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. The Paranoia of Plot

. The Paranoia of Plot

Narrative, Conspiracy, and Agency

(p.41) 2. The Paranoia of Plot
Plotting Apocalypse
Jennie Chapman
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the mode of interpretive practice that the Left Behind series encourages in its readership, contending that the worldview conveyed in the novels exhibits many features of the ‘paranoid style’ outlined by the political theorist Richard Hofstadter. Firstly, the series delineates a dualistic perspective which organises human experience into a series of binary oppositions: evangelical versus nonbeliever; good versus evil, saved versus damned; secondly, the characters are depicted as the bearers of ‘stigmatized knowledge’ that separates them from society at large but also marks them out as special or chosen; finally, the characters collude in a ‘myth of victimhood’ that further entrenches their sense of separation but also affirms their evangelical identity. Despite the apparently negative connotations of this mode of conspiracy thinking, the chapter shows that these positions have a positive effect in helping to inscribe and maintain a strong sense of evangelical difference.

Keywords:   Conspiracy, Paranoia, Stigmatized knowledge, Myth of victimhood, Dualism

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