Soon: Chapter 12: Zzzzz…HATE!

Good to know I’m not the only one freaked out by Stuart “Don’t Touch My Junk” “Straight” Rathe.

Chapter 12 is about chess and reading letters.  It’s just as exciting as you might imagine.

Paul sinks even deeper into Emo Mode, though Jenkins puts it thusly:

Violent mood swings became Paul’s routine.

Except…he’s only really swinging between sulky and angry, and I’m not sure that counts as a “violent” swing.

Paul whines for several pages about how he can’t see the sunlight and it hurts when they work on his face burns.  Now, I’m sure it hurts like a sonofabitch, but he doesn’t give a crap about any of the other patients who are burned a lot more than just a bit of face, and he doesn’t care that Atheistopian medicine has progressed to the point where it hurts a lot less than it used to and he’ll look completely back to normal when they’re done.

Oh, and he has a recurring dream about his despised wife and kids running towards him, but before he can actually hug them, he wakes up.  So Paul almost constantly has his Sad Panda Face on, except when he’s yelling at the kids (ages SEVEN and FIVE, remember) for being afraid of him.  I don’t blame them a bit for being scared of their horrible, abusive, distant father.  Poor little peanuts.

Paul and Mr. Touchy-Feely play a bunch of games of chess, because there are either no other patients in the hospital to volunteer for, or they’ve all gotten wise and barred Straight from the room.  And Paul listens to the New Testament and counts all the times blindness is mentioned.  Because screw fighting the terrorists, we need to know how this affects The Most Important Thing of All: Paul’s feelings.

Speaking of Paul’s feelings, Paul gets Straight to write a letter to The Dork Too Stupid’s daughter, Angela.  Angela lives in Washington, and Paul is going there soon to get some bogus medal for valor for selflessly chasing after a murderer and then ripping his goggles off his face in the line of stupid duty.  He dictates a short Sad Panda letter and basically asks her out for a date.  Angela sends him back a very sweet and supportive letter and an audiobook about Delta Force, and manages to slip into the letter that her husband died of colon cancer, which makes no sense to me.  (Did Jenkins forget that Atheistopia has cured almost all cancer, except for the “intricate” brain?  What, the husband couldn’t have died of something else?)  

And she signs the letter “Love.”

Straight sorta gently reminds Paul that he’s married, and that sets Paul off on a tirade of running down his wife to a stranger.  Again.  She doesn’t come to see him enough (Straight mentions that she might be looking for a job, which only pisses off Paul more), she’s not handling the kids well, she doesn’t tell him every little thing she’s doing.  Then Paul laments that now that he’s blind, he won’t be able to chase chicks the way he used to, but maybe Angela could “deal with my blindness.”

Out of nowhere, Straight brings the conversation around to Paul’s Bible-reading (GEE I WONDER WHY) and now that they’ve both examined the meaning of signing a letter “Love” as if they were a couple of 11-year-old schoolgirls*, Straight actually finishes reading the damn thing and Paul learns the results of the tests on the letter, which is totally genuine.  Shockingly, this discovery makes Paul even angrier (this time, at his dead father), and he becomes even more determined to crack the code he is convinced is in the Bible. 

Sadly, in Atheistopia, the End Times timelines and checklists have been banned.  So Paul has to start from scratch.

*I exaggerate.  11-year-old schoolgirls would never be such self-absorbed jerks.

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Posted on April 25, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Redwood Rhiadra

    Sadly, in Atheistopia, the End Times timelines and checklists have been banned.

    As has every Dan Brown book ever written.

    Yet another way in which Atheistopia rocks

  2. …he becomes even more determined to crack the code he is convinced is in the Bible.

    Wait, what? When did he become convinced of this? How did he become convinced of this? Did I miss something?

    • Nope, you didn’t miss anything–this is the first time he’s mentioned a “code.” He thinks the NT is the key to understanding the subversives and their plans (and I guess he’s right about that), but so far he’s just been listening to the stories and counting all the mentions of blindness. But he’s gone from “I need to understand this to understand them,” to “there must be a super-secret coded message!”

      • Damn. And me without my decoder ring. I guess I’m going to have to go buy more Ovaltine.

      • Andrew Glasgow

        Of course, because this is an end-times apocalyptic Biblical thriller, and there’s always a Bible code in those. Since Paul, like most of Jenkins’ characters, has read the back of the book, he knows this is that type of story so of course there’s a code in the bible! That’s what the bible’s for, after all — everyone from the past 1900+ years of history who thought it was a book of moral teachings and spiritual guidance was mistaken, for it’s really a coded message from Jesus to the people who live in the End Times. Nothing else, just a warning that “If these things start happening, you need to be aware that the end of the world is coming.”

        • Andrew, perhaps along the lines of “forget all that stuff about being nice to people – dig a big hole and hide in it”? Funny, you’d think someone outside the RTC community might have noticed such a message by now…

  3. Choir of Shades

    Now now, Dan Brown may commit a number of atrocities against history and politics (and a few against literature), but he can still write a good thriller. He knows the tropes and how to use ’em, meaning he’s predictable, but in the way a good, simple game is (Gears of War is a good shooter, but the only place it strays from form is that the protagonists’ necks are the thickness of redwoods rather than elephant feet).

    Wait, were his burns only on his face? But…how…wuh? I’d say this is another example of Athiestopian medical ethics; the only reason they’re treating him in a way that is painful is to spite the offensive bastard. Also, they have the technology to rebuild him to fully repair his burn injuries without any disfigurement. Say it with me: “Atheistopia rocks!”

    Also, *prays* *please-don’t-be-the-Congressional-Medal-of-Freedom-please-don’t-be-the-Congressional-Medal-of-Freedom”. And I’m totally stealing that “in the line of stupid” line.

  4. Wait, so they’re openly discussing reading the Bible? But I thought religion was verboten in Athiestopia?!

  5. Choir of Shades

    Crap, I screwed up my html tags.

    @Mouse: It depends on the context. See, the church group were practicing religion when they were reading the Bible. On the other hand, qualified scholars can access and discuss it just fine.

    Think about it this way: nuclear technologies are considered very dangerous, and a random person possessing weapons-grade plutonium is gonna be in some deep, deep trouble. On the other hand, licensed scientists and apprentice scientists can be given limited access to them. Furthermore, anyone, licensed scientist or not, can discuss nuclear technology.

    This society would see the Bible as a brainwashing tool, and highly dangerous in the hands of the wrong person (and the wrong person could easily steal it from non-secured locations), and so it must be banned from possession in the general public. On the other hand, it is an important point of study that should not be eradicated lest we forget the harm done or forget part of our history, so it must still be preserved. They will be kept in secure archives, though, and available only to qualified history and religious studies professors and grad students. Paul is a doctor of religious studies, and has read from cover to almost cover of the Bible.
    And “Queer” (as I will now insist on calling him since he’s an asshat who insists that people use his nickname) is old enough that he probably remembers before the war (He was 19 when the war ended). He could easily argue that he read it before the ban went in place to understand what his father was fighting for/against (WWIII probably had a draft and black citizens probably would have been the first chosen to go). It would be like if a modern army brat read the works of Sayyid Qutb*, if Sayyid Qutb was a household name.

    And when I’m with my atheist/”atheist” friends, even when not prompted by some stupid evangelical politician or hate group doing something stupid, we’ll sometimes discuss the Bible.

    * Sayyid Qutb is an Islamic scholar widely credited with providing the philosophical and theological foundations for Islamic terrorist organizations. According to my Religious studies teacher when I took a class on Islam, his professional opinion was that in 100 years, virtually no one (in the Muslim world) would have even heard of bin Laden, while Qutb would be as well known in Muslim countries as Hume or Kant are in the West.

    • Paul is a doctor of religious studies, and has read from cover to almost cover of the Bible.

      Except there’s an implication that, until now, he hasn’t. Which doesn’t make sense. (Like so much about this book.)

  6. In my Atheistopia, the End Times Checklist was the subject of a popular comedy series and nobody ever mentions it without quoting one of the punchlines.

    In the Jenkins worldview, is there any way of “understanding” something other than wringing out the coded message in it?

    Presumably the “code” is the sooper-s3kr1t order in which you have to read verses and skip around in order to get the “literal, obvious” meaning.

    Congressional Medal of Mom and Apple Pie?

    Choir of Shades, I’m guessing we’re about to see just how effective the Bible is as a brainwashing tool. In the hands of a talented author, it could be a very impressive piece of work to depict someone’s whole worldview changing as he’s subverted by malicious propaganda. Somehow I don’t expect that here.

    (Presumably the Bible Paul read before had been de-weaponized before he got it. Or something. But then how did he get this one?)

    • LaJenkins themes are so obvious. A secret code keeps the plebians out, only people in the cool club with the decoder rings are allowed access to it.

  7. Heh. With “The Dork Too Stupid’s daughter, Angela” now available, I’m wondering whether Paul will feel compelled to deny her his essence. From what I know, seems like it would fit pretty well with the Biblical Paul.

  8. Did Jenkins forget that Atheistopia has cured almost all cancer, except for the “intricate” brain? What, the husband couldn’t have died of something else?
    Angela is the daughter of The Dork Too Stupid, right? And you know They Say that women tend to seek out men who are like their fathers. So, maybe the husband was just Too Stupid to see a doctor, until it was too late even for Atheistopian medicine.

    Paul can’t have read the Bible yet, because as everyone knows, to read it is to be convinced of its Truth, and by Truth we mean the gospel according to Timothy LaHaye.. But on the other hand, we also know he can recognize obscure references to minor Biblical figures (“Polly Carp,” forsooth), So his Religious Studies program must have been more like a Trivial Pursuit prep course than a serious scholarly endeavor.

    I suppose, in Atheistopia all the real scholars are off curing cancer and fixing DC traffic and other such earthly miracles.

    As has every Dan Brown book ever written.
    Ah, if only…

    • “For $600, Paul, this Old Testament prophet was famously afflicted by baldness.”
      “Who was Elisha, Alex?”
      (Yes, in Atheistopia, they can even clone Alex Trebek!)

    • Inquisitive Raven

      Well the Dork Too Stupid was a Christian, right? (Gods, I can’t believe one of my comments got immortalized that way). So, presumably his son-in-law was too. Maybe SIL was one of those religious nuts that believes that the proper treatment for disease is prayer with predictable results. Jenkins, of course, would never state that explicitly because that makes religion look bad, but it’s realistic. Let’s face it, outlaw religion, and the only religious people left will be the crazies, rather like banning drugs doesn’t actually make them unavailable but does send quality control down the tubes.

  9. He… he hit up Angela for a date? He just… doesn’t…. I mean… Doesn’t Angela know he’s married? I just… Stepola is an ass and a jerk and he’s a horrible human being, and…

    Stepola is not worth the ink on the page. He’s… no, I’m going to stop now. I’m going to not rant about a fictional character, no matter how awful he is.

    He really doesn’t get any better? At all? 😦

    Let’s see how long I can last. 😦

    • Choir of Shades

      LMAO, better? Tell me, did Rayford Steele get better or even stay as assholish? Or did he consciously decide that a woman who he spent years screwing with deserved eternal hellfire because she entered into a healthy relationship with another man?

      No, this guy goes full on sociopath; right now, he’s just a narcissistic jerk.

      (I haven’t actually read even this book, but I read the the summaries in the second and third books…because at the beginning of each of the books, he basically recaps everything that happened)

      • Well, one could hope. I mean, Stepola’s a tool, prick, jerkhat, asshole, etc. etc. etc. right now, but a decent author — a halfway decent author — a moderately competent author who could string a verb and a noun together and toss in a preposition now and then, would make it a clear case of Stepola being a dick before his life-changing event, after which he would be — heh — a saint. If that’s not the case, and Stepola becomes an even bigger douchebeck, then, well….

        Has anyone read any character reviews of Jenkins’ work in LB and in Soon? That is, has any person for whom this book was meant for — i.e. an RTC — written anything reviewing the characters? Is there any expression of concern that these characters are actively sociopathic and self-absorbed? In short, is there ANY HOPE that anyone in the RTC community recognizes that these characters are absolfrickinlutely NOT role-models?

        Or am I just setting myself up for disappointment?

        Augh. What do you do when a fictional character makes you want to reach into their universe and smite them?

        • Has anyone read any character reviews of Jenkins’ work in LB and in Soon? That is, has any person for whom this book was meant for — i.e. an RTC — written anything reviewing the characters?

          That’s a really good question, actually. There are a couple of fantasy series (non RTC, obviously) that are heartily disliked by a not insignificant number of fantasy fans due to bad cases of douchenozzle protagonists*. You would think that at least some RTCs would read these books and go “Holy crap, what is this shit!? Get off my team, you’re making us look bad!”

          *Terry Goodkind’s series – though, from some things I’ve read that’s a case of like author, like character, and Christopher Paolini’s series, which seems instead to be a case of a perfectly nice guy accidentally writing a (part time) douchenozzle due to not thinking things through.

          • I think that this is where the cultlike aspects of RTCism become apparent: if someone’s authority figures all approve of something, and all his friends seem to approve of it too, most people will join the chorus of approval. Which in turn means that even if most people don’t like the thing, each of them will feel that he’s the only one who doesn’t. You can see the same thing in interviews from Abu Ghraib – most people felt that what was happening was wrong, but they could see that everyone else was going along with it, so they didn’t want to make waves. If it works for torture, it’s surely much easier to make it work for some not-terribly-good books…

        • Most of the reviews I’ve seen promoting the LB series or similar aren’t at all focused on the characters, they’re focused on the Truth of the story and how this represents God and hopefully it will bring people to Jesus. Nobody says “I found Chloe a very relatable character” or whatever. These are simply a set of eyes to look out of to most of the target audience–their nature and flaws seem to be ignorable quirks of the writer.

          • There are those who criticize the books for being entirely too lenient to sinners, women and Catholics,.

            Or for tgetting the prophetic timeline all wrong.

            Issues like that are apparently far more important than mere literary or cinematic quality.

          • Seiberwing, it seems to me that if you grant the basic premise – “anyone who does not believe this message will be tortured for eternity” – then you have a duty to make sure many people as possible are told – and literary quality takes a distant second place.

          • Choir of Shades

            @Amaryllis

            With such a vast range of readers, LaHaye and Jenkins are forced to be very careful not to offend people who might see things a little differently.

            Aside from the conjunction of LaHaye and Jenkins, I’m pretty sure there isn’t a true word in that sentence. Or rather, please let that be an utterly false statement. Because if these books are what they believe to be kind and loving and generous to non-RTCs…*shudders*

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            @Choir

            Reading the rest of that essay, it’s clear that the “vast range” includes fundies who think women are allowed to teach bible classes, fundies who think Catholics might not actually be tools of Satan, and fundies who think someone might be saved *after* the Rapture.

            From the perspective of non-RTCs, these are virtually indistinguishable. Within the RTC realm, it’s a “vast range” of beliefs, all of which the essay’s author thinks are heretical.

    • No, Angela does not know he’s married. Paul went alone to The Dork’s funeral, and The Dork, despite being “like a father” to Paul, apparently didn’t keep his daughter informed of facts about his surrogate son’s life, like that he’s married with two kids.

  10. I kind of liked Straight in this chapter — primarily for the way he defended Jae.

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