that they’re being marketed to a group that has been more or less completely ignored up 'til now. As far as I can remember, this is the first book/series of christian fiction books that’s been pushed in the same way that mainstream fiction usually is.

And so for some, when choosing the books, the actual quality of the book takes a back seat to wanting to support someone who is actually paying attention to them.

In other words, someone finally had the epiphany “Fundamentalist Christians read… we can make money off of that.” (much the same way, a few years ago, someone figured out “Hey, black women read - we can money off of that.”) and so, for the next few years, they’ll be publishing anything they can get their hands on, knowing that people will buy whether its any good or not. It’ll take a long while before they finally begin to filter out the good and the ok from the crap.

I like the barcode idea though…


Melpomene and amarinth are right, according to the only person I know who’s reading these books. This person is fascinated with the prophecies in Revelations, and since she hopes to be one of the chosen few, these books are sort of a Fodor’s guide to the Rapture. What to wear, how to behave, etc. She says books geared toward Christians are rarely as entertaining as these.

I’d probably enjoy a novel with factory workers as characters (if anyone would ever write it), just to see if the author could get it right. Line rates and down time and potty breaks, all that good stuff.

I’ve enjoyed a mystery series set in South Dakota, featuring an overweight waitress who lives in a trailer park. Kathleen Taylor has a corner on that market.

If you write that chain letter, I promise to slip it into my rabidly fundie coworker’s email program. She subscribes to and posts to literally hundreds of fundie email groups affiliated with her church and friends
-It would spread like wildfire
::evil cackle,rubbing hands together::

When you finish the Left Behind series you can go pick up “Left Behind: the Kids” in the children’s section.

Also, if I recall correctly, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye wrote an ersatz non-fiction book about the end times last year, just in time for the Y2K uproar.

Flipped through a couple in the local Christian bookstore, but there’s too much good new Christian writing out there to take my time on this.

Heck there’s always too many good books period to be checkin’ out the dreck.


Myron M. Meyer
The Man Who

Doesn’t one of their wives write “women’s” books? The “how to please your man while spending your life in the kitchen” type of book?

Hey Man - what “good new Christian writing” do you mean? Fiction?

Well, first it’s a book, not a chapter. :slight_smile:
Second, it’s not an interpretation, at least not a good one. More a literalist reading that destroys the many themes present in this apocalyptic text.
Thirdly, it also trashes the book of Daniel.
Fourthly, well, it wasn’t even fun reading! I dunno, I tried. But just like my attempts at reading L. Ron Hubbard’s equally paranoid and action packed (and twisted) Mission: Earth series, it failed miserably.

Annoyingly, this one is the one I’m having the hardest time putting into action, since it requires 'nelle’s cooperation. :slight_smile: (she’s fairly shy).

The other one though, is a bit easier, ironically, to implement. Not that I’m saying I’m working on it, maybe someone else on this thread decided to.

[sub]I need plausible deniability afterall…[/sub]

Right, I know this, thank you. :slight_smile: I was raised by my Christian mother who isn’t nearly as conservative as her “Focus on the Family” co-workers. I just didn’t want anyone jumping down my throat for calling it a “book” when by technical publishing terms, it’s not a “book”. I was appealing to the general masses, rather than going with traditional terminology. I apologize.

Actually, it is most certainly an interpretation. It is one way to interpret that book as it is written. There are completely literal ways of reading it, completely metaphorical ways of reading it and many routes in between. Hayes and Jenkins lean towards literal, with a bit of metaphorical thrown in. Also, there are many contradicting views on how & when all this is supposed to take place. Hayes & Jenkins are fictionalizing one of those interpretations of the Book of Revelation’s layout. So yes, it is an interpretation. As for how good it is, that’s personal opinion, considering we are discussing something that has not happened yet and may never happen.

I missed that part. Exactly where was this trashing of Daniel? I really do ask this in all honesty…I don’t recall this part, but hey, I tended to skim more in the areas of “Bible-talk” in the books, so I may have slid right past it. Which wouldn’t surprise me.

I won’t say I’m sorry you didn’t get to the fun parts of the series (they come later than the first 2 books) because if you don’t like it, then you don’t like it! Nothing wrong in that! :slight_smile:

Ugh. L. Ron Hubbard. I’ll agree with you there. He certainly is miserable reading.

Hmmm, that’s too bad. Could have had some good laughs! Oh well! Maybe you’ll have an opportunity to play around another way or in another area.

I was just addressing the stereotype in your OP, in defense of people who don’t fit into the two categories you placed there. It isn’t as though I was speaking for a small minority of the readers not worth noticing, but there are a large number of us who are reading the books for the reasons I outlined above. That was all.


My teacher is “obsessed with the Left Behind Series” and is currently “watching the situation in Israel very closely. Whoever unites the two nations is going to be the Anti-Christ.”
Heavey stuff from a speech coach.
Quite frankly, she desturbs me greatly, especially since she thinks the LEft Behind series is well written (that leads me to believe she rarely reads) and that it’s FACT. Second only to the Bible.

I tried to read the first book in the series. i really did. Several times. It was just not appealing to me in any way. I’m not saying it’s bad writing, because I didn’t read enough of it to be a good judge of that. I’m just saying it was boring to me. I’d much rather read TV Guide all the way through than a Left Behind book. This is just me, though–others may find it fascinating, but I didn’t.

*Originally posted by Melpomene *

The Left Behind series is part of gap thesis theology which is based on the idea that there is a gap in the 70 weeks of Daniel of arbitrary length (say, a couple of thousand years) followed by an attempt to literally apply Daniel chapter 11.

Now Daniel 11 is literal, it is a literal description of 2nd century events, and of one of the most terrible trials the Jewish people suffered. It is not, however, a description of some future Antichrist who will make a covenant in the form of a one world government.

The Left Behind series trashes the books of Revelation and Daniel, attempting to map the spiritual battleground of the apocalyptic onto current world events. It is biblical crack for the masses. :smiley:

My theology teacher got a disgusted look on his face even talking about it, and he’s a conservative.

People who read it as anything other then pure pulp fiction
(the group I was addressing with my jokes) are likely to be highly gullible and potentially high entertainment.

Anyway, if you’re reading it for the dubious theology, I would definitely recommend reading Daniel 7-12.