Babylon Rising, Chapter 47
It is after the funeral, and this portrayal of Murphy’s grief is officially Actually Not That Bad.
Laura’s parents are standing over the grave, but Murphy can’t think of anything to say to them. Once again, this hints at the authors thinking of Murphy’s grief as somehow bigger and more important than theirs, even though they have just lost their (only, it seems) child.
Poor Shari (as if she didn’t have enough to worry about) volunteers to take them back to their hotel and sit with them. That is incredibly sweet of her, but don’t worry–it won’t last.
Murph gets in his car and there is a nice page or so of him driving aimlessly so he won’t have to go home and see Laura’s things. At one point, he so loses track of where he is and what he is doing that he nearly gets himself killed.
At which point, he turns around and heads back to the cemetery, where Pastor Bob is waiting for him.
Murphy experiences something of a crisis of faith here. He doesn’t question the existence or the love of God, but he does question the existence and wisdom of God’s plan, as he laments the loss of his Good Christian Wife to Bob:
“She was such a woman of faith. She didn’t have a bad thought in her head. She was…like an angel.”
Bob reassures Murphy that “God understands your grief, Michael. He’s not offended by your questioning either.”
At which point, it would have been cool if Murphy had interjected with something like, “God’s not offended? God isn’t offended?? Gee, Bob, I sure am glad to hear that. I would feel just awful if God was offended because I’m upset that my wife is dead.”
Sadly, Murphy says nothing like this, and lets Bob go on and on about Jesus asking why God had forsaken him.
Murphy isn’t done questioning God’s plan, and also questions whether God was listening when the church was bombed or when whoever-it-was killed Laura. He has Laura’s broken root cross, which he calls “The final outrage.”
Pastor Bob claims to have coined a term: Coping Grace, which is when God gives you the strength to go on through heartbreak. I find it hard to believe that this guy was the first to put a special name to the process of surviving horrible grief.
In a moment of awesome (yes, even he has them), Murph says that even if God does have a plan, “I’m not too sure I care.”
Pastor Bob decides to make an appeal to politics:
“Somebody tried to destroy this church. Literally and metaphorically. I’m sure you haven’t turned on the TV or read a newspaper since Laura died, but if you had, you would have seen headlines about ‘evangelical terrorists’ and ‘Christian bomb comspiracies.’ Someone is trying to discredit us–and so far they’re doing a pretty good job, judging by the way the media are jumping on the bandwagon.”
This once again makes Bob seem far more concerned about Christians being “discredited” than he is about the fact that five people just died.
Murphy basically tells Bob that he’s way too pissed off about Laura being dead to give a crap about the presentation of evangelicals in the media, or God’s plan for him, or hell, much of anything.
Realizing defeat when he sees it, Bob advises Murphy to pray, then heads on out. Murphy hangs around in the cemetery until a white dive lands on Laura’s tombstone. I’m no ornithologist, but do white doves generally frequent rural North Carolina?
Ah well. Murph wanders off, too, and his final thought in the chapter is that if God does have a plan for him, he’d better get on the stick and speak up.