Tribulation Force, pp. 362-366
We should step back here and consider what Buck Williams is doing. Or rather, as usual, what he is not doing.
A couple of weeks ago we wound up with a lively discussion of what we might do if we were in Buck’s shoes — faced with an imminent series of mass-casualty calamities that we knew were coming. Much of that discussion was about how we would try to get the word out, to sound the alarm, to warn as many others as possible in order to save as many lives as possible.
Imagine you knew of just one of the many disasters about to occur in Tim LaHaye’s Great Tribulation — the largest earthquake of all time, say, or the scorching sun or the poisoned water or the killer meteor. You know it’s coming. You have been forewarned. How would you go about forewarning others? (I’m assuming here that you’re not a monstrous sociopath, which is to say that you would, indeed, feel compelled and duty-bound to warn as many others as possible instead of selfishly worrying only about your own personal safety while disregarding the fate of everyone else.)
If you were in such a situation — with tens of millions of lives depending on your ability to make yourself heard and believed as broadly as possible — you would be frustrated and horrified by your lack of a larger platform, your lack of access to those in power who might be able to act to protect more people, to prevent mass death. If only, you would be crying — If only you had some prominent media platform to reach the masses. If only you knew of someone, anyone, who could somehow get you access to the president. Yet despite lacking those things you would press on — you would take to the Internet, call radio stations, write letters to the editor, leaflet, hang posters on every telephone pole. How could you not? Tens of millions of lives would be at stake.
Anyway, getting back to this week’s passage, world-famous Global Weekly reporter Buck Williams is sitting and talking to the president of the United States.
Mostly so far, the president has just been venting about his frustration with the consequences of his hasty and flagrantly illegal decision to surrender American sovereignty to the president of Romania. President Gerald Fitzhugh is not noticeably upset about the forced religious conversion, and the former commander in chief is only mildly annoyed at the forced disarmament that has left him outgunned by criminal white supremacists, but he hadn’t foreseen that losing his shiny new airplane would be part of the deal.
After four pages of ranting about Air Force One, the president suddenly remembers another aspect of the new one world government that bugs him:
“And this media thing! We agreed with him that our conflict of interest laws were a little restrictive …”
… So we abolished the executive branch and decreed that our courts would have no jurisdiction over him as our new global sovereign, because that seemed like a reasonable way to loosen up some of those regulations …
“… We make a little loophole for him and now look what we’ve got. He’ll have bought up all the newspapers and magazines and radio and TV networks before we can change our minds!
“Where’s he getting the money, Williams? Can you tell me that?”
Up until now, Buck has skated through this conversation with noncommittal responses like “I can only imagine” or “I don’t know what to tell you,” but here he is asked a direct question.
Cameron had a crisis of conscience. He had implied to Carpathia that he would not tell about the inheritance from Stonagal. And yet were promises made to devils required to be kept? Wouldn’t that be on the same order as lying to an intruder when he asks where your loved ones are?
Wait — that’s OK now? Because earlier in the story, when Buck braved a direct confrontation with Nicolae in order to save Hattie, he seemed certain that lying to the Antichrist would be a sin, even if it was the only way he could save the lives of Chloe, Rayford and Bruce.
But then again, after flying to New York to rescue Hattie from Nicolae, Buck instead just insulted her and then left without lifting a finger to help her escape the Antichrist’s clutches. So why should we start expecting consistency now?
Buck decides that keeping his promise to Nicolae is more important than telling the president about the Antichrist’s evil plans.
“I couldn’t tell you,” Buck said. He felt no loyalty to Carpathia, but he couldn’t afford having it get back to Carpathia that he had broken a confidence as significant as this. He had to hold on to his own ability to function — for as long as he could.
We have been told all along that Cameron “Buck” Williams is the apotheosis of contemporary American journalism, and here we see that is true. Given the opportunity to tell the truth, to expose secretive financial dealings and the manipulative abuse of power for evil purposes, Buck chooses instead to keep silent because speaking up might put at risk the access to power he now enjoys. If he were to lose that access, he tells himself, he would be unable in the future to learn even more secrets, and thus would be unable to learn and suppress even more truths. For Buck, access to the powerful has become an end unto itself and he will never allow truth-telling to jeopardize that all-important access.
Fitzhugh decides to share his deepest fears and suspicions with Buck — fears that Nicolae’s plans may go beyond just having a really nice executive airplane.
“You know what our intelligence people are telling us?” Fitzhugh continued. “That the eventual plan is for the heads of countries represented by the 10 members of the Security Council to actually report as subordinates to their ambassadors. That would make those 10 ambassadors kings of the world under Carpathia’s rule.”
Buck scowled. “In other words, you and the Mexican president and the Canadian prime minister would report to the U.N. ambassador of North America?”
I’m confused. Buck responds to this news from Fitzhugh as though it were news to him — as though it was the first he was hearing of Nicolae’s 10 “kings of the world.” But this already happened in the last book and Buck was there — the only non-brainwashed eyewitness to the coronation of those very 10 kings. He is uniquely positioned to tell the president very important, vitally necessary information. But he withholds that information from poor Fitzhugh — withholds that information and far, far more that he ought to be telling him.
What could possibly be more cold-blooded and cold-hearted than sitting here, knowing what he knows, knowing that sharing his information with the president could save tens of millions of lives, yet refusing to share this desperately important news? How about sitting there, deliberately misleading the president, conspiring to keep him lethally in the dark, while saying this:
“Sir, is there something I can do to help?”
President Fitzhugh looked to the ceiling and wiped his sweaty face with his hand. “I don’t know. I just wanted to unload, I guess, and I thought maybe you had some insight. “
Insight? Buck has a detailed schedule of the next 84 months. He knows exactly what Nicolae plans to do next and exactly how he will go about it. And he knows exactly what God plans to do next — the massive earthquakes, meteors, hail and blood and poison and deadly heat. A word, a hint, a suggestion to the president could help to save untold lives. But Buck isn’t interested in doing that. Or even trying to do that.
And this isn’t me reading some monstrous intent into Buck’s mute inaction. That monstrous intent is spelled out explicitly by the authors in a passage that serves as a kind of manifesto for the Tribulation Force:
“I wish I could be of more help,” Buck said, suddenly realizing what an understatement that was. What he wouldn’t give to expose Nicolae Carpathia as a lying murderer, the hypnotic Antichrist! And though Buck would oppose him, anyone without Christ would never understand or agree. Besides, Scripture didn’t seem to indicate that even Christ’s followers would be able to do more than simply bear up against him. The Antichrist was on a course foretold centuries before, and the drama would be played out to the end.
Nicolae Carpathia was going to swallow up the president of the United States and everyone else in his path. He would gain ultimate power, and then the true battle would begin, the war between heaven and hell. The ultimate cold war would become a battle to the death. Buck took comfort in the assurance that the end had been known from the beginning.
The course has been foretold and what has been foretold cannot be altered. The end has been known from the beginning and nothing can be changed. The “battle to the death … between heaven and hell” will be fought without any human involvement or agency in the fight. That which is fated is what will be and none of us can change that any more than we can change ourselves.
Buck Williams takes comfort from this fatalistic despair. I find it so appalling that I need to beg for time to begin to unpack and to articulate some of what is so viciously wrong with those two terrifyingly bleak paragraphs.
We’ll do that next week. For now, let me just leave you with a far more trivial complaint. Before we complain about this false prophecy that strengthens the hands of evildoers, let me first complain about the false advertising that strengthens the coffers of lying authors. Here again is the back-cover blurb selling readers on this book:
Rayford Steele, Buck Williams, Bruce Barnes and Chloe Steele band together to form the Tribulation Force. Their task is clear, and their goal is nothing less than to stand and fight the enemies of God during the seven most chaotic years the planet will ever see.
“Stand and fight” turns into “simply bear up.” Seems like bait-and-switch marketing to me.