TEoD: Chapter 17: Ruby Recommends

So Murphy and Wagoner head out to one of the tent revivals.  J.B. Solstad’s Faith in God Crusade.  They get directed to park in a field like it’s the Ren Fest or something, and wander with hundreds of others into the tent.

Interestingly, though Wagoner was most concerned initially about the faith healing aspect of this, the signs leading to the tent inform us that J.B. also deals in Blab It and Grab It theology, as well as the psychobabble Christianese self-help of the kind generally preached by Rick Warren.

Murphy and Wagoner chat a bit about these various claims, in a bizarrely stilted manner that makes it sound like they know they’re being recorded:

“I don’t think that Sonstad’s message is completely legitimate.”

“He seems to have the ability to draw large crowds.”

The revival starts off with some singing, which lasts a HALF-HOUR.  Jesus.  Sounds exhausting.  Then Sonstad appears with a flourish of music and smoke machine smoke.  He preaches for another half-hour, and I guess we’ll have to take Phillips’ word for it that the sermon “was similar to almost any minister with a radio program or a pastor in a local church,” since we don’t get to read a word of it.

Then we finally get to the faith healing.  With mentions of Blab It and Grab It and “special angels that will minister to your needs” in the same paragraph.

So at least now we know why Murphy preached on angels in his biblical archaeology class—so we readers would know that Sonstad is “distorting the truth.”

Said Sonstad warms up the crowd by telling an admittedly-ridiculous tale of a man in the previous town he visited, who had a bunch of cavities, which were miraculous healed by being filled with gold “from the heavenly city—where the streets are paved with gold.”

Apparently, everyone in the crowd but Murphy and Wagoner buy this:

“Why didn’t God just put the enamel back in his teeth?”

At this stupid story, a bunch of people start running around, then running out of the tent.  This is as bizarre to Murphy as it is to me, so he goes to investigate.  Outside the tent he sees that merchandise tables have been set up for after the meeting.  BLASPHEMY!  For when has any preacher sold books or other merchandise???

So, having discovered absolutely nothing, Murphy heads back to his seat, and watches as a man named Clyde with kidney problems is called to the stage by word from the LORD (via Sonstad), and then is HEAL-AHHD in the usual manner of being shoved backwards in a trust fall, into the waiting arms of the healer’s minions.

Wagoner recognizes the guy, because ole Clyde just started attending his church.  So I guess we’ll learn more about Clyde’s kidney problems (or lack thereof) soon enough.

Then an offering is taken.  This is presented as a bad thing, because real churches and legit preachers would NEVER ask for money from hardworking common folk, right?

More trust falls, more HEEEE-AH-LING, and that’s the end of that.

Yanno, for two men as Strong in the Faith as Murphy and Wagoner, they have utterly failed to do anything or even find out anything about the supposed fraud of this guy.  They sat around like everyone else, and Murphy saw the merch tables (which, of course, are hardly a secret).  Did they do ANY research before coming here?  Like look into this guy’s background, and maybe do some reading on fraudulent healing techniques and how to spot them?  Nope, they’ve just decided to rely on vague feelings and intuition:

“I’d like to see a doctor verify that healing.”

“I think there’s more here than meets the eye.  Something’s not quite right.”

“…my gut tells me this whole program is not on the level.”

“Yeah, jeepers, if only we’d thought to investigate this more than not even a little bit.”

Probably too little, too late, but the Christian Scoobies decide to follow Sonstad’s limo after the show.  I have no idea what they expect to accomplish by doing this…and apparently, neither do our heroes.  They try, though, and manage to follow the limo for ten whole seconds before two SUVs box Murph’s car in and force him to stop.  A bunch of angry dudes get out and start rocking Murphy’s car.  Yeah, they don’t take no guff from anyone who would dare look at their merchandise tables before the show is over!

Silly intimidation over with, the Scoobies decide to come back to the next show.  After all,  they accomplished so much the first time!

And, after that trip to boredom, Ruby has a much better source of fictional faith healers: Leap of Faith, with Steve Martin.  Recommended!


Posted on August 12, 2017, in The Edge of Darkness. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. “I’d like to see a doctor verify that healing.”

    “Anyway, back to grading my archeology quizzes about angel marriage and supernatural hands writing messages in stone walls.”

  2. Hey, LaHaye, how much Left Behind merch have you peddled over the years? Not enough apparently since you slapped your name on this series and Edge of apocalypse too.

  3. “Why didn’t God just put the enamel back in his teeth?”

    Wait, we can doubt religious claims based on the practicallity of the alleged supernatural actions? Alright then! Why did God put a doom- the-world tree in his paradise? Why did God not remove all sin afterwards? Why did God drown the whole world instead of removing the sinful people? Why did he bring 9 plagues onto Egypt that wouldn’t have any result, and a 10th that would work only for a while before requiring another miracle to kill the Pharaoh and his army anyway’ instead of just doing that last bit? Or why not teleport all the Jews straight into the promised land, and teleport the Canaanites out? Why let the Messiah die in a sacrifice that would only save a minority of the human race throughout history, instead of a blanket salvation or preventing those that’d never be saved from being born? Why let Satan take over the world for seven years before effortlessly beating him, then letting him have another go after a millennia?

    This could go on for a long time. The Bible is filled to the brim with God’s brutal and showy miracles, and cases of inexplicable inaction, that are completely at odds with his alleged all- good-knowing-powerful nature. But giving someone flashy and expensive gold fillings instead of their original teeth, that’s the part we’re supposed to find suspiciously impractical?

  4. So his angels lecture was not just a pet subject lecture that had nothing to do with what he was supposed to teach, but it was also precognitively picked as his pet subject. The author just planted the idea for that lecture in Murphy’s head, knowing the topic would come up soon.

  5. Did the authors not see the irony in this chapter? They’re literally criticizing faith-healing preachers for doing all the same things they do, minus the faith-healing stuff. If only they bothered to apply their skepticism of faith-healing preachers to their own version of Christianity.

  6. InquisitiveRaven

    If you want an idea of how to actually investigate this stuff, try looking up The Faith Healers by James Randi.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for August 18th, 2017 | The Slacktiverse

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