TSoA: Chapter 12: Levi Helps

This chapter, we spend some time with Murphy and his bestest (well, only) pal, Levi Abrams, the former (or IS he???) Mossad agent.

As we learned in Babylon Rising, Murphy and Levi have a somewhat unusual friendship based on near-constant tests of manliness, by which I mean that they take turns punching each other in the gut, and whoever pukes first has to buy lunch.

I guess it’s a guy thing.

Levi catches Murphy after class, and we all know that Tim LaHaye never misses an opportunity to take a shot at those awful people who devote their lives to knowledge and education:

Levi sat down in one of the empty chairs in the lecture hall and watched as a handful of eager students plied Murphy with questions.  He was amazed at the patience of the man.  Most academics regarded the teaching of students as an annoying interruption of their own studies, but Murphy clearly cared about his students as much as he cared about archaeology.

Yep, he cares about them so much that he blows off classes for weeks at a time to go gallivanting off around the world looking for the bronze serpent or Noah’s ark.

They head off to the gym, and Bob Phillips lets us in on Murphy’s workout routine, so pay attention, everyone!

At the gym, Levi and Murphy warmed up with stretching exercises to ensure no pulled muscles.

Okay, I’ll admit I’m no gym rat, but I was a competitive athlete in college, and I was always told not to stretch cold muscles, that it was much more important to stretch after the workout than before.

Then they both dropped into a “horse stance” and held that position while throwing five hundred right and left reverse punches.

Ah yes…the reverse punch.

This is Bob Phillips favorite move.  Reverse punches make no appearance in Babylon Rising, but they are over the other three books in this series.  Murphy uses them, Talon uses them, THEY HAPPEN ALL THE TIME.

I am honestly not sure why a reverse punch is so much more awesome than a regular punch, but I am willing to be enlightened.

Then Levi teaches Murphy “a kata that has twenty-seven moves to it.  It is called Heian Yodan.  It was taught by Gichin Funakoshi, the master at Karate-do.”

Okay, I have no idea what that means, but Murphy seems excited, so they do that for awhile.

Then, having proven they are MEN by getting sweaty and half-naked with each other, Levi decides to talk about feelings:

“I got a call from Bob Wagoner last week.  He was concerned about how you were dealing with the loss of Laura.”

You know, I would say that it’s weird of Pastor Bob to call Levi Abrams to get him to talk to Murphy, especially since Jewish Levi is unlikely to tell Murphy to turn to Jesus for help, but then I realized that it fits Bob’s usual pattern of pawning off his duties on others so he has more time to golf.

Murphy talks about his grief and attempts to move on for exactly twelve seconds (I timed myself reading it), but it all comes back to Talon.  And Levi, because of his super sekrit squirrel connections, knows all about the break-in at the Foundation.

“Don’t worry,” said Levi.  “I believe Talon got what he was looking for.  He won’t be coming back.”

Oh yeah, that makes total sense, Levi.  You know when else everyone probably thought that?  THE LAST TIME TALON BROKE INTO THE FOUNDATION USING BIRDS AND STOLE A SECRET ARTIFACT.

But this all leads to the really REAL reason why Murphy is psyched to see Levi: he wants Levi’s help to organize his expedition to Mount Ararat to find the ark during the school year.  Because Murphy cares about his students so very much.

“We would need you (Levi) to train us for all the kinds of problems we might encounter [on Mount Ararat].”

Yes, because the first call I make before I go mountaineering is always to the Mossad.

Murphy’s next step is to head to CIA headquarters.  He figures they have information about the ark that they’re just waiting to hand over to someone just like him.

“I don’t mind rattling a few cages in the government.”

Oh Murphy, you bad-ass rebel, you!

“If we can find the ark, it would be the greatest blow that could be struck against the theory of evolution.”

I mean EVIL-ution.

Levi lets this go by without comment, because he wants to warn Murphy about another danger he may encounter in his rebellious adventures:

Spooks.

NO, NOT THAT KIND!

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Posted on August 19, 2012, in Babylon Rising, Books, The Secret on Ararat. Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. I can explain the martial arts stuff. A kata is a ritualized series of movements, often made up of punching and kicking the air. Kata certainly are good exercise, but there’s controversy about how useful they are in actual combat given how choreographed they are. Heian Yodan is a specific kata that means “tranquil four steps”. Gichin Funakoshi was an Okinawan karate master who popularized karate in Japan (it was considered foreign to Japan for a long time). Karate-do is Japanese for “the path of karate” (I don’t know why Phillips couldn’t just say “karate”). This reminds me of some weird Christian website I saw long ago that protested Christians learning Oriental martial arts because all of them had philosophies about cultivating an inner power, which was clearly un-Christian because only God can give you power, never yourself. I suppose even LaHaye isn’t quite that intolerant.

    I don’t even remember reading this chapter. I would have thought that this would have left some kind of impression on me, but I suppose Phillips is a terrible writer.

    • As we’ve seen, the writers are okay with bending their views when it gives them a chance to make their character look like more of a badass. See also their attitudes on compassion and charity.

    • To my unschooled ears, a westerner who says “karate-do” sounds like he knows the Real Correct Japanese term on account of studying with Real Japanese Experts. Or, you know, he’s a pretentious douche. Maybe both.

  2. Soo… Murphy believes the CIA has secret information on the Ark on file, and he thinks that he just has to ask nicely forcefully and they’ll just cough it up. The former is silly, but combined with the latter it becomes that ‘holy shit what are they thinking’-brand of stupidity. If they have info on the ark, and they aren’t a subsidary of the evil secular elite, why wouldn’t they have made it public already?

    • Sadly, it’s not even that rare a fundy trope. The movie Jerusalem Countdown (which also has the whammy of an Israel-hating allegiance of Russia and Iran…because that makes sense) has the plot of a whole CIA wing dedicated to using “Biblical prophecies” to prepare for aforementioned Russo-Irani villainry.

      • It does sort of make sense – if you start from the premise that RTCism is Real and True, and every good guy is an RTC (and vice versa)… well, obviously all the Good Guys in government (excuse me while I giggle at the idea of the CIA as good guys) will be using RTC techniques because those are the only ones that work!

      • Sadly, it’s not even that rare a fundy trope. The movie Jerusalem Countdown (which also has the whammy of an Israel-hating allegiance of Russia and Iran…because that makes sense) has the plot of a whole CIA wing dedicated to using “Biblical prophecies” to prepare for aforementioned Russo-Irani villainry.

        As in, someone high up in the CIA watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and went “wow, I should hire this guy!” ?!!!

      • Russia and IRAN? That’s absurd. The Bible clearly foretells that the true threat will be an alliance between Russia and Ethiopia.

  3. I guess whoever didn’t puke first still isn’t going to want a lot of lunch. Great way to save a few bucks!

    When I’ve been doing serious exercise I’ve been told that warm-ups and cool-downs are both important – but not particularly stretching-related, more just getting the body into and out of high metabolic rate.

    The reverse punch is a big thing in karate, and has the slight advantage that you’re effectively swinging the whole arm rather than just the upper arm – which also makes it easier to put other muscles into the blow. What Rabukurafuto said about kata, though; the seriously fighty guys I know reckon they’re nice for exercises if you’re learning a pure form, but if you’re planning to get into real combat that’s the last thing you want.

    I picture the sign:

    CIA Headquarters
    Langley
    Biblical Secrets Sale – Buy One, Get One Free

    (Mind you, I also picture Ruby sitting with a stopwatch measuring out Murphy’s “grief”.)

  4. After I watched that karate video, I now see Murphy putting on his special “blue steel” look while he goes through his exercises

  5. inquisitiveraven

    On the warming up with stretches thing: That’s the way we did it when I was in high school…in the 1970’s. It was a few years after that that research showed that stretching while cold was a bad idea. I bet LaHaye and Phillips never got the memo.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Well, that does add evidence to the theory that LaHaye and his ghostwriters are somehow stuck in the 1970s. (Remember the Futuristic Cities in Soon? The Solarbronze Glass Box-look Arcologies that reflected the trends of the Seventies and were THE image of The Future back then?)

      Come to think of it, the Seventies were when I got involved in (and messed-up by) an end-of-the-world cult, “Gospel According to Hal Lindsay” version. At the time, the going idea was “End Time Prophecy is being Fullfilled in every hews headline! We might not have a 1978!!! Or even a 1977!!!!!” Maybe the world DID end to LaHaye & Co back then, and after The End there can be no more change?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Oh shit. Just realized. This is too good…

        Anyone here remember a short-lived TV paranormal-sitcom from the Eighties called “Eerie, Indiana”? Well, the pilot episode (“Foreverware”) was about some paranormal/magical Tupperware that stopped time for whatever was sealed inside. Including yourself if you slept sealed in it, at which point you would “freeze” in age, appearance, and attitude at the time you started.

        The episode is on YouTube at

        . After watching it, consider this hypothesis:

        Maybe LaHaye, his ghostwriters, and a lot of RTCs crawled into “Just like Foreverware, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” bed-coffins from the Fifties through the Seventies and have been sleeping in them ever since?

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy

    As we learned in Babylon Rising, Murphy and Levi have a somewhat unusual friendship based on near-constant tests of manliness, by which I mean that they take turns punching each other in the gut, and whoever pukes first has to buy lunch.

    Now THAT sounds like two dumb jocks in a perpetual dick-swinging contest.
    High school jocks.
    As in “WHO IS MORE MANLY?”

    • It’s like we’re reading the grown-up adventures of Beavis and Butt-head.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        More like “Just like Beavis & Butthead, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

        Remember this is a LaHaye production, and in LB LaHaye’s Author Self-Insert was so Manly his handshake always crushed the other’s hand.

  7. Finding the Ark (that is, finding the remains of an extremely large-boat shaped object) wouldn’t do a single thing to the theory of evolution. All that would mean is that they’d found the remains of an extremely-large boat shaped object. Sure, it corresponds to the Ark legend, and a lot of other flood myths, but a giant boat boat proves nothing about the development of life on Earth. You haven’t even proven there was a flood for it to float on.All you have is a lot of old wood.

    Biblical literalists are weird. If you stop believing one thing in Genesis you’re no better than an atheist, but if you prove one thing in Genesis right suddenly the rest is automatically true.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      You haven’t read what I have, Seiberwing.

      Some years ago, the Christian magazine World used to show up in the break room at my shop. One issue was the “50th Anniversary of Roe v Wade” issue, which included a series of short flashfics about “What the 100th Anniversary of Roe v Wade would be like”. Most were near-future persecution dystopias, neither here nor there, obviously written by someone completely unfamiliar with the tropes and conventions of near-future SF, but one stood out as bad fanfic. (And after 20 years in Furry Fandom and two years a Brony, I have seen a lot of bad fanfic.)

      It was a fic about how Roe v Wade had been overturned completely after the Human Genome project had PROVED Intelligent Design — something like God’s Word (Genesis 1?) found encrypted in the DNA sequence, thus Absolutely PROVING Evolution to be FALSE and the Bible to be TRUE.

      Remember, I’m reading this from the POV of 10-15 years of bad Furry fanfic experience. This was fanservice wish-fulfillment on the order of “One day everybody woke up and found we’d all morphed into FURRIES overnight! YIFF YIFF YIFF YIFF YIFF YIFF YIFF YIFF!!!”

      • It was a fic about how Roe v Wade had been overturned completely after the Human Genome project had PROVED Intelligent Design — something like God’s Word (Genesis 1?) found encrypted in the DNA sequence, thus Absolutely PROVING Evolution to be FALSE and the Bible to be TRUE.

        What? But…That’s not how storing data in alternative formats works! It is possible to take any finite sequence of symbols and convert them to any other finite sequence, provided you perform enough transformations on them and use the right rules. “AAA” can become “111”, or “123”, or “QRSVJSFLDSAFJKFSDASFDA”, depending on what rules you’re using to “translate” it.

        So, take the human genome: You’ve got trillions of ACGTs. You could just “cheat” and say “The first character translates to “In”, the second to “the”, etc. all the way through, If you don’t want to cheat that badly, though, it should still be trivial to find some system that will translate human DNA to a given text.

        An excellent example comes from Godel, Escher, Bach, where mention is made of a jukebox. It has one record, but thousands of different record players. Each player reads the same information from the record, but does different things with it (What one player reads as a C# whole-note is 3 D 8th notes to another, say), so that you end up with all the greatest hits of the last century encoded on one record.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          Like I said, wish-fulfillment fanfic. I’ve had plenty of it inflicted on me during my time in various fandoms. I recognize the signs.

      • I…but…what does that have to do with Roe v. Wade? Finding actual text from any work of literature encoded in DNA would have massive consequences and probably disprove evolution (though I have a feeling anyone claiming that would have to come up with some massive proof to show they’re not fucking around), but it wouldn’t have anything to do with abortion. Not objectively speaking.

        But then again, these are the people who bundle evolution, homosexuality, abortion, and global warming into a single package and say agreeing with any of them means you’re not a Christian.

        • Nah, if you found DNA-encoded text that would just tell you that that organism (or its ancestors) had been modified. If I build six different animals from scratch and turn them loose, there’ll still be evolution going on as they compete, breed and mutate…

  8. “Most academics regarded the teaching of students as an annoying interruption of their own studies” — WHAT?! WHAT?!?!. That . . . no. Just no. I . . . words fail me as to how offensive this sentence is, and how wrong. Holy God. I need a moment.

    Besides which, Murphy DOESN’T care about his students! He cares about his own projects first, and seizing every chance to witness to the students second, but the students themselves don’t matter unless they kowtow to his opinions.

    >(

    “You know, I would say that it’s weird of Pastor Bob to call Levi Abrams to get him to talk to Murphy, especially since Jewish Levi is unlikely to tell Murphy to turn to Jesus for help, but then I realized that it fits Bob’s usual pattern of pawning off his duties on others so he has more time to golf.” — or it’s because Murphy is the center of this universe and other characters (with the occasional exception of Isis) literally just cannot think of anything except him

    • Oh, but don’t you see, he DOES care. He cares so much for them that he wants to convert them all the RTCism. Which is vastly more important that that fancy shmancy diploma that they and/or their parrents pay through the nose for. I mean, is there anything more important than not being tortured for eternity? I think not! That’s why he spends most of his time on the other side of the globe finding proof for them, and is spending every minute in the university giving them assignments to find proof for him. That he’ll fail every student who hands in an essay saying they didn’t find any conclusive proof the flood took place just proves how much he cares. He’s trying to make sure they pass that final high-stakes test in front of Jesus’ throne.

      • Sorry, clarification needed. Murphy doesn’t care about his students as *people*; he cares about them as opportunities to get more notches on his Belt of Conversion. The students he doesn’t convert he will gleefully point and laugh at as they scream in eternal torment of hellfire.

        If he cared about the nonconverts as people, he would mourn rather than revel in schadenfreude. But that’s LaHaye et al for you.

      • Yeah, that was my point too. And it’s rather infuriating. This type of RTC will nag about what a filthy sinner you are and how you need to agree with him on everything, and if this displeases you they whine that you’re being ungrateful and mean to them while they are only doing it to help you.

    • “Most academics regarded the teaching of students as an annoying interruption of their own studies”

      To be fair, the environment in some universities, particularly the need to keep hauling in grant money, tends to bias professors to research over teaching even when their contracts stipulate a certain minimum teaching load.

  9. So anyone want to take a bet on this being Chekhov’s Workout? As in, at some point, Murphy is going to have to use the kata to beat an atheist bad guy? (Like there’s any other types in this world-view….)

    I would say that’s the worst use of a kata ever. Unless it’s a gun kata from Equilibrium. Which would actually be kind of cool to see Grammaton Archaeologist Murphy bust out. If subversive. And totally not what LeHaye would intend.

  10. Murphy does seem to care about his students exactly as much as he cares about archaeology.

    Houdini died from being punched in the stomach. These characters are even stupider than I’d previously thought.

  11. My apologies for the necro; I just found this blog recently. Anyway, I have some experience with karate (a black belt in Shotokan), so I just couldn’t keep silent about some of the research failure here.

    It is impossible to throw a reverse punch from a horse stance (side stance). The “reverse” part refers to the fact that the punch is thrown from the opposite hand as the lead foot (i.e., right foot in front, left hand punches) Since there is no leading leg in a horse stance, as the practitioner’s legs are simply moved out to the sides to a width of approximately double shoulder width, a reverse punch is impossible. The man in Ruby’s video is demonstrating the reverse punch from a front stance.

    Also, so far as I know, there is no Heian Yodan kata. There are five Heian katas: Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan, and Godan. (Roughly, Heian 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) Even if there were a Yodan, the Heian katas are the first ones that most karate practitioners will learn. They make look impressive to people who don’t know karate, but they’re not that technically challenging to perform. Generally, all five Heian kata will be mastered by about green belt level.

    My martial arts pendantry aside, Ruby, I’ve been doing an archive trawl of your blog and really enjoying the critiques. Commenters (fellow commenters, now?) you add a great deal to my enjoyment of this site.

    Cheers everyone.

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