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!”

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Posted on October 27, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. “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.”

    So, if I remember right, they’re tricking people into taking possession of extremely illegal contraband. The poor dupes will sooner or later recognise this and become terrified of being caught with it (like the secret police will believe “It was an accident! I ordered a Billy Joel album*!”) and sentenced to Horrible Things.

    *What do they do about religious references in pre-War media, anyway?

    • So, if I remember right, they’re tricking people into taking possession of extremely illegal contraband. The poor dupes will sooner or later recognise this and become terrified of being caught with it (like the secret police will believe “It was an accident! I ordered a Billy Joel album*!”) and sentenced to Horrible Things.

      Remind me of Paranoia (a black-comedy RPG set in an underground dystopia run by Friend Computer, a well-meaning but crazy AI, where the main job of PCs is to accuse each other of treason, avoid getting shot, and oh yeah, actually maybe work on that ‘mission’ thing Friend Computer gave us). One of the skills in that game is “Communist Propaganda”, which when successfully used on someone else, _gives_ them a skill point in Communist Propaganda, whether they want it or not.

      I don’t have to mention that knowing Communist Propaganda is treason, do I?

  2. And as usual. Jenkins acts like nobody’s ever heard of the Rapture in his audience. The books he writes aren’t intended to reach out to a non-Christian audience; they’re designed so RTCs can chortle at each other about how they know how it’s all going to go down and isn’t it great fun reading these books which spring it all on the newbie.

    • And it tells them that giving out tracts to the unwilling is a virtuous act, far more than risking your life to protect other Christians at risk or helping the poor. Definitely for a certain audience.

  3. I’d headdesk, but my jaw is on the floor. There is so much wrong with this! Brin points out big problem number one. Shortly after that is big problem number two: even if only a small number of recipients of illegal contraband dare go to the police, it won’t be long before the problem is traced right back to our Christian Super Spies (Now with decoder rings!). Unless they’re planning on framing innocent coworkers to cover their tracks.

    Holy hell, these people may be the most evil Christian fiction protagonists yet.

  4. “Now, back into the blindfold and restraints with you!”
    “Uh, don’t you want to know my safeword first?”

  5. Is this what they call the banality of evil?

    If they don’t want people to send those CDs back, they could try overlaying their messages into the actual music. Y’know, record them backwards or something.

    But OK, let’s think about this. We want to send a message to people that will only be read after the Rapture has happened, but we won’t be around to send it (we think; real!God is laughing behind His hand, but let’s not spoil it for now). All this stuff they’re now talking about would be just as likely to get converts before the Rapture, and they don’t want that! (Because someone will have to bring them their drinks in the heavenly country club.) So… time-delays. Messages held by unsaved dudes, instructed to post/broadcast them if the Good Guys don’t call every week. Time-bombs on the Internet. But no, no, all that would be too hard…

    Gabba gabba hey…

    • Backward-masking was what I was guessing when Abraham started explaining his plan. Subliminal hidden Christian messages in popular music — it’s irresistible for the irony factor alone!

      Carmen, Thelonious Monk, Garth Brooks. The characters don’t mention any artists from the last three decades (of their history), because they’re aware that their real-life readers wouldn’t recognize them. Tragically, we’re left uninformed about any contemporary music acts from A.D. 2036, and Jenkins completely blows his chance at the Famous, Famous, Fictional trope.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Coming up with proper names has always been my weak point in fiction, yet I could probably come up with some wild, weird, and woolly contemporary music acts. Or at least their names.

        Off the top of my head, how about “Chickenbone Chant” by “Crazy Children in the Attic”?

        Or how about putting in movies I wish had been made but never were? Based on fanfics and obscure fanzines? How about a “Man-Eaters of Kumaon” movie? Or “Past Sins”, a “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” epic fantasy miniseries for grown-ups?

        Part of the fun of near-future worldbuilding is to put in jokes or personal fantasies or snarks about pop culture and other such things. But I guess that’s too “secular” and/or “heathen” for Jesus Junk fiction.

        • One of my favorites was TNG book that had “Missing Link 3” and very realistically described action scenes. I actually thought it was real and begged anyone I knew to find it for me. Heh.

  6. We wear our sunglasses in mines
    So we can, so we can
    Hide our real identities from you…

    We’ll infiltrate the internet, oh yes!
    You look for a porn, but you’ll find Paul instead, oh yes!

  7. So: “we’re being horribly persecuted now, but we struggle to make sure our message can be heared during the tribulations when christians will be horribly persecuted.” After Ruby’s painstaking work on the timeline, we now know that this rise of atheistopia is supposed to be separate from his Left Behind work, and that the Rapture will still happen. But Jenkins really ran into a problem by essentially writing the same setting as Left Behind. Exactly what will the difference be when the tribulations start? There’s RTC persecution and divine miracles killing the unbelievers now, and the RTCs are all trying to stay hidden, so what will change when they’re actually Raptured? If God doesn’t need to wait for the Tribulation to unleash lethal miracles to convert the survivors, what’s the point of having the Rapture at all? Yes, to us there is a difference in that we now have atheist theocracy, while after the Rapture we’ll be lead by a Satanic cult that worships its leader as divine, but Jenkins has consistently shown he doesn’t consider there to be a difference between atheists and satanist (or muslims, pagans and budhists either).

    I will say though that I like they acknowledge one of the intristic problems with the whole “The Rapture is God’s [stroke] temper tauntrum [/stroke] desperate last-ditch effort to get humanity to accept Jesus as their savior… And then he simultaniously removes all the RTCs that could explain how to accept Jesus and ‘prove’ that all these miracles were predicted exactly in the Bible, AND he lets a champion of Satan with super-charisma and the ability to control the minds of unbelievers loose on the world. And that’s not even going into God using miracles that invariably kill a large portion of the people that are supposed to look at the miracles and conclude that God exists and loves them… somehow. It sounds like the Dilbert-example of a company announcing, at the same time, a Employee Dignity Enhancement program and mandatory random drug tests. Those plans kinda interfere with each other.

    So yeah, they admit here that this is a problem, and even more so in Soon’s world where all knowledge of Christianity is being suppressed even before the Rapture (although what the people do and do not know about Christianity is, in good Jenkins-fashion, completely random depending on the needs of the plot). And I suppose the watchmen deserve at least a little credit for realizing this future problem. But they of course aren’t allowed to draw the conclusion that God is being a bit dumb by not taking that into account. And especially not the conclusion that God may be smart enough NOT TO DO IT THIS WAY.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      So yeah, they admit here that this is a problem, and even more so in Soon’s world where all knowledge of Christianity is being suppressed …

      Yet everybody thinks and speaks in fluent Christianese.

  8. Redcrow, I picture the porn stars stopping in mid-whatever and saying “you know, this is great, but what we really need to do here is tell people about Jesus”…

    Ivan, as far as I can tell the all-purpose RTC response to “that’s kind of a silly thing for God to do” is “God is much wiser than us and cannot be wrong, so we’re just not understanding him”.

    • Or you could do the actual sex scenes in the bible. As long as you give the videos unbiblical names Atheistapo wouldn’t have a way of finding out short of someone actually calling them up about the seditious messages in the porn. Nobody’s going to want to do that, because they’d be terrified that the ‘stapo will think it’s a prank call.

  9. While I don’t personally believe that sending out unwanted tracts should be punishable by death, these don’t sound like contributing members of society either. They just want to convert everyone to their ways whether those people like it or not and they’re at least worshiping an entity that engages in wanton murder and environmental terrorism if not outright collaborating with him. The Athestopians are overharsh but I’m not really seeing where they’re wrong.

    “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. ”

    That doesn’t sound suspicious at all. If this was a normal novel, I’d automatically start wondering if there’d be a twist where they really were violent.

    • Seiberwing – indeed! The next bit is where they take him along while killing a cop, to make sure he’s “truly one of them”…

      • Are you serious? Because at this point it’s hard to tell.

        • I don’t have the books so I don’t know what’s in them. I’m speculating based on what real-world behaviour like this is generally inspired by; given that nobody in these books acts like a human being, I’m almost certainly wrong. Sorry to have caused confusion.

  10. Just the New Testament? Nothing from the Old Testament (Amos and Micah would probably be the best picks, at least for getting people to oppose injustice)? Go figure…

    The replacement scheme makes me wonder if Jenkins really thinks the Bible is like those D&D magical books that would do interesting things to you (varying by your alignment and/or class) if you so much as GLANCE at the writing.

    • I think the books in D&D aren’t the most appropriate choice of RPG system, given what kind of attitude it seems to inspire. I’m thinking the Bible has the same effect on them as that invitingly open book the cult leader was reading from has on a novice Call of Cthulhu player.

      Speaking of which, it’s disturbing/funny to see how little needs to be changed style-wise to turn a Chick tract into a Cthulhu tract. See
      http://rubbersuitstudios.com/ptcct.htm
      and
      http://www.fredvanlente.com/cthulhutract/pages/

    • You know, it’s kind of a marvel how the LaHaye sponsored books (and Jenkins’s derivative thereof) seem to treat Christianity as a series of magical incantations you just say, and bam, permanent +1 million Protection From Anything.

    • Well some of these mooks seem to think that the Dungeon Masters Guide works like the in-game Book of Vile Darkness. Them treating the bible like the Book of Exalted Deeds doesn’t surprise me at all.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy

    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.”

    Maybe because Jenkins is “writing what he knows” and he knows about lunchrooms for small offices? (In Chicago. Can’t forget Chicago.)

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