TSoA: Chapter 25: Preach It, Murphy!
How fitting that my last Ararat post before our two-book Wintermas festival…will feature Murphy preaching once again at hapless FBI agent Hank Baines.
Hank calls up Murphy, because he obviously wants some boilerplate apologetic counseling that he could in no way get from any other source. Strangely, the two agree to meet at the State Department of Archives and History, because Murphy is doing some research on the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke. This seems about as far from both Noah’s Ark and biblical archaeology as one can get, but it offers the opportunity to show that Bob Phillips read the Wikipedia article on Roanoke, and that Murphy, once again, knows things that poor Hank doesn’t. Hilariously, even though Hank has lived in North Carolina for years and may have grown up there (it is implied in the first book), his response to the words “Lost Colony” is…
Jesus? Who’s he?
Murphy smiled. “Solving mysteries. That’s what rings my bell.”
No, Murphy, no it’s not. For two reasons. One is that you clearly become more passionate when you’re trying to convert people than when you’re trying to solve mysteries. Two, the “mysteries” you’re “trying to solve” aren’t even mysteries…according to you. They’re just things you need to prove to other people, but that you already believe. Case in point: Noah’s ark. Is there any doubt in your mind, Murphy, that it exists? How about the bronze serpent from the first book? No doubt there, either. They weren’t mysteries to you; they were just lost items. And that is not the same thing.
Miss Marple, Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen: those folks didn’t start out knowing the answer because some divine thing told them who the killer was, and they just needed to show everyone else. Sure, they figured out things first, but at the beginning of the story, the mystery was just as mysterious to them as to everyone else.
Anyway, Murphy finally gets around to asking Baines the real reason he followed Murphy like a puppy to the State Department. Turns out that Tiffany was in a car crash with her friend Lisa. Lisa was driving when they were in a head-on collision versus a truck. The car rolled and Lisa was killed, while Tiffany escaped with cuts and bruises.
Okay, let’s unpack this:
I know that in action movies, a car can roll and the hero can tumble out and just start shooting, but suffice it to say that I know a little something about this, and I consider it highly unlikely that the same rollover that would kill Lisa would only bruise Tiffany.
(This would be different if it was established that Tiffany was wearing her seatbelt and Lisa wasn’t, or something. But we aren’t told that. As well, although it is implied that the crash was Lisa’s fault, we really don’t have a way to know. Was it her fault? Was it the truck driver’s fault? Were alcohol or drugs involved at all? Was it maybe nobody’s fault, and just a freak crash caused by someone having to swerve or something? We’ll never know.)
I guess God was just watching out for Tiffany:
“It seems like a miracle she wasn’t more badly hurt. But she’s pretty cut up about her friend.”
OH GEEZ, BAINES, DO YOU FUCKING THINK SO???
This actually makes me pretty angry. Baines’ only child, his little girl, just had two horrific events happen to her: she was in a severe car crash and she lost one of her best friends. And where is Baines? Is he comforting his child, supporting her, being a shoulder to cry on? Nope. He has gotten himself nice and far away from all those pesky, womany emotions, so he can listen to some boilerplate evangelism.
Baines has just proved himself the most assholish character in this book.
Full disclosure: I lost my childhood best friend when I was not much older than Tiffany. And I can assure you that my parents were with me as I mourned, not listening to some jerk wax on about Jesus.
Not that Murphy isn’t culpable here, too: once he heard this, the next words out of his mouth should have been, “My God, Baines, that’s terrible. You go be with your wife and daughter. We’ll talk some other time.”
“You know, Hank, we all have this yearning, this emptiness inside that can only be filled by God.”
“God is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three in one.”
“God is perfect. And He wants mankind to spend eternity with Him in heaven. There is, however, a problem. We are not perfect. If we were to enterGod’s presence in our imperfect state we wouldn’t be able to endure it. Why? Because God is holy.”
“Don’t take it from me. Let me quote you something from the Book of Romans…”
THIS GOES ON FOR FOUR PAGES
Also, poor Jennifer (Baines’ wife). She’s there with their kid, taking care of things, being a parent, and Baines is off on his little evangelism/Lost Colony field trip.
Also, poor Lisa. Being over the age of twelve, we know that she is now being stir-fried in Hell.
But no, this is all about Baines and Murphy. Not about Tiffany, the confused young girl with a demanding, unaffectionate father, who just lost her best friend. Nope, this is all about whether Murphy can carve another notch into his bedpost of evangelism.
Wow, what a depressing chapter.
Hey, good thing Lee Strobel is first on our Wintermas break (to begin tomorrow on, appropriately enough, Black Friday).
He’ll cheer us right up!