L.B.: Doin’ the deal

Left Behind, pp. 443-448

In the final pages of the penultimate chapter of Left Behind, Jerry Jenkins tries to ratchet up the suspense before Buck Williams’ encounter with the Antichrist.

The supposedly suspenseful questions — Will Buck get saved? Is Nicolae the Antichrist? Or is it really Stonagal? — aren’t all that suspenseful. The answers are thuddingly obvious (yes, yes and no, duh, respectively). Yet despite that, the conclusion of this book does involve a bit of suspense. After 400+ pages of non-sequitur plot developments, inconsistent characterization and glaring continuity errors, the reader approaches the end of this book with the realization that anything, absolutely anything, might happen. Since the normal rules of plot, character, motive, logic, physics, human nature, and cause and effect do not apply then anything goes.

Bruce Barnes warned that the Antichrist is planning some “show of strength,” something big. In a normal book, that would seem ominous, but we have no idea what to make of such a suggestion here in the world of L.B. In this world, no one seems particularly impressed by a nuclear holocaust or the disappearance of every child from earth, yet the sight of two guys tripping and dying held the entire planet spellbound. In such a deliriously strange world, readers have no way of knowing what a “show of strength” might mean. That provides suspense, of a sort, just not the kind the authors seem to intend.

Buck’s credentials were waiting for him at an information desk in the U.N. lobby. He was directed up to a private conference room off the suite of offices into which Nicolae Carpathia had already moved. Buck was at least 20 minutes early, but as he emerged from the elevator he felt alone in a crowd. He saw no one he recognized as he began the long walk down a corridor of glass and steel leading to the room where he was to join Steve, the 10 designated ambassadors representing the permanent members of the new Security Council, several aides and advisers to the new secretary-general (including Rosenzweig, Stonagal, and various other members of his international brotherhood of financial wizards), and of course, Carpathia himself.

So Buck is headed for a room full of people, at least 20, most of whom he has never seen before. And here he is walking down the hallway to that room and the hallway is full of people he has never seen before. Yet somehow Buck knows that these unrecognizable strangers are a different set of unrecognizable strangers. So who are all these people in the hall and what are they doing there? Don’t worry about that. They’re just Other People, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Left Behind, it’s that Other People don’t matter.

We’re about to get another four pages of Buck in anxious, fretting, full-of-dread mode. Since Buck is also Jenkins’ Mary Sue surrogate, this description needs yet again to be prefaced with a disclaimer reminding readers that Buck is a manly man’s man and that all of this fear and worry should in no way be interpreted as suggesting that he is anything other than a hard-charging, vigorous alpha male.

Buck had always been energetic and confident. Others had noticed his purposeful stride on assignment. …

Keep in mind this is Buck’s perspective here. We never read of those others actually noticing his purposeful stride, energy and confidence. All we read is his assumption that his must be something others must have noticed about him.

This is all you really need to know about Buck (or about Rayford Steele, for that matter). Will Ferrell has made a career out of playing this exact character — the self-centered incompetent with epically disproportionate self-confidence. Buck is just like any of those interchangeable Ferrell characters — Ricky Bobby, Ron Burgundy, George W. Bush. (Tell me you can’t hear Bush’s voice saying this: “Others have noticed mah … purp-oseful strad.”)

Others had noticed his purposeful stride on assignment. Now his gait was slow and unsure, and with every step his dread increased. The lights seemed to grow dimmer, the walls close in. His pulse increased and he had a sense of foreboding.

There are several more paragraphs of this –

What he feared, he knew, was not mortal danger. At least not now, not here. The closer he got to the conference room, the more he was repelled by a sense of evil, as if personified in that place. … He was nearly paralyzed by the atmosphere of blackness. He wanted to be anywhere but there. … he felt the darkest anguish of his soul …

We get two full pages of this overheated, Lovecraftian dread between the elevator and the door to the conference room. Somewhere in the midst of all that: “Buck found himself silently praying, God, be with me. Protect me.” And then, on the following page:

He tried to force himself toward the door, his thoughts deafening. Again he cried out to God, and he felt a coward — just like everyone else, praying in the foxhole. …

Yet he did not belong to God. Not yet.

Buck is still standing in the hallway when Steve Plank finally spots him.

“Buck! We’re almost ready to begin. Come on in.”

But Buck felt terrible, panicky. “Steve, I need to run to the washroom. Do I have a minute?”

Steve glanced at his watch. “You’ve got five,” he said.

The last time these two spoke, Steve was darkly hinting that Buck shouldn’t ask too many questions about the group assembled for this meeting or both of their lives might be in danger. Steve was so spooked in that conversation that he wouldn’t even mention Carpathia or Stonagal by name. “Staten Island,” he had warned Buck. “Staten Island!

Here, however, Steve seems chipper and carefree. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-Either are just a few yards away, but this no longer seems to trouble him.

Lots of thrillers feature just this sort of unsettling shift from whispering coded warnings to cheery bonhomie. The mysterious stranger full of ominous threats in the previous scene is now smiling broadly, but the smile seems a bit forced and he seems to be stealing furtive glances over his shoulder. Or there’s the Stepford/Body Snatchers variation, in which the now cheerful character seems genuinely puzzled by any reference to their earlier warnings. Such devices are so familiar that at first one suspects something like that was intended here.

But it’s not. This is just more Bad Writing.

You’ll recall that ever since Buck got off the phone with Steve he’s been trying to figure out what exactly his old boss had meant by “he moves mountains.” Was that a reference to Carpathia or to Stonagal? Here’s his chance to ask Steve which he meant, and to ask him some of the other questions Buck urgently needs answered before he goes into that meeting. Yet he doesn’t ask any of those questions. He doesn’t mention their previous conversation at all. Like Steve — and the authors — Buck seems to have forgotten that conversation even took place.

A bit of accidental realism follows here, as Steve does what someone always seems to do if you’ve only got five minutes before a big meeting and you’re trying to run to the washroom — he keeps Buck standing there, talking:

“When you get back, you’ll be right over there.”

Steve pointed to a chair at one corner of a square block of tables. The journalist in Buck liked it. The perfect vantage point. His eyes darted to the nameplates in front of each spot. He would face the main table, where Carpathia had placed himself directly next to Stonagal … or had Stonagal been in charge of the seating?

One of these two men was responsible for the murders of Dirk Burton, Alan Tompkins and Eric Miller. One of them — probably the same one — was also the Beast, the Antichrist, the embodiment of evil. But which one? Obviously, it was whoever had been in charge of the seating arrangements.

Next to Carpathia on the other side was a hastily hand-lettered nameplate with “Personal Assistant” written on it. “Is that you?” Buck said.

“Nope,” Steve pointed at the corner opposite Buck’s chair.

How can they see opposite corners of this block of tables from out here in the hallway?

“Is Todd-Cothran here?” Buck said.

“Of course. Right there in the light gray.”

The Brit looked insignificant enough. But just beyond him were both Stonagal — in charcoal — and Carpathia, looking perfect in a black suit, white shirt, electric-blue tie, and a gold stickpin. Buck shuddered at the sight of him, but Carpathia flashed a smile and waved him over. Buck signaled that he would be a minute. “Now you’ve got only four minutes,” Steve said. “Get going.”

I’m not sure if the sartorial shades of gray here are meant to be symbolic. (Evil. Evil-er. Evil-est!) If we’re dressing the bad guys in black, then Todd-Cothran would seem to deserve a darker shade. He is, after all, a cop-killer and proud of it. He was also, very nearly, a GIRAT-killer. Buck magnanimously seems willing to let that pass. He decides T-C is “insignificant enough” (enough for what?).

Buck put his bag in a corner next to a heavyset, white-haired security guard, waved at his old friend Chaim Rosenzweig, and jogged to the washroom. He placed a janitor’s bucket outside and locked the door.

Did he just barricade the outside of the door? That seems like a neat trick. And what is it with this guy and bathrooms?

Buck backed up against the door, thrust his hands deep into his pockets, and dropped his chin to his chest, remembering Bruce’s advice that he could talk to God the same way he talked to a friend. “God,” he said, “I need you, and not just for this meeting.”

And as he prayed he believed. This was no experiment, no halfhearted attempt. He wasn’t just hoping or trying something out. Buck knew he was talking to God himself. He admitted he needed God, that he knew he was as lost and as sinful as anyone. He didn’t specifically pray the prayer he had heard others talk about, but when he finished he had covered the same territory and the deal was done.

I’ve written several times in this series about the pornographic nature of the conversion scenes in a lot of Christian-branded fiction. Spiritual intimacy, like sexual intimacy, does not lend itself comfortably to observation and description. Such scenes, if rendered too explicitly, seem like a violation of privacy and like a reduction of something transcendant.

Buck’s Big Conversion Scene here is, thankfully, underplayed without too much graphic detail. Yet despite that, it still seems coarsely reductive. “The deal was done.” (Just try to imagine someone using that phrase in their testimony during an evangelistic revival.)

The authors here seem to have anticipated our “magic words” critique of this book’s notion of personal(ized) salvation, clearly stating here that one can still “do the deal” even if one doesn’t use the exact syntax of the official prayer. You can paraphrase a little, they suggest, and the magic spell will still work. It’s still a magic spell, though.

It’s also interesting that for all the talk in this book about “praying The Prayer” (or a close paraphrase of The Prayer for nonconformist rebels like Buck), the authors never really tell us what, exactly, The Prayer is. They’ve got a “Seeking God” section on Leftbehind.com, and they offer a 24-hour toll-free number (1-866-321-SEEK) where you can “Talk to someone about your eternity,” but the book itself never spells out the spell. That seems, from their perspective, like a pretty big oversight.

The passage above does give us a few hints about “the territory” that The Prayer needs to cover in order to get the deal done, the core of which seems to be this: “He admitted he needed God, that he knew he was as lost and as sinful as anyone.” That’s almost a confession — although of what, exactly, it’s hard to say.

We should also note that, as with Rayford’s Big Conversion Scene earlier, love never enters the picture. Not God’s love for Buck. Not Buck’s love for God. Buck admits to his share of some vague, generic “sinfulness,” but that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with love, or the lack thereof, either. I could go on here about how appallingly screwed up that is, but this confusion is, alas, not confined to LaHaye and Jenkins in particular, or even to premillennial dispensationalists.

The newly converted Buck returns to the conference room:

When he walked in, everyone was in place — Carpathia, Stonagal, Todd-Cothran, Rosenzweig, Steve, and the financial powers and ambassadors. And one person Buck never expected — Hattie Durham. He stared, dumbfounded, as she took her place as Nicolae Carpathia’s personal assistant. She winked at him, but he did not acknowledge her.

Buck’s only been a Christian for about four minutes, but already he’s demonstrating everything Rayford taught him about the Christian male’s duty of treating Hattie like dirt. This is also further proof that Nicolae is evil. Not only does he acknowledge Hattie, he’s helping her with her career. Pure evil, that, luring a young woman into the wanton life of a career outside the home. From LaHaye’s point of view, career-woman and working-girl are pretty much the same thing.

Meanwhile, Buck’s spirit-sense is tingling:

While no special feeling had come with Buck’s decision, he had a heightened sensitivity that something was happening here. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that the Antichrist of the Bible was in this room. And despite all he knew about Stonagal and what the man had engineered in England … Buck sensed the truest, deepest, darkest spirit of evil as he watched Carpathia take his place. Nicolae waited till everyone was seated, then rose with pseudodignity.

The others may be fooled, but Buck, with his Jesus-powered “heightened sensitivity,” is now able to tell the difference between dignity and “pseudodignity.” As his new faith takes hold and his powers of discernment grow, Buck may soon also realize that “a black suit, white shirt, electric-blue tie, and a gold stickpin” is only pseudostylish.

“Gentlemen … and lady,” he began. …

Yeah, that’s right. Hattie is the only woman in the room. They expand the Security Council to 10 seats and it’s still an all-boys club. (This is a bit surprising, actually, since you’d expect Tim LaHaye’s notion of an evil cabal to include at least a token feminist. His wife Beverly, after all, heads up Concerned Women for America — an antifeminist group dedicated to the proposition that no woman should head up anything.)

So as we head into the final chapter all of the supposedly suspenseful questions seem to have been dealt with. Buck’s soul is saved and he’s now mojo-proof. We’ve confirmed that Carpathia is, indeed, the black-suited Antichrist while Stonagal is merely a charcoal-suited wannabe. And we’ve all-but confirmed that Hattie is making the beast with two backs with the Beast with Ten Horns. All that’s left for the last 20 pages is Nicolae’s big “show of strength.”

  • Jeff

    But the Catholic church has always, AFAIK, been against any kind of birth control other than abstinence.
    In the song I quoted above (Jun 18, 2008 at 05:35 PM), the presumption was that the Catholic Church was at least debating birth control (I think this was around the time of Vatican II). Perhaps cjmr or husband might have more information.
    =============
    Does anyone else have an opinion?
    I agree with Majormax. I will note that Jesu is active on ObWi, but is not particiapating here. Since she is not commenting here, any obsertvations about her should be moot.

  • Fraser

    As I recall from a book about the creation of the Pill, pro-Pill forces in the Vatican argued that it should be classed with the rhythm method in that it doesn’t interfere with the natural process of sperm finding its way to egg the way that condoms do. The Pope ultimately decided this would be flying in the face of the church’s traditional stance and thumbed it down.

  • Fraser

    As I recall from a book about the creation of the Pill, pro-Pill forces in the Vatican argued that it should be classed with the rhythm method in that it doesn’t interfere with the natural process of sperm finding its way to egg the way that condoms do. The Pope ultimately decided this would be flying in the face of the church’s traditional stance and thumbed it down.

  • Tonio

    And so…? No one should ever give an opinion or unsolicited advice?
    Only when the matter involves private behavior. Public behavior with the potential to harm (or help) others is fair game.
    Any action could be consistent with a number of beliefs, not all of which would account for the action in question. You cannot necessarily proceed from an action to find the underlying belief.
    I agree.
    really you could argue that anyone killing themselves is wrong based on the emotional distress it causes everyone around the suicide.
    Fair point. I would suggest that if you have people depending on you, such as children or elderly relatives, then your suicide would inflict much more harm.
    But there’s also a running theme in right-to-life literature that women really don’t want abortions: They’re lured in by the evil abortion industry, or they’re just confused and misguided…None of this makes five seconds worth of sense, but it may be enough of a bridge to get them across the logical holes in their positions.
    Here’s another variation on the theme that I’ve heard – the women are coerced or persuaded into it by their boyfriends. As the argument goes, often the woman is in her early teens and the boyfriend is much older. This argument seems to make more sense on its own, but it also fits the rest of the theme of women as weak-willed.

  • Tonio

    And so…? No one should ever give an opinion or unsolicited advice?
    Only when the matter involves private behavior. Public behavior with the potential to harm (or help) others is fair game.
    Any action could be consistent with a number of beliefs, not all of which would account for the action in question. You cannot necessarily proceed from an action to find the underlying belief.
    I agree.
    really you could argue that anyone killing themselves is wrong based on the emotional distress it causes everyone around the suicide.
    Fair point. I would suggest that if you have people depending on you, such as children or elderly relatives, then your suicide would inflict much more harm.
    But there’s also a running theme in right-to-life literature that women really don’t want abortions: They’re lured in by the evil abortion industry, or they’re just confused and misguided…None of this makes five seconds worth of sense, but it may be enough of a bridge to get them across the logical holes in their positions.
    Here’s another variation on the theme that I’ve heard – the women are coerced or persuaded into it by their boyfriends. As the argument goes, often the woman is in her early teens and the boyfriend is much older. This argument seems to make more sense on its own, but it also fits the rest of the theme of women as weak-willed.

  • hagsrus

    In the absence of Jesu I venture a reminder of the situation in Nicaragua (where the woman as well as the doctor is subject to jail).
    http://tinyurl.com/4yzs2n
    Angela Heimburger, Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch’s Women’s Rights Division, said some women interviewed for the report, none of whom were identified by name, were even refused treatment after miscarriages.
    …Arguello said 82 women have died from treatable pregnancy complications between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15. He said six of those cases required a therapeutic abortion — including one involving an ectopic pregnancy, in which a fetus forms outside the uterus.

  • Froborr

    aunursa: Any action could be consistent with a number of beliefs, not all of which would account for the action in question. You cannot necessarily proceed from an action to find the underlying belief.
    Me at 12:09: Since most anti-abortion advocates are conservatives, whom we already know are often anti-feminist and anti-sex, this seems a very likely explanation to me.
    Consistency alone is insufficient, but when you can show that an action is consistent with a belief the person is likely to have, and inconsistent with their stated belief, the conclusion is pretty obvious.

  • Froborr

    aunursa: Any action could be consistent with a number of beliefs, not all of which would account for the action in question. You cannot necessarily proceed from an action to find the underlying belief.
    Me at 12:09: Since most anti-abortion advocates are conservatives, whom we already know are often anti-feminist and anti-sex, this seems a very likely explanation to me.
    Consistency alone is insufficient, but when you can show that an action is consistent with a belief the person is likely to have, and inconsistent with their stated belief, the conclusion is pretty obvious.

  • SchrodingersDuck

    I’ve been thinking some on the idea recently, and I came up with this metaphor: suppose we have a four-year-old child, instead of a fetus. Suppose the child has leukemia, and needs a bone marrow transplant or he will die. Suppose the mother is a match.
    This is very similar to Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous “violinist argument” – it’s a tad contrived, but very interesting: Suppose that, through no fault of your own (or through your own carelessness), you end up being kidnapped by the supporters of a famous violinist who happens to suffer from a life-threatening kidney disease. To be cured, he needs an intensive 9 month treatment which requires that his circulatory system be connected to someone else’s (so their blood is filtered by someone else’s kidneys), and you happen to be the only person who has the right tissue type.
    If you leave, he’ll die of kidney disease. But do you have an obligation to stay? It’s true that by staying, you would be doing a good deed, but if you left, would you be violating right to life? The violinist is, after all, only alive by using something he has no right to – ie, your body.

  • SchrodingersDuck

    I’ve been thinking some on the idea recently, and I came up with this metaphor: suppose we have a four-year-old child, instead of a fetus. Suppose the child has leukemia, and needs a bone marrow transplant or he will die. Suppose the mother is a match.
    This is very similar to Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous “violinist argument” – it’s a tad contrived, but very interesting: Suppose that, through no fault of your own (or through your own carelessness), you end up being kidnapped by the supporters of a famous violinist who happens to suffer from a life-threatening kidney disease. To be cured, he needs an intensive 9 month treatment which requires that his circulatory system be connected to someone else’s (so their blood is filtered by someone else’s kidneys), and you happen to be the only person who has the right tissue type.
    If you leave, he’ll die of kidney disease. But do you have an obligation to stay? It’s true that by staying, you would be doing a good deed, but if you left, would you be violating right to life? The violinist is, after all, only alive by using something he has no right to – ie, your body.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    FWIW, the vast majority of the fundagelicals I’m aware of, unlike the rather wild-eyed Operation Rescue crew, think birth control is just fine. — Dash
    As someone who was active on the fringes of the pro-life movement, I can say that Operation Rescue, like a lot of activist groups of all persuations, suffers from severe tunnel vision. This usually manifests itself in “Our Way Is The Only Way”, and if you don’t toe their Party Line 1000%, you’re Not Really One Of Us. Examples of this in pro-life groups in my experience:
    With Op Rescue, “If you don’t participate fully in all our Rescues and go to jail with us, You’re Not Really Pro-Life.”
    With NRLC, “If you don’t put a Republican in the White House who will appoint a pro-life Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v Wade, You’re Not Really Pro-Life.” (At the very least, this has too many assumed links in its chain.)
    American Life League: repeat above NRLC on steroids, with ALL BOLDFACE CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!. They got on my shit-list during the Bork confirmation hearings with a high-pressure telemarketing call: If I didn’t give them money to get Bork confirmed, not only was I pro-abortion, but “God Will Hold You Accountable!!!!!” (I know enough Christianese to know that “Holding You Accountable” is a hellfire-and-damnation threat, what’s now called “being Left Behind (TM)”.)
    All of the above demonstrating the same tunnel vision that My Way Is The Only Way and If You’re Not On My Bus, You Get Run Over.
    As a result, the only pro-life group I support these days is Human Life Alliance over in Minnesota. Their tactic is to put paid advertising supplements in college papers persuading readers to their position, and they have NEVER high-pressured me.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    FWIW, the vast majority of the fundagelicals I’m aware of, unlike the rather wild-eyed Operation Rescue crew, think birth control is just fine. — Dash
    As someone who was active on the fringes of the pro-life movement, I can say that Operation Rescue, like a lot of activist groups of all persuations, suffers from severe tunnel vision. This usually manifests itself in “Our Way Is The Only Way”, and if you don’t toe their Party Line 1000%, you’re Not Really One Of Us. Examples of this in pro-life groups in my experience:
    With Op Rescue, “If you don’t participate fully in all our Rescues and go to jail with us, You’re Not Really Pro-Life.”
    With NRLC, “If you don’t put a Republican in the White House who will appoint a pro-life Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v Wade, You’re Not Really Pro-Life.” (At the very least, this has too many assumed links in its chain.)
    American Life League: repeat above NRLC on steroids, with ALL BOLDFACE CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!. They got on my shit-list during the Bork confirmation hearings with a high-pressure telemarketing call: If I didn’t give them money to get Bork confirmed, not only was I pro-abortion, but “God Will Hold You Accountable!!!!!” (I know enough Christianese to know that “Holding You Accountable” is a hellfire-and-damnation threat, what’s now called “being Left Behind (TM)”.)
    All of the above demonstrating the same tunnel vision that My Way Is The Only Way and If You’re Not On My Bus, You Get Run Over.
    As a result, the only pro-life group I support these days is Human Life Alliance over in Minnesota. Their tactic is to put paid advertising supplements in college papers persuading readers to their position, and they have NEVER high-pressured me.

  • limes

    Lauren, don’t you understand? Those rape/molestation victims were DRESSED PROVACITAVELY, and anyway good Christian girls use JESUS POWER PRAYERS to protect them from being raped “the wrong way” (see Rick Santorum’s helpful description) and if they do get warts/cancer if they pray hard enough the Lord will save them from their STI/life-threatening disease. Or something.
    aunursa, if we’re accepting feti as people, shouldn’t we engage in mandatory monthly checks to make sure no murders have been committed? It seems like we’d need something to make this happen, something like that dreaded conservative bugbear of . . .
    A TAX HIKE
    which is probably why it hasn’t happened yet.

  • aunursa

    Fraser: It’s true abortion only affects one particular kind of sex, but a lot of RTCs (and Catholics) object to other kinds that don’t involve procreation, such as anal or oral.
    My response got rejected, presumably because of the number of links. CURSES!!!
    Briefly: I found a single survey relating to an Evangelical attitude toward oral sex. In a 2004 study, 41% of Evangelicals said that oral sex should never be taught in schools, compared to 20% of non-Evangelicals.
    I surveyed several Evangelical Christian websites on the subject. Each one said that oral sex between a husband and wife is at least permissible. Some said that it is definitely a good thing. Certainly Evangelical attitudes are diverse, but to suggest that by and large they are opposed to oral sex is an overreach.
    The Catholic Church’s position, according to Notre Dame Seminary (New Orleans), appears to be this: A married couple may use oral stimulation as a form of foreplay if the intent is to lead to orgasm during genital intercourse. The husband may not intentional reach orgasm outside his wife’s vagina. Cunnilingus leading directly to orgasm is acceptable if the wife doesn’t normally reach orgasm during foreplay or genital intercourse.

  • aunursa

    Fraser: It’s true abortion only affects one particular kind of sex, but a lot of RTCs (and Catholics) object to other kinds that don’t involve procreation, such as anal or oral.
    My response got rejected, presumably because of the number of links. CURSES!!!
    Briefly: I found a single survey relating to an Evangelical attitude toward oral sex. In a 2004 study, 41% of Evangelicals said that oral sex should never be taught in schools, compared to 20% of non-Evangelicals.
    I surveyed several Evangelical Christian websites on the subject. Each one said that oral sex between a husband and wife is at least permissible. Some said that it is definitely a good thing. Certainly Evangelical attitudes are diverse, but to suggest that by and large they are opposed to oral sex is an overreach.
    The Catholic Church’s position, according to Notre Dame Seminary (New Orleans), appears to be this: A married couple may use oral stimulation as a form of foreplay if the intent is to lead to orgasm during genital intercourse. The husband may not intentional reach orgasm outside his wife’s vagina. Cunnilingus leading directly to orgasm is acceptable if the wife doesn’t normally reach orgasm during foreplay or genital intercourse.

  • aunursa

    Froborr: conservatives, whom we already know are often anti-feminist and anti-sex
    I’ll assume that you mean that a majority of conservatives are anti-woman and anti-sex. (Correct me if I’m misunderstanding.) Do you have any empirical evidence to support such an assertion?

  • aunursa

    Froborr: conservatives, whom we already know are often anti-feminist and anti-sex
    I’ll assume that you mean that a majority of conservatives are anti-woman and anti-sex. (Correct me if I’m misunderstanding.) Do you have any empirical evidence to support such an assertion?

  • aunursa

    limes: if we’re accepting feti as people, shouldn’t we engage in mandatory monthly checks to make sure no murders have been committed?
    You’re assuming that abortion opponents (1)have thought through all of the implications of their stated positions, (2) would — in thinking through such implications — reach the same conclusion as you, and (3) would reject pragmatism by advocating a position that is impossible both politically and in practice.

  • aunursa

    limes: if we’re accepting feti as people, shouldn’t we engage in mandatory monthly checks to make sure no murders have been committed?
    You’re assuming that abortion opponents (1)have thought through all of the implications of their stated positions, (2) would — in thinking through such implications — reach the same conclusion as you, and (3) would reject pragmatism by advocating a position that is impossible both politically and in practice.

  • MercuryBlue

    Point of pedantry:
    Murder is, by definition, unlawful homicide. Note unlawful—this is why killing in self-defense is not murder, nor is a soldier killing an enemy soldier, nor is abortion in any instances where that abortion is legal.
    Incidentally, in limes’s hypothetical, I’m not so worried about the fertilized-egg people who die long before their mother could possibly know they’re there. I’m worried about embryonic people who implant in their mother’s fallopian tubes. How the hell is anyone going to manage to save the younger life? And is there any chance of convincing the higher-ups that sacrificing the younger life as soon as possible is always necessary and should always be permissible? Because I know abortion laws in some places don’t permit operations to remove ectopic pregnancies until the embryo dies on its own, by which time the mother’s usually pretty well screwed—best-case, that late, is she only loses one fallopian tube, which is half her reproductive ability.

  • MercuryBlue

    Point of pedantry:
    Murder is, by definition, unlawful homicide. Note unlawful—this is why killing in self-defense is not murder, nor is a soldier killing an enemy soldier, nor is abortion in any instances where that abortion is legal.
    Incidentally, in limes’s hypothetical, I’m not so worried about the fertilized-egg people who die long before their mother could possibly know they’re there. I’m worried about embryonic people who implant in their mother’s fallopian tubes. How the hell is anyone going to manage to save the younger life? And is there any chance of convincing the higher-ups that sacrificing the younger life as soon as possible is always necessary and should always be permissible? Because I know abortion laws in some places don’t permit operations to remove ectopic pregnancies until the embryo dies on its own, by which time the mother’s usually pretty well screwed—best-case, that late, is she only loses one fallopian tube, which is half her reproductive ability.

  • Lauren

    This is very similar to Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous “violinist argument” – it’s a tad contrived, but very interesting: Suppose that, through no fault of your own (or through your own carelessness), you end up being kidnapped by the supporters of a famous violinist who happens to suffer from a life-threatening kidney disease. To be cured, he needs an intensive 9 month treatment which requires that his circulatory system be connected to someone else’s (so their blood is filtered by someone else’s kidneys), and you happen to be the only person who has the right tissue type.
    Thanks for the pointer! I think the bone marrow donor metaphor has a few factors that make it more compelling than the “violinist argument.” First, it’s less contrived. Leukemia is real and everybody is familiar with and admires bone marrow donors. Second, the violinist situation is more inconvenient than pregnancy; the pro-lifers can argue that pregnancy is hardly any inconvenience at all (they’d be wrong!), at least compared to being hooked up to a full-grown child for 9 months. But the mandatory bone marrow drive is hardly any trouble at all compared to pregnancy, only taking a couple of days and a few needle-pricks, but most people would still feel it was an unfair burden if they were forced into it.

  • Lauren

    This is very similar to Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous “violinist argument” – it’s a tad contrived, but very interesting: Suppose that, through no fault of your own (or through your own carelessness), you end up being kidnapped by the supporters of a famous violinist who happens to suffer from a life-threatening kidney disease. To be cured, he needs an intensive 9 month treatment which requires that his circulatory system be connected to someone else’s (so their blood is filtered by someone else’s kidneys), and you happen to be the only person who has the right tissue type.
    Thanks for the pointer! I think the bone marrow donor metaphor has a few factors that make it more compelling than the “violinist argument.” First, it’s less contrived. Leukemia is real and everybody is familiar with and admires bone marrow donors. Second, the violinist situation is more inconvenient than pregnancy; the pro-lifers can argue that pregnancy is hardly any inconvenience at all (they’d be wrong!), at least compared to being hooked up to a full-grown child for 9 months. But the mandatory bone marrow drive is hardly any trouble at all compared to pregnancy, only taking a couple of days and a few needle-pricks, but most people would still feel it was an unfair burden if they were forced into it.

  • pointatinfinity

    Froborr: I have made the argument that death row criminals should be required to be organ donors, but that’s after they’re dead.
    I have also heard the argument that, once you’re no longer using it, your body should become community property and therefore everyone should be required to be an organ donor. Once again, though, that’s after you’re dead.
    I’ve never heard of any suggestion that a living person can be required to give up an organ.

    “I didn’t get fanatical about anything until the organ transplant problem entered my soul.
    …The problem is this. While Jack the Ripper has five quarts of healthy blood in him, and a working heart, lungs, and liver and kidneys, the same holds true for a political dissident, or a thief, or for a man who gets caught running six red traffic lights within the space of two years. You can go too far with this!”
    ~Larry Niven, “Foreword”, N-Space. TOR Books, 1990.

  • Froborr

    aunursa:
    Anti-Women:
    Use of the term “Feminazis”
    Opposition to ERA
    LaHaye’s wife’s organization
    Opposition to sexual harrassment laws
    Opposition to women in the military
    Opposition to women in combat
    Anti-Sex
    Blue laws
    Sodomy laws
    Opposition to sex ed
    Attempts to censor sexually explicit, non-pornographic materials in film and Internet (this is partially anti-sex, partially anti-free-expression)
    That’s off the top of my head. I could go link-trawling this weekend if you like and get you a couple of hundred examples from, say, the last five years.

  • Froborr

    aunursa:
    Anti-Women:
    Use of the term “Feminazis”
    Opposition to ERA
    LaHaye’s wife’s organization
    Opposition to sexual harrassment laws
    Opposition to women in the military
    Opposition to women in combat
    Anti-Sex
    Blue laws
    Sodomy laws
    Opposition to sex ed
    Attempts to censor sexually explicit, non-pornographic materials in film and Internet (this is partially anti-sex, partially anti-free-expression)
    That’s off the top of my head. I could go link-trawling this weekend if you like and get you a couple of hundred examples from, say, the last five years.

  • Froborr

    pointatinfinity: I’m aware of Niven’s stories. However, he created a fictional world of mandatory organ donations in order to argue against it. For example, I wouldn’t call 1984 an argument for government monitoring of citizens.
    Also, I think Niven’s making a slippery slope argument that doesn’t have any real merit; there are plenty of laws we might be expected to make if we were economically rational actors*, but we’re not so we don’t. Death penalty for hackers, for example. Plus, life-extension through organ transplantation turns out not to actually work very well, and anyway prosthetics is advancing faster than Niven predicted, thanks to stem-cell research.
    *I.e., assholes.

  • Froborr

    pointatinfinity: I’m aware of Niven’s stories. However, he created a fictional world of mandatory organ donations in order to argue against it. For example, I wouldn’t call 1984 an argument for government monitoring of citizens.
    Also, I think Niven’s making a slippery slope argument that doesn’t have any real merit; there are plenty of laws we might be expected to make if we were economically rational actors*, but we’re not so we don’t. Death penalty for hackers, for example. Plus, life-extension through organ transplantation turns out not to actually work very well, and anyway prosthetics is advancing faster than Niven predicted, thanks to stem-cell research.
    *I.e., assholes.

  • Lauren

    I don’t think pointatinfinity was suggesting Niven supported mandatory organ donations (the oxymoronism of that phrase keeps getting to me!) merely that it was an example of somebody bringing it up. Thanks, BTW, I haven’t read much Niven. I may have to go check that out.
    *runs off to place a hold at the library website*

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    Lauren, may I suggest “The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton”, which is about a cop dealing with the additional criminal problems created by heavy organ transplant use; and “The Jigsaw Man”, a short story found in (I believe) “Tales of Known Space”; the short story is about a convicted criminal on his way to the robot surgeons.
    “The Patchwork Girl” is another Gil Hamilton novel on the subject, but it’s fairly hard to find.

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    Lauren, may I suggest “The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton”, which is about a cop dealing with the additional criminal problems created by heavy organ transplant use; and “The Jigsaw Man”, a short story found in (I believe) “Tales of Known Space”; the short story is about a convicted criminal on his way to the robot surgeons.
    “The Patchwork Girl” is another Gil Hamilton novel on the subject, but it’s fairly hard to find.

  • aunursa

    Froborr,
    Thanks.
    Use of the term “Feminazis” *
    By the same reasoning, one could generalize that liberals tend to be racist because some of them use derogatory terms like house n——, oreo, and twinkie to refer to conservatives who dare to disagree with them.
    Opposition to ERA
    Opposition to sexual harrassment laws
    Opposition to women in the military
    Opposition to women in combat

    I’d like to see evidence that conservatives tend to oppose sexual harrassment laws. The other positions you cited are not necessarily based on a hostility to women, but could be defended on other bases. (I’m not suggesting that I necessarily agree with such positions.)
    Blue laws — please explain. Are you suggesting that conservatives seek to restrict sexual intercourse on certain days?
    Sodomy laws — opposition to one sexual practice, not sex in general
    Opposition to sex ed — some conservatives believe that parents, not schools, should provide sex ed. Again, I don’t see this as anti-sex.
    * Also by the same reasoning, one could generalize that liberals are often anti-free speech because some of them support university speech codes, and anti-white, because Al Sharpton is welcome in the Democratic Party.
    Sorry, I was hoping you might be able to provide some direct quotes from conservative leaders — or opinion surveys — indicating a hostility to women or sex.

  • aunursa

    Froborr,
    Thanks.
    Use of the term “Feminazis” *
    By the same reasoning, one could generalize that liberals tend to be racist because some of them use derogatory terms like house n——, oreo, and twinkie to refer to conservatives who dare to disagree with them.
    Opposition to ERA
    Opposition to sexual harrassment laws
    Opposition to women in the military
    Opposition to women in combat

    I’d like to see evidence that conservatives tend to oppose sexual harrassment laws. The other positions you cited are not necessarily based on a hostility to women, but could be defended on other bases. (I’m not suggesting that I necessarily agree with such positions.)
    Blue laws — please explain. Are you suggesting that conservatives seek to restrict sexual intercourse on certain days?
    Sodomy laws — opposition to one sexual practice, not sex in general
    Opposition to sex ed — some conservatives believe that parents, not schools, should provide sex ed. Again, I don’t see this as anti-sex.
    * Also by the same reasoning, one could generalize that liberals are often anti-free speech because some of them support university speech codes, and anti-white, because Al Sharpton is welcome in the Democratic Party.
    Sorry, I was hoping you might be able to provide some direct quotes from conservative leaders — or opinion surveys — indicating a hostility to women or sex.

  • Froborr

    Lauren: Make sure anything you read from Niven is before about 1995 or so. Everything he’s written in the last 10-15 years has sucked. Also avoid anything he cowrote with anyone other than Jerry Pournelle (and that’s Jerry Pournelle ALONE; if it’s cowritten with Jerry Pournelle and Stephen Barnes don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole).

  • Froborr

    Lauren: Make sure anything you read from Niven is before about 1995 or so. Everything he’s written in the last 10-15 years has sucked. Also avoid anything he cowrote with anyone other than Jerry Pournelle (and that’s Jerry Pournelle ALONE; if it’s cowritten with Jerry Pournelle and Stephen Barnes don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole).

  • Froborr

    I’m at work, don’t have time to go link-trawling for voting records and quotes. I can go hunting this weekend if you like.

  • Froborr

    I’m at work, don’t have time to go link-trawling for voting records and quotes. I can go hunting this weekend if you like.

  • aunursa

    Voting records won’t necessary prove your point. Quotes would.
    It’s up to you. If you provide the evidence, I would be happy to take a look.

  • aunursa

    D’oh! won’t necessarily

  • aunursa

    D’oh! won’t necessarily

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    Froborr, I’ll agree with you completely about Niven with the exception of Mote In God’s Eye. Say what you want about the sociology and the characterizations; as a First Contact story, it’s, ah… gripping.
    IMHO, of course. Your mileage may vary.

  • Froborr

    Was Mote after 1995? I didn’t think it was. If so, I agree with you, Mikhail. It’s quite fun.
    The Gripping Hand, on the other hand, is awful. The only worthwhile thing about it is that it gave us the term “the gripping hand”.

  • Froborr

    Was Mote after 1995? I didn’t think it was. If so, I agree with you, Mikhail. It’s quite fun.
    The Gripping Hand, on the other hand, is awful. The only worthwhile thing about it is that it gave us the term “the gripping hand”.

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    Sorry, I misread, I thought you were advising against N & P. Mote was way before ’95.

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    Sorry, I misread, I thought you were advising against N & P. Mote was way before ’95.


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