TEC: Chapter 12: Let’s Go Fly a Kite

This chapter is another deviation from formula, as Murphy talks to Stephanie after class, rather than getting all hot and sweaty with Levi Abrams.

Bizarrely, Stephanie begins the conversation with an apology, for “coming on too strong” (how unwomanly of her!!), and expositions her own character:

“As an investigative reporter, I’ve always approached any story with skepticism.  I use my aggression, hoping that it will make the other person nervous and reveal something that would incriminate them.”

She then says aloud what she was thinking the last time they spoke, which is that Murphy isn’t a religious nut.

Right.  He went on a mid-school-year expedition to Ararat and claims to have found the Ark but has no proof whatsoever, and he proselytizes during both of the classes she has seen him teach.  No religious nut here, no sirree!

Murphy laughed.  “Maybe a little strange…but not crazy.”

The humor eased the tension a little.

Wait…that was supposed to be humor???  Yeah, who says RTCs don’t know how to laugh, amirite?

Stephanie immediately brings back up the subject of happiness, and Murphy drones on about happiness for half a page, with such platitudes as “I know some people who have very little when it comes to earthly goods and yet they are content” and “I think happiness is the end result of having a positive attitude toward life.

Surely Stephanie could never gain such insight from anybody but a Bible-believing genius like Michael Murphy!

Hilariously for one so addicted to Wikipedia, Phillips then has Murphy attribute to “someone” the idea of happiness being a butterfly that sits on you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne said it.  And although Murphy claims the butterfly lands “when we busy ourselves with our responsibilities,” Hawthorne said it lands when we “sit down quietly.”  Then again, being quiet isn’t Murphy’s strong suit.

Stephanie then reveals that she is the typical “atheist” who just hates God.  See, she went to church as a kid, then her father was killed by a drub driver, and “I guess I got angry at God.”  Go figure.

Murphy is actually relatively understanding about this, at least for him, but nonetheless immediately posits that “God may be trying to talk to you.”  To illustrate how God talks, Murphy makes a convoluted analogy about kite strings, Q-and-A-ing Stephanie about what happens when a kite goes super-duper high:

“When the kite was out of sight, how could you tell that it was still there?”

Kovacs looked a little puzzled for a moment.  Then she said slowly, “I guess by the pull of the string.  It meant the wind was still blowing the kite.”

“Right.  That’s sort of how it is when God speaks to you,” Murphy explained with a smile.  “You can’t see Him.  He is out of sight.  And you can’t audibly hear His voice because He is too far away.  But you can feel His loving tug on the strings of your heart.”

This analogy, by the way, does not seem to be original to Murphy/LaHaye/Phillips.  (And Murphy could have gotten bonus points by reminding her that a kite contains a cross!)

Nope.  Instead, his analogy just makes Stephanie cry.  So “he knew he had given her food for thought.”

As we noted in Ararat, so many of these conversations are laid out as templates for converting people.  So apparently making someone cry is a good thing.  Keep emotionally manipulating her, Murph…she’ll become a good little Christian non-mistress in no time!


Posted on February 24, 2016, in The Europa Conspiracy. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. “When I told that girl in class that her dead father is now burning in hell for his heathen ways in life, and that she’d burn right along side him, watching each other’s torment for all eternity if she doesn’t repent, she started crying. That’s how I knew I said the right thing. I was getting through to her! Once she’s done with her overly-emotional womanly blubbering, she’ll come to Christ, I just know it!

  2. Why the fuck do I need to feel “tugs at my heartstrings” and figure it must be god. Too far away to see or hear him? God is supposed to be omnipotent! He could shout in my ear from the other side of the universe.

    And BTW, even if my kite is so high that it’s out of sight (that’s one good kite!), I still remember holding and seeing the kite. It seems probable that the tugging on the wire that is much the same as back when I could see the kite is still caused by the kite. Murphy just goes “That tingling feeling you sometimes have? That’s from an invisible wire attached to a kite that’s been up in the air and out of sight since before you or I was born. But the tingling feeling proves that it is there, attached by undetectable wire. No, it couldn’t just be an itch. That’s the anti-kite whispering its filthy lies in your ear. Never doubt that the kite is there. Now go help me make owning scissors a crime. The unseen kite is very displeased when we allow people to freely carry implements that could harm his holy wires.”

    • I wasn’t a huge kite-flyer as a kid, but I agree–I cannot recall a single time when I couldn’t see the kite.

      As well (and I know that LaHaye and Jenkins are two different people) God HAS spoken audibly to characters before. He did it in Shadowed, in fact! Now again, that was just Jenkins, and I do not remember God speaking audibly in the Left Behind series, but it does seem to be a thing they think God could do if he wanted.

    • It’s an especially stupid metaphor when we know Murphy is already expecting to find the wall that God scrawled a message on in Daniel 5. What’s with the heartstrings when he can just materialize a hand and write messages in plaster?

  3. “As an investigative reporter, I’m always aware of how alien my mindset must be to everyone else, so I feel I have to explain it to normal people,” said nobody ever.

    “I know some people who have very little when it comes to earthly goods and yet they are content. I call those people ‘useful suckers’.”

  4. Nope. Instead, his analogy just makes Stephanie cry. So “he knew he had given her food for thought.”

    “Food for thought” – or you know, really caused her intense emotional pain or alternatively joy?

    Seems a huge emotional reaction for a pretty naff and outdated (how many kids still fly kites , sure there’s a few (notably in Afghanistan or India where I think there are dedicated kite-flying festivals, maybe China or Japan too?) but its not all that common for most kid snow or is it? (Maybe just me and been along time since I was a kid. Might’ve flown one once or twice in my life but really very rarely.

    If I was talking with someone and they start crying, then depending on context I’d immediately ask if they were okay and try to work out what’s right or wrong or how to help them or if give them a hug (if appropriate or something. I’m almost scared to ask but what does Murphy do for Stephanie here?

    One thing I wouldn’t conclude is a smug “oh I’ve given them food for thought.” If I can see that someone is thinking about what I’ve said, then I don’t expect to see them burst into tears.

    And, yeah, would it have killed Jenkins to have given Nathaniel Hawthorne credit where credit is due here for his butterfly =Happiness metaphor? I suppose on the bright side he admitted it *was* someone else’s analogy rather than taking credit for it himself but still.

  5. “Murphy laughed. “Maybe a little strange…but not crazy.” The humor eased the tension a little.”

    Wait…that was supposed to be humor??? Yeah, who says RTCs don’t know how to laugh, amirite?

    Indeed. Humour? What humour? Why laugh at that – especially when its your own joke! Slight smile at best.

    It reminds me of Baldwin Dengler, Global Dictator, howling with hysterical laughter this non-joke by the repellent mass murdering “hero” Paul Stepola :

    ““Frankly, Mr. Chancellor, I’ve always thought it ironic that the best-known army knife in world history comes from a country that has been militarily neutral for centuries.”

    As quoted here :


    Which really jarred for me and makes no sense. Howling with laughter at that? No way. Such a bizarre emotional over-reactions that and Stephanie’s tears here over words that are so seemingly not worth those responses. I know some people cry and laugh more easily than others (and that can be good characterisation if done right.) but really?

    Jenkins is a writer yet he seems to have absolutely no insight into what actually makes people laugh or cry. His characters thus don’t work at least at the level of being believable human individuals. Its just odd and kinda sad too. Although nowhere sad enough enough to make me sob.

    Who says RTC’s don’t know how to laugh? Me. And I pity them for it although its also creepy too.

  6. He probably doesn’t want to call attention to the original metaphor because he’s lost it completely. A butterfly isn’t going to land on you when you’re rushing around busily!

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for February 26th, 2016 | The Slacktiverse

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