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.”