Thursday, December 29, 2016

Book Brief: Left Behind

Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last DaysLeft Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days by Tim LaHaye
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Certain types of evangelicals look down on the Left Behind series, and I suspect that this is mainly due to the eschatology that the books assume. The series operates with a very specific and detailed viewpoint on the end-times: pretribulational premillenialism, which is really just one of about four major eschatological viewpoints. So if you happen to hold to a different viewpoint than the one that’s assumed in Left Behind, then you might be inclined to disparage the books as a load of hogwash.

And that’s fine as far as it goes. It’s okay to disagree with the eschatology that the series assumes. But that doesn’t mean you have to think they’re bad stories.

If you’re going to criticize the series, at least know what it is that you’re criticizing. Sometimes the quality of the writing itself is belittled, as if it’s poorly crafted fiction. But personally, I don’t buy that. My impression is that Jerry Jenkins did most of the story-telling legwork, and I think he did a good job with it. The narrative was interesting. The action was entertaining. The characters were believable. And the dialogue was many times enjoyable.

Jenkins and Lahaye took their own eschatological belief system (debatable as it is), and they imagined what the real-world implications would be if such events were to actually occur. Then they crafted an interesting story around that premise. And I just think that’s pretty cool. It also makes me wonder: Are there any postmillenialists out there who are creative enough to do something similar with their own eschatological viewpoint?

Moreover, the characters’ experiences and circumstances are in many ways relevant to believers in general, regardless of what your eschatology might be. Rayford Steele is desperate for his daughter to come to Christ, but he wrestles inwardly about coming off too pushy. A number of characters struggle with the truth because of how unpopular it is, or how crazy it sounds. And that kind of stuff resonates with the average believer.

So maybe you don’t believe that the last days will shake out exactly as the Left Behind books assume they will. But if nothing else, you could read the series as an extended parable. I don’t know if I’ll get around to reading the other books, but I at least had fun with this first one.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Brief: The Twilight Zone Companion

The Twilight Zone CompanionThe Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this. It gives summaries, production notes, and background info for every TZ episode. Rod Serling was an interesting guy.

View all my reviews