TSoA: Chapter 14: Strawman Intellectual

I think I’ve figured out why The Secret on Ararat is so much worse than Babylon Rising.

Aside from the ridiculousness of a real Noah’s ark and apart from the abysmal dialogue, I mean.

Babylon Rising, whatever its faults (and there were plenty) was trying to tell a story.  It was a story with a repellant theology and a Gary Stu hero, but it was a story nonetheless.

The Secret on Ararat is a manual.  Every chapter presents a situation that Tim LaHaye imagines a Real True Christian might encounter, and Michael Murphy shows the reader how to respond to that situation.  Have a friend with a rebellious teenager?  Just read Murphy’s response to Agent Baines.  Has some evil atheist or liberal “Christian” scoffed at the idea of a literal ark?  Please refer to the list of Really Fer Real ark stories in Murphy’s lectures.

And now Murphy has a run-in with Dean Archer Fallworth, Strawman and object lesson in how to answer those annoying libruls with their librul notions of tolerance and teaching what you said you were going to teach.

We are quickly reminded of how inferior a man the academic, liberal Fallworth is, with his “wispy blonde hair” and “whitewashed face.”  Surely he is no match for Michael Murphy, Man’s Man and expert in “Karate-do.”

…Michael could feel a hand grabbing his shoulder and gripping hard.

It was a foolish and possibly dangerous thing to grab someone like Murphy from behind like that.  Hundreds of hours of martial-arts practice had honed his reactions to a razor’s edge, and the whole point of the exercise was that your body would counter a threat instinctively, before your conscious mind even knew the threat was there.

I imagine it would also be a “foolish and possibly dangerous thing” to roundhouse kick the dean of your department in the head.  But sadly, Murphy decides not to completely ruin his own life…

“You can be a hard man to track down, you know.  And I have better things to do than chase around the campus after one of my professors because he can’t stick to a timetable.” [said Fallworth]

Murphy smiled.  “Then why don’t you go do them?”

“Oh, and Fallworth, I’m rubber and you’re glue, so everything you say bounces off me and sticks on you, so NYAH!” added Murphy.

Fallworth’s pallor paled even further.  “Watch what you say, Murphy.  I think I’ve had just about enough of your disrespect.”

“But you just keep coming back for more, don’t you?” Murphy teased, almost beginning to enjoy himself.

Then Murphy grabbed Fallworth and gave him a wet willy and an Indian burn.  ‘Cause Fallworth was being a big dumb doodyhead.

Fallworth realized he was losing control of the situation.

FALLWORTH was losing control???  Yeah, because Fallworth is being so immature and unprofessional!

Our own awesome Dean Fallworth (he of the button article, which I still want to read) points out an agreement that he and Murphy apparently have, which is that Murphy will teach actual, yanno, history in his class, and present his beliefs only as beliefs.

Murphy makes the ridiculous claim that “many reputable scientists believe Noah’s Ark is on Mount Ararat.”  But even more intriguingly, he says that since Fallworth was not in class, he can have no idea of what went on.

Which just so happens to be true.  Which in turn tells me that some of Murphy’s students may not be so happy with this easy-A course as Murphy might think.  Remember, Murphy cancelled a lecture on how to map out a dig site so that he could wax on about the ark.  Then he lectured about the ark for a second class period, presumably displacing another topic that was actually on the syllabus.  Frankly, I’m not too surprised that a few students went to the dean.

Fallworth says nothing about this, presumably because he’s a professional and chooses to act like one.  Instead, he inexplicably brings up the separation of church and state, which has little to do with the subject at hand, but it’s what Tim LaHaye wants to teach his readers about today.

Murphy points out (correctly) that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not actually appear in the Constitution.  Fallworth points out (correctly) that Thomas Jefferson said it.

Murphy then points out (again, correctly) that Jefferson wrote it in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.  Being a good little RTC, Murphy naturally interprets the wall of separation as only working one way: it should only keep government out of religion, not religion out of government.

“Most of our founding fathers were deeply religious men.”

Well, Murphy, some of them were.  But Thomas Jefferson certainly wasn’t one of them.  We are talking about a man who denied the divinity of Jesus.  Jefferson took a pen to his Bible and struck out all miraculous acts supposedly performed by Jesus, leaving only his words and teachings.

I’m pretty sure that by Murphy’s religious lights, anyone who denies the divinity of Jesus is not truly saved and cannot go to Heaven.  Hear that, Murph?  Your beloved founding father is currently roasting in Hell!

Oh, and here’s another founding father who’s keeping Jefferson company down there.

Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle’s lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.

Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography

Anyway, it all comes to nothing (as might be expected).  We are told that Fallworth is “Beaten back by Murphy’s command of detail,” but it’s really not Fallworth’s fault that he’s being puppeted around by Tim LaHaye, who’s much more interested in instructing his flock than in creating interesting and believable characters.  And Fallworth doesn’t actually call a meeting or do anything formal to make Murphy teach the subject he is supposed to be teaching, because…Murphy’s the hero and Fallworth is just a pale ole academic who probably doesn’t know Karate-do.

Dumb ole atheist loser.

Posted on September 18, 2012, in Babylon Rising, Books, The Secret on Ararat. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. So we know what Fallworth’s last paper was on. Do we know what Murph’s last paper was on? I’m pretty sure you can’t write a paper on stealing artifacts from the middle east.

    • Every one of Murphy’s papers was probably retracted due to plagiarism. It turned out about half the text of his articles was just vertabim Bible quotes.

      I guess this treatment of the Dean is a nice display of the hypocrisy that comes with RTCs love for authority. They underline the importance, but only when it’s obeying the authority of RTCs. Just like I suspect a lot of the people who carried signs of “Being ashamed of your president means being ashamed of America. Go to France!” during George Bush’s presidency are now Tea Party members accusing Obama of being a secular pagan muslim nazi communistic atheist. Or that children had better obey their parents, except when those parents aren’t RTCs.

      And here we see that Murphy ducks out of appointments with the Dean, then mocks the Dean when he has to track Murphy down. Which would be catty behavior if they were equals, but the Dean is his boss. He’s the one responsible that the archeology classes in his department actually teach archeology. And I don’t know if he can fire Murphy outright, but he can probably see to it that he never teaches again. Not that Murphy’s schedule allows much teaching in the first place. So hey, the Dean can use that as an excuse.

  2. I’m looking forward to Babylon Rising IV: Skid Row and Fisher King, where Mike Murphy is thrown out of the uni on his ass for, well, being an ass, and has to find redemption somehow while befriending a strange almost incoherent homeless guy in Central Park who is nevertheless strangely compelling… and proceeds to be shown to be Mordred reincarnated and karate-do’s the reincarnated Arthur and everyone goes, “Murphy you JACKASS!” and Isis leaves him in the backstreets of New York.

  3. “Most of our founding fathers were deeply religious men.”

    A telling argument. To Murphy and his ilk (e.g. the guys writing him), it really is inconceivable that a group of religious people would create a secular government. If the Founders were devout Christians, then they could only have wanted an exclusively Christian nation, right? To Murphy and LaHaye, the answer is yes, because that is what they would have done in the Founders’ place. It is beyond their comprehension that, having power, the Founders would not have used that power to establish a hegemony of their own beliefs and crush others underfoot.

    It’s a brief sentence that says an awful lot about the authors’ own implicit attitudes.

  4. Assuming that the place where Murph works is accredited (a strech, given that they hired for campus counselor a woman without a degree in any psych field), and also assuming that somehow Murphy managed to get tenure (not a stretch, given the sort of place it is) . . . Murphy should have his tenure revoked and put on probation. . . . And if he isn’t tenured to begin with, he needs to be tossed out on his keister.

    Good call on how Fallworth found out about the classroom shenanigans, Ruby! Absolutely logical, and, as you said, just adds evidence for how awful a teacher Murphy is if even the students are complaining to the dean.

    Poor Fallworth. The more they knock him down, the more I like him. 🙂

  5. But even more intriguingly, he says that since Fallworth was not in class, he can have no idea of what went on.

    Which just so happens to be true. Which in turn tells me that some of Murphy’s students may not be so happy with this easy-A course as Murphy might think.

    It makes you wonder how LaHaye thinks this came to Fallworth’s attention.

    • Given LaHaye’s work up to this point, it’s a toss up between ‘He never thought about it’ and ‘A Liberal Secular Conspiracy planted a fake student in his class for the express purpose of finding something to persecute Murphy over’.

    • You presume that LaHaye thinks at all.

    • It also had me wondering how they reconcile that attitude with not having personally witnessed the events of the 1st century CE. Much like the way they sometimes argue (loosely speaking) that scientists weren’t around at the time of the Big Bang or whatever, so they can’t really know. So, if Fallworth can’t know what was happening in Murphy’s class, how can Murphy have any idea what was happening 6,000 years ago?

  6. Strikes me that the irony about separation of church and state is that it can equally be a way of *protecting* Christians. Certainly that’s the case in the country where I live. What a lot of people forget is that this country was, until the twentieth century, the scene of pretty much the bloodiest religious genocide of all time. Literally.

    It was carried out by the State (as incarnated by Louis XIV in his capacity as absolute monarch) and one branch of the Church against a different branch of Christianity. Protty little me would have been on the receiving end, and for that reason I am generally quite grateful that I live in a secular country these days.

  7. “Murphy then points out (again, correctly) that Jefferson wrote it in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. Being a good little RTC, Murphy naturally interprets the wall of separation as only working one way: it should only keep government out of religion, not religion out of government.”

    Meaning that religion (RTC) stands higher in hierarchy than government and the latter should obey former’s commands?

    • It is my considered belief that full-on RTCism cannot conceive of a relationship that is not essentially hierarchical. Everybody has someone else he/she should obey. Such a view must surely colour their approaches to everything else too.

      • It is interesting, though, that they selectively interpret hierarchy as being “when they want to believe in it”, since the RTCs of LaHaye’s books (and Jenkins’s, too, even when not “cocrappingauthoring” books with LaHaye) feel themselves very free to sass back to their superiors any chance they get if said superiors are not the true speshul 100% Real Christian sect of premillennial dispensationalism.

      • I dunno. I think they do believe it all the time. It’s just that they don’t use evil secular ideas of hierarchy, such as ‘Dean responsible for educations’>’Professor paid to give education’. They only recognize the hierarchy ‘Trinity’>’Nationally famous RTC preachers’>’Other RTC preachers’>’Male RTC’>’Female RTC’>’Everyone else’. Actually, they might split off Trinity to ‘God’>’Jesus’, but I’m not sure.

  8. Heh. Suddenly, upon revisiting the blog’s home page and seeing the title of this post again, a song crept unbidden into my head. “I am the very model of a strawman intellectual….”

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