Shadowed: Chapter 1: Heroism=Watching TV
It’s been awhile since I’ve read or listened to Shadowed, and I forgot the amazingly exciting opening:
Paul stood before the television…
Because this whole chapter is Paul’s response to watching the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of the firstborns on television.
Riveting action, I know.
He had long trusted his instincts and had proven that his prodigious intellect could sort through myriad possibilities even under pressure…
Yeah, the intense pressure of watching TV.
Oh, btw…inspired by a few comments in a previous post, I ran Paul Stepola through The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test. I really tried to be fair…and he still came out with a score of 116. Must be that “prodigious intellect” he’s so proud of.
Speaking of Paul’s “prodigious intellect,” I am reminded of Rayford Steele’s humble reflection that he has spent his entire life being “better than most and the best in most circles.”
It’s interesting to note that in these first crucial, emergency moments after the slaughter, Paul of the “prodigious intellect” has been given this all-important task: to watch TV. This isn’t even his idea—it’s Jae’s. In light of the news of Berlitz’s death behind the wheel of his car, Ranold has headed off to help his son and his daughter-in-law, and Margaret has fainted. Jae’s response??
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.”
So the six-year-old, the eight-year-old, and the woman who just received the news that her only brother is dead…they are the ones taking action and helping people. Evil atheist Ranold, the guy we’re supposed to hate, has gone out into the horrific mess of the world to try to get to his son.
Paul is watching TV.
Oh, and he’s thinking, too. Here are the things he thinks about, in the exact order he thinks about them:
On one hand, Paul envisioned a mass turning to faith…
On the other, the carnage was unimaginable. … And what would this mean to the economy, to service industries, to law enforcement, to the military?
So, he first thinks about how many notches can be put on Jesus’ belt…then about the effect on the economy of the sudden and inexplicable deaths of millions of people.
Surely millions would use the chaos and mourning to justify their hatred…
Yes, because that’s what evil atheists do when we are confronted by chaos, when we mourn.
We use it.
We use it to hate.
Oh, I’ll admit straight up that I am quite capable of hatred. My hatred towards one Paul Stepola, for example, knows no bounds.
So, evil atheists use their mourning of loved ones…
…to justify their hatred toward such a seemingly vengeful and spiteful God.
Seemingly vengeful and spiteful?
At Paul’s request, God just struck down millions upon millions of innocents. This includes many millions of people who have never once been exposed to the Bible, because they were born after WWIII. They’re roasting in Hell right now. God killed little children at Paul’s request.
And this God is seemingly vengeful and spiteful?
…most [people], [Paul] was sure, would have preferred to have been convinced there was a God who was about only love and peace and harmony, not also about justice and righteousness and judgment.
I want Paul to tell me what was just and righteous about killing Berlitz Decenti, a good-hearted guy who loves kids and took care of his little sister. Who was raised in an atheist household in Atheistopia and never heard anything about Jesus, probably never even saw a Bible in his life.
And gee, how shocking, in a more general sense, that people would prefer a God of love to a God of hate.
Sheesh, people, amirite?
Paul then ruminates about TV news in general:
History had provided occasions when events overwhelmed even the most professional newsperson. The assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy, nearly eighty-five years prior, had caused reporters to pale and a celebrated anchor to succumb to emotion.
Geez, Paul, sorry everyone can’t be as professional as you are, watching your TV while your brother-in-law lies dead in the street.
Sorry all professionals can’t be as awesome as these fine folks, Jerry Jenkins.
Now, obviously, Paul is referring to this:
…though it seems such a judgmental way to characterize the extremely professional actions of a man processing shock and grief. I mean, Cronkite gave the report. He reported the news. He was feeling strong emotions, but kept them in check and did his job.
What have you ever done, Paul, except be an asshat?
Oh, and Paul realizes that this is a rather different situation, since many newsrooms happened to employ firstborn sons, meaning that reporters and writers and cameramen and many other people who make the newsroom work are now lying dead in those very newsrooms.
But Paul has other things on his mind than the feelings one would feel on seeing multiple coworkers drop dead without explanation:
Paul couldn’t imagine the demand for funeral services.
Paul’s deepest concern: reserved for the economy. Go figure.
It has, at this point, been less than five minutes since the slaughter.
And finally, FINALLY…
Atop all this, of course, would be the devastating toll of human grief.
Oh gee, Paul, YA THINK?
I guess, trying really hard to give some credit, that it’s a baby step that Paul thinks atheists actually experience grief. I mean, we use it for our evil, hateful ends and all, but at least he admits that we feel it, too.
Paul, let’s remember, has never had any friend in his life except for Straight (who is, of course, immune from the slaughter). So he most likely can’t think of anyone whose death will cause him personal sorrow. (He doesn’t give a shit about Berlitz, that’s obvious.) And being a self-obsessed narcissistic sociopath, this is the closest he can come to empathy:
How does a family, a clan, a people, a nation, a world mourn a loss so all-encompassing?
Nothing would ever be the same, Paul knew. Not for the USSA. Not for the world. And certainly not for him.
Glad to see that Paul has his priorities straight. As usual.