Picked up one of the great novels of our generation last night, Left Behind. It's sold over 60,000,000 copies...those are big numbers, only Harry Potter comes close. After years of mocking, yet fearing, Evangelical Christianity, I felt it was time to read something produced within the cult...err, I mean faith. Instead of reading another book or watching a documentary produced by someone from outside the faith, I decided to pick up a book written by the evangelical movements' Hemingway, the great Tim Lahaye. Finding Left Behind for 25-cents at a used book sale helped me come to this decision as well. Let me tell you, this one's a page turner. I zipped through Chapter 1 last night and could've kept on reading, but stopped for fear of getting sucked in. Thought I'd provide a recap here:
Starts on a Trans-Atlantic flight with the story of Rayford Steele. As you can see from the Wiki entry, he was born 42 YBR, which makes him 42 at the start of the book. Rayford's a married airline pilot, that lusts after one of his flight attendants (Hattie Durham). From what I can gather, Hattie's a real slut Rayford goes to church occasionally, but he's turned off by his wife who has become a big time evangelical, always talking about the rapture. At this point in the story, Rayford has never cheated on his wife, except for one "nekking" incident where he got wasted at a company holiday party.
Running parallel to the Rayford lust story, we've got the story of hotshot reporter Buck Williams. Buck just returne from Israel, where he interviewed some great scientist that was able to make sand fertile. Apparently that was all that was needed to make Israel a peaceful land and economic power. "The Holy Land bacame an export capital, the envy of the world, with virtually zero unemployment. Everyone prospered"(page 8)....such vivid prose. I almost believe it. While Buck's there in Israel, at a military camp. Russia gets jealous and invades Israel, with the help of its staunch allies and military powerhouses Libya and Ethiopia. Motivation for the attack is unclear as Russia appeared to be jealous and wanted to "dominate and occupy the Holy Land" while at the same time they "made it clear their mission was annihilation." (page 10) In the next paragraph, we get an idea why Buck Williams is such a hot shot reporter and an example of the great metaphor used by Lahaye. "To say the Israelis were caught off guard, Cameraon Williams had written, was like saying the Great Wall of China was long."....beautiful. From here, Lahaye gives an account of Russia's attack, one where they launched a sneak attack with a shitload of "Migs" and every ballistic missile in their arsenal. Somehow they were able to get everything up in the air and cover the long distance to Israel without anyone detecting it. This must be the greatest feat ever accomplished by airpower and the worst intelligence failure ever. Despite all the firepower, nothing's destroyed...apparently God shot down all the airplanes and caused "anything atomic and explosive to erupt high in the atmosphere."
Now we shift back to the airplane. Rayford's flying the plane, and finally decides he's going to make his move and bang Hattie. So, he leaves the cockpit, and she comes running scared. Apparently people are missing. She doesn't know what the hell's going on, but he knows the rapture just happened and they've all been 'Left Behind.'
To recap: Guy's looking to commit adultery, massive attack on Israel, then rapture. Lahaye comes out swinging with an action packed first chapter.
If you don't like reading and want to get in on the Left Behind action, pick up this video game.