I’ve debated on how to approach this, and postponed writing a review on Goodreads because of that. Now I’ve decided I’m going to do the hipster thing and blog about it. The book in question is Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. If you’re unfamiliar with that title, I’m sharing the link to the Goodreads description.
This description doesn’t come out and say it, but this is a very Christian novel. Your first question might be something along the lines of, you’re Pagan, why are you reading about how Christians think the world is going to end? I’m going to explain that, my pretties.
Since I first toed the line by putting my religion up on Facebook for all to see, my mother and I have been at odds about the entire thing. It’s a subject we tend to avoid most of the time. The day that these books were brought up, we were actually having a semi-decent conversation about religion, which is a rarity in and of itself. She asked me to read the book for her and since we were having such a good conversation, for us anyway, I agreed.
I told my mom upfront that I’ve already been down the “what if I’m wrong and I end up in hell” road. Growing up in the Bible belt will do that to you, but I let go of that fear a long time ago. I don’t want to follow a faith out of fear and I’m not going to. So I read this “novel of the earth’s last days.” And I didn’t hate it. Really. If I wanted to get into the series, I could really come to care for the main characters. I could get into the story. It’s fascinating in one respect. Not to mention, it’s an easy read.
Even though the book had an underlying theme of spread the faith, tell people about Christ, there was also the understanding that people have to come to it in their own time. You can’t push the issue or you drive them away. I can respect that. One thing that I’ve never been able to stand is feeling like religion is being shoved down my throat, but that’s not what I got from this book. There’s a difference between telling and trying to force it on someone and thankfully, this book fell on the right side of that line.
In the right context, it’s nice to explore other ideas about the world, or in this case how it will meet its end. To me, the beauty of a liberal arts education is teaching you to explore other ideas without feeling like your own are threatened. Unfortunately for religion, people don’t like to question. I think it makes them uncomfortable and I will admit, it takes a lot of confidence in your own faith to be able to look at another objectively.
This past weekend, while in a Xbox Live party (Wrac, you’re about to get a shout out), a friend of ours said something about why we’re so fascinated by end of the world theories/stories. I believe he said something about because we really don’t like each other, but more than that, we just want a fresh start. And in the Left Behind context, there will be a fresh start, after the seven years of virtual hell on earth. After that, and all the trials that come with, it’s said there will be the one thousand year reign of Christ on Earth. See, to me, that’s fascinating. And my mom and I both were wondering, well, what happens after the one thousand years? To the gods (or in this case, God), one thousand years is really not that much time. We speculated that the cycle will start all over again. I’m not that well versed in Norse mythology, but isn’t Ragnarok a similar idea? It’s all a cycle of birth and death, redemption and damnation. I think the Celts liked that idea as well.
Every ending is a new beginning. Who wouldn’t want to believe in that?
So in short, Left Behind was not a bad read. It’s not a series I’m utterly captivated by, but it’s something different from my usual reading material. That’s always good. And it’s even better to explore other ideas. Though, even after reading it, I’m still Pagan. I still feel a connection to the Goddess and so long as I feel that connection, I’m staying on my path. It gives me strength and it gives me peace, especially in times of hardship. I’m one of the hippies on the train of we’re all worshipping the same thing, we just connect to it differently. The rest is just details.