Apocalypse, now? The geopolitics of Left Behind
- 350 Downloads
This paper is a reading of the geopolitical scripts, themes, and representations found within the Left Behind series. This best-selling series of twelve books, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, portrays the last 7 years of the world, a time known in premillennial dispensationalist eschatology as the Tribulation. During this period, the world becomes increasingly centralized, politically and economically, around Nicolae Carpathia, a figure that turns the United Nations into a one-world government called the Global Community. The increasingly oppressive New World Order is opposed by a group of new Christians known as the Tribulation Force, who see Carpathia for what he really is: the Antichrist, a figure later indwelt by Satan himself, who is intent on leading humans away from the true Christ. This paper begins with an overview of the books’ narrative, focusing on how specific geographies are constructed that tie certain places and peoples to either cosmic good or cosmic evil. The paper then explores three geopolitical themes that emerge in this reading of the text. First, the paper addresses the importance of spectatorship in defusing the ennui caused by the characters’ living through a preordained set of events. Second, the paper discusses the role of technology in enabling a resistant evangelical Christian identity that requires a dominating, yet not dominant, secular Other. Third, the paper addresses the relationship between violence and righteousness, as portrayed within this popular series.
KeywordsGeopolitical imaginations Popular geopolitics Premillennial dispensationalism Left Behind Israel Antichrist
The authors would like to thank Jim Craine, Klaus Dodds and all anonymous reviewers for their assistance in the preparation of this paper. All flaws remain our own.
- Anonymous. (2006). In brief. In Washington Post, B09. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Dittmer, J. (2007c). Of Gog and Magog: The geopolitical visions of Jack Chick and premillennial dispensationalism. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 6(2), 278–303.Google Scholar
- Dittmer, J., & Larsen, S. (2007). Captain Canuck, audience response, and the project of Canadian nationalism. Social and Cultural Geography, 8(5), 735–753.Google Scholar
- Dodds, K. (2003). Licensed to stereotype: Geopolitics, James Bond and the Spectre of Balkanism. Geopolitics, 8(2), 125–156.Google Scholar
- Haraway, D. (1997). The persistence of vision. In K. Conboy, N. Medina, & S. Stanbury (Eds.), Writing on the body: Female embodiment and feminist theory (pp. 283–295). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- LaHaye, T., & Jenkins, J. (1997). Nicolae: The rise of the Antichrist. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.Google Scholar
- LaHaye, T., & Jenkins, J. (1999). Assassins: Assignment–Jerusalem, target–Antichrist. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.Google Scholar
- LaHaye, T., & Jenkins, J. (2004). Glorious appearing: The end of days. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.Google Scholar
- Lindsay, H. (1970). The late, great planet Earth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.Google Scholar
- Shuck, G. (2005). Marks of the beast: The Left Behind novels and the struggle for evangelical identity. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar