(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In the small college town of Ashton, demonic forces have been covertly working to take control of the town. The evil plot is to manipulate Whitmore College into bankruptcy and then assume ownership, use this control of the college to control the town of Ashton, and thereby spread Satanic influence in society. Led by the ruling demon Lucius, a gaggle of smaller demons known by their vices begin a subtle attack to control and manipulate the town’s residents in order to weaken their Christian strength and prepare the community for total domination by dark forces. People who are weak in their faith are easy targets; those who are strong in Christian faith are either targeted for elimination or forced out of the town through deceptive or illegal practices.

In preparation for the town’s destruction, Juleen Langstrat is maneuvered into place as a new psychology professor at Whitmore College. As a servant to the dark forces, she begins to aid in the takeover by teaching and promoting New Age philosophies, Eastern religious practices, and witchcraft. Juleen is part of a larger organization known as the Universal Consciousness Society, which is a worldwide front organization for Satan. She practices, promotes, and teaches a type of meditation that facilitates communication with demonic spirit guides. She is able to influence other key members of the community, such as Alf Brummel, the chief of police, and Oliver Young, the pastor of the Ashton United Christian Church. Both Alf and Oliver are recruited by Juleen to help weaken the community’s Christian strength.

While the demonic takeover efforts are under way, the Holy Spirit, aided by the subtle efforts of the angels, begins to position key people in preparation for the impending spiritual battle. Led by Tal, the captain of the host, they work quietly behind the scenes, at times revealing themselves as helpful figures and at other times whispering subliminal suggestions to their charges. The...

(The entire section is 802 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Blodgett, Jan. Protestant Evangelical Literary Culture and Contemporary Society. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. This Present Darkness is used to illustrate points regarding the content and publishing of religious fiction and how it supports protestant beliefs.

Howard, Jay R. “Vilifying the Enemy: The Christian Right and the Novels of Frank Peretti.” Journal of Popular Culture 28, no. 3 (1994). Notes how This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness promote the beliefs of the new Christian Right.

Jensen, Arden E. Prophet in the Wasteland: A Critical Biography of Frank Peretti. Tallahassee: Florida State University, 2000. Offers a critical examination of Peretti, the makeup and beliefs of his readers, and a critical analysis of his works.

Jorstad, Erling. Popular Religion in America: The Evangelical Voice. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. Brief analysis of This Present Darkness and its sequel, Piercing the Darkness, noting some of the criticisms and cultural significance.

Simolke, Duane. This Present Darkness and Its Influence. Abilene, Tex.: Hardin-Simons University, 1991. Discusses Peretti’s work in the context of Christian fantasy, relying heavily on other published Christian fantasy works in his analysis.

Stedman, Barbara A. The Word Become Fiction: Textual Voices from the Evangelical Subculture. Muncie, Ind.: Ball State University, 1994. Analyzes the texts of Janette Oke and Frank Peretti with a focus on the reasons for their appeal among Christian evangelicals.