Babylon Rising, Chapter 49

Sadly, just as Michael Murphy was starting to seem real and human, just as we were beginning to empathize with his grief and pain and loss, just as we might even have been starting to…like him…he’s back to his old self.

Laura would have been mortified but not surprised to see the unshaven, dirt-smeared, exhausted Michael Murphy walk slowly but purposefully up to the church pulpit.

Reverend Wagoner reached out a hand of welcome.

“Pastor, may I say a few words to the church?”

“Of course, Michael.”

Of course, Michael.  And how kind of you to show such respect for the church and myself and everyone else here by taking a bit of care with your appearance, and not walking up here all stinky and repulsive…

I just love that Michael Murphy is so special that he can just walk up and take over the service, and everyone is just pleased as punch: “Hey, it’s Murphy!  He must have something important to tell us!”

Murph begins with a lie:

“Friends–many of you are my friends…”

Liar.  The only people Murph has spent any time with at all are his wife, his research assistant (she of the 2 a.m. e-mails), and Levi Abrams, a “friend” whose favorite pasttime is hitting his “friend” where it will hurt the most, both literally and figuratively.

Murphy isn’t friends with anyone at his church.  He hasn’t thought about them, hasn’t talked to them, hasn’t made reference to any times he has spent enjoying their company.  Neither before nor since the bombing has he given any thought to what they might be thinking or feeling or doing.


Murphy explains to his “friends” the only reason that anyone could ever possibly question God’s judgment or wisdom or plan:

“…I haven’t felt much like being around God, because I’ve been angry and I’ve been blaming Him…”

Then he outlines how the Brazen Serpent is part of God’s plan, and Laura’s death was just a “painful…portion” of that plan:

“I realized this morning that the Serpent is a sign to me not to give up my faith but to renew it. … I was helped to focus on it by, of all people, my Isreali friend, Levi Abrams, which I guess shows us that guidance and inspiration come from all sorts of places if we open ourselves.”

I know, right?  How weird, that guidance and inspiration might come from a Jew

Wow, good luck unpacking all the condescension in that little section.

But don’t worry about Murphy…

“…just like Moses with the Serpent, my faith is being tested, but I will not turn away…”

Nothing says Christian Humility like comparing yourself to Moses.

“So today, I wish to announce to you, my Christian friends, that I am going to trust our Lord for the future and believe that He still has a plan for my life…”

Whoopee.  I bet the congregation is just thrilled to hear that Moses Murphy is gonna be okay.

Let’s not forget something that LaHaye and Dinallo seem to have forgotten: five other people died in the church bombing.  Two young people in the basement, “Jenny,” the middle-aged woman upstairs, plus one other parishioner who has not even been granted the dignity of a name, plus Chuck Nelson, who has yet to be identified.  As well, visitor to the church, Paul Wallach, is still in a coma, the pastor broke his arm, and many other people must have other, though less severe, injuries.

Two “college-aged” young people died in the basement.  Have their families wandered up to the podium in the middle of services to expound on their crises of faith and their similarity to Moses?  Have Jenny’s husband or children talked about how Jenny’s death is only one painful part of the wondrous plan God has for their lives?  If so, we sure haven’t heard about it.  Nor, indeed, does Michael Murphy seem to care.  In fact, he is not going to be helping with the rebuilding effort, nor sticking around to be a source of empathy and support for other grieving families–he is heading right off to hunt up the other pieces of the Serpent, “confident that is what both God and Laura would want me to do.”


Posted on July 10, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. “…just like Moses with the Serpent, my faith is being tested, but I will not turn away…”

    Nothing says Christian Humility like comparing yourself to Moses.

    I laughed out loud here XD

    Seriously, what? Even Rayford didn’t butt his way through the rest of the crowd so he could speak FIRST at New Hope Church.

    What amazes me is how shamelessly these books appeal to self-serving, self-centered behaior and promote it as an ideal.

  2. This feels as if there had been a “confession of spiritual crisis” scene in the outline, and it had to be worked in even if it didn’t feel right. It doesn’t help that Murphy doesn’t actually have any male Christian friends, to whom this sort of thing might have come a bit more naturally.

    I find myself picturing… oh, Jenny’s hypothetical son, stepping up and beating the tar out of Murphy. “Is THIS part of God’s plan? How about THAT?” But as with all Mary Sues, nobody is ever allowed to make our hero look bad. (He does such a great job himself.)

    This is several days after the bombing, right? I can see “unshaven” and “exhausted”, but how is he “dirt-smeared”?

    (And I find it very amusing how many RTCs feel that a smooth chin is next to godliness – at least if one had to work for it. Is this something they started in the sixties, I wonder?)

  3. At leas he walked, not strode… LaHaye & friends are going to ruin words “purposeful” and “stride” for me. Not that those are my favourite words in English language – it’s just that I’m going to associate them with those books, forever and ever.

    • I don’t get why LaHaye thinks it’s so remarkable and uncommon to walk “purposefully.” I just went to the kitchen to get another cuppa tea, and I walked purposefully. The only time people DON’T walk purposefully is when they’re lost or maybe taking a Sunday stroll to nowhere in particular. It’s not exactly an action reserved solely for the Manly Christian Men of the world.

      • To go off on a crazy tangent, there was a way of walking described by Miyamoto Musashi, which could be called ‘purposeful.’ It was called (translated somewhat literally) “walking with intent of going forward,” which sounds tautological but I get the impression that it is walking which looks like you will walk right though whatever gets in your way, that you are walking with a spirit of walking in that (in part) your feet aren’t preceeding you, and you aren’t leaning forward, but rather your entire body is moving forward as a whole. Considering it was being described by the Kensei, I imagine part of it was to intimidate any possible opponents into thinking twice about drawing steel on you.

        That being said, I do not think it means what LeHaye thinks it means.

        Good grief, Murphy’s a tool.

  4. “Laura would have been mortified but not surprised to see…”

    Translation: even his dead wife knew he was an ass, and expected no better of him, though she had grace enough to be embarassed even when he wasn’t.

  5. Just on a technicality, but isn’t Laura mortified permanently already? Being dead and all… 😛

  6. Gotta say, I’m enjoying reading these reviews. I am a Christian and have been since long before (can I use that if I’m not yet 30?) I was first given a book by LaHaye and crew, and I had to quit both the Left Behind series and the Babylon Rising series due to what massive jerks virtually all the main characters are. One wonders if Tim LaHaye is so insensitive himself or if he merely lacks the ability to maintain an accurate fictional reality as he writes it. I must admit I’m impressed by the fortitude that you show in reading this stuff.

    • I haven’t met LaHaye, but I think that he is culturally stuck in the era he grew up in (as many people are) – and for him that’s the 1940s, when it was acceptable in general society to regard women as nurturing prizes for Real Men, and to assume that every man was in some sort of hierarchy with unquestioning obedience to those above and complete control over those below.

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