- Paperback: 276 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 2, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780061152245
- ISBN-13: 978-0061152245
- ASIN: 0061152242
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,793,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans Are Looking Forward to the End of the World Paperback – October 2, 2007
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About the Author
Nicholas Guyatt was educated at Cambridge and Princeton, and he teaches history at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He is a contributor to the London Review of Books and The Nation magazine, and he is the author of three previous books. Born and raised in England, he now lives in Vancouver.
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Press them on the issue and you'll get a litany of obfuscations and evasions that come ready made in the structure of "prophecy." Never mind valid historical criticism that shows prophecy to be the longings of the writers of what they hoped would happen, in the minds of the apocalyptic evangelical Christians who are forced into the whackaloon position of scriptural inerrancy, these passages *must* have a connection to real events.
Nicholas Guyatt goes into this strange realm of irrationality to interview and research the big shots. Among these firebrands of fallacious thinking are John Hagee, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, and Jerry Jenkins. We find out about Hagee's megachurch preaching and LaHaye and Jenkins' multimillion copy selling "Left Behind" as well as much of the history and complexity surrounding these beliefs and the individuals who hold them.
Perhaps the most disturbing finding that Guyatt brings to light comes toward the end of the book when political strategist turned novelist Joel Rosenberg reveals his schmoozing with the then top level Bush administration advisors.
While the book is certainly very good, I can't write the review without mentioning one strong criticism: the book needed more logical deconstruction of these beliefs. I do acknowledge that the author's goal here wasn't focused on debunking apocalyptic prophecy, but more valid criticism in this vein would have been very welcome. Just to give one example, these prophecy people often make statements--which are quoted by Guyatt--stating to the effect that we should pay attention to "holy scripture" as a guide to the future. Which scripture? The Bible? The Koran? The Upanishads? The Book of Mormon? They haven't validated their premise upon which they base their entire argument. And they can't without resorting to tautologies. While Guyatt does offer a wonderful section detailing the failed prophetic movements of the past and shaky reasoning behind these of the present, these are more indirect refutations and not a direct engagement.
That aside, the book is a worthwhile read for anyone looking for more information on this fascinating if troubling cultural development. Guyatt strikes a good balance between reporting the facts and history of the movement while offering anecdotes that personalize these individuals.
The history of End Times belief is followed from its origins in England and we are shown how those beliefs moved to the New World even as they faded from Europe. I agree with the other review that pointed out that this history was pretty light, but that wasn't my primary interest in the book, so I didn't mind it.
By far the most interesting parts of the book for me were the interviews with the End Times superstars and also-rans. Tim LaHaye and Joel Rosenberg are interesting guys. While I don't doubt they sincerely believe their End Times eschatology, you can't help but feel that they aren't glorying in their celebrity a bit. Guyatt lets them skewer themselves with their own words. It never felt like he was holding these people up for ridicule, though he didn't gloss over some of the negative image they project on their own.
The real revelation (pardon the pun) for me were some of the guys 'in the trenches'. The host of a cable access show: Final Hour, the guy who felt a calling to sell his home and travel the country in an RV and Mel Odom, a Christian contract writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch novels who was hired to write a Tom Clancy-esque spin-off series to the Left Behind books. These are regular work-a-day guys doing what they believe in but wrestling with some of the stickier questions of End Times belief.
The author gets them to grapple with their seemingly contradictory views that things must get worse in order to trigger The Rapture and at the same time that Christians should exercise their influence in politics in order to make America a more Christian nation.
I wish Amazon allowed for half stars, because this is a three and a half star book. But I'll award it the extra half for capturing my attention with the light-hearted (but not lightweight) writing style.
Over all I would say Have A Nice Doomsday is a good introduction to End Times belief for anyone who's seen those Left Behind books and are wondering what that whole Rapture thing is about.