Silenced: Chapter 28: Compelled

Hey guys, sorry for the delay in posting lately.  Life has been crazy busy, but is slowly returning to normal.

And it’s time to get Styr Magnor—I hope everyone is ready for this nail-biting mission of stinky clothes!

The worst part [of the mission] was…Paul was in league with the sworn enemy of his soul.

That’s the worst part of the mission–the people he’s working with.  Not the fact that he is going up against a mass murdering madman and might never see his kids (Paul pauses, trying to remember their names).  Nope, it’s the other members of the team, who are also putting their lives on the line.  And Ball Dangler is presumably included, since he has made it his mission in life to see Magnor hang (wow, what a horrible guy that Dangler fellow is!).

Nope, the sworn enemy of Paul’s soul isn’t the terrorist responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the destruction of irreplaceable monuments.  Nope, the sworn enemy of his soul are the atheists who want to capture said terrorist.

Paul is our hero.  So easy to forget.

…ridding the world of Magnor was the right thing to do.

Gee, Paul, thanks for the concession.

As he’s pondering on working for these horrible atheists who want to capture a mass murderer (I mean, the mass murderer in this book who isn’t named God), Paul gets a skull call from Lothair (ChappellShow’s second-in-command):

“…I believe [God] gave me something for you.  I don’t get it, don’t know why, but Chapp agreed it was worth sharing with you if you had time to hear it.”

“How long is it?”

“Just two verses.”

“Go ahead.”

I actually don’t blame Paul for being impatient right now.  He is kinda on the NPO’s dime and on his way to the sting and all.

The verses are 1 Kings 18:36-37.  Weirdly, when Lothair “reads” them, he leaves out the first few words about evening sacrifices.  Maybe Jenkins didn’t want his readers to think about the pretty big sacrifice that is about to happen.  Or maybe he doesn’t want us to remember how common blood sacrifices used to be for the followers of the One True God.

These verses actually seem fairly dull to me, but Paul is all but brought to his knees by how “powerful” they are, and asks Lothair and everyone to pray for Jae.

***

Paul needn’t worry, because back in the hotel room…

…Jae found herself prostrate on the couch, compelled to pray for Paul.

It is so strange that again and again in these books (not to mention the Left Behind series), people are “compelled” to pray so often.  I thought the loving God didn’t want us to be robots, forced and programmed to do his bidding.  But this isn’t Jae’s free will talking—she even feels “conflicted” over whether to pray at all.

But prayer God wants, and prayer he will get.  Even if he has to compel it.

And she’s “prostrate on the couch,” too.  That’s like SUPER prayer.  (Again, a not-uncommon occurrence in the Left Behind series—the Trib Forcers mush their faces into the carpet while praying.

(Insert dirty joke here.)

“God, protect him.  Be with him.  Bring him back to me.”  Tears welled and sobs racked her throat.  Jae couldn’t stem the tide.  “God, please!” she wailed.  “Please!”

“Please, God, bring back my emotionally abusive husband!  He carried the luggage one time last month!  How could I ever get along without him???”

You know it’s Real True Praying when you cry.  And when God compels you to do it.

***

Honestly, the sting itself is pretty boring, too, but here are the highlights:

The place was already wall-to-wall people, mostly drunk men and a few women who had seen better days.

That’s always nice.  Good to see Paul’s Christian love and charity progressing apace.

…Paul forced himself not to cough, despite the thick blue cloud that permeated every inch of breathable air.  Pipes, cigarettes, and cigars contributed…

Color me surprised that polluting smoking products still exist in Atheistopia, where every vehicle is environmentally friendly and cancer has been all but eradicated.  Shouldn’t there be some healthy and sweet-smelling alternative?

And where’s my synthehol?

Styr Magnor/Steffan Wren finally arrives, and because we must know immediately, he’s five feet, ten inches tall, 225 pounds.

I’ve noticed that Jenkins generally has very tall and lean heroes, while villains are usually shorter and more solid.  Doesn’t help Jenkins’ cause that I tend to like guys with some meat on their bones.

Case in point.

Paul nearly panicked…

Wow, you can really tell this guy used to be Special Forces.

But he manages to pull himself together, and when Magnor sits down at the designated table, Paul knocks over a glass, and one of the actual trained SWAT members throws a flashbang…

YOU FOOL!!!

…and Paul rams the guy head-on, for reasons best known to himself, since the SWAT dudes and dudettes have the place totally surrounded and covered.

Then they shoot Magnor dead.  A lot.

The end.

***

Back in the hotel room, Jae has fallen asleep after her exhausting compelled prayer session.  She awakens to the news report of the death of Magnor, and of course knows it was Paul.  Interesting note: since Magnor claimed credit for the “your firstborn sons will all die” threat, and neither Paul nor anyone else in the underground has corrected anyone, Ball Dangler now claims that the threat is no more, because THAT MAKES SENSE.

God is awful.  So is Paul.  So is the rest of the Christian Underground.

***

Paul, if course, decides that he needs to speak to Jae face-to-face, and ignores her message (on “his answering device“) in favor of being congratulated first by Ball Dangler (who invites him back to Bern) and then by Ranold (who seems to now be convinced that Paul is a good ole trustworthy atheist after all).

“Hug and kiss the kids for me, will you, Dad?” [said Paul]

“Oh, sure.”  [said Ranold]

I love how Jenkins tries to make Paul look like the Concerned Caregiver here, and Ranold like the Cold Jerk, when it’s Ranold and his family who have volunteered to spend time with these kids over the past days, and Paul who has spent the last eight years barely interacting with these children.

***

Meanwhile, Jae is getting pissed.  Neither Paul nor straight are answering their skull phones.

They are out of their heads, HAR.

Next time, Paul and Jae have an actual conversation!

Perhaps the most supernatural event to occur in this book.

 

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Posted on April 24, 2014, in Books, Silenced. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. I hadn’t thought it possible when Ruby started this review, but… well, to paraphrase Diamanda Hagan: Everything about Soon that was bad is worse in Silenced. Everything about Soon that wasn’t bad -stop laughing- is bad in Silenced.

    Soon included a lot of (often nonsensical) bits of worldbuilding. Silenced doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

    Soon could be generously described as an adventure story, with several things happening around the US, the protagonist going there, and doing something to influence the events. Silenced has him travel to three countries where something has already happened, and he just talks to some people.

    Soon had something that resembles character development, with the protagonist’s character changing (unrealistically) in response to events in the story. Silenced has the protagonist ending exactly as he started.

    Soon has a character convert after some significant events. Silenced has a character convert after nothing much of anything happening, Jae just spontaneously decides to read the bible, becomes facinated by it for no earthly reason, and then converts after being compelled by god.

    Soon had an unpleasant atheist turn into an unpleasant RTC. Silenced had a pleasant atheist turn into an unpleasant RTC.

    Soon has the hero praying for a big fuck-you miracle after the RTCs are backed into a corner, what with them being slaughtered by the hundreds. Silenced has the hero praying for a big fuck-you miracle because the guy who’s help he wants is sad due to his son dying, and Paul figures some mass murder will cheer the guy up.

    Soon had a big fuck-you miracle that you’d realize targetted the weak instead of the actual murderers if you stopped to think about it. Silenced outright admits that their miracle is exclusively meant to inflict colleteral damage.

    Jenkins really is the worst RTC writer out there. I’m curious if he’ll manage to make the third book again worse.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Everything about Soon that was bad is worse in Silenced. Everything about Soon that wasn’t bad -stop laughing- is bad in Silenced.

      Just think: IT’S A TRILOGY!
      He has another book to go for Entropy to set in further!

    • Soon could be generously described as an adventure story, with several things happening around the US….

      Don’t you mean “the region formerly known as the US”?

      Jenkins, is that you?

  2. Ivan, once more you say the things that I would have said if I’d thought of them fast enough. Thank you.

    The only thing that can make sense of this story for me is an authority-based ethical system. If you do something because God told you to do it, it’s a good act. Otherwise it’s an evil act.

  3. So Jae is a Christian now. Berlitz was really introduced to die for nothing; even if she was (still) the only child she was in Soon, she’d survive the coming slaughter.

    …What the fuck is wrong with Jenkins? He created a likable, sympathetic character for the sole purpose of being justly killed and rightfully sent to eternal torture. At least Cendrillon didn’t actually show any signs of having a personality, that I’m aware of.

    • I think a big part of the RTC-God system (and actually of Christianity in general, at least as I’ve encountered it) is the idea that there are some universal principles which it is inconceivable to alter. This after all is why the sacrifice of the Christ is necessary: sin has to be paid for, and even God can’t simply say “OK, ledger wiped clean, do better next time”; there has to be blood and pain and death, and that’s just the way the world is.

      That then stretches into “things that happen are right, because otherwise God wouldn’t have let them happen”. So when Berlitz is dragged off to Hell (or at least to a better story), everyone can celebrate, because the natural order of the world has been maintained.

      • Well, you know: It is Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time and it must be appeased, otherwise all of Narnia will be destroyed. Of course, Aslan created the world himself, so it’s a bit baffling as to why he would build such an arbitrary self-destruct button into his own creation, but hey, god works in mysterious ways.

        For interesting story-telling, polytheism just works so much better. I’m a big fan of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Wotan is the most powerful of the gods, but that power is largely built on contracts he has made with other powerful beings. He can’t break even a single contract, because that would jeopardize all of them. And that’s what makes him an interesting character: His struggles to forestall the inevitable feel meaningful, because despite being a god, he is forced to work within limitations that are understandable and relatable to the audience.

        And every character in a story must have limitations, otherwise there is no story. Doesn’t matter whether the story is religious or entertainment, there must be limits to what can and can’t happen if the story is to make any sense. And that’s what makes a monotheistic, intrinsically omnipotent deity so difficult in story-telling. God still needs to have limits, but now the limits are arbitrary and incomprehensible, leading to a variety of weird results:

        1) God ends up looking cruel. Such as the kinds of books we are discussing here. God has to torture people for ethically dubious reasons, because he can’t allow sin to enter heaven, and removing sin requires guessing the right answer in a multiple-choice religion quiz.

        2) God ends up looking incompetent. Like in the Narnia example above. God has to sacrifice himself, because the world is so fragile that a single kid could inadvertently destroy it just by liking Turkish Delight and being envious of his brother.

        3) God ends up with a very strange set of priorities. A lot of mainstream entertainment tends to go for this. God ignores that there are wars and famines going on and instead devotes all his time to teaching a random person some obvious or impractical life lesson.

        The fact that polytheism was supplanted by monotheism is one of my big disappointments regarding world history. I don’t believe in deities either way, but at least polytheism has a sense of the dramatic. Larger than life characters striving against fate, often in vain, can be great material for a story-teller. Compared to that monotheism reads like bad fan-fiction, with its single, Most Awesome Ever character who is Perfect in Everything.

        • Amen to that. I’ve always wondered if the whole Judaism/Christianity mythos wasn’t being written by people who were still used to polytheism. Then the whole ‘dying for the world’ could’ve made sense.

          As it stands, you have a single almighty god who
          A: Created the humans
          B: Created a realm of eternal torment
          C: Created the rules that say when you go to that realm of eternal torment.
          D: Created a tree that would cause all humans ever born to fall short of those standards.
          E: Created an incarnation of himself that would be the only sinless human ever.
          E: Created a loophole whereby a sacrifice to himself, of as sinless (sorta)-human which he is himself, could somehow let him ignore his own standards for his own creations to not suffer his own punishment.

          Perhaps it’s because my tiny flawed mind cannot comprehend the grand beauty of god’s design, but this sounds really fucking stupid.

  4. “Hug and kiss the kids for me, will you, Dad?” [said Paul]

    “Oh, sure.” [said Ranold]

    I love how Jenkins tries to make Paul look like the Concerned Caregiver here, and Ranold like the Cold Jerk, when it’s Ranold and his family who have volunteered to spend time with these kids over the past days, and Paul who has spent the last eight years barely interacting with these children.

    No, no, I believe that Paul is thinking about how he loves his children right now. It often takes an incident where you nearly lose someone to realize how much they mean to you. And nothing reminds you of how easily your children could suddenly be taken from you like plotting to suddenly take away about a billion children from their parents. And send them all to hell for good measure.

    • “Kiss the kids for me. However many of them there are. And remind them that they exist only at the whim of a super-powerful being which could slaughter them at any moment if someone pushed the right buttons.”

    • Do children below whatever arbitrary cut-off age RTCs have (I think in the Left Behind books it was 12 or so) go to hell? Or do they go to Heaven with all the aborted fetuses?

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Color me surprised that polluting smoking products still exist in Atheistopia, where every vehicle is environmentally friendly and cancer has been all but eradicated. Shouldn’t there be some healthy and sweet-smelling alternative?

    Is this another attempt by Jenkins to channel Ian Fleming?

    Styr Magnor/Steffan Wren finally arrives, and because we must know immediately, he’s five feet, ten inches tall, 225 pounds.

    I’ve noticed that Jenkins generally has very tall and lean heroes, while villains are usually shorter and more solid. Doesn’t help Jenkins’ cause that I tend to like guys with some meat on their bones.

    I wonder about Jenkins RL physique. Are his Tall & Lean heroes his fantasy ideal physique? And how does that fantasy ideal physique differ from his RL physique? In FRP gaming, the more physically perfect in every way the character was, the more out-of-shape the player was IRL.

    • I wonder about Jenkins RL physique. Are his Tall & Lean heroes his fantasy ideal physique? And how does that fantasy ideal physique differ from his RL physique? In FRP gaming, the more physically perfect in every way the character was, the more out-of-shape the player was IRL.

      I think he is tall IRL, though I don’t know if he’s any 6’4″ (I’m basing this on looking at pictures–Google some pictures of Jenkins standing with Tim LaHaye and you’ll see what I mean.)

      Jenkins has written about his struggle with his weight, and he’s lost over one hundred pounds. He even wrote a weight-loss book.

      http://books.google.com/books/about/Winning_at_losing.html?id=QuNGKuh7bbMC

      More power to him for being up-front about his weight problems. Less power to him for still making fun of and sneering at bigger characters, from poor, sweet Charlotte…

      https://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/silenced-the-rest-of-the-prologue/

      …to poor Ranold in the third book in this series. (Seriously, it starts to feel like it happens on every damn page.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Well, Wes Anderson tends to cast the villains in his movies as being fat, and someone told me recently that in British Schoolboy YA fiction of 60-100 years ago the bad kid is usually The Fat Kid of the ensemble.

        And there was a joke about the adamant characteristics of every Ayn Rand male hero (besides going into break-the-fourth-wall Objectivist lectures for no known reason):
        1) Bone-crushing Manly Handshake.
        2) Heavy smoker.
        3) Always obsessed with whether they’re gaining weight. (“Am I getting Fat? Do I look Fat? Does this suit make me look Fat? Do you think I’m Fat? Am I getting Fat? Do I look Fat? etc…)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Color me surprised that polluting smoking products still exist in Atheistopia, where every vehicle is environmentally friendly and cancer has been all but eradicated. Shouldn’t there be some healthy and sweet-smelling alternative?

      Second thoughts on the above. Militant anti-smoking was characteristic of Fundagelicals before it became another Secular Activist Fundamentalist cause-du-jour and de facto state religion. Maybe this is just Jenkins’ usually-clunky way of showing how HEATHEN and EEEEEVIL the location is?

      Problem is, in Christian Fiction you have to have the Heathen be Utterly Depraved and Utterly EEEEVIL, yet you cannot show them actually being or doing evil; otherwise you risk offending the Church Ladies with their fingers on the Boycott and Gossip buttons. So you have to resort to shticks like this to show how EEEEVIL and Depraved those Atheists/Heathens are.

  6. Color me surprised that polluting smoking products still exist in Atheistopia, where every vehicle is environmentally friendly and cancer has been all but eradicated.

    But, assuming that this includes curing cancer (and emphysema, etc.), not just preventing it, there’s no longer as much incentive not to smoke; it becomes a much more reasonable decision. On the other other (gripping) hand, I’m surprised it wasn’t written as smoke-free because that’s just what those stinkin’ fascist straw-liberals would want.

    • I suspect that this is a tricky one, since for once RTCs aren’t wildly out of tune with the rest of society. (It wouldn’t surprise me if some branch of them started to encourage smoking, for exactly the last reason you mention.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        “Stupidity is like hydrogen — it’s the basic building block of the universe.”
        — Frank Zappa

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      On the other other (gripping) hand, I’m surprised it wasn’t written as smoke-free because that’s just what those stinkin’ fascist straw-liberals would want.

      Remember who was behind the word processor on this, and his track record for thought-out worldbuilding and consistency.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Oh, Ruby?
    We’re on Chapter 28 — how many more to go before this latest torture session is over?

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for April 25th, 2014 | The Slacktiverse

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