Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Glorious Appearing: Review

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
“Glorious Appearing” is the 12th volume in the “Left Behind series” that began in 1995. The first book, “Left Behind” began with the Rapture, where the true believing Christians were taken directly into heaven and the earth was about to begin the great Tribulation as was written about in the Biblical book of Revelation. Over the course of eleven books, judgment after judgment rained down about the planet as a small (but growing) group of new believers tried to spread the Word of God before it was finally too late. They also opposed the Anti-Christ that was foretold, Nicolae Carpathia and worked against him to help and save as many as possible. Book after book gave new judgments (with a literal approach to “Revelation”) and we were being led inexorably to the Glorious Appearing of Jesus. The series is written by two Christians, and having read one book you know that this is a pro-Christian series, so you know where they are going with the series. We just don’t know exactly how we are going to get there.

The first eleven books of the series, leading up to the Glorious Appearing, were bound with a black cover, suggesting the darkness of the state of the world and the judgments of God. When we finally get to book twelve, titled “Glorious Appearing”, we finally have a white cover. Don’t think this was done by mistake or just by chance. Finally, with the return of Christ at hand, there will be a light in the darkness that was the Tribulation. The light of Christ. It was a subtle decision, but I think it was a fairly clever one.

On to the content of the book. At the end of “Armageddon” we know that we are so close to the Glorious Appearing. Either Rayford Steele or Buck Williams died at the end of the previous book and near the beginning of this one we find out which one (I guessed wrong, but I think the clues were misleading). Other than learning that detail, the first half of the book seems to be in a holding pattern. There is a little bit of action, but what we’re waiting for is Christ’s return.

Much of the tension of the series has been the fact that we don’t know who is going to be alive by the time Jesus actually returns. I believe that it is stated in the first book that only one out of every four people will be alive. So, we see the Tribulation Force grow, and have members be cut away as the series progresses. We know how the series ends, so it is no spoiler to say that the most powerful scenes involve the reunions of the Trib Force with those who had died (or were Raptured). What is less effective is the lack of dramatic tension in the book, and I guess that there was no choice because of the nature of the series.

One of the drawing points of the series, and this book, was wondering just how it is possible to describe an event like the Second Coming of Christ. Jenkins does a credible, and powerful job at the “event” but because there wasn’t much story to tell in this book, a lot of it feels like filler. Even much of the action that happened after the Return felt like padding and repetition. Granted, one of the hallmarks of this series has never been excellent writing, but rather the emotional power of the story, however “Glorious Appearing” was somewhat of a let down. It was still a fast paced enjoyable book, but this is the concluding volume of the series and should have left a powerful, satisfying conclusion. It didn’t. It did leave room for the sequel that Jenkins and LaHaye has planned (something I never understood), and it did wrap up the storylines that were going on for 11 volumes, but it was a series that went out more on a whimper than a bang.

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