Tim LaHaye's 'new' 'improved' more apocalyptic apocalypse
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Apr 26, 2010 at 02:00:19 PM EST
LaHaye's Apocalyptic Dreams Hits Pay-dirt with new series of books

Given the Tax Day Tea Parties, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 40th anniversary of the burning of the student union building on the campus of the University of Kansas, the National Football League's draft, and news about the Hutaree Christian militia, you may have missed one of the major literary events of the week; the return of Tim LaHaye with a new series of apocalyptic novels.

Yes, to paraphrase the great Lou Christy, for the Detroit, Michigan born Tim LaHaye who will turn 84 on April 27, the Apocalypse is striking again and again and again and again.

And, cash register drawers at bookshops all across the country are once again ringing - perhaps not as loudly as they did for his Left Behind series - the mega-bestseller sold more than 65 million copies and was translated into 30 languages -- but they're ringing nevertheless.

Welcome to 'Edge of Apocalypse'

If you thought that the wildly popular Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels told the entire End Times/Rapture story, think again. Welcome to LaHaye's `Edge of Apocalypse,' the first novel of his new and improved, and even more apocalyptic, series of books.

Don't underestimate the market for the new LaHaye series. As Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates, a liberal think tank focusing on the political and Christian right, has pointed out, a pretty large segment of Christians believe in the inevitability of the End Times. "Popularized in 1970 by Hal Lindsey whose book `The Late Great Planet Earth' has sold over 19 million copies, Berlet said about 30 percent to 40 percent of Americans believe the end is near and they watch for signs of the times for Christ's second coming," American Baptist Press recently reported.

On April 20, Zondervan, a HarperCollins company which describes itself as "a world leader in Christian communications," published "Edge of Apocalypse," the first novel in a new series of apocalyptic novels called The End, co-authored by LaHaye and Craig Parshall. Zondervan, which released the book on April 20, is promoting "Edge of Apocalypse" as "an apocalyptic epic infused with political intrigue ripped from today's headlines." It will have a first print run of 250,000 copies.    

LaHaye and Parshall are giving the public a kind of "son" of The Left Behind series: more threats from rogue states, more betrayal in Washington, more talk of the Rapture and the Last Days, and perhaps most importantly -- in a "ripped from today's headlines" kinda way -- "a secret group known only as The Patriots [that] can save the United States from terrorists abroad and traitors within."  

Set in the near future, "Edge of Apocalypse," according to Zondervan, "jumpstarts the series as military-hero-turned-inventor Joshua Jordan attempts to save Manhattan from two nuclear missiles. Using his Return to Sender military defense system, Jordan finds himself facing an unbearable ransom to the nation he loves. As tensions escalate and global alliances topple, only Jordan and a secret group known only as The Patriots can save the United States from terrorists abroad and traitors within. Set in the very near future, The End series chronicles the earth shattering events which eventually lead up to the Rapture and the beginning of the prophesied Last Days of mankind."

"I'm thrilled to partner with Zondervan to produce a series hopefully even more innovative than Left Behind," said LaHaye, a longtime figure on the Religious Right whose career has gone from marriage and family counseling to direct political action - most notably he helped found the Council for National Policy a secretive right wing lobby group that has been called "the most powerful conservative organization in America you've never heard of" -- to one of the major keepers of the apocalyptic flame. "While my past works have piqued interest in biblical prophecy on a global level, The End series includes many prophecies that were not covered in Left Behind."

According to his bio at Zondervan's website, Craig Parshall "is a highly successful lawyer from the Washington D.C. area and the author of the legal thrillers, Chamber of Justice series. He has also co-authored three books with his wife Janet [a leading right wing radio talk show host] including their new Thistle and Cross Series.

Tim LaHaye Enterprises: A growing concern

It was LaHaye's Left Behind series that thrust him, and his co-author Jerry Jenkins, into the national spotlight, as at least seven titles in the series reached #1 on the bestseller lists for The New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly. From most reports, it is clear that LaHaye didn't actually do the writing. That was left to Jenkins, a former sports writer who has authored several best-sellers on his own. Rather, LaHaye offered up a batch of notes -- the idea man if you will - and Jenkins swept it into novel form.

"I write the best I can," LaHaye has said. "I know I'm never going to be revered as some classic writer. I don't claim to be C. S. Lewis. The literary-type writers, I admire them. I wish I was smart enough to write a book that's hard to read, you know?"

The Left Behind series has spawned its own cottage industry of kids books, screensavers, wallpaper, several full-length feature films, and the Left Behind video games -- LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces, was the most widely distributed Christian game in history.

The website of the Tim LaHaye Ministries offers a horde of resources about the End Times: "The Complete Bible Prophecy Chart," at only $3.50, is probably the best bargain amongst LaHaye's stock. As LaHaye points out, "A lot happens in the Bible - so much that quite a bit of reading and study is necessary to grasp the big picture of all that takes place from the beginning to the end." The Chart "presents a complete panorama of much that happens in the Bible - both the past and the future ....  [and it] takes you step by step through each of the major ages in God's master plan, beginning with the Age of Innocence and continuing onward to the Millennial Kingdom and beyond, into eternity."

The big ticket item is the LaHaye End Times 10-pack, which, at a hefty $155.00 per, brings you 10 of LaHaye's  Greatest Hits, including: "Are We Living in the End Times"; "Charting the End Times"; "The End Times Controversy"; "The Merciful God of Prophecy"; "The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary"; "The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy"; "The Rapture, Who Will Face the Tribulation?"; "Revelation Unveiled"; "Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, New King James Version"; and, "Understanding Bible Prophecy for Yourself."

LaHaye and his wife Beverly, a best selling author and the founder of the conservative lobbying group, Concerned Women for America, have been married since 1947.

In addition to a number of book store appearances, LaHaye will be in Kalamazoo, Michigan on May 1 to speak about the end of times at a prophecy conference hosted by Calvary Chapel.  

Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis Schaeffer, one of the godfathers of the Religious Right, and a former member of the Christian right in good standing recently wrote that "Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's LeftBehind series ... represents everything that is most deranged about religion." "What happened with this militia group [the Hutaree in Michigan] is that their paranoid, deranged fantasy jumped from the page into sick brains and was turned into action."

Schaeffer pointed out that while he wasn't "blaming Jenkins and LaHaye's [Left Behind] product line for the plot to murder cops or any other evil intent or result," he did feel that it was "feeding the paranoid delusions of people on the fringe of the fringe contributes to a dangerous climate that may provoke violence in a few individuals."  

And now comes "Edge of Apocalypse." If LaHaye, and his new partner Craig Parshall, have their way, there will be more apocalyptic wallpaper, apocalyptic screen savers, apocalyptic movies and apocalyptic video games. Unfortunately, there is also likely to be more apocalyptic weird guys in camo running around in the woods somewhere near you.




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