Ken Morefield examines the outrageously popular saga, and considers how it plays to evangelical “appetites.”

For most readers who are not evangelical Christians (and for many of us who are), the representation of reality in the Left Behind series can come across as oddly distorted. I have adopted the term “Evangelical Pornography” to describe the Left Behind franchise because its methods of representing its characters, particularly those who differ from its target audience, fit the description of what psychoanalyst Louise Kaplan calls a “perverse strategy” …

And listen to this…

In Left Behind, as in much Christian fiction, the objects that are portrayed seem to be represented in such a way as to gratify the consumers rather than challenge them. The role of the constructed reader flip-flops seamlessly, as it does in much pornography, between that of the victim wronged by the object of pornography and the victorious and vengeful corrector of past injustices. Pornography often reveals a deep-seated anger or hostility in the heart of the consumer which, combined with his feelings of powerlessness, creates a need to manipulate, punish, and humiliate the perceived sources of that treatment.

It has been my argument that much of the success of Left Behind has been because its evangelical readers feel exactly that sort of anger at and powerless over those loved ones who reject their own Christianity as well as at those non-Christians who have mocked or marginalized them. The response has been to create a fantasy world where those loved ones who have injured “me” are humiliated and forced to repeatedly acknowledge their own inferiority to “me,” while those strangers who have hurt me are placed in fantasy scenarios where roles are reversed and my arguments are clearly superior, my thinking always awarded the last word. While it may be comforting to imagine such a world, it is worth thinking on whether our comfort is worth the price we pay when we purchase it by stereotyping and caricaturizing those who threaten or disrupt it.

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