Silenced: Chapter 8, Part 2: How Could Anybody Believe This Stuff?

First, a quick conversation between Paul and the awesome Alonza Marcello.

“I thought it went well today,” she said.

“Did you?  I felt a little chilly.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

BOOM

Oh, and let’s remember that at the very moment Paul is whining to Marcello, those “chilly” investigators are busy cleaning up the site of a terrorist attack and identifying corpses.  And Paul is planning on being no help whatsoever.  But the meeeeean investigators are so chilly.

Marcello has actual news (that the INVESTIGATORS, not Paul, discovered):

“It was written in English on a stall door in lipstick.  Here’s what it says:

“Long live the USSA.  Long live the City of Angels.  Long live Jonah.  European resistance arise.”

“Mm-hmmm,” Paul said.

But Paul’s useful contribution doesn’t end there.  He suggests calling in a handwriting expert (Marcello has already thought of this), and agrees with her that the writing doesn’t “look Italian.”

We are dealing with a pair of mental giants here.  The message was written in English.  And references America (sorry, the USSA).

“…I’d wager we’re not going to find Styr Magnor in America.” [said Paul]

“Because he says he’s Norwegian?”

“Partly.  I don’t know.  Just a gut feeling.”

Surely no AMERICAN could ever be responsible for death and destruction!

“You’re known for that, Doctor.  But isn’t the northern middle west almost an enclave of Scandinavians in your country?”

“What used to be Minnesota?  Yes.”

I continue to be amused by the fact that Paul corrects people using reference points that became obsolete when he was a baby.

Also, he’s correct, but not complete.  Wisconsin, for example, has many Scandinavian-Americans.  See, for example, this Swedish restaurant in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, where goats hang out on the roof.

Anyway, having established that Paul knows more about Minnesota than an Italian person, we head back to the ranch (the ranch being in Chicago), where Jae continues through Acts, Chapter 2.

The talk about tongues of fire made Jae want to turn off the machine again.  How could anybody believe this stuff?  Yet each time she heard something strange and disconcerting like that, she was less shaken by it.

Well, yeah, overexposure can do that to a person.  Especially a vulnerable person who has been emotionally abused for over a decade, is still being emotionally abused, yet is trying to grow closer to her abuser.

Jae had heard Paul mention something about how the zealot underground put a lot of stock in ancient prophecies…

But couldn’t these prophecies of the Bible be debunked?

Yes.

If they were not credible, at least to the writers and readers of the New Testament, how had the Bible lasted for so long?  Would it not have been cast aside as fanciful thinking long before World War III?

By many people, it had (has), Jae.  About 30% of the world is Christian right now (that is, around the time of World War III in this series, and around the time of Jae’s birth.  And certainly less than that 30% “put a lot of stock in ancient prophecies.”  (And yes, I’m sure that Jenkins and Paul would not consider such people “true” believers, but the point still stands.)

Still, though, Jae, nice appeal to tradition (that no longer exists in your world).

Then Jae does something realistic: she compares studying the New Testament to studying a new subject in college.  Of course, one thing you learn in college is that researching a new subject involves more than reading only one primary source.  So, clearly, Jae has some work to do.

Fascinating note: Jae is blown away by the fact that Christians love Jesus, but she knows enough about the Bible to know that King David was not a contemporary of Jesus.  How did she come to know this?  Very confusing worldbuilding.

Jae hears about the apostles performing miracles:

Paul said the believers in Los Angeles claimed the drought was a miracle.  Was it possible?  The underground had survived, maybe even flourished.  But was that God’s idea of a miracle?  Something that hurt and killed so many people?

You have not yet learned, Jae.  Join the club, and you, too, can celebrate those deaths alongside your “new man” husband.

Anyway, Jae has some questions, and she knows just what to do!

Head to her local public library, or one of the many stellar academic libraries in the Chicago area?

Nope!

She’s going to call Straight!  The guy who has “bad feelings” about plans that make her happy!

Surely he will be incredibly helpful.

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Posted on October 13, 2013, in Books, Silenced. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Oh gods, the conversion scene(s). Same trite, old, ideas about how atheists think. Same trite, old, claims about prophecies and miracles. How long ’till they break out the God/Liar/Madman trichotomy?

  2. If they were not credible, at least to the writers and readers of the New Testament, how had the Bible lasted for so long? Would it not have been cast aside as fanciful thinking long before World War III?

    Does Jenkins even realize that this reasoning applies equally well to every religion that is still being practiced (and even now-dead religions obviously had some people who thought it was real at the time)? Given that those religions make mutually exclusive claims about the truth, it logically follows that the fact that people believe in something says little about whether it is actually true. People can be passionately, sincerely, wrong.

  3. Yes, one does feel that someone could have mentioned “Heartland” in that exchange. (Have the seven divisions ever been mentioned again since they were introduced? I think perhaps the oil well stuff was described as in Gulfland…)

    Ivan, I suspect that’s why RTCs tend to say that people claiming to believe in other religions are just faking it. (It’s not as if they were searching for converts there, particularly. Much easier to prey on the young and confused.)

  4. Yet more terrible, terrible writing. Jae’s impulse to talk to Straight could so easily have been presented as some kind of ‘nudge’ from God. For example:

    Jae suddenly felt tired, very tired. Already confused by what she was learning – it was so hard to take so much in so quickly – she suddenly wanted more than anything to talk to Paul, ask him about some of the strange ideas spinning around her head. With his PhD, he would be able to explain it to her.
    But Paul was away in Europe on another one of his missions; she couldn’t contact him while he was working.
    She rubbed her aching head, shut her eyes. What was she to do?
    When she opened her eyes, they fell on the little hand-carved wooden fish that Straight has given her on his last visit, to thank her for the meal. What was it doing there on the coffee table in front of her – hadn’t she put it away in a drawer? But it was only a small mystery, nothing worth worrying over – suddenly she knew who she could talk to.

    Yup, Jae is well on her way to RTC-land now. A moment’s silence please.

  5. But was that God’s idea of a miracle? Something that hurt and killed so many people?

    And how is Jerry going to explain that? ROTFL. Explanations? He don’t need no stinkin’ explanations!

    • The thing itself is sufficient explanation. It’s a miracle because it hurt and killed so many people. They were heathens and therefore deserved it, after all.

  6. The “What used to be Minnesota?” is awkward but not horrible; it helps people to recognize existing locations and realize that this is based on a world familiar to them, and the ‘used to be’ emphasizes that this is in the future.

    That being said, it IS awkward, and does not help the story much. Also “Northern middle west” is even ore awkward. A region/name — Heartland? — would be much easier and make more sense. Also, what does an Italian investigator know about the cultural demographics of the States Formerly Known As United?

    • Knowing how Jenkins and LaHaye work, the idea to them is probably that the United States are the Center of the World. Clark mentioned their ambivalent version of American exceptionalism–they simultaneously extol America’s Super-Special Place(tm) in the spread of Christianity, while also excoriationg the fact that it harbors so many forms of idolatry (most of them alleged idolatry…).

      It probably stems from a misunderstanding of Winthrop referring to Plimouth and/or Massachusetts Bay as a “city upon a hill”. LaHaye and Jenkins focused on the heights of the hill, putting it above all, as things of God ought to be. Problem is that Winthrop actually meant that their experiment of a pure Congregationalist colony could not help but be noticeable by the rest of Christendom. He was exhorting the Massachusetts colonists not to flag in their zeal, lest they tarnish Congregationalism’s image. He probably had a sense of his sect being Super-Special, but I don’t think he was about to regard Massachusetts itself as being more special than anyplace else in God’s scheme of things.

      But long story short, I don’t think Jenkins can conceive of a NON-Americentric world.

  7. If they were not credible, at least to the writers and readers of the New Testament, how had the Bible lasted for so long? Would it not have been cast aside as fanciful thinking long before World War III?

    Wouldn’t a society founded in a large part on a reaction to religion wars already have a pretty substantial narrative of why exactly religion had been around up until WWIII? (Even if it’s distorted and flawed.) Isn’t this the kind of thing that they would teach in public school history classes? This strikes me a bit like an American adult reading about the War of Independence or the Civil War and just scratching their head over why the Colonists were mad at the Crown or why Southerners owned slaves?

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, October 19th 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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