Monthly Archives: February 2012

Palate Cleanser?

So we’re coming up on the end of Soon, and will then move on to The Secret on Ararat

I’m thinking of reviewing one or more movie(s) as a palate cleanser before we dig (C Wut I Did There?) into the secrets of Noah’s Ark.

Some options I am considering:

  • The Daylight Zone, the FIRST FILM EVER by Dave Christiano, the guy who brought us The Pretender.
  • Teenage Crusade, the exciting tale of a 1960 JALOPY RAID to recruit young Christian converts.  Brought to you by these dorks.
  • Escape from Hell–sad sack doctor tries to go to Hell on purpose, long before House made the attempt.
  • The Fountainhead–yeah, I know it’s not fer real Christian entertainment since it was based on a novel written by an ATHEIST and all, but hey, nobody loves Ayn Rand like the RTCs.  Then again, I’m not sure I can be funnier than this…

Thoughts?

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Soon: Chapter 34: Fast Food and the Fate of Barton

Paul sees off Grace the Hydrologist (no longer useful now that God is being asked for the big favor) and the others from The Other Group.

Then, he has another big and important task as the future incarnation of The Apostle Paul…he has to GO GET DINNER!!!

DAMN, the action never lets up!

Well, the off-screen action, anyway.  Because some action is coming up.

Too bad Paul won’t be present for it.

But first, it’s PHONE TIME, as Paul calls Straight in Chicago.  Straight is totally psyched about the whole ask-God-to-dry-up-L.A. plan, and promises to recruit a whole bunch of “prayer troops.”

This must be some new use of the word “troops” of which I am unaware.

Now, on to ACTION…

Remember how Paul arranged for Barton to be transferred from the armory to the local NPO so he (Barton) could be “safer”?

Yeeeah, that kinda blew up in Paul and Barton’s collective face.

Ranold tells Paul via skull phone that Barton won’t be at the new holding cell to talk to.

DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNN

Instead of listening to Ranold, Paul Skull-Phone-Hangs-Up on him and listens to the news instead.  Because that will be much more edifying than talking to the person in charge of the entire operation.  Paul learns that the car carrying Barton pitched off the road and OFF A CLIFF and burst into flames and now Atheistopia has called in DOGS to find Barton’s body.

Bitchin’.  THIS is a little more like it, ladies and gentlemen.  FINALLY, Atheistopia is acting like the Eeevil Dictatorship it is supposed to be.  Causing the “accidental” death of a Christian dissident. 

And not in some goofy, stupid way like trapping him in a snake zoo or smooshing him in a coin press.

And (here’s the beauty part) it is ALL PAUL’S FAULT.  It was PAUL’S idea to move Barton in the first place.  He sent Barton to his death!!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHA

Anyway…

Not to be deterred from his very important mission, Paul picks up “a selection of fast-food staples” (no doubt all low in calories and carbs and high in fiber and nutrients, as Atheistopian fast food must be), and heads back to the Building of Dead Stinky Fish. 

This is the lamest secret hideout ever.  They have to order out for EVERY MEAL?  You would think they would have stockpiles of food and people trained in survival.  But oh no, time to take a break from prayer trooping and make an Arby’s run!

I’m also kinda suprised that the hideout isn’t under siege by the NPO even as we speak.Really, Atheistopia got NO INTEL from Barton before sending him off that cliff?  Barton smelled of stinky fish–where did they THINK he came from?

But no, everything is fine, and Paul breaks the bad news to the rest of the underground RTCs.  (I can only assume he left out the part about it being his idea to move Barton.)

Carl and Lois looked especially devastated, but everyone was shocked.  “It may be utterly the wrong time for this,” Paul said, “but maybe the best way to mourn Barton is to keep planning.”

Paul has known Barton for one day.  Maaaaybe it’s not his place to tell other people how to mourn a friend they’ve known for years who was just MURDERED.

Asshat.

But I guess he’s right, because…

…the grieving little band was growing emboldened.  Eyes moist and shining, they were clearly ready to believe God would work—to count on Him to answer their prayers.

Emboldened to do what…pray?  Does it really take much boldness to ask God to do all the work for you? 

“I had started working on something while Paul was gone,” Carl said, “and now I’m going to print it out.  Then let’s polish this thing till it shines and thank God for all He’s about to do.”

What Carl is talking about is that he’s written a “daring manifesto,” but we’ll get to that in a minute because OMG BARTON JUST WALKED IN HE’S NOT DEAD AFTER ALL.

I’m serious.  He’s not dead.

DAMMIT, ATHEISTOPIA, I THOUGHT YOU HAD THIS ONE

Barton tells his stupid story:

“They unshackled me and put me in an old car.  They wound tape around me like a mummy to hold me in the passenger seat…”

Wait, whut?

Wouldn’t the more sensible plan be to make Barton’s death look like his own botched escape attempt?  Wouldn’t you put him in the driver’s seat?  And why strap him down?  Just knock him out first.

DAMMIT, ATHEISTOPIA, WHY DO YOU SUCK AT THESE SHENANIGANS???

Then the bad guys put cans of gasoline in the back seat and stop them up with rags and light the rags on fire and zoom the car over the cliff.

Huh?

I just don’t even.

JUST TRUST GRAVITY, ATHEISTOPIA.  GRAVITY IS YOUR FRIEND.

This is soooo much trouble to go to when you could just knock Barton out, put him in a car, and send the car over the cliff.  Fire and duct tape?  Just extra expense and trouble.

“The car hit the rail at top speed, but I hardly moved because I was taped so tight to the seat.  Then the car was airborne, tumbling end over end, and I was choking with the smoke from the gas.  When it hit the ground, someone popped my door open, ripped off the tape, and yanked me out.  We rolled and rolled together and finally hid in the bushes as the car exploded and cartwheeled down the canyon.”

Then, the mysterious benefactor disappears.  A nameless RTC says he had to be an angel, and this is not contradicted.  Though one might well ask what the angels were doing when The Dork Too Stupid was napalm-barreled, or that guy was bitten by a snake, or that other guy was smooshed in the coin press.

I guess Barton is just an extra-special snowflake.

Lois leads the group in a rousing version of this:

(Jerry Jenkins loves this song.  The Tribulation Force sings it, too.)

Lois:  Great job singing about Christian love, guys!  Now, let’s fill in Barton on recent events: we’ve decided to ask God to desiccate the entire city.

Barton: AWESOME!

Soon: Chapter 33: Paul’s Big Plan(s)

Water is a very powerful thing.  Cultures as old as time have worshipped it.  It flows throughout all lands, connecting the entire world.  If anything has mystical properties, if anything has magic, it’s water.

-August W. Booth, Once Upon A Time

Remember that special plan Paul got, the one zapped directly into his brain (not unlike a Skull Phone call!) by God Himself?  Well, it’s time for him to reveal it to the others:

As a cover, Paul stopped to canvas a few of the sites on the task force list before making his way, circuitously, to Sapiens Fisheries.

Um, Paul?  You’re either being followed or you’re not.  If you’re not, there is no reason to be “circumspect.”  If you are, there is certainly no damn reason to go to Sapiens.

You idiot.

It was late afternoon by the time he arrived.  The group there held an immediate prayer meeting for Barton.

“It was such a risk,” Lois said, weeping.

This makes it sound like they learned of Barton’s capture just now, via Paul.  You’d think they would have had a clue at about 9 p.m. the previous night, when Barton never showed.  Man, but these people suck at being subversive.

“I have an idea how to stop the killings,” Paul said, “but we’ll need a hydrologist.”

Okaaaay.  Not sure how a hydrologist will stop anything, let alone army-sanctioned killings, but I’m sure all will become clear…

Happily, the underground knows a hydrologist who works for Water and Sewer.  Lois describes the woman, Grace Dean, as “a tough old bird,” which seems a very odd way for a seventy-something woman to refer to a forty-something woman, but whatever.  Lois convinces Grace to get over to the Fisheries RIGHT DAMN NOW, which Grace does.

Here it is, you guys.  The plan.  Get ready:

Paul cut to the chase.  “If I wanted to shut off the water to the whole city and bring Los Angeles and the army to its knees, how would I do that?”

That’s it, Paul?  Really?  That’s your plan?

That is just I don’t even.

Okay, first of all, there is nothing like causing suffering to millions in order to make your point, Paul.

I think there’s even a word for what you want to do, Paul.

And your father-in-law put it best:

“out-and-out terrorism”

And the really sad thing is that Paul doesn’t even want to do the terrorism himself.  He wants to pawn off all the work, and all the responsibility, onto poor Grace Dean.

Parenthetically, Jenkins always informs us of whether new male characters are tall and fit, and whether female characters are attractive.  Turns out that Grace Dean short and “stocky,” so it’s not like we have to care about her or anything.

Grace Dean also proves herself unfeminine by smacking down Paul’s dumb-ass plan: there’s just no way to halt the water supply for anything longer than “a one- or two-day nuisance.”

“Seems to me,” [Grace] said, “you’d be better off to have God do something.”

Ah, good plan.  As we all know, God answers all prayers.

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

-Matthew 18:19

The ugly truth is revealed: No two underground Christians have ever prayed for freedom of religion to be restored!

It all makes sense now…

But Carl has other verses in mind…

Carl raised a hand.  “I make no apologies for being a man of the Word.”

I am trying to think of a way Carl could be more obnoxious about this, but I’m failing.

He leafed through a well-worn Bible.  “Listen to this from Isaiah fifty and verse two.  God is speaking.  He says, ‘Was I too weak to save you?  Is that why the house is silent and empty when I come home?  Is it because I have no power to rescue?  No, that is not the reason!  For I can speak to the sea and make it dry!  I can turn rivers into deserts covered with dying fish.'”

The dying fish can be piled at the entrance to out hideaway!  It’s what Barton would have wanted.

So, like I said, it’s time to ask God for some old-fashioned, two-fisted street justice!

Carl rattles off another bunch of verses, and the whole crew ends up lying flat on the floor, praying, and Paul is crying.  I figure it’s mostly because his stupid plan was shot down by a woman, but I guess the Mighty Power of God could also be a factor.

Paul haltingly and fearfully approached God aloud, asking for a miracle.  “God,” he said, “we’re asking that you shut the mouths of the atheists…”

OH SCREW YOU PAUL, YOU WERE AN ATHEIST A MATTER OF WEEKS AGO!

GORRAMIT

So, the last time Paul thought he had a directly-from-God plan, it kinda fizzled out.

But this time, FER REALS, he has a plan right from God.

“I want to get all the underground Christians to agree in prayer that God must do something in Los Angeles to stop this killing,” Paul said.  “I believe we are to be specific.  Let’s all pray that God will stop the flow of water to Los Angeles.”

“Okay, guys, so before, I had this awesome idea of terrorism that Grace could do.  But since Grace chickened out (sorry, Grace, no offence, chubs), let’s ask God to do the terrorism!”

Surely this master plan cannot possibly fail.

Soon: Chapter 33: De Plane Goes Down

IS THERE ANYTHING ATHEISTOPIA CAN’T DO???

Ranold explains to Paul the awesome way in which Atheistopia is awesome:

“Our guys were able to get a bead on the plane that littered L.A.  Turns out it was unmanned, which we were able to determine through heat-sensitive reconnaissance.  They asked permission to shoot it down, but by the time they had it in their sights, it had spent most of its cargo.  Balaam told ’em to just follow it to its owner.”

Bia, you are so damn smart.  Never stop being you, girlfriend.

“The thing led them to San Pedro Bay…a guy came out in a boat to get it.  …  I suspect we could have rounded up some compatriots too, but as soon as he noticed he was being followed, he stayed in the drink and made us come to him.”

Why did Barton run right to the plane???  He knew this might happen; why didn’t he wait to make sure the plane hadn’t been tracked, or just abandon it?

“Insolent kid.  Cool manner, articulate.  Smelled of fish.”

Okay, I laughed.  Guess that’s what Barton gets for being the point man on Operation Stinky Dead Fish. 

Also, you’d think Barton would have showered before the mission, because smelling of fish might be, oh, I dunno, A CLUE as to where he comes from and where other subversives might be found.

As we know, this whole mission was Lois’s brainchild.  Now we know why–Barton clearly doesn’t have the sense that TurboJesus gave a goose.

Unsurprisingly, Paul reacts to this news in the most suspicious manner you can imagine: Ranold offers Paul the interrogation of Barton (given Paul’s religious training), and this is Paul’s response:

“…I’d better get over there before Balaam decides this guy is armed and dangerous and makes him kill himself.”

You’d think that summary executions would be the way of things in Atheistopia, but I guess not.  And Ranold, once again, seems to truly believe the propaganda:

“The people who have been killed deserved it, Paul, starting with your friend Pass, and you know it.  Chief Balaam almost single-handedly cut the legs off the subversive sects in Washington, som especially virulent ones responsible for major sabotage.  Killing the cherry trees on the mall–destroying a national symbol and disrupting the city’s economy–that was as much an act of war as if they’d blown up the Statue of Liberty.  It was out-and-out terrorism, and that’s the same fire we’ve been putting out here in L.A.”

Ranold’s right, as far as it goes.  The cherry trees were a God-miracle, according to Jenkins, yet there was no reason for an Atheistopian to believe there wasn’t an earthly cause.

And once again, Paul is a frakking idiot, and does NOT behave like the double agent he is supposed to be:

“No one proved anyone killed the cherry trees, Ranold, remember?”

Way to keep the suspicion off you, Paul.

Of course, because Jerry Jenkins is running the show, Ranold, despite his DECADES in the NPO, is not allowed to come to the OBVIOUS CONCLUSION, that Paul is sympathetic to the Christians. 

No, Ranold just thinks that Paul is jealous of Bia.  Which Paul IS, but that’s not the hottest issue.

So Paul heads on over to “the armory,” where army guards have left poor, dumb Barton all tied up on the floor.  The guards tell Paul that Barton “attacked” them, and frankly, I don’t see why I should doubt their word, but I think we are to assume they are lying, since that’s what Evil Atheists do.

Refreshingly, Barton’s initial suspicion is that Paul ratted him out.  Which should be the automatic response of just about all Christians, since Paul is so new to the cause.

But all it takes is one denial from Paul for Barton to deduce that Paul is totes a Christian, fer reals, and for Barton to start calling Paul “sir.”

*gag*

The best Paul can give Barton is to order him transferred from army custody to the NPO “downtown.”  How Paul can order such a thing (over Bia’s head) is beyond me, but whatevs.

Then, THEN, Barton (the idiot) asks Paul to pray for him, and Paul does.

Thus proving Paul to be an even bigger idiot than Barton.

[Paul] put a hand on Barton’s shoulder and prayed God’s will would be done in his life.  He thought of the juxtaposition of the prayer and the location and had to wonder what in the world anyone outside the door would think if they saw this.

I love how Paul assumes that the people outside the door aren’t watching his every move.

DAMN, that man is stupid.

And next time: Paul’s stupid and evil plan!

Soon: Chapters 32-33: De Plane, De Plane!!!

Since I am a sad single panda this Valentine’s Day, I shall do an even sadder panda post on Paul’s sad attempts to be a useful spy, and Barton’s sad attempt to be a litterbug.

ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGED over the MASSACRE (not holocaust), Paul pulls up his big boy hero pants and…drives back to Tiny Allendo’s house for a poolside celebratory dinner.

I could very easily forgive this if Paul was trying to make up for his earlier foolish revelations of his own feelings, and was attempting to get back into Ranold’s good graces.  But no, Paul is sulky and irritable as always, moping about while everyone else eats, drinks, and is merry.

…it was clear that only Paul had a problem with what had gone on that day.  Ranold was right.  America was proud of them.

Well, duh.

Tiny had invited many friends and movie-business associates, all of whom crowded around Chief Balaam, who looked like the blade of a knife in a silver gown.

I assume this is meant to make Bia sound unfeminine and inhuman again, but to me it makes Bia sound awesome, like a woman who knows herself, knows her coloring and body type and what looks good on her.

The party sounds like a blast, with the vino flowing like Tiny’s monstrosity of a fountain, except for this bit:

…the piece de resistance among the hors d-oeuvres was live sushi, small golden fish that darted through a trough down the middle of the table, which the bravest caught with tiny spears.  Paul was horrified.

Okay, okay, I see that.  I typed in “live sushi” at YouTube and was fairly horrified myself.  But it’s not like this is something that the evil Atheistopians made up.  The whole trough thing just seems like the newest Rich Folks’ fad.  And since Paul is morally stricken by a frakking fountain, I am not impressed by his outrage.

Bia Balaam appeared at his side, spear in hand.  “Caught one yet?”

“No,” Paul said.  “Can’t say that I’ve tried.”

“Maybe it’s the sport you don’t care for.”

“Spearing fish in a trough doesn’t seem sporting to me.”

Hee.  Reminds me of Dave Barry’s theory that we should make hunting more sporting by arming the deer with rifles.

Hell, Paul, it’s not sporting to catch fish with a net or kill cattle in a slaughterhouse, but you said in San Francisco that you loved both steak and fish.  I could understand if you didn’t like this because of the extra cruelty involved, but unsporting seems the wrong word.

“You seem very scrupulous, Dr. Stepola.”

DANGER DANGER DANGER

She is on to you, Paul!  Quick, say something Atheistopian!

“I try to do what’s right, Agent Balaam.”

“I’m sure you do.  But what counts most is the ability to do what’s necessary.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Oh yeah, you totally burned her there, Paul.

“I hope you do.  And please also keep in mind that I am Chief Balaam.”

OH SNAP

Okay, Bia won that round, hands down.  We gotta give her that.

But never mind that.  Because it’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s…

A plane.

Barton’s plane drops the leaflets, according to plan, and CHAOS ERUPTS.

Well, more like mild confusion:

Some guests shrieked.  Others caught the flyers and read their messages aloud.  They cited miracles, warning of the coming judgment and offering salvation through Christ.

So, we have startled and amused so far…

Red-faced, Balaam demanded a phone.

I guess she was so surprised by the tracts that she momentarily forgot that SHE HAS A PHONE IN HER SKULL.

Ranold shook his fist at the sky, bellowing drunked threats.

Well, hell, at least they’re both doing something.

To hide his feelings, Paul strolled to the fountain.

“And what was Dr. Stepola doing during this crisis, Agent Balaam?”

“Well, he was wandering around calmly.  It was as if he knew what was happening, as if he didn’t care to do anything about it…”

And a plan came to him–a plan so clear and complete that he believed it was from God Himself.

This evening, I had a plan, too: to have a glass of wine, watch a movie, and write a critique of another section of Soon.  This plan was so clear and complete that it must have been from Gawd Hirself.

And now I have fulfilled that glorious plan!

Next time: What Happened to Barton

Soon: Chapter 32: Yeah, You’re a Big Help

Barton James is planning on launching his little littering seaplane that evening.  So, seeing that there is absolutely nothing he can do to help anybody at Operation Rotting Fish, Paul heads off in his now-debugged car to heroically…sit in the parking lot of a fast food joint and scarf down a burger.

Atheistopia being what it is, I am convinced that fast food places now feature fare that is both delicious, and low in calories, Weight Watchers Points, sodium, and fat.  Alas, Jenkins does not detail this aspect–it’s just my own little idea.

It is while he is stuffing his face that Paul gets a skull call from Straight.  Straight is so upset that he can’t speak, so Paul takes that moment to check his “pocket computer” and sees that the army has struck yet another underground Christian hideaway, this one at the former Loyola Marymount University, killing two hundred Christians who were mourning the six people already killed.

Site of the underground Christian lair of the future.  Picture from Wikipedia.

Damn, but this messes with my Death Counts.  I’m telling you guys, I am looking forward to digging into The Secret on Ararat (har, C Wut I Did There?), but I don’t think the Death Count will be remedied until Silenced.

Anyway, Jenkins calls this killing of Christians a “massacre.”  This strikes me as odd because Paul called the killing of five Christians a holocaust, and I admit I have always thought of a holocaust as being worse than a massacre.  Maybe it’s just me.

Once again, we only have Straight’s word for What Really Happened:

“They were in a makeshift chapel, and they had no weapons at the whole site.  The leadership saw the army amassing and tried to negotiate.  Well, there was no negotiating.  They were shot dead at the door; then the army leaders retreated to their positions ad obliterated the place.  Those people were slaughtered.”

If there were no survivors, HOW CAN STRAIGHT POSSIBLY KNOW ANY OF THIS???  He cites “calls from inside just as it was going down,” but that makes it sound like Straight was on a skull conference call with reporters, not with desperate, trapped people who had no possible way to see and hear everything.

I can’t help but feel that the Christians chose a poor mourning site, too.  As it happens, Loyola Marymount was turned into a “reprogramming center” after WWIII, showing people “how to get along without the encumbrances of religion.”  But I guess it’s NOT that anymore, since it’s abandoned enough for the underground to have a they-thought-it-was-underground-but-not-really memorial service.

I’m so confused…

Did the reprogramming work on everyone but the RTCs, seeing as they’re the only religious folks we ever see?  Why isn’t it a reprogramming center now, given the resurgence of the “Christian threat”?  Why would the Christians use such an obvious spot for their memorial?  What is one of the most beautiful campuses in the country being used for, if it’s so empty that the Christians moved in?  What went on at this reprogramming center, anyway?

Gah.

Unsurprisingly, once Paul gets to LMU, Bia and Ranold have a rather different take on things:

“We surrounded the place before dawn, awakened their leadership, and ordered them to stand down and surrender peacefully.  They promised to discuss an amicable resolution with their colleagues, and we gave them a deadline of noon to surrender their weapons and be taken into custody without incident.”

So, while Paul was wandering around the docks, smelling fish and yakking about Gideon, the Christians and the NPO and army were standing off with each other.  

Paul really is the Least Action Hero, isn’t he?

“When there was no further communication from them, we prepared for the worst.  One minute after the deadline, they opened fire on our forces, and we were forced to defend ourselves.” [Bia related]

Ranold, once again, appears not to have been involved in the actual raid, though he claims he was.  Either way, he is still selling this to Paul as What We Had To Do:

“We would love for these people to respond appropriately and cooperatively and to be able to give you no end of subjects to examine.  But they are zealots, extremists.  They will not listen to reason.  They will not negotiate.  The first sign the government is at their door, they start shooting.”

“Shooting?” [asked Paul]

“That’s the same argumentative and self-righteous tone you used in South Central, and you wonder why you didn’t hear we were going to strike.”

OH SNAP

What Ranold is telling Paul is that if Paul had been just a BIT of a better double agent, if he had kept his feelings just a BIT more under wraps, he could have been in the loop. 

HE COULD HAVE WARNED THE CHRISTIANS AND SAVED TWO HUNDRED LIVES

Paul, you are the worst double agent in the history of spy stories. 

Atheistopia’s Death Count: 230

God’s Death Count: 16

Soon: Chapters 31-32: I Can Gideon Better Than You

The poor sad sack Christians in L.A. were sure lost until PAUL came along!

“…we’re no match for the army.” [said Barton]

“Neither was Gideon,” Paul said.  It isn’t might that makes right, or the government would be right.   We have God on our side, and we need Him to give us the victory, just like Gideon.”

Old Carl struggled to his feet.  “Gideon is a perfect model, people.”

Remember, guys, Paul has been a Christian for TWO MONTHS.  But he immediately hits upon the PERFECT MODEL to make the Christians spring into action!

Bit of a Mighty Whitey, wouldn’t you say?

So, “Old Carl” (’cause that’s respectful) spends the next two pages retelling the story of Gideon, which I can only imagine must be at least a bit interesting when someone other than Old Carl is telling it.

Then again, reading the relevant passages and the Wiki page, just seems like God and Gideon were playing the kind of weird “testing” games with each other that would be really unhealthy if they were a couple. 

God, if you do this, I know you want me to fight.  Okay, now do this, so I can be really, really sure you want me to fight. 

Gideon, take all these soldiers to fight, except these guys who do something I don’t like.  Okay, now send away those jerks.  DO WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO, ME-DAMMIT.

Carl ends his “story” on this note:

“I don’t know how God is going to use whatever is left of the underground believers in Los Angeles to defeat the army.  But I believe He would have us be as the men of Gideon, brave and willing to do whatever is necessary.  And He will win the battle.” [Emphasis Jenkins’]

Yeah, this is why Bruce Barnes has his “dig a hole and hide in it” plan in Tribulation Force–if you think God is going to take care of everything, if all you have to do is be willing in your mind to be “brave,” and God will take care of the rest.

No wonder the underground Christians haven’t done anything except stockpile rotting fish!

I take that back: Barton has a plan!

“It’s not exactly Gideon-like, but it’s something.”

Hey, at least he admits that…

Barton has a mini-seaplane that he is going to control “robotically” to “blanket the city with leaflets.”  Paul calls this plan “audacious,” and Barton is realistic enough to raise the possibility of Atheistopia shooting down the plane.  He is even nice enough to admit that the whole plan wasn’t really his idea–it was “free exchange of ideas” Lois’s idea. 

(Then again, if the plan (and plane) go to shit, they can always blame Lois!)

But you know, it’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard.  It’s comparatively low-risk (though Barton defensively chirps that “there are no fainthearted here“).  It’s more out-there and imaginative than randomly leaving brochures for your waitress.  So, in Chapter 32, possibly the first decent plan in the book.

What do you think?  Good idea, bad idea?

 

Soon: Chapter 31: Brochures and True Christianity

Sure, the very special tracts are made on a letterpress, but what do they say???

(btw, do RTCs really call tracts “brochures”?  Because a little while back, Ranold called tracts “little brochures,” and it seemed we were meant to interpret that as Ranold being both clueless and intolerant.  But now, Barton calls them “brochures” again and again.)

The brochures were titled “Risking Our Lives for Yours.” 

I fail to see how the Christians are risking their lives for the atheists.  They’re risking their lives for themselves.  (Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not really nice to paint the situation as something it’s not.)

Now, if they are referring to the saving of the atheists’ souls, then they need to think of a new public relations strategy, because that’s not something that will fly with most atheists.

The copy stated unequivocally that the underground Christians were not armed and never planned to be.

Well, yeah, but from the standpoint of the atheists who are the target audience, I would think that the immediate response would be: “Oh, yeah.  That’s exactly what those militant Christians would say.”

“The slaughter of secret believers is genocide,” Paul read, “pure and simple.”

Oooo, such compelling prose!  Assertion in place of evidence, works every time!

“We are no threat to the government or the status quo.”

As we shall see in a few short pages, this could not be farther from the truth.

“We merely believe that God is real, that Jesus is alive, that He died for the sins of the world, and that He is coming again soon.  We will persist in spreading this word until none of us remain.”

And again, I can only imagine the typical Atheistopian response: “And those beliefs led to the slaughter of countless billions.”

“I don’t know what they’re so afraid of,” Lois said.  “We’re just talking about the free exchange of ideas.”

Yeah, Lois, and what Christian would ever be against the free exchange of ideas???

Well, here’s one case from THIS MONTH:

Atheist Student Faces Town’s Wrath over Religious Protest:

Sixteen year old atheist Jessica Alquist has received threats on line and has to have a police escort to get to school. A local florist refused to deliver flowers to her and Democratic State Rep. Peter G. Palumbo called Jessica “an evil little thing.”

Why? Because she protested an 8-foot tall prayer which is displayed on the wall of the auditorium at Cranston High School in Cranston, R.I.

-Sally Quinn, Washington Post blog

We’re just talking about the free exchange of ideas.  So Lois would be all for this!

Right?

Eh, probably not.  Anyhoo, Paul appears to have a brief brush with awareness:

“Dangerous ideas, though,” Paul said.  “You have to admit.  I studied religion, and there is a huge legacy of religion-related atrocities throughout the history of civilization.”

Wow.  Is this actual understanding, actual insight into the perceptions of Atheistopia???

“But religion and true Christianity are two entirely different things.” [said Lois]

“You’re preaching to the choir, ma’am.”

Oh.  Guess not.

I hear this on Christian radio all the time: Christianity isn’t religion–it’s the truth.

And how could “true Christianity” ever hurt anything?

You probably think the Inquisition was a perversion of the “true” spirit of Christianity.  Perhaps it was.  The problem, however, is that the teachings of the Bible are so muddled and self-contradictory that it was possible for Christians to happily burn heretics alive for five long centuries.  It was even possible for the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to conclude that heretics should be tortured (Augustine) or killed outright (Aquinas).  Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews, and witches.  You are, of course, free to interpret the Bible differently–though isn’t it amazing that you have succeeded in discerning the true teachings of Christianity, while the most influential thinkers in the history of your faith failed?

-Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

Fascinatingly, despite the great technological innovation of their letterpress printer, the L.A. Christians are so out of the loop that they haven’t yet heard that Specs is dead.  What, do none of them watch the news (or listen to it on their skull phones, I guess)?

Yeah, they are really ready for the future.  They’re so underground that they are underground from each other and from very basic news stories.  That is pathetic.

“We have to do something big,” Carl said.  “Something that will get the attention of the nation.  We have to cripple this army, unless we want to see more of us wiped out.”

My first thought was, Sure, good luck with that.  Then I remembered that they have God, the biggest bully on the block, on their side.  Turns out, they don’t need to worry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon: Chapter 31: Tribulation Plans

So, check it out, you guys.  Remember last chapter, when Paul mused about the danger (both to others and, much more importantly, himself) of accidentally bumping into NPO infiltrators in the underground Christian camps?

Yeah, forget all that.  Paul waltzes into the fishy warehouse of the Port of L.A. Christians, rattles off the code phrase THAT TYRONE PERKINS GAVE HIM, and they embrace Paul AND PAUL EMBRACES THEM with not one smidgen of suspicion of anyone or anything.

What’s really amusing is that Barton James says:

“Everybody’s on edge now, with what happened yesterday.  I lost a friend in South Central.”

“That was a travesty.” [said Paul]

“An abomination.  C’mon back.  Meet the others.”

“Yeah, five Christians were murdered and dozens of others arrested and/or injured.  A friend of mine died.  But, hey, whaddaya gonna do?  And boy, this would happen on a Monday, amirite?  Anyhoo, c’mon back and hang with us, Mr. NPO Agent.  Lois made homemade Chex Mix last night…”

As you might remember, the Detroit underground specialized in weird-ass and pointless schemes like weaving texts into textiles and shipping atheists discs with Bible chapters instead of the actual music they wanted in the first place.

Carl explains to Paul that:

“We’re in the tract business.  We also supply most of the other groups in the West with printed literature.”

“Really?  Would you mind giving me the names and exact locations of these other groups?  Just for my…research, you understand.”

Paul (sensibly, for once) points out that it’s kinda weird for one place to provide printed literature for all the other locations–can’t you just print as many as you want these days, just about anywhere?

Turns out that the L.A. underground’s claim to fame is the use of letterpress printing.  The reason for this is twofold: if people find tracts that are made in a special way, they won’t toss them out, and also, once the Tribulation starts, “it’s not hard to imagine that electronic equipment will become useless at some point.”

So I guess the thinking is that once all the L.A. underground Christians are raptured, some left behinders will find the cool tracts and be converted.  They will then tract down (C wut I did there?) the disgusting fish warehouse and the letterpress printer, and CONTINUE THE WORK DURING THE TRIBULATION WHEN THE ANTICHRIST DESTROYS ELECTRICITY.

See how it all makes sense, now?

This was a short one, but next time: more on the tracts and the pre-Rapture plans for L.A.

 

 

Soon: Chapter 31: Human Fishy Christian Things

Paul is heading off to find the Fishers of Men, but first he has to express his displeasure of Tiny’s wealth:

Although it was not yet six when he emerged from the house, the gushing hundred-foot tower of water from Allendo’s garish gold fountain sent a light spray teasing over his head and face.  Paul felt as if he were being spit upon.

Actually, that sounds pretty refreshing, considering that it’s late June in southern California, but what do I know?

It was hard to pinpoint what was most distasteful about Tiny Allendo, amid all his wretched excesses, but the fountain had to be close to the top of the list.

U jealous, bro?

Paul had to admit that being waited on hand and foot and having your car parked and brought to you were nice perks.  But it wasn’t real life.  Who lived like this?  People who didn’t deserve to, he decided.

BASED ON WHAT, PAUL?  Exactly why does Tiny not deserve to spend his money in the way he sees fit?  You want to make this a Christian thing?  Well, Tiny doesn’t even know the truth about the raid.

Asshat.

It’s jealousy.  Honestly, that’s about all I can come up with, here.  Tiny is a successful person.  He makes movies that are wildly popular, even if Paul doesn’t happen to like them. 

Aren’t RTCs supposed to be all about the free market?  Tiny is pretty much living that plan–making a product that people want and are willing to buy.  Atheistopia has cured pollution, so if Tiny wants a huge gold fountain, why shouldn’t he have a huge gold fountain?

Hmmm, sure wish there was a book of wisdom to which Paul could turn in times like these…

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

-Proverbs 14:30

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

-James 3:16

So, there’s that.

Anyway, his bones rotting with jealousy, Paul heads off to the Port of Los Angeles to find the Fishers of Men.  After all, it worked SO WELL last time he made contact with a member of the L.A. underground.

San Pedro Bay was already full of ships from around the world, staging and maneuvering into position to off-load fish and goods.  At any other time, Paul would have loved the salty, fishy air. 

Um…okay?  I freely admit that I have never been to L.A., let alone to the port, but would it really smell lovely and salty and fishy, like being at the beach?  Wouldn’t it be more the smell of industry (even non-polluting Atheistopian industry), rather than like a seaside seafood restaurant?

Here is the Port of L.A.  Not sure how it smells.

Paul wanders around until he breaks a Manly Sweat, finally coming across…

…a rusting blue-and-gray metal building that sat on a pier just off the water.  The front was unmarked, but a hand-painted sign over the side utility door read “Sapiens Fisheries.”  Clever.

Not really.

The inside of the building is filled with boxes of rotting fish to keep the curious away, and I’m kinda glad that Paul is sickened by the smell.  Guy deserves much worse than that. 

A young fellow named Barton James escorts Paul to the “hidden area” in the back (oh, woowwww), and there he meets Carl and Lois, the “teachers” of the L.A. underground.  Not sure why the plural is used, since Carl does most of the talking and teaching, natch. 

Carl is an elderly man who was a preacher before the war, and that sounds like an interesting story, but damned if we hear any more about it. 

And I have to admit that “Lois” is a pretty good choice for an elderly woman’s name in Atheistopia.  I have never known a Lois of my own generation (I am of Ranold’s generation, born in the generation gap between Gen X and the Millenials, the late 1970s to early 1980s), but if Lois is older than that, then she has a name that was fairly common at that time.

So, it’s a name that makes sense.

Unlike, say, RANOLD.

This was pretty quick, but tomorrow I will reveal Carl and Lois’s big plans for L.A.