Soon: Chapter 34: The Manifesto and Jae

Carl’s manifesto is a marvel of idiocy and threats, the flailing of a desperate, wounded animal.

I am SO ticked that this horrible plan is going to work.

This thing…it’s just…

Okay, here we go:

Paul read Carl’s daring manifesto over Barton’s shoulder.  It boldly stated that the Christian men and women of greater Los Angeles were praying that God would dry up the water supply…

I’ve asked this before: is it really all that daring and/or bold to ask God to be your thug?

Here’s the BOLD manifesto itself:

We know that the fervent prayer of the righteous avails much, and if the killing of the innocents does not immediately cease, we’re trusting God to answer this prayer and send this judgment on our tormentors.

Well, on our tormentors and on everyone else, since we are praying that the water will go away from everyone, not just the army and the NPO.

If the army does not immediately withdraw and leave us to worship in peace, we believe this will come to pass.

What, EXACTLY, does Carl expect the average atheist on the street to do about this threat?  I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t really have the power to stop the army from doing jack shit.

When it happens—and it will happen—you will know God has acted.

Can’t really imagine any atheist in Atheistopia NOT laughing at this part.  At this point, Carl has all the emotional maturity of a five-year-old.

“Oh, it’ll happen.  MY DAD SAID SO.”

To prevent it, we call on all affected citizens to rise up and force the powers that be to change their cruel and unjust laws against people of faith.

“Okay, atheists, you hereby have twelve hours to force world-altering social and legal change on a global scale, or we’ll kill you all.  Good luck—we know you’ll all accept this as the fair bargain it is.”

“This is great,” Barton said.  “I wouldn’t change a word.  Get this onto the Internet to all the groups we know and urge them to pass it on to everyone they can.  We’ll be laughed at and ridiculed, but God will act; then the laughing—and the killing—will stop.”

“Or, God won’t do it and the laughing will continue.  Or God will do it, and it’ll just piss off the atheists even more and the killing will continue.  So, I suppose there are several possible scenarios…”

Also, does it seem to anyone else that Barton is more concerned about the laughing than the killing?  I mean, sure, HE had an angel hanging out there, just waiting to save his life, but Specs wasn’t so lucky…

So, off they go to post the manifesto on their blogs or something.  Paul, worried that Ranold will be “annoyed,” heads back to Tiny’s.

(I keep typing “Tony” and having to correct myself…)

On the drive back, Paul prays:

“And thank You too for giving me the idea of how You can show Yourself to the people of Sunterra.”

“Thank you, God, for once again making it all about me.”

(Also, capitalizing all the Ys makes that sentence look really weird, but I’m just going with Jenkins, here.)

SUDDENLY OMG JAE CALLS PAUL ON HIS SKULL PHONE

Jae!  You remember her?  Paul’s estranged wife, who left his sorry, lying ass when he cheated on her for the eighty-seventh consecutive time, except that it was the one time he hadn’t TECHNICALLY cheated, so it was all her fault???

Yeah, her.

Anyway, she left the kids in the care of their grandma, and flew out to L.A.. and now she wants Paul to come and get her.

DAMMIT, WOMAN, CAN YOU NOT JUST GIVE PAUL A MOMENT’S PEACE?

Honestly, it is just one thing after another with Jae.  Oooo, pick me up at the airport, spend time with your children, don’t cheat on me for eight straight years.

Typical nagging, demanding woman.

She held him fiercely and kissed him deeply.  “I don’t ever want to be apart from you again, Paul.”

…ten minutes later…

What about my father’s letter?  Did you take it?  Paul strained to detect anything unusual in Jae’s tone.  What is this visit about?

I kinda love Paul’s suspicion.  It’s almost as though he’s acknowledging that there is absolutely no reason on Earth for Jae to tolerate his presence even for a moment.

She took both his hands in hers.  “Paul, I am so sorry.  I didn’t trust you.  I was convinced you were cheating on me.”

“I wasn’t.”

Liar.  You had every damn intention of sleeping with Angela from the moment you met her, and you still consider working it out with Jae to be a chore, so don’t give me that crap, Paul.  You ass.

“I was tormented by that letter from Angela.  I couldn’t believe it was innocent–not after the last time.”

“And the time before that.  And the time before that.  And then the one before that.  And the other sixty-eight times before that…”

“FINE, Jae.  Get back to the apologizing to me.”

“Still, I didn’t really want to leave you.  If I had, I would have filed for divorce, not just moved to D.C.”

“That’s what I kept telling myself.”

Stockholm Syndrome.  Always tragic.

“I knew Angela Pass Barger had to be Andy Pass’s daughter. … I knew the NPO had taken pictures at the funeral, so I begged Daddy to get me one.”

“And he did?  That’s way out of line.”

Oh, so now it’s RANOLD’S fault you wanted to bang Angela?  Stay classy, Paul.

“When I saw how young and beautiful and vivacious she was, I thought our marriage was over.”

What, so did Jae keep track on all the dozens of other woman Paul’s slept with, and turns out they were all old, ugly, and dull?

“And then she was with you on TV after that Las Vegas bust.”

“This is all circumstantial, Jae.”

“Even though I was plotting and planning to bed her for months, this is all just silliness in your silly woman head, Jae.”

So get this.  Jae flew to Las Vegas to confront Angela.  (I guess because it was all her fault, because we certainly know it wasn’t Paul’s fault, right?)  She didn’t find Angela, but she did find some woman who told her that Angela was working with prostitutes.

Then it just gets damn confusing:

“I figured you met her at the funeral and realized she could be a great source.  Even if she wasn’t a zealot herself, she might know her father’s associates.”

Um, okay.  FINE.  I guess…

“For the sake of the kids, can we put the past six months behind us?  Can we try to make each other happy again?”

Isn’t that more asking to put the past EIGHT YEARS behind them?  Just sayin’.

“Jae, that would mean the world to me.”

Liar.

But Paul couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a little too tidy.

“I’m just…just not used to my wife not justifiably hating me.  Does…not…compute…”

I just want to smack Paul several times, and then quote Penny from The Big Bang Theory:

“All right, Howard Wolowitz, listen up!  You sign anything she puts in front of you. Because you are the luckiest man alive.  If you let her go there is no way you can find anyone else. Speaking on behalf of all women, it’s not going to happen—we had a meeting.”

-“The Vacation Solution,” The Big Bang Theory

And that’s being kind to Paul.  Because Howard, despite his faults and foibles and quirks, is actually a good man who loves his wife.

Paul could take a page or twenty from Howard’s book.

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Posted on March 3, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I’m flashing back to those advertisements for exercise machines they used to have in comics. “Kick sand in that bully’s face… with JESUS POWER!”

    What we have here, I think, is a case of unexamined asymmetric warfare. A traditional terrorist or rebel group usually goes after a civilian population because it cannot effectively strike at its actual target – simply walking up and starting to shoot at the Army or the President doesn’t get you very far, so you make things worse for the people and they’ll eventually come round to your side. (Or at least you make attacking you so expensive that the paymasters give it up as a bad job.)

    But the Christians here aren’t in that situation. They could pray for just their oppressors to be struck down! (And that would be just as clearly God acting.) They’re attacking civilians – people who by their own philosophy they hope one day to be able to recruit – purely because they can.

    Actually I think what we’re meant to read here is God tossing a bone to His faithful – Paul has pressed the lever of total submission to God, so now he’s rewarded with a food pellet. The feelings of the food pellet are not important.

    (Meta-Jae is probably still in Las Vegas.)

  2. “To prevent it, we call on all affected citizens to rise up and force the powers that be to change their cruel and unjust laws against people of faith.”

    Because we, despite knowing we’re all going to heaven when we’re killed, are too afraid to march upon the murderous army unarmed. But you guys who don’t believe you go to paradise (and in fact are going to hell, and we know you know that but you’re so feverishly denying it) should do so for our sake. I mean, if you don’t you’ll all die of dehydration. So hey, if you’re going to die anyway, isn’t it better to die on our behalf?

    “And thank You too for giving me the idea of how You can show Yourself to the people of Sunterra.”

    Yes, thank you so much for giving me the idea of what you can do yourself, but you couldn’t just do it because….. Because the almighty God’s hands are completely tied if no-one ASKS him to perform a miracle. He first needs to brainwash one of his followers into asking him to perform Divine acts. Does that mean the earthquake and burning oilwells and silver-transmutation were also prayed for? Well, it could, there were RTCs involved in all incidents, and in two cases those RTCs were being threatened (the woman and the people in the house). If that’s true, then the Atheistapo is officially justified in their extermination practices: God can apparently kill an entire city and will do so IF a group of his followers pray for it to happen. Ergo, murdering all his followers is a matter of national security. Okay Jenkins, it took a whole book, but you talked me into it. Where can I pick up my Atheistapo-badge?

    Really, this manifesto even proves it to everyone else: They announced they asked for a mass-starvation of the city, and now it will happen. Most likely scenario? After a day or two people will agree, give full rights to all the worshippers and offer them a chance to build open churches… and once they do and the people of LA know all their names, they lynch every last one of them to prevent them from ever threatening them again.

    “This is all circumstantial, Jae.”

    Yeah, forget giving an explanation or asking for forgiveness. Nothing proves your innocence like claiming that all the evidence she just gave you is circumstantial, the battle cry of the smug villain when the honest policemen voice their suspicions to him. This isn’t a fucking court room Paul. The question isn’t if she can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were cheating. The question is if she can trust you.

    “I figured you met her at the funeral and realized she could be a great source. Even if she wasn’t a zealot herself, she might know her father’s associates.”

    Will you look at that, Jae is a better agent than Paul was even when he was still playing for the Atheistapo-team. Why didn’t SHE become an agent in her father’s footsteps? You know the evil Atheistopian government would urge womenfolk to abbandon their children to liberal schools and day cares to have careers of their own.

  3. When it happens–and it will happen–you will know God has acted.

    Wait, wait, wait… So, in this story, the Christians are playing the part of Jonah? “Repent or The Big Guy will destroy your city! Trust me, when it happens – and it will, cause there’s just no way you’re going to repent – you’ll know it’s the will of The Dude!” Followed shortly by “Wait – you’re going to let them off just because they took your get-out-of-destruction option? But! But I told them the city’d be destroyed!”

    I don’t understand how this author can fail to see that smug “If the Army doesn’t stop, He will strike! And trust us, He. Will. Strike.” as a serious failing on the part of this entire group.

    And does *no one* in this network respond with a “let’s think about this, guys”? Do they *all* respond with “oooh, yeah, He’ll Show Them this time!”

  4. You would think a group most commonly associated with right wing ideology would be familiar with the phrase “we do not negotiate with terrorists”. Because that’s what they want God to be, a terrorist. Someone who tries to force political change by attacking and scaring the civilian population.

    • According to right-wing ideologues ‘terrorist’ = ‘brown person’.

      We do not negotiate with brown people.

      Does that clear things up?

  5. You would think a group most commonly associated with right wing ideology would be familiar with the phrase “we do not negotiate with terrorists”. Because that’s what they want God to be, a terrorist. Someone who tries to force political change by attacking and scaring the civilian population.

    OH, no, no… The Christians here aren’t terrorists just because they want to change an entire society that rejected their ideology for being a cause of irrational violence. Noooo. The society is engaging in terrorism against Christians, for using force to suppress them. I mean, the way this army is reacting, you might think these Christians were breaking laws or something! When all they’re doing is trying to spread their message in contravention of a law that was never really supposed to apply to *true* religion, only to all those other fake religions.

    Everybody would be happy if the army would just leave off persecuting these poor Christians, quietly minding their own business (of gathering in large groups to practice their religion, loudly proselytizing, and conspiring to cut off the water to a large city), and go hunt down those secret Buddhists and Jews who are following non-Christian rituals in the privacy of their own homes. Maybe make sure that no one who is (illegally?) smoking pot is doing it because they’re Rastafarians.

  6. Oh man, my gleeful laughing at this manifesto is balanced out by how much I hate Paul. He really is measurably more loathsome than any other Jenkins hero, including the Big Two, Rayford and Buck. The fact that reality, and Jae, both seem to agree with Paul with his ‘both sides do it but really you’re a shrew but hey baby, i still love ya, make me a sandwich’ only makes this so much worse.

    Once again I can’t help but wonder if Jenkins is merely psychotic or if he really does recognize the shit he writes is horrible, and does it intentionally. I mean, this theme of having a complete scumbag for a protagonist, who doesn’t get any better at all after he converts to Real True Christianity, is just so consistent in his ‘body’ of ‘work’.

  7. *stunned*

    I continue to be amazed at how this book seems to be basically a child’s fantasy writ large. The focus character does bad things to people, but just like a five-year-old kid who hasn’t quite learned yet that the world doesn’t go around him or her, Paul’s managed to basically make it all about him: instead of having to deal with the consequences of his years of cheating on Jae, she comes back to him! Instead of facing a suspicious Bia and Ranold, Paul gets to slither out of their grasp as he proposes these infantile SMASH ALL THE BADDIES prayers and manifestos.

    This book makes sense if you see it through the lens of writer writing for self-centered male RTCs who want their egos stroked.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I continue to be amazed at how this book seems to be basically a child’s fantasy writ large.

      That’s actually pretty common in the Christianese genres. Escape Fantasy (Rapture), Revenge Fantasy (Tribulation/Spiritual Warfare), or just Wish Fulfillment (scientists finding Genesis 1 encrypted in the human genome, thus Proving Young Earth Creationism/Intelligent Design).

      There’s a reason why all the Christian SF & Fantasy writers acknowledged as The Greats (Tolkien, Lewis, Cordwainer Smith, Tim Powers) all come out of Western-Rite Liturgical Churches, not repeat not the Born Again Bible Believing True Remnant.

      • or just Wish Fulfillment (scientists finding Genesis 1 encrypted in the human genome, thus Proving Young Earth Creationism/Intelligent Design).

        That an actually existing example? If it is: Oh, Ruby…

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          It is. Source was the Christian magazine World, from a lunchroom table where I work years ago. It was the issue for some round-number anniversary of Roe v Wade, and they had about half-a-dozen flashfics set in the future, on the 100th Anniversary of Roe v Wade.

          Now I approach Christianese attempts at SF as if watching a train wreck; especially when said attempts are written by writers without any experience at actual SF (and usually disdain for it as Unbiblical or Heathen). While not a train wreck per se, the flashfics were all pretty ho-hum. However, one stood out.

          It was a celebration of the repeal of Roe v Wade and all Evolutionary theory, because the Human Genome Project had found God’s signature (Genesis 1?) encrypted in ALL human DNA (and all DNA of every life form on Earth) — irrevocable perfect proof that Young Earth Creationism and The Bible were TRUE.

          It reminded me nothing so much as a bad Furry fanfic — the wish-fulfillment fantasy type where “Everybody on Earth woke up one morning to find we were ALL morphed into FURRIES — YIFF YIFF YIFF YIFF YIFF!”

          • I suppose it’s too much to hope that the author put a nanosecond of work in understanding the human genome and/or coding and had either an explanation or some technobabble that showed how exactly Gods word was written as AGGCATAAGATCAGCCT

          • Two bits of information per codon, so four codons per 8-bit character – the Bible’s original English [sic] character set will actually fit in 5 bits, but 8-bit is neater.

            There’s plenty of space – 98% of DNA is noncoding, so you’re looking at around half a gigabyte altogether, and the whole of the Authorized Version fits in around four megabytes.

          • I agree that you could use the codon as bits to encode it. But then how do you get the text from those bits? Did god use Unicode, or do you have to plug that interpeter yourself? Cause it would be really easy to reverse engineer an interpeter to read back any message you want from a given list of bits, especially if that list is several gigabytes long and you only need a single Bible verse or message on the lines of ‘God was here’.

            On the other hand, if you can give a single, straightforward translation (say any 3 codons are one character, perhaps with several combinations being the same character like the ‘e’ or the whitespace) and manage to reproduce the entire Bible in a single continious string of DNA, that’d be impressive. But where would such a sequence be located, that it is the same, with no mutations, across every individual of every species on the planet? Can you find such a long string of DNA? This is something the writer could make a point of telling. He could show he actually gives a crap about the subject, and has really thought about how it might contain a divine message.

            I’m betting that’s not what happened though. Probably, it’s every bit as fanfic-y as Jenkins writing, not caring about the actual world but just daydreaming on how cool it would be if the real world suddenly dropped proof of your beliefs in your lap. And more importantly, in the laps of all those heathens, cause you already knew of course. Still, I guess “Imagine if all those unbelievers found unrefutable proof that God exists” is a better fantasy than “Imagine if all those unbelievers found unrefutable proof that God exists when he rains down fire upon their houses and damns their ashes to hell”.

          • I absolutely agree with your arguments; I’m just using this as a mind game.

            God would of course use ASCII (it’s the AMERICAN Standard Code for Information Interchange, after all – oh dear I didn’t need to look that up), so let’s say four codons per 8-bit character. I don’t think there’s any DNA sequence that’s common to all life (bearing in mind viruses and extremophiles and such like); I was assuming something hidden in the specifically human pattern. (Though actually there’s not a great deal that’s in humans and in nothing else – you might well be restricted to a relatively short message.)

            Alternate messages: “Help, I am trapped in a biology lab.” “Took you long enough.” “1.6180339887498948482…”

          • I’m just reminded of people who claimed that, using a similar obscure translation algorithm, you could decode secret messages about recent historical events from the Bible. The response was that researchers used similar codes to get equally valid messages from Mobi Dick. If the message is short enough, the source code is long enough, and the coding you pick can be weird enough, you can basically get any message you want.

          • @Ivan: Strikes me as a Christianized version of the Trek episode “The Chase”. Even so that final speech by the progenitor? Spine-tingling! Would any of these Christian-SF have gotten close? I doubt it.

            ( For reference: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Chase_%28episode%29 )

          • @Ivan: Oh, and the code thing? Yeah, Michael Drosnin, Bible Code dude.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Probably, it’s every bit as fanfic-y as Jenkins writing, not caring about the actual world but just daydreaming on how cool it would be if the real world suddenly dropped proof of your beliefs in your lap. And more importantly, in the laps of all those heathens, cause you already knew of course.

            A friend of mine said once that a lot of RTCs seem to be obsessed with that. Finding some Absolute Proof of God (“As if God had nothing to do except exist!” — C.S.Lewis, “The Great Divorce”) that they could rub in all those Heathens’ faces & go “SEE? SEE? SEE?” Why do you think there’s such periodic interest in Finding Noah’s Ark?

            I think God has a good reason why “Homey don’ play dat game.” Could you imagine how smug and nasty RTCs would be if they actually found something like that? It’s like when someone said that the End of the World would NOT go down like in the End Time Prophecy charts — “Can you imagine the guy whose End Time Predictions DID come true? Guy would be insufferable for all eternity.”

    • Pretty much!

      We’ll be laughed at and ridiculed, but God will act; then the laughing–and the killing–will stop.”

      “Then we’ll show them! We’ll show them ALL! Who’s laughing now Grimsby?! AH HAH HAH HAH HAH!”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        “SEE? SEE? I WAS RIGHT! SEE? SEE? YOU’RE ALL WRONG!!! SEE? SEE? HAVE FUN IN HELL! HAW! HAW! HAW!!!”

  8. Of course Paul isn’t responsible. ‘Cause, you see, men have “urges”. You wouldn’t understand, Ruby, because you’re a woman and women don’t have “urges”. And you can trust me to know this because I’m a man and therefore have a superior understanding of everything, especially being a woman. I mean, who else are you going to ask about being a woman? A woman? Pfft!

  9. The one acceptable thing about the manifesto is that its bottom-line demand, that the laws be changed to legalize religious belief, is reasonable. Everything else is just awful.

    “This is great,” Barton said. “I wouldn’t change a word.”

    It’s classy when an author pats himself on the back by using one of his fictional characters to praise another of his character’s writing skill. I’m surprised Barton didn’t go on to say Carl has the chops to become one of the most compelling and well-loved religious thriller authors of his day.

    Could be worse, I guess. At least the manifesto didn’t start with “To say the government persecutes Christians is like saying the Great Wall of China is long.”

    Followed shortly by “Wait – you’re going to let them off just because they took your get-out-of-destruction option? But! But I told them the city’d be destroyed!”

    This is fantastic. I would love it if this book ended with God making Paul go sit under a tree and think about what a dick he is.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      It’s classy when an author pats himself on the back by using one of his fictional characters to praise another of his character’s writing skill.

      “Who Is John Galt?”

      I’m surprised Barton didn’t go on to say Carl has the chops to become one of the most compelling and well-loved religious thriller authors of his day.

      Never mind John Galt, Who Is Cameron “Buck” Williams?

  10. This is fantastic. I would love it if this book ended with God making Paul go sit under a tree and think about what a dick he is.

    It’s too bad the process of conversion didn’t involve some time sitting under a tree thinking about the ways he has harmed people – intentionally, through carelessness, or indirectly. And then thinking about the ways he needs to change his behavior, not so much to make amends as to reduce the chances that he will carelessly harm others in the future.

    But that would have been a very different story.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Funny… I don’t recall Saints Peter or Paul issuing Manifestos or calling upon God to smite everyone in the Roman Empire in the entire Book of Acts or Epistles. Are you sure this is a retelling of the story of St Paul/Book of Acts?

    • Are you sure this is a retelling of the story of St Paul/Book of Acts?

      I suspect the author meant it to be the modern, *improved* retelling.

  12. Paul-as-Jonah would be a much better story than Paul-as-Saul.

    Anyone else hope Jae’s here because she called her father and said, “I know you suspect my no-good cheating soon-to-be-ex-husband of religious terrorism. I think I know how I can help you bring him down— he never could resist a doe-eyed face and some flattery. Are you interested in my help?”

    • Given that perfect manly man Paul voices his suspicion, it does sound like some blatant foreshadowing to that. That’d be a cool move on Jae’s part, even though it’ll be ruined when she converts for realsy in book 2. But still, points for Jae while it lasts.

      If it DOESN’T happen, then I hate Jenkins even more. Because that would mean he wrote a scene of a two-timing, no-good, spitefull husband and the betrayed wife who left him comes crying back because she can’t be without him, and not only does he not ask for forgiveness but instead tells half-truths at best about why all her suspicions are baseless, but he also has the gall of thinking “That was too easy, that bitch must be up to something”. And we’re still supposed to root for him. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I hope Jenkins clumsey foreshadowing pays of and the atheist with a grudge is totally convinced by manly RTC Paul.

  13. As far as I’m concerned, Barton’s been confirmed as an Athiestapo plant. He’s so happy because he realizes that he doesn’t have to try to talk the group into releasing propaganda that will turn public opinion even more against them, because they’ve done such a good job sabotaging themselves.

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