L.B.: Speakerphone

Left Behind, pp. 435-437

In this little section Bruce Barnes and Rayford are playing the Antichrist Game, trying to reconcile what they know about their prime suspect with the many arcane details they’ve compiled in their check list. Let me briefly try to explain where such details and such check lists come from.

The Bible is full of warnings not to be deceived by false prophets, false teachers or false leaders of any kind, religious or political. Read through the Bible and you will encounter, again and again, various versions of something like this:

Don’t be fooled by false leaders. They deceive people with their lies, so watch out to make sure you’re not taken in by them.

In many instances, the writer will use a definite generic instead of the plural, so you’ll read something like this:

Don’t be fooled by the false leader. He deceives people with his lies, so watch out to make sure you’re not taken in by him.

Here’s the fun part for prophecy enthusiasts: What if that second version doesn’t simply replace the plural with the generic? What if, instead, it actually refers to a specific, actual, singular False Leader?

Let the game begin! Get a highlighter and go through the entire Bible, circling every passage that warns against this false leader. (Read carefully — he goes by many names.) Next, go back through and write down all the descriptions those warnings provide of this false leader/teacher/prophet — anything that might serve a clue as to this single person’s singular identity. And there you have it, your very own Antichrist checklist.

Your final checklist will likely be a bit confusing. Some warnings seem to be describing the False Leader as an Israelite. Other warnings make it clear that he is a gentile. In the first part of Daniel the False Leader sounds like someone very much like Nebuchadnezzar, but in the later chapters of the book he sounds more like someone very much like Antiochus Epiphanes. Later still, John’s Apocalypse makes him sound almost like some kind of Roman emperor. This is where the game gets tricky. We seem to be looking for a Jewish gentile who is part Babylonian, part Syrian, part Roman. Trying to reconcile all of those seemingly contradictory descriptions in one single person isn’t easy, but that’s how the game is played.

(Note: The descriptive details in your check list may seem so irreconcilably disparate or so closely bound to the various biblical authors’ distinct contexts that you may even begin to suspect that these details weren’t really all intend to prophesy a single, particular False Leader. But that’s just crazy talk. Press on — your speculation about the identity of the Antichrist might end up being wrong, but you won’t be any wronger than everyone else who’s ever played this game.)

Bruce and Rayford have an advantage over the rest of us when playing the Antichrist Game: They’ve got a prime suspect carefully tailored by the authors to match every detail of the check list. Yet despite that, they’ve still got questions, like why is the Antichrist Romanian? This is the question they seek to answer here in Chapter 24:

After the core-group meeting, Rayford Steele talked privately with Bruce Barnes and was updated on the meeting with Buck. “I can’t discuss the private matters,” Bruce said …

Bruce and Buck didn’t really talk about any “private matters,” so I like to think that he’s just saying this to give Rayford a hard time. “Hey you know that 30-something guy who’s been seeing your freshman daughter? He and I talked yesterday. I can’t discuss the private matters — nudge, nudge, wink, wink — but we talked for quite some time.

“I can’t discuss the private matters,” Bruce said, “but only one thing stands in the way of my being convinced that this Carpathia guy is the Antichrist. I can’t make it compute geographically. Almost every end-times writer I respect believes the Antichrist will come out of Western Europe, maybe Greece or Italy or Turkey.”

WesterneuropeTurkey, traditionally, is not regarded as part of Western Europe, what with it’s being in Asia, but if we’re going to have any hope of reconciling all of the things in our Antichrist check list then we can’t allow ourselves to be constrained by such tired geographic conventions.

Poor Rayford is just trying to keep up. If Bruce says the check list doesn’t allow for an Antichristescu, then he’ll play along.

Rayford didn’t know what to make of that. “You notice Carpathia doesn’t look Romanian. Aren’t they mostly dark?”

“Yeah. Let me call Mr. Williams. He gave me a number. I wonder how much more he knows about Carpathia.” Bruce dialed and put Buck on the speakerphone. “Ray Steele is with me.”

“Hey, Captain,” Buck said.

Upon reading the word “speakerphone” there I half expected confetti to drop from the ceiling as a Sousa march would begin to play and top-hatted officials would arrive to commemorate this apotheosis of LaHaye & Jenkins’ weird fixation with telephony.

“We’re just doing some studying here,” Bruce said, “and we’ve hit a snag.” He told Buck what they had found and asked for more information.

“Studying” makes it sound like they’re translating obscure prophecies from ancient tomes rescued from the library of Alexandria. What they’ve actually been doing is watching CNN’s replay of Nicolae’s press conference and comparing his agenda to the Antichrist check list the late Rev. Billings left on his desk before he disapparated. One world government? Check. One world religion? Check. Peace treaty with Israel? Check. Babylonian/Syrian/Roman/Jewish heritage? Hmmm. …

“Well, he comes from a town, one of the larger university towns, called Cluj, and –”

“Oh, he does? I guess I thought he was from a mountainous region, you know, because of his name.”

Following the logic of the dialogue in Left Behind isn’t any easier than following the logic of the plot. One bumps into these Python-worthy non-sequiturs at every turn: “Is the town in the mountains?” “No, it’s a college town.” Huh?

“His name?” Buck repeated, doodling it on his legal pad.

“You know, being named after the Carpathian Mountains and all. Or does that name mean something else over there?”

Buck sat up straight and it hit him! Steve had been trying to tell him he worked for Stonagal and not Carpathia. And of course all the new U.N. delegates would feel beholden to Stonagal because he had introduced them to Carpathia. Maybe Stonagal was the Antichrist! Where had his lineage begun?

The ambiguity of Steve’s remark — “my boss moves mountains” — sets up what might have been an intriguing mystery. But at this point, 436 pages into a 468-page book, it’s a bit late to be introducing a new red herring. The possibility that Stonagal, rather than Carpathia, is our Big Bad is emphatically ruled out a mere 20 pages from now. Jenkins half-heartedly tries over those few pages to milk the question for suspense, but this falls flat since he’s already spent so much time establishing that Nicolae is, without a doubt, the Antichrist. Readers thus aren’t thinking, “Hey, Buck’s right, it could be either one of them,” but rather, “Pay attention Buck, you moron, it’s Nicolae.

The larger problem with the section I just quoted is that we’re in the middle of a Rayford-POV section. The whole point of having Bruce and Buck’s conversation on speakerphone was so that Rayford, and the reader, could hear what was being said. Yet we’re also somehow able to see what Buck is doodling and to hear his unspoken thoughts. Either Jenkins has completely lost track of which character’s perspective he’s supposed to be writing or else Rayford has some kind of supernatural mind-reading powers. … Hey. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s not Carpathia or Stonagal, maybe Rayford is the Antichrist!

“Well,” Buck said, trying to concentrate, “maybe he was named after the mountains, but he was born in Cluj and his ancestry, way back, is Roman. That accounts for the blonde hair and blue eyes.”

Then again, if this strange-but-apropos Blonde Map of Europe is to be believed, Nicolae’s being from Cluj, in northwestern Romania, might also “account” for his hair color.

Bruce thanked him and asked if he would see Buck in church the next day. Rayford thought Buck sounded distracted and noncommittal. “I haven’t ruled it out,” Buck said.

Following that paragraph is another one of these:

 

 

——————————

Indicating a shift back to Buck’s perspective for the following section, which begins:

Yes, Buck thought, hanging up. I’ll be there all right. He wanted every last bit of input before he went to New York to write a story that could cost him his career and maybe his life. …

So immediately after reading Rayford’s perception of what Buck is thinking we switch perspectives to read what Buck was really thinking and find out that Rayford had it backwards. Again. This was mildly interesting the first time Jenkins did this trick, less so the next four or five times. Here it doesn’t work at all because, again, Jenkins got confused and presented Buck’s perspective as Rayford’s.

If you’re a book editor, you should own a copy of Left Behind to take along to your annual performance reviews. Just open to a random page, have your boss read it, and then remind them that this is why you’re worth every penny and then some.

  • http://falconsgyre.blogspot.com Chan

    “Or is he a normal kid who one day runs into Satan, who tells him, ‘I am your father.’”
    Preferably at the top of a tall tower. And Nicky, as previously discussed, is much more likely to accept this and move on, rather than screaming “Nooooooooooooooo!!!” and taking a swan dive.
    “It is a very simplistic and blinked kind of racism that has been very popular over the past couple of centuries. Think of the NAZI’s myths of blond superiority. Of course, the NAZIs didn’t invent this myth – they simply inherited it. So, the authors are racist, being unable to imagine that the glory of Rome could have been built by darker people.”
    I would show that this is not prosecutable under Godwin’s Law, Your Honor, because it is not part of a flame war and it is relevant to the topic at hand. Therefore, my client should be allowed to continue speaking.

  • Tonio

    Was there some Satanic conspiracy just hanging out, waiting until SCIENCE! came up with the technology? Were they in contact with Satan? Did they do anything to advance technology until they could create their Antichrist?
    L&J could use the scenario to slam science for allegedly trying to supersede nature. The authors could also suggest that homosexuality itself is a pact with Satan, with Nicolae’s fathers at the highest levels of the Satan cult and the Beast using his magic to enable the two to have a child together.

  • Tonio

    Was there some Satanic conspiracy just hanging out, waiting until SCIENCE! came up with the technology? Were they in contact with Satan? Did they do anything to advance technology until they could create their Antichrist?
    L&J could use the scenario to slam science for allegedly trying to supersede nature. The authors could also suggest that homosexuality itself is a pact with Satan, with Nicolae’s fathers at the highest levels of the Satan cult and the Beast using his magic to enable the two to have a child together.

  • Karen

    Johnny Pez, that is soooo great. And, like any random episode of Scooby – Doo, even the ones with Scrappy in them, is a much better story than Left Behind.
    Also, I completely agree that it is perfectly acceptable to point out any comparisons between LaJenkins’ philosophy and that of any totalitarian monster of the last 200 years. Just because.

  • cjmr

    brown hair and brown eyes seem to be equated with what Brett Butler called “Spam-sucking trailer trash.”
    Ohhhh — I’ve so gotta make my brown-haired, brown-eyed husband and kids shirts that say ‘spam-sucking trailer trash — and PROUD of it!’. I’m the only one in the family anyone could possibly accuse of being a blonde, and I have green eyes — but I’d wear one, too.

  • cjmr

    brown hair and brown eyes seem to be equated with what Brett Butler called “Spam-sucking trailer trash.”
    Ohhhh — I’ve so gotta make my brown-haired, brown-eyed husband and kids shirts that say ‘spam-sucking trailer trash — and PROUD of it!’. I’m the only one in the family anyone could possibly accuse of being a blonde, and I have green eyes — but I’d wear one, too.

  • McJulie

    brown hair and brown eyes seem to be equated with what Brett Butler called “Spam-sucking trailer trash.”
    I dunno — when I picture a “trailer trash” gal I picture a woman who *is* blond, like Kim Basinger as Eminem’s mom in 8 Mile.
    ‘Is it okay if I take my top off? I feel luckier when I’m topless.’
    This line made me giggle. Everyone feels luckier when topless! Don’t they?
    He’s the son of two gay men,
    The Omen had him be the inexplicably humanoid son of a jackal*. Which at least is not something where you have to sit around waiting for genetic engineering to be developed before you can get your apocalypse started.
    *of course, the canid they show in the grave of his supposed mother is more of a giant Rottweiler type, because a real jackal is far too small to have gestated a human-sized baby. And even the Rottweiler was pushing it. I chose to interpret this as a deliberate clue that Gregory Peck’s character is nuts and the whole thing is a prank.

  • McJulie

    brown hair and brown eyes seem to be equated with what Brett Butler called “Spam-sucking trailer trash.”
    I dunno — when I picture a “trailer trash” gal I picture a woman who *is* blond, like Kim Basinger as Eminem’s mom in 8 Mile.
    ‘Is it okay if I take my top off? I feel luckier when I’m topless.’
    This line made me giggle. Everyone feels luckier when topless! Don’t they?
    He’s the son of two gay men,
    The Omen had him be the inexplicably humanoid son of a jackal*. Which at least is not something where you have to sit around waiting for genetic engineering to be developed before you can get your apocalypse started.
    *of course, the canid they show in the grave of his supposed mother is more of a giant Rottweiler type, because a real jackal is far too small to have gestated a human-sized baby. And even the Rottweiler was pushing it. I chose to interpret this as a deliberate clue that Gregory Peck’s character is nuts and the whole thing is a prank.

  • Dorothy

    He’s the son of two gay men
    Wow, I wonder which way he whorls.
    ——————————-
    FWIW (little to nothing) my family is of German descent, but my father and half my siblings are auburn-haired. With typical germanic orderliness, the odd-numbered children are brunette, the evens are auburn. All of us got the freckles.

  • Dorothy

    He’s the son of two gay men
    Wow, I wonder which way he whorls.
    ——————————-
    FWIW (little to nothing) my family is of German descent, but my father and half my siblings are auburn-haired. With typical germanic orderliness, the odd-numbered children are brunette, the evens are auburn. All of us got the freckles.

  • lonespark

    Trailer trash (female) stereotype is bottle-blonde, whatever the original color. See Confederate Railroad’s “Trashy Women,” my sister-in-law, etc. Although the California Girl is more reliably bottle-blonde, but with other implied attributes like a real beach tan.
    Also, the collar and cuffs rarely match, and I am of the belief that dying the cuffs might be…icky? I guess this may not be as true as I think it is, since all the blondes I’ve known have been the continuum kind that darkens as you get older. Everyone in my and my husband’s family fits that pattern.

  • Tonio

    The Omen had him be the inexplicably humanoid son of a jackal*. Which at least is not something where you have to sit around waiting for genetic engineering to be developed before you can get your apocalypse started.
    I always wondered where David Seltzer got the concept – the myth of the Minotaur? And with a jackal as a mother, wouldn’t the genetic heritage show up in the offspring’s behavior? “Damien, stop licking your genitals!”
    And even the Rottweiler was pushing it. I chose to interpret this as a deliberate clue that Gregory Peck’s character is nuts and the whole thing is a prank.
    In the third book, the adult Damien shows himself to be a back-door man with Kate, and in the fourth book, Kate thinks she has an intestinal tumor but it turns out to be Damien’s offspring.

  • Dorothy

    @Starr re genetics of red hair. That’s fascinating. In my family (almost large enough to be a statistically significant sample) the brown hair is a pretty uniform shade, but the red-heads range from a lighter red to deep auburn. There is quite a bit of variation in the degree of freckling, too.

  • Dorothy

    @Starr re genetics of red hair. That’s fascinating. In my family (almost large enough to be a statistically significant sample) the brown hair is a pretty uniform shade, but the red-heads range from a lighter red to deep auburn. There is quite a bit of variation in the degree of freckling, too.

  • Dorothy

    Kate thinks she has an intestinal tumor but it turns out to be Damien’s offspring.
    Eeewwwww…..

  • Dorothy

    Kate thinks she has an intestinal tumor but it turns out to be Damien’s offspring.
    Eeewwwww…..

  • Jeff

    I’ve actually been there, and “town” is not the word I would use to describe Cluj.
    Do you really expect, at this late date, for L or J to have a Cluj?
    ===========================
    He’s the son of two gay men, which probably means he’s inherited a buttload of genetic defects
    Was this intentional? I’m not sure whether I want it to be or not…
    =========================
    Also, the collar and cuffs rarely match, and I am of the belief that dying the cuffs might be…icky?
    These days, if the collar and cuffs don’t match (or even if they do), it’s more likely that the cuffs will be shaved. (TMI???)

  • Jeff

    I’ve actually been there, and “town” is not the word I would use to describe Cluj.
    Do you really expect, at this late date, for L or J to have a Cluj?
    ===========================
    He’s the son of two gay men, which probably means he’s inherited a buttload of genetic defects
    Was this intentional? I’m not sure whether I want it to be or not…
    =========================
    Also, the collar and cuffs rarely match, and I am of the belief that dying the cuffs might be…icky?
    These days, if the collar and cuffs don’t match (or even if they do), it’s more likely that the cuffs will be shaved. (TMI???)

  • Froborr

    No expert, but if you’ve got an egg donor and a surrogate mother (artificial eggs and wombs are centuries beyond what we can do now) I don’t see any reason why you can’t use the genetic material from one dad’s sperm, then let the other fertilize the egg as normal (I’m pretty sure we can’t yet combine the genes from two cells and plant them in an egg). At least one of them would have to carry an X, of course; YY isn’t a viable combination. That shouldn’t be too hard, though, as half of any given male’s sperm carry Xes.
    Come to think of it, though, sperm are pretty tiny and mobile. Extracting the material is probably harder than with other cells.
    Also, can somebody explain to me what’s wrong with gengineering/cloning? I can understand opposition to cloning from the pro-life perspective, since they believe fertilized eggs are people and cloning runs through a *lot* of fertilized cells before you get a viable one. However, this is not an inevitability, but simply due to the fact that we’re not very good at cloning yet, not to mention that it’s *only* an objection if you think blastocytes are people. And I can understand opposition to the way GM foods are done now (very little safety testing or regard for the Law of Unintended Consequences). But outside of those and similar narrow, limited objections, I really don’t understand why anyone would be opposed to genetic engineering or cloning in general.*
    *I’m ignoring crazy stuff like “clones won’t have souls!”

  • Froborr

    No expert, but if you’ve got an egg donor and a surrogate mother (artificial eggs and wombs are centuries beyond what we can do now) I don’t see any reason why you can’t use the genetic material from one dad’s sperm, then let the other fertilize the egg as normal (I’m pretty sure we can’t yet combine the genes from two cells and plant them in an egg). At least one of them would have to carry an X, of course; YY isn’t a viable combination. That shouldn’t be too hard, though, as half of any given male’s sperm carry Xes.
    Come to think of it, though, sperm are pretty tiny and mobile. Extracting the material is probably harder than with other cells.
    Also, can somebody explain to me what’s wrong with gengineering/cloning? I can understand opposition to cloning from the pro-life perspective, since they believe fertilized eggs are people and cloning runs through a *lot* of fertilized cells before you get a viable one. However, this is not an inevitability, but simply due to the fact that we’re not very good at cloning yet, not to mention that it’s *only* an objection if you think blastocytes are people. And I can understand opposition to the way GM foods are done now (very little safety testing or regard for the Law of Unintended Consequences). But outside of those and similar narrow, limited objections, I really don’t understand why anyone would be opposed to genetic engineering or cloning in general.*
    *I’m ignoring crazy stuff like “clones won’t have souls!”

  • lonespark

    I think a certain amount of the opposition to genetic engineering in humans, and even research thereof, is related to disability rights and the idea that people defined as “imperfect” by someone still have a right to life and respect as full human beings, plus the many ways in which people could be discriminated against because of their genes.

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com Scyllacat

    Wow. Again. The comments are as worth reading as Fred’s post. I am more interested in the impulse to dye blond/blonde rather than the number of naturals, and whether they’re dumb:
    …and that “acting blonde” means “acting stupid because she thinks she’s supposed to, just like she dyes her hair because she thinks she’s supposed to.”
    Or, as I put it, “Peroxide kills brain cells.”
    From my point of view: As others have pointed out, blond hair is more typical of youth; there is a type of man who likes the appearance of youth in his women, and he’s usually not too pleased with her being too opinionated and intelligent, either. So, I am all ready to exclude all natural blonds/blondes from the presuppositions of Blond/e and think of them as jokes about people who are playing younger/dumber than they are, on purpose. –And then they get in trouble. :)
    And yes, women do that more often than men, at least in sex/mating games. I’m pretty sure. Exceptions, of course, occur.
    The only thing I have to add is that fake blond hair glows under blacklight. Also some bras, which is really interesting. (I work in a haunted house, so I have seen thousands of people walking through blacklight exposing things about themselves they did not know you knew. :)

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com Scyllacat

    Wow. Again. The comments are as worth reading as Fred’s post. I am more interested in the impulse to dye blond/blonde rather than the number of naturals, and whether they’re dumb:
    …and that “acting blonde” means “acting stupid because she thinks she’s supposed to, just like she dyes her hair because she thinks she’s supposed to.”
    Or, as I put it, “Peroxide kills brain cells.”
    From my point of view: As others have pointed out, blond hair is more typical of youth; there is a type of man who likes the appearance of youth in his women, and he’s usually not too pleased with her being too opinionated and intelligent, either. So, I am all ready to exclude all natural blonds/blondes from the presuppositions of Blond/e and think of them as jokes about people who are playing younger/dumber than they are, on purpose. –And then they get in trouble. :)
    And yes, women do that more often than men, at least in sex/mating games. I’m pretty sure. Exceptions, of course, occur.
    The only thing I have to add is that fake blond hair glows under blacklight. Also some bras, which is really interesting. (I work in a haunted house, so I have seen thousands of people walking through blacklight exposing things about themselves they did not know you knew. :)

  • mcc

    The constant harping on his “Romanness” seems to be some sort of sop to the fact that Babylon/the Whore in Revelation is symbolic of Imperial Rome, home of Nero and the persecutions of the Christians. I’m not quite sure why this is in the story, since L&J completely ignores that part otherwise: to them, Babylon is just Babylon.
    Is it possible L&J are trying to give the literal Rome a wide berth so as to avoid casting aspersions on the Catholic Church? They don’t seem particularly fond of Catholicism, but they seem to have some desire not to overtly offend Catholics either.

  • mcc

    The constant harping on his “Romanness” seems to be some sort of sop to the fact that Babylon/the Whore in Revelation is symbolic of Imperial Rome, home of Nero and the persecutions of the Christians. I’m not quite sure why this is in the story, since L&J completely ignores that part otherwise: to them, Babylon is just Babylon.
    Is it possible L&J are trying to give the literal Rome a wide berth so as to avoid casting aspersions on the Catholic Church? They don’t seem particularly fond of Catholicism, but they seem to have some desire not to overtly offend Catholics either.

  • Catherine

    “Nope, Nicky’s the genetically engineered child of two gay men.”
    Wow, when I read that, two thoughts came into my head. The first one was “Wow, L and J have something to offend EVERYBODY,” and “Awww, isn’t that cute? Curt Wild and Brian Slade had a baby,
    or “Hey, I didn’t know Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar were Nicolae’s parents!”

  • Catherine

    “Nope, Nicky’s the genetically engineered child of two gay men.”
    Wow, when I read that, two thoughts came into my head. The first one was “Wow, L and J have something to offend EVERYBODY,” and “Awww, isn’t that cute? Curt Wild and Brian Slade had a baby,
    or “Hey, I didn’t know Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar were Nicolae’s parents!”

  • mcc

    No expert, but if you’ve got an egg donor and a surrogate mother (artificial eggs and wombs are centuries beyond what we can do now) I don’t see any reason why you can’t use the genetic material from one dad’s sperm, then let the other fertilize the egg as normal (I’m pretty sure we can’t yet combine the genes from two cells and plant them in an egg).
    As far as I am aware this is not done.
    Something that is possible and has been done in the lab, however, is artificially created sperm and eggs, from stem cells. Basically, it’s possible to induce stem cells to grow into sperm or eggs (whichever you like). Scientists have actually done this with mice and at least in the case of the artificial sperm (see link above) were actually able to use it to breed mice that grew to adulthood. This technique could be used for same-sex couples to have biological children, and also has obvious use for infertile couples. (Note that as far as I’m aware, nowhere does this require “genetic engineering”.) I fully expect to see this at least attempted to be applied to humans within the lifetime of people posting in this thread now (although there are some safety concerns that may make this slow in coming, above and beyond the “ick factor” that would normally hold this kind of research back; apparently the mice in the experiment mentioned above grew up with health problems).
    I agree with Dylan that this seems more like plain fertility clinic practice than it does anything chilling…

  • http://mabus101.livejournal.com Mabus

    Also, can somebody explain to me what’s wrong with gengineering/cloning? I can understand opposition to cloning from the pro-life perspective, since they believe fertilized eggs are people and cloning runs through a *lot* of fertilized cells before you get a viable one. However, this is not an inevitability, but simply due to the fact that we’re not very good at cloning yet, not to mention that it’s *only* an objection if you think blastocytes are people. And I can understand opposition to the way GM foods are done now (very little safety testing or regard for the Law of Unintended Consequences). But outside of those and similar narrow, limited objections, I really don’t understand why anyone would be opposed to genetic engineering or cloning in general.*
    *I’m ignoring crazy stuff like “clones won’t have souls!”

    You shouldn’t. It’s not crazy to them. The suspicion that clones will not have souls/will be mindless, or mental copies/will be inherently evil (these are all inter-related) is in fact a large part of “cloning is bad” among fundamentalists.
    The death of embryos, conversely, is not–though that’s largely because a typical fundamentalist doesn’t realize how big the wastage would be in the early stages. While I bristle at the assumption that all fundamentalists are stupid or uneducated, it is true that most are not very well-educated in the sciences. (Similarly, it’s only recently become a point of contention that in vitro fertilization kills lots of embryos.)
    Another factor is “playing God”. There are things that fundamentalists typically expect humans either cannot, or absolutely should not, do, and one of them is creating life (other than by the conventional method, of course). This is true even in my relatively pro-science church–the (admittedly rarely-sung) third verse of the “national anthem of the Church of Christ”, “Our God He Is Alive”, goes:
    Secure is life from mortal mind;
    God holds the germ within his hand.
    Though men may search, they cannot find,
    For God alone does understand.
    (“Germ” here is archaic, meaning “source of life”–not “bacterium or virus”.)
    The exact response to scientists developing methods to “create life” in the laboratory varies, but it registers either as “I was sure they couldn’t do that! Only God can do that!” or “Humans don’t have any business doing that; it’s too big for us.”
    For my part, I came to terms with the ability of humans to create life a long time ago. If not for the wastage rate, I would have no objections whatsoever to reproductive cloning–it’s cloning for research I have trouble with.

  • http://mabus101.livejournal.com Mabus

    Also, can somebody explain to me what’s wrong with gengineering/cloning? I can understand opposition to cloning from the pro-life perspective, since they believe fertilized eggs are people and cloning runs through a *lot* of fertilized cells before you get a viable one. However, this is not an inevitability, but simply due to the fact that we’re not very good at cloning yet, not to mention that it’s *only* an objection if you think blastocytes are people. And I can understand opposition to the way GM foods are done now (very little safety testing or regard for the Law of Unintended Consequences). But outside of those and similar narrow, limited objections, I really don’t understand why anyone would be opposed to genetic engineering or cloning in general.*
    *I’m ignoring crazy stuff like “clones won’t have souls!”

    You shouldn’t. It’s not crazy to them. The suspicion that clones will not have souls/will be mindless, or mental copies/will be inherently evil (these are all inter-related) is in fact a large part of “cloning is bad” among fundamentalists.
    The death of embryos, conversely, is not–though that’s largely because a typical fundamentalist doesn’t realize how big the wastage would be in the early stages. While I bristle at the assumption that all fundamentalists are stupid or uneducated, it is true that most are not very well-educated in the sciences. (Similarly, it’s only recently become a point of contention that in vitro fertilization kills lots of embryos.)
    Another factor is “playing God”. There are things that fundamentalists typically expect humans either cannot, or absolutely should not, do, and one of them is creating life (other than by the conventional method, of course). This is true even in my relatively pro-science church–the (admittedly rarely-sung) third verse of the “national anthem of the Church of Christ”, “Our God He Is Alive”, goes:
    Secure is life from mortal mind;
    God holds the germ within his hand.
    Though men may search, they cannot find,
    For God alone does understand.
    (“Germ” here is archaic, meaning “source of life”–not “bacterium or virus”.)
    The exact response to scientists developing methods to “create life” in the laboratory varies, but it registers either as “I was sure they couldn’t do that! Only God can do that!” or “Humans don’t have any business doing that; it’s too big for us.”
    For my part, I came to terms with the ability of humans to create life a long time ago. If not for the wastage rate, I would have no objections whatsoever to reproductive cloning–it’s cloning for research I have trouble with.

  • Chris

    So, if Carpathia is born from the genetic material of two gay men, yet is straight (see his pursuit of Hattie), that really disproves the “gay gene” hytpothesis, doesn’t it?

  • Chris

    So, if Carpathia is born from the genetic material of two gay men, yet is straight (see his pursuit of Hattie), that really disproves the “gay gene” hytpothesis, doesn’t it?

  • Shadow Wolf

    It’s pretty much an article of faith among fundies that homosexuality is a choice, and all the evidence in the world won’t change their mind.

  • Shadow Wolf

    It’s pretty much an article of faith among fundies that homosexuality is a choice, and all the evidence in the world won’t change their mind.

  • hapax

    I’m not sure how any of this — either natural conception methods or technologically-assisted ones — counts as “creating life.” I mean, aren’t the egg and sperm already “alive”? “Continuing life”, I can see; “multiplying” or “expanding” life, fine. But those don’t sound as scary.
    Why are so many anti-science types bent out of shape with technological assistance to aid reproduction, but perfectly okay with v!@gr@?

  • hapax

    (spelling of last word changed to get past Typepad’s spamblocker)

  • hapax

    (spelling of last word changed to get past Typepad’s spamblocker)

  • cjmr


    >>No expert, but if you’ve got an egg donor and a surrogate mother
    >>(artificial eggs and wombs are centuries beyond what we can do now) I
    >>don’t see any reason why you can’t use the genetic material from one
    >>dad’s sperm, then let the other fertilize the egg as normal (I’m pretty
    >> sure we can’t yet combine the genes from two cells and plant them in
    >>an egg).
    >As far as I am aware this is not done.

    Based on various things I’ve read, I’d say the technology is within five years of being able to zap an not-fertilized ovum, remove its DNA, pop in ‘x’ sperm DNA, use ‘y’ sperm to fertilize it, and implant it in a surrogate. They already can separate the ‘x’ sperm from the ‘y’ sperm with reasonable accuracy.

  • cjmr


    >>No expert, but if you’ve got an egg donor and a surrogate mother
    >>(artificial eggs and wombs are centuries beyond what we can do now) I
    >>don’t see any reason why you can’t use the genetic material from one
    >>dad’s sperm, then let the other fertilize the egg as normal (I’m pretty
    >> sure we can’t yet combine the genes from two cells and plant them in
    >>an egg).
    >As far as I am aware this is not done.

    Based on various things I’ve read, I’d say the technology is within five years of being able to zap an not-fertilized ovum, remove its DNA, pop in ‘x’ sperm DNA, use ‘y’ sperm to fertilize it, and implant it in a surrogate. They already can separate the ‘x’ sperm from the ‘y’ sperm with reasonable accuracy.

  • hagsrus

    In the third book, the adult Damien shows himself to be a back-door man with Kate, and in the fourth book, Kate thinks she has an intestinal tumor but it turns out to be Damien’s offspring.
    Re-routed Fallopian tubes?
    As my dear papa was wont to remark, “It’s a neat trick if you can do it.”

  • Arslan Amirkhanov

    Hello, first I want to say that I love your commentaries.  I was brought up hearing all this rapture/revelation/prophesy crap from folks like Hagee, Robertson, Lindsay, and Van Impe, and as I developed a passion for history and languages I simultaneously developed a burning hatred for these con-men.  

    Now it is very well possible that someone probably pointed this out before, and I am not exactly an expert on Romania(though I live in Eastern Europe and have known several Romanians), but I am quite certain that “Carpathia” cannot possibly be a Romanian name.  As you know, their names tend to end in -escu or -ieu.  Only one famous Romanian without such a surname comes to my mind, Anna Pauker, who was of Jewish descent.  I’m not even sure that Romanian has the sound “th” in any form, although it may exist as a sound for a particular letter(like the pronunciation of ‘z’ used by speakers of Castillan Spanish).  I may be wrong about the sound but I am pretty damned sure about the surname. 

    My theory is this- For some bizarre reason they needed a Romanian.  Perhaps this was intended to throw everyone off, a sort of half-assed mystery inserted into the book as this blog entry shows.  He should be Roman but, get ready for it….he comes from ROMANIA!! GOTCHA!!! Anyway, they need a Romanian so they remember Nicolae Ceausescu and get Nicolae, and they’re too stupid to realize that Ceausescu’s surname follows the typical pattern, so they find that the Carpathian mountains are in Romania.  Nicolae Carpathia is the result.   I might also add that this name doesn’t really fit with other names in the region either.  Polish can have names which end in -ia but they are rare compared to -ski, -wicz,-iak-, and k.  Besides, in Polish it would come out to something like Karpacki, and his first name would then Mikowaja.  

    Also Romanians might get that Balkan stereotype of having dark hair and dark skin, but I think the Dumbassic Duo is confusing them for Roma people(gypsies), who are often associated with Romania.  Romanians may have dark hair or eyes but their skin is just as light as any other European people, and you can probably find plenty of blondes as well.  

    As for the Roman ancestry, I think it would be pretty impossible to confirm some idea like that. Think how many generations you would have to go back to explain that.  

    Anyway, I love your work and keep hammering these two Mary Sue-writing idiots.  

  • martha

    Wow, linking back here is a flash from the past! Geography nerd that I am, I feel obligated to point out that while it’s not in Western Europe (nor is Greece), part of Turkey is in Eastern Europe, the part across the Bosporus. This was really brought home to me recently with the nice Turkish family at one of my volunteer sites who are all fair-skinned and blond (brown eyes, though). It really is a major crossroads country between Europe and the Middle East.

    But I guess it was more cool to have him be from the country of Vlad Dracul, rather than the one of Ataturk.

  • Arslan

    Indeed, it’s the smaller part of Turkey, which I believe can be referred to entirely as Thrace, which is in Europe. And as you noted Turks often have light skin and multi-colored eyes.  Eastern Turks such as the Tatars may even have blonde hair as well.  Mustafa Kemal had dark hair but blue eyes.  And of course due to Ataturk’s loose definition of the term “Turk”(anyone born in Turkey and who wishes to do so may call him or herself a Turk), many people are known as Turks despite the fact that their heritage may be Greek, Caucasian, or even Slavic. 

    Conclusion: Tim L. and Jerry J. are morons.  In fact if you’re going to have someone of “Roman descent” he could just as easily have been from Germany, Greece, the Middle East, France, Spain, Britain, or pretty much anywhere the Romans once controlled.  Sure it might seem odd that someone would know that their heritage can be traced to Romans, but this really isn’t that much more strange in Britain as it would be in say, Croatia. 

     

  • Azzandra

    I’m Romanian, and I need to comment on this: the name “Carpathia” is utterly ridiculous. Just like a commentor has already said, Romanian doesn’t have the “th” sound. Also, while some Romanian names do denote places of origins (for example, you can have someone whose name is “Ardeleanu”, named for the Ardeal region), that is usually because their ancestors moved from a region to another. So you can have a family in Moldova named “Ardelean/Ardeleanu/Ardelenescu”, a person in Wallachia named “Moldovan/Moldovean/Moldovanu/Moldoveanu/Moldovenescu/Moldoveancu/Moldov”, someone in Moldova named “Vlahu/Vlah/Blahu/Mountean/Munteanu/etc.”, but you will never have someone in Moldova named “Moldoveanu”, or someone in Ardeal named “Ardeleanu”, unless they moved to that region recently (in other words, AFTER the family name already stuck). Because you can have an American named Bobby French, or Johnny English, but not an American named Billy American, because that would be bloody stupid. (Though you can have a sci-fi character named Duncan Idaho. That’s cool, because he lives in the future.)

    Also, there are NO Romanian names derived from the Carpathian Mountains, because the Carpathians are a mountain range. Which means each mountain has its own name.

    And a nitpick, but, on their site, the authors give the wrong pronounciation for Nicolae. They stress the first syllable. In Romanian, the name would either be pronounced ni-co-LAH-eh, or ni-co-LYE (the latter pronounciation is more common for the name when it is written as “Nicolai”, however).

    Anyway, Romanians are not mostly dark. While yes, we do have minorities of other races who are Romanian citizens, ethnically Romanian people are white. Blond hair and blue ees are not unusual by any stretch of the imagination.


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