L.B.: Scream morality

Left Behind, pp. 43-45

Rayford, Christopher and Hattie were the last three off the 747.

Christopher, you may remember, was Rayford’s first officer on the flight. Up until now he’s played little part in the story beyond handling the controls while Rayford talked to Hattie and wandered the plane. But we’re about to learn that Christopher Smith is a villain — at least according to the code of Left Behind — and therefore he is doomed.

… The bus driver insisted that the crew ride with him and the last passengers, but Rayford refused. “I can’t see passing my own passengers as they walk to the terminal,” he said. “How would that look?”

Christopher said, “Suit yourself, Cap. You mind if I take him up on his offer?”

Rayford glared at him. “You’re serious?”

“I don’t get paid enough for this.”

“Like this was the airline’s fault. Chris, you don’t mean it.”

“The heck I don’t. By the time you get up there, you’ll wish you’d ridden too.”

“I should write you up for this.”

“Millions of people disappear into thin air and I should worry about getting written up for riding instead of walking? Later, Steele.”

It’s not clear why Rayford would be able to “write up” Smith for accepting the airline’s preference that its crew ride back to the terminal. “It was a long walk,” we later read, “and several times they waved off rides.”

Smith seems to be doing nothing more than following the moral code clearly outlined by Buck Williams in the previous chapter: “It’s OK in a situation like this to think of yourself a little. That’s what I’m doing.”

But Smith here violates the strange code of chivalry that governs ethics in Left Behind. Even worse, he flouts the authority of Rayford Steele — and therefore of Tim LaHaye himself. No character can do that and live.

L.B. has its own moral rules that function like the rules for slasher flicks that Jamie Kennedy’s character outlines in Scream. By violating those rules, Smith dooms himself as surely as that teenager who says, “Don’t believe those crazy stories. Let’s sneak off into the woods and have sex.”

Hattie refuses to follow Smith off the cliff:

Rayford shook his head and turned to Hattie. “Maybe I’ll see you up there. If you can get out of the terminal, don’t wait for me.”

“Are you kidding? If you’re walking, I’m walking.”

“You don’t need to do that.”

“After that dressing-down you just gave Smith? I’m walking.”

“He’s first officer. We ought to be the last off the ship and first to volunteer for emergency duty.”

By “volunteer for emergency duty” Steele does not mean, you know, actually volunteering for emergency duty. Don’t be silly. He means not accepting a ride back to the terminal.

As they walk back, LaHaye and Jenkins tell us, “All around were ambulances and other emergency vehicles trying to get to ugly wreckage scenes.” Steele is, in other words, having to thread his way through people who were actually doing “emergency duty.” He does so, successfully, without volunteering in even a single case. The moral code of L.B. does not have anything to do with helping people in need.

Hattie fatally misreads Smith’s violation of L.B.’s code of chivalry:

“Well, do me a favor and consider me part of your crew, too,” she tells Steele. “Just because I can’t fly the thing doesn’t mean I don’t feel some ownership. And don’t treat me like a little woman.”

Just as it was a violation of the code for Smith to ride while little women walked, so too it is a violation for Hattie to act like a man by refusing the ride. She’s doomed too.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Stan

    Not to get ahead of you, but they’re ALL doomed, aren’t they? They were Left Behind, ferchistsakes (so to speak).

  • the Fourth Man

    Well, some are more doomed than others…

  • Brendan

    Also, it’s reasonable to assume that the terminal is the headquarters for any coordinated emergency efforts at the airport.
    Therefore, being the “first to volunteer for emergency duty” would seem to require getting to the terminal as quickly as possible and offering one’s assistance, even if that means — gasp — taking a bus.

  • emjaybee

    What’s up with the names, too? Hattie? I have never in my life met a young woman named Hattie. And what about the porn-tastic Rayford Steele? Only people who had completely insulated themselves from irony could name a character Rayford Steele. If I was the first editor to see this, it’d get a big, red circle and question mark.
    It reminds me of the “Max Power” song from the Simpsons episode: “Maaax Pow-er! He’s the name you love to touch….”

  • Jesurgislac

    More Left Behind goodness!
    Er, I mean badness, of course.

  • Genesis

    “Nobody snuggles with Max Power. You strap yourself in and feel the G’s!” I agree with emjaybee – the names make it sound like a parody, but no, they want us to take it seriously. Yikes!

  • Isabeau

    Helping people in need is justification by works, you see.

  • Nasi Lemak

    Hattie = short form of Harriet.

  • kevin

    You know,when your done, this really needs to be a book ….

  • Arevos

    It seems to me that in Left Behind, it isn’t a sin not to help, or to break the rules. But it is a sin to look like you’re doing something bad.
    “I can’t see passing my own passengers as they walk to the terminal,” he said. “How would that look?”
    Steele isn’t worried about taking the ride because it’s wrong that he should ride whilst others walk. Oh no; he’s worried about what it will look like. He says so himself.
    The fact that volunteer to help out in any other way, seems to me, that he is more worried more about appearences than actually helping out.
    He’s self-involved and thinks little of others, except how they perceive him. He wants everyone to think of him as a virile, righteous hero, but he’s not interested in helping people for the sake of it. And when people oppose him, like his co-pilot, he’s instantly defensive. This is a person who can’t take criticism well, but craves attention and acceptence for others. He doesn’t care about other people, but wants to look good in their eyes.
    Which I suspect reflects upon the authors of the books.

  • Amber

    Hattie is not “doomed too.” Yeah she goes through some tough stuff and does eventually die. BUT, she dies a believer standing up to Antichrist and exposing what he does. She dies a hero to her friends and believers around the world.

  • chris Borthwick

    One minor point – how does everybody get off the plane? “Before disembarking, they had made sure that all able-bodied people got down the chutes and that the elderly and the infirm were transported by bus.” How did the non-ablebodied get off the plane down to the bus without using the chute? Step on to the bus roof? Normally a cherry-picker is required in these situations, but it’s not mentioned.

  • Gift Basket

    Sweet Blessings, a new Christian-based online shop featuring cookie bouquets, candy bouquets and gift baskets, opens with a campaign to donate a portion of all profits to Habitat For Humanity. The devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while not a…

  • ihavenomouth

    …”and several times they waved off rides.”
    Reminds me of that old Christian joke about the man stuck in the flood. Rescue boats kept coming by, and he kept saying, “God will save me.” Eventually he died, asked god why he’d been allowed to die, and god said, “I sent three rescue boats!”