TEoD: Chapter 16: Wicca Witch
Later that afternoon, after musing on the horrors of Dean Archer Fallworth and the beauty of the Mysterious Beautiful Blonde, Murphy…meets up with Fallworth and the Mysterious Beautiful Blonde.
He does so at the Student Center, where he has stopped for a strawberry lemonade.
Sometimes it was good to just be alone and relax.
Yeah, it’s these deep insights into human nature that make Phillips the genius that he is. Also, Professor, what have I told you about splitting your infinitives?
Fallworth descends upon Our Hero and derides him for teaching “poppycock.” Ooo, such language, Fallworth!
“‘Poppycock.’ That’s a pretty big word for you, Archer. Do you know how to spell it too?”
That’s our hero, ladies and gentlemen! Reduced to the insults of a fifth-grader after one sentence.
(Also, how does Murphy get away with speaking to the Dean of Arts and Sciences that way? Seriously, man, WTF?)
Fallworth did not acknowledge the comment but went right on talking.
So the villain is more mature than the hero…and we’re in the fourth book of the series now. If you hoped for any character development, folks, sorry to disappoint.
Fallworth accuses Murphy (in the same argument they have in every book) of promoting a Christian viewpoint. Specifically, he references the class on angels, which…well, yeah, Murphy, what does that have to do with biblical archaeology?
Murph immediately responds with Fox News talking points and ups his game to middle-school insults:
“Have you given up on freedom of speech for everyone except you and those who think like you? It’s only your atheistic views that must be accepted and not those of someone who believes in a Creator? Did you hear about the dial-a-prayer for atheists? You dial a number and no one answers. I was going to be an atheist, Archer, but I gave up. They don’t have any holidays.”
Fallworth, of course, takes the word “atheist” as a straight-up insult, rather than as a statement of fact, since he’s written by a Christian author. So he identifies himself as an agnostic. Nothing doing, though, since Murphy characterizes agnosticism as “a life of ignorance and uncertainty” that is “pretty lame.”
Or, one could characterize it as an acceptance of the fact that we don’t know everything. Or point out that uncertainty is more intellectually honest than believing in something absolutely because it makes one feel better.
Anyway, Murphy segues into a rant about how our oldest universities started out as theological schools, and how it sucks that they aren’t anymore. And, despite the fact that Fallworth has never in four books advocated for anything of the kind, Murphy chides him for wanting courses on Greek mythology and “the beauties of being a Wicca witch with white magic.”
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but Michael Murphy…is a little bit weird. Also, more than a bit paranoid.
Perhaps realizing that he’s starting to sound like a crazy man, Murphy downshifts back to middle school insults.
“Do you know why atheists and agnostics cannot find God? They can’t find him for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. They don’t want to.”
Hilariously, as Archer stalks away, Phillips informs us of what really just happened:
He would use pointed humor to throw his opponent off balance, and then support his argument with a more serious line of reasoning.
Ah, so that’s what just happened. And I could have sworn it was a grown man behaving like a petulant, bigoted preteen.
(btw, just so we, the stupid readers, get that Fallworth is a bad guy here are the words used to describe him during this mere three-page exchange: “pallid,” “walking mummy,” “vampire,” and “ashen.” Because, as we all know, pale people are evil.)
That settled, the Mysterious Beautiful Blonde shows up. She introduces herself as Summer Van Doren, new women’s volleyball coach, and thus way sexier than a redhead academic. She’s been randomly dropping in on classes to “get oriented to the campus.” Um, that’s nice?
In a mutual display of professionalism and discretion, Summer asks about the exchange she just saw between Fallworth and Murphy, and Murphy obligingly sneers that Fallworth “doesn’t like anything that has to do with Christianity.” Summer thinks that’s “good to know,” since she’s a Christian. So she’ll know to avoid the Dean of Arts and Sciences when she forces the volleyball players to attend Bible study, I guess.
She’s even attended Preston Community Church a few times, and reveals that she has seen Murphy there.
Murphy finds nothing objectionable about any of this. After all, looks determine morality. Fallworth, the pale skinny guy, is evil, and Summer, the Nordic beauty, is perfect.
(Nor, of course, does Murphy spare even one thought for Isis, the woman he claims to love.)
So, what a guy Murphy is, eh?