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the Complete Review
the complete review - religion

Skipping Towards Armageddon

Michael Standaert

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To purchase Skipping Towards Armageddon

Title: Skipping Towards Armageddon
Author: Michael Standaert
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2006
Length: 232 pages
Availability: Skipping Towards Armageddon - US
Skipping Towards Armageddon - UK
Skipping Towards Armageddon - Canada
  • The Politics and Propaganda of the Left Behind Novels and the LaHaye Empire
  • With an Appendix: Synopses of the Books

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting and useful overview of a bizarre phenomenon

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The 'Left Behind'-series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are among the most impressive publishing successes of recent times, selling "over 70 million copies in the past decade". They are works of fiction, but they are not competing with Harry Potter, John Grisham, or Stephen King. As Michael Standaert makes very clear (and the authors themselves essentially admit):

they are thinly veiled works of political propaganda using a good-versus-evil narrative set in the very near future, containing real places and real peoples; non-fiction polemics masquerading as fiction; and fundraisers for yet more explicit ventures into political activism.
       The Left Behind novels offer an apocalyptic vision based on a peculiar reading of the Bible and focussed on the idea of the 'rapture'. Times of tribulation will wreak havoc on the earth, setting the stage for the return of Christ who then fixes everything again; only those that have committed to him will be saved and eventually live happily everafter. Everybody else is out of luck and will suffer greatly.
       The LaHaye-Christ is no Mr.Nice Guy -- not the "loving, wimpy Jesus" manufactured by liberalism (so LaHaye). No, he's a Rambo-like s.o.b. who is going to show those non-believers what's what in the final show-down. Mass-slaughter will apparently be his preferred method.
       As fiction it might not be a bad story -- nutty, sure, but lots of action, lots of blood, and it might even allow for the discussion of some weighty issues. The problem is that LaHaye is (or convincingly pretends to be) a firm believer -- in this lunacy. He's not the first or last to claim the end is nigh, but few have been as successful in using millennial Angst to foster their agenda.
       The most useful aspect of Skipping Towards Armageddon is in showing that LaHaye has an agenda, and how far he (and like-minded folks in influential positions) have gotten with it. The Left Behind books -- and all similar apocalyptic mumbo-jumbo -- are an exercise in fear-mongering: it's my way or the highway, LaHaye is telling people, and his books make clear that the only possible highway is a road you definitely don't want to go down. Troublingly, his way is a very specific interpretation of the Bible that isn't very nice and isn't very helpful. Despite being focussed on what happens when, essentially, the world comes to an end, it demands a very specific life-style now. Communism used to be the convenient unifying enemy, now liberalism will have to do, and in LaHaye's (pitch-)black and white world there's only either or, no in between -- and very little tolerance for anything outside his judgmental and limited norms.
       Standaert offers a good overview of LaHaye and like-minded folk and how they (ab)use religion for their ends. Of particular interest -- and particularly disturbing -- is the reach they have and the political power they have come to wield (much of it veiled behind a very secretive manner). From the abuse of non-profit status by religious organizations to the consequences of these ridiculous beliefs on foreign and domestic policy, Standaert shows what a pernicious effect LaHaye and his cohorts have had on American society and politics. And, despite the constant cries of 'Wolf !', they're still going strong.
       Skipping Towards Armageddon is packed with information, offering a lot of detail. The connexions and quotes can make for an occasionally numbing read (alas, also, there's no index to help readers find references when they crop up again ...), but for the most part it is aggravatingly engaging (aggravating because it's so hard to believe that so many people are taken in by this nonsense, and that LaHaye has had such success with it). Standaert uses the Left Behind books well in building his case(s), though more detail on them would also have been welcome (though there are other books that have covered that ground).
       Offering a look at one of the uglier sides of American politics -- and one that can't be ignored --, as well as a bizarre publishing-success, it's certainly worthwhile

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Skipping Towards Armageddon: Reviews: Tthe Left Behind-series and Tim LaHaye: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of books dealing with Religion

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About the Author:

       Michael Standaert lives in California.

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© 2006-2010 the complete review

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