It is the not-too-distant future, and the rapture has occurred.
Every born-again Christian on the planet has, without prior
warning, been snatched from the earth to meet Christ in the
heavens, while all those without the requisite faith have been left
behind to suffer the wrath of the Antichrist as the earth enters
into its final days.
This is the premise that animates the enormously popular
cultural phenomenon that is the Left Behind series of prophecy
novels, co-written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins and published
between 1995 and 2007. But these books are more than fiction: it is
the sincere belief of many evangelicals that these events actually
will occur--soon. Plotting Apocalypse delves into the
world of rapture, prophecy, and tribulation in order to account for
the extraordinary cultural salience of these books and the impact
of the world they project. Through penetrating readings of the
novels, Chapman shows how the series offers a new model of
evangelical agency for its readership. The novels teach that
although believers are incapable of changing the course of a future
that has been preordained by God, they can become
empowered by learning to read the prophetic books of the Bible--and
the signs of the times--correctly. Reading and interpretation
become key indices of agency in the world that Left Behind
Plotting Apocalypse reveals the significant cultural
work that Left Behind performs in developing a counter-narrative to
the passivity and fatalism that can characterize evangelical
prophecy belief. Chapman's arguments may bear profound implications
for the future of American evangelicalism and its interactions with
culture, society, and politics.
Subjects: Language & Literature, Religion
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