Will The Leftovers steal some of Left Behind’s thunder?

Fred Clark makes an interesting argument that hadn’t occurred to me before: If the secular Rapture drama The Leftovers premieres on HBO in June — just a little more than three months before the Christian Rapture reboot Left Behind comes to theatres in October — then the secular TV show could make it even more difficult than it already is for some people to take the Christian movie seriously.

Specifically, Clark zeroes in on the fact that The Leftovers is designed to get people asking the sorts of empathetic what-if questions that the Left Behind books and films have shown very little interest in. As Clark puts it:

The Leftovers looks interesting. Whether or not it turns out to be any good, it’s an HBO show, so it’s going to generate some buzz. People will be talking about it — and talking about the questions it raises — all through July, August and September. What would that be like? What would you do? How would you react? What would happen to …?

Those questions are going to be kicked around in all kinds of settings right up until the Oct. 3 release date of the new Left Behind movie. So the audience for that movie — even the insular, culturally isolated core of its pre-existing fans — is going to enter the theater having given some thought to those questions. That audience will enter the theater having given more thought to those questions than Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins ever did.

That mother’s voice from The Leftovers – her scream of “Sam!” — will set the bar for audiences’ expectation of what Left Behind shows as the aftermath and response to its Rapture. If the new movie is anything at all like the book it’s based on, those audiences are bound to be angrily disappointed.

I can think of one obvious objection to this argument: namely, that the TV show and the movie are aimed at two very different audiences.

Clark says even the “insular, culturally isolated” fans of the Left Behind franchise will be giving some thought to the questions raised by The Leftovers, but how many Left Behind fans will even be watching The Leftovers? (How many “insular, culturally isolated” evangelicals watch HBO to begin with?) And if they aren’t watching it, how much thought could they possibly give to the questions raised by the show?

Still, the fact remains: Christians don’t own this concept any more. The Rapture is going to be fleshed out by the broader popular culture in ways that will inevitably affect the Rapture stories told by Christians down the road, or at least, it will affect the way those stories are received. Could be interesting to see how that all works out.

In other news, HBO has posted a few new videos for The Leftovers that I hadn’t got around to blogging yet. I posted the first teaser last month. Here’s the second:

And here’s the trailer for the show, which includes the Not Safe For Work hints of nudity and language that you’d expect from an HBO show:


The show premieres on HBO June 29.

A short list of things that the Star Wars and Rocky (now Creed) franchises have in common
Why are some Bible stories turned into movies more often than others?
Review: Bless the Child (dir. Chuck Russell, 2000)
Sony's animated Medusa project loses its director
About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • Irv Spielberg

    The Pretrib Rapture Jackpot!

    by Bruce Rockwell

    Attention, writers. You can make a fortune by promoting the pretrib rapture!

    First, some background. As you know, pretrib began in Scotland in 1830.
    The earliest developers, including Edward Irving and John Darby,
    admitted that it was then a totally new view that had never been part of
    any church’s theology.
    They also admitted that it had suddenly
    sprung from only OT and NT “types” and “symbols” and not from any clear
    Bible statement!
    As late as 1957, pretrib expert John Walvoord
    admitted in “The Rapture Question” (p. 148) that “pretribulationism” is
    NOT “an explicit teaching of Scripture”!
    Since the early 1900s
    pretrib has been sold by novelists like Sydney Watson (in 1913) and by
    Salem Kirban whose “Left Behind”-type novel “666″ came out in 1970 – the
    same year Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” started breaking
    sales records.
    The very first rapture novel titled “Left Behind”
    came from the joint pens of Peter and Patti Lalonde in mid-1995,
    resulting in some competitors being left behind.
    The pretrib
    rapture view, which admittedly is only an “inference” and not
    “explicit,” rests basically on verses in John 14, I Thess. 4, and I Cor.
    15, none of which have either a “taken/left” separation or exciting,
    nail-biting scenarios that can “sell” pretrib.
    You have to go to
    Revelation’s action-packed chapters instead. When you do, you discover
    they can be tied to end time details found basically in the Olivet
    As you know, pretribs believe in two stages; Stage 1
    is the pretrib rapture which supposedly occurs several years before
    Stage 2 which is the posttrib second coming to earth.
    Since the
    three “rapture” chapters listed above don’t have any clear rapture-type
    separation between the “righteous” and the “wicked,” your best launching
    pad if you want to be a bestselling author is “the one shall be taken,
    and the other left” phrase in Matt. 24:40, 41 and Luke 17:34-36.

    Trouble is, Dr. Walvoord and many other pretrib leaders declare that
    the “one taken” are the “wicked” taken in judgment while the “righteous”
    are left! But since the average pew-sitters don’t seem to know this,
    you can easily convince them that the “one taken” is a sort of code for
    an any-moment pretrib rapture!
    And the pew-sitters don’t know
    that Walvoord etc. also teach that the same phrase is part of
    “non-imminent” Stage 2 which is posttrib (and not pretrib) and is on
    “Jewish” (and not “Church”) ground!
    In order to preserve and
    emphasize Stage 1 (the pretrib rapture), pretrib merchandisers in recent
    decades have been stretching forward various aspects found in Stage 2
    and quietly applying them to Stage 1. Aspects include “the day of the
    Lord,” “God’s wrath,” “the taken/left phrase,” “the unknown day and
    hour,” and Christ’s coming “as a thief” (which is always tied to
    Armageddon and other posttrib events).
    (For more on the above
    Google “The Correct Answer to Who’s Taken” etc. on Joe Ortiz’s blog of
    Apr. 12, 2010. Also Google “Pretrib Rapture Stealth.”)
    Yes, I’ve told you how you can turn yourself into a bestselling, wealthy author.

    But unfortunately you have some competition because Tim LaHaye and
    Jerry Jenkins have already become opportunists and made millions of
    dollars that are destined to be left behind!
    For more on them
    and their partners, Google “The ‘Left Behind’ Rupture,” “LaHaye’s
    Temperament,” “Jerry Jenkins Apologizes for Being Seen Gambling in
    Casinos,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Walvoord
    Melts Ice,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture
    Chart,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “Roots of Warlike Christian
    Zionism,” “Evangelicals Use Occult Deception,” “Pretrib Rapture
    Secrecy,” “Letter from Mrs. Billy Graham,” “Pretrib Rapture Politics”
    and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”
    In closing let me say that
    Jeremiah 17:11 warns that “he that getteth riches, and not by right,
    shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a
    And you can bet on this!

    [Recently ran across the above goodie while I was on the web. Enjoy!]