Last night I finished Glorious Appearing, the last book in the Left Behind series. This completes a years-long venture for me.
I read the first book, Left Behind, the same summer I married the Cat Daddy. I think. The summers from that time of my life are all a bit mottled and mingled for various reasons, none of them very exciting at all. I mean, I was sober the whole time if that's what you're wondering.
I loved that first book. Over the years I continued to read the books, and even began collecting them, although my enthusiasm gradually waned. By the time they (LaHaye & Jenkins) finally finished the series a few years ago, I couldn’t bring myself to read the last one. I think I was still in grad school at the time, and if that was the case I honestly didn’t have the time to read it. And then I pretty much forgot about it until I found it in our church library a few weeks ago. It felt wrong, having read all of the first 11 books, not to go ahead and finish it off. So I checked it out.
Guess what? Jesus won.
True to form in many of the latter books, the vast majority of this one covered a span of only a few days, so most of the text was drawn out like a soap opera. Several storylines going at once, and they’d give a short vignette on each, always leaving the reader hanging at some point just before going onto the next. Big print, big margins, etc.—all the standard complaints of any of the books after number 4 or so.
There’s the whole pre-post-mid-trib debate, as well, but I don’t care too much about that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a pre-trib assumption and playing it out. Granted, LaHaye and others can get pretty snippy when anyone suggests anything else, but I generally ignore all of that since I don’t know enough to form a true opinion of my own (I like the pre-trib rapture simply because then the Christians don’t have to be around for any hard stuff). I'm not entirely sure that it matters all that much whether or not we know ahead of time which it will be.
Anyway, I hope I don’t get struck down for this, but my biggest complaint was the gratuitous scripture-quoting in the book. When Jesus came, he barely said anything that wasn’t in the Bible. At some points it made sense, since they were depicting prophecy fulfillment, but other times I felt gypped out of original and imaginative dialogue. Come on, I’m sure Jesus did and probably will say things that aren’t in the Bible. It would have been fun to put some of his words into everyday language. Instead of “Rayford, I will never leave you nor forsake you,” how about:
“Rayford, I will never leave you. Ever.”
“Dude, chill out—I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for you, man. Forever.”
See, it doesn’t even have to be particularly creative. They also really got into Jesus’s (and God’s) words literally slicing through people like a sword, resulting in spilled bowels and such, which was simultaneously hokey and cool in a sci-fi sort of way. Definitely not for kids. Or the squeamish. Or squeamish kids. They explained TONS of things away with a standard “it happened supernaturally,” which sounds like a big cop-out to me, especially thinking back to their more creative suggestions in the first few books. Although since they were talking about Jesus, I suppose anything can “just happen,” so whatever. And every so often they did manage to include a description or sentence or phrase that I found fairly moving. But don’t tell anyone I said that—it’ll ruin my snarky image.
Overall, would I recommend the book? Only if you’re a huge Left Behind buff. But whatever you do, take it with a grain of salt. Nice story. Fun to imagine. Blah blah blah…