Monthly Archives: October 2016

TEC: Chapter 52, Part 1: Mr. Sensitive

As we all know, Michael Murphy is the most sensitive of guys.  And if there are any issues on which we could guess he would be extra sensitive, they are:

  1. Racial profiling
  2. Women being touched by strange men


They’re back again in the security line at the airport, which I guess means that Murphy chose to drive to D.C. to meet Isis and Willard, because otherwise he could have just met them at the connection and they wouldn’t be going through security together.

But it’s good that he did that, because now he can listen to Isis talk about a past experience with a putdown search, which made her “almost feel violated” (emphasis mine).

Huh.  It’s almost as though RTCs are against men touching women against their will, but we all know that’s not true:


Seriously, you guys know I listen to Christian radio regularly.  And I can assure that I have heard a damn bit more “oh sure, vulgar talk is bad and all, but Hillary is with Satan,” than “sexually assaulting women is absolutely wrong, so do not vote for such a man.”

Ah, timely references.

Murphy has nothing to say to this (or at least that’s where Phillips chose to cut the scene), and we immediately move on to racial profiling:

Murphy began to survey the crowd, imagining what he would look for if he were a security guard.  Would it be a little old woman with a knitting bag, or would he be drawn to someone from a Middle Eastern descent?

Knowing Murphy, I think we all know the answer to that question.  And I have one thing to say to you and your hunt for “more Arabs“:


“I almost feel sorry for those of other cultures who are being looked at as potential terrorists,” Murphy began, “but I think there’s no way to stop that.”


“Look at us.  We’re innocent passengers, yet we have to stand in line and be treated like potential terrorists.  Everyone is in the same boat.”

No, they aren’t, Murphy.  You just admitted you’re in a different boat, since you’re in the boat for people who aren’t “from a Middle Eastern descent.”  You gigantic prick.


They get to the plane, apparently without being searched or questioned or “treated like potential terrorists,” which gives Murphy time to whine about traveling:

Murphy sat down in the aisle seat next to [Isis].  He didn’t like window seats.  They were too confining.  Besides, he liked to get up and walk around every now and then without climbing over people.  He enjoyed traveling to foreign countries and meeting new people, but hated the long plane flights to get there.


Murphy heads right into a romantic conversation with Isis, getting quickly to Isis’s own “Jesus, who’s that?” moment:

“What do you mean, ‘the end of days’?” Isis asked, curious.

It was a mediocre thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Isis, my dear.

So Isis, a well-educated woman who works with languages, has never even heard the phrase “end of days”?  And it’s never occurred to her in these months she’s been falling in love with Murphy, to dig a bit deeper into his wacko beliefs?

Murphy then spends TWO PAGES reading the Bible to Isis and lecturing her about war and famine.  Isis starts getting depressed and even has the spine to call him on his shit:

“Why are you telling me all of this?”

So much for a relaxing plane trip, though, because Murphy just keeps on rolling.

“What do you think is the biggest and most devastating disease today?”


Okay, so I’m wrong.  It’s heart disease.  But if there’s one person who shouldn’t be wrong in their answer, it’s Isis, because she’s written by Phillips, who likes Wikipedia, which careful lays out exactly why Isis is wrong when she says:



No, Murphy, she is not right.  She’s wrong.  It’s still heart disease.  But hey, talking about AIDS lets you talk about the extra-strong strains of the disease that were actually in the news when the book was written, and mention the “panic in the gay community.”

Sure, Murph, because AIDS is God’s punishment for the gayness, right?

I want to mention that the plane has barely taken off at this point.  And they’re going to be in the air for the next TWELVE HOURS AT LEAST.

Poor Isis.  Poor, poor Isis.  You know she is just now feeling her stomach sink as she  realizes she forgot her Beats By Dre.

Murphy reveals the cherry of his depressing sundae of war, pestilence, earthquakes, and AIDS:

“The question is, if we are overwhelmed by these tragedies…shouldnt we be even more concerned with sin, which destroys the human soul and separates us from a holy God?”

Ah, the RTC’s favorite excuse for not giving a shit about real problems.

And even after all this, our Stepfordized Isis falls asleep on Murphy’s shoulder, feeling “safe, comfortable, and protected.”

Which is always how I feel after chatting about famine and death and Hell!

TEC: Chapter 51: Equipment

Murphy is packing for his big trip to Babylon, and it shouldn’t surprise any of us that he is a SUPER SPECIAL kind of packer:

Murphy began the checklist that had almost become second nature to him as a world traveler.

Oh, yeah, Murphy, you’re a real expert.  Man, remember that time you don’t pack any protection for your hands when you were scaling a mountain?  Or that other time when you thought the only equipment you needed for spelunking was one flashlight?

He pointed as he ticked items off: passport…visa…copies of passport and visa…airline tickets…cash…euros…credit cards…maps…contact phone numbers…toilet articles…clothes…equipment…What are you forgetting?  You always forget something!

I don’t doubt that.  Especially since you classify “clothes” and “equipment” as one item each.  Very weird.

Eh, never mind that!  Because Murphy gets a call from Stephanie Kovacs, who, when last we saw her, was just getting over being beaten and then blackballed by her abusive ass of a boyfriend.

Which Stephanie puts in very vague terms for Murphy’s benefit:

“The past few days have been really hard on me, and I had to make some difficult decisions that have affected my career.”

As I’ve pointed out before, this is just an odd scenario in so many ways.  But it’s especially sad that Stephanie (and Phillips and LaHaye) paint this as the natural course of events: that Stephanie’s decision to leave her abuser would naturally ruin her career, and that there is nothing to be done about this, and no other way things could possibly have gone.

And I also have a sneaking suspicion that Stephanie didn’t reveal that Shane beat her because she has a sneaking suspicion of how much sympathy and help Murphy would have for her.

Not to mention that Stephanie has gone and gotten herself RTC-ized, which means that whole abusive-boyfriend-ruined-career thing is no big deal anymore:

“I have a kind of peace in the midst of all this stress.”

“That’s God’s specialty.” [said Murphy]

Too bad God’s specialty isn’t protecting women from abusive partners.  Just sayin’.

And being RTC-ized, Stephanie has learned to be suitably ashamed of her monogamous relationship with a fellow single person.

“I…I had a personal relationship with Mr. Barrington.”


And being RTC-ized, Stephanie knows that her problems are nothing in comparison to a man’s:

“I think you may be in some kind of danger. …[Shane is] working for a group of people who were the financial backers behind Barrington Communications. …[Shane said] ‘people like Murphy, they see it all coming, in the Bible.  So they have to be stopped.  Before they can persuade others to resist.’  I think when he said ‘have to be stopped,’ he was talking about eliminating you permanently.  You must be very careful.”

Now, this really isn’t telling Murphy anything he doesn’t already know, but he thanks Stephanie anyway, and then gives her the extremely excellent advice to go to the police leave town change her locks buy a Bible.

Helpful guy, that Murph.

TEC: Chapter 50: Like a Young Teddy Roosevelt

Murphy drives up to Richmond, Virginia, to meet Dr. Wilford Brimley Wilfred Bingman.  This gives him plenty of time to think about the stuff in this book that took place when he was supposed to be finding the writing on the wallthe events of the past few weeks.”

The Europa Conspiracy: you won’t be able to put the book down! THRILL as our hero muses during long car trips!

It was difficult for Murphy to think about finalizing the plans for an expedition to Babylon with the nation in turmoil, but something inside pushed him onward.

Wow, what a guy, huh?

Wait, “nation in turmoil“?  When did that happen?

I mean, obviously Murphy means the aborted terrorist attack, but I feel it worth pointing out again that NOBODY DIED except one of the actual terrorists.  Hell, the only people that were even hurt were Moar Arabs who were beaten down by nice white American civilians.

It’s like a lite version of the Left Behind series, where the disappearance of millions and the resultant massive chaos and accidents barely registers as a blip on the heroes’ collective radar.

Shari and Murphy didn’t even care enough about each other to check in with each other.  Same with Isis.  Hell, my parents care more when I get caught in a heavy rainstorm while driving than Shari and Isis did when Murphy was caught on a bridge that almost got dirty-bombed.  Really, nobody seems to give a crap.

And because of that, Murphy arrives in Richmond without incident.  In a way, this is a good place for Murphy and Wilbert to meet, since it’s halfway between them, but at the same time:

  1. Why not meet in Washington, D.C., so Murphy can spend some time with Isis, or, if he doesn’t want to,
  2. Why not Skype or FaceTime or something?

Oh, it’s because “Murphy always liked to meet people in person–especially if they were planning a potentially dangerous expedition.”

Well, if you say so.  That’s sorta what happened in The Secret on Ararat, when the expedition crew met for some mountaineering training.  Though there wasn’t any implication that if Murphy didn’t like one of them, he would be off the mission.

Wilhelm apparently prepared Murphy for his appearance by warning him that he looked “like a young Teddy Roosevelt…[even with] a mustache that looked like Roosevelt’s.”


Is that kinda like when a guy looks like a young Robert Redford?

Just seems kinda lazy, is all.  I know many authors pick major or minor actors as a starting point for the looks of their own characters, and it can be a great way to put a face with a name.  But you don’t do that with every character.  Hopefully, a good writer can describe features without simply resorting to, “my character looked just like [insert famous person here].”

Murphy and Wilhelm hit it off right away, because they have stuff in common:

“…it wasn’t until I was in the Forst Persian Gulf War that I really got exposed to ancient artifacts.”

“Kuwait?” Murphy asked, curious.

“Yes, why?”

“I was there too.  I arrived in January of 1991 as part of Operation Desert Storm under General Norman Schwarzkopf.”

Okay, would one soldier really talk to another soldier in such formal terms, like he was introducing himself to a middle school social studies class?  “…under General Norman Schwarzkopf,” really?

Also turns out that Willie gave his life to Christ while over there, so there’s that, too.

“I think we’re going to have a good time together in Iraq, Will,” Murphy said, smiling.

It is very hard for me not to read something dirty into that.  Mostly just because I think it would be funny.

And Wilmot also puts up with Murphy’s Wikipediazing, so that helps, too.

They get into a conversation about the possible U.N. move to Babylon, which Wilton thinks is “about good old-fashioned greed.  I think they’re after the oil.”

Why the U.N. being headquartered in Babylon would allow it, as an entity, to corner the oil market is anyone’s guess, but it does give Murphy the opportunity to recite how much oil different countries have.  Off the top of his head.

“Saudi Arabia is estimated to have 260 billion barrels, Iraq 113 billion barrels, Iran 100 billion barrels, and Kuwait 97 billion barrels.”


Then Murphy blathers on about rebuilding Babylon, and even if he’s boring me, he at least isn’t boring Wilt:

“You’ve certainly stirred my juices.”

Oh, I’m sure he has, Wilbin.  I’m sure he has.




TEC: Chapter 49, Part 2: Back in the Caves

Murphy heads off to the Reed Gold Mine, a site of great biblical importance…

Or maybe where Phillips took his family on their last vacation.  Either or.

He ditches the tour of the mine, and heads off on his own.  Lest you think he came ill-prepared, he brought “a small flashlight.”

Call me crazy, but I would bring a lot more than that on a mission set up by a guy who once sicced a lion on me.

In the most vague and unhelpful clue ever, Murphy spots a few boards that are “loose,” one of which has the word “Conrad” on it.

Conrad?  Murphy thought again.  Conrad was the name of John Reed’s son who discovered the seventeen-pound gold nugget!

I am so pissed off that he randomly knows so much about this incident.  It bothers me on a very deep level.

He heads on down to wherever, and…

For the first time in all of his encounters with Methuselah, Murphy suddenly wondered, Who is this mysterious man?  How can I find out more about him?

What a great academic.  What a curious adventurer.  Meth has been sending him on mysterious (and fruitful) missions for years, and it only now occurs to him to wonder about what kind of person he is?

I’m bored by this whole gold mine thing now, mostly because it is way too gorram similar to the time Meth trapped Murphy in a cave in the last book.  But he finds a hole back in the deserted part of the mine or whatever, and Meth has put a golden cup in the hole.  Also some rattlesnakes.

[Murphy] felt like he was in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark–and he hated snakes too.

Big baby.  Also, it kinda surprises me that Phillips is being that obvious with his copy-catting.

Still, Murphy is not a complete fool, and uses two small boards to lift the cup out without having to reach his hand in.  But, just like in Raiders, actually (go figure) Meth has made an additional trap–Murphy moves the cup and then a box of other snakes falls on his head.  So he uses the boards to flip the snakes away from his feet and beats cheeks outta there.

It’s…actually not terribly exciting.

Back in South Carolina, Murphy reveals to Shari that he believes the cup to be one of the cups at Belshazzar’s party.

Oh, and he got a fingerprint of Meth’s.  He saved it on a Band-Aid.  Really.

“[Methuselah’s] really quite strange.”

Strange, eh?  Well, Murphy, you were the one who was twiddling his thumbs and punching Moar Arabs when he could have been finding an amazing archeological biblical thingie.  I frankly don’t blame Meth a bot for getting impatient.

TEC: Chapter 49, Part 1: Here We Go Again

So Shari shows Michael some mail that he got: a mysterious box with a letter with some poetry in it!


We’re starting over!!!


We have already done this bit!  Meth already sent Murphy a poem, and Murphy already endangered himself to get the pointless clue.  It was about the writing on the wall or some shit!

Can you just imagine Meth over these past few weeks?  He went to all the trouble of meeting that kid in Colorado, giving him cigarettes and a complicated message in prison, then getting Murphy to him via a stupid poem, then suspending an envelope over a canyon for Murphy to shimmy to, and what thanks does he get?  Murphy dashing about to Orlando to chat with old men, and then to New York to have decidedly non-sexy dates and punch Arabs, and then to punch more terrorists on bridges!

I’d be feeling pretty neglected right now, too, if I were Methuselah.

So Meth has gone to all the trouble of sending Murphy yet another bad poem and some river rocks in a box, and because I love you guys so much, I will now reproduce the poem in its glorious entirety:

A golden opportunity awaits
Those who appreciate Cabarrus Debates
And search for the Hessian who deserted his session…
And later planted a seed which led to the weed of greed.

Yup, clear as mud.

Murphy immediately zeroes in on Cabarrus, because as a man who lives and works in South Carolina, he has an encyclopedic (or rather, Wikipedic) knowledge of all the counties in North Carolina.  Thus he knows that the county was named after Stephen Cabarrus.

Geez, you didn’t know that?  Stephen Cabarrus was only Speaker of the House of Representatives of North Carolina from 1789-1793 and again from 1800-1805.

“That must be what the word ‘debates’ refers to.”

Continuing to put it all together, Murphy decides that Meth must mean a Hessian soldier named John Reed from Cabarrus County, whose son found a giant gold nugget in Little Meadow Creek, leading to North Carolina being the first “gold rush” state in the U.S.

That’s all terribly interesting and all, but bear in mind that Murphy knows all these details right off the top of his head (or out of his ass, either way).

Shari is as skeptical of this as I am:

“Where do you come up with all of this trivia?”

Murphy snidely responds:

“It’s called reading, Shari.”

Well, fine, asshat.

But I don’t buy that for a second.  Sure, people cultivate odd and unique areas of knowledge.  Those of us who love various obscure areas can all identify.  But I don’t buy that Murphy just so happens to be an expert in every random area that Meth thinks up for his schemes (like spelunking and the history of Colorado prisons).  Nor do I think that Meth would have any way of knowing about Murphy’s various weird-ass areas of interest.  Cabarrus County certainly has nothing to do with biblical archaeology, after all.

Next up, Murphy heads back to a cave.  At a defunct gold mine in North Carolina.  Because that has everything to do with the Writing on the Wall.


TEC: Chapter 48: Saint Ronnie

Murphy drives back to Raleigh after saving TEH WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD.  He thinks for half a second about how many people might have died from the bombs, but then gets caught in flashbacks to the church bombing in the first book, where his wife died.

Not that this is a bad thing for Michael Murphy to do.  For once, he’s behaving naturally–a recent trauma has made memories of a past trauma come to the surface.

But the next day, when he gets back to work (oh yeah, his job!) he is feeling a bit better.

Murphy recalled the words of King Solomon.  They had been a favorite of President Ronald Reagan:

Okay, this might be a silly point to nitpick, but that’s just a weird way to align yourself with Reagan.  Because judging by how many weddings and funerals I’ve heard these words spoken at, they are the favorites of a lot of people.

Oh, and they also made a little song from the words; you might have heard of it.  Still, Murphy, you keep on with your bad self.  Saint Ronnie would be proud.

Shari is so happy to see Murphy and was so worried about him.  Considering how close Murphy and Shari are and how she’s basically the only family he has, you’d think he would call her to let her know he’s okay, seeing as how he has no problem sending her “manic” e-mails at 3:00 in the morning when he wants something.  But after regaling her with tales of how he foiled Moar Arab terrorists, Murphy does actually ask about Shari’s welfare, specifically her breakup with Paul, which it appears Murphy knew about before Paul did.

“I couldn’t continue in a relationship with someone who had different values than me, even though I love him.”

Oh yeah, evidence shows that you really love and respect him a lot.

Of course, Murphy has nothing deep to say about this, and oddly, he doesn’t give a trite speech.  He just tells Shari that he’ll pray for her.  Then he goes to call Isis, who also didn’t know that he was okay after being in the thick of the attempted bombing.  That’s right, Murphy called neither Shari nor Isis to make sure they knew he was safe.  What a guy!

Then their conversation turns to the actual hook of the novel: the search for the writing on the wall.  Bizarrely, despite Murphy’s crap record of actually producing what he says he will, the Parchments of Freedom Foundation is going to finance the expedition, with the caveat that they take along a new Foundation employee, Wilford Brimley Wilfred Bingman, another archeologist.  So maybe the Foundation doesn’t trust Murphy quite as much as we thought.

Murphy then gives callbacks to all our favorite cast members, Levi, Jassim Amram, and Colonel Davis, so we can expect reappearances from them shortly.

This is what, the two hundredth time Murphy has mused that his feelings for Isis are more than Just Good Friends, and he seals the deal with these very straightforward words that convey the honest depth of his feelings:

“I’ll call you as soon as I get the green light [to travel to Iraq].  I’m looking forward to being with you, Isis.”

Yep, the True Love couldn’t be any more clear.

TEC: Chapter 47: Back to the Real Babylon

Back in barely-post-attempted-terror-attack New York, the U.N. Security Council has beat its collective cheeks to the Newark Airport.  That seems a helluva place to go while the city is panicking from a terror alert, since it’s an hour’s drive away under better conditions than that, but there they are.  Maybe they took helicopters?  Maybe?

Anyway, they chat about emergency plans and protecting employees, then the eeeevil members of the Security Council propose the most eeeevil thing ever–moving the U.N. headquarters out of New York!


The French guy, Jacques Verney, brings up Plan 7216, which is to get the U.N. out of the U.S.:

“I believe these types of attacks will continue as long as the United Stated continues to follow its godlike dreams to control the world and how it functions.”

Oh, yeah, leave it to the French to be unAmerican!

Vladimir Karkoff, permanent member from the Russian Federation, said forcefully, “It does not seem like the United States is prepared to deal with terrorists in its own country.”

Well, that’s a hard point to argue, seeing as how this current attack was foiled by a random trucker, a mob of racists, and an archeology professor being directed by Mossad agents sitting in a cantina in Mexico.

The Indian member also voices concern with U.S. policies, and when the brown man questions America, that’s when the U.S. member, Warren Watson, finally gets ticked, yelling at his fellow member because India is poor and hungry:

“I can’t believe your attitude!”

Yeah!  Ingrates!  And it is not at all proving my imperialistic attitude to say that people from poorer countries should bow down to us and never voice their own opinions!

Then the Chinese guy jumps in, proposing China for a location, but the evil Frenchman counters with Babylon:

“I talked to Helmut Weber, the ambassador from Germany, and his country is most supportive of such a move.”

The French and the Germans are in on this?!?  Figures.


Warren Watson and his surrogate, er, fellow member, Carlton Thorndyke of the U.K., are so horrified and “fuming” that they literally cannot speak.  Terribly professional and level-headed of them.

At this point, I would like to propose a collective giggle at Phillips’ choices of names.

And so, we see The Seven’s (they’ll stop at nothing!) plan put into action: the eeeevil U.N. members propose talking about this at the next General Assembly meeting!

Surely nothing so dire has ever taken place.  Except maybe an hour’s drive away, where two bombs almost went off.