Category Archives: Polls

Next Book: A Poll

This will be a quickie poll: just two options!  (I only have Christmas romances, so I might do a Christmas-in-July bit.)

But for now:

Edge of Darkness, by Tim LaHaye and Bob Phillips, the fourth and final part of the Michael Murphy saga.



I, Saul, by Jerry Jenkins with help from James MacDonald

(If you ever listen to Christian radio, you’ve probably heard MacDonald and his super-catchy theme song…WALK WALK IN THE WORK WALK IN THE WORD WALK WALK IN THE WORD THIS IS THE WAAAAAYYYYYY!!!)


Since we only have two options, just leave a comment with your vote!



Shadowed: Getting Ready

Okay, you guys, I can take a hint!

As of this writing, the poll is as follows:

Shadowed: 51.2%

The Love Dare:  26.83%

The Europa Conspiracy:  17.07%

I, Saul:  4.88%

Day-um.  Shadowed just had a runaway lead that I did not anticipate.  I figured it would be a toss-up between The Love Dare and The Europa Conspiracy.

Then again, I can understand wanting to tie up Paul Stepola and throw him in a river.

Or tie up the Underground Zealot series and put a bow on these critiques.  Whichever.  😉

As you no doubt recall, Silenced ended with God instituting his holy reign of terror, silencing (har) millions upon millions of firstborn sons by slaughtering them.

Because Paul Stepola asked him to do it.

In the extremely helpful What Has Gone Before opening section, Jenkins gives us a recap of the world he has built and the characters who inhabit it.  As a quick reminder to everyone, it is now late January, 38 P.3., which is 2048.

Paul, Jae, and Straight have certainly made an impression on the loyal readers ’round these parts, but just in case anyone has forgotten who is who, Jenkins lays it out, in a style reminiscent of middle school social studies textbooks:

When he completed his graduate studies in religion, Dr. Paul Stepola‘s wife, Jae, urged him to pursue work with the National Peace Organization.  Her father, retired army general Ranold B. Decenti, had helped build the NPO from the ashes of the FBI and the CIA.

Like that.

Terribly proud of this part, the entire letter to Chancellor Ball Dangler is reproduced.  Just so we can remember what an evil, threatening dick Paul is.

Then the second half of the last chapter is reproduced in (almost) full.

Just so we can remember what an evil being Paul’s God is.

So, gird your loins, ladies and gentlemen!  Once more unto the breach of the USSA and Paul Apostle!


First Critique of 2015: Poll Time!

Happy Almost-2015, everyone!

As promised, here is the poll for our first critique of the new year.  Since at the last poll, it was decided that I do some movies, I figure it’s time for a book.

So, we have some options!

1.  Back to Paul Stepola with Shadowed, the final piece of the Underground Zealot trilogy.

2.  Back to Michael Murphy with The Europa Conspiracy, the third part of the Babylon Rising quartet.

3.  Something new from Jerry Jenkins: I, Saul.

4.  Something on which Fireproof, one of our most recent movies, was based: The Love Dare.

So, whaddaya all think?

Christian Entertainment in the Wild

Spotted in a “Christian Living” display at Barnes and Noble today…

As seen on Fireproof

The Love Dare


The Love Dare for Parents

What the…?

Why for parents?  I envision a struggling couple buying The Love Dare, their marriage still crappy 30 days later, then they go—

“Damn!  It must be because we have kids, and we were doing the WRONG dare!  We must buy this book, too!”

It really makes me want to critique the book here…though I feel I might be hamstrung, inasmuch as I am a single chick, and can’t bring firsthand knowledge of marriage to the critique.  Still, should I put it in the poll for which book I shall critique first in 2015?  Thoughts?

Poll Results: Calling It

Okay, so it’s been just over a week since the Palate Cleanser News and Poll, so I am calling time!

Poll Pic

I’ll tell you what: I totally thought I, Saul would be the runaway winner.  But the clear winner is MOAR MOVIES.

And I’ll tell you what else: I would have been happy to do any of these, but I am kinda psyched to do some movies.  Especially Pamela’s Prayer, which was one of my first Christian Films and has a special place in my heart.

Plus, that movie is FRICKIN’ NUTS.

30 Rock

Can’t wait.

So, after God/Jenkins unleashes his righteous wrath on the atheists in Silenced, we will do Belle and the Beast, then a few other movies, including Pamela’s Prayer, at least one of the Teenage films (by request!) and maybe another Christiano creation or two.

Thanks for voting, guys!


400th Post: Palate Cleanser News and a Poll!

Hey, so this is the 400th post of Heathen Critique!


Close enough.

(Seriously, I have no idea why I didn’t care about 100 or 200 or 300.  Anyway.)

So, thought I’d share my decision about the palate cleanser for after Silenced, since we almost three-quarters done.

It is yet another movie that I caught on local Christian television, and GORRAMITALL but I am psyched to do this one:

I’ll just say one thing that strikes me right away: that is a pretty cute “beast.”

This movie promises to be interesting on another level, too: it was a Mormon movie first.

Yup.  See, it was originally called Beauty and the Beast: A Latter-Day Tale.  Apparently, a few explicitly Mormon lines were cut and the movie was repackaged as Belle and the Beast: A Christian Romance.  I haven’t seen the Mormon version yet, but I will, so I can better speak to the changes.

And I come into this as an expert on Mormon entertainment, yo.  I have seen all five seasons of Big Love AND The Book of Mormon.


(It would be cool to be paid for plugs like this.)


And I will leave the final decision of what to do next in the hands of you, my lovely readers.

The options:

1.  Shadowed, the third and final book of the Underground Zealot series.  More adventures in Atheistopia with Paul and Jae Stepola/Apostle and Ranold B. Decenti/Benedict Arnold.

2.  The Europa Conspiracy, the third out of the four books in the Babylon Rising series.  Michael Murphy sets out to find the Handwriting on the Wall.  Yes, really.

3.  Something completely (okay, partially) different: It seems that out old pal Jerry Jenkins has found a new co-writer/pastor to work with—James MacDonald.

For those unfamiliar with him, you can see a ton of his sermons on YouTube.  I won’t link you an hour-long talk, but here is a tiny sampling of him:

I listen to James MacDonald many mornings on my way to work, and what strikes me most is his tendency to play the incredibly extraverted, repeat-after-me game, which ends up sounding like this:

MacDonald: Jesus is perfect.  Turn to your neighbor and say, “Jesus is perfect.”

Unmicced audience: Eee-uh ert.

MacDonald: Again! Because this is exciting!  Jesus is perfect!

Unmicced audience:  EEE-UH ERT!!!

It would drive me CRAZY if I had to do this every week.

It is so cool that I don’t go to church.  😉

This book is brand-spanking new, but I already have a used copy, and there is a BOOK TRAILER, guys!

Kinda sounds Michael Murphy-ish, though I see by skimming the first few pages that the hero is a professor at a theological seminary, not a small Southern university.  Anyway, that bit of skimming aside, I think I would critique this book blind, just like the Christmas novels.

4.  Another something partially different: a focus on movies instead of books for awhile.  I’ve got a little stack of Christian movies here, and could just do a few in a row.  Some examples:

One of the ones that Started It All for me:

More from the Teenage series, including Teenage Conflict (creationism) and Teenage Code (cheating).


So, whaddaya think???  It’s up to you guys!

Soon: Wrapping Up

Looks like we have to ease away from Soon before we get to a movie palate-cleanser and then to the Adventured of Michael Murphy.


I put up two polls to find the worst, nastiest, most horriblest statement of Paul Stepola to his long-suffering wife, Jae.  For both the first and second half of the book, two statements clobbered the competition to emerge as victors.  So now, I leave it to you, my loyal readers to determine THE VERY WORST THING PAUL SAYS TO HIS WIFE.

This should be interesting, because the statements occur at two very different points in Paul’s life.  The first is shortly after Paul is blinded by the miraculous fire pillar of God.  He’s laid up in the hospital, and poor Jae is just trying to help him put together a “disc player” so he can listen to the Bible (as part of his “research”).  Paul’s an atheist at this point, and thus, by definition, a horrible human being who is incapable of love.

The second statement takes place after Jae reveals that she found the letter from Angela to Paul.  It is unsurprising that she takes it as evidence that Paul is preparing to cheat on her, seeing as how he has been fooling around with a string of DOZENS of women for eight of the ten years he has been married.  Of course, this is the one time when a letter from a woman is not quite what it appears, as Paul has just found the love of Jesus in his heart, and knows that the only moral thing to do in his life is stay in a desperately unhappy marriage where he and his wife can barely stand the sight of each other.

Here you go:


Our own Syera has started a TV Tropes page about the Underground Zealot series.  This prompted the following question from Ivan, which I will (attempt to) answer here:

Is being religious officially a capital offense, or for that matter even a crime? I can’t remember either being stated exactly, and it seems jarring how much effort Bia goes through to do her earlier executions in secret, and Bia, Ranold, the army and even Paul pre-conversion go through a lot of effort to link the zealots to terrorism and pretend they resisted arrest and had to be killed, or making Barton’s death look like an accident. If they could be legally executed for being a believer, why are they bothering with all this? I’d be equally stupid, but before adding it I’d like to know if all law enforcers decide on their own that they want to kill Christians even if they are too young to have ever met one, or if it is official government policy to kill Christians which makes their efforts to make the deaths look like accidents or self-defense superfluous.

Well…it’s difficult to say for sure.  Largely because Jenkins doesn’t say for sure.  I would have loved to see the actual statutes outlawing religion (I’m a nerd that way), but the best I can do is tell you what the characters say…

According to my boyfriend Larry Coker, the Bible is “contraband,” and excuse enough for SWAT to raid a house.

A Bible study group is “a crime.”

Being a Christian is an arrestable offense, but apparently not punishable by death, in and of itself, given Paul’s statements at the oil fires.

Proselytizing is “a crime.”

Specs messing with the movie billboards in L.A. is a “federal felony,” because the movie industry is run by the government.

The penalty for distributing tracts is prison.  The penalty for creating them is death.

And…that’s it for hard facts on crime and punishment.



I hope to start The Secret on Ararat the week after next, after Easter (Springmas in Atheistopia, perhaps?).  For those of you who may be new or newish ’round these Atheistopian parts, my critique of Babylon Rising is here, and the TV Tropes page for the series is here.

Paul’s Asshattery, Chs. 14-36


I polled you about Paul’s nastiest statement to Jae in the first part of Soon.  But now, we are near the end of the book, and we haven’t had an official update on Paul’s dickishness!

So, here it is.  This poll may be complicated by the fact that Paul is a Christian for much of the second half of the book, and thus is less likely to say horrible things to his wife’s face.  Instead, he just thinks them or says them to a friend.  I have included such statements, but if you feel these answers shouldn’t count…well, pick a direct-to-Jae statement, I guess!

Soon: Poll #1: Paul’s Asshattery, Chs. 1-13