Babylon Rising, Chapter 42
In which our heroes really bring the crazy, and in which occurs the most blatant continuity error that I have ever seen in a LaHaye novel.
The first sentence of the chapter is:
Chief Rawley ushered them into the interview room and indicated three chairs on one side of the steel table bolted to the bare floor.
Remember this bit when we get to the end of the chapter, folks. I kinda think Dinallo lost track of where he was.
So, Chief Rawley has taken Reverend Bob and Michael Murphy to the police station, where Agents Baines (Nice FBI guy) and Welsh (Mean FBI guy) will question them.
Okay, so first of all, why is Murphy even there? The last time Murphy and Welsh talked to each other (over the phone after the UN vandalism), it turned into a screaming match. And surely in this situation, Murphy has no more or less to add to the evidence than any other church member who was there the evening of the bombing.
Speaking of evening, the bombing took place, we are told, on Wednesday evening. It is now Thursday, at some unspecified time. Sure is a good thing that Murphy and Laura could both hang around the church for so long. Good thing that neither of them has a job at the local university that might require their presence.
Reverend Bob takes a seat. His broken arm is in a cast and he has a bandage wrapped around his head. Presumably, he suffered a concussion (he complained of head pain in Chapter 39, right after the bombing).
As somebody who has also had a concussion, I feel I should point out to LaHaye and Dinallo that wrapping a bandage around someone’s head is convenient movie shorthand, but is not really necessary for treatment of a concussion.
Chief Rawley and Baines and Welsh are on one side of the table, Welsh and Baines sitting, Rawley standing “as if he wanted to distance himself from what was about to happen.”
What is about to happen is that Welsh is going to reveal to Pastor Bob the utterly astonishing and totally unexpected news that the church is still a crime scene.
I know, right? I’m as shocked as you are. It’s truly like a bolt from the blue.
Well, it is for Pastor Bob, at least:
“A crime scene? I don’t understand.”
Poor Agent Welsh has to explain to Bob, as he would a small and unintelligent child, that the explosion wasn’t an accident. Which, well, duh.
Bob still has to be spoon-fed, and the following exchange takes place:
“Then, what did cause it?”
Welsh looked at him steadily. “I was kind of hoping you could tell me that.”
Murphy was on his feet, leaning over the table. “Just what are you suggesting? Bob was nearly killed in there.”
Okay, someone explain to me again what Murphy’s doing in there? Who invited him?
Welsh didn’t blink. He waited until Murphy sat down again, then lifted the flap of one of the boxes.
Oh, snap. Welsh just won a staring contest against Our Hero!
I have decided to cast the late, great, J.T. Walsh as Agent Welsh.
You go on with your bad self, you cold as ice FBI agent who can stare down Christian Indiana Jones!
I would just like to see the look on Murph’s face in this scene: “So, you’re not going to respond to my righteous indignation? We’re not going to throw down right here, right now? Oh…maybe I’ll just…sit down again…if that’s okay.” *sits* “I’ll just count that as a technical victory for me.”
Welsh informs Bob that the basement of the church was a bomb factory. Which does not jive with the evidence at all, but that’s LaHaye and Dinallo’s fault, not Welsh’s. Welsh brings up the whole UN-vandalism thing, as an example of what “fanatics” do.
Murphy jumped up. “Fanatics? What are you, the Joe McCarthy of G-men, Welsh? Conspiracies everywhere. Fanatics like who?”
Why doesn’t Welsh just kick Murphy’s ass out right now? Or, if he thinks Murphy is involved (and Murphy seems like just the kind of arrogant hothead who would confess everything, confident that he could never be punished), why doesn’t Welsh interview Murphy and Bob separately?
I’m also kinda surprised that Murphy seems to classify Joseph McCarthy as a Bad Guy.
“Like the sort of people who believe the U.N. is evil. Evangelical Christians, for instance.” [says Welsh]
Ah. The crafty Welsh is trying to trap them. To make them talk about how much they hate the U.N. so they can be linked to the vandalism. But surely Pastor Bob isn’t so stupid as to fall for such an obvious ploy…
“We don’t believe the U.N. is evil,” Wagoner interjected.
Ah, good for you, Bob. You don’t believe the U.N. is evil. That’s all you need to say…
“We believe it does some good work. Peacekeeping in certain third world countries where there is chaos, humanitarian aid, health programs, and so on.”
Okay, why don’t you just stop right there, Bob? No need to give your entire philosophy or…
“But we are suspicious about their efforts to promote globalism by uniting all religions regardless of their beliefs, and by uniting the world’s governments under a single entity. In particular, I’m very concerned about turning the sovereignty of the United States government over to a world court.”
Great job allaying their suspicions, Bob. Break out the tinfoil hat, and the image will be complete.
And out of all the questions Welsh could ask, given this little rant, this is the one he comes up with:
“Are you saying you oppose striving for world peace through global unity?”
Still, maybe it’s not so bad, since it opens the door for Pastor Bob to just keep on going. Sure, four members of your congregation are dead, and sure, a bomb is to blame (this he learned thirty seconds ago), and the members of his own church are suspected, and the U.N. was vandalized by what appear to be evangelical Christians, but the best thing to talk about right now, the least suspicious subject, is how much peace sucks:
“Every single attempt to secure a one-world religion or a one-world government in the past has resulted in a totalitarian regime, inevitably causing the deaths of countless numbers of innocent citizens. We must learn from history. Man is incapable of bringing peace to this planet on his own. This world will never enjoy world peace until Christ Himself comes to set up his kingdom. His kingdom will last for a thousand years, and the Bible is very clear regarding this prophecy.”
I imagine J.T. Walsh with a small smile on his face, sitting back, relaxing, and just letting Pastor Bob rant for as long as he wants while his church is in ruins and his parishioners lay dead.
“Then maybe some of your people thought a few bombs might hurry it along.” [says Welsh]
Oh, snap again!
Once again, Pastor Bob is shocked (shocked, I say!) by basic logical reasoning:
Wagoner was stunned. “Our people? Evangelical Christians don’t set off bombs, Agent Welsh.”
Of course not. Evangelical Christian = Nice Person. No nice person ever sets off bombs.
A point that is sadly lost on Agent Welsh:
“How about the people who bomb family-planning clinics? Who kill doctors who perform abortions? They’re Christians, aren’t they?”
So, of course, Pastor Bob plays No True Scotsman with Agent Welsh. Because if a Christian does something bad…well, they’re not a Christian, are they?
Of course not.
And Pastor Bob manages to play the abortion = murder card, so he gets to have his cake and eat it, too. Is there any question that won’t result in a lecture from Pastor Bob?
Agent Baines (Nice FBI Agent) steps in and backs the church and Pastor Bob. Sure is good that he does so, too. I’m not sure how much more of this relentless onslaught poor Pastor Bob could take!
Agent Baines makes an impassioned, if kinda dumb-sounding, plea for churches and small-town church-goers in general, and Pastor Bob and Preston Community Church in particular, and an appeal to FAITH ITSELF: “I know that’s gut talking, not forensics, sir, but sometimes we have to listen to bigger evidence than what our eyes tell us, don’t we?”
Well, Nice Agent Baines, generally we hear with our ears and see with our eyes, but other than that…actually, the whole thing still sounds dumb.
But they are interrupted “because Laura Murphy stumbled through the doorway looking wild-eyed and in pain.”
Did Dinallo forget that they’re at the police station, and not still at the church?
How the hell did Laura Murphy get to the interrogation room of the police station in her condition?
What the hell is going on, anyway???
Laura faints before she can say a word, and Murphy shouts for an ambulance, and HOW THE HELL DID LAURA GET FROM THE BASEMENT OF THE CHURCH TO THE POLICE STATION, AND INTO THE INTERROGATION ROOM OF THE POLICE STATION, WITH A CRUSHED WINDPIPE?
Did Talon give her a lift?