Babylon Rising, Chapter 46

Time for Laura’s funeral. 

I’ll admit right up front that although I have been to funerals, I have never been to the funeral for someone killed in an accident that also claimed other lives.  As such, I do not know the protocol for how much the service talks about the tragedy, or the larger implications of such tragedy.  Where is the line in discussing the accident, and politicizing a funeral?

But first, another note: Laura’s clothes for the funeral are described, but we still have no idea what she looks like.  There are flowers threaded through her hair…and we don’t know what color the hair is, if it’s long or short, nothing.

The funeral takes place in the blown-out church, with plastic sheeting covering the shattered stained glass windows.  Which, again, I can’t decide if it’s inappropriate or not.  What if the structure is not secure?

Once again, Dinallo does a decent job conveying some of the strange thoughts that fly through a person’s head in a crisis (Murphy wonders why Pastor Bob doesn’t stop the birds outside from singing during the funeral).

Pastor Bob starts in on the service:

“How could such a terrible thing have happened?  And now, adding insult to injury, the very people who have suffered the most in this tragedy are being accused of terrible crimes.  On the TV and the newspapers we are being talked of as murderers and terrorists.  How can this be?”

Again, I just don’t know what to think of this—I have no basis for comparison.  On one hand, maybe it would be strange not to mention the reason behind Laura’s death.  On the other, it’s her funeral.  Is it crass to mention politics at all?

In any event, after doing a quick, boilerplate “God has a great mysterious plan” bit, Pastor Bob gets down to actually, yanno, talking about Laura:

“Anyone who saw her smile, heard her laugh, the way she would make others laugh”—he smiled—“sometimes with a joke at their own expense—and I speak from experience here—will know what a joyful and joy-giving woman she was.”

Okay, I see what he’s trying to say here, but it comes out as though he is celebrating the fact that Laura took pleasure in mocking other people.

Bob then goes on to praise the way Laura gave up archeology to “devote herself to helping others.”  As has been discussed previously, it’s too bad she did so without any training in helping others, but hey, it was her duty as a Good Christian Wife.

“Only those who have lost a loved one know what Michael is feeling today.  Our hearts truly go out to him.”

Sounds nice, until you realize that a few people are conspicuously absent from “hearts going out”—like Laura’s parents, sitting in the front row.  A child predeceasing the parents, and Pastor Bob doesn’t even mention them?  What a dick.

This touches on a bigger issue, as well, which I will discuss in detail in a later chapter.  Lest we forget, four other people died in the bombing—the girl in the basement, the boy in the basement, Chuck Nelson (though he has not yet been identified), and Jenny, the middle-aged woman at the actual meeting.  Yet, from this point on, Michael Murphy’s pain will be treated as more acute, a greater loss, than the families who lost Jenny and the young people in the basement.

Pastor Bob, having blithely ignored parents who just lost their daughter, goes on to give the standard closing about how Jesus will “come back to get them before they die,” as Irene Steele would say, and “you will see Laura again.”

And on that note, the service concludes, and as Murphy passes the coffin, he sees the Spooky Portent of Doom—someone snapped the little cross Murphy gave Laura, and it is now in pieces around her neck.

And I gotta admit, it is a tad spooky.

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Posted on July 1, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’ll agree that this sounds as though the preacher is a bit of an a-hole, but that certainly isn’t restricted to RTCs. And yes, this scene does seem to be moderately well-drawn. Was LaHaye on holiday that week?

    (I haven’t read any of Dinallo’s solo work, but he apparently wrote quite a bit of television – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0227512/ – and that requires one to conform hard to someone else’s stylebook…)

    • I was going to give this chapter an Actually Not That Bad, before LaHaye/Pastor Bob decided not to mention Laura’s parents.

      Given the reviews of Left Behind and Edge of Apocalypse, I am quite happy to give Dinallo 99.999999% of the credit for any decent writing in Babylon Rising, and especially the presentation of Isis. In the remaining books of this series, Isis becomes a wuss and an idiot, and…LaHaye has a new “co-writer” for those books. I get the pretty strong sense that Isis is Dinallo’s brainchild.

      • Somehow I’m not surprised. It sounds like Dinallo is a decent writer. I’ll have to peer at his other work. I can even forgive him the naming of Isis. =)

        I wonder what broke up LeHaye and Dinallo. It’s clearly not a ghostwriting issue, since LeHaye apparently has a great deal of influence over what goes into the story. Maybe Dinallo got fed up; I’d like to think that anyway!

  2. Wait… wasn’t Laura last seen relatively fine in the parking lot of the church after the bomb went off? Her death seems awfully mysterious, especially considering that any medical examination would point toward her being strangled, which seems awfully inconsistent with any real world injury that wouldn’t visibly affect her until significantly after the bomb went off (like internal bleeding or similar internal organ damage).

    OH WAIT, medical science is devil talk, right?

    • It does seem odd that there is never talk of what conclusions the police and FBI draw from Laura’s death. Does this cast more suspicion on the churchgoers? Less? Could it even be a completely separate incident? And (IIRC) Murphy is never questioned by authorities regarding Laura’s death. Although, since after the first few days they seem to forget about the bombing at all, maybe this is not too surprising.

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