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?



Posted on February 11, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. I believe I mentioned earlier that Paul is basically the Christian equivalent of the Mighty Whitey.

    And yeah, this does seem like the first good idea they’ve had. At least in this universe, since tracts IRL tend to rely on really unconvincing arguments and straw men.

  2. I say it’s a good idea because they’re actually going to try and do something that is a little bigger, more risky and more audacious than what they have been doing. Sure, it’s not much but I’ll take what I can get.

  3. In comparison to the Dork Too Stupid, the robot plane leaflet dispenser is a pretty good idea. At least it takes advantage of their resources. I suppose God is going to provide all the servomotors and radio equipment they’ll need. Either that, or they’ll have to sell some of their fish.

    My very first thought on reading this post was, “What these people need is a honky!” So I’m glad to see that everyone else is way ahead of me.

  4. Well . . . it’s a plan. It’s a wimpy plan but it’s a plan that shows more intiative than all the Left Behind books combined. So, yay?

    Leaflets, though? As though all of Atheistopia will suddenly stop what they’re doing, start reading the tracts that have oh-so-symbolically appeared from heaven, and instantly convert to Christianity? Even Jenkins knows that’s crap. If the whole world converts to Christianity, who will Turbo!Jesus have left to destroy when he returns?

    Besides which, that’s littering on a massive scale. And I can’t imagine environmentally-friendly Atheistopia tolerating that kind of behavior in the first place.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Well . . . it’s a plan. It’s a wimpy plan but it’s a plan that shows more intiative than all the Left Behind books combined.

      Which is really saying something.

      So, yay?

      Only if your name’s Fluttershy. (And even she “yays” louder than that…)

  5. I’m still stuck on how their entire plan is around spreading leaflets, like the Word of God is a memetic virus that infects you as soon as you read it. This is like a plan made by goofy Silver Age comic book.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I think it’s the RTC tunnel-vision on “Witnessing (TM)” by handing out tracts. Heathen reads tract, immediately goes on their knees weeping in Conviction and says the Magic Words. (After all, it always happens like that in the Christian books & movies and comics!)

      Tip: Make the tracts look like $100 bills and leave them on restaurant tables to be picked up by underpaid waitresses.

    • Brochures, in this case, is code for “Hostess Fruit Pies”.

  6. Gideon’s tests, at least, were him trying to make sure it really WAS God who was speaking to him, and not some outside entity trying to get him to lose. God, though…he winnowed the force PRECISELY so he’d be the only one who could get credit. Gideon’s reliance on subterfuge, and winnowing out the incautious soldiers, doesn’t seem to get subterfuge, doesn’t seem to get as much mention.

    Glory this, glory that…But what is the purpose of glory?

    Note: I think I figured out the second anagram in Ranold B. Decenti’s name: “Ban (the) Lord”.

    • I always assumed “Decenti” was a corruption of “Decent” and used to be a kind of ironic last name.

      • It could also be derived from “Descent”, as in to hell.

        • I think that it’s just an anagram of “enticed” (as in “enticed to sin”).

          So…Ranold B. Decenti=”enticed (to) ban (the) Lord”, then? It also adds meaning to the change of Jae’s family name, even if the effect is delayed. From enticed by Satanel/Mastema/Belial/Asmodai/whomever to apostle of God.

    • Yeah, and something just occurred to me that hadn’t before about the Gideon story. Hey God, you know what you REALLY get you some glory ? And there would be no ambiguity whatsoever as to whether you should share the credit ?

      If you smote the opposing army on your own with nobody else having to lift a finger.

      Not like you haven’t done anything like that in the past after all.

      Let me guess, was He at the point in the Decaying Magnitude of Miracles Timeline where he didn’t do that kind of stuff anymore ?

  7. The reference to Gideon makes me think of those Bibles “placed by the Gideons”. That must be part of what Jenkins was thinking of when he wrote the leafletting thing.

    Only yeah, tracts like Jack Chick’s are so implausible I have trouble understanding how anyone can be convinced by such silly reasoning.

  8. It’s odd that they bring up “might doesn’t make right”, since most of the Christian pamphlets I’ve seen in real life state flat-out that God is right because if you don’t do what he says he’ll roast you alive.

  9. So, the plan is to use the drone to spread leaflets. And then? Will they abandon the now-empty plane or bring it back?

    If the atheistopians have any intelligence, they wouldn’t shoot the plane down – they’d follow it and see where it landed and who collected it.

  10. If you hadn’t encouraged me the last time, I wouldn’t be dropping this on you again.


    Ranold answered his skull with his name, as usual. Before he could get to the third syllable the voice on the other end exploded.


    Ranold wished for a volume adjustment knob as he looked up his call display to see who it was, “P-pardon?”

    “Let me tell you a little story, Ranold,” the Secretary of Defense was using his first name, instead of his rank. A bad sign, he thought before the voice carried on, “A schoolbus was carrying an entire fourth-grade class to the Museum of Natural History. Only it didn’t make it there because it was suddenly cut in half by a burning aircraft fuselage. Now there are 16 dead children and another 8 in hospital. Now tell me Ranold, is that a happy story or a sad story?”

    Ranold was hesitant to answer, “Well that actually sounds just a little bit sad actually.”

    “YOU’RE FUCKING RIGHT IT’S FUCKING SAD!” Ranold had never heard the Secretary so angry before, “You know what makes this story even sadder? It actually happened. Today. In Los Angeles. That city that you’re in, where someone felt the need to launch a missile at a plane over the city because they apparently forgot that gravity makes shit fall!”

    Ranold attempted to plead, “Madam Secretary, you’ve got to realize, they were distributing brochures! Christian brochures!”

    “Oh, well that makes it all better, doesn’t it? I’m sure those 16 families will be pleased to know that their children won’t be coming home today because Ranold B. Decenti wanted to set paper on fire. Speaking of which, those brochures were sent every which way in the explosion. So you not only killed civilians, but you also failed to complete your objective. You’re fired, Ranold. Write up a letter of resignation and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be out of prison in ten years.” The line went dead, and Ranold started thinking.

    Wasn’t it Paul’s idea to shoot down the plane? There was no way he hadn’t thought of these ramifications. Ranold felt his blood run cold. His son-in-law was working for the enemy, and was perfectly positioned to take over the NPO.

  11. In response to whether this is a good plan or bad plan. This seems like an exceptionally bad plan. A plane isn’t the sort of thing that you can ‘just have’ like a pizza or an Xbox. They’re registered to a government agency. Hell, your car is registered to the government. I’d say that by the time they’re landing the plane, they can expect the Atheistapo to be beating down the fish warehouse door.

    Not only that, but flying the plane remotely? You’re only about 10 times as likely to crash it and that’s probably going to be somewhat counterproductive in the whole ‘winning converts’ project. And FFS, why fly it remotely? Are there really antiaircraft weapons ready and waiting to fire at the skies above LA? Why would they do that? There are no wars!

    And, as I pointed out in the flash fic, even if there are weapons trained on LA’s skies, unless you’re dropping bombs, no one is going to shoot at you. Because the Atheistapo is not interested in bombarding the citizens of LA with burning aluminum.

    And, as was mentioned upthread, this is littering on a massive scale. These tracts are going to be in every gutter, clogging every eves trough and jamming every outdoor pool filter, among other things. In a week, you wouldn’t be able to walk anywhere without finding a slimy, decaying tract depicting the joys of RTC-ity.

    • Keep in mind that this story takes place not only in the future but also after a major war, so it would stand to reason that technology for controlling unmanned aircraft has improved significantly. Also, nowhere does this blog post specify how they would shoot down the plane. For all we know, they might just send some AF planes (because there still is a military, just small) to damage the enemy plane just enough to force it to land.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      And, as was mentioned upthread, this is littering on a massive scale. These tracts are going to be in every gutter, clogging every eves trough and jamming every outdoor pool filter, among other things.

      As was prophesied in “The Gospel Blimp”.

      Wait a minute…


  12. “I don’t know how God is going to use whatever is left of the underground believers in Los Angeles to defeat the army.”

    Paul is thiiiiiiis close to just saying flat out, “It’s the end of the book and we’re the heroes, so we get to win now.”

    As for Operation Litterbug, as dumb and ineffective as it is, as a method of spreading the word it’s actually a better plan than the genuine miracles God has been pulling so far. Like, in theory, you could imagine one or two random Angelenos picking up a pamphlet off the street, reading it, and, if not necessarily converting then and there, at least learning something about Christianity in a vague way. That’s a way better success rate than God’s blood prank at the Reflecting Pool or that thing he did to the oil well. So congratulations, Fishers of Men, you’re doing a better job than your own omnipotent deity.

  13. Mahood, in his excellent “Freaky Fables” cartoon series, did a version of that story. GIdeon: “Only twenty men left! This is going to take a miracle!” God: “THAT IS THE IDEA.”

    What’s the point of being a Real, True Christian if you can’t be more Real or True than the next guy?

    Isn’t that, like, “a big radio-controlled plane”? Incidentally, tracing back the control signals to the transmitter is pretty easy if you’re on the ball. Of course, the atheistapo won’t be expecting it, so it’ll probably work reasonably well this once. It will indeed dump leaflets onto the whole city, whose reactions will include (and Grammar Police and others got to some of these first):

    “Oh, man, I thought we did away with this sort of littering.”
    “Holy crap, those terrorists have PLANES now!”
    “Couldn’t they afford a professional artist? Or at least a layout guy?”
    “Yeah, I’ve heard of Jesus. He’s that guy whom* everyone fought over and caused the Big War.”

    * in my Atheistopia, people use “whom” as a matter of course.

  14. What is it with RTCs and evangelising tracts? As I think I said in a previous post, they seem to regard “Jesus died for your sins” and other Biblical phrases as magic spells, so that anybody reading or hearing them will be instantly converted.
    And yet, in this book, Paul is supposed to have spent years reading and closely studying all this WITHOUT being converted. So what makes the Underground Christians think that reading a single tract will convert- ah, I forgot. GOD has told them so.

    • My guess is that this plothole is the result of Jerry Jenkins having to compartmentalize his belief that just reading the Bible (or certain verses) is a magic ticket to conversion and the knowledge that there are non-believers who have studied the Bible in depth.

  15. This doesn’t sound like the worst plan yet, but it’s far from good. The plane can likely be traced back to them. Worse, whatever transmitter they use to control that plane will have to be powerfull, and can also be traced right back to them while it’s up in the air. I doubt the zealots have their own personal satelite network. And, well, there’s the whole ‘those tracts won’t work’ argument, but that one is obvious. On the other hand, it is a halfway decent way to get their message across. Not sure if not just plastering those tracts at night by car wouldn’t be better, but hey.

    I’m also wondering about it crashing or being shot down. If the Atheistapo would be in any way competent (not likely), they would try to shoot it down, but with something subtle, a laser beam or something, which is perfectly invisible. And then do try to aim it near a school or hospital or the like. You’ll have a stream of Christian propaganda ending in a crater on or hear a civilian target. Then all you have to do is deny having anything to do with the crash and have your many-tentacled media empire do reruns of all the previous religious terrorist attacks, mention 9/11 a bit (not like the lifelong atheists will know or care about the difference between muslims and christians), and the zealot’s PR nightmare is complete.

    Of course, this plan does presume the Atheistapo is a ruthless group of murderers that don’t believe their own ‘the Christians are lethally dangerous’ stories, which still hasn’t been made clear. We’re supposed to think at least of Bia like that, but so far even her track record is a string of RTC victims. We don’t know if she is actually willing to risk the lives of innocent atheists (two words we’re not likely to see together in this book) in her fight.

  16. Isn’t the Gideon story kind of a joke?

  17. Is it a bad plan? It depends on the goal. As I understand it, there is an army searching for the LA cell for the sole purpose of killing all of them. And the only response they can think of is leafletting the entire city. Or at least as much of it as they can get to with a small remote controlled plane. If the goal is to expose the Atheistapo so everyone finds out that they killed a bunch of innocent-ish people who were just trying to spread a warm, fuzzy idea, its maybe not a horrible plan. If the goal is to defeat the army, then its a pretty bad plan. Unless God will somehow cause each and every soldier who reads a tract to lay down arms and convert in which case its the best plan Jenkins has ever conceived.

    • As a rule of thumb, a plan that has “Divine miracle” as a crucial step is not a good plan. Now, the Left Behindies might have had an excuse in that they had a detailed, step by step guide of which Divine, and diabolical, miracles would happen in which order, including a fairly detailed time schedule. They still fail miserably as protagonists and human beings by being so uncaring about it all, or unwilling to try and do some good within the boundaries of the prophecy, but they at least have good grounds for expecting Jesus’ imminent return. But since the zealots are not working on any real prophecy here, it seems Darwin-awardish (you just know the Darwin awards in Atheistopia will have eclipsed the Oscar awards) for them to throw themselves into the blender under the motto of “Hey, the Bible says God once helped one guy survive something he shouldn’t have, maybe he’ll do it for us now.”

      Still, your question of what they want to achieve is an interesting one. From the quoted text, it’s not really clear to me. It sounds like their goal is to defeat the army, but the zealots come across as the Underpants Gnomes here with their “Step One: Spread flyers. Step Two: …… Step Three: Profit.” campaign. The best guess I can make is that they hope to spread the story of how the army killed innocent Christians so the public opinion will be turned against the army. Which is stupid. These people were apparently all perfectly fine with the army killing a lot of zealots during the arrest. Are we now supposed to believe that those same people, after hearing an unverifiable message from the very same zealots who are still the prime targets of the operation that the zealots really all innocent little lambs, will do a 180 and storm the army base? If that actually works, I can only imagine how easy it must be to be a defense lawyer in Atheistopia. You just need to give your opening statement,and the Jury will go “Hey, the prosecution said this man committed a crime, but he claims he’s innocent. Those filthy lying prosecuters!”

      Plus, it’d be pretty weird that in a Jenkins novel, that after decades of atheist theocracy reigning unchallenged, the government and army still have to obey the will of the people, and not just put the jackboot in. Quite a long way from LaHaye’s Apocalypse novels, where one term from Obama and one from the imaginary liberal president was already enough to turn the U.S. into a U.N. controled puppet state.

  18. As a rule of thumb, a plan that has “Divine miracle” as a crucial step is not a good plan.

    Now that I think about it, even the goal of spreading leaflets so God can magically transform the dangerous army into willing converts doesn’t make sense since in Jenkins stories Jesus isn’t so much Savior as Punisher. On the other hand, leaflets from the sky right before God smotes like a smotin’ fool (in a free exchange of ideas kind of way) might win you a few converts.

  19. I thought of a song to go along with this (thanks Falconer for the inspiration):
    (to the tune of “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler)

    We need a honky!
    We’re holding out for a honky till the end of the night!
    He’s gotta be pasty, he’s gotta be pale,
    And above all he’s gotta be white,
    Gotta be white.

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