Monthly Archives: May 2011

Soon: Chapter 15: Forget It

Seeing the lightning and thinking the words = The Moment for Paul.  If the Rapture had really happened last weekend and we were now in the Tribulation, the Mark of the Believer would now be on Paul’s forehead.

Like his Left Behind counterpart, Chaim Rosenzweig, Paul wonders if his conversion is “valid.”  But Jenkins and Paul defensively assure us that this conversion-while-a-plane-crashes is a totally 100% genuine real McCoy no tag backs conversion, yessirree.  They do this be retconning their own story.  Although this is nothing compared to the lie Paul tells Straight later…possibly the biggest lie in the entire book.

Yeah.  Chew on that.

Paul tells Straight about the Miraculous Return of Paul’s Sight (hereinafter MROPS).  Straight is dubious.  Understandably so, even if Straight is a miracle-believing Christian.

Then the plane lands.  Considering the storms and the screaming and puking and “assume the brace position!”, this is even more anticlimactic than it sounds.

Paul and Straight head home (hey, Straight might as well be living with them at this point!).  Paul goes to embrace Jae, and this is portrayed as a wonderful new development due to Paul’s wonderful new faith, but I’m more inclined to read it as yet another case of Only Paul’s Emotions Matter.

Jae hears about the MROPS and, apparently sick of playing chauffeur, suggests that Straight drive Paul to the ER.

“No, no.” [Paul responded]  “I can’t explain all this to strangers and spend the night there getting tests.  We’ll see Dr. Bihari in the morning.”

“Paul, maybe it’s some neurological shift–”

“I’m not going, Jae.  Forget it.  It’s my eyes, not my head…”

See what I mean about Paul not changing?  Still with the interrupting and the belittling.  I am trying to imagine circumstances in which I would say “forget it” to a beloved family member.  The only ones I can think of are 1) if we were both kidding around, or 2) if the person’s idea was so offensive and outrageous that it warranted immediate and rude dismissal.

And suggesting a hospital trip for a blind man who claims he can  suddenly see does not seem like such an outrageous request.

I wonder…in ten years of marriage, has Jae ever proposed a plan–hell, has she ever expressed a thought–that has not been immediately shot down by Paul?

“And I’m just so tired.”  [Paul concluded]  “It’s been such a crazy day.  That plane ride was a roller coaster…”

He turned Christian and had his vision miraculousy restores, but the really upsetting and tiring thing was the bumpy plane ride.

What an idiot.

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Soon: Chapter 14: And now for…the rest of…the conversion

Back to Paul’s “private torment,” thinking of “the jarring teaching of the Gospels.”

Should the teaching really be so jarring to Paul?  Bad enough that he got a Ph.D. in religious studies without reading Revelation, but he never read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?  Really?

But even when thinking of the Gospels, Paul doesn’t think of too many specifics.  He mentions in passing teachings like…

If you want to be rich, give your money away.  If you want to lead, serve.

BECAUSE SO MANY CHRISTIANS DO THOSE THINGS, RIGHT???

(And let’s ignore the fact that this turns charity into a deal.  And here I thought people might actually give their money away or serve because they thought those were good things to do, not just because they thought they would get to become rich and lead.  Silly me…)

…when Paul allowed himself to consider that Jesus might have died for his sins, he found himself overwhelmed with grief.

Was he a sinner?  He had been unfaithful to his wife.  He had lied.  He had been selfish, caring more for himself than for his family.  He had killed people.  The weight of it was too much.  He did not remember suffering guilt before; he hardly even knew what it was.

Until now.  He wanted to shake himself back to reality, to get out from under the awful shame be reminding himself that there were myths, fairy tales.

So, there it is.  Paul is upset that he’s done bad things because Jesus died for those bad things.  He feels guilt because the “fairy tales” tell him to, not because he thinks he actually wronged others.

Oh, and not for nothing–Paul may be feeling bad only because of Jesus, but Jenkins has done a pretty good job of showing evil atheists, in evil Atheistopia, getting along just fine, and morally, without the fairy tales.  How about Jae, as a nice first example–she hasn’t been selfish.  She hasn’t cheated.  She hasn’t put her needs before Paul’s.  She certainly hasn’t killed people.  Hmmm…how in the world could she have been so good, without Jesus around to tell her how bad she is?

Finally, FINALLY, the damn plane takes off (and I am still wondering why they just didn’t cancel the flight), and there’s tons of turbulence and Paul is freaking out and they circle Chicago forever.  Now, I’m no Rayford Steele or anything, but when you want to land a small plane and there are tons of storms, don’t you just usually divert the plane?  Why don’t they go to St. Louis or something?

But instead of doing something sensible like that, they try to land, and people are screaming and puking and Paul thinks:

Was it possible he could die?  What if everything he had been listening to was true?

Pascal’s Wager: check.

What if there was a God and a plan of salvation and consequences for not connecting with it?  He shook his head.  He wasn’t about to become a foxhole convert.  That made no sense.  He wondered if it would even be valid.

Hmmm…this all sounds a bit familiar:

“But Cameron, I would be doing this only because I’m afraid I’m going to die in this plane!  That’s all.”

-Chaim Rosenzweig, The Indwelling

Wow, Chaim really was the dry run for Paul Apostle, wasn’t he?

God, save me, Paul cried silently, and he knew he was not pleading only for his physical life.

Yep, because believing in a soul, when you never have before in your life, is just automatic like that.

KABLOOEY!!!

There’s a huge ka-banga of thunder and a bolt of lightning…and Paul sees it, his vision miraculously restored!

Hallelujah!

It’s just that simple!

Soon: Chapter 14: Bia’s Miracle

Bia Balaam (that name…), evil atheist that she is, is wandering around Washington and enjoying the cherry blossoms.  It’s May, well past natural blossom season, but Atheistopia has engineered the trees to bloom for weeks and weeks.  This will be important for a point I want to make in a moment.

But first, forget the engineering of plants, you need to see the wonder of AWESOME ATHEIST UMBRELLAS!!!

Bia slipped the pen-sized titanium cartridge from her pocket, popping the lid with her thumb, and tapped the button.  Her umbrella shot up, unfolding like a parachute above her head.

And once more, Atheistopia kicks ass and takes names.  I mean seriously…

  

TRANSFORMS INTO…

Holy bitsy bumpershoot, Batman!

Bia has taken out her Fantastical Atheist Umbrella OF THE FUTURE because it looks like rain, but in fact…

The downpour quickly intensified and [Bia’s] umbrella grew heavy.  But Bia didn’t smell water.  Her legs and feet were dry, and no rain pooled on the pavement.  Instead she saw drifts of pink and white petals.

She shook them off her (AWESOME ATHEIST) umbrella.  …

Holding her (AWESOME ATHEIST) umbrella by the tip, she hooked a branch with the handle and bent it down into her hand.  (AND THE PEN-UMBRELLA HAS A HOOKED HANDLE IS THERE ANYTHING IT CAN’T DO???)  The end was shriveled.  The bark was slowly mottling and withering all the way up the branch to the tree’s trunk.  The tree was dying before her eyes. 

Scientists would be scratching their heads over this one, but Agent Balaam already knew what her boss would say.  He would recognize that it wasn’t natural and wasn’t a miracle, as some would claim.  No, it was a shockingly bold and utterly despicable act of terrorism–worthy of ruthless, immediate reprisal.

(Additions mine.  😉 )

This is actually a fairly spookifying miracle, if a bit cartoonish.  Here’s the problem, though–it is another miracle that doesn’t much look like a miracle.  Now, we know, because this is a RTC end times book, that this is yet another Miracle Directly From God, but why should Bia think it is?  If the trees can already be engineered to bloom for weeks and weeks, why can’t Evil Christian Terrorists engineer them to wither and die?  Why should Atheist Bia think this is a miracle?  I want to know!

Also: once again, an atheist is appalled by the destruction of nature.  Aren’t we atheists supposed to be unable to truly appreciate beauty, according to the RTCs?

Also also: bonus points to Jenkins for the “scientists would be scratching their heads” bit.  That’s a favorite of the creationist crowd.

Soon: Chapter 14: Checking in with the Ladies

Jenkins sure wants to get a lot done in Chapter 14.  Paul’s conversion, plus seeing what Jae and Angela are up to, plus another miracle (well, two, really).  I may have almost as many posts for Chapter 14 as I did for Chapters 1 and 2, where the whole world had to be explained.

So, let’s check in with the ladies.  And by “the ladies,” I mean only Jae and Angela.  Bia, I’m sure, would not be a “lady” by Jenkins’ definition, so she will not be included. 

Well, that, and something much more interesting happens to her, so I’m giving her a post of her own.  😀

Angela, underground Christian just like her father The Dork, meets up with a couple of her co-conspirators under circumstances that are not at all unusual or suspicious: they all attend a show at the Albert Einstein Planetarium.  I take it Jenkins is a pretty big fan of the Air and Space Museum, or at least checked out their website for a few minutes, because he cites a number of the exhibits there.  (Not that I blame him, as the Air and Space Museum is gorram awesome.)

Oddly, though, he seems to make a mistake of dates, or maybe he just didn’t double-check himself.  Let me lay this out, to be sure I’m not making a mistake…the dates switched over on January 1, 2010.  2010 became 1 P3.  It is now May of 37 P3, or 2047.  Paul, we are told, was 36 at Wintermas, born during the war.  However, Jenkins now tells us:

Angela’s favorite flying machine was the scarlet Breitling Orbiter balloon, the first to fly nonstop around the world just before the turn of the century, about six years before she was born.

Problem: The Breitling Orbiter 3 completed its journey in 1999.  Which puts Angela’s birth in 2005, making her 5-6 years older than Paul, around 42.  This does not jive with Paul’s earlier statement that Angela is “around thirty,” nor do I believe for a second that Jenkins would have his hero be attracted to a woman who is both over forty, and older than him, even if by only 5-6 years.

So, either Jenkins got the date wrong, or he or an editor accidentally put in a “six” instead of a “sixteen,” which would put Angela at the proper age.

And I have digressed on that one number waaaaay too long…

Angela and her cohorts get tickets to a mid-afternoon showing at the now-quaint planetarium.  Yeah, three unrelated, non-tourist adults meeting up here, when at least one of them may be tailed.  Not suspicious at all.  (Um, don’t you people have jobs?  I know Angela does: something about the Library of Congress or somesuch…)  Then the following glorious event occurs:

A couple entered, taking seats on each side of her.  The three clasped hands and, as the powerful bass line of the soundtrack boomed, shared a silent prayer.

That cracks me up every time. 

Angela (whispering): My brother and sister, we meet today under fearful circumstances.  Our very lives may be in danger as we speak, so let us pray for the success of our righteous cause and for our safety, should God will it.

Man (whispering): After we’re done here, can we hit the gift shop?  I wanna get some space ice cream.

Woman (whispering): Sure, dear.

The Christian threesome decide to further make themselves suspicious (and to disturb everyone else who is trying to enjoy the show), by whispering the entire time.  Angela passes on Paul’s message of a possible raid, and they make plans for Angela to leave town.  Because nothing says “I’m innocent” like snatching your kids out of school and fleeing the jurisdiction for no reason whatsoever. 

And you know Angela’s desperate, because she’s fleeing to…Detroit.

*****

Meanwhile, Jae, who is apparently (gasp!) older than thirty (that’s what you get for pursuing an advanced degree, you harpy), has decided to move Paul’s sorry ass out of the den, where he has camped out since he got home weeks ago, and back into their second-floor bedroom.  She cleans up all his clothes and bedding and shit.  (If Paul hasn’t been up to the second floor yet, how has he showered?  He must be really stinky by now.)  Then…

…she also came upon a note crumpled and soft from fingering, from Angela Pass Barger.

Ewwwww!!!  Jae, put that note down and go wash!  I don’t even want to think about what Paul has been doing with it!

Speaking of…why does Paul still have the letter, and why did he leave it at home while he skipped off to Washington?  Why didn’t the blind man who is dependent on his wife destroy the letter before he came home?  It didn’t cross his mind that this might happen?  I mean, I know I’ve ragged on Paul’s intelligence in the past, but now I’m starting to get worried–this is more than mere dumbassery; he doesn’t even appear to grasp basic cause and effect.

And now, let us rejoice in the fact that Jae is allowed a moment of anger.  Sure, this is it, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts:

How could her blind, seemingly helpless, definitely depressed husband have met a new woman, corresponded with her, and made a secret plan to meet her in Washington?  And right under the nose of Jae’s father?

No wonder Paul wanted Straight to go with him.  He must have been Paul’s accomplice all along.  Who else could have read him the note?  It amazed Jae that she had been so naive and accepting–waiting on Paul hand and foot, enduring his mood swings and angry outbursts, defending his temper to the children.  All the while she had hoped he was coming to terms with his blindness, he had been trolling the waters of a different future.

It was the same old story, Paul and his other women.  And he always acted like her jealousy was crazy.

I’m pretty sure that the reader is supposed to think, “Hey!  She is totally wrong about Straight!  Good Christian Straight doesn’t condone what Paul is doing!”  And he doesn’t.  Still, Jae is not entirely wrong (not that she’ll be vindicated, mind you).  After all, Straight cheerfully went to lunch with Paul and Angela, never dropping so much as a hint that this wasn’t on the up-and-up.  Which is pretty unfair both to Jae and to Angela, who still is in the dark about Paul’s relationship.  In fact, one of the oddities about this love triangle is the way that no one–not Paul, not Straight, not the author–has said a word about the situation being so lousy for Angela.

And this is all Jae gets.  The poll of Paul’s asshattery will be just as bad, IMHO, for the next bunch of chapters, even if he is now-a-Christian Paul.   

But I’ll let you all be the judge.  😉

*****

Housekeeping:

1.  The winner of the Paul-asshattery Poll #1 is…

“Why can’t you handle simple electronics?…Grown woman and you can’t even–…Are you crying again?”

But, as Vermic pointed out, every quote is a winner!

2.  Did no one want the Riven CDs?  I’m so hurt!  (Not really.  :D)  If you did, please say so!

Next up: a new miracle.

Soon: Chapter 14: Conversion on the Tarmac

We know that the plane trip back to Chicago will be Conversion Time because Paul astonishingly turns down a first-class pre-flight drink.  He sucked down half of his father-in-law’s best liquor at Wintermas, so we know that Paul buries the pain under booze.  But we can’t have even a hint of alcohol involved in a conversion, now can we?

The flight starts to suck even before takeoff (storms) and I’m wondering why this glorious Atheistopian pilot doesn’t just cancel the flight, except that it’s important for Paul to be terrified and desperate when he converts.  Also, Jenkins does seem to like him some in-flight conversion.  Maybe Chaim Rosenzweig was just the dry run for this.

Straight has conked out, so Paul starts playing Proselytizer Bingo…with himself.  In just one page of Soon, Paul hits 1) Jesus Was Real, 2) the Lewis Trilemma, and 3) It’s True Because My Daddy Told Me So.

I’ll try not to take too long with these.  Numerous anti-apologetics have already addressed these points quite well (especially the second), but I do have something in common with Paul here (blech): we are both atheists raised in secular homes.  The big difference is that I grew up in (as the RTCs would have it) a “Christian nation,” while Paul grew up in Atheistopia, and got himself a Ph.D. in religion.  So let’s see where that takes us…

Jesus urged people to have faith, to believe in Him.  Most atheists chose to believe He was a fictitious character, but Paul’s professors had been more generous.  They allowed that He was a historical figure and perhaps a wise teacher, but needless to say, they scoffed at any claims of deity.  He couldn’t be the Son of a God who did not exist.

Boy, for a lifelong atheist raised in Atheistopia, Paul sure talks like a Christian.  I don’t think I have ever capitalized the “he” of Jesus, much less the “son” part.  Is Jenkins just afraid to write the “he” of Jesus with a little “h,” or does he really think that atheists capitalize it in their minds?

Notice how Jenkins skates quickly around the whole historicity question, by having the pointy-headed, ivory-tower-dwelling, liberal, intellectual elites (did I leave anything out?) admit Jesus exists?  Somehow, given the utter lack of evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible, I doubt that professors in Atheistopia would think any such thing.

Then, Paul remembers learning about C.S. Lewis in graduate school.  I would love to see the syllabi from Paul’s classes–he read C.S. Lewis, but never got around to reading Revelation?  As for Lewis, I have no love for him, and the Trilemma is one of his dumber arguments, though also one of the most popular.  Probably because of the way it trips off the tongue: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord.

You know, if there’s one thing that rings true here, it’s that a dumbass like Paul would be converted by the Trilemma.

Many, many people have pointed out the silliness of the Trilemma, including the way it leaves out other possibilities, such as Mistaken, or Legend (as discussed here, on the awesome Atheist Experience):

As well, Paul says this of the Trilemma:

You couldn’t have it two ways.  You could not call Him a wise teacher unless you believed His claim to be the Lord of all.

There we go again: “The Lord of all.”  Because all atheists talk that way.

This line of argument always reminds me of a line from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (I just wish I could remember which episode).  What I do remember if that in the movie, a female character, seemingly offended by the very idea, snaps at a man, “Do you think that people lie???”

Tom Servo’s response: “No, never!  Yes, always!”

So, someone can’t be a wise teacher without being the son of a god?  Or, another twosome, a person cannot be both a lunatic and a liar at the same time?

(Let’s not even get into Lewis’ view that a “lunatic” is someone who thinks he is a boiled egg.  Way to be sensitive to people with mental conditions, jerk.)

(Or, for that matter, that many of Jesus’ teachings are not what I would call wise.  Don’t plan for tomorrow, thought crimes are as bad as actual crimes, etc.)

Having cited Lewis, Paul goes on to cite two far more important men: his daddy, and The Dork Too Stupid.  Jenkins tries to turn Paul’s musings on these men into an argument that smart people are Christians…

Paul thought he knew enough of his dad’s character through his mother’s recollections.  She never said he was stupid.  And Paul knew beyond doubt that Andy Pass had been no intellectual lightweight.

Yeah, I think we all know about The Dork’s great mental prowess.  But let’s acknowledge what’s really going on: Paul is a misogynist with abandonment issues and Daddy issues.  He has found out over the past few months that his two father figures were Christians.  So, he either sides with the women in his life (his mother, his wife) or the men.  I think we all know what the answer is.

So far, Jenkins would have it that Paul is being converted by history, the greatness of the Bible, pure logic, and the wisdom of men he has known.  Seems to me that he’s being converted by lack of facts, faulty logic, and his Daddy issues.

And the plane hasn’t even left the ground.

Soon: Chapter 13: Awards and Women

I didn’t complete Chapter 13 before the Chapters 1-13 poll, but that’s okay because Paul has no more interaction with Jae until after the conversion.

It’s time for Paul’s award, and he offers to try to get Straight a ticket to the ceremony, but Straight declines.  So, Paul had two plane tickets but only one award ceremony ticket?  What, did the NPO expect Jae to wait at the hotel on the most important day of her husband’s career?  They must think as little of Jae as Paul does.

I kid, I kid.  It is implied that the second ticket goes to Ranold, even though you would think he would get his own ticket in the first place.  For someone so obsessedwith logistics, Jenkins really drops the ball on obsessing about award ceremony seating, here.

Anyway, Ranold sits next to Paul and is all proud and puffy and Paul reconcludes again that Ranold must actually be proud of him for realsies, and thus never planted the come-to-Jesus note.  This makes, what, 17 conspiracy theories that Paul has been forced to relinquish as completely stupid?

Paul receives the Pergamum Medal “for valor in the face of danger.”

The Pergamum Medal. 

OH COME ON, JENKINS, DOES IT NEVER CROSS YOUR MIND EVEN ONCE THAT THESE THINGS MIGHT BE A LITTLE TOO ON THE NOSE JUST A LITTLE TOO OFTEN I MEAN SERIOUSLY WTF?

Yeah, cause I am so sure the National Peace Organization of Atheistopia would name a medal for valor after the city in the Bible where Satan lives:

To the angel of the church of Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.  I know where you live–where Satan has his throne.  Yet you remain true to my name.  You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city–where Satan lives.

-Revelation 2:12-13

Good grief.

So after receiving the frakkin’ Pergamum Medal (I am never going to get over that.  Never.), Ranold takes Paul to the White House Rose Garden to meet Bia Balaam, the be-yotch who “masterminded” the death of The Dork Too Stupid back in the Prologue.

Oh.  Wow.  Balaam is also mentioned in that same section of Revelation:

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you.  You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

-Revelation 2:14-16

Gee.  Isn’t.  It.  Amazing.  How.  It.  All.  Ties.  Together.

And I bet you all thought that just because Paul had left Jae behind in Chicago, he also left behind his hatred of all females on the planet.  WELL, YOU WOULD BE WRONG!

And Bia Balaam is that most frightening of creatures: A woman with a career!!!  RUUUUNNNNNN!!!!!

A large bony hand gripped his.  Paul was astonished when the voice was a woman’s.  Her warm breath hit him full in the face, so she had to be at least his height.

Being tall, you see, is only good if you are of the man-type.

Bia is very nice and congratulates Paul on his award and the three of them talk shop, but Paul is distracted by his complete revulsion at all things Woman:

Paul hated her voice.  Am I threatened that she’s a woman? jealous that she’s working when I can’t? envious that she’s Ranold’s protege?  No, it was her smug self-satisfaction that got under Paul’s skin.

Remember, only Paul is allowed to be smugly self-satisfied and still be a Hero.

I think maybe Jenkins isn’t reading the mind of his character all that well.  Let me see if I can help:

Am I threatened that she’s a woman?

DEFINITELY.  Threatened, terrified, disgusted.  All of the above.

jealous that she’s working when I can’t?

Well, yes, but this also goes back to the Threatened By Women thing.  Because I notice that although you are immensely threatened by and jealous of Bia, you do not have those feelings about Koontz.

envious that she’s Ranold’s protege?

Probably some.  But that takes a backseat to your deep psychosis about women.  Your father-in-law complex is the least of your worries.

And the really weird thing about this whole passage is that there is a very good reason why almost-a-Christian Paul should hate Bia: she killed The Dork!  Granted, they do not say so in so many words, but Bia is clearly the brains and the brawn behind all anti-Christian activities in Washington, D.C.  Of course, Paul would need his five-year-old son to help him add 2 + 2, so I guess it’s natural that this idea would sail miles over his head.

Ranold and Bia also tell him about a guy who snuck into the Asclepian Zoo after hours “on some kind of drug trip,” and was killed by a snake.

Oh.  Good.  God.

 
Rod of Asclepius

Isn’t that clever?  ISN’T IT??? 

 
Actually, the only way in which it could be clever is if the zoo is a snakes-only zoo.  Then it would be kind of awesome.  I’m pretty sure it’s not, though.
 
Turns out Snake Guy was a Christian, part of Bia and Ranold’s plan to send “a signal that it’s unhealthy to be a Christian.”
 
This seems like the most inefficient and costly and unnecessarily-complicated plan ever to strike fear into the hearts of your enemies.  I mean, geez, why not just friggin’ execute The Dork or Christian Snake Guy?  Publicly, brutally, hell, on national television.  That would send a damn message you betcha.
 
No wonder Paul hates Bia so much.  Not only is she a tall, dirty atheist career woman, but she gets to implement her stupid, conspiracy-based ideas, while Paul only gets to think about his.
 
Poor Paul.
 
Finally, he ditches Bia and Ranold and goes to lunch with Straight and Angela.  Angela quite obviously (and I mean QUITE OBVIOUSLY) flirts with Paul, and Stright conveniently forgets to mention Paul’s wife and two small children.  When Straight leaves the table for a minute, almost-a-Christian Paul hints to Angela that the NPO is really cracking down on Christians in D.C.  Angela giggles him off.  Because she’s a girl.
 
Next up: almost-a-Christian Paul becomes completely-a-Christian Paul.
 

Heathen Critique’s First Ever Drawing: RIVEN Audiobook!

I’ve mentioned here in the past how much I love me some audiobooks on long car trips.  So, when I saw Riven on CD for $1, I was pretty happy, lemme tell ya.

And I tried, I really did.  But…I just can’t.

I can’t listen to that narrator.  I am very picky about my narrators.  Frank Muller rocked the Left Behind series and Steve Sever does a pretty damn fine job with the Underground Zealot series.  But the narrator of Riven sounds like he’s reading a bedtime story.  And not in an amusingly goofy way, either. 

HOWEVER, My Tastes Are Not Everyone’s Tastes.  This is merely my own opinion, and many other people might disagree. 

And I do not want to waste a perfectly good (or perfectly awful–it remains to be heard) audiobook about a felon who wants to be crucified.

Sooooo…if you would like your very own used copy of Riven on CD, just leave a comment below and say so and I will do a random-number-generator thing in a week and send the lucky winner the CDs!

Soon: Poll #1: Paul’s Asshattery, Chs. 1-13

Soon: Chapter 13: More of Paul Being an Ass

It is so depressing to keep writing about the continued emotional abuse of Jae by Blind Paul.  I’d like to say that it will all be over soon, because The Big Damn Conversion is just around the corner, but I can’t because Paul doesn’t change.

Paul is home now, and generally doing everything he can to avoid his wife and kids. 

Straight visited every day, and they spent hours playing chess and talking.  Occasionally Straight would bring his sax, and if he was still there when the kids got home from school, they seemed fascinated by his music.  At least a couple of nights a week, Straight took Paul to chess clubs.

(Emphasis mine)

Clearly, the entire hospital is now wise to Straight’s ways now (those ways being: touch people and talk to them incessantly about yourself, even when people ask you not to do these things).  They must have barred him from the hospital, which explains why Straight is spending all his days and nights with Paul.  Hey, it’s not like any other patients might need a volunteer, right?

Jae is none too pleased about how things are going, though it’s not like Paul was in the running for Husband and Father of the Year even when he could see, so I’m not seeing a big difference.  Heck, at least he’s not out chasing down every airline attendant who crosses his path.

Jae is filling her usual role as chauffeur.  (When listing Jae’s various faults to Straight, Paul cited that she has nothing to do all day, because all she does is drive the kids to and from school.  Way to respect the stay-at-home moms that you want women to be, Jenkins.)  Jae takes Paul to the doctor every week, but he doesn’t even let her come in the room and talk to the doctor.  This is so asshatty that I can barely believe it, even from Paul.  And now I’m imagining meta-Jae telling the staff in the waiting room that she is his chauffeur, just to see the reactions.

In the car, Jae complains about the situation:

“Don’t forget, I have more of a vested interest than you.  It’s my life.”  [Paul said, because he’s an ass]

“Isn’t it our life?”

Paul shrugged.  “Not necessarily.”

“What are you saying?”

He hesitated.  Then, “No one’s making you stick with a blind husband.”

“Have I said a word about leaving?”

“You don’t have to.  I can hear the ‘poor me’ in your voice.”

I’m trying to think of a way Paul could be more of a jerk, but I just can’t.

Jae, honey, that’s your cue!  Three words: So long, sucker.

Still listening to the friggin’ NT, Paul believes he has found out the secret code: In Revelation, believers in Sardis are told they will be clothed in white if they keep the faith.  And St. Stephen was wearing a white t-shirt!  (I’m serious, this is the big breakthrough.)  Paul jumps from there to thinking that the underground is trying to duplicate the 21 judgments, but they’re so frickin’ vague that Paul can’t make the theory work.  He ends up dismissing the idea, and even St. Stephen’s book medallion, as “far-fetched.”  Huh, ya think?

This is, btw, the second time that Paul has come up with a Brilliant Theory, only to have to dismiss it as far-fetched.  (The first, of course, was when he thought Ranold and the NPO had planted a fake Dad-Says-Come-To-Jesus letter for him.)  Paul is clearly not the mental giant that he thinks he is.

Time to go to Washington!  Paul gets two first-class plane tickets, but doesn’t want to take Jae, because that would interfere with Angela-flirting.  But happily, the kids get the flu and Paul can take Straight with him, instead of his despised wife.  Score!

Paul totally freaks out on the plane ride, but calms his shit down once they arrive in Washington and smell the cherry blossoms.  Straight very helpfully tells Paul that the blossoms look “like you remember them.”  Thanks, asshat, you really have turned into Paul’s substitute pair of eyes, haven’t you?  Paul whines and whines about his sight being gone and how his life is SO HARD FOREVER, and I’d feel a helluva lot more sorry for him if he wasn’t such an ass, especially because a big part of his complaint is that…

“I was actually scared today, Straight.”

Yup, Paul is one of Those Men: men who think they are never afraid of anything, because being scared is Unmanly.  You would think that being in the military would have introduced Paul to the concept of facing fear and then controlling it, but evidently not.

Straight quotes the Bible (calling it “that ancient book“) at Paul, about having faith.  Paul rather sensibly asks, “so where’s my healer?” and Straight dodges the damn question with the usual RTC argument that Paul is missing the point of the story, which is to just Have Faith.

This whole bit with Straight telling Paul to have faith is a bit odd.  Not because Straight wants Paul to have faith.  After all, Straight couldn’t more obviously be a Christian if he was wearing a big sign on his chest saying, “JESUS, MAN.”  But because you would think this would not be a common subject of conversation in Atheistopia, and might even cause Paul to be a tad suspicious.  Our Paul Apostle, though, is dense as a big chunk of dense stuff and doesn’t catch on.

It’s almost time for Paul to receive his medal for stupidity valor, but first…I HAVE AN IDEA!!

Give me a few minutes…