Silenced: Chapter 5, Part 1: In the End, We Win
“In the end, we win,” is stated by Tsion Ben Judah at least once in his “messages” to the poor, beleaguered, skyscraper-dwelling believers in the Left Behind series. Coincidentally (or not), it was also a theme I heard at least twice on Christian radio last week. (Yes, I listen to Christian radio in the car sometimes. It is fascinating, Captain.)
In the world of Left Behind, it almost makes sense. There is an alleged global and spiritual war going on, and maybe the “troops” (har) need some encouragement. Now, granted, the lives of the Tribbers of Left Behind is not exactly one of the hardship and horror you might expect, but we can pretend.
In today’s world, it makes even less sense. Christians are the single most privileged religious grouping in North America. Yet some feel the need to think of themselves as under constant fire, even as they cheer on the lack of equality and respect afforded others.
And then there is the world of Soon. A world in which war, cancer, and homelessness have been eradicated, but where people are not free to practice their religion. I can accept that this is not cool, even if we don’t ever get a clear picture of what the atheistopic government is really up to: is it a worldwide conspiracy to wipe out all religious people? Are the murders the work of a few rogue agents like Bia? We never do quite get to see. And I’m not sure that confusion is meant to be purposefully ominous…
All this to say that this portion of the book is where Jenkins “proves” a few of the supposed worst traits of atheists…by making the atheist leader of the world say them.
But first, we get to see Paul at his asshattish finest. Ball Dangler tells Paul of all the NPO has done so far, which Paul thinks is “much ado about little.” There’s the Paul Apostle wit we all know and love!
“We are on the same page as far as the disposition of this madman, I assume.” [said Dangler]
Paul chose to flash his powers of recall. “No recourse, no appeal, no grace period, no severance.”
Dengler raised his eyebrows and smiled. “Well done,” he said.
Wow, Paul, it is so amazing that you can repeat a line that has no doubt be rerun hundreds of times since the disasters!
Also, what does Dangler care what Paul thinks should be done with the terrorist? Paul is just a consultant on religious matters; he certainly shouldn’t have anything to do with the sentencing part of the process.
After the huge and disgusting sammiches they ate, Dangler naturally wants to smoke a cigar and discuss philosophy.
“Sir, again, I am here at your disposal. There is nothing I’d rather do—short of being home with my family—than whatever you wish.”
“That sounds marvelous, Paul. Here, why don’t you try this Naughty Nurse costume on for size…”
Just kidding. Atheistopia may be open to all manner of everything between consenting adults (those bastards!), but Dangler himself has a traditional family: wife and three sons.
Three sons, guys. Just like Ranold mysteriously has a son that he did not have in Soon.
It’s kinda funny that Dangler is a family man and proud of it. I mean, I’m sure we’re supposed to know that his supposedly happy marriage cannot possibly be as happy and fulfilling and moral as RTC marriages, given Jenkins’ views on the matter:
Q: Once again with Paul Stepola in SOON we have a man whose marriage has deteriorated, much like Rafe’s in Left Behind. Is there a reason why you chose this theme again?
A: Such tragedy occurs daily, especially among people without faith. Of course, bad marriages are so pervasive that they have invaded the faith community too. Broken relationships are a source of heavy heartbreak that seem to affect every family. That I have enjoyed an idyllic marriage for nearly 33 years also makes the other side of that an interesting topic to explore.
-from an interview with Jerry Jenkins at Reading Group Guides
The smug is strong in this one.
Jenkins appears to be unfamiliar with actual divorce rates, including those of “people without faith.” (Not that there is anything automatically wrong with divorce, I hasten to add.) For example, this survey was available in 1999, before Jenkins started researching (heh) Soon.
Also, as long as we’re having a smug-off, I shall put out my parents as Exhibit A: both nonbelievers, happily married for over 40 years. HA! Atheists WIN!
But Paul has no time to dwell on how much he wants to head back to Chicago and ignore his kids and exchange pleasantries about the weather with his wife; it’s time to discuss international affairs!
“Frankly, Mr. Chancellor, I’ve always thought it ironic that the best-known army knife in world history comes from a country that has been militarily neutral for centuries.”
Really? Because it wasn’t that funny, Mr. Ball Dangler.
No matter—on to religion!
“It may surprise you to know, Doctor, that I am sympathetic to the yearning of the human soul for something beyond itself.”
“That does surprise me.” [said Paul]
Me too! In a skeptical, science-based, atheistic world, I’m kinda surprised that anyone would cop to believing in a soul that exists separate from the body.
But let’s let Dangler explain:
“We have shown that the eradication of religion results in true peace. We have proven, at least in my mind and in the minds of right-thinking people, that the true source of honor and goodness is found within oneself. My religion? Humanity. Worship the human mind and heart and soul and potential.”
“You do believe in a living soul then?”
“Oh, certainly. It is the conscience, the inner person.”
“So the conscience, in effect, worships itself.”
“Yes! Very good! There is nowhere else to look, and rightfully so.”
HA! So atheists DO worship themselves! I knew it! I knew there couldn’t really be such a thing as a person who doesn’t worship anything! I mean, how ridiculous would that be???
“Men and women are, at their core, loving, giving, caring, achieving people.”
Not all of them, Dangler. Not by a long shot.
Paul agrees with me!
Paul wanted to play devil’s advocate, to ask about people who follow their base natures and commit crimes and put themselves above others. But he couldn’t risk it. The discussion would lead back to Styr Magnor and be blamed on evil in the name of God again.
And we all know that God has other kinds of evil in mind. As do other men and women. In fact, though Paul and I agree in principle that some people put themselves above others, I was thinking of an example a little closer to home. Say, just for the sake of argument, a man who came up with the marvelous idea to ask his God to dessicate an entire city, and then (quite easily) talked a bunch of like-minded people into also asking for that very thing.
Then, when the dessication happened and thousands died, celebrating.
Yanno, that kind of base nature and putting oneself above others.