Silenced, Chapter 30: Not Spiteful at All, Part 2

On the plane back to the USSA, Jae reveals why she had no concern whatsoever about the fate about to befall her beloved brother:

“I do not believe this slaughter is going to take place.  If it doesn’t, it will tell me a lot about your fellow believers and the effectiveness of their prayers.  If it does, besides being the most shocked person in the world, I can’t promise how it will make me feel about God.  I suppose I will have to believe He is real, but I would have a hard time understanding Him or liking Him much.”

Paul worried about Jae…

He’s worried about Jae???  Jae will be fine, Paul.  How about sparing a bit of worry for your brother-in-law, a person you claimed to love back in Chapter 1:

“I know Berlitz is a strange bird,” [Jae] said, “but I love him.”

“And that’s reason enough for me to as well.” [said Paul]

But is a few short hours, Berlitz will die and be sent to an eternity of torture in Hell, for the crime of being raised in a secular world by secular parents, and having a brother-in-law who doesn’t care enough to warn him about the murders he knows are coming.

Let’s unpack the rest of Jae’s comment, though.  She says that if the slaughter doesn’t come to pass, it will tell her a lot about believers and the efficacy of prayer.  But that’s true either way, no?  Jae already knows that her husband and thousands of his “brothers and sisters” are praying for the mass murder of millions of innocents, including children.  (Granted, according to Jenkinsian “logic,” the smaller children would probably Pass Go and go straight to Heaven, but not the kids over the magical age of twelve.)  Why do the murders not have to come to pass in order for Jae to know that these people are horrible sociopaths?

And then Jae says that if the murders do happen, she will be the most shocked person in the world.  I doubt that, as almost every family in the world is likely to suffer at least one unexpected death.  But whatever, I’ll forgive her hyperbole since she doesn’t believe it will happen.

And she will “have to believe,” but would have a hard time understanding or liking God.  Overstatement followed by understatement.

Besides, Jae has already prayed to God, though she hasn’t “made the transaction” and prayed the sinner’s prayer.  So she’s not officially RTC yet, though her attitude about her husband others like him show her most of the way there.

Oh, and Paul still could not give less of a shit about this whole situation.  After noting that the slaughter will take place at midnight, Bern time, and that is 6:00 p.m. in D.C., Paul simply sleeps the sleep of the sociopath for the rest of the flight.

They arrive in D.C. in late morning, meaning Paul still has hours to talk to Berlitz, but he just could not possible care less.  They basically do nothing all day until the kids come home from school and Ranold comes home from work.  Berlitz and Aryanna are going to come over for dinner and celebrate.

In the meantime, Ranold offers Paul a drink, and I think it’s important to note that one of Paul’s final actions in this book is to tell yet another lie:

“I got a little shut-eye on the plane, but alcohol would probably put me out for a week.”

Liar.  Paul slept for almost the whole flight, and won’t drink at all now, because good little RTCs don’t drink.

Paul is checking his watch again and again (superspy that he is), and Ranold notices (because he actually is observant) and thinks that Paul just wants to watch himself be the hero on the news again.  So, with only a couple of minutes left until the mass murder, they plant themselves in the living room.

Paul drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair.

“Man, I cannot wait for everyone to croak!”

And he doesn’t have long to wait…

At six straight up…

DAMN, I hate that turn of phrase.  “Six straight up”???  It’s six o’clock, you jerk!

…it was as if the power went off in the house.

And the power has gone out everywhere, all over the world.  So God did a momentary blackout so he could carry out all the murders.

If there’s anything fortunate about this, at least God killed them quickly.  The first death we see is the news anchorman, who is slumped over his desk when the TV comes back on, and then Aryanna calls from the car–

Margaret answers the landline, and when Aryanna tells her that Berlitz is dead, his poor mother faints.

(By the way, Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!)

Berlitz was driving, and slumps over when the lights go out (even the headlights of cars), and Aryanna, because she is apparently a FRAKKING BADASS, takes control of the car and steers it to safety.

Gorramitall, Aryanna, why isn’t this book about you?

Paul and Ranold both get skull calls, as the women, Aryanna and Jae, are left to handle the actual crisis.

Enzo Fabrizio has called Paul to gossip.  As you would at such a moment.

“It’s happened, Paul.  Are you watching the news?”

“Yes, Enzo, I’m just sipping a virgin daiquiri in front of the tube.  Because this worldwide crisis has NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER on my actual life and the people I profess to ‘love’.”

Bia has called Ranold.  Tai, her son in college, has died.  It’s a sad commentary on Bia’s life that the only person she can call for moral support is Ranold, who is himself processing the death of his only son.

People’s actions (and inaction) here rather call back to the crisis of Soon, when L.A. is dessicated.  Ranold is stopped for a moment by a panic attack, Bia springs into action.  Paul does absolutely nothing.

Here, Ranold is paralyzed for a moment, the women do everything they can (Aryanna, you frakking rock) and Paul does absolutely nothing.

Ranold’s shock is short-lived, however:

“I’ve got to get to Berlitz and help Aryanna,” he said.

GOOD MAN, Ranold.

“Paul, will you come?”

Paul doesn’t even get the chance to say no; Jae says it for him:

“Let him stay with Mom, Dad,” Jae said.

Then Paul makes one of the bigger dumbass mistakes of his life: he tells Ranold RIGHT NOW what’s happened.

“Ranold,” Paul said.  “it’s happened.”

“What’s happened?”

You’d think Ranold would realize kinda what’s happened.  Both his and Bia’s sons have died at the same moment.  He may not think God is behind it, but surely he must think that the Christian terrorists are carrying out their evil plot.

“The curse.  The plague.  The warning from the underground.”

“Well, okay, not so much a ‘warning’ as it was the fervent mass prayer that millions of innocents die.  Isn’t God just the best???”

“What?  What?”  Ranold looked wildly at everyone in the kitchen, his eyes finally landing on Connor.  “But, but your son, your firstborn is fine!”

We’ll get back to this.

The kids burst into tears.  Ranold stormed out.

Jae helped her mother into a chair and fanned her.  “You kids help me with Grandma.  Now!  Get me a glass of water.  Paul, you’d better check the news.”

Yes, five-year-old child, help me with a grown woman in shock.  Paul, go do nothing.

Why does he need to check the news?  They both know what’s happening.

(Let’s also note that despite Jae’s prediction that she would be “the most shocked person in the world,” she is handling this with aplomb.  You go, girl-who-is-not-quite-yet-RTC.)

So Paul, on the advice of both his buddy and his wife, goes and watched TV.  What a helpful dude.  Of course, he immediately sees that this is happening all over the world, including to Ball Dangler, who lost his firstborn son.

And on that note, the book ends.  Boom.

Much like the cliffhanger ending of Soon, which ended exactly post-“miracle.”  So stylistically, I can’t fault the stories for that.

But that firstborn thing…

Ball Dangler’s eldest son (he has four sons and no daughters) is dead.  Okay, makes sense.  Berlitz is dead.  Again, fair enough.  He is older than Jae.

Why is Ranold shocked that Connor is alive.  Remember, Brie is two years older than her brother.

To my secularly-raised mind, Paul and Jae do not have a “firstborn son.”  They have a firstborn daughter and a secondborn son.  They have no child who could be affected by the “plague.”

But, I’ve been wrong before, so I checked with reliable sources.

According to my sister-in-law’s Sunday School classes (she was raised Catholic), Connor would be included in the plague.  Because he is the first son in the family, and because daughters don’t count, don’tcha know.

It actually makes perfect sense to me that Jenkins/God would think this way.  So, let’s roll with it.

So, that’s the children.  What about their parents?

Because Connor is not in the crosshairs because Paul is a Christian.

But Jae is not.  She might have prayed once and might believe in God, but she doesn’t actually come to Jesus “all the way” until Chapter 4 of Shadowed.

So, daughters don’t count, and mothers don’t count.

Everyone’s shocked, I’m sure.

This is also driven home by the fact that Paul himself is spared the plague.  His mother was an atheist and his father was a Christian.  Then again, this could also be because both his parents are dead.  (Chalk it up, once again, to my secular upbringing, but I just think that people are still their parents’ children, even when the parent is dead.)

(On that note, I was really worried for Ranold earlier in the book, as it is strongly implied that he is an only child.  But, presumably, his parents are dead, so he is also spared the plague.)

In conclusion, in order for God to bring the Hellhammer down on your sorry ass, you need to be the oldest boy in the family (but not necessarily the oldest child, and your father must be an alive non-Christian.)

Another note of interest: I know that Jenkins thinks that RTC-ianity is the only real religion, but perhaps even in Atheistopia, there are secret underground Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and pagans.  Their firstborn sons are dead, too, and roasting in Hell.

So, that’s Silenced.  Worse and even more depressing than Soon.

Before we move on to some awesome Christian movies, let’s have a secular moment of silence (or Silenced, if you will) for poor Berlitz Decenti.  And a moment of respect for the awesomeness of his wife, Aryanna.

Okay, that’s done.  On to Belle and the Beast!





Posted on May 11, 2014, in Books, Silenced. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. This book is quite a moral litmus test for Christians, in my opinion. Any who come away from it without questioning their devotion to God, or at least denying that the god depicted is theirs, are frankly monstrous.

    perhaps even in Atheistopia, there are secret underground Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and pagans

    If you think of Atheistopia as a place that exists outside Jenkins’ imagination, then absolutely. But if I learned anything from Left Behind, it’s that people who aren’t RTCs will gladly throw away their religion for the latest fad given just half a chance. Religion is just something they do to fit in, like wearing a tie to a business meeting.

  2. I don’t think words exist to describe this staggering level of sociopathy. Just… wow.

    Also, given that this slaughter seems to be affecting non-Christian males of all ages so long as they have living non-Christian fathers, this is going to create a significant gender imbalance in the world going forward. With Atheistopia raising everyone’s standard of living so dramatically, we can probably assume that most people worldwide match the typical modern first-world family size of 2-3 kids, meaning most parents only have 1 or 2 sons. Off the cuff, I’d say maybe half the at-risk population is killed, possibly more?

    Rough calculation:
    % of population who qualify as true believers – let’s say 5%
    % of males with living fathers – 80%? based on estimates that the US will have 20% of the population over 65 within the next couple decades, and most men over 65 do not have living fathers. Some do, of course, but let’s say they’re balanced out by men under 65 whose fathers died younger.
    If we then estimate that Atheistopian parents tend to have enough sons per family that half of all males are firstborn, then 95% unbelievers * 80% with living fathers * 50% firstborn = 38% of the world’s males were just killed, and since the vast majority of them were under the age of 65, it’s more like 45-50% of younger men and boys. (What’s the Atheistopian world population, anyway? If it’s, say, 10 billion, God just murdered 1.9 billion men and boys at once.) So for people of an age to get married and have children, there’s going to be a female-to-male ratio close to 2-to-1 for a good 20 years to come, which is going to have all sorts of interesting social effects.

    Naturally, Jenkins will not so much as acknowledge this in the sequel.

    • It’s even more dramatic when you think about the advances in medicine that have taken place over the past 40 years in Atheistopia. Cancer all but completely cured, etc. Which will increase the number of older people with living fathers.

      Paul and Jae are pushing 40 in Silenced, which probably puts Ranold in his 60s. So Ranold is of my generation, people who fell into the generation gap between the Gen Xers and the Millennials. And in turn, his parents were Baby Boomers. Assuming his parents lived into their sixties, they might even have benefitted from the leaps in science. Either way, I can only assume that the advances in medicine would mean that life expectancy would rise, and many more men would have nonChristian fathers in Silenced.

      • True, I was basing it on modern US population statistics since Jenkins likes to make all his alternate/future worlds just like the modern US, but with what we’ve seen of Atheistopia the median male life expectancy has to be at least 85-90, possibly even higher if advances like organ cloning have come to fruition. (I just started a new job at a life insurance company, and have been hearing some interesting speculation from the actuarial department about life expectancy for babies born today.) So if the average man is now living to, say, 120, the plague is hitting a lot more of the over-65 population than I’d figured.

        The other thing that could push up the death toll is average family size – I guesstimated that enough parents would be having multiple boys that only half the male population would be first/only sons. But if, for the last 40 years, the vast majority of parents have really only had 1 to 3 kids, the percentage of first/only sons would be closer to 70-75% of the male population*. And obviously, a lot depends on the exact percentage of true believers and how “true believer” is defined. (Do Catholics count? One never knows, with this type of book.)

        *Supporting math:
        n = number of children per family
        The number of possible combinations (ie, boy/boy/girl, girl/boy, etc) = 2^n
        The percentage of boys that would be lost is then (2^n)-1/(2^n*n/2).
        Example: if n=3, 2^3 = 8 possible permutations, 7 of which would have at least 1 boy. A representative sample of 8 families would have 24 children total, 12 of them boys, so the death rate would be 7/12 = 58.33%
        So if the average n has been slightly over replacement, like 2.3, then the death rate would be 69% of the younger non-believing male population.

        • Do Catholics count?

          They didn’t in Left Behind. I’ve seen nothing in these books to indicate that was all on LaHaye.

          • There was the group of Mexicans in book one who, according to proper Christian Stephen, “stuck to the old ways”. So there are still Catholics around. The question is, of course, did God murder their children too?

            Stephen acted at least somewhat sympathetic to those Mexicans and got killed for sticking up to them. And he’s a character Jenkins wants us to view as righteous. So, maybe. Wouldn’t bet on it though.

          • I’m inclined to believe there’s a looser standard for “Christian enough to not have your firstborn son murdered” than there is for “good enough Christian to be raptured”. Like, you have to be a seriously “good” Christian (or under the age of 12) to get whisked up to heaven sans your clothing, but anyone who still secretly loves Jesus gets their son spared.

            Now whether Jenkins *believes* a typical modern American Catholic would continue to love Jesus in secret under an Atheistopian regime is another matter. As is the question of whether the sociopathic god of these books would consider people believers if they love Jesus but repudiate this kind of horrific violence.

          • Because of the Left Behind series, I’m thinking it’s a no-go on the Catholics getting out of the plague, but I’m not 100% certain…maybe 82%.

            Look at the Catholics of LB: the Pope is raptured because he became a secret Protestant, and the two most prominent characters, Leon Fortunato and Peter Mathews (who became Pope when the Protestant one was raptured), are fakey believers who are just into the fancy outfits. So Catholics obviously don’t take the Bible seriously, right? And they’re pretty clearly not part of the Real Christian Underground.

            Again, I might be wrong on this, but I doubt that the guy who wrote Fortunato and Mathews would let the Atheistopian Catholics keep their sons.

          • That’s a good point about Stephen, Ivan. But don’t forget about Tsion Ben-Judah’s poor, damned chauffeur, Jaime.

  3. The sociopathic RTCs and their monstrous deity have already been thoroughly covered so all I’ve got is a nitpick:

    At precisely 6 p.m. God will strike dead the first-born sons of living non-RTCs. Why 6 p.m. E/T? Why not Greenwich time? Or heck, Oceanic?

    • Because that’s midnight in Bern, Switzerland. Paul chose that because that’s where Ball Dangler and the seat of the international Atheistopian government are.

  4. I notice that, when I see believers asking unbelievers what sort of evidence they’d like to see of God’s existence, the atheists’ answer is never, “Global, simultaneous murder of a billion innocent people.”

    • If it turns out that I’ve been wrong and there is a god, the worst type of god it could be is the god of Jenkins’ books. Believers who think their god is a mass murderer, and still believe their god is good, worry me.

  5. In this worldview, loving someone is entirely compatible with torturing them forever.

    “Paul, go do nothing. You’re better at that than anyone else I know.”

    Naked Bunny with a Whip, I think that a term is needed for “the worldbuilding exists only to put up scenery for the hero to be awesome in front of”. The Hunger Games and even more so the Divergent series suffer from this in a huge way.

  6. “I do not believe this slaughter is going to take place.”
    “I mean, I was there in L.A. half a year ago when an equally miraculous and equally arbitrary slaughter took place after an equally oddly phrased letter with equally reasonable demands but with an equally unreasonable time table…”

    “But, but your son, your firstborn is fine!”
    We’ll get back to this.

    We got back to the confusion of who might and might not count as a firstborn, but do we get back to why Ranold doesn’t put two and two together here? I mean, the manifesto made it explicitly clear that believers wouldn’t be affected, and here is Paul, completely unaffected.

    And as far as the “killing Magnor proves Paul’s loyalty” goes: Paul told Dangler personally that that Magnor wasn’t a real Christian. That’s on record: Paul doesn’t think that the guy he helped kill was a real Christian. So the fact that he did help kill Magnor means nothing anymore.

    On the “mother’s don’t count” thing: The original Old Testament plagues passed by any houses marked with blood. So perhaps this plague simple ignores any household with at least one RTC, who’s marked with the super-special blood of Jesus. I don’t think we can be sure of that, since we haven’t seen any female zealots with unsaved husbands in this book IIRC. And I suspect Jenkins was too busy masturbating to the slaughter to worry about such pesky details. All we need to know is that his god’s enemies suffered horribly.

  7. “The curse. The plague. The warning from the underground.”

    Um warning? You mean that one manifesto that came out recently from an anonymous source of that you yourself could have at least verified even though the “warning” came with absolutely no real means by which people could do anything about it? Will someone please, please get Jenkins a dictionary?

    Have women ever counted for anything in a Jenkins novel?

  8. I suddenly realized what this ending reminds me off: It’s like the first half of this:
    (NSFW, especially the second part. Also, the second part isn’t funny, so turn it off then)
    Except Jenkins doesn’t notice any tonal shift between the persecution-part and the revenge-part.

  9. This would be great if it was meant to be horror–it clearly succeeds at that—but the trouble is, like with Left Behind, we’re supposed to see all these horrific deaths as a good thing. Because God loves us so much he’s willing to kill us all so not a one will perish.

  10. I’m actually shocked by the inhumanity of this chapter. With the desiccation, I honestly thought the horrifying cruelty involved in murdering the population of a city through dehydration was mostly just an unfortunate implication that Jenkins didn’t care to consider. I assumed that, canonically, most people magically escaped, and the overwhelming death toll was our idea of what would actually happen if all the residents of a huge city had to evacuate before they died of thirst without any way to know what was happening or how to escape it. I seriously thought Jenkins was just stupid and apathetic enough to just ignore all that. That it was supposed to be a grandiose but ultimately harmless gesture. But this proves me utterly, devastatingly wrong.

    I actually kinda liked this series, in a weird way. It was always gross and abusive and self-congratulatory, but at least it was kind of silly and cute when it was about an evil atheist utopia ineffectually hunting down underground Christians groups putting bible verses in fortune cookies. It was a silly fantasy of espionage and subterfuge against overwhelming odds.

    All that ended, I’m pretty sure, when Paul got involved with the underground Christians. I am almost certain that it was Paul who pushed for the slaughter of San Francisco, and we’ve watched him personally engineer the mass murder of almost all eldest sons in the world. When your secret underground cabal can unleash unprecedented destruction on a worldwide scale by literally drawing on the power of a forgotten god, you aren’t the underdogs. You’re the villains. You are the evil cult that has infiltrated and corrupted the deepest levels of government. You are why this world tried to erase religion. You are why they are right and just and good to hunt you down and conceal every scrap of evidence that you ever existed, lest someone else discover your arcane rituals and uses them to spread death and chaos across the world once again.

    I’m actually kind of impressed. Jenkins first created a world of technological marvel, where peace reigns supreme, and nobody goes hungry, but people are violently persecuted for having faith. Then, he justified that persecution, demonstrating that even a small group of believers can trigger some of the most terrifying atrocities imaginable, with no defence or counter other than the immediate acquiescence to whatever demands are made. He’s written an entire series where the protagonist is literally the most evil person in history. And we’re supposed to root for him. Fucking hell, Jenkins.

    • Amen. I also noticed how marvelously Jenkins managed to provide a justification for the horrible Christian persecution, by portraying Christians as willing and able to call down genocidal miracles. AND he portrayed an atheist-run world as a far nicer and more peaceful place than even I would think imaginable. All in all, it’s a good thing I believe that Jenkins is full of shit, otherwise I might just sign up with the Atheistapo.

      And I also didn’t see the point of this book threading water for 25 chapters or so, with the zealots bitching and moaning about the terrible persecution they faced and how it was all so hopeless. And then when Jenkins was done wasting time, the characters suddenly remembered: “Oh yeah, we have an almighty god who just provides us with any miracle we ask for, no matter how brutal, who can fix any problem we have.” Funny how both the atheists and the zealots completely ignored the implications of the L.A. miracle.

    • [applause]

      This book all makes so much more sense if you think of it as being about the Cthulhu-cult.

      • Left Behind in general makes more sense if you think about it being the Cthulu cult. Y’know the believers get devoured first and spared the horrors that will befall everyone else.

    • I’m amazed by Jenkins’ ability to take the laser-focused targeting and slaughter of Christians from being eyerollingly over-the-top to utterly justified. The man’s a master at delivering the opposite message than he intended without even realizing it.

      (Unfortunately, his target audience also won’t realize it because raawr TurboJesus woot woot woot.)

  11. Also, I didn’t watch that Beauty and the Beast trailer the first time it was posted, and it may be small potatoes compared to the mass-murder we just witnessed, but…. Ewwww!!! When I was a kid watching the Disney version, I had no idea the (original) story is considered a metaphor for the importance of staying with your abusive husband, because he’ll transform into a kind wonderful man through your love and affection. But I certainly got that vibe here.

    And that scene where the female lead asks in a frail and vulnerable voice if there’s anything at all she can do to make it up to the angry man… Fucking hell, just call the Special Victims Unit now! I’ll just be over here, wondering if the movie makers deliberately made it look as if we were about to witness a blackmail-into-sex scene, or if they truly didn’t think of that.

    • Ivan, the original folktale has the message “handsome is as handsome does”: the Beast is never cruel to Belle. (See the plot summary at Wikipedia.) It’s the Disney version which introduced the idea that if you stay with your horrible husband/boyfriend/etc. he will be magically transformed into a nice guy. I find it very hard to forgive Disney for that.

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