Monthly Archives: October 2011

Soon: Chapter 21: Totally Unjust

Answers to the mysteries, people!  Were you up nights wondering about the car tailing Paul and Straight to the Army of God Recruitment chess tournament?  And how about those guys sitting in the lobby?

“Oh, Paul!  Where were you last night?” [Jae asked when Paul got back home]

“What do you mean?”

“Where were you until you came back to the hotel alone just before dawn?”

“You had me followed?”

“And I called your room.  Till well past midnight.  And I had people pounding on your door till all hours.”

“I don’t believe this.”

Oh, believe it, folks.  Paul is just as outraged as Jae.  He’s been serially cheating on her for eight years, has been lying to her for months about his newfound faith, and he’s upset that she’s upset that he’s hiding things.

“Were you with another woman?”

“What?”

What?  What are you talking about, Jae?  I can’t believe it would cross your mind that I would be with another woman, given my long history of faithfulness to you!

“Just admit it, Paul.  Don’t you think I know by now?  I read her letter.”

“Her letter?”

Gotta love the innocent act.  What letter?  I mean, I get so many letters from women, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who.

“Paul, you met her in Washington.  And now Toledo, too–how can you flat-out lie to me?”

That’s a damn good question, though Jae doesn’t yet know the half of what Paul is lying about…

“Angela Barger?  You went through my things?  I can’t tell you how offended I am, Jae–“

He’s offended.  Paul is offended.  Paul is an absentee dad, a faithless husband a hundred times over, lies about the most important issues in his life, is cruel, condescending, and emotionally abusive, and he is offended.

Please remember: at this point, Paul is a Real True Christian.

Oh, and one other thing: Jae found Angela’s letter when she was cleaning up after Paul’s stank ass because he was camping in the den for a week and refusing to sleep in their bed.

But I’ll let Jae speak for herself:

“Oh, are you?  Well, here’s how offended I am.  School’s out next week, and I’m taking the kids to Washington for the summer.  That’ll give us both time to think.”

YOU GO, GIRL!

I also have my doubts that Paul knows what grades his kids are in.

“If you’d stop yelling and listen for a minute–”

“Listen to what?”

“Jae, this is totally unjust–“

That’s what he wants her to hear: that she is being unjust.  Not that there is a long explanation for his actions that involves religious faith, and they desperately need to talk about what this means for their lives and their childrens’ lives.  No, it’s most important that Jae is unjust.  That is top priority.

“Truth hurts, Paul?”

I’m sure it does, and that’s why newly-minted RTC Paul is incapable of telling it to his wife.

“We can work this out.”

“We’re going, Paul.  It’s set.  The kids are excited.”

Jae asked Paul to call only on Saturdays and only to talk to the kids.  “When I want to talk to you,” she said, “I’ll be in touch.”

And she was gone.

OH YOU GO GIRL JAE YOU ARE DA AWESOMEZ!!!

Enjoy this, folks.  Take a deep breath and revel in a woman standing up for herself, because you better believe the book doesn’t give a crap.  After all, Jae is wrong, isn’t she?  She is falsely accusing Her Man of unfaithfulness when he has been TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FAITHFUL FOR VERY NEARLY THREE MONTHS.

Really, Jae is just unlucky.  (One could argue that her married life has been one long string of bad luck, but I digress.)  She is unlucky because out of the (no doubt) HUNDREDS of times Paul has cheated on her, she chose to have him tailed THE ONE TIME he wasn’t cheating.  (Not that he had the opportunity, what with the Christian Kidnapping and all.)

I frankly don’t even know why this whole marriage thing is an issue.  Aren’t we in eeeevil Atheistopia?  Why does the institution of marriage even exist?  Why does Jae, a lifelong atheist who was raised by atheists, have any care for faithfulness in relationships?  Why does Paul need Turbo Jesus in order to realize that he shouldn’t cheat on his wife if she doesn’t want him to, but she doesn’t need Turbo Jesus to know the same thing?  Why aren’t all relationships in Atheistopia open?  It’s very strange.  After all, I am often informed by RTCs that marriage is a Christian institution and that any morality Others have, they owe to Christian Tradition.

Anyway.  The plot:

Alone in the house, Paul hated himself for letting the argument get out of hand.  He was ashamed at how things had deteriorated.

That’s what he hates himself for–letting the argument get out of hand.  Not breaking his wife’s heart for eight years.  Not for getting women drunk and horizontal across the USSA and the world.  Nope, the only thing he’s upset about is letting the argument get out of hand.

Paul, you stupid ass, that wasn’t an argument.  That was your wife taking the kids and leaving you.

But never mind all that: time for a new mystery to replace the lame private detectives!

That weekend, with time on his hands, Paul decided to finish the task he’d neglected so long: clearing out his mother’s house.

I love how the book is pretending that Paul has all this time because his family moved out.  As though Paul would have been spending his time with them if they were there.  Don’t forget, he blew off ice skating with his kids the first time he wanted to clean the house.  Their presence or absence have no effect on his daily activities–what Paul wants to do, he does.

And the upshot of the mystifying mystery is this: the Come-to-Jesus letter from Paul’s father has disappeared from his mother’s house.

Whoop-de-crap.

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Soon: Chapter 21: The Mother Ship

I wasn’t kidding before: Paul really is re-tied and re-blindfolded for the trip back out of the mine. 

As Paul is wheeled out, he thinks about what he has learned:

…a city in a salt mine…a mother ship for Christian groups.

That is a very odd choice of words for Jenkins.  You really want to compare RTCs to fictional space aliens?  Granted, the analogy is apt in a way, what with the RTCs being yanked off the face of the planet by their very own Big Giant Head, but it still seems weird.  I wonder what Jenkins thinks of space alien theories?

Once they’re in the back of a truck (where Paul still can’t see anything), he is unbound and re-sighted and gets to talking with Straight:

“Think about it.”  [Straight says] “How many churches–or lampstands or stars–come up in [the third chapter of Revelation]?”

“Seven?”

“And what seven divisions could Christians be grouped under?”

“Well, we are the United Seven States of America.”

“Right.  And the affiliations aren’t random.  You know history is my game, Paul.  Check the history of those seven churches of Revelation and you’ll find that each bears a distinct correspondence to one of our seven states.”

Yes, because when Revelation was written, IT WAS OBVIOUSLY REFERRING TO AMERICANS.  Because no other Christians anywhere else in the world matter.

US(S)A!  US(S)A!  WOOT!  WOOT!  WOOT!

“Take Ephesus.” Straight said.  “It was a port city called the ‘market of Asia’ because it was the most important financial center on the Mediterranean.  Besides banking, a major industry was making silver shrines to the goddess Artemis.  The Bible tells us that, in addition to believing in false gods associated with silver, so many Ephesians believed in magic that when their divination books were burned, it was as if fifty thousand pieces of silver had gone up in smoke.

“Ephesus remind you of someplace?”

Paul stared, dumbfounded.

“Thought so,” Straight said.  “And–just as an aside–remember, in Acts Paul is called upon to revive a man who fell from a third-story window in Troas.”  Paul sat back, speechless.  “See, Paul, once you start looking for signs that the end is upon us, they’re everywhere.”

Well, yeah, WHEN YOU WRITE THEM INTO YOUR OWN STORY OMG.

You know, I wouldn’t even mind this silly game-playing if it didn’t happen ALL THE DAMN TIME.  But Jesus, our Paul-like hero is named Paul.  His best buddy is named Straight (after Straight Street in the story of Paul).  Paul persecuted a guy named Stephen, just like his Biblical namesake did, and it just keeps coming and coming and WRITE YOUR OWN STORY, DAMMIT.

I have no problem with Meaningful Names, I have no problem with imagery and playing with themes.  But it’s just so obvious and it never stops and EVERYTHING is an anagram or a 1:1 Biblical reference. 

OBVIOUS MUCH?

*pant pant*

Finally, Paul and Straight stop being astounded by their own story and get back to the hotel.  It’s late at night, but two dudes are sitting in the lobby, reading newspapers.  This is VERY SUSPICIOUS and also OBVIOUSLY ABOUT PAUL BECAUSE THE ENTIRE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND HIM. 

Paul takes other people’s obsessions with his life as perfectly natural, and goes to bed.

The next day, he manages to set aside all his musings about mother ships and his United Seven States of American Superiority Complex and play some chess.

Being a Jenkins hero, I am sure you will not be surprised to hear two things about this tournament:

1.  Paul dominates.

2.  Everyone else is a loser.  In every sense.

Many players looked antisocial, even unwashed. 

Nice.  These losers sure are different from our Glorious Hero Paul.

Although, I bet that any one of these folks has more friends than Paul, who came to the tournament with his only friend, a guy he has known for only a couple of months.  And who just had him tied up and kidnapped.  Sorry, I think the chess nerds win at life in this respect.

Some carried dog-eared paperbacks of chess strategy.

Really?  They did?

An old-fashioned book was engraved on [Stephen’s medallion] and Jefferson peered at it.  “I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid.  What’s that about?”

“Just a book.”

“You’re not old enough to remember books.”

Chapter 9

That is pathetic.

Paul is in the novice division, playing against 13 others.  Straight is playing in the “tougher” division.  But of course, after a slow start, Paul becomes “the talk of the tournament” by dominating the afternoon rounds and (OF COURSE FUCKING OF COURSE) winning his division and a trophy.

Yay.

Soon: Chapter 20: Part of the Community

Having introduced Paul to the Underground Zealots via blindfolds and talk of murder, Straight finally brings him to the Super Secret Squirrel Break Room.

I’m serious; Paul is “struck that the area looked like a lunchroom for a small office.”

Here he can re-meet Abraham, and meet for the first time Abe’s wife, Sarah, and Some Other Guy, Isaac.  The recurring joke is that Isaac is not Abe and Sarah’s son.  Har.

Oh, also, Isaac has a non-working arm, since he was shot in a raid in Pacifica.  This may or may not have been the Frisco raid that Paul led earlier in the book, and it would be interesting to know either way, but Jenkins ain’t tellin’.

“We all use code names here,” Abraham said.  “Many of our residents are fugitives.  Almost none of us know the true identities of those we live and work alongside.  It’s a matter of security.”

Yeah, Abe, we’ve seen how well your stupid code-name plan works.

Oh, and Abe and Sarah and Isaac are wearing sunglasses.  WEARING SUNGLASSES WILL TOTALLY KEEP YOUR IDENTITY A SECRET.

Paul tells them what he’s already told Straight: that he’s decided to join the Watchmen.

Abraham beamed.  Sarah leaned against her husband, raising a hand to brush away tears.  Isaac reached with his good arm to grasp Paul’s.  “Thank you,” he said.  “We know you’re in a far more vulnerable place than any of us, living within the camp of the enemy.  You’re an answer to prayer, and we will continue to uphold you in prayer.”

Yes, Paul, our operation was completely useless before your heroic ass showed up.   Thank God you are here.  After all, it’s waaaay more dangerous for you to be helping than it is for us–it’s not like we live underground and trust everyone so little that we use secret codes with each other.  It’s not like one of us was shot recently.  No, you Heroic Christian Martyr Mary Sue, you have it so much worse than we do.

In keeping with their EXTREMELY SECRET AGENDA, Abe, Sarah, Isaac, and Straight proceed to reveal to Paul every single part of their Ultimate Christian Plan.

“What do you know of the Rapture?” [Abe asked Paul]

Paul looked at Straight, puzzled.

Puzzled?  But, Paul, haven’t you spent these last months reading the New Testament?  Doesn’t a basic, literal reading lead automatically to Rapture readiness?  Isn’t it obvious???

But here’s the real kicker, guys: the master plan of the entire Christian underground is predicated on the Rapture.

“Since the true believers will be in heaven [after the Rapture], there will be no one left to teach [those left behind] except people who should have known better.” [said Straight]

This is what the Christian underground is busy doing.  Not engaging in civil disobedience to fight for their rights as believers.  Not showing the world that they have nothing to fear from people of faith.  Not trying to make a more tolerant world for their children.

Nope, they are prepping for the Rapture.

And they have all kinds of fun plans!

They leave tracts lying around.

Sarah weaves texts into textiles.  (Get it?)

“I used to work in the recording business,” Abraham said.  “One of the new programs we want to start involves having one in every-so-many-thousand discs issued contain a New Testament track or maybe even an entire New Testament disc, instead of what the customer ordered.  The same goes for downloads off the Internet; you might expect Thelonius Monk and get Thessalonians.”

Paul laughed.  “Corinthians instead of Carmen.  Galatians instead of Garth Brooks.  Ingenious.”

Not really.  I once did order a CD and was sent the wrong one by mistake. 

I didn’t find Jesus.  I just sent the disc back and they sent me the right one.

Ingenious.

“And your friend the professor is working with medical professionals to tap into the nationwide hospital communications network.”

Great.  Hey, it’s not like that communications network could possibly be in use for something important, like treating injury and disease, right?

“Straight!  I always thought you were overqualified to be an in-patient baby-sitter.”  [said Paul, because he’s a jerk]

Ah, Paul, you never fail to disappoint with the asshattery. 

“Oh no, Paul.  My volunteer work is important too.”

Thank you, Straight.  It’s good that someone around here is demonstrating charity and compassion and…

“That’s why you’re here, don’t forget.”

Um.  Forget I said that, Straight.  I guess it’s good that we know that you’re only there to recruit, not to actually care for patients or anything.

Recruitment and the Rapture.  I see things haven’t changed in RTC-ianity in the past 30 years.

Now that the underground Christians have told Paul all their most secret plans, the meeting is over.

Abraham raised his hand.  “We wanted you brought here, Paul, so you would feel that you are truly one of us, a soldier in the growing army of God.  Since He is with us, none of us need ever feel alone.”

Abraham clapped his hands together.  “Okay, good meeting everyone!  Welcome to the family army, Paul!  Now, back into the blindfold and restraints with you!”

Soon: Chapter 20: The Most Exciting Kidnapping Ever

On the way to Toledo, Paul and Straight are followed by a sedan. 

They manage to shake it.

It’s really boring.

At the hotel in Toledo, Paul heads to Straight’s room for a “practice game.”  But three guys tackle him, truss him up like a Wintermas goose, toss a pillowcase over his head, and wheel him out of the hotel on a cart.

How they manage to accomplish this without any hotel guests or staff noticing is beyond me, but no matter what, these guys are awesome.  In fact, I kinda think this should be a daily event for Paul.  No one deserves it more.

carovee brought up a really good point in the last entry:

I could forgive Paul this incredibly weak-ass excuse for leaving his family if he were really going to the super-sekrit salt compound, but apparently he is actually going to a chess tournament.

Turns out, he is going to the Super Secret Squirrel Salt…Senter…but he didn’t know it when he left. 

But Straight did!

Paul hears Straight’s voice and realizes he’s in on it–but Straight isn’t answering any questions.

“Where are we going, Straight?”

“You’ll see when we get there, Paul–but let me just say it will be more than you ever could have imagined.”

Oh, woooooowwwwwww…

They drive Paul to the salt mine and take him down in the elevator, still tied up and blindfolded.  When they are finally at the bottom, Straight releases and re-sights Paul, who sees that he is in a salt mine.

“Southwestern Detroit or northeastern Ohio, right?” Paul said.

Um, what?  Paul, dude, you were raised in a world where no such place as “Ohio” exists.  Detroit and Toledo are both in the state of Heartland.  Oh, and Detroit is one city.  And there happens to be more to southeastern Michigan than Detroit.

(Southwestern Detroit is a pretty small area, especially compared to northeastern Ohio.  This feels like a typo on Jenkins’ part–like he really meant Paul to say, “Southeastern Michigan or northern Ohio, right?”  Although, it is still dumb to say…hell, why not use the name of the state you made up??)

I hate to harp on this (well, not really), but it just makes no sense.  If Ranold or someone else from that generation called places “Ohio” or “TEXAS” out of habit, I would be fine with it.  Hell, it would actually be an interesting character bit, an indication of how we hold on to childhood facts even if they change as adults.  But for Paul, who was born during the war and never knew any Ohio or Texas or California, it just makes no sense.  It yanks us right out of Atheistopia, as though Jerry Jenkins can’t keep track of his own storyworld.

The vast boringness continues apace, as Straight fills in Paul on all kinds of stuff we, the readers, already know from several chapters ago. 

Then we get to the potential murders, and things suddenly aren’t so boring.  Or, as Straight tries to diplomatically explain:

“We don’t like to think about [what would happen if anyone ever got to the underground salt mine and discovered people were there], but we have a plan.”

“And…?”

“Like I say, we don’t like to think about it.”

“You’d have to kill them.  And then what?”

“Procedure calls for taking the body to the surface, putting it in the vehicle it showed up in, and moving that vehicle somewhere so the body would not be traced to the mine.”

“How do you justify that?”

“We don’t, Paul.  We pray it never happens.”

What a fun way to introduce Paul to the underground!  Murder plans!

Soon: Chapter 20: Jae Kicks Ass

Paul is an ass, and Jae kicks ass. 

Sure, it’s short-lived, and sure, we all know that Jae, being a woman, will be proved wrong in the long run, but I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts.

Paul is back from New York, and…well, I’ll just let Paul and Jae tell you:

“Straight wants to take me to a regional chess tournament this weekend.”

You’ve got to be kidding,” Jae said.  “You were stuck in New York till last Sunday, and now, rather than spend a weekend with your children, you want to go play?”

“It’s not a question of ‘rather.’  Tournaments, when you get to play real people in the flesh, not just on-line, don’t come along that often.  Straight thinks I’m ready.”

“Well, whatever good ol’ Straight thinks.”

“Look, I’m proud that I’ve gotten good enough to play tournaments again in such a short time.”

“Yeah, real impressive, Paul.  But let’s face it, you’ve had nothing else to do for months.  If you can waltz out of here with a clear conscience, then you and Straight just go ahead and enjoy yourselves.”

“I can tell you don’t want me to go.”

She shook her head and put her hands on her hips.  “Thank you for clarifying the obvious.  Where is this tournament, anyway?”

“Toledo.”

“Toledo!  More than two hundred miles away.”

“What difference does it make how far it is?”

Would it make a difference to you, Paul, to know your family is leaving you next week?

Oh, Jae, you were wonderful!  That bit about Paul being so good because he’s chosen to do nothing but sit on his ass for months–that was frakking beautiful.

I’m serious; I can hardly believe Jerry Jenkins wrote this.  I want to give Jae some kind of prize.  Maybe Isis-points or something.

And okay, I know: this won’t last.  Jae is destined to be Stepfordized, and even if she was not, she is Wrong to challenge Good Christian Paul, who just wants to play chess with his Good Christian Friend, Straight.

But damn, Jae was fantastic just now.  That was more than Actually Not That Bad.

But on to further tales of Paul’s asshattery!

Paul and Straight have a heart-to-heart on their roadtrip to Toledo. 

(No, of course he didn’t listen to Jae and hang out with his children.  Don’t be ridiculous.)

“Lately [Jae] doesn’t even seem to want me around.  It’s like she’s given up on me.  But I guess I can’t blame her.  I’ve been no prize either.”

Either???  You’ve been no prize either?  Wow, how big of you, Paul, to actually share a bit of the blame in the failure of your marriage.  Let’s see, you’ve been serially cheating for eight of your ten years of marriage.  You’re emotionally abusive, dismissive, condescending, cruel.  Oh, and now you’re been lying to her for months about your new-found faith.

But Jae is no prize, either.  After all, she’s…

She’s…um…

Well, and then there’s…

Wait a second.  WHAT HAS JAE ACTUALLY DONE WRONG, YOU POMPOUS, SELF-ABSORBED, FALSELY HUMBLE ASS???

“I’m worried about my family, Straight.”

Huh.  Could this be some insight from Paul?  Some acknowledgement of the harm he has caused?  Worry that his decade of emotional abuse of his wife and distance from his children is something that can’t be repaired?  That he has hurt his wife so much, and so deeply, that he may never be able to win her back?

“What does it mean for them that I’m a Christian?”

Oh.  It’s all about Paul and his feelings.  I should have known.

“You know that verse in the New Testament that says, ‘He who loves God must love his brother also.’  Well, I’ve been having trouble loving my own wife.”

Paul, you ignorant slut.

You know what, you do not have the right to complain about this.  You are the one who’s spent the last eight years getting women drunk and horizontal everywhere you go.  You are the one who did not get a divorce even though you and your wife were both unhappy.  You are the one who has found a way not to have to spend more than twenty minutes at a stretch with your wife and kids, even after becoming a Good Christian, and now you’re complaining because you are “having trouble” loving your wife?

Let me just back up the wambulance for you, Paul.

But never fear, Straight has some Wise Christian Counsel for our confused hero:

“As for Jae, things may be difficult now, but you have the same job: to honor her and serve her.  Keep it up, and you’ll be amazed at the change you’ll see in her.  It’s an investment.  You do this because it’s the right thing, not for what you get in return.  But you will get what you give.  Invest kindness, service, love, and understanding, and you’ll get it all back in spades.”

This is some of the most convoluted, disingenuous, two-faced logic I have ever heard. 

It’s an investment: you give something, and then you get back even more.

But it’s not about what you get.

But you will get stuff, never fear.

This really just reads to me as an endorsement of lying to yourself: do nice things for your wife so she’ll be nice to you right back.  But tell yourself that you’re doing it for the much loftier and less selfish reason of “it’s the right thing to do.”

And it has bonus points for treating women like machines without individual personalities or motivations: if I act in way A,  Woman will respond in way B.

It’s an investment.

Soon: The Rapture Timeline Question

We’ll get right back to our semi-regularly-scheduled Soon critique, but I was intrigued by a comment/question and promised I would tackle it.  (I know, I said I would tackle it quite some time ago.  I…was busy.  Heh.) 

Anyway, here is the comment, from Ivan:

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?

So, I set off to find the answer, using Jerry Jenkins’ How To Be A Novelist Who Spits Out A Book In Six Weeks opus, Writing for the Soul, and Tim ‘n Jerry’s  book, Are We Living in the End Times?  (Their answer, as I’m sure you will be shocked to learn is: Yes.)

It is important to note that by Jenkins’ own admission, he is not a Bible prophecy expert.  For the Left Behind series:

Dr. LaHaye would serve as theological expert and prophecy consultant and would not attempt to co-write.  I would defer to him on the theology, and he would defer to me on the writing.

-Writing for the Soul, p. 3

He wrote the words of the Left Behind books; Tim LaHaye supplied the timeline of events, both pre- and post-Rapture.  On the other hand, the Underground Zealot series is all Jenkins’ own.

In Are We Living in the End Times?, Tim and Jerry try to be very careful about not saying specifically when the Rapture will happen:

…we wish to state categorically that we refuse to predict that Christ will come in our lifetime, for He may delay His coming for another fifty years or more.

But sometimes they just can’t help themselves.  The very next sentence is:

Still, we believe the evidence is to the contrary.

-Are We Living in the End Times? pp. 23-24

Way to hedge your bets, guys.

I actually thought there would be more (and more specific) pre-Rapture events than there are.  In fact, there is really supposed to be only one concrete event that will take place around the time of the Rapture: the attack on Israel by Russia, which God will thwart.  (This event takes place at the very beginning of Left Behind.)

No one knows for sure whether [the attack] precedes or follows the Rapture; a case can be made either way.  One thing is apparent: Russia’s attack and the Rapture are the number one and two end-time events.

-AWLITET, p. 25

So, since no mention is made of this event during the Underground Zealot series, it may simply be that the end times is still going on thirty-odd years from now, in the Dystopian Atheistopian FutureWorld.  (That certainly is the theory of Straight and the Watchmen.)

LaHaye talks about more vague signs of “the time of the end,” but these can be applied to Atheistopia as easily as to the world today, such as “the increase in travel and the increase in knowledge” (AWLITET, p. 28).

Another vague event is “a time…when men and women would turn away from the faith ‘once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 1:3) and instead embrace heresy” (AWLITET, p. 69).  Sounds like Atheistopia to me!

As for the Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia doesn’t really make the scene until after the Rapture has happened.  (The prequels describe his youth and his rise to power, but he is little known outside his own country until Left Behind.)  The Underground Zealot series is basically Antichrist-free.  (Perhaps Jenkins didn’t want to create a character who would inevitably be compared to Carpathia, or he simply wanted to maintain the vagueness that the Rapture would happen “soon,” not necessarily “next week.”)

Another note: the leader of the Worldwide Atheistopia, one Baldwin Dengler, is definitely not the Antichrist.  We haven’t met him yet, but we will in Silenced.

So, this is all feeling to me like the ending of Clue: it could happen this way, but it could also validly end this way.  But it does not appear that any timelines have been changed or ignored in the making of either series of books.  They each just represent a different possibility for how the world will come to its gory end.

And finally, Jenkins himself, on the writing of Soon:

I’ve said that I am not an outliner, but before I wrote the first book in the Soon trilogy, I got cold feet.  I knew it would be compared to the Left behind books, and I wanted to ensure I had the safety net of a well-conceived plot.  No simply putting interesting characters in interesting situations and seeing what happens, this time.

Even with that security, however, I found it difficult to write.  I didn’t leave myself enough rabbit trails to intuitively follow to let the story play out.  The book sold well, and readers seemed to like it, but the writing experience left me frustrated.

-WFTS, pp. 135-6

Soon leaves me frustrated, too.  🙂

Oh!  One final notes on WFTS (for now–there are other bits I will bring up in December):

Jenkins got the name “Jae” from a television commercial.

 

Soon: Chapter 19: Paul’s First Convert

After the gruesome yet miraculous discovery of the body, Paul has important-type work to do:

[Paul] had Ephesus Demetrius’s body moved to a morgue, and had a metallurgist examine the silver residue to see if any was salvageable.  It was not.

How does Paul even think of these incredibly pointless and offensive tasks for himself?  Is this really the hot issue right now? 

“What, Mr. Big-Time Pathologist Dude, you can’t scrape some of the silver off Ephesus’s head and like, glue it back together?  What the hell heck kind of doctor are you??” 

Arthur was a broken man.  He spent most of his waking hours weeping, praying for forgiveness, and asking Paul to tell him more from the Bible.  He took his greatest comfort from Jesus’ words in John 5:24: “I assure you, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life.  They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

Yeah, I can see how that would be really comforting to a man whose brother was just Bedazzled(TM) to death by God.  Didn’t I just read about how Arthur “idolized” Ephesus? 

“Ha-HA!  I’ve got mine, Effie!  And you thought you were sooooo cool.  Well, in yo face, bro!  Who’s in Hell now, huh, HUH?”

At least Arthur’s newfound sociopathy will help him fit right in with the rest of the RTCs.

So, Paul successfully converts Arthur, and Arthur immediately wants to donate a bunch of his money to the underground.  No wonder Paul wanted to scrape the silver off Ephesus’s dead body.  Every penny counts.

Now, you would think that having this genuine, really-for-real miracle dropped into his lap, Paul would be ecstatic.  Here is evidence, people!  Really real evidence that cannot be explained away, a truly, Godly, silvery miracle.  Surely when Paul “accidentally” leaks word of this miracle to the populace, at least a few people’s eyes will be opened to the truth, right?

Well, no.  Because Paul has decided to cover up the entire incident.

Seriously.  How he is able to do this, I’m sure I don’t know.  He tells Koontz that Ephesus just got accidentally locked in the vault and suffocated.  That is ridiculous to begin with, because presumably that gigantic, multi-room vault is airtight, and thus would have enough air to sustain one guy for quite some time.  He’d die of thirst first.

Also, how many witnesses does Paul have to bribe to keep this whole thing under wraps?  The two guards (assuming they ever recover, not that Paul gives a crap about them), the doctors and other attendants who removed and presumably examined the body.  Quite the little conspiracy our newly-Godly Paul has cooked up for himself. 

But the readers aren’t supposed to worry our pretty little heads about such things!  The important thing is that Paul made a convert, and thus has decided to join the Watchmen.  Or rather,

“It seems to have been decided for me.”

Paul seems quite happy to have his free will usurped by the Holy Bedazzler.

A Poll: What should Ruby review in December?

Ah, October.  The leaves start to change, there’s a nip in the air.  On Christian talk radio, I’m hearing the first stirrings of the annual War on Christmas.  (I don’t know why they even bother.  We always win.)

And I have made a wondrous purchase from a secondhand bookstore: a lovely hardcover edition of ‘Twas the Night Before: A Love Story, by Jerry Jenkins.

The story, from what I can gather, concerns one Noelle Wright, a grown woman who still believes in Santa (no, really) and who is apparently the Ms. Right (O I C WUT U DID THAR, JERRY JENKINS) of one Tom Douten (O I ALSO C WUT U DID THAR) who, um, doesn’t believe in Santa.  Possibly because he successfully passed his seventh birthday.

Which got me to thinking.  Maybe I should do something a little bit different, a little bit festive, for Christmas Wintermas this year.  Maybe review this short novel in one month?

So I figured I would ask for your input, my loyal readers.  Since September and October are very busy months for me, there’s no way I will be done with Soon by December.  Should I go on with Soon or take a Wintermas break and review Twas the Night?

Do you care???  Vote below!