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Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days [Abridged Audiobook]

de Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

Outros autores: Frank Muller (Narrador)

Séries: Left Behind (Abridged Audiobook - 1)

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When the trumpet sounds, where will you be? Passengers in an airborne Boeing 747 find out in this riveting novel by renowned Christian speaker Tim LaHaye and master storyteller Jerry Jenkins. Without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun. This fictional account of life after the Rapture delivers an urgent call to today's readers to prepare their own hearts and minister to others.… (mais)

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Out of curiosity – and as a sort of cultural anthropological experience -- I listened to the abridged audio version of this work to see what all the fuss was about. I chose the abridged version because I suspected (correctly as it turned out) that more than 3 hrs of the stuff would not be easy to tolerate.

Author Tim LaHaye (1926-2016) was a fundamentalist Christian of the most extreme, apocalyptic sort. He was convinced of a massive Satanic conspiracy (involving the "Illuminati", Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, Harvard University, and the "Trilateral Commission") that was subverting the US in order to merge it into a one-world socialist state. With the Left Behind Series he hit the jackpot of fame and fortune. It led to 16 best-selling books that sold more than 65 million copies and a spin-off series for teens of more than 40 more books, plus movies, graphic novels, music albums, radio dramatizations, online blogs, websites, and video games. We have good reason to believe that Mr. LaHaye died a very wealthy man, and “left behind” a very wealthy family, who no doubt thought their riches well- deserved.

The “Left Behind” concept is based on a peculiar interpretation of an obscure line in a letter purportedly written nearly 2100 years ago by the man we know (in English) as "Paul" (*note 1 below). He was the founder of the new religion that decades later came to be called Christianity. The idea behind the “left behind” idea is that at the end of the world, true believers in protestant fundamentalism (LaHayes’ personal religion) will rise “up” into the “sky” to meet their “god”. Given that “the sky” is a pre-scientific concept and “up” lies in opposite directions for people in (say) Australia vs North America, one is forced to envision these floating people encircling the earth at high altitude. But since the writer (like his contemporaries) surely believed that the earth is flat and didn’t know that continents, oceans, and kangaroos existed, the charitable course would be to overlook such details. (Or rather, it would be were it not for the uncompromising insistence of LaHayes and his ilk that everything in their Bible is to be taken literally, as written in English). Also unstated is whether these people were to be permitted to take their clothes, jewelry, back braces, and dentures with them. In LaHayes book, the clothes are in fact “left behind” (see below). If LaHayes is correct, then, the hovering faithful must be entirely naked, leaving many a “behind” (both left and right components) exposed to frigid temperatures of the upper atmosphere.

As for this work, the first book in the Left Behind series, it has received more than 4100 reviews at Amazon, 80% of which gave it 4 or 5 stars. Yet to date, it’s received only 91 reviews at Library Thing. What does that say about LT readers? Are they smart, or just plain bad? Inquiring Minds want to know.

But on to the story!! Millions of people suddenly vanish from the planet, leaving their clothes “behind” (including boxer shorts, bras, socks, and pantyhose), exactly where they’d been standing, sitting, and lying. Thus, husbands find they’ve been "left behind" by their wives (though not for the usual reasons), and wives by their (presumably now-naked) husbands. Naughty children are left behind as homeless orphans by their ultra-good parents. And fetuses are spirited out of uteri, leaving behind their not-so nice, no-longer-pregnant mothers (I’m not making this up). Commercial airplanes piloted by good church-going pilots are left pilotless and crash to the ground – collateral damage to the less devout, but that’s how it goes when you choose the wrong religion. Presumably the same happens worldwide in trains, gondolas, rickshaws, and Ferris wheels, although the reader is spared the details.

The people who disappear are chiefly fundamentalist Protestants. Catholics and Jews don’t make the cut. The long-standing question about the main criterion for being chosen is thereby answered, and the fundamentalists turn out to be right: you don’t get saved by being moral and upright or doing good works, but by believing in (and being born into) the right set of beliefs. As a result, those who practice Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, and animism, as well as agnostics, atheists, and most of the world’s scientists (*note 2 below) presumably aren’t in the running to do the naked- sky trip; however, the point is only implicit, and is never stated outright. Also left unexplained are the fates of Mormons, Scientologists, Anglicans (are they sufficiently protestant?), and liberal Democrats. Do they stay or do they go? Unfortunately, we don’t get to know, and that’s too bad, because the fates of each of these groups raise interesting theological questions.

The focus in Left Behind is entirely on the people who are (you guessed it) “left behind.” These individuals are disturbed, frightened, and perplexed, but oddly, life otherwise seems to go on pretty much as usual. Granted, the protagonist Rayford Steele, the handsome pilot of the 747 airline from which people disappear at the story’s outset, eventually changes his life. Now that his annoyingly ultra-religious wife is gone, Rayford stops lusting after the beautiful flight attendant (Hattie Durham) with whom he’s been trying to have an affair. He begins to attend church more regularly, the way his wife used to nag him to do. Then there’s a news reporter who was also left behind on the 747 -- Cameron "Buck" Williams (note that most of the males in this book have names like gay porn stars). “Buck” decides to investigate the disappearances. Later in the series, Wikipedia informs us, he winds up marrying Rayford’s Steele’s daughter Chloe Steele. Chloe also is "beautiful," like Hattie and the other women mentioned. (*See note 3 below).

Readers may well puzzle as to why there isn’t worldwide panic among those who remain, with massive resources poured into figuring out what happened and why. With most of the world’s scientists left behind (*note 2 again), one would expect an enormous outpouring of effort to characterize the missing by age, gender, political party, country of origin, religious affiliation, moral nature, physical attractiveness, and sexual orientation – a virtual census of the missing that might help explain why those who were left behind were and those who weren't weren’t.

But instead, it turns out, the world is fascinated by a newcomer on the international scene, the new President of Romania. He is the handsome, blonde, Nicolae Carpathia, who despite his name ("Carpathia" sounds like a type of STD) looks like Robert Redford and has been named by People magazine as the "Sexiest Man Alive." In a climax of the story, Carpathia amazes the world during an address to the UN, by managing to name each of the world’s nations, one after another, in alphabetical order! Through the list he goes – Algeria… Ghana… Mozambique … Trinidad... the whole way to Zanzibar! He pronounces each one correctly! And he doesn’t miss a single one!! Presumably Palestine is not named, since the deity of the fundamentalists has a particular political favorite in that part of the world.

From this and other schoolboy tricks, Carpathia charms the world into giving up their sovereignty and weaponry to a world government, of which he gets to be the head. He also gets to marry the afore-mentioned beautiful flight attendant, Hattie Durham -- for what prospective world dictator doesn't secretly lust after beautiful flight attendants? Neither Hattie nor anyone else thinks to ask why, if Nicolai is as good as everyone believes, he was also “left behind”.

However, readers who are apocalypse aficionados will be unsurprised to find that Nicolae Carpathia is none other than the Antichrist. Yes; he is the evil, evil figure foretold in Revelations. (This book was very nearly "left behind" from those chosen for the Christian Bible; in fact, such Protestant notables as Martin Luther seriously doubted its status). And as the Antichrist, Carpathia will figure importantly in the coming apocalypse and the Left Behind series’ other 55 books, plus the graphic novels, radio dramas, napkin holders, and video games. Evil sells, as both Dante Alighieri and John Milton knew well.

The Left Behind series has been criticized on numerous grounds, including its antithetical stance towards the diverse religions of the world. Oddly, one of the strongest criticisms has been that it is anti-Catholic (*note 4) -- as if being anti-Islamic/ anti-Buddhist/ anti-animist/ etc. isn’t even more problematic, given the billions of people involved. But aside from this arguable flaw, the series appears to be theologically illiterate – being incompatible with the religion that it purports to promote. In the series, and contrary to conventional Biblical interpretation, those who have been "left behind" get a second chance, even though "the rapture" has already happened. If they reform their lives and start believing in the right beliefs, they too may get to take the naked journey into the troposphere. Clearly, without this escape hatch, the Left Behind series would have nothing to preach about and nothing with which to motivate the unfaithful. So... what's a little apostasy in a good cause with excellent financial potential?

Unfortunately, after three hours of abridged audiotape, I found myself a bit let down. It’s one thing to have a wacky ideology that takes smug satisfaction in the eternal torment of most of the world’s people and sees worldwide destruction as a foreordained, outcome that we are helpless to prevent. But that’s no excuse for stereotyped characters, a paper-thin plot, and writing that hovers at a 5th-grade level.

But I would have to admit that the storyline was frightening – not because of its content, but because it presents a viewpoint held by countless millions. As one commentator noted several years ago, the ideology espoused in the Left Behind series ”provides a narrative and a theological rationale for a whole host of perplexing conservative policies, from the White House's craven decision to cut off aid to the United Nations Family Planning Fund to America's surreally casual mobilization for an invasion of Baghdad -- a city that is, in the Left Behind books, Satan's headquarters. “ (*note 5).

I will give the penultimate word to that same commentator: “Political attitudes and actions that make no practical or moral sense to secularists become comprehensible when viewed through Christian pop culture's eschatological looking glass. At a time when America is flagrantly flouting international law, spurning the U.N. and tacitly supporting the land grabs of Israeli maximalists, surely it's significant that the most popular fiction in the country creates a gripping narrative that pits American Christians against a conspiracy of Satan-worshipping, abortion-promoting, gun-controlling globalists…”.

Clearly, there's serious stuff here, folks. Scorn it you may. But given the nature of self-fulfilling prophecy, and the delight that millions reportedly take in the prospects of a nuclear Armageddon that destroys the planet, we may (sooner rather than later) face an End Times scenario -- from which no one's "behind" is "left".
* Note 1: A letter thought by scholars to have been written by Paul contains a line that can be translated into English as ”Next, all of us who are still alive will be taken up into the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the sky. This obscure sentence is the basis for the “rapture” that so many millions await.

* Note 2: 94% of the members of the US National Academy of Sciences are atheists/ agnostics. This body contains the nation’s most eminent and accomplished scientists.

* Note 3: A possible explanation is that the less attractive people were more likely to be taken away during the rapture -- as a divinely- directed form of natural selection. And maybe that reason is that being both good AND beautiful is especially difficult. Unfortunately, the point is never addressed.

* Note 4: Tim LaHaye was a harsh critic of Roman Catholicism. He characterized it as a “false religion” that engages in “pagan rituals”.

* Note 5: Goldberg, Michelle (2002). Fundamentally Unsound. Salon. https://web.archive.org/web/20071214062956/http://dir.salon.com:80/story/books/f... ( )
8 vote danielx | Jul 23, 2017 |
Truly enjoyable read. Loved the Biblical accuracy and the storyline. I looked forward to going back to this every time, and will look out for the next one.

Criticisms: The relationship between Buck and Chloe, which seemed a little juvenile - the dialogue, etc. Also, Hattie's character was a bit too "dumb blondish". Other than that, I loved it and will have to watch the movie again. ( )
  Chancelet | May 21, 2013 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Tim LaHayeautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Jenkins, Jerry B.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Muller, FrankNarradorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado

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When the trumpet sounds, where will you be? Passengers in an airborne Boeing 747 find out in this riveting novel by renowned Christian speaker Tim LaHaye and master storyteller Jerry Jenkins. Without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun. This fictional account of life after the Rapture delivers an urgent call to today's readers to prepare their own hearts and minister to others.

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