6 Reasons the Left Behind Books Suck (And Why the Movie Might, Too)

6 Reasons the Left Behind Books Suck (And Why the Movie Might, Too)

Sure, they're touted as best-selling novels, but the Left Behind books -- and maybe this week's movie release -- just aren't very good.

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I found the first book in my local library. Here's a fun drinking game: Take a drink every time somebody doesn't act particularly upset that all of the world's children have gone away.

I haven't read the books, but I disagree with the reasoning for your first point. Unless I misunderstood your point, it's pretty much explained by Dunbar's Number (otherwise known as the Monkeysphere). I know that if the world was ending, I would only care about what was happening to friends and family, not complete strangers.

Wait, what? A new movie, with Nick Cage?

*blink blink* I'm startled the one with Kirk Cameron wasn't enough to do in the idea, is all. 'Cos I don't think it was a blazing success, exactly.

Ughhh... reading through your article just makes me disgusted by this kind of obsession with death cult literature. To think there are people wishing and hoping for this to happen just completely boggles my mind. I remember going home for a holiday years ago and seeing on my father's dresser one of the left behind books, it literally made me feel sick thinking he might actually hope for this kind of thing to happen or possibly fantasize about it.

I understand peoples desire to want to believe in a deity and live the best possible life they can but all this dwelling on death and end times... is just looney.

1. The good guys are actually just assholes

It's Christian Apocalypse porn. I'm pretty sure this is intentional. I'm pretty sure the intended market (remember, folks, #notallchristians) identify with these folks.

4. Satan is a total goon

Pretty much expected in the literature.

I would think the big one is really how poorly written they are. I'll have to take the listmaker's word that the books get better, but as he also points out, it's not worth the slog. I read a couple, and while it may get better, I'm not even sure I could be bothered with reading book 10 without the continuity and I know I couldn't be bothered to read the earlier ones. Still, even if it gets good later, it's awful early on. I think I've seen first graders write better.

If you need more than 6 reasons why the Left Behind books suck, try http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/tag/left-behind/ This guy has been spending 10 years detailing page-by-page why Left Behind fails at every level. He's only at book 3 now. Unfortunately, there are some "gaps" in the archive of his earlier posts, but hey, there's plenty to read anyway.

They already made this series 3 movies, and I readily predict that this time it will be the exact same drull thing, only with Nicholas Cage as the star. At least Cage is a talented actor - at least incredibly more so that Kirk Cameron.

Coreless:
Ughhh... reading through your article just makes me disgusted by this kind of obsession with death cult literature. To think there are people wishing and hoping for this to happen just completely boggles my mind. I remember going home for a holiday years ago and seeing on my father's dresser one of the left behind books, it literally made me feel sick thinking he might actually hope for this kind of thing to happen or possibly fantasize about it.

I understand peoples desire to want to believe in a deity and live the best possible life they can but all this dwelling on death and end times... is just looney.

What's the point of being a kind, loving, compassionate and caring person if you don't get the satisfaction of knowing everyone else is going to suffer?

It's a damn shame they wasted Nick Cage on Rayford Steele. Nicholas Cage does one things good, and that is crazy. How they didn't get him to play the anti christ I will never know. It blows my mind the missed opportunity. It could have been the best comedy of the year, nick hamming it up to the 9's as the antichrist. What a waste. :(

I couldn't finish the first book. The main character being an unlikeable but yet boring-as-paint ass, and the rest of the book being "hee hee, look at the unbelievers get their comeuppance" just turned me off.

It felt like Twilight. A summer fluff fanfiction novel written over the course of a weekend that was way overhyped and blew up in to a massive bestseller series being milked for all it's worth, propped up mostly by the people who liked the concept rather than the actual execution.

And Man:
I haven't read the books, but I disagree with the reasoning for your first point. Unless I misunderstood your point, it's pretty much explained by Dunbar's Number (otherwise known as the Monkeysphere). I know that if the world was ending, I would only care about what was happening to friends and family, not complete strangers.

The issue here isn't just that they aren't sad for them, but that there's a very unchristian "serves 'em right" way of thinking about it. Apathy would be an improvement.

Really, this attitude is at the core of a lot of the problems with the series. See, this seems to be the mindset of the writers themselves, and it comes across as snobby and elitist as a result. It also creates a bizarre dichotomic writing style, first assuming the audience already agrees with the message being preached, and then preaching it to them anyway. At best, it's a giant circlejerk, and at worst, it's presumptive, redundant, and wasteful, and interferes with the narrative.

P.S. Thanks

I read the books when I was younger and naively believed that everything in a Christian bookshop was at least theologically sound (if not well written).

Oh boy did I learn my lesson. If these guys had their way Jesus would have beaten the shit out of the Romans who tried to arrest him and then he'd have told Mary that women who leave the kitchen don't get to go to heaven unless they're banging him.

The books are just a list of the people the authors hate and guys who gloat over them. They're written by people who have so much contempt for the other people around them that they can't actually believe that they're capable of thought. That's why we get nurses saying things like 'I'm so sad all the children are gone, because now I can't have any abortions'. I'm not even making a joke, someone literally says that.

The funny thing is, as much scorn as they pour onto the world, they're completely of it. They're main author insert protagonist has to be the most manly man, he has to get the women, be the alpha male and prove his superiority to someone. He can't be wussy or intellectual because that's not what a Man does.

The books actually really challenged me, because I don't want to hate anyone, but it's really hard to like the authors at all. It sickens me that there are Christians who are being misled into reading the books thinking that that's a good thing for them to be doing

I'm a huge fan of Stephen King's "the langoliers" and when Left Behind came out I was pretty open to the idea, it saddens me greatly that they could take an idea like that and just turn it into devotee fodder.

I think it could have been a cool story if someone not so entrenched in the christian law of "hey lets sell people on going christian by only publishing material catering to people already obsessed with how christian they are."

More on topic OP Phil I didn't like your article. Not an "I hate you and disagree with everything you said" way, but more "I think you can do better.". I actually clicked because truth be told I did get trapped in a left behind wiki hole recently just trying to get a feel for what the series is all about and I was hoping to catch an article getting to the meat of the series. I got some of that but mostly a kind of rambling thought bubble about what you didn't like about the series. Like were strangers sitting outside smoking and you say "you know what I hated about Left Behind?". In that circumstance I'd fake call from my mum and cut you off.

I guess what I mean to say is don't stop writing but you should work on your structure.

Wait, THAT is the poster? That really bad photoshop job where Nicholas Cage's barely looks like it belongs to that body, or the crappy looking burning city behind them?

I have a bad feeling about this one...

Wait, this is a real thing that's happening? Why? The first attempt at a film adaptation failed after only the third movie, so why did anyone think there was money in this? And Nicholas Cage??? Look, say what you will about Kirk Cameron's acting skills; at least it made sense why he ended up in it. Why would Cage or any other mainstream Hollywood actor want to touch this with a ten foot pole? Speaking of bad acting skills, though, I look forward to seeing him alternate between being conspicuously bored that he has to come in to work again today and acting like he just did a load of cocaine, like he always does. It might actually make this version interesting.

Phil Owen:
First is the amazing Satanist conspiracy that created him by artificially inseminating an asexual woman with the combo sperm of two gay men (all three of whom are atheist academics who work at a university).

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha what the fuck. Even compared to what little I still remember about the series, that's fucking nuts. I'm almost sorry I stopped reading them.

piscian:
I'm a huge fan of Stephen King's "the langoliers" and when Left Behind came out I was pretty open to the idea, it saddens me greatly that they could take an idea like that and just turn it into devotee fodder.

I think it could have been a cool story if someone not so entrenched in the christian law of "hey lets sell people on going christian by only publishing material catering to people already obsessed with how christian they are."

I would like to point you in the direction of The Leftovers, a book that sounds like a parody but apparently just has a stupid name, that apparently does what you're describing. The "rapture" in question isn't even; it's just some mysterious mass disappearance that they never explain. They've also turned it into a show on HBO that wrapped up its first season recently.

Covarr:

And Man:
I haven't read the books, but I disagree with the reasoning for your first point. Unless I misunderstood your point, it's pretty much explained by Dunbar's Number (otherwise known as the Monkeysphere). I know that if the world was ending, I would only care about what was happening to friends and family, not complete strangers.

The issue here isn't just that they aren't sad for them, but that there's a very unchristian "serves 'em right" way of thinking about it. Apathy would be an improvement.

Really, this attitude is at the core of a lot of the problems with the series. See, this seems to be the mindset of the writers themselves, and it comes across as snobby and elitist as a result. It also creates a bizarre dichotomic writing style, first assuming the audience already agrees with the message being preached, and then preaching it to them anyway. At best, it's a giant circlejerk, and at worst, it's presumptive, redundant, and wasteful, and interferes with the narrative.

P.S. Thanks

Ah, okay. Yeah, that makes more sense then.

Steve the Pocket:
Wait, this is a real thing that's happening? Why? The first attempt at a film adaptation failed after only the third movie, so why did anyone think there was money in this? And Nicholas Cage??? Look, say what you will about Kirk Cameron's acting skills; at least it made sense why he ended up in it. Why would Cage or any other mainstream Hollywood actor want to touch this with a ten foot pole? Speaking of bad acting skills, though, I look forward to seeing him alternate between being conspicuously bored that he has to come in to work again today and acting like he just did a load of cocaine, like he always does. It might actually make this version interesting.

Phil Owen:
First is the amazing Satanist conspiracy that created him by artificially inseminating an asexual woman with the combo sperm of two gay men (all three of whom are atheist academics who work at a university).

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha what the fuck. Even compared to what little I still remember about the series, that's fucking nuts. I'm almost sorry I stopped reading them.

piscian:
I'm a huge fan of Stephen King's "the langoliers" and when Left Behind came out I was pretty open to the idea, it saddens me greatly that they could take an idea like that and just turn it into devotee fodder.

I think it could have been a cool story if someone not so entrenched in the christian law of "hey lets sell people on going christian by only publishing material catering to people already obsessed with how christian they are."

I would like to point you in the direction of The Leftovers, a book that sounds like a parody but apparently just has a stupid name, that apparently does what you're describing. The "rapture" in question isn't even; it's just some mysterious mass disappearance that they never explain. They've also turned it into a show on HBO that wrapped up its first season recently.

I watched a bit of it. Looks like another one of those drag out deals where they'll drag it out for a billion seasons and then cancel it. I hear the acting is pretty good though. I may give it another shot when I have time or the book more likely thanks.

Argh... I have a friend that loves these books. He doesn't believe in actual Christianity anymore but instead in the fake system from a series of novels. I think it is a step in the right direction, since at least these were written in the last century and are classified properly as fiction. Unlike certain sacred texts I could mention *cough* all of them *cough*.

I've read most of them and I can safely say they aren't worse than other religion based fiction novels I've read and that there are a few okay ideas in there. Other than that stay far, far away from these if you respect sanity, honesty and good storytelling. They've made literally millions upon millions from these and you gotta respect, begrudging or not, any one that can make that kind of money selling novels these days. I might not like them but darn if they don't print money.

I read a few pages into the first book as a teenager (and a member of a denomination which went in for a lot of the shaky theology in the books), and I remember being totally underwhelmed by the writing. "Disaster porn" for Christians about sums it up.

I'd like to thank the author and the above posters for being more charitable than I might have been, and for mostly avoiding religion bashing. That leaves a lot more space for an honest assessment of the real issue for me, which is the tragic lack of self-awareness and literary quality (even for the mass market paperback market) it showed.

I wish that bits and pieces of the Christian tradition I honor wasn't clumsily mixed in with this dreck so that I could more easily enjoy it for what it is--National Treasure 4: Finding Jesus.

Edit: spoke too soon on the lack of religion bashing. Oh well.

Zachary Amaranth:

Coreless:
Ughhh... reading through your article just makes me disgusted by this kind of obsession with death cult literature. To think there are people wishing and hoping for this to happen just completely boggles my mind. I remember going home for a holiday years ago and seeing on my father's dresser one of the left behind books, it literally made me feel sick thinking he might actually hope for this kind of thing to happen or possibly fantasize about it.

I understand peoples desire to want to believe in a deity and live the best possible life they can but all this dwelling on death and end times... is just looney.

What's the point of being a kind, loving, compassionate and caring person if you don't get the satisfaction of knowing everyone else is going to suffer?

Really, the fact that there are children in Africa starving to death is the only way I can enjoy the half of a hamburger I don't throw out. In all seriousness though, as a Christian myself the big smiles and unbridled joy that many of the evangelicals have when it comes to the end of days theology both disgust and disturbs me. I cannot for the life of me fathom why someone one would enjoy or fantasize about this kind of thing.

OT:Yeah, pretty much agree with the OP on this one. Really I would respect the books, (not necessarily believe them, because I don't take Revelations as literal prophecy) if they were to make the antichrist some sort of Christian leader that twist the Bible to his purposes AND make the protagonist likeable. I think the thing that has always disturbed me most was the lack of sympathy towards the unsaved; it's disgusting.

ephesus64:
spoke too soon on the lack of religion bashing.

Yes, yes you did. You should've known better, it is the internet after all.

BrotherRool:
They're written by people who have so much contempt for the other people around them that they can't actually believe that they're capable of thought. That's why we get nurses saying things like 'I'm so sad all the children are gone, because now I can't have any abortions'. I'm not even making a joke, someone literally says that.

image

MeHfurtonakinakiheeeenghhhh... *Rebooting Brain, Please Hold*

Sorry about that, anyways. I had forgotten about that. I had forgotten those words exist and now I remember. I remember reading them. I remember that's what made me stop reading the books. I remember having to digest that stupidity at twelve! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO REMIND ME!? I'm going to curl up in a corner and cry to myself for a while.

chiggerwood:
I remember that's what made me stop reading the books.

On the other hand it's nice that they put such a clear reminder that the books were irredeemably stupid and mean-minded towards the beginning of the series. It could have been worse, you could have gone on reading them :p

Coreless:
Ughhh... reading through your article just makes me disgusted by this kind of obsession with death cult literature. To think there are people wishing and hoping for this to happen just completely boggles my mind. I remember going home for a holiday years ago and seeing on my father's dresser one of the left behind books, it literally made me feel sick thinking he might actually hope for this kind of thing to happen or possibly fantasize about it.

I understand peoples desire to want to believe in a deity and live the best possible life they can but all this dwelling on death and end times... is just looney.

I've always felt that the people into this sort of thing are those at the latter end of the life, they've been there done that so now rather than going grey & decrepit being swept away by the 'rapture' is a much more romantic way to go. From the last time the world was supposed to end a few years ago according to that radio show host guy, if you looked at the bio's of the people who sold everything and rode around in motorhomes preaching the end of times the description 'not much left to live for' fit them to a T.

BrotherRool:

chiggerwood:
I remember that's what made me stop reading the books.

On the other hand it's nice that they put such a clear reminder that the books were irredeemably stupid and mean-minded towards the beginning of the series. It could have been worse, you could have gone on reading them :p

On the other, other hand I had successfully buried that memory, and you dug it up causing me pain and misery. So there's that :b

Towards the end of the article, he says abstinent people go to hell. I think he meant atheist. After six hellish years in a Christian high school, I'm fairly certain that the abstinent people would be given a first class ticket to heaven.

Wait to see how the movie turns out? From advance screenings and critic reviews, apparently it lightens up slightly on the horrendousness of the books and plays up their dull nature.

bificommander:
If you need more than 6 reasons why the Left Behind books suck, try http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/tag/left-behind/ This guy has been spending 10 years detailing page-by-page why Left Behind fails at every level. He's only at book 3 now. Unfortunately, there are some "gaps" in the archive of his earlier posts, but hey, there's plenty to read anyway.

If someone else hadn't linked Fred Clark, I would have. Glad he's picked he's series back up recently.

Books and movies suffer from the same problem that unimaginative Christian writers have suffered from since they decided to put their own spin on the New Testament: It's hard to create drama and remain meek.

It goes back centuries and there are stories written by newly converted Germanic tribesmen trying to fit in te New Testament into the setting of Northern Europe and finding themselves scrambling for anything to make it live up to being a good old Germanic epic and largely falls to Peter cutting off the servants ear to make up almost all of the violence that Germans (and many modern American audiences) are looking for.

If you're unable to make a essay heavy story about the NT work you have to sit back and rethink how to present what you want to tackle either going for allegory or using the themes in your own original work.

6 Reasons the Left Behind Books Suck

1. Because it's the fantasy of old men who hate their world for not rigging the economic competition in their favor as much as it used to.

2. Because it's the fantasy of bitter old men who hate their world for not rigging the economic competition in their favor as much as it used to.

3. Because it's the fantasy of bitter old white men who hate their world for not rigging the economic competition in their favor as much as it used to.

4. Because it's the power fantasy of bitter old white men who hate their world for not rigging the economic competition in their favor as much as it used to.

5. Because it's the masturbatory power fantasy of bitter old white men who hate their world for not rigging the economic competition in their favor as much as it used to.

6. Because it's the self-righteous masturbatory power fantasy of bitter old white men who hate their world for not rigging the economic competition in their favor as much as it used to.

***

Here's a fun drinking game: Take a drink every time somebody doesn't act particularly upset that all of the world's children have gone away.

Are you trying to Kill people?

***

If you need more than 6 reasons why the Left Behind books suck, try http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/tag/left-behind/

His blog could be summarized as 666.666 reasons (and counting) why the Left Behind books suck more than any other series of books: kinda like the superlative of superlatives of left-behind reviews.

***

It's a damn shame they wasted Nick Cage on Rayford Steele. Nicholas Cage does one things good, and that is crazy. How they didn't get him to play the anti christ I will never know.

Because you'd end up rooting for him, that's why.
If you want to cast Nick Cage as the anti-christ, start lobbying for a live-action interaction of Xenogears and have him casted as Fei. Doesn't matter how cheesy the rest of the movie will be, Nick will carry it all on his shoulders.

True Horror #6: that there are millions of people out there who believe this to be an accurate description of things to come.

Unacceptable! You wave your chequebook around long enough to get Nicholas Cage to sniff it out and wander in to your crazy evangelical apocalyptic movie set then you damn well better get him to play the Antichrist. You don't even need a script for him, just tell him "Nick, you're the antichrist. Go!". What a missed opportunity, this is why everyone in Hollywood is gonna get left behind.

TiberiusEsuriens:
They already made this series 3 movies, and I readily predict that this time it will be the exact same drull thing, only with Nicholas Cage as the star. At least Cage is a talented actor - at least incredibly more so that Kirk Cameron.

If not more talented, then at least more entertaining and fascinating. Just don't do like Abed Nadir and dwell too much on it, or you'll really Cage out!

Red Panda:
It's a damn shame they wasted Nick Cage on Rayford Steele. Nicholas Cage does one things good, and that is crazy. How they didn't get him to play the anti christ I will never know. It blows my mind the missed opportunity. It could have been the best comedy of the year, nick hamming it up to the 9's as the antichrist. What a waste. :(

I don't know about the 9's, but at least the 6's. 3 of them, by my math. :)

Phil Owen:
6 Reasons the Left Behind Books Suck (And Why the Movie Might, Too)

Sure, they're touted as best-selling novels, but the Left Behind books -- and maybe this week's movie release -- just aren't very good.

Read Full Article

Your prediction of the future has proven to be accurate: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/left_behind_2014/

 

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