Monthly Archives: December 2009
So Michael Murphy has not checked the enrollment for his own (and only) class. What teacher doesn’t do that, not least so he’ll know how many syllabi to print out? Idiot. Anyway, because he’s a doofus and didn’t check, he’s astonished to find a full house. And as if he needed any additional support, his little girlfriend biggest fan personal knight in shining armor research assistant Shari is there. Is she auditing? Because if she is as advanced a student as her later actions indicate, she is way too advanced for this course which, after all, is meant for any and all students, not just Biblical Archeology majors.
Mike opens with a lame Matrix joke (ooooo, topical!), and asks the class how they can know if events in the Bible actually took place. One girl gives the “’cause the Bible sez so” answer, but is drowned out by the apparent class joker and skeptic, who demands “solid proof.”
Mike’s response? “You know, when I was your age I was a skeptic, too.”
Really? I’d like some corroborating evidence for that, please.
“Maybe I still am.”
No, Mike. No, you are not. You are many things, but a skeptic is not one of them.
“Christians are supposed to take the truth of the Bible on faith. But sometimes faith needs a helping hand. That’s where Biblical archeology comes in.”
Keep this statement in mind. Keep it in mind as 1) Mike blindly accepts all evidence (and “evidence”) that corroborates his predetermined answers, and dismisses all that does not, and 2) Mike maintains that his course has nothing to do with proselytizing.
Mike tosses out “statistics” that corroborate his opinion, culminating with, “not one piece of evidence has been unearthed that disputes the Bible’s authenticity.”
Well, except for that pesky little science known as “geology,” which rather more than “disputes” the idea of a worldwide flood.
Also biology. Yanno, that pesky eeevil Darwinian stuff. Also tends to poke a hole in the idea of an ark that can hold every animal on the planet.
But Mike is well-versed in sleight of hand. He opened with asking the students about Noah’s ark. Then he states that the student’s demand for “solid proof” is reasonable. But when the student is unsatisfied with generalities about “not one piece of evidence,” Murphy deftly changes the subject, as follows:
“I’d still want to see, like, Noah’s rudder if you want to sell me on the Ark being real.”
Murphy smiled. “Well, no one has yet found the rudder of the Ark. But here’s something you might find interesting.” *puts a slide of James’ Ossuary on the screen*
Dude, seriously, why’d you even bring up the stupid Ark if you couldn’t make a point? Dumbass.
After a couple of short chapters, this one will take a couple of parts, because it is almost nothing except Tim LaHaye Michael Murphy lecturing on Biblical archeology.
But LaHaye and Dinallo aren’t even going to let Mike walk to the classroom without emphasizing how much of a Macho Manly Man of Manliness he is:
“As he walked purposefully toward Memorial Lecture Hall B, Michael Murphy looked like an unlikely academic…you could tell from his measured, economical stride, the callused hands, and faint scars that neatly highlighted his handsome features that this was no ivory-tower dweller.”
They really can’t help themselves, can they? It’s like a compulsion: any mention of academics or universities must contain the phrase “ivory tower.” I just feel bad for all those other professors at Preston, who don’t walk with purpose or measure their stride with economy.
Mike is a tad worried (but in a manly way) because he thinks no one’s going to show up at his (apparently only) class: Biblical Archeology and Prophecy. He takes a moment from striding economically to bless the alumni who have requested more “Bible-based” courses. And to obsess over his arch-nemesis. No, not Methuselah. This is a new one: Dean Archer Fallworth.
Dean Fallworth (as if you couldn’t tell from his name) is Eeeevil. He thinks Murphy’s Biblical archeology is “neither worthy science nor credible history.” And he has committed the worst of all sins, one he shares with Methuselah: he has made “several veiled comments” that Murphy finds “antireligion.”
But we know that Fallworth will prove to be a buffoonish villain, not a deadly one like Meth, because his most recent paper was, “Button Materials of the 18th-Centory Georgia Plantations.”
Okay, I’m a huge nerd, I know, but I would totally read that paper.
Murphy muses that he’ll “liven up” his lecture by showing footage from his cable TV specials and pictures of his own finds. So, we have a little glimpse into the kind of professor Mike is—the kind that can’t teach a class without dragging in his own pet research projects, regardless of how well they fit the actual course.
Which brings up an interesting question: if you were a student at Preston, would you take Michael Murphy’s course? I am of two minds on this one, as you’ll see when Mike starts preaching lecturing.
Another short one, cutting back to the first meeting of King Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel.
Daniel should be quaking in fear, but isn’t, ‘cause he’s just that cool.
He reveals that King Neb’s dream is “things which are to come in the Latter days.”
In other words, nothing whatsoever to do with the King’s life.
I bet he’s just thrilled.
So a window washer and a contract killer walk into a bar…
C’mon, laugh! It’s funny!
Chapter 5 switches gears (again) and introduces us to Talon. Talon is a cold-blooded killer hired by The Seven. He strikes up a conversation with a “boring” window washer named Farley in a bar in New York, and invites him out for a burger.
Were I feeling uncharitable, I might view this as Talon asking Farley out out, which invitation Farley accepts, thus confirming him to be gay, and thus deserving of the fate in store for him, because…Talon kills Farley!
And Talon’s been in disguise the whole time!
“Only then [when they were on a deserted street] did the stranger turn to look at Farley. But the face that Farley saw before him now was an entirely different one. Gone were the gray wig, the glasses, and the nose.”
So, really, by process of elimination, we already have a better description of one of our villains than we do of our heroes. Talon does not have gray hair, glasses, or a nose.
Not only does Talon not have a nose, he has no right index finger. He has a fake finger “carefully sculpted and tinted to look real. Except for the very tip, where the nail should be, which was honed to a deadly edge.”
This edge, he uses to slit the window washer’s throat. Which, admittedly, is pretty bad-ass.
Except that now I have to wonder what else Talon uses the deadly edge for. Does he slice vegetables with it? Also, it must make it hard for him to wash his hair or shake hands…or take change without arousing suspicion.
“Your change is $2.81, sir. Did you want any Fire Sauce with your ord-OWWWWW!”
So, having disposed of the body “where it would never be found” (ominously or unimaginatively left blank), Talon is free to assume the identity of the window washer. What he will be the next step in this apocalyptic plan???
A few random observations about Chapter 4, which consists entirely of Mike and Laura discussing Methuselah’s attempt to kill Mike and give him an article that will prove his Christian faith, which Meth mocks at every opportunity.
Yeah, I still don’t get it, either.
1. We still have no idea what our hero or his wife look like.
For those of you familiar with the Left Behind books, you know this is a common theme with LaHaye. The physical characteristics of his protagonists (aside from height, and even then, only for the men) are a state secret. We’re through Chapter 4, and thus far only know that Mikey is tall and thinks that Laura is “beautiful.” (Well, she’s his wife–I certainly hope he thinks she’s beautiful.)
2. Mike has no remorse whatsoever about risking his life. It is worth noting that all he did, prior to heading off to Raleigh to meet up with Meth, was “dash off a quick note” for Laura. Had Meth and the lion succeeded in their respective tasks, that dashed-off note would have been all she knew of her husband’s grisly fate.
His excuse is: “I’m just not a half-measure kind of man. I love my work full-tilt, I try to love God full-tilt, and above all else, I love you full-tilt. It’s a package deal, sweetheart…”
So according to Murphy, not heading to a deserted warehouse to battle a lion to retrieve a clue stored in a collar around the lion’s neck…is a half-measure.
Having heard this book before I read it, my theory, at the time I concocted it, was not based on any cheating by the giveaway on the inside front cover.
The above sentence will hopefully become clear in a moment.
I was first introduced to Babylon Rising by hearing Jason Culp read it on CD. (I cannot recommend this method of discovering Christian literature highly enough. Not only is it a great way to keep occupied during a long car trip or a farming slog on WoW, but some of the readers (esp. Jason Culp for the Babylon Rising series and Frank Muller for the Left Behind series) are quite excellent.) Jason Culp very nearly manages to make Michael Murphy almost likeable, with his gravelly but cheerful voice.
If I believed in them, I would call that a minor miracle.
So, my long-winded point is: when I first heard Chapter 4, I was immediately convinced that Laura Murphy was not long for this book.
She knows first aid.
She gives Mikey only the mildest of scoldings for his dealings with Methuselah (you know, the stunts wherein in Mike risks his life for saliva-worthy treasures). In fact, “Murphy’s fearless passion for bringing the truth of the Bible to light was a big part of why she loved him.”
She gets him a comforting cuppa tea for him to sip as he recounts his lion adventure.
She is, in other words, the flawless, pure, beautiful, selfless, Christian wife.
She’s dead meat.
Think, just for a moment, of the proliferation of stories, especially in the action-adventure genre, of the bickering/separated couple coming together in a crisis, or the meet-cute of a love-hate couple, their arguing and competitiveness only masking their mutual attraction. One of the hardest things for any writer of fiction to portray is a happy, secure, committed romantic relationship.
I’ve seen it done, but I don’t think LaHaye and Dinallo can pull it off.
Laura’s going to be killed.
Let’s not even mention the fact that the Murphys don’t have kids.
Now, for those who are introduced to the novel by reading it, not hearing it, there is a not-so-subtle clue to Laura’s fate in the inside front cover…
“AN IMPOSSIBLE ESCAPE FROM THE JAWS OF DEATH…
THE SECRET OF A BIBLICAL PROPHECY REVEALED…
A LOVED ONE BRUTALLY ATTACKED…”
So yeah. Dead meat. And since I am the kind of person who is notoriously bad at being able to guess the ending of the movie, the identity of the killer, etc., I am damn well taking credit for this one.
Laura Murphy’s a goner.