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.



Posted on February 5, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I…. what? By using an ancient printing style, the tracts will likely look even cheaper than usual, and this is supposed to make atheists hang on to them instead of using them as toilet paper. Ugh, Jenkins gets stupider by the chapter.

    So we now get official references to the Tribulation huh? Exactly how would people notice the difference, what with God already smiting people albeit on a smaller scale, Christians already being seemingly nonexistent and all religion suppressed? And what about the Jews? They’re supposed to make a peace treaty with the Anti Christ and rebuild the temple, but there’s already world peace and no any ethnic Jews left must have been forced to atheism too, so why would they even want the temple now? Jenkins really didn’t think this one through, did he?

  2. Yay! I caught up with Soon. Now to read the critique of Bad Religion Babylon Rising.

    Wait, if they used letterpress printing to make their tracts, wouldn’t the Atheistopia find one and be like, “Hey, they used letterpress printing to make this. That’s sort of a hobbyist/small-scale printing process that few people do anymore. What sorts of supplies are used in letterpress? … Why are letterpress printing supplies being delivered in large quantities to a fishmonger? Let’s set up surveillance on that fishmonger. Why doesn’t this fishmonger ever receive fish? Maybe we should check to see if the warehouse is sanitary, since they claim they’re selling food and all. Maybe we should follow their outgoing deliveries.

    • Welcome, 2-D Man!

      Yes, the whole letterpress thing is completely ludicrous, and the parts ‘n supplies bit even more so. In fact, Barton James mentions in passing how difficult it is to find parts and ink and stuff, but the point is dropped as quickly as it is raised.

      It appears that they do a bit of fishing, but just enough to sustain the “illusion” that they aren’t an underground Christian cell. Still leaves the question of why reams and reams of paper would be needed by a warehouse at the port…

      Which makes me wonder: is this smelly, salty, perpetually damp locale really the best place to have a printing operation?

      Things that make you go hmmm…

      • I promise not to kill anyone with falcons.

        • Nice one. Shall we make “Please don’t kill us with falcons” our official welcome?

          On a side note, lot of new commenters and archive-bingers lately. Has someone been posting links to this blog recently?

          • I got here from Raven’s Wings, where there’s an ongoing deconstruction of This Present Darkness, which I was linked to from Slacktivist.

          • I’m getting people coming from the usual suspects: Apocalypse Review, Confessions of a Former Conservative, Mouse’s Musings, etc. A couple from the TV Tropes page for Babylon Rising, too. 🙂

    • Heh. I know people in the science fiction fandom who still use ditto machines (spirit duplicators, Banda machines, whatever you want to call them). There’s usually at least one such machine that shows up at the fanzine lounge every Worldcon, because that was the sort of machine used when the SF fandom really started up with fanzines.

      Then again, these people know that it’s only a hobbyist thing, they’re just serious hobbyists themselves.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        “When I was a neo-fan
        My trufan friends all told me
        (Turning the crank on the mimeo…)
        Lay off the typer
        And your fingers will get moldy
        (Turning the crank on the mimeo…)
        Keep turning the crank!
        We’re publishing a fanzine!
        Turning the crank on the mim-e-o!”

  3. That Other Jean

    Phew! It can’t be that hard to discover where these religious tracts are coming from, what with them smelling like dead fish and all. Major plot fail.

  4. Religious tracts that smell like dead fish?

    Grrrrrrreat selling point there, Jenkins. X-(

    • A fishy smell might be less of a turn-off than the “$10 bill” that turns out to be propaganda… Especially when it’s used in obnoxious ways, like the one that made the internet, where someone left it *as a tip for a waiter in a restaurant*.

      Or even where I encountered it – I saw someone in front of me drop it as I was walking through the mall. (It looked like she was just getting something from her purse and accidentally dropped the bill.) Now, granted, if I simply saw a $10 bill laying on the ground in the mall, I’d keep it. But if I *see* the person drop a bill of any denomination? I give it back to them. So, in this crowded mall, I move quickly to pick it up with the intention of catching up to the lady that dropped it. When I pick it up, I realize something’s wrong, and then realize that I just hustled to pick up someone’s propaganda. Someone’s *litter* propaganda. Yeah, lovely. You’ve really made me interested in learning more about your beliefs… Except of course for that part where I was a Christian, and studied it quite a bit, so I actually *already know* about your religion.

  5. How exactly are the texts in textiles supposed to work? Does one in every ten thousand Happy Bunny shirts ship out reading “Throw Rocks At Atheists”?

  6. “if people find tracts that are made in a special way, they won’t toss them out”

    — Yes, they will.

    “once the Tribulation starts, “it’s not hard to imagine that electronic equipment will become useless at some point.”

    — again . . . Yes, it is. It’s even harder to imagine when I think back on LEFT BEHIND. Jenkins didn’t make his Tribbles survive without electricity, running water, airplanes, gas-powered vehicles, or their precious telephones. Heck, Satan’s army still had all their nifty guns and tanks up until the point Turbo!Jesus slaughtered them. (Granted, I only managed to slog through the first three books, plus part of Book 9 and Book 12.) I like to think the reason is that JEenkins himself couldn’t survive without at least minimal technology; ergo, he simply can’t imagine/write about a “modern” world the likes of “Walking Dead.”

  7. Long post, but I wanted to write some flash fic. I don’t usually write, so be gentle with the criticism.

    *****Flash fic time!*****

    Greg Baily hated fish. He hated the smell, the texture, even the look of the disgusting creatures. Today was probably the worst day of work he had ever experienced.

    Standing in the sorry excuse for a warehouse, he wanted to sigh but then remembered that he’d have to take in a breath of this rotten-fish air, so he thought better of it and instead rubbed his hand over his balding scalp. “So, Mr. James, here’s the report of all your health code infractions,” he tore the top copy off, keeping the carbon copies for his records, “so you can fix them.”

    Feeling the pure contempt that Barton held for him, he resisted the urge to add, “If you know what that means.” and proceeded to explain, “If you want to keep selling fish, my office will need to see significant improvement on this list within a week. For starters, you might want to dispose of all these fish carcasses, all right?”

    Turning towards the door, it was at that moment when he felt dread pool in his feet. There was an entire back area he hadn’t been through. Wincing to himself, he turned to Barton, “That back area there, what’s that for?”

    Barton stood up straight, and looked through Greg’s horned-rim glasses into his eyes. The old man’s lower lip quivered, but he said nothing.

    An awkward pause formed and by the time it was over Greg found himself doing what his parents called ‘facepalming’. As he lowered his hand, he pleaded with Barton, “Please just tell me you don’t process fish back there.”

    “We don’t process fish back there.” Barton seemed to relax a little.

    “Or any other food product?”

    “Or any other food product.” The old man seemed to stiffen slightly, clearly hoping the questions would end.

    “Y’know what? Screw it. I can’t stand this place any longer. I’m just going to take your word for it. All I want to do is go home and find out what my husband has cooked for me and hope to to high happiness and back that it isn’t fish.”

    Barton seemed to recoil in horror at something Greg just said, but the health inspector was too exasperated to care how Barton felt anymore. Turning on his heel, he went straight to the door, calling on the way, without looking back, “You know what you have to do. Get to work.” Once he was outside, he took a deep breath of the salty, not-rotting-fishy air, and marvelled at how good it smelled for the first time in his life.


    Barton looked at the paper for a while, deciding on a course of action. The rest of the cell gathered around him. “What are we going to do?” someone asked, “Without those rotting fish, someone might come by.”

    Barton sighed, “We’ll call upon the Lord to be our salvation. His will be done. Their man-made laws can’t stand up to the power of our awesome God.” He led the others in a singing of Our God is an Awesome God.


    Greg reached for the door on the wretched warehouse. After taking his first step inside, his jaw nearly fell to the floor. In a week not a single fish had been moved. Nothing had been cleaned up. These people had done absolutely nothing to comply with his orders. Barton came over to meet him, and he started filling out his clipboard.

    The old man nervously waited and Greg handed him the clipboard, “Congratulations, Mr. James. There was a computer error and now, if I don’t give you a perfect score, I lose my job. Now sign here.”

    Barton beamed at Greg, “Praise the,” he stopped and eyed Greg, “… law….” and signed.

    Greg gave Barton a hairy eyeball, “Whatever. I just want to leave.” He took his clipboard back, tore off Barton’s copy and turned toward the door, overhearing on his way out, “Approval from the FDSSA and a new buyer that’s willing to pay 20% more? He is looking out for us!”

    Baily didn’t stop, wanting as little as possible to do with this situation. Upon stepping outside, he dialled his skull, “It’s done. Please tell me that that new buyer they found was you.”

    Ranold replied, “Yes, that’s us. Don’t worry, Mr. Baily, the NPO will make sure none of their product reaches consumers’ hands.”

  8. “Hang on a minute… you mean we’re all Atheistapo infiltrators here?” (Somewhere on the other side of town, a building is blown up by the real terrorists.)

    No, hang on, they can have their letterpress if they want it, but there are now shipping records pointing right back at them as soon as any other cell gets rolled up. Why not have the press available In Case Of Rapture but do things the efficient way until then? Anyway, during the Tribulation, it’s just barely possible that Atheistopian Parcel Service may be slightly disrupted…

    2-D Man: yes!

  9. I always have a tough time feeling the proper sympathy for the Christians when they’re persecuted in this book. First, because I get this feeling that they only care if it’s Christians being slaughtered, not the filthy stinking heathen Atheist communists.

    Secondly, as you brilliantly pointed out before, all these guys believe that, well, da flaming barrel treatment, that’s nothin’ compared ta how da boss upstairs is gonna greet ya mooks when ya pass on, capiche?

    Honestly, I don’t want the Rapture to come in this series. Athiestopia is doing just fine (minus some death squads), and knowing that it’s going to lose in the end to TurboJesus is depressing.

  10. 2-D Man, you rock. I just finished the Babylon Rising archives. You’re in for a treat, and by “a treat” I mean “O.0” It’s a very… strange book.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Jenkins actually got local geography right for once.

    “South Central.”

  12. Read that as Pre-Raptor at first. Ahh, Dr.McNinja and tired brains… it would be bound to be more interesting that Jenkins Rapture, at least.

  13. Heya. Found the blog from slactivist, and been spending the last couple days reading both this and your Babylon Rising deconstruction. God, I miss Michael Murphy.

    Regardless, I think I’ve figured out exactly WHY these revolutionaries are so awful at their jobs- it’s the fact that they’re fundamentalist Christians. The thing with fundamentalists is that they latch onto faith and dogma, and reject any form of skepticism or forward-thinking. Now, this is fine, so far as you are concerned, when you are a regular member of the population.

    However, a resistance group’s job is to not only to have the ability to look forward, and look at the long-term consequences and advantages of actions (since they can’t accomplish that much in the short term), but also to avoid any sort of detection or infiltration. Naturally, these are things that fundamentalist Christians are going to be HORRIBLE at.

    For instance, if I were Paul (and not an idiot who was converted by arguments that can be refuted by a single Google search), here’s how that conversation with Carl would have gone.

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

    “Really? Praise the Lord! You’re doing God’s work here, Carl. Who are these other groups? I’d love to be able to go and aid them in spreading the Good News!”

    And you KNOW that Carl would have told him/me. Honestly, the only group less competent than the Christians is the Atheistapo for allowing said Christians to become any form of threat, when a pseudo-competent spy could have shut down the movement before it began.

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