Soon: Chapters 21-22: Vegas, Baby!

Paul has his next assignment: investigating a “Christian group” in Las Vegas.  I put the words “Christian group” in “quotation marks” because it is obvious that we readers are supposed to know that these are not Really Real Christians like the Watchmen.  Nope, these folks are one of those fakey culty thingies and haven’t said the proper magic words so that they will be spirited away in the Rapture.

I’ll let Jenkins tell us all about this cult, since it’s quite a tale (ha!):

Sixteen people had been discovered dead, all of drug overdoses, before an altar under a cross.  The deaths had been traced to a self-proclaimed prophet who called himself the reincarnation of Jonah.  Friends of the victims claimed “Jonah” spun a story about having been swallowed by a whale off the coast of San Diego a few years before, then belched up onto shore three days later, suffering superficial burns from the creatures stomach acid.

While inside the whale, Jonah claimed God had told him to build a congregation that would have direct access to heaven through the miracle of hallucinogenic drugs.  The prophet, according to friends of the victims, also espoused free love, saying God told him this was his intention from the time of creation.

Several hundred people in and around Las Vegas were reportedly linked to the Jonah cult.

Yes, the “friends of the victims” thing is stated twice in three sentences.  Copy-editing is your friend.

 But I’m sure you can see right away why we need to be concerned.  Drugs!  And even more importantly, SEX!  Filthy, unChristian SEX!

Oh, and some people died.

Almost seems like an afterthought.

Straight is understandably concerned about this potentially dangerous situation:

“You’re going to Sin City?” Straight said.

“Early next week.  Boss thinks this looks solid.”

Straight sat back and studied Paul.  “Better get yourself some blinders, boy.  You’re pretty young in the faith to be going there, especially with your family gone.  It’s all gambling and sex.”

“I can handle it.”

“Famous last words.  Sounds like you’ve decided.”

“I have.”

Because, as we all know, Good Christians don’t gamble!  And I’m sure they don’t take advantage of the other awesome aspects of Vegas, like shows and buffets and the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop!

But the primary point here is that Straight doesn’t trust Paul.  Paul questioned Straight’s trust in him during the kidnapping, and Straight brushed it off by explaining that anyone going to the Christian Salt Mines is blindfolded.  But now we know that Paul’s concerns are legit–Straight doesn’t trust his miraculously-healed friend to keep it in his pants during a few days in Vegas. 

Honestly, I’m starting to get the feeling now that Straight is just jealous.  Straight visits the hospital every day, “an in-patient baby-sitter” as Paul sensitively called him, nudging grievously injured and depressed atheists towards Christ, as long as there is no possible risk to himself. 

Now one of his converts gets to trot around the country, converting billionaires and witnessing miracles.  Guess it’s not surprising that the only power Straight thinks he has is to snidely imply that Paul is just a naive noobie without Maturity and Wisdom in the Faith.

But Paul ignores Straight (and who can blame him?) and wings off for VEGAS!!!

WOOOOOOO!!!!!111!!1!!

I love Vegas.

(Picture from Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in my post about Atheistopian population statistics, Jenkins is fond of dropping city stats on us from time to time, usually with no real point that I can see.  Here, Jenkins informs us that Atheistopian Las Vegas has a population of half a million people.  This doesn’t seem to mean much, because Vegas right now has a population of about half a million people, according to Wikipedia.

Jenkins also liked to tell us exactly where the NPO stashes Paul in various cities.  In New York, it was The Pierre; in Vegas, it is a hotel at Fremont Street.

Woo.

There’s not all that much to know about Atheistopian Las Vegas.  Picture our Las Vegas, but more pornographic and with legalized prostitution (much more on this later).

Paul was amazed that so many people would travel so far to the heat of the desert to lose their money.

Gee.  I have never heard that before.  *eyeroll*

Also, it’s called fun, Paul.  I know that you need to needed to check it at the door when you said the magic words, but do you also feel the need to deny others?

Actually, don’t answer that.  I already know.

 

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Posted on November 7, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. I’m going to guess that, despite his obvious disapproval of the pseudo-prophet, Jenkins isn’t terribly aware that Jonah is regarded by more than a few scholars to have been a SATIRE of the style of prophet who was nothing more than a doomsayer (i.e. “Yhwh isn’t asking you to just speak maledictions, you know…”). i.e. those who WEREN’T in the style of Amos or Micah, who (also) exhorted social justice.

  2. I thought Nevada already had effectively legal prostitution? >_>

    Also, this Vegas thing sounds like Jenkins is creating a “safe” way for his audience to indulge in the “looking over their shoulder” at the Sodom and Gomorrah of Las Vegas (incidentally, I’m just repelled by all the glitz and the overdone fake Egyptian pyramids and Eiffel Tower type monuments they’ve got going on there, but that’s the eyesore factor rather than anything morally wrong with Las Vegas) while staying secure in their beliefs that they, as RTCs, are the morally blameless ones.

    Paul’s busy turning into a right little RTC, isn’t he? He was the kind of dude who probably would have fit in perfectly there! PIck up a lady for the night, stay in some fancy hotel, and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

    Now he’s practically ready to suck lemons and be a sourpuss over it all.

    • I thought Nevada already had effectively legal prostitution?

      In Nevada, it’s by county, and it’s only allowed in rural counties (less than 400,000 residents). It’s not legal in the cities, including Reno and Vegas.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Also, this Vegas thing sounds like Jenkins is creating a “safe” way for his audience to indulge in the “looking over their shoulder” at the Sodom and Gomorrah of Las Vegas … while staying secure in their beliefs that they, as RTCs, are the morally blameless ones.

      Dude, that’s the underlying reason for a LOT of stuff in RTCdom — “JUICY! JUICY! JUICY!” Spectacular Testimonies, preachers’ fixation on Sexual Sin, Satanic Panic Exposes, “Pray for So-and-so” malicious gossip — all ways to indulge a yen for porn and splatter and gossip without admitting to it. Blind envy that They can do all these Juicy Fun Sins that are forbidden to We the Righteous.

  3. But the primary point here is that Straight doesn’t trust Paul. Paul questioned Straight’s trust in him during the kidnapping, and Straight brushed it off by explaining that anyone going to the Christian Salt Mines is blindfolded. But now we know that Paul’s concerns are legit–Straight doesn’t trust his miraculously-healed friend to keep it in his pants during a few days in Vegas.

    Well, y’know. Paul. Serial philanderer extraordinaire. I don’t think I trust him to keep it in his pants for a few days in Vegas. I don’t think I trust him to keep it in his pants for a few hours in a garden supplies store.

    Also, this continues to be a really dull atheist dystopia. The atheistapo finally gets around to sending an agent to investigate the rumours of a growing religious movement after it turns out to be a dangerous hundreds-strong cult that manages to get more than a dozen of its own people killed without any outside assistance? Honestly, these sound like completely reasonable circumstances for police intervention. This is the weakest heavy-handed religious polemic ever.

    • Agreed, if they were able to find out this hundreds-strong cult this quickly, they should’ve been stamped all over long ago. Once again, Jenkins misses the opportunity to write a properly scary story about the Atheistapo listening at every window and everyone living in fear of being found out, or mistaken for, a believer, and instead rolls out his hobby horses.

      I wonder what people see in that cult. This is evil Atheistopia, isn’t it? Free love and drugs must be par for the course around here. After all, only RTCs have any objections to screwing around with everyone and snorting everything that isn’t bake soda. But thanks to Jenkins inept world-building, we haven’t actually seen any of that happen, and Jae is a living testimony that women still stick to marriage. So the tour through Atheistopia is family friendly (except for all the grizzly deaths, but we all know God is fine with that), at the expense of undermining the old RTC claim that without them society would degenerate into murderous anarchy.

      My guess is they only do all that (plus getting their members killed) so that Jenkins can justify Paul stomping them into the ground with his jackboots. He probably guessed that if his batch of No True Scotsmen were like those silly Catholic Mexians who were stuck to their old ways, even some RTC readers might complain about Paul throwing them to the lions. Better make it a cult of death, drugs and sex instead.

      • I wonder what people see in that cult. This is evil Atheistopia, isn’t it? Free love and drugs must be par for the course around here.

        Excellent point, sir!

        “Join the Cult of Doom! Same drugs you get from the Federal Department of Drugs, but now you get to be persecuted for it!”

  4. Add to the list of things L&* don’t get: cults.

    There have been drug and free love cults. But they have very rarely been even nominally Christian. When you get a nominally Christian cult, it’s much more likely to be about strict authority and control, with sexual freedom usually only for the leader.

    Also, how come only a few of them have died? Accidental overdoses? Usually when the death cult leader decides it’s time to move on he makes sure he takes as many of the members with him as he can.

    All the detail about hotels and so on reminds me of Dave Barry explaining that writing about his holidays made them something very important to him: a legitimate business expense.

    I’m not into the whole Vegas/gambling thing myself, but I can at least appreciate that other people enjoy it…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Usually when the death cult leader decides it’s time to move on he makes sure he takes as many of the members with him as he can.

      “THE PLANET IS ABOUT TO BE SPADED UNDER AND RECYCLED. JOIN BO & PEEP BEHIND HALE-BOPP…”

      All the detail about hotels and so on reminds me of Dave Barry explaining that writing about his holidays made them something very important to him: a legitimate business expense.

      I still think this is Author Wish Fulfillment.

    • There have been drug and free love cults. But they have very rarely been even nominally Christian.

      Well, Adamites (a.k.a. Brethen and Sistren of Free Spirit, also sprung up among Taborites in the Hussite revolution). The things you learn from making LARPs.

  5. I wonder what people see in that cult. This is evil Atheistopia, isn’t it? Free love and drugs must be par for the course around here.

    Especially in Las Vegas! For crying out loud, you don’t need to join a cult to enjoy lots of sex and drugs there. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, cultists.

    I’m surprised Jenkins didn’t make the city a lot larger. What with everybody being sinful and secular in 2036 America, and all those natural disasters that wrecked the West Coast, you’d think Vegas would have become some kind of mecca metropolis. It should be many times bigger than it is now — even more glitzy and garish. Besides, where else can you go to watch a 52-year-old Katy Perry perform her greatest hits 5 nights a week?

    Also, the book makes it sound like Paul has never been to Vegas before — which given the kind of person Paul used to be, seems as unlikely as, I dunno, a fearless globetrotting journalist being a virgin.

    • As has been said before, this could have been an important plot point. If someone claiming to be Jonah is getting popular, couldn’t that be the start of the anti-christ’s rise to power and thus a sign that the apocalypse is headed this way? That would give Paul a stronger motivation for going both as an RTC and as an agent of The Agency. Or Jenkins could have presented Paul with another moral hurdle, distinguishing false prophets from true prophets. But no, instead we get a weird mash-up of free love hippies, hardcore drug addicts (16 od’s?) and false prophets. Can’t have the readers getting confused about whose good and whose bad, can we?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        And the funny thing is, the original Book of Jonah is about a prophet (Jonah) who kicks and screams all the way against what God wants him to do — preach to the Goyim of Nineveh. Jonah’s raw racism against the Ninevites/Assyrians leads him to do everything possible to sabotage his assignment.

        Like how he got swallowed by the “big fish” in the first place. God tells him to preach to Nineveh (which is East of Israel/Palestine); so what does he do? Gets on the first ship for Tarshish (Tartessos) — as far in the other direction as possible. The “big fish” gobbles him up and three days later spits him out ashore at Nineveh’s riverfront — “You ain’t getting away that easy, Joe!”

        And what happens? Jonah grumbles his way through the city, preaching as little as possible to the hated Ninevites, and what happens? It works, despite his continuing sabotage attempts. Then Jonah gets pissed off that God didn’t waste the city and goes off to a local hill to sulk, where at the end God rips into him with a question that is never answered, a question that every reader has to answer for themselves.

        • I hadn’t heard the full story of Jonah until recently and now its one of my favorites in the Bible. Especially since Jonah literally can’t thwart God’s will and because as far as we know he didn’t learn anything by the end.

  6. Obviously, the cult was getting high on… JENKEM!

    *rimshot*

    (For the unaware: jenkem is a non-existent hallucinogenic drug supposedly made from fermented human feces.)

    Seriously though, I love how Jenkins gets no more specific than “hallucinogenic drugs,” as if all hallucinogenic drugs have more or less the exact same effect. The most plausible hallucinogen for a cult seeking a divine experience is peyote, which isn’t exactly known for being a drug you’re likely to die by overdosing on.

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