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        I had a student mention this series early in the year.  Anytime a student 
mentions a book of some kind, it presents a lead that you definitely want to 
pursue.  I accidentally came across a reference to the series in the 
Labor-Community Reporter (December 2004) published by Opportunities for Broome 
(Broome County, NY).  The author was quoting Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times:

        "According to Kristof, these books tell how the born-again Jesus will 
return to earth to destroy the Hindus, Muslims, Jews, certain unborn-again 
Protestants, Unitarians, of course the agnostic's, and yes, even the Catholics, 
(notwithstanding the Bishop's recent tilt to the Political Right in favor of our 
best known born-again living in the White House), by throwing them all into an 
everlasting fire pit."

        Since both the Labor-Community Reporter and the New York Times are left of 
center, I checked into some websites for other views.  Here are some other opinions:

Fundamentally unsound
Left Behind, the bestselling series of paranoid, pro-Israel end-time thrillers, may 
sound kooky, but America's right-wing leaders really believe this stuff.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Michelle Goldberg
"Left Behind cloaks itself in the conventions of ordinary airport thrillers, but it 
does far more than just provide a Christian alternative to decadent mainstream 
entertainment. It creates a Christian theory of everything, one that slates current 
events into a master narrative in which the world is destroyed and then remade to 
evangelical specifications. It's an alternate universe in which conservative Middle 
Americans are vindicated against everyone who doesn't share their beliefs -- 
especially liberals and Jews. 
"There's nothing wrong with that. Everyone is entitled to their fantasies. But 
LaHaye and Jenkins are at pains to show that the Left Behind books are meant as 
more than fiction. They write on the Left Behind Web site 
<>, 'While it is true that in the broad spectrum of 
Protestant Christianity there are multiple views of the end-times scenario, the 
pre-millennialist theology found in the Left Behind Series is the prominent view 
among evangelical Christians, including their leading seminaries such as Talbot 
Seminary, Trinity Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary.'
"So the rest of us can ignore Left Behind, or chuckle at its over-the-top Christian 
kitsch. We should keep in mind, though, that for some of the most powerful people 
in the world, this stuff isn't melodrama. It's prophecy." 

A comment from Wesley Clark, found on this website:

                "Now, there's one party in America that's made the United Nations 
the enemy. And I don't know how many of you have ever read that series of books 
that's published by the Christian right that's called the 'Left Behind' series? 
Probably nobody's read it up here. But don't feel bad, I'm not recommending it to 
you. I'm just telling you that according to the book cover that I saw in the 
airport, 55 million copies have been printed. And in it, the Antichrist is the 
United Nations. And so there's this huge, ill-informed body of sentiment out there 
that's just grinding away against the United Nations."

                Apologetics Index 

                        "A seminary professor who has delved into the Book of 
Revelation believes the "Left Behind" fiction series has some positive points but a 
raft of faulty theology. 
                        Loren Johns, academic dean at Associated Mennonite Biblical 
Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., told a Feb. 28 convocation at Bethel College that the 
popular end-times books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins 'exude an evangelical 
warmth and passion that I find encouraging.' 
                        At the same time, he said, because of the consumerist, 
militaristic values expressed, 'I view the series as a rejection of the good news 
of Christ.'
                        Johns believes the popularity of the series, and the 
public's penchant for end-times prophecy, spring from a basic misreading of 
                        Source: Professor critiques 'Left Behind' books 
<> <<ole0.bmp>>  <<ole1.bmp>>  By 
Robert Rhodes, Mennonite Weekly Review

        The publishers of Apologetics Index reject the end-time theology promoted 
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. 

                It would seem to me that the Left Behind series in not in the 
tradition of Christian literature as written by C. S. Lewis, Lloyd Douglas or 
Morris West.  I see no problem in having literature that promotes a particular 
religious view or is meant to attract new converts, but if the philosophy crosses 
the line into bigotry and/or superiority, this becomes another issue.  Here is 
where your selection criteria can become very critical.
                        Although our school's selection policy is quite old and 
needs to be updated, such matters are addressed.  The New York State Education 
Department has this reference that is applicable: "Biased or slanted materials may 
be provided only to meet specific curriculum objectives".  This is from a 
publication that probably dates from the early 1980's.  
                        The school's internet policy, formulated relatively 
recently,  is more specific.  Students or staff are not allowed to "access, 
transmit, or retransmit material which advocates or promotes violence or hatred 
against particular individuals or groups of individuals or advocates or promotes 
the superiority of one racial group over another."  This same criteria should apply 
to any other media as well.
                        Not having read any of these books, I have to withhold 
final judgment, but I do have to question whether novels of this type belong on the 
shelves of a public school library.  

                Ed Nizalowski, SMS
                Newark Valley High School
                Newark Valley, NY

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