Addicted to novelty since 2001

Left Behind and the Christian Economy

Left Behind is a 12-book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins which offers a literal, bloody version of the Book of Revelations. The twelfth and final book, Glorious Appearing, goes on sale today. Collectively, the books have sold more than 40-million copies, supplanting John Grisham as the most popular novelist among adults. There was also a feature film starring Kirk Cameron that, oddly, failed miserably.

I haven’t read these books, but I’d like to read at least one (there’s an excerpt from the first book here). The pro-America sentiment might be a bit hard to swallow. One article I read (not available online) indicated that the books render Satan as Russian and demonize (quite literally) the EU.

While Left Behind is relatively mainstream, it serves as an example of what I call ‘the Christian economy’. Millions and millions of dollars are exchanged among Christian businesses in Canada and the US in a sort of parallel marketplace. I’m speaking here mostly of media products–books, television and movies. It’s fascinating to me that all of this creative material gets produced and consumed but, with rare exceptions, doesn’t get recognized by the mainstream media.

8 Responses to “Left Behind and the Christian Economy”

  1. Augie De Blieck Jr.

    Christian music, at least, is starting to cross over into the pop charts, almost on a par with country music. Even Best Buy now dedicates a separate Christian Music section to their CD aisles. And crossover artists and singles are happening more and more often, from Three Pence None The Richer (which just broke up) to Michael W. Smith and Lone Star and a couple other big hits of the past year whose names I’ve just blanked on completely.

  2. Kyle

    I’d say Left Behind is fairly mainstream. It’s carried by most bookstores I visit, and not in the ‘religious’ section, either. I’ve read it (the first book, that is), and probably still have it somewhere around the house…

  3. Darren

    Are you referring to Six Pence None the Richer, who had a hit with “Kiss Me”? Or is there another band that’s, you know, half the price?

  4. Darren

    Kyle: Indeed, ‘Left Behind’ isn’t a great example. Still, I doubt that many of my non-Christian friends have read it.

  5. heather

    i’ve been trying to find the left behind series in bookstores, off and on, for the last couple years only to be stumped. my last attempt was at chapters in metrotown. they didn’t even have them in their database.

    i’m definitely not christian, but i do a lot of reading on religions and when a friend told me of the series i was very excited to read it.

  6. alan

    The Bible Thumper at my workplace reads them and she once confessed to me that these books were really scary to her. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “I don’t want to get left behind.”

    I think there’s still a scar on my tongue from where I bit down really hard.

  7. alexis

    I worked at Coles, and we carried these books in the fiction section.

    Chuck Klosterman wrote an article about this series, which appeared in his book “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.” Can’t remember many details, but it did make a statement about why the books were so popular.

  8. becky

    Oy, the quality of writing in these books is AWFUL. I read the first couple, and had to stop — due to the horrible writing and the fact it made me sick that I was contributing to such a marketed scam. Ugh.

    (sorry, personal issues there!)

    My thesis project sorta centers around this issue of the marginalization/commercialization of Christianity — and the effects these mediums have on the message itself.

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