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.”

Dengler howled.

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???

Dangler continues:

“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.

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Posted on August 31, 2013, in Books, Silenced, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Straw man much there, Jenkins? With a side dash of hypocrisy?

  2. “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.”

    Dengler howled.

    One more datum supporting the idea that RTCs do not understand irony.

    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.

    My parents divorced after 16 years. They are still both Christians. My dad’s mistress is also a Christian. He married her. They divorced too. I think that one lasted 8 years…? Maybe the problem is Free Methodism?

  3. “You do believe in a living soul then?”

    “Not in the traditional or religious sense, no. I would say I believe in the conscience, the inner self, and what humanity can accomplish.”

    “So the conscience, in effect, worships itself.”

    “What? No! Not at all! Valuing the goodness that is inherent in humanity, and relying on yourself, is not the same as worship. I would have expected a religious expert to understand the difference.”

    .
    There. Fixed it.

    • You can really tell that Jenkins is frustrated that those gosh-darned atheists don’t just admit that they worship themselves. So, see! The leader of Atheistopia cops to it! It must be true of all nonbelievers!

      • I’m not sure HOW Jenkins is defining “worship” here. I get the feeling he sees more to it than “utmost fealty in matters of philosophy”. {wonders if he thinks *Yhwh* worships himself}

  4. 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!

    Ooh, my parents, too!

    There really is something staggering about a character who committed evil in the name of god not even blinking at that fact. A character with no conscience at all? An author who doesn’t even realize what they’ve written? Both?

    (As a side note, suppose atheists did worship themselves? So what? I mean, if it led to them harming others, that would be bad… because of the harming others part, not the self-worship part. I don’t get it. And that’s beside the fact that, if having a ginormous ego can be said to be self-worship, I can think of a religious writer or two who qualifies…)

  5. 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.

    No Paul, the reason you can’t risk it isn’t because you can’t stand listening to your boss accusing god. The reason is that the leader of the world might not like you talking back to him, and wondering why you are speaking up against his beliefs. And we both know what would turn up if he started an investigation into you.

    Also, I’m not sure I can call it Devil’s advocate when you just say what you actually believe. Unless by “play Devil’s Advocate” he means “act as if my disagreement is motivated by providing a Devil’s Advocated, and not by my desire to school the filthy heathen.”

  6. Yeah, to an idiotic American, being neutral might be associated with being weak, because goodness knows in Real America you don’t wait to find out complicated answers — you jump in with both feet to whichever side says more of your buzzwords. (And, not wanting to let my own country off the hook, in Real UK you jump wherever America just went.)

    The Swiss (and Swedish) Armed Forces are not trivial. In fact for the most part they’re really pretty good.

  7. Very late to the party, but what the heck does Blinded Wangler mean by “No severance”? Dear Styr Magnor: YOU’RE FIRED! And don’t come whining around for a retirement package!

  8. And that whole “quotable” line … to paraphrase, it’s like an inarticulate person’s idea of what stirring eloquence sounds like.

  9. “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.”

    Dengler howled.

    The man put his – hairy! – lips together and howled like a wolf. Paul suddenly realised the Atheistopian leader really was a werewolf! As the man’s face – now a pointy snout full of razor sharp teeth – snapped around his head Paul’s final thought was that he’d been wrong again. He’d have guessed, if asked mere seconds earlier, that the Chancellor’s long fingers suggested a vampire instead.

    Or

    Dengler howled. He’d accidentally stabbed his own leg with the fork used for eating his oversized sandwich. He’d been doing the European thing with all the arm-waving gestures and it had really come back to bite, er , stab him in the foot er..leg. Paul with his usual tact couldn’t help laughing with his usual sadistic glee. The look on the Chancellor’s face then stopped him. Well that and the group of machine guns now aimed right at his head. Wincing only slightly from the pain and with a fork still sticking out of his thigh like a movie arrow in a dead soldier, the leader of all Atheistopia snarled “You are sprung, you murderous piece of filth!”

    Or

    Dengler howled. A large mutant rat attracted by the bountiful crumbs of the world’s largest if also most poorly presented sandwich had sunk its fangs deep into the Aethistopian leader’s big toe causing blood to spurt across their sandalled feet. Aha! Paul was hit by a revelation. That explains why Zurich isn’t the capital. The effects of Global Warming! He blinked at the barren brown peaks of the once snow-clad Alps, at the surrounding Swiss fjords which had once been famously cheesy song and chocolate filled valleys and wondered what else he’d been staggeringly obliviously to. No wonder the driver – who had probably had family in Zurich before the Big Melt – had been so rude. His cheeks flushed crimson as he felt the Berne!

    Yes, those are all ludicrously absurd surreal alternatives but I think they still make a lot more sense than a Swiss world leader laughing at that pitiful excuse for a joke.

  10. “My religion? Humanity”

    This is supposed to be a high ranking politician in a world where religion has been a loathsome crime for decades. Why would he want his admiration for humanity to be associated with religion at all? It makes about as much sense as Trump declaring “My communism is for the businessmen of America”.

    Paul’s puzzlement over the Swiss army knife does make sense but it just shows how little he knows. You don’t get to stay neutral in Europe by being small and inoffensive. You’d just get to be a small and inoffensive part of someone else’s empire. The Swiss have been military badasses for centuries.

    Oh, and hi! I’ve been gobbling up your archives and I know I’m still in the past and I don’t know why this particular bit moved me to comment anyway. It must have been the Spirit of the Lord working in me.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, September 1st | The Slacktiverse

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