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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Posted on May 26, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

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

    Aside from the obvious question of where Paul keeps his eyes…

    I think Paul just doesn’t want to find out there’s an actual scientific explanation for his sight coming back. That would ruin everything. Or he just automatically does the opposite of whatever Jae suggests because he’s an immature asshat.

  2. “It’s my eyes, not my head…”

    Yeah, Jae, come on! Why would Paul’s BRAIN be at all involved? The brain has nothing to do with the senses or how they function! If it’s an eye problem, then the only thing that needs to be checked is the eyes. Obviously!

    (Honestly, though, I’m a little confused by this exchange. Did Jenkins really just allow a female character to possess real, objective knowledge which his protagonist honestly did not share, and then had him blithely dismiss her based on that lack of understanding – as if Paul a real character with flaws, and Jae is allowed to possess information that her husband does not? Or is this just a passive-aggressive swipe at the atheist medical science that is so stupid that it would look for an eye problem in somewhere other than the eye? I’d normally assume the former and be mildly impressed by the effective characterisation, but Jenkins already used up all the benefit of the doubt I had, and has yet to earn any more.)

  3. He turned Christian and had his vision miraculousy restores, but the really upsetting and tiring thing was the bumpy plane ride.
    Let’s keep in mind what’s important, after all. Even without LaHaye*, it’s still Jenkins. Still with the planes. And the interrupting and the belittling, of course.

    At least a conversion in a plane is slightly more salubrious than the desperate repentance in the men’s room.

    Jae may possess better information than that ass Paul, but it doesn’t matter. She’s not the hero, is she? Not the chosen apostle, who turns out to be right even when an ordinary person would be wrong. Because, as the narrator knows full well, there isn’t anything wrong with Paul’s eyes or brain…I mean, of course, nothing medically wrong, he’s the same twit he’s always been, but he’s been Healed with a capital H.

    As for poor Jae, it is clearly her role in this book to be “always right and never victorious.”


    *I left out the ‘a’ when I first typed that, as in “LHaye.” And Spellchecker thought it shoudl be “layette” instead. At this time of night, that strikes me as amusing.

    • I’d just like to quote “desperate repentance in the men’s room” – a state familiar to quite a few high-profile RTCs, usually after the cops arrive.

      I’m inclined to agree that the reason Paul doesn’t want to get checked out is that he might get a proper explanation for the restoration of his sight… because that would invalidate his Conversion Experience. His house is built on sand.

      • I’d just like to quote “desperate repentance in the men’s room” – a state familiar to quite a few high-profile RTCs, usually after the cops arrive.

        * innocent smile *
        Why, such an association never occurred to me.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I’d just like to quote “desperate repentance in the men’s room” – a state familiar to quite a few high-profile RTCs, usually after the cops arrive

        You DO know Ted Haggard is making a CELEBRITY appearance in a forthcoming CHRISTIAN (TM) Sex Comedy movie, don’t you?

        To be released “right in the middle of the political season” in an election year as some sort of Political Statement about Family Values.

        I am not making this up:
        “Just like ’40-year-old-Virgin’ and/or ‘Hangover II’, Except CHRISTIAN (TM)!”

  4. What a strange, unsatisfying faith this is, where even in the very moment of religious epiphany, one’s thoughts still make room for concerns and second-guessings of, “Yes, but am I saved saved?” If there should be any time in one’s life when one is filled with unadulterated bliss, it ought to be this moment. If Paul were embracing any decent religion, he’d be walking on fluffy clouds all the way home.

    Never before has the essentially transactional nature of LaHaye & Jenkins’ faith seemed so sad to me. It really isn’t about enlightenment and joy, is it?, it’s about saying the magic words and getting stuff. I want to shake Paul and yell “Stop fussing and enjoy the goddamn moment already,” but of course he’s a RTC now and he’s not allowed to do that. He is required to always be in doubt, to be forever second-guessing the sincerity of his own faith, to never be sure that he’s really REALLY saved — and it starts before he even gets off the plane. No wonder he’s tired.

    • “If there should be any time in one’s life when one is filled with unadulterated bliss, it ought to be this moment. If Paul were embracing any decent religion, he’d be walking on fluffy clouds all the way home.”

      Quoted for truth.

      All the great religious conversion stories I have read (from Moses to Anne LaMott), and on a far more modest scale my own, are filled with an overwhelming sense of release, freedom, joy, energy, and above all a need to *do* something, to run out and free the slaves and preach to the Gentiles and release strangers from the illusion of attachment and dance in the rain with little children, ANYTHING to get anybody and everybody to share in this wonderful Thing that you have discovered.

      [Which can be as annoying as spit to one’s “less enlightened” colleagues and family, of course.]

      But not Paul. Paul goes home to snap at his wife and grump off to bed.

      I don’t think Paul has “converted” to anything. I think he’s just congealed.

  5. I find the idea of RTCist irrevocable conversion a fascinating one. They have to come to terms with the idea that sometimes people will want to leave their group, so there has to be some mechanic for saying “he was one of us, but now he isn’t any more” – but the route chosen, to say “this was never a valid conversion in the first place”, seems to me to have two problems. (a) much like the concept of annulment of marriage, it is blatantly logic-twisting (children of an annulled marriage do not become bastards retroactively even though the idea is that there was never a real marriage), and (b) more seriously, it means that although every RTC member has in theory a guarantee of salvation, in practice each person has to worry about whether hir conversion is “real” – in other words, just the same worries that every other Christian has (“am I good enough to get into heaven”), but without the safety net of being able to talk about them with one’s co-religionists because to doubt is in itself a sign of not-real-conversion.

    Reminds me ot paranoid institutional cultures like the BBC and Stalinist Russia.

    • The BBC? What, the television station?

      • Yup. Read Orwell on the subject – he got the idea of “unpersoning” from there, not from any of the classic police states. He’d come in one morning and somebody’s desk would be gone, and nobody would answer questions about what had happened to him… because nobody knew who was reporting to the bosses.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          That’s so DILBERT.

          So Big Brother is the bastard son of the Pointy-Haired Bosses at the BBC…

        • There was, after all, a reason why The Goon Show parody ‘1985’ was set with the Big Brother Corporation…

  6. “It’s my eyes, not my head?”

    I am now picturing this man as an egg-faced dummy with a pair of eyeballs floating in the air over him. Or maybe they’re in his hands, like that monster from Pan’s Labyrinth.

  7. 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?

    Not only is Paul not filled with great joy, but it appears that it doesn’t occur to him to share his newfound faith with his own wife. I’m sure he gets around to it eventually, but I’m not looking forward to the emotionally abusive form of preaching Paul uses to convert his wife.

    • Which sounds quite a bit like the less-than-zealous conversion schemes of the Tribulation Force (i.e. WHAT schemes?). I wonder if LaHaye and Jenkins think that a “true” conversion leaves you stunned with fear, and/or so besotted with basking in divine favor that you don’t particularly notice the outside.

  8. Hi everyone. I’m a(nother) slacktivist-y who has finally gone through some of the sidebar links, and has trugged through the archives of this blog. And I like it. While Fred’s detailed deconstruction has it’s merrits, it’s also nice to read through L&J’s tripe at a much faster pace without the long waits.

    On this post: Yes, the hugging Jae is indeed worrying, on two levels. First, as stated, it’s a case of only Paul’s emotions matter. I doubt the writers bother to go into any detail on how Jae feels about the man who abused her in every way but physical suddenly being all huggy. Or if they do, it’ll probably be in a form of “Ah, my perseverance of just taking it has payed off, now I can stay with this man again with no problems”.
    But a second problem to me is: Why? Why is Paul so happy with Jae now? I haven’t experienced any conversion myself, but while I can imagine it might make you happier about the world, there’s a big step from hating being in the same room with your wife, cheating on here, then blaming her for being paranoid, to loving her again. We never got a real impression that Paul was lashing out because he was unhappy with himself (Lord knows he was very, very pleased with himself). This leaves me to conclude that his love is mechanical, part of his deal with God. Jae is his wife and God wants him to forever stay with his wife and not sleep with other women, so he will. (Like in Left Behind, upon conversion, Paul probably knows how RTCs should behave. Even though he couldn’t have been married before God or with any religious ceremony, since that would’ve been illegal. But hey, just because it was a heathen marriage, or you made your vows in the name of Allah, doesn’t mean God won’t keep you to it apparently.) I don’t think he loves Jae anymore than he did before, he just needs to pretend he does. Perhaps what L&J really intended is a message like that ‘It’s a wonderfull life’ ripoff, that because he’s now a Christian he instantly becomes much nicer and not at all capable of hatred anymore (yeah right, wanna bet how hateless he will become towards atheists?) But I’m not seeing it, and I’m not buying it.

    On the book as a whole: The LB series was written as ‘hystorical science fiction’ wasn’t it? A complete and accurate description of how the rapture will occur. Sure, characters like Rayford and Buck were officially made up, but all the events were right from the Bible, weren’t they? And those characters were all so amazed that every event happened exactly like the Bible said it would )even if the Bible doesn’t really say it). So why does this book describe completely different events? There doesn’t seem to have been a Rapture, but WW3 already happened, and the miracles are starting. The EVIL goal of world peace has been achieved minus the persecution of RTCs but the AntiChrist doesn’t seem to be around yet. Is this book not intended as ‘hystorical science fiction’ but some light reading for RTCs who like to be reminded atheists will kill them all given half a chance but no worries cause God will kill them right back? Did LaHaye make some changes to his timeline, and is the LB timeline now defunct? Does anyone know what the official reason for this book series is next to the LB series? (The unoffical reason no doubt being “Hey LB made us wealthy and famous, let’s sell some more books just like it”)

    • Ivan, it seems to me that the message from your reading of this passage – with which I agree – is that humans will never do anything right unless someone’s standing over them with a big stick. Reminds me a lot of Catholicism: when you succeed it’s “yay God”, but when you fail it’s “bad old sinful me”.

      In any other setting people don’t need to justify fiction as fiction. It’s kind of scary that these people do…

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