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?

SEEMINGLY???

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?

A clan?

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.

 

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Posted on January 6, 2015, in Shadowed. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Ugh. Paul is still the most awful character I can think of. And it makes me sick to my stomach to think that anyone exists who thinks this kind of worldwide slaughter is the work of heroes.

    This is confirmed as worldwide, yes? I know there was some speculation here toward the end of the previous book that it might “just” be members of the Evil Atheistopian Government that would lose their firstborn sons, or be struck down as firstborn themselves. So, that’s fun.

    By the way, let’s start taking a look at demographic trends. As populations grow more affluent, they tend to see declining birth rates. It’s not hard to guess why – you don’t need a bunch of kids to help with the farm or family business anymore, the survival of fewer is guaranteed, so it’s preferable economically and personally to invest more resources in fewer kids. And if the Atheistopian world is doing well globally, then overall there are going to be vastly fewer second-born and especially third-born sons as a result. There will of course be outliers, for individuals and groups that favor having more children, but the overall trend has held in most populations in recent history.

    Paul and his fucking evil cult may have just committed a healthy chunk of a gendercide.

    • Also I wonder how many abortions they just caused and how many newborn babies they just murdered.

      • Actually, one thing I wondered was whether taking that kind of thing into account might get God!Jenkins off the hook for a bit of the enormity of their death toll. If one posited that, every fetus, embryo, or zygote counts as a human being, as a literal reading of the Bible makes clear, then a miscarriage or a fertilized egg that never even implanted could well have been the first born son in many families, so they’d be effectively, well, passed over.
        Uh oh. Now I just got myself wondering about cases where the mother’s first son isn’t the father’s first, or vice versa. What’s a God to do in such a case?

      • Considering that miscarriages and the rapture of newborns and being-borns happened in Left Behind, I can only assume that fetuses count for this particular Wrath.

    • Good point actually: Isn’t there a going to massive shortage of men thanks to this plague that wiped a good chunk of them out? Especially since many of the survivors will be of Ranold’s age, i.e. too old.

      I wonder if we’re going to see Paul exploit this situation.
      “I don’t like it any more than you do, Jae, as the good godly man I am. But the fact of the matter is, there just isn’t a big enough breeding stock of men left to repopulate the earth sufficiently for the end-times prophecies to happen. There need to be 200 million fighting men left for Jesus to slaughter. Not counting those who’ll die of old age before then, there are barely 200 million men in total. And that’s before god kills a fourth, then a third, then another third, etc. with his miracles.
      You know I’m now totally and completely dedicated as a husband to you and our three children. Sorry, sorry, two, I knew that. But just as with Adam and Eve or Noah’s kids who had to practice large-scale incest to breed, sometimes we need to deviate from what’s proper. Long story short, I’m male, I’m potent, I’m well practiced in quick sexual encounters, and I’m scheduled to meet with 12 recently widdowed young women to ensure that the human race can restore itself so God can properly wreck it again afterwards.”

    • If I may be permitted to toot my own horn, I did some math on that in the comments to the last entry on Silenced.

      If you don’t feel like following the link, the math is as follows:
      x – percentage of male population lost
      n – average number of children per family
      a – percentage of people with parents still living
      b – percentage of people who aren’t Christian
      then x = ((2^n)-1/(2^n*n/2))*a*b

      So if the average family has 2.3 children, then 69% of males with living non-Christian parents will die, and if 80% of the male population has at least one living parent and 95% of the population isn’t Christian, then 52.44% of the world’s men and boys were just killed. For specifically boys under 18, virtually all will have at least one living parent so the percentage will be even higher.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      So we’re back to Author Self-Insert Paul Apostle-spelled-sideways-get-it?

  2. Wait…wasn’t this installment called “Shadowed”, rather than “Silenced”? Did I miss something?

  3. I don’t know if Paul Steppola is the worst protagonist I’ve ever come across, but he sure is in the running after this.

  4. Seriously, what the Fuck?! I know I should cut back on the profanity, but I follow the journalistic principle of always using the shortest, most concise word and sometimes that word is the f-bomb. Seriously, does Paul Stepola have a single redeemable trait? Anything at all? I’m waiting.

  5. So… Atheistopia has records, right?

    The first-born sons (is that the first son no matter how many older sisters he has, or the firstborn iff the first born was male?) are all dead, except for Christians. All Christian firstborn sons who were born ‘on the grid’ were just outed as members of the cult that magically slaughtered a billion or so people.

    GG, God.

    • Yeah, Paul basically just outed himself. Like he should have with the water thing at the end of the first book, if the Atheistopians would just make their agents walk one at a time into the edge of the desiccation zone with a bottle of water, with a cleared, armed team watching to prevent any runners.

      • It would be interesting, if they did that test. Imagine Paul’s hypocritical horror and disgust when he sees people using God’s power to slaughter their enemies.

        • I have the best commenters in the world. You guys have already anticipated so much of the plot–I can’t wait to show you Chapter 2! 😀

        • Oh wow, Jenkins was actually able to take a break from drooling over his revenge fic to remember the complications? (For RTCs. Those are the only complications that matter) Well, color me surprised. Sure, it seemed obvious to us from the end of the last book, but Mr J. was able to ignore that after Soon’s miracle too.

  6. World coming to an end? Watch TV! It’s the next best thing to a telephone. Ah, sweet, sweet telephones.

    I think a certain amount of hatred towards the person directly responsible for this mass-murder could be justified. (And I’m sure the authors would agree, if it had been a Catholic or a Muslim doing it rather than a Real, True Christian.)

  7. Oh wow. Jenkins is not about to ease us into it, is he? We get Paul at his worst right from the get-go.

    If it weren’t so horrible, it would almost be adorable how Jenkins is trying to portray Paul and God as the just and benevolent, and those mean old atheists as dastardly for probably being angry at God. Yeah, you know those atheists, always looking for excuses for their murderous impulses. You just know that after we RTCs announce we’re going to have their loved ones murdered, and then those loved ones end up dead, they’re going to use the ensuing chaos as a cover for their hatred.

    And yeah, I said it at the end of the last book, and it’s been mentioned now: God has just given those hateful atheists all they need to finish the job. Any first-born son who’s alive is a Christian or has a Christian parent. Only Paul’s massive layers of plot armor can save him now.

  8. inquisitiveraven

    Hmm, one question that I don’t think anyone has asked. Do one of the parents (or just the father considering this is RTC fiction) have to be alive for the first born son to die? Because I imagine that this is going to have a huge impact how many people died.

    • This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit. Because Silenced seems to go to great lengths to point out that Ranold is a firstborn son. Yet he is not killed. And Silenced also points out that Ranold’s mom is dead. So perhaps you do need a living parent.

      Yanno, so they can mourn. And use their mourning to hate. -_-

      That also solves the conundrum of what to do with a firstborn son with unequally-yoked parents, like…oh, say…Paul, the product of an atheist mom and RTC dad. Would dad’s belief save Paul, or would mom’s atheism override it? We’ll never know.

      • You know, he’s right. If I was one of the survivors of this (I wouldn’t be, I’d be dead*) I’d totally use my mourning to justify hatred. Or at least to justify moving inventing a cannon big enough to kill God to the top of my priorities list, because I would have reached “sufficient justification for hate discovered” a long time ago now.

        *Let this be my written record that if all firstborn sons of non-RTCs suddenly die, this one’s dying wish was that someone kill God.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          That also solves the conundrum of what to do with a firstborn son with unequally-yoked parents, like…oh, say…Paul, the product of an atheist mom and RTC dad.

          Well, the Ahnenerbe (Nazi Party Race Purity Boyz) had a complex way to calculate whether a mischling (mixture, half-breed) was Master Race or Subhuman. 1/16 Subhuman was the borderline, depending on whether the 1/16th Subhuman was on the mother’s or the father’s side; I don’t remember which was which, or whether the number of generations back the “inferior blood” entered the pedigree had any bearing.

  9. “People of Earth, your attention, please. This is Prodigiously Intelligent Apostle Paul of the Universal Glorification Planning Council. As you will no doubt be aware, the glorification of the creator of the universe requires regular transmission of sufficient amounts of adulation from your star system. And regrettably, your planet has exceeded the allowed number of atheists. The process of exterminating excess unbelievers will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.

    There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the proof of God’s existence and adulation orders have been on display at your local planning department in Elysium for 6000 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. … What do you mean you’ve never been to Elysium? Oh, for Heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four astral planes away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the extermination beams.

    I don’t know, apathetic bloody planet, I’ve no sympathy at all.”

    Wait, you mean to tell me this book is not meant to be a comedy? And the author expects us to believe that the Vogons are actually quite reasonable and bring up some solid concerns? … Nope, I’m going to continue assuming that this story comes with a laugh track, and Paul is the funny space alien who is always hilariously misunderstanding human customs: “Humans are so strange. We kill a few million of them, and they act like they are upset about it. What’s up with that?”

  10. And what would this mean to the economy, to service industries, to law enforcement, to the military?

    Oh dear, oh dear. Let’s take this in steps.

    to the economy
    Even when the republican party is no more, RTCs will still care primarily about the interest of big business. Though it is quite a change from Left Behind that Jenkins seems to consider that these miracles have economic effects.

    to service industries
    This, on the other hand, is perfectly in line with Left Behind. “Dozens of planes have crashed and millions are missing or dead. The traffic jams are enormous, public transport and the cabservices are in disarray, and the travel logistics to get from Chicago to Manhattan are a nightmare. Oh, the humanity!”

    to law enforcement
    Why would Paul care? I don’t think we’ve seen a single law enforcement officer doing anything other than persecuting Christians. I guess, like the economy, it’s that ingrained love for Law And Order (not for them of course, just for those others, the filthy ni- I mean “urban” “thugs” *wink-wink*).

    to the military
    And again, the only reason Paul would care is that he accepted the republican party program into his heart along with Jesus. You don’t need a military when the entire world is united in peace. Except when the law enforcement needs some help exterminating the RTCs, like in Soon. Which they’ll probably need, in light of this mass-murder. So Paul should hope the military is in shambles. His brothers in Christ (oh, and his sisters I guess) will live longer that way.

    • What’s even more depressing is that Paul is only considering these effects after he has caused all these deaths. Most Bond villains have better thought-out plans than this. Sure, they may be willing to kill lots of innocents, but they usually have considered the effect those deaths will have. In fact, that’s probably part of their plan.

      Paul trusts his prodigious intellect to sort through myriad possibilities even under pressure… but apparently there is quite a significant delay involved.

      Paul: Let’s cause the deaths of millions of people!
      Other believers: Are you sure that’s a good idea?
      Paul: Trust me. My prodigious intellect can sort through all the possibilities.
      *millions die*
      Paul: My prodigious intellect tells me this could affect the economy. Oh, and the atheists could use this to identify us as believers.
      Other believers: Why couldn’t you figure this out slightly earlier?!
      Paul: Hey, you can’t rush perfection.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for January 9, 2015 | The Slacktiverse

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