Tim LaHaye: The King of the Apocalyp$e Returns
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri May 13, 2011 at 12:33:38 PM EST
In some circles, Elvis Presley is referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll," others claim Little Richard as the true "King"; Harry Belafonte has been dubbed the "King of Calypso," but he may have to share that title with The Mighty Sparrow; at various times in film history, Siegmund Lubin, America's first movie "mogul," Francis X. Bushman, the screen's first great romantic idol, and Clark Gable, a star for more than thirty years, have all been referred to as "King of the Movies."

When it comes to the End of Days, however, the undisputed "King of the Apocalypse" is Rev. Tim LaHaye.

No matter how many pastors, preachers, novelists, and self-described prophets (think Harold Camping, Joel Rosenberg, Pastor John Hagee) might try to stake a claim to that title, LaHaye sewed it up several years ago when he, along with co-author Jerry Jenkins, managed to sell more than 63 million copies of the "Left Behind" series of apocalyptic novels.

Enjoying The Rapture all the way to the bank

As "King of the Apocalypse"  LaHaye is highly critical of Harold Camping, the Oakland, California-based owner of several fundamentalist Christian radio stations who has grabbed headlines by claiming "that Jesus Christ will come to rapture believers on May 21, 2011" and that "God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011."

"No one knows the day or the hour when that merciful and blessed day [Jesus' return] will come," LaHaye wrote in a column titled "Is Harold Camping Right This Time?".

It may not be apocalyptically correct to predict the exact day of the apocalypse, but it sure makes sense to market the heck out of it before that day arrives.

Sixteen years after the publication of the first "Left Behind" novel, and with fresh memories of the earthquake, tsunami and near nuclear meltdown in Japan, the current flooding in the Midwest, raging drug wars in Mexico, and uncertainty of the outcomes of the Arab Spring uprisings, it is now apparently the perfect time for Tyndall House Publishers to announce the repackaging of the "Left Behind" books, its series of mega-best-selling apocalyptic novels.

Under the banner headline, "What if it happened today?, Tyndale House Publishers has just announced the repackaging of LaHaye and Jenkins' wildly popular "Left Behind" series of apocalyptic novels.

Tyndale's savvy promo folks tease with: "What if the Rapture happened today?How would it play out in the media? What images would roll through Times   Square? How would someone watching it feel?"

Clearly in search of a second generation of "Left Behind" readers, Tyndale House Publishers stated: "Answering those questions is exactly how we approached the new repackage of the mega best-selling Left Behind series. The new covers have a feeling of immediacy, as if the plot's action is happening alongside today's headline news. This combination of content and style will appeal to both newcomers and longtime fans of the series."

A recent survey of its board of directors conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals found that "A majority [65%] of evangelical leaders believe that Jesus Christ will return to earth and then reign with his followers for 1,000 years," The Christian Post reported in early March.

A PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey poll, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service following the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, found that while most Americans do not believe that God plays a direct role in natural disasters, "among White evangelicals, 67% believe that natural disasters are evidence of what the Bible calls the 'end times' compared to 52% who see it as evidence of global climate change.

"Among Republicans, 52% believe that natural disasters are evidence of what the Bible calls the 'end times' compared to 41% who see it as evidence of global climate change."

I was not aware of this until just a short time ago, but Tim LaHaye, the co-author (along with Jerry Jenkins) of the "Left Behind" series, and a longtime leader on the Religious Right,  was visiting Maui in Hawaii when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March.

According to news reports, he "was one of many visiting the island of Maui who had to be evacuated to upper floors of the Marriott Hotel ..."

WorldNetDaily reported that "he said being caught in the crossfire of the fourth largest earthquake in modern history helped prepare him for two prophecy conferences he was scheduled to address in Hawaii."

"The Bible tells us in Matthew 24 that one of the signs of the last days - one of the birth pangs to occur - is an increase in earthquake activity and intensity," LaHaye said. "We're seeing that happen here. It's not just earthquakes, but hurricanes and all kinds of natural disasters."

LaHaye, whose wife Beverly founded the very influential women's organization, Concerned Women for America, has written, according to WorldNetDaily, "more than 60 non-fiction books on a wide range of subjects such as family life, temperaments, sexual adjustment, Bible prophecy, the will of God, Jesus Christ, and secular humanism with over 14 million in print, some of which have been translated into as many as 32 foreign languages."

In case you think that LaHaye is content to rest on his laurels, he recently announced that he was being "driven to use the most powerful communication tool ever invented, movies, to have the Biblical story of ten post-resurrection appearances of Christ made into the first quality movie that tells the story as it really happened, faithfully recorded by eye witnesses."

According to LaHaye, he is working on the project with Lionel Chetwynd - a screenwriter whose credits include the Academy Award nominated "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" and The Hanoi Hilton" -- and its working title is "The Resurrection."  "My prayer," writes LaHaye, "is that we may be able to release the movie to the public by pre-Easter of 2012."

LaHaye's prayers did not help make any of the first three "Left Behind" movies watchable, but they, along with the books, the video game, and all the other "Left Behind" paraphernalia has certainly has made Tim LaHaye the undisputed "King of the Apocalypse."

I have perused a few excerpts of one of the "Left Behind" books and found it plodding, contrived and virtually unbearable to read.
I see them for sale at thrift stores and yard sales, and even though they are extremely cheap, I can't bring myself to waste 25 cents on pseudo-religious-violent porn.
Like Mr. T, I 'pity the fool' who spends hard earned money on this opportunistic rehash of bad theology and bad writing.

by COinMS on Fri May 13, 2011 at 03:14:29 PM EST

Chuck Berry is the true king of Rock n' Roll!

by Da Rat Bastid on Fri May 13, 2011 at 09:34:21 PM EST

I have a dear old friend who lives on Moloka'i, the next Hawaiian island over from Maui; my husband and I rang him just after the wave from the recent tsunami passed through. He said nobody, even coastal dwellers, in his neck of the woods was in any danger at all so I can't believe that the tsunami was what one would call a big deal at all on Maui. Could Tim LaHaye have been indulging in a bit of p.r.?

by nogodsnomasters on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:08:29 PM EST
As far as earthquakes, volcanos, and so on, it's actually been rather quiet lately.  There is also strong evidence (almost proof) that the climate has been far more stable in the last 14,000 or so years than it's been in millions of years.

All of this is grasping at straws.



Note that these are not the research articles I'd read, which are far better.  I googled and couldn't find a reliable source regarding the frequency of earthquakes, although I'd read that the geologic evidence suggests they've been a 'bit quieter' in the last few centuries/millenia as well.  The two examples are a bit more reliable than the usual run-of-the-mill web page.

(If you try to search for the frequency of earthquakes, all you'll get is page after page of self-contradicting fundamentalist "proving the bible" junk pseudoscience.  One page said that the frequency of earthquakes had decreased, but that proved creationism was true and that Noah's flood had actually occurred!!!)

by ArchaeoBob on Fri May 13, 2011 at 02:44:29 PM EST

... the decline in the number of pirates causes global warming. So the Somali pirates are working to counteract that nasty trend. Ramen!

by Khalila RedBird on Sat May 14, 2011 at 12:27:04 PM EST
So tell me are you an Alfredan, a Maranarist, or a Pestoite? Do you think Ninjas may have something to do with the decline in the number of pirates?
It is good to meet another member of the Church of the FSM!

by Frank Frey on Sat May 14, 2011 at 07:28:37 PM EST
an allaolian?

(We're the purists!  GRIN!)

by ArchaeoBob on Sat May 14, 2011 at 08:26:21 PM EST

Haven't hear from your particular sect in a while.:-)
Thanks for the grin my brother. Much appreciated.

by Frank Frey on Sat May 14, 2011 at 11:00:03 PM EST

The important difference between successful purveyors of End-of-Days stuff and 2nd tier players (like Camping) is in modulating the message down to the mythic level.

LaHaye traffics in a pop mythologizing of the end of the world. This resonates with lots and lots of folks, who would like nothing better than to have an omnipotent god come down from above and deal a comeuppance to a world that "failed" to love them adequately. As Edith Wharton said, our myths are a barometer of our societal goals and aspirations. An end of the world myth is a reflection of an outwardly projected desire to end it all.

A 20th century popularization of that myth--in books and movies--doesn't bode well for the hope of a sustainable democratic republic.

by razajac on Sun May 15, 2011 at 08:30:25 PM EST

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