Perrotta. The Rapture. Mix the two. Do You Get “Left Behind” or “The Leftovers”?

Why I read The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta


I was actually doing a search to find a copy of Perrotta’s short stories when I happened to see The Leftovers, which I didn’t know about.  I was intrigued right away when I saw what it was about…the Rapture.

Why you should read The Leftovers

If you know anything about evangelical Christianity, or perhaps the Left Behind books and movie…you know that the Rapture is an even that is supposed to occur at the beginning of the Tribulation, which is written about in the book of “Revelation”, in The Bible.


Before I go on, let me say that “Revelation “is highly allegorical and no one really knows what it is about.  If you are the type of person who thinks that the Bible clearly tells believers everything they need to know, try reading “Revelation” for yourself.  Seriously.  It’s difficult reading, and the truth is that no one even knows.  I challenge you to find even a mention of the Rapture.


Knowing something about Perrotta’s work and his satirical point of view, I was surprised by his choice of the Rapture as a topic…it’s not one you see everyday, especially in the secular world…and was intrigued to see what he could do with it.


The Rapture and Revelation

This book, Revelation: Four Views (Revised and Updated) is an introduction to the “four traditional views of Revelation”. You know how usually the word “tradition” basically means there is one? “Revelation” is so complicated there are four, and that’s when you just count the traditional ones and not all the other ones.

I’m really not kidding when I say that there is no one way to read “Revelation”. Anyone who tells you that there is has either never attempted to read it…not really…or has an unscrupulous pastor. Probably both.

I have no more idea than anyone else what “Revelation” is supposed to mean. It can be kind of fun, I think, to match some of the descriptions in the book to the modern world, but as I said, no one knows for sure, and I am certainly no Bible scholar.

Here is a point of view from Yale University School of Divinity.

Revelation’s Warning to Evangelicals: Left Behind May Be Hazardous to Our Health

And before the 1990’s, when Left Behind was big, there was a lot going on in the 1980’s, and with 2000 pressing close, a lot of us didn’t think we were going to make it much longer. See how “Revelation” figures in the 1980’s horror genre here in this post from The Lois Level

Gen X Horror Paperbacks: How did any of us survive the 80’s?

For your sound track, here is the Christian group DC Talk in 1994 singing “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” with original singer/songwriter Larry Morgan, who wrote it in the 1960’s.

This is a song that was frequently played in churches to scare teenagers. I remember it myself.

Truth is stranger than fiction, my friends.


But also, for the record, here is an interpretation of its real meaning. Also note that Larry Norman was known for his skewering of hypocrisy in the Church.

Who is Tom Perrotta?

Tom Perrotta is an American author from New Jersey.

His novel, Joe College, is set there and is said to be based on Perrotta’s college years.


Perrotta first became famous for his book Election, which starred Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. The film was actually in production before the book was published.

I’m not sure I’ve read Election, but I liked the movie because I remember the Reese Witherspoon type of student from my own years in high school honors classes (eye roll emoji).

I also don’t mind a good send up of a teacher, especially the type Broderick plays.

His most famous book to date is Little Children.

Perrotta is not my favorite author, but I like his irreverent view of things people admire.

If you don’t feel like reading the book, obviously there is going to be a movie or HBO series sooner rather than later, most likely, so just sit tight.

Oh, and don’t let me forget; here are his short stories.


Some of his earlier work….

And more recent.