Soon: Chapter 15: Christianese
In order to answer questions in comments, I will be grabbing Jenkins’ writing book this weekend to discover the DEFINITIVE ANSWER to the Left Behind vs. Soon timeline question.
Oh, and in answer to another question in comments that I kept forgetting to answer: Jae’s mother’s name is Margaret.
Sorry for delay. *blushes*
In the meantime, now that Paul has accepted Jesus into his heart, he takes every word of the Bible literally. Just like Rayford Steele and Michael Murphy and every other Good Christian should.
He muses for a mere moment about how everything in his life, “including his marriage,” will have to change. But that is small cucumbers compared to trying out his newly-recognized fluency in Christian-talk.
Another hurdle to Paul’s intellect was the assertion that Jesus had lived a perfect life, without sin, so He could become God’s sacrificial lamb for all the sins of the world. That made Christianity unique among religions, at least the ones Paul had studied. What other religion based salvation on a gift, something someone else had done? What other religion featured a hero who not only rose from the dead but also supposedly still lived? Most religions seemed focused on man’s attempts to reach God, but Jesus was clearly God’s attempt to reach man.
Gee, I’ve never heard that one before…Google gives me 20 million results. It’s one step removed from “Christianity is not religion…it’s the TRUTH!”
Like most of his “atheist” characters in Left Behind, Paul accepts the existence of God immediately and without question, but stumbles on the Jesus issue. Note to anyone trying to convert atheists: generally, it is the question of an all-powerful superbeing creating the entire universe that we doubt. We don’t secretly believe it but just “don’t want to” try to follow Jesus’ teachings.
Also: the sin thing. Sin is something that is wrong because God says so. I’m more concerned with what I and other humans think is right or wrong. What God thinks is irrelevant until you go to the last paragraph and show me that God exists and then that I should care about his take on morality.
But Paul quickly gets past his musings on morality to get to the really important issue:
Then there was the promise that Jesus would come back to earth someday. He had told His disciples that He was going to heaven to prepare a place for them and that He would return to receive them to Himself. And He added, “If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Okaaaaay, but again, we’re really skating past a big hurdle for atheists: why should we take seriously what Jesus was promising? Why is he an authority on anything?
Oh, and the above is just as it appears in the book. So apparently, in Christianese, you capitalize “He,” but not “heaven” or “earth.”
Ah well, Paul is so very new at all this Christian stuff. It’s miraculous enough that he has internalized the language of a culture in which he has never lived.
But that’s okay, because it’s time to confront Straight, and for Paul to get himself a mentor!
You see, Paul has used all of his investigative skills to figure out that there is a chance that Straight might be a secret believer. Good thing Paul got that Ph.D., right?
Yeah, figuring ou Straight was a Christian took some powerful thinking, it did. That forgetful fish in Finding Nemo could figure out Straight was a Christian. Hell, rocks could figure out Straight was a Christian.
“You remember in the car, when you quoted me that passage about the two blind men? ‘”According to your faith, let it be to you” And their eyes were opened.'”
Straight seemed to stiffen. “Yeah?”
“I’ve been thinking about this, and I know I never told you that story.”
“So how did you know it?”
Straight leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. “You think you’re the only person who reads?”
“The Bible is contraband, Straight. Forbidden. I have access to it because of my job.”
You know, there is a very simple response to this that Straight doesn’t use: Straight is 23 years older than Paul. He was born in the late 1980’s–he grew up in a world in which Christianity was the dominant religion.
ONCE AGAIN, and I hate having to harp on this (Oh, who am I kidding? I love harping on this!), it is all but impossible to grow up in the United States without a working knowledge of Christianity, including Bible stories. Which is a fact that Paul might possibly have been privy to in his religion Ph.D. classes!
Paul, you are such a dumbass.
But Straight knows how to get his own back:
“Are we friends, Paul? You don’t seem to have any friends but me.”
OH. Oh, Straight, you magnificent bastard, I cannot believe you even went there, man. That was cold! He’s crying, Straight. You made him cry.
Okay, I am making a spur-of-the-moment executive decision. That one line has now earned this section an Actually Not That Bad. How will Paul respond???
…Paul said, blinking away tears.
And Straight confesses.
A shiver ran through Paul. I knew it!
Dead people knew it, Paul. Mycroft Holmes, you are not.
Remember a little while back, when I mentioned what I see as Paul’s biggest lie in this book? Here it is. Straight leads him into it:
“You know, Saul asked the Lord who He was. Remember the answer?” [Straight asked]
“It works on me every day,” Paul said. “He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ For a long time, I resisted that. I said that even if I was persecuting underground Christians, I wasn’t really persecuting Jesus.”
“But there’s a bond between us and Him, Paul. Persecute us, persecute him.”
“That’s exactly what I came to.”
This is such a lie. Paul never thought about whether he was persecuting Christians vs. persecuting Jesus, largely because he didn’t think he was persecuting anybody. And even if he did think he was persecuting people, he never thought, “Hey, this would be different if I was persecuting Jesus, but I’m not, so it’s fine!”
Hell, I went back and double-checked. In San Francisso, Paul thinks of all Bible teachings, including those about Jesus, as “poison. ”
Interestingly, he does think about the implications of attacking these believers vs attacking The Dork or his father. That causes him a moment’s pause and would be a good point to bring up now. But that is a far cry from thinking that he’s attacking Christians, but not Jesus himself.
Paul doesn’t think about Jesus-the-person in TEXAS, either. In fact, he uses phrases from his father’s letter to trap St. Stephen. And in the hospital, when Paul actually starts listening to the New Testament, he focuses on the mysterious “Biblical code” that he is sure exists, and on references to blindness, because he is incapable of thinking about anybody’s pain but his own.
But he never, not even once, compares treatment of believers with treatment of Jesus.
Way to go almost a whole week as a Christian before bearing false witness, Paul Apostle.