TF: Battle come down

Tribulation Force, pp. 443-445

After crushing insurrectionists in several locations with deadly force, the “potentate” of the one-world government addresses the world via radio:

“Loyal citizens of the Global Community,” came the voice of Carpathia, “I come to you today with a broken heart, unable to tell you even from where I speak. For more than a year we have worked to draw this Global Community together under a banner of peace and harmony. Today, unfortunately, we have been reminded again that there are still those among us who would pull us apart.”

Here again we encounter the all-sheep-are-wolves problem. I fairly sure that we’re meant to be appalled by this talk of “peace and harmony” from the man who just obliterated Washington, D.C. And I’m guessing that the next paragraph is meant to underscore Nicolae’s hypocrisy:

“It is no secret that I am, always have been, and always will be, a pacifist. I do not believe in war. I do not believe in weaponry. I do not believe in bloodshed. On the other hand, I feel responsible for you, my brother or my sister in this global village.”

In any other book, I’d be certain that this was meant as a heavy-handed display of that hypocrisy. But hypocrisy is only possible when the principle being violated is a legitimate one, and in the world of Left Behind it has been firmly established that there is no such thing as pacifism. We can’t read this as a criticism of Nicolae’s phony pacifism, because in the universe of these books, all pacifists are phonies.

I call this the all-sheep-are-wolves problem because that seems to describe how the authors arrived at this conclusion. The Antichrist, they believe, will rise to power “under a banner of peace and harmony,” but he will actually be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, using such talk to disguise his true purpose of global tyranny. Thus, for students of Tim LaHaye’s school of “Bible prophecy,” any leader who speaks of peace and harmony is a potential Antichrist. LaHaye urges his disciples to follow his example by presuming that anyone who speaks in such terms should be presumed guilty until proven innocent — proof of innocence, in this case, coming only when the person in question dies without having created a one-world government and declaring himself the Antichrist. Barring such proof, treat every apparent sheep as a wolf.

Thus after more than 800 pages of the authors insisting that pacifism is always a sham and an illusion, we can’t really be disillusioned by Nicolae’s sham pacifism.

Nicolae babbles on for another half a page before concluding with a final sentence that’s legitimately chilling:

“Above all, do not fear. Live in confidence that no threat to global tranquility will be tolerated, and no enemy of peace will survive.”

That last bit is creepy, in part, because it’s familiar. It’s the kill-all-the-bad-people strategy for peace — which is to say a recipe for endless total war.

Nicolae’s statement is followed by another report from the same “CNN/GCN correspondent.” This is the poor guy who was sent to report from the smoldering ruins of Washington, D.C., and is now anchoring the broadcast from his remote location:

“This late word: Anti-Global Community militia forces have threatened nuclear war on New York City, primarily Kennedy International Airport. Civilians are fleeing the area and causing one of the worst pedestrian and auto traffic jams in that city’s history. Peacekeeping forces say they have the ability and technology to intercept missiles but are worried about residual damage to outlying areas.”

Very little of that makes any sense at all, but I am glad he managed to work the traffic angle in again.

This insurrection, you’ll recall, is being coordinated by former President Fitzhugh with the assistance of patriotic “East Coast militias” (?). Why would Fitzhugh want to nuke New York City? The insurrection’s initial strike, one would think, would want to be something to rouse the larger population to rally against the OWG. Killing 10 million or so civilians doesn’t seem like the shrewdest approach to persuading others to join your struggle.

Or maybe this is all sheer propaganda — the plan to nuke New York just being a nasty lie invented by Nicolae to rouse sentiment against the insurrection. (It wouldn’t be the first time a leader has tried to consolidate unchecked power by demagoguing over an impending enemy attack on New York.)

And why the airport? Is that just because the Very Special Plane usually flown by the Very Special Pilot is headed there?

And what does Jerry Jenkins mean by “outlying areas”?

Jenkins ideas regarding that last question may be answered in the following paragraph, in which the same on-the-scene reporter brings us this news from overseas:

“And now this from London: A 100-megaton bomb has destroyed Heathrow Airport, and radiation fallout threatens the populace for miles. …”

OK. It seems Jenkins doesn’t quite appreciate the scale of the damage the bomb he’s describing would do. Via this blog, I learn of Carlos Labs’ Ground Zero mapplet, which allows us to visualize just how large the scope of the destruction would, in fact, be, from “A 100-megaton bomb” on Heathrow Airport.

Or close to it, anyway. Here’s a look at what the range of the destruction would be from the Soviet “Tsar Bomba” — that was only a 50-megaton bomb, but it’s the biggest bomb ever tested. Keep in mind that Jenkins’ bomb would be twice as large:

And here’s a look at a similar explosion at JFK airport.

Note that the “outlying areas” would be places like Trenton and Atlantic City:

I’m guessing those circles, indicating the range of total destruction, are quite a bit bigger than Jenkins was thinking.

“And now this from London: A 100-megaton bomb has destroyed Heathrow Airport, and radiation fallout threatens the populace for miles. The bomb was apparently dropped by peacekeeping forces after contraband Egyptian and British fighter-bombers were discovered rallying from a closed military airstrip near Heathrow. The warships, which have all been shot from the sky, were reportedly nuclear-equipped and en route to Baghdad and New Babylon.”

“It’s the end of the world,” Chloe whispered. “God help us.”

Her appropriate response is quickly forgotten as the car-pooling Tribulation Force presses on through the second-seal traffic jam in search of some way to get to Bruce at the hospital.

“Maybe we should just try to get to New Hope,” Amanda suggested.

“Not till we check on Bruce,” Rayford said. …

And Jenkins whisks us along, with the remaining pages of the book attempting to first build up readers’ suspense over Bruce’s fate and then have us mourn his death.

He doesn’t want us to give a second thought to the obliteration of London, but how can we not be concerned about that great city in which there are more than 8 million people, and also many animals?

It’s impossible to read this glib, passing reference to the destruction of London without thinking back to the miraculous protection of Israel from a similar nuclear attack early in the first book. The contrast between those two incidents confronts us with the matter of theodicy in the Left Behind universe.

“Theodicy” refers to the problem of evil. Briefly, if there is a God who is all-good and all-powerful, then why is there suffering, pain, evil and death? To paraphrase my favorite protest sign, why has this all-powerful God allowed stuff to get all fussed-up and bullstuff? (The poetry of that sign defies translation into family friendly terms.)

Christian theologians have a variety of responses to the problem of evil (none of which is terribly satisfactory, I’m afraid). But those responses are all geared toward this world, not to the world of Left Behind, which introduces a huge and hugely important difference: direct and explicit divine intervention on a massive scale.

We spent a great deal of time discussing the absurdity of the way the anti-nuclear miracle in the first book seems not to have changed anyone’s opinions on the existence of God. (One would think that the destruction of the entire Russian nuclear arsenal by an all-but-visible Hand of God might be a factor in considering that question.) But we haven’t considered what such an explicit act of divine intervention would mean with regard to the problem of evil.

The anti-nuclear miracle sets a precedent, indicating that neither human choice nor the physical laws of the universe in any way constrain God from intervening to prevent suffering. That miracle turns every other instance — every occasion on which God does not miraculously intervene — into an instance of deliberate divine non-intervention.

In other words, why did God protect Jerusalem, but not London (home to nearly a quarter million Jews)? Intervention in the first case entails divine complicity in the second.

The authors don’t address this because they’re not really interested in the problem of evil. As far as they’re concerned, that problem is solved. Suffering, evil and death, they say, are all deserved. They subscribe to a variation of that hyper-Calvinist theodicy which holds that all humans, everywhere, are indistinguishably and infinitely loathsome in the sight of a holy God. (Rachel Held Evans calls this “pond-scum theology.”)

This isn’t really a solution to the all-good/all-powerful dilemma. It dodges that question by redefining God’s “goodness” as something wholly other than what we humans understand as good — something that actually, from our human perspective, appears monstrous.

So I find pond-scum theology to be blasphemous even in its most consistent form, but it’s even worse here in the Left Behind series, where the authors embrace this hyper-Calvinist theodicy, but not hyper-Calvinist soteriology. They want to say, in other words, that the unredeemed deserve perdition while the saved — the real, true Christians like their heroes — deserve salvation.

This just gets more explicit and more ugly as the series progresses. In today’s section, the authors’ God refuses to protect London from destruction, but in the volumes ahead, God takes a more active role in raining fiery death down upon the cities of the world. In the volumes to come, the God of these books acts directly as the author of evil and the source of suffering. And the authors will never pause to consider what that suggests about their God’s character.

In Tim LaHaye’s favorite book of the Bible, Revelation, a heavenly chorus repeatedly interrupts the narrative to sing a hymn of praise: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” In that hymn, the worthiness of God is located in God’s sacrificial rejection of power. LaHaye’s take on Revelation alters that hymn of praise into something more like “worthy is the God who slays.” That relocates God’s worthiness. For LaHaye, God is not “worthy” because God is good or loving, but rather because God is powerful.

That doesn’t just raise questions about the character of God, it raises questions about the character of the authors. It hints that the authors and their protagonists have chosen to be on God’s side mainly because it’s the winning side.

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  • Anonymous

    Good morning, this is your BBC London traffic report.

    There are severe delays at Heathrow, due to the unexpected
    explosion of a nuclear warhead there earlier this morning.  As many of you will no doubt have noticed,
    this has snarled up the M25 quite considerably in those area where any part of
    the M25 remains intact.  The inner ring
    road is flowing fairly smoothly with blood and the broken bodies of the
    unfortunate survivors round from Hammersmith to North London, but avoid the
    Hanger Lane gyratory if you can this morning: the road up from Gilette Corner
    is crammed due to an accident connected to the Heathrow incident.  As are all the other roads in the area.  There seems to be some sort of technical
    fault with our cameras across London so we can’t show you what is happening, I’m
    afraid.

    On the trains: severe delays in all directions on the
    Overground due to the wrong kind of radiation on the track.  This has been compounded in places by the
    wrong kinds of fallen building and towards North and West London by the wrong
    kind of vaporisation leaving the overhead lines, the tracks, the trains and
    indeed the stations in a state best described as not fit for purpose.

    As usual there are severe delays on the District Line, due
    to a signal failure near Victoria and to the destruction of Zones Six in to Two
    on the Westbound Services, which is also affecting other Underground and
    Overground services in the area.  Many
    thanks to Sue and others who have contacted us by email to let us know that the
    bus services in West London are also affected. 
    There are severe delays on all other London Underground lines.

    The disruption at Heathrow has lead to congestion at Luton
    and Gatwick airports as well, as pilots making the courageous or foolhardy decision
    to land are still waiting for the runways to be cleared of the burning debris
    left by those planes caught in the blast.

    Updates on all these issues can be found on our website,
    BBC.co.uk, and will be repeated on BBC News 24 throughout the day or until our
    emergency generators pack in, whichever happens first.  And now over to Carol, who has the weather
    update for us.  How is that fallout
    coming along, Carol?

    Cut to Carol, who is standing in the Blue Peter Garden
    wearing a bright orange hazmat suit.

  • Anonymous

    This is probably exactly how BBC Radio would report the “widespread traffic disruption” which just happened to be caused by the nuking of London! We Brits are a pragmatic bunch.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    You know those pages on TVTropes titled “You fail [academic subject] forever?”  These morons fail everything forever.

  • Anonymous

    I’m afraid to go look, as TVTropes can eat entire hours of one’s day, but is there a “You fail humanity forever?” or something similar?  If not, there needs to be, just for Ellanjay.  (Along with, of course, “You fail everything forever.”  No number of failure categories is too many where Ellanjay are concerned.)

  • Ken

    If you want a good radio report of a panicked evacuation, listen to the Mercury Theater version of War of the Worlds.

    Hutchison River Parkway still kept open for motor traffic. Avoid bridges to Long Island… hopelessly jammed. All communication with Jersey shore closed ten minutes ago.

    Now I look down the harbor. All manner of boats, overloaded with fleeing population, pulling out from docks.

    Wait a minute… The… the enemy is now in sight above the Palisades. Five — five great machines.

  • Ken

    In fairness, the blast map for New York is inaccurate.  We learned in the first book that in the Left Behind universe, Manhattan Island is 30 miles long, right?

  • lofgren

    Fascism at its most blatant.

  • Anonymous

    Alone in a dimly lit concrete room, Gerald Fitzhugh sat slumped in his chair staring at a blank screen.  Hours ago, it had been on every channel.  His failure.  Worse than failure.  Christ, the man had retaliated with nukes!  On major cities!  It wasn’t possible, but there it was.  Turning off the TV hadn’t helped.  The cries of pain, of loss, of fear still echoed in his ears.  The bottles scattered on the floor around him bore testament to his attempts to drown them out, but it had only made them scream louder.

    Suddenly he became aware of another noise cutting through the imagined cacophony.  It was a cheerful, tinny tune repeating itself over and over.  It’s inappropriateness couldn’t be anything but reality.  What could it…  A cold dread struck him as he realized the only thing it could be.  Fitzhugh reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone.  It was a prepaid burner, bought with cash and guaranteed to be untraceable.  It was ringing.

    Fitzhugh tried to muster the courage to demand answers, but his voice came out a terrified whisper.  “Who is this?”

    “Gerry!  Hi, it’s me,” the caller singsonged with manic glee.  The velvet voice was familiar, even if the tone was new.

    “Carpathia!  How did you get…” Anger replaced fear, “No, how could you!  All those people!  Why?”

    “Oh, my dear boy.  You started this you know.  That’s actually why I’m calling.  I just wanted to thank you.  I couldn’t have done it without you.”

    “Thank me?  Millions are dead.  Millions!  You slaughtered them all.  It didn’t have to be this way.”

    “No!” spat Nicolae with surprising force, “This is exactly how it had to be.  It always has.  Shall I let you in a little secret?  It’s all there in the script.”

    “What are you babbling about, you monster.”

    “Beast is traditional, if you don’t mind.  And I’m talking about prophecy.  Biblical even, though if you were as true to your faith as you claimed you’d know that.  Well, no.  Tell a lie, no you wouldn’t.  You wouldn’t be here to know anything if you’d been chosen.  You see, I’m what they call the antichrist.”

    “God help us all,” whimpered the former president.

    “He won’t, you know.  He abandoned this place, oh,” the ruler of the world paused for effect, “it has to be going on a year and a half now.  I don’t think you could have missed it.  Billions missing, all the children gone.  I’m sure it was in all the papers.”   Fitzhugh could feel the smirk.  “That’s why I’m in charge now.”

    “You’re insane.  Even if what you’re saying is true, that means you’re going to lose.”

    “Oh, probably, eventually.  I might think up something by the last battle, but you know what?  I’m guaranteed a seven year run, and I think I’m going to enjoy myself.  Anyway, I’m a busy man.  I’ve got another ten ‘confirmed terrorist strongholds’ to reduce to radioactive rubble.  Enjoy the fireworks from your hidey hole, Mr. President.  My loyal subjects will be by to collect you soon enough.  Ta!”

    With that, the line went dead.  It was over, all of it.  There was only one thing left to do.

    ——-

    “This is a GCN breaking news update!  Terrorist and former US president Gerald Fitzhugh has been found dead in a decommissioned bunker in Arizona.  Sources close to the potentate say that the terrorist leader took his own life rather than face capture and prosecution for his heinous crimes.  They warn, however, that encrypted data recovered from the raid reveals a number of additional plots which will be dealt with “swiftly and without mercy.”  More details as they become available.  Until that time, keep safe and Enigma Babylon bless.”

  • Anonymous

    But what about the travel advisories, man? I have to be in Vegas by 2.

  • MikeJ

    Every time the potentate is mentioned I get Cramps.

  • Anonymous

    One dull, reported paragraph on the destruction of Washington? Yet again we are left to imagine how much an actual writer ~ like Stephen King ~ could have done with that scenario.

    I suppose that the fate of London means that we’ve got to the letter L in the Armageddon Alphabet. And once again there is not one single adjective used to describe, let alone mourn, one of the oldest and most vibrant cities in the world (no doubt a bit too vibrant for our authors). But as a Londoner born and bred I’m not taking it’s elimination too seriously. Jerusalem is necessary for LB’s ghastly and quite possibly heretical End Times nonsense, everywhere else in the world is just cannonfodder.

  • Anonymous

    And once again there is not one single adjective used to describe, let alone mourn, one of the oldest and most vibrant cities in the world (no doubt a bit too vibrant for our authors).

     
    You know, I keep having flashbacks to a much better (albeit quite flawed) story, Kress’s The Kindness of Strangers. The opening scene, as I remember it (and it’s been a few years), spends more time on the destruction of Rochester, NY than L&J do on the destruction of multiple major metropolitan centers.

    And in TKoS, the destruction of Rochester? Is chilling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    One thing stands out to me out of all of this.  Given the penetration of the media, and Christian-dominated culture, throughout the world, most people would either figure out for themselves or learn from others that the End Times have come as soon as the Rapture takes place.  Even in countries where the Christian faith has been ruthlessly suppressed, the disappearance of all children, along with particular individuals the Committee for the Preservation of Virtue and Removal of Vice (or whatever name it takes) have been monitoring, will not go without comment.

    I give credit to most people on the right end of the bell curve that they’ll put two and two together and repent.  I give credit to God that He’ll spare those too far on the left end of the bell curve to understand (perhaps they get Raptured too?)

    That said, I expect a huge ‘revival’ to take place right after the Rapture–we saw hints of this even in Left Behind, during the early stages of this story.  Any potential Antichrist will face a large and knowledgeable opposition.  How would such a global government go about suppressing the church when even the secret police are reconsidering their position in the face of incontrovertible proof of God’s presence?

    Of course, these could all be events to take place either in the far future (when both society and technology are so far advanced as to be inconceiveable to us) or in the distant past (and the whole story in Revelation could be an analogy to something actually going on in the 1st century, as many people suggest).  But looking at humanity in the 21st century, I don’t see it happening the way L&J see it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574896155 Ryan Smith

    The only way it could happen without any serious resistance is if the authors actually thought about the impact the Rapture would have.  I could see a charismatic dictator seizing power in the confusion while using the chaos to weed out any possible resistance leaders, but that assumes a villain written by a writer with a basic understanding of fiction, human behavior, and human history.

    All things Ellenjay conspicuously lack.

  • MaryKaye

    I happened to be listening to Weird Al Yankovic recently, and he has a song that *totally* summarizes _Left Behind_.  It’s called “Why Does This Always Happen To Me?” and you can google for it, but here’s a taste:

    I was watching my TV one night when they broke in with a special report

    About some devastating earthquake in Peru

    There were thirty thousand crushed to death, even more were buried alive

    On the Richter scale it measured 8.2

    And I said, “God, please answer me one question?

    Why’d they have to interrupt ‘The Simpsons’ just for this?”

    What a drag, ’cause I was taping it and everything

    And now I’ll have to wait for the rerun to see the part of the show I missed

    The only thing is, Weird Al knows he’s writing parody!  L&J haven’t caught on yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    Weird Al is also a Christian (per his website), and probably is delivering some stealth parody toward the attitude of many fundamentalists toward human suffering.  It wouldn’t be beyond him.

  • MaryKaye

    The thing is, L&J don’t believe that people are non-Christians (non-RTCs, rather) because they are unconvinced by the evidence, but because they are wilfully rejecting God.  Therefore the accumulation of additional overwhelming evidence wouldn’t matter.  (And they may be right; gods know I would wilfully reject their God no matter what the evidence.)

    Or…maybe that’s all a smokescreen, and the real reason is that if people converted en masse, there wouldn’t be hordes of evil folks for God to stomp on, and that would miss the whole points of the book.  It occurs to me suddenly that L&J are, in this regard, Jonah.  They *want* the Ninevites to get stomped, and they’re writing the book, so they get to stomp ’em.  What would actually happen is beyond the point.

    Hm.  Now I am looking at my first point and being disturbed by it.  Maybe the basic reason RTCs think that non-believers reject God rather than disbelieving in him is that they have a gut insight that their God *deserves* such rejection– it’s what a morally whole person would do. 

  • Tonio

    The video below claims that the RTC argument about “rejection” is really a personal reaction, where RTCs really deify themselves. I don’t necessarily endorse the theory but I do find it fascinating.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8ZMMuu7MU

  • Boze Herrington

    Sweet! A shoutout to the Clash! A rebuke of hyper-Calvinism! This is my lucky day.

  • Anonymous

    I no less than the authors about weapons and military strategy, and even so this rings incredibly false, and worse boring, there are stories I enjoyed that if I seriously picked at them would likely fall apart. But the author had enough brio in speeding the story along at an exciting clip, or created characters who I connected with and worried about their fate that it didn’t matter much. This fails on every level, as an engaging world building walking tour or character drama. Some flash fiction. 

    Slouching Towards Bethlehem 

    Fitz stared at bowl of stew that has been pushed through the bars of his cage, the sunlight streaming against the back of the guard, making his face seem like a dark blur. 

    “Eat, it won’t do you any good to get to tired to climb the gallows…Mr. President” 

    Fitz smarted at the guard’s tone and didn’t lift his head until he heard the guard walk back into the building. So this is how he ends he thought, listlessly stirring a spoon though the congealing muck, sitting in front of the UN building in a cage like a goddamn canary. He hurled the bowl at the opposite end of the cage. He heard the faint snickering of the guards at the door several yards behind him. 

    It was now the Global Community Conference Center, all the flags out front had been replaced with Nicolae’s Red and Purple banners, the largest showing a seven-headed dragon. “Subtle,” thought Fitz. 

    But then Fitz thought why should you be subtle when your power was this absolute. Nicolae had the former President of the United States outside in a cage, awaiting his execution at tomorrow’s celebrations. There wasn’t even a guard assigned to his cage as Nicolae knew that Fitz knew trying to escape was futile, and knowing that no one would come rescue him. Rubbing this in further by putting his cage outside on the plaza. 

    He knew the basic shape of the speech Nicoale would give tomorrow, that brave and loyal Global Community forces had uncovered a massive terrorist plot. That the filthy traitor Fitzhugh was the mastermind, that these fanatics had tried destroying Washington, New York, and Chicago, but had been thankfully foiled, sustaining only token causalities. That a sleeper cell of Fitzhugh’s fanatics had been discovered and routed just outside London. And how with these dark forces that would try to destroy us we must ever remain even more vigilant and draw together as one. 

    “Oh goddmanit…,” Fitz moaned softly, tears coming to his eyes. He hadn’t listened to Astarte, and he was paying the wages tomorrow. He couldn’t find it in himself to thank God but as sleep somehow pressed against his eyelids he was thankful at least that he’d agreed to have The Reeds shuttle Christie and her baby, and several others to safety. The last image that flickered in his mind was a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania…

    ***

    Amanda started to sweat. This was wrong. There shouldn’t be a traffic jam. Had Fitz somehow succeeded….

    Rayford turned on the radio, “…live from Washington. All I can tell you, Fred is that the people here are frightened, confused, and very grateful to be alive. An explosion rocked the Reflecting Pool during military exercises honoring the new class of Community Officers for the former Capitol, killing 5 and injuring dozens, but the assailant was quickly apprehended by Community Officers who through interrogating the suspect discovered several other plots against this, and several other cities. Shocking rumors are spreading that these activities were coordinated by a very important North American District figure, I can neither confirm or deny the reports of the activity going on a Global Community Conference Center in New York.” 

    “Thanks for that report Dan. I’m Fred Thompkins, live from our New York bureau. As for the activity going on at the Conference Center, Global Community representatives have just confirmed that the former President of pre-districted America, Gerald Fitzhugh, is in their custody. As for confirming if he is behind the attacks they have said “No comment at this time, but we are thankful for Carpathia’s leadership and his love of his loyal citizens giving him the intelligence and the strength to stop these would be butchers.”

    “We’re getting an update on the attacks on Chicago, apparently one of the terrorist cells was using an old military base in the suburbs for a base. After a tense stand off with Community authorities they triggered an explosive device which destroyed them along with their headquarters and caused several fatalities among brave Community soldiers. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, Hail Enigma my fellow listeners, and Hail Carpathia.” 

    And with that feed hissed, and clicked to a classical piece, Rayford turned the dial but all he got where the stations playing their regular music format. Buck was the first to speak, “We’ve got to check on Bruce!” Amanda wanted to hit him with her purse. She didn’t though, she saw Chloe fiddle with her ring. A gift from Sam and Ben. 

    Chloe turned the stone with the tiniest movement to the left, it slid to reveal a tiny needle. She looked a Buck and made her eyes water on cue, “Oh Buck I’m so scared!” she cried, throwing her arms around him and pressing the needle with the slightest push into his neck, he did no more than flinch. 

    Chloe pulled her arm back and adjusted her ring back into place. Moments later Buck began to sweat and droop his head down, “Oh no,” Amanda took her mark, “he’s sick, we’ve got to help him.” Rayford looked genuinely alarmed for the well being of another person for the first time in his life. 

    “What do we do?” 

    “Stay here, Chloe and I are going for help, you have my cell phone number if you get to a hospital first.” 
    “Yes, but it’s too…” 

    “We need you to stay with him, and the car, you want to be here in case he wakes up right?” 

    That settled his objections, “Be careful, and may God protect you from the people out there.” 
    “Isn’t *that* incredibly telling,” Amanda thought dryly, but she grabbed Chloe’s hand and they ran out of the car and down the grassy bank and started waking towards the exit ramp. 

    “Well shit,” Chloe said, as she caught her breath, “Fitz decided to go a day ahead of schedule, poor bastard.” 
    “I know, but something’s off, I need to call Ellie, I don’t think we’ll be getting to New Hope after all…” 

  • Leila

    Actually Jessica, you probably do know more than the authors, and you write better too:)

  • Matri

    Rayford looked genuinely alarmed for the well being of another person for the first time in his life.

    *laughs heartily*

    Oh thank you Jessica_R, I needed that laugh after the shitty day I had.

  • Anonymous

    Not having read the comments, I’m undoubtedly being redundant, but I reiterate: on the evidence, God can’t be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. Pick at most two. The standard Calvinist response seems to be, essentially, God, being God, can do anything God wants. My free translation of that: OK, we’ll take the first two.

    As Fred has pointed out dozens of times, the portrayal of End-Times destruction seems all the more… absurd is much too mild a word… after 9/11. I was listening to the radio when it happened. Fewer than ten buildings in two cities, and 3000 dead, and the whole country was in shock for weeks. WBZ, the local all-news station, aired no commercials for four days and no local news for at least that long. In L&Jland, New York and London have been vaporized, traffic is tied up, and here’s Dave with the weather (partly cloudy, with an 80 percent chance of lethal radiation poisoning, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen).

  • Chris

    I’ve been to Hiroshima.  Walking the ground there gives an entirely new perspective, realizing that everything from the harbor way off that way to the mountains over there was leveled by a yield of about twelve kilotons.  Bombs much like the one that did that are used essentially as detonators on modern nuclear weapons.  I don’t even like to think about the true meaning of the word “megaton”.

  • spinetingler

    Obviously Ellenjay asked someone “what’s the biggest nuclear bomb ever” and went with the 100Mt figure without doing any more research (like that’s a surprise).

    Biggest deployed US was the 25 mt yield for the B41.

  • Boyan Penev

    Nameless London correspondent (or whatever remaining post is closest to London), join nameless Rev. Barnes “Keep Calm and Carry on” receptionist in the list of awesome nameless people that could make a lot better protagonists of the current bunch.

    Now we know why Buck is a star reporter. Some mook somewhere reported that the OWG nuked London, quite likely the biggest cold-blooded murder ever in human history.  Buck, the star reporter of everywhere, has reported… what? He’d either sideline the story or bury it competely for Nicky.

  • Sir Dinadan

    “how can we not be concerned about that great city in which there are more than 8 million people, and also many animals?”

    Good one.  Maybe someone needs to wither that the authors are taking shade under.

  • Sir Dinadan

    Oops.  Missing word.  Should say “wither the tree that the authors are taking shade under”

  • OrcAttack

    Well, the story can’t tell any more about the nuking of London.  To do more would have required Ray or Buck to be there.  The authors are, once again, condemned by the frame in which they chose to tell their tale.  It has to come on the news, or by being related by someone else to the TF.  They could have had more shock and horror, but the good guys are supposed to know this sort of thing was coming.  Heck, if Buck would actually do something, anything, the rest of them would have been expecting it today. 

  • http://www.iki.fi/wwwwolf/ Urpo Lankinen

    “Loyal citizens of the Global Community,” came the voice of Carpathia,
    “I come to you today with a broken heart, unable to tell you even from
    where I speak.

    Who the heck begins a speech this way?

    Oh, right, the authors. Because they understand that great literature involves driving instructions and logistical planning, and lack of such details creates immeasurable sense of mystery.

  • Ken

    “Loyal citizens of the Global Community,” came the voice of Carpathia, “I come to you today with a broken heart, unable to tell you even from where I speak.

    Who the heck begins a speech this way?

    Dick “Undisclosed Location” Cheney?

  • http://www.iki.fi/wwwwolf/ Urpo Lankinen

    Ngh, now I’ve actually read the rest of the stuff, was too sleepy last night.

    One immediate conclusion springs in the mind: these passages just betray the utter lack of research. I’m not an expert on nuclear weapons, just a random bystander, but even I can see that there’s gigantic gaping holes in the research. If you, as an author, say “I’m going to drop a 100 megaton nuke in London”, you’d darn well should at least do some minor research on what the heck would happen. 10 minutes in Wikipedia would show you that the biggest nuke ever was 50 megatons, would have caused third-degree burns in 100 kilometer range even when most of its thermal energy escaped to frigging space, and made windows shatter in Finland when it was detonated in Novaya Zemlya. A logical course of action would be to tone down the yield just a little. Just saying.

    The second question that obviously comes in mind is this: Why target airports? Why why why why? If you have a weapon of mass destruction, you drop it where it can cause most destruction – not in a location that was specifically chosen to be secluded from the population centers to avoid potential disasters.

    Again – my only guess is that, due to the *ahem* peculiar mental disposition of the authors, disrupting logistical narrative creates a sense of unimaginable thrills for them, and they expect the readers to be interested of the same things too. How will the authors describe the travel arrangements in a world without JFK and Heathrow? Can we even imagine such a world? Where, oh where, will they fly in a world where two major airports are gone? The readers are dying to find out! NOT.

    Point the third: The fact that Israel was shielded and London, with its sizeable Jew population, was not, is a good point. The fact is, Israel also has a population of non-Jews. Is it just an issue of holy ground, or something? Why aren’t rational people, regardless of their religious views, going to Israel, because they can easily see that a nuclear attack against Israel was thwarted and it would be stupid to be anywhere else in the event of an all-out nuclear war? Can’t the authors just accept the fact that there might be some cunning unbelievers like that? Oh, wait, unbelievers can’t be cunning, sorry, forgot.

  • Anonymous

    How will the authors describe the travel arrangements in a
    world without JFK and Heathrow? Can we even imagine such a world? Where,
    oh where, will they fly in a world where two major airports are gone?
    The readers are dying to find out! NOT.

    That’s a good point.

    My first thought was that the airport is the only part of most cities they’ve ever seen. They may have visited other parts of the cities, but the airport’s all they’ve ever seen.

    After all, the rest of the city is filled with foreigners.  The airports are full of people like them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.condrey Steve Condrey

    In some cases the airport is located away from the city to prevent disaster.  There are some major cities where this is no longer the case, as the city has grown up and around the airport (New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego being textbook examples).  L&J have an aviation fetish, and it shows in their writing.

    The whole thing begs the question, “Why use a nuke when you’ve got more than enough conventional weaponry to do the job?”  If Nicolae just wants to destroy Heathrow, he just has to pull out one of the long-range bombers the nations of the world have supposedly surrendered to him, or park an aircraft carrier off the coast of Britain and let his warplanes do the job.  As someone else on here said, for someone who wants to promote himself as a man of peace, Nicolae Mountain-out-of-a-Molehill has racked up a pretty sizeable body count.  Between D.C (just under 1 million for the city and 5 million for the metro area), New York (around 18 million if you count the metro area–8 million for the city alone), and London (around 8 million) along with whatever collateral damage was done in Chicago I’m figuring 17-30 million and counting–if he hasn’t passed Hitler and Stalin, he’s certainly in the #3 spot by now, and that’s only with 18 months on the job!

    His mind mojo had better be something really special if he expects people to continue to buy his story.  That, or the Left Behind universe is populated entirely by congenital idiots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    I especially love how LaJenkins don’t think there can be any clever people among the heathen, considering how they, and thus all of their heroes and good guys, are so monumentally stupid.

  • Apocalypse Review

    There’s definitely some authorial lack of proper fictional structure, since they apparently have no idea how stupid it is to make Rayford so mulishly militant about his Christianity to the point of being blatantly disrespectful to Supreme Commander Leon (“Hey, Leon.”), as well as Nicolae himself (“wrath of the lamb!!!!111!@#@#@!”) – and expecting that this wouldn’t raise red flags about Rayford either being a mole, or a distraction from other moles.

  • Apocalypse Review

    That said, God and TurboJesus manage to exceed Nicolae by a few orders of magnitude in the succeeding books (O_O)

  • Anonymous

    “It is no secret that I am, always have been, and always will be, a pacifist. I do not believe in war. I do not believe in weaponry. I do not believe in bloodshed. On the other hand, I feel responsible for you, my brother or my sister in this global village.”

    This sounds like any non-pacifist monger in charge. Ellenjay do a fine work of spreading lies and misconceptions to teach that christianism and pacifism must be ardent rivals… and being a kind of mennonite, it makes me sick

  • http://inquisitiveravn.livejournal.com/ Inquisitive Raven

    Those who have been following Ruby’s dissection of Soon (a Jerry Jenkins solo effort) know that Jenkins has no sense whatsoever of the  scale of what nukes can do. For those who haven’t:

    In the first chapter, two nuclear warheads are sufficient to split China in two and create a tsunami that makes  the Boxing Day tsunami and the tsunami that hit Japan in  March combined look like a child splashing in a bathtub.

    In the next chapter, Our Hero (who makes RayBuck look good) goes to a funeral at Arlington where we find out that the Pentagon was “virtually vaporized” by a missile launched from a North Korean sub, but the cemetery next door is apparently undamaged. I might buy this if what hit the Pentagon was a neutron bomb. In story, the plant life has had thirty-six years to cover. Unfortunately, there’s no indication that Jenkins even knows what a neutron bomb is, much less thought about using one here, and IRL, North Korea barely has Hiroshima level nuclear capability, which is quite enough  to make  a mess of Arlington Cemetery (bearing in mind that mapplet Fred linked to just shows thermal damage  and not the shock wave).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Split China in —

    *jaw drops*

    Jesus. I thought the book was bad enough even before being reminded of stuff that rushed past the first time I read Ruby’s deconstruction, but holy good gravy!

    I just cannot brain this.

    The Edge of Apocalypse version of a NK nuke attempt made a smidgen more sense, realism-wise.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Split China in —

    *jaw drops*

    Jesus. I thought the book was bad enough even before being reminded of stuff that rushed past the first time I read Ruby’s deconstruction, but holy good gravy!

    I just cannot brain this.

    The Edge of Apocalypse version of a NK nuke attempt made a smidgen more sense, realism-wise.

  • http://purplekitte.livejournal.com/ purplekitte

    Oh man, I’ve given that exact same theodicy argument when critiquing settings with a theological focus and explicit divine intervention… sometimes. The “free will” argument in particular ceases to be valid if it can be arbitrarily ignored. I love this blog for reminding me I’m not alone.

  • Anna

    First thought on looking at the Heathrow bomb-damage map: holy crap, my home is in that big red circle.

    Second and far more irreverent thought: at least John Betjeman gets his wish

  • Anna

    (I have no idea how I managed to mess up the html tags that badly. Sorry. I meant to link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slough_%28poem%29)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Regarding the “Tsar Bomba”:

    It was built and detonated by the Russians just before the Atmospheric Test-Ban Treaty.  Pretty much AS a record-breaker, so the Russians could claim the biggest bomb.

    The Tsar Bomba was a three-stage Tellar-Ulam design using multiple fusion Secondaries & Tertiaries (possibly production bombs’ fusion secondaries ganged up).  The original design yield was 100Mt, but the blast radius from that was so large it could not be air-dropped without destroying the drop aircraft and was too heavy (27 tons) for any missile, so they sheathed the secondaries and tertiaries with lead instead of depleted uranium, cutting the yield in half and the blast radius by 20-30%.

    Weighing 27 tons (over twice that of a Grand Slam), the bomb casing itself was almost as large as the fuselage of the drop aircraft (a highly-modified Tu-95 heavy bomber) and hung on the outside recessed into the fuselage as it was too big to fit in any bomb bay.

    The drop was made by the Tu-95 from an altitude of over 10,000 meters, with a detonation altitude of 4000 meters.  The drop aircraft was 45 klicks away from Ground Zero at detonation, and the blast still almost clawed it out of the sky.  Everything within 50-100 klicks of ground zero was flattened, but radiation spill was minimal for a nuke of that size due to the lead-for-uranium substitution.  Declassified footage exists on YouTube; just search for Tsar Bomba.

    The Tsar Bomba (and its original 100 Mt design) were record-breakers, pure and simple.  The only way you could use one as a weapon would be in a suicide attack or as an emplaced nuke-mine; they were just TOO BIG for anything else.

    I can only speculate that Jenkins used the “100 Mt bomb” because it was the largest ever designed and he wanted to show Big Overkill.  Actually, in nukes over 50 Mt, most of the additional explosion energy just blows out the top of the atmosphere without doing much more damage in atmo or on the ground.  But it SOUNDS Real Big And Serious.

    Plus, I have found in wargaming experience that those without any real-world military or nuclear experience are not only foaming eager to use nukes (real or fictional), but always want to use the BIGGEST nukes they can.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    In other words, why did God protect Jerusalem, but not London (home to nearly a quarter million Jews)?

    Silly
    Fred, Jews are important only insofar as they are related to Israel.
    Once outside of Israel, they turn (without exception) into Hollywood
    producers and secret bankers.
    — Tybuilt

    Because in Israel, they’re pieces on the End Time Prophecy gameboard, fulfilling God’s Prophecy.  Outside of Israel, they’re just Christ-Killers.

    That’s why before I knew of the term “Christian Zionism”, I called it “Anti-Semitic Zionism”.

  • Daniel

    Off topic, I know, but just imagine how outraged the residents of Tunbridge Wells would be if the Tsar Bomba went off at Heathrow. That sort of thing is all very well in the city, but we don’t want it here, thank you very much. It’s only a shame the offices of every national newspaper would be destroyed. So many undeliverable letters to the editor…


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