Silenced: Chapter 11: They All Suck at Secrets and Lies

Jae continues her quest to find out more about the Bible, and has picked the worst possible resource: Straight.

She couldn’t tell if he was upset because she had ignored his advice and wishes about her move to Washington—and surely he and Paul had discussed the fact that Paul didn’t want her to go either—or if he simply thought she was calling him too much.

Either way, I guess it’s a good thing that Jae is smart enough to know that Paul and Straight talk about her behind her back. In any event, Straight is a jerk to Jae, which is kinda funny because how has this guy managed to keep his faith a secret all these years?  He is the worst liar on the planet. She told him what she had been listening to and asked whether he knew if the Bible was considered a nonfiction historical record.

“I thought we were going to discuss this Thursday night [when I come to your house for dinner],” he said.

“Well, we are, but that’s been bugging me all day.  What do you think?”

“I don’t know what I think.”

Well, that much is obvious.  Also telling.  It is amazing how many believers cannot explain what they believe, why they believe it, and why they think other people should believe it, too.

“Are you asking if I believe it’s true, or…?”

“I’m asking if you know whether people who are believers see the Bible as truth or just some sort of allegorical guideline or something.  Because it’s sure different than what I expected.”

“What had you expected?”

He’s stalling!  “Well, I don’t know, sir…”

Love that Jae calls him “sir.”  Real relationship of equals, here.

“…I guess I always thought the Bible was full of legends and poetry and psalms, hymns, that kind of thing.”

“I don’t think there are hymns, outside the Psalms, of course.”

Of course.  My, my, Straight, but you are just a font of information.  Dude, Jae hasn’t read the Old Testament, idiot!  She has no frame of reference for what you’re talking about.

“And so?” [Jae asks, understandably perturbed]

“Well, I don’t see how I can speak for what other people think.  Who knows whether they took it literally or figuratively?”

I’m only a history professor, Jae!  How can you expect me to have any ideas about what people in the past said and thought? This thought occurs to Jae, who hilariously concludes that Straight must have been a sucky teacher and she would have hated being one of his students.  Oh, burn!

Meanwhile, several pages are spent telling us of Paul’s fumbling through the tunnels to get to the Rome underground’s secret clubhouse.  He’s a total wuss about the whole thing, not exactly impressing me with his mad sekrit agent skillz.  Maura Fabrizio has to give him huggles when he finally arrives. Hey, you know who else might have liked a hug, Paul?  The victims in Los Angeles.  But that would take time away from your celebration of their deaths, so I guess that’s out. I know I say this a lot, but I am never getting over this.

Apart from Enzo and Maura, most of the Rome believers are cold to Paul.  He is just certain that they are giving him the stink-eye when he’s not looking, but never fear—

Paul had developed a technique that allowed him to quickly shift focus and catch someone staring.

Seems to me that his time would have been better spent developing a technique for successfully navigating a tunnel without wetting his pants.

Enzo lets the believers ask Paul questions, and a female-type person kicks it off:

A middle-aged woman raised her hand.  “Assuming you are who and what you say you are, how long before NPO International discovers you’re a turncoat?  I mean, they are—”

“The best espionage outfits in the world, yes.”

Hey, Paul, know what might help you bond with these people?  NOT INTERRUPTING THEM.

I guess it’s okay, though, since she’s just a woman.  Middle-aged, too, so we know she doesn’t matter.

Instead, to bond with them, Paul reveals the whole loyalty-oath thing that Ball Dangler let him in on.  Naturally, Paul immediately makes it all about him, because that’s what concerns these underground Christians:

“Well, I for one will not be signing it,” Paul said.

“None of us can, of course,” someone else said.  “But then we become instant fugitives.”

Of course, none of them can sign.  Because Christians NEVER LIE.

Except to their wives.

The believers still don’t trust Paul, even after this little revelation, so Paul decides that the best way to get them to trust him is to tell him the most fascinating thing in the world: the All About Paul story.

So, Paul reveals that he has the “same worries, same struggles, same cares” as them.  Which I guess is kinda true, since he helped murder Christians in the past, and they murder atheists in the present.  He also explains that his family can’t know about his new faith yet, which you wouldn’t think would sit so well with this crowd that believes in NO LYING EVER, but I guess that rule doesn’t count when you’re lying to dirty atheists…like your dirty atheist wife.

“My wife and my daughter and my son cannot know until I know they will react favorably.”

Because that’s how strict truth-telling works.  Offer may not apply to atheists.

Paul’s “This Is My Life” finally over, the group begins the onerous process of leaving the meeting.  This means that they leave one at a time, every five minutes.  Jenkins describes this process as “slow,” which is the understatement of the week when you consider he has mentioned that there are OVER ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY people at this meeting.

I’m no math whiz, but the calculator on my computer tells me that it will take the Christians ALMOST ELEVEN HOURS to vacate the premises.

And these people don’t live in the bunker—they have homes and lives and jobs and families.

Almost.  Eleven.  Hours.

Laughter

So you’ll not be surprised that one of the women has plenty of time to shoot the breeze with Paul.  She has all night and well into the next morning, in fact.

She tells Paul that “the Lord really laid [Jae] on my heart.”  She then reports that she will pray for Jae, which inadvertently guilt-trips Paul, “overcome with regret over how infrequently he himself prayed for Jae, specifically for her salvation.”

Interestingly, Paul is not overcome with regret over how often (every day) he lies to Jae.  Or how often he gossips to his BFF about her.

But that is all replaced with rage when the woman reveals that the Rome police shot her teenage son when he admitted he wasn’t an atheist.

Paul could not speak.  They were at war.

“Huh.  This is kinda like when I shot those people in San Francisco, when I could have just taken them prisoner.  Guess it’s a good thing Christians don’t murder people WAIT A MINUTE.”

Oh, and finally, back in the glorious land where people actually care about catching the terrorists, the bitchin’ Chief Marcello, is accomplishing actual work, ordering DNA testing on body parts found at the scene, believed to be from the bomber.

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Posted on November 12, 2013, in Books, Silenced. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. I guess Straight’s evasion is predicated on the idea that you can’t be taught about the Bible: you have to see it for yourself. (But you can be pushed in the “right” direction until you eventually give in.)

    • I think Straight is being evasive because he doesn’t want to reveal to Jae that he’s a Christian, and Christians aren’t allowed to lie, but they are allowed to dissemble, omit facts, and change the subject. In other words, they can be dishonest as hell, as long as they don’t make an explicitly false statement.

  2. Paul had developed a technique that allowed him to quickly shift focus and catch someone staring.

    …turning around?

  3. Obviously, good Christians could never fraudulently sign a loyalty oath. Murdering cops is fine but you have to draw the line somewhere.

    • Agh, there’s a quote or something I’m trying to recall but just can’t, talking about murder as if it’s some kind of good old fun that everyone gets up to but taken in excess can lead to “dangerous” things like theft and lying (and I think voting was included, too). Google’s not doing me any good, either.

      • Only thing that comes to mind is:

        “Why don’t [religious group] have pre-marital sex?”
        “Because it might lead to mixed dancing.”

    • Tom Lehrer, “The Irish Ballad”. “Lying she knew was a sin” (after murdering all her relatives in various grotesque ways…)

  4. I suppose the 5-minute rule is to prevent bystanders or the police from seeing a whole gaggle of people entering and leaving the secret God-cave in short order, but it seems like finding a hidey hole with multiple entrances would scale better. Or even renting a public space under false but legitimate pretenses. But that would be lying, OMG, so never mind.

    (Now I’m picturing the Resistance renting out a local Chuck E. Cheese restaurant for their meetings. You can’t hear what anyone says at those places.)

    • It would only work if they managed to reign in the ostentatious displays of piety. I’m guessing these are the type of Christians who can’t just mumble their prayers quietly but must throw their arms in the air and sway back and forth.

  5. “The best espionage outfit in the world”? I tend to doubt that.

    I suppose that, what with the whole world being united and everyone being at peace with everyone except the “subversivs”, there might not even be a second espionage outfit beyond the anti-subersive NPO. So then they’d be the best by default. Otherwise, though…

    I’ll admit their rate of false-positives is impressively low: There hasn’t been a single arrest or assasination of someone who wasn’t a Christian. And they’re not too bad at finding hidden cells. But frankly, the fact that Paul hasn’t been killed 10 times over doesn’t say much good about their competence.

  6. I just realized that I never properly introduced myself. Hi there everyone! I’ve been lurking here for a long time but only just made an actual user account. Ruby, one thing that’s still confusing me: are the Super-Duper-Secret RTC Club actually hiding in the Roman catacombs, or did Jenkins just forget and stick their secret clubhouse in some random tunnels underneath Rome? Seems like if JJ wanted to put them in the Catacombs, he would’ve pulled some sort of See-How-Clever-I-Am trick, but I don’t see any mention of it in your post. Did Jenkins seriously miss out on possibly the only decent metaphor in the entire series?

    • Welcome, Voluntarydactyl!

      No, the believers are not hiding in the catacombs. They’re in an underground area that that is directly under the Baths of Caracalla…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baths_of_Caracalla

      …that they get to via a transformer station.

      The only mention of the catacombs is from the awesome Chief Marcello, who confusingly explains to Paul that the catacombs are closed off, but still a tourist attraction. You’d think this would be foreshadowing of where the believers would meet, but there is no more talk of catacombs, and the believers meet in a concrete room wired for electricity.

      • I mentioned the catacomb problem in my comment on the last section. This feels in a way reminiscent of the modern RTC tendency to eschew any sort of beautiful building and to prefer boxy horrible conference centres and meeting halls. Even I as an atheist feel that the Word of God is not a regional sales meeting!

        • It’s funny, too, because in other instances, the evil Atheistopians have taken Christian buildings and turned them into schools, apartment homes, etc. But the historical catacombs of Rome? Bah, just seal ’em off. Weird.

          • Jenkins wasn’t about to get a personal guided tour on his “research trip”, so he sealed them off in the book as revenge?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Remember the Greatest Christian Author of All Time (GCAAT) we’re talking about.

            This GCAAT seems unclear on the whole concept in general, not just unclear on the concept of Dystopia. Or character names. Or…

      • So the “best espionage outfit in the world” doesn’t notice that an underground room is using electricity regularly without explanation (or are they meeting by flashlight?)? Who is getting the bill? And they can’t be bothered to watch for more than five minutes to notice that a large number of people are appearing from nowhere at EXACTLY five minute intervals? There must be an excess of peace and harmony in Atheistopia, because these folks are clearly out of practice at this espionage thing.

  7. Closed off, but still a tourist attraction–what? Did the Evil Atheist Government just have a shutdown?

    • Well, the papacy runs the catacombs right now, which at least explains why they would be sealed off in Atheistopia. Also, even if they were open and usable by the RTCs, they probably would have evil Catholic cooties all over them. Can’t have that. 😉

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, November 18th, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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