TEoD: Chapter 30: The False Teacher

Thirty chapters in (out of sixty-eight), and seriously NOTHING has happened yet.

We are reminded of this twofold, as Murphy begins yet another class, and notices that Summer Van Doren has not shown up.

Get your head in the game, Murphy.  You’ve got a class to teach.  Anyway, how could you be thinking about her after you had that wonderful dream about Isis?

Yep, he’s done nothing.  He hasn’t started tracking down the Biblical artifacts he keeps daydreaming about, and he hasn’t contacted the pseudo-girlfriend that he real dreams about.

(This is starting to become one of those stereotypical I-have-a-girlfriend-who-lives-in-Canada things.  You can just picture Murphy chatting with colleagues: “I do TOO have a girlfriend.  She just lives in another state and never visits and we don’t talk on the phone or write letters or email.  But she’s real!  I even held her hand once!”)

(More to the point, this is also reminiscent of Rayford Steele’s obsession with “a woman he had never touched“—for these RTC males, relationships are actually better…when they aren’t actually relationships.)

Also also, did Murphy seriously expect Summer to audit every single class he ever teaches, forever?  I mean, dude, she has a job.

And, in further news of Occasional Characters, Murphy notices that Paul Wallach has shown up to class.

It had been quite some time since Paul had dropped out of his class.

Uh-huh.  So why then does he get to just show back up whenever he wants?  I mean, I get that this is the easiest and most pointless course on campus, but I doubt the registrar is similarly incompetent.  Dean Archer Fallworth has shown us repeatedly that some people at Preston University do actually care about their jobs.

Interestingly, Murphy reaction to Paul’s presence is:

I guess he and Shari are really trying to put their relationship back together.

Wow, so even Murphy understands his own class is pointless.  Because Paul couldn’t possibly be there to get his degree (which he should already have, but whatevs); he could only be in that classroom to win Shari back.

Murphy begins class by briefly reviewing the previous weeks: lectures on “the concept of God…[spawning] many cultures to create pagan gods and idols,” and “thinking about both good and evil angels.”  And again, he seems to be openly admitting that nothing about this course has anything even remotely to do with archaeology.

Now we’re on to false teachers, which Murphy of course interprets to mean anybody who preaches or teaches anything that is not RTC-ity.  He starts with a Letterman’s Top Ten list.  Well, it’s a list of ten people.  I don’t feel like tracking down all of them, but one I picked at random was Abu Isa, who never actually claimed to be Christ at all.  So…whoopee?

Murphy blathers on for pages about these and a second list of ten “false Christs and teachers,” sprinkling in a sentence or two about some (but not all) of them, in such a way that absolutely none of it will stick in the minds of his students.  Moving a bit further forward in history, Murphy mentions Ann Lee, whom I only mention because she was a Shaker leader, and I recently heard a radio preacher snarking about Shakers.  I had not known this was a Thing in RTC-ity, but apparently so.

And this list is odd in another way: Maitreya is put in the same list with Marshall Applewhite.  Seems to me that a guy who leads a mass suicide belongs in a different category than the potential future Buddha.  (Interestingly, Murphy puts a year next to each name.  Maitreya gets 1959.  Why, I’m not sure, except that 1959 was the year the translation of a book containing the prophecy of Maitreya was released.  Top notch researching there, Murph!

And this goes on for EIGHT PAGES.  Eight pages of Phillips’ distillation of his glances at Wikipedia.  And he tops it off with a full page of FALSE TEACHERS who made predictions surrounding the year 2000.  And again, this list is just bizarre with regards (or lack thereof) to proportionality: the leader of a mass suicide is once again featured in the same list as someone who just made some bizarre claims.  (Why do I get the feeling that in LaPhillips’ eyes, it is much worse for a woman to make bizarre claims than a man?)

Now, as we’ve discussed before, these students are friggin’ pros at this point in the fine art of Dealing with Michael Murphy.  So it should come as no surprise when, instead of calling Murphy on the fact that plenty of RTCs have made claims that have not come true,  a student asks the following:

“Dr. Murphy, hadn’t there been predictions about Jesus Christ…like where He was going to be born and how he would die, for hundreds of years before the event?”

Yeah, she knows what’s up.

Murphy is just waiting for such a question, because the claims of RTCs are totally different from all other spiritual claims.

Murph cites one Peter Stoner, a Christian mathematician who was in turn cited in Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict.  (In true incestuous RTC tradition, McDowell cites Stoner’s book, which was “carefully reviewed” by the American Scientific Affiliation…a group co-founded by Stoner.)

The “staggering odds” Murphy cites is that there is a “one in ten to the twenty-eighth power [chance of Jesus] fulfilling eight prophecies.”

LaHaye was a YUUUGE fan of using giant numbers to make “dramatic” points.

Now, aside from snarking on the completely unquestioned prophecies that may or may not have been referring to Jesus, and may or may not have come true (though if you want to, try this or this), the bell is about to ring (because I guess this is middle school), and one of the most laugh- or cringe-inducing moments in the entire series happens:

“With odds like that, when Christ returns, I don’t think there will be any doubt about it.  So think about the importance of following a true teacher as compared to a false teacher.  It could affect the future of each and every one of you.”

The bell rang and the students treated Murphy to a standing ovation for a particularly inspired lecture.  He blushed and gave a nod of gratitude.

I mean, wow.  There are really too many comments for me to make.

First of all, again, the authors have not been to college.  I have been in a LOT of college and graduate and professional classrooms, and the only time I have seen a professor applauded for a lecture is when it is either 1) a guest lecture or 2) the last day of classes.  Standing ovation for a random weekday lecture with PowerPoint lists and a handout?  Not so much.

Especially because (and I do so love to hammer away at this point), this lecture had ZERO to do with archaeology.  ZERO.  It was about false (non-RTC) teachers, most of them from the 20th century.  Dean Fallworth, where are you when we need you?

So there is no way I can read this standing ovation as being the least bit sincere.  It’s coming right on the tail of a brown-nosing question that was fishing for a self-serving response from an egomaniac.  Student asks the brown-nosing question, Murphy pontificates on Biblical “statistics” for two full pages, gets a standing ovation.  There is NO WAY that was not planned ahead of time.  It’s a faux-spontaneous act to kiss up and raise grades and put the narcissist in a good mood.  For a darker image, think of the opening scene of USS Callister (and yes, I’ll just reference the opening scene, because SPOILERS).

Image result for uss callister gif

Sure, we have all the many, many times Rayford Steele has insisted on being called “Captain,” and DOCTOR Paul Stepola, the besets spy in the history of the world, but this standing ovation for a normal lecture may be the single best example of this world heaping unearned praise and adulation on its author avatar heroes.

Brilliant PowerPoints, Professor, just brilliant!


Posted on January 15, 2018, in The Edge of Darkness. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. The Maitreya thing mentioned here is about how in 1982 a New Age writer named Benjamin Creme put two-page adverts in various newspapers claiming a non-Buddhist version of Maitreya would appear to usher in a new era of peace and unite all people. The Christian right naturally freaked out and wrote countless books on how this Maitreya must actually be the antichrist.

    • Which in turn leads to a good question about how they themselves dodge getting labeled as false teachers, since they’re so often wrong about antichrists. They have chosen their con well, and found marks who won’t find the least bit of interest in that good question.

  2. The fact that Murphy somehow still has a job at this college when doesn’t even try to teach his subject baffles me. Every classroom scene so far is just him rambling on about whatever RTC nonsense he feels like talking about, while completely ignoring that his class is supposed to be about archaeology. I don’t know if the authors actually went to college, but these scenes in Murphy’s class make me suspect that they didn’t.

  3. Didn’t LaHaye also predict that the problems caused by the Y2K bug would help the Antichrist rise to power? To the google mobile:


    Splinter. Eye. Plank.

  4. Those huge odds of randomly meeting all the prophecies are supremely silly. There’s taking any single bible verse that describes something that Jesus also allegedly did and declaring it a prophecy, while ignoring the verses around it that describe things Jesus also did. There’s ignoring any explicit prophecies about the Messiah that describe him reigning as a king over a glorious age of peace, which really sound like people expected him to do that on his first try. There’s the problem of one of the gospel books (Mark, wasn’t it) seemingly written to match prophecies from earlier books, right down to translation errors, leading to Jesus riding into Jerusalem sitting on two donkeys at the same time.

    But the biggest problem is that the only source we have that describes the fullfillment of those prophecies is the Bible, a collection of texts written after Jesus’ death (I know RTCs insist they were written by the people who met Jesus, but even they don’t claim they were live-blogs written while Jesus was still around) by his followers, then selected and compiled hundreds of years afterwards by people who worshipped him as the Messiah. You can’t just trust the gospel’s claims that all the prophecies were fullfilled. If you could, you could skip all this odds-of-random-fullfillment nonsense. After all, the gospels explicitly say that Jesus is the Messiah. If you’ve decided to accept the gospels as 100% accurate, you can just point to those verses and be done with it.

  5. I think Murphy’s class is playing bait-the-teacher – if you can get him to go off on a rant about Jesus, you get ten points. They’ll have to change the rules soon to make it more of a challenge.

    • Yeah, that’s my theory. Like I said in an earlier post, they might even have BINGO cards. But there’s no way this stunt wasn’t planned–“Jenna, you ask him a question to get him even more off-topic. Then, right when he gives one of his usual ‘altar calls,’ we all leap to our feet and applaud. But it’s gotta look right, guys, no sarcasm. We have to MAKE HIM BELIEVE!”

    • “Professor, what about the archeological discovery of a large caravan trail from around 3000 years ago?”
      “Ah, well, that must be from when the entire Jewish people left Egypt for the holy land. As written in Exodus, Mose-”
      “Boo-yeah! Bingo, motherfuckers!”
      “Aw man, I was just missing Corinthians 2.”

  6. I’d assume the ovations to be in response to the way Murphy just broke the irony meter: “Think about the importance of following a true teacher as compared to a false teacher. It could affect the future of each and every one of you. So make certain you learn from someone who knows what they’re about, and doesn’t try to indoctrinate you with a flood of self-serving bullshit. See you next week!”

    • For all the attention Murphy pays to his class (when they aren’t hawt babes), it might be completely different students each time. “Oh, man, you gotta hear this guy…”

  7. Does anyone remember what the deal was with Shari’s parents? Is she estranged? I ask, because this book seems to suggest Murphy is serving as her father figure. Specificalliy, a father in the RTC sense. Meaning, she’s expected to do all menial work for him and he’s her authority figure until she marries, and is the one prospective suitors need to impress in order to procede with their relationship.

    • Her parents were killed in a car crash when she was a teenager—her father was driving drunk. This is Dinallo’s story from the first book, at least. It was retconned by Phillips in the last book to include Shari leading her dad to Christ before his death.

  8. and now, a fanfiction:

    Jenna Meinard leaned forward and placed her folded hands on the edge of her advisor’s desk while tucked safely away under her chair, her right foot bounced out a rapid beat. “So I know this semester’s been rough, grade-wise. I guess I just bit off more than I could chew. Plus there was the swim team. But I’m doing all the extra credit I can and getting tutoring so I think I’ll be ok. But next semester . . . ”

    Dr. Don Cohler raised his eyebrows and waited.

    “See, I need to keep a cumulative GPA of 2.75. I’m just hitting that and I’d really like some extra space next semester. Just in case, you know? Because I don’t know how hard some of the classes are going to be. If I’ll have enough time to study for them all.”

    “If you really feel you need more study time, you may need to quit the swim team,” Dr. Cohler replied gently.

    Jenna shook her head immediately. “No, I can’t. I’m on a swimming scholarship.” She leaned forward even more. “What I need is an easy A class. Just one. Then I can really concentrate on my major classes. Please.”

    Dr. Cohler sighed and swung around to his computer. “How do you feel about archaeology?”

    Jenna’s eyebrows crinkled. “I guess it could be interesting . . . but I’ve heard Dr. Fallworth is tough.”

    “Not Dr. Fallworth,” he said tightly. “Michael Murphy.”


    Dr. Cohler’s mouth made an odd twisting motion. “He teaches one section of Intro to Archaeology a semester. To be perfectly blunt, he’s an unqualified hack and a religious nut but his class is the easiest A you’ll ever get.” He looked Jenna straight in the eye. “Provided that you don’t mind not learning a thing about archaeology and that you can stomach his evangelical non sequiturs and rants.”

    Jenna looked down at her still-folded hands and considered her options. Within moments she met Dr. Cohler’s eyes again. “Sign me up.”

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Thirty chapters in (out of sixty-eight), and seriously NOTHING has happened yet.

    That’s a sign of either serious padding (on a scale with S.M.Stirling’s Island in the Sea of Time trilogy) or “including the entire Silmarillion before ‘In a Hobbit-hole there lived a Hobbit”.

    • Ugh. I’d heard of Lord of the Rings in middle school and wanted to read it. The library also had the Silmarillion, and the back blurb said this was the story before the Hobbit and the trilogy. So I figured “I guess I should start with this.”

      Yeah, not a good idea.

  10. She just lives in another state

    And she totally looks like a model.

  11. I’m guessing Phillips wanted something from LaHaye because he included some serious ass-kissing in this chapter.

  12. You’d think the college would be suspicious about how all the books required for Murphy’s archeology class were written by Tim LaHaye.

  13. Wait, Murphy is fondly remembering the dream he had about Isis, rather than castigating himself for his weakness while taking a cold shower? I thought he was supposed to be a good RTC and like all RTCs, sex is a grim necessity needed to produce new believers, not an expression of love to be enjoyed by both parties.

    Oh and Ann Lee…I’m gonna get into a tear here, because I always had a soft spot for the Shakers, so here goes.

    Ann Lee never claimed to be Jesus or God. One of the teachings of the Shaker church was that the two witnesses of the Revelation of John (aka the roles played by Moishe and Eli in Left Behind), are actually two people sent by God to put things in order when the church got off track. They believed since humans can be divided into men and women, the one of the witnesses would be male and the other would be female. They believed that Ann Lee was the female witness in question.

    The whole celibacy was that the Shakers believed they were living in the last few days, before Jesus would return to establish his kingdom. Since in Jesus’s kingdom, there will be no sex and marriage, they should start living that way now. Plus, once you hear about how Ann Lee was forced by her father to get married. During her brief marriage, she endured four difficult pregnancies with all four of her children dying in infancy. If she didn’t already have a dim view of human sexuality, that couldn’t have helped any.

    The Shakers also believed strongly in the value of the craft. To put it simply, they believed if you’re a chair-maker, you glorify God by making a well-crafted, high-quality chair. In their attempt to create a cleaner, more well-ordered community on Earth, they also gave us clothespins and flat brooms, among many other inventions.

    tl;dr, Murphy is being annoyingly simplistic, giving the broadest of overviews, while ignoring context and the cultural standards of an era, which we all know is something he would never ever do.

    • “To put it simply, they believed if you’re a chair-maker, you glorify God by making a well-crafted, high-quality chair. ”
      MLK would have agreed with that: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for January 19th, 2018 | The Slacktiverse

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