NRA: Joshua Judges Rayford

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 63-65

Nicolae Carpathia is flying from Dallas to San Francisco, casually giving orders for the nuclear destruction of dozens of cities and the death of millions of people.

And neither Rayford nor Amanda Steele bothers trying to stop him.

I blame Bruce Barnes for that. For more than a year he had the members of the Tribulation Force studying the book of Revelation. That gave them the schedule for the months ahead, but didn’t suggest anything they could do about it.

They should have been studying the book of Judges. That bloody little text almost reads like a manual for just the sort of guerrilla warfare the Tribulation Force ought to be conducting.

Plan A: Codename Jael.

Amanda offers to serve refreshments to Nicolae and his “ambassadors.”

“Oh my,” she says. “Your cocktails look a bit cloudy. Here, let me stir those some more with this tent-peg I just happen to be carrying.”

If that doesn’t work, then try …

Plan B: Codename Ehud.

Having disabled the locks on the airplane lavatories, Amanda Steele sits patiently, crossing her legs to better conceal the dagger strapped to her right thigh. Eventually, even the Antichrist has to go.

And, if all else fails …

Plan C: Codename Samson.

Rayford Steele sits behind the controls of an airplane at 33,000 feet. The Antichrist is a passenger on that plane, and if he is not stopped, millions of people will be murdered. Rayford grips the wheel like Samson grasping the pillars. …

Nothing at all like that happens in this book, of course.

Rayford maintains his perfect safety record as the Antichrist’s personal pilot, always scrupulously ensuring that Nicolae arrives unharmed at his destination and never giving any thought to any other possibility. It never occurs to Rayford that any landing the Antichrist walks away from is probably not a good landing.

Rayford clandestinely listened in horror as Carpathia announced to his compatriots, “Chicago should be under retaliatory attack, even as we speak. Thank you for your part in this, and for the strategic nonuse of radioactive fallout. I have many loyal employees in that area, and though I expect to lose some in the initial attack, I need not lose any to radiation to make my point.”

We saw something like this earlier when New York City was nuked without “use of radioactive fallout.” I guess this is kind of like Global Weekly. There’s a Time magazine in the Left Behind books, but no Newsweek. Instead of Newsweek, there’s Global Weekly. Similarly in these books, instead of physics, there’s this kind of thing.

Carpathia and his lads decide to turn on the news to watch the destruction of Chicago.

Rayford could remain seated no longer. He didn’t know what he would say or do, if anything, but he simply could not stay in that cockpit, not knowing whether his loved ones were safe. He entered the cabin as the television was coming on, showing the first images from Chicago. Amanda gasped.

She gasped because she is surprised by what is happening in Chicago. She’s looking at the same TV screen as Nicolae is, just a few feet away from him, apparently, but somehow she didn’t hear any of what he and his ambassadors were saying.

Jerry Jenkins keeps drawing our attention to this, but he never seems to notice it himself. Amanda never hears a word that Nicolae says from a few feet away, so Jenkins keeps having Rayford pop out of the cockpit to give her updates on what he’s overheard. This is doubly annoying. Not only can readers not form any reasonable image of where Amanda might be sitting, but then we also have to read everything Nicolae says twice — once when he says it, and then again when Rayford relays it to Amanda.

That’s some ground-breaking bad writing right there. In this scene, Jenkins mixes it in with a more conventional staple of bad novels — the omniscient and omnipresent news camera. Who is filming the destruction of Chicago? Maybe in addition to the “no radiation” setting, Nicolae’s nuclear bombs come with a special “no damage to journalists and cameras” setting.

“Would you go to Chicago for me?” Rayford whispered.

“If you think I would be safe.”

“There’s no radiation.”

“How do you know that?”

They’re whispering, again, because Nicolae is sitting very close by and if they didn’t whisper then he could hear what they’re saying.

Rayford wants Amanda to catch a flight out of San Francisco after they land. It will have to be a flight leaving immediately, of course, because after Rayford’s plane takes off again, San Francisco is next on the list of cities to be destroyed.

“If you can’t get an immediate flight, and I mean before this plane leaves the ground again, you must reboard the Condor. Do you understand?”

“I understand, but why?”

“I can’t tell you now. Just get an immediate flight to Milwaukee. …”

I’m sure that booking a spur-of-the-moment “immediate flight to Milwaukee” won’t be a problem, since so far World War III has mostly been unfolding east of the Mississippi and why would that interfere with flights out of San Francisco?

Following the news from Chicago, the cable news channel broke for a commercial, and Rayford approached Carpathia.

Here’s a sentence that no human being will ever speak: “More breaking news on the destruction of Chicago, New York, Washington and London, but first, a word from our sponsors.”

“Sir, may I have a moment?”

“Certainly, Captain. Awful news out of Chicago, is it not?”

“Yes, sir, it is. In fact, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

Humans don’t talk like this after big disasters. Rayford and Nicolae were both just looking at the same TV screen showing nothing but devastation where the third-largest city in America had once stood. Millions of people have just been killed.

And here they are chatting about it politely, making small talk. That little exchange is the sort of thing two people might say after, for example, Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS.

“Awful news out of Chicago.”

“Yes, sir, it is. If Alou had only caught that ball …”

“You know I have family in that area.”

“Yes, and I hope they are all safe,” Carpathia said.

Rayford wanted to kill him where he sat. He knew full well the man was the Antichrist …

At last. Finally.

Nicolae has just killed millions of people. He’s about to kill millions more if he isn’t stopped. And Rayford can stop him.

Rayford must stop him. He must, at least, try to stop him. This is not optional. Millions of lives are at stake. For us to accept that Rayford is any kind of hero, we need to see Rayford trying to stop Nicolae. If he doesn’t do something, right now, then everyone in San Francisco will die.

Rayford has to try to stop Nicolae right here, right now.

But he doesn’t do that.

Rayford wanted to kill him where he sat. He knew full well the man was the Antichrist, and he also knew that this very person would be assassinated one day and be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself. Rayford had never dreamed he might be an agent in that assassination, but at that instant he would have applied for the job. He fought for composure. Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game. The assassination and resurrection would only make Carpathia more powerful and satanic than ever.

I can scarcely begin to list the many ways this is just horrifically wrong. Without a trace of irony or self-awareness, Rayford Steele just thought this: “Whoever killed this man would be merely a pawn in a huge cosmic game.” Astonishing.

Let me try to break this down a bit.

1. Jenkins finally gives an answer to the question readers have been asking ever since we first realized, back in Book 1, that Nicolae is the Antichrist: Why doesn’t Rayford/Buck just kill him?

But Jenkins’ answer doesn’t work. It’s not a convincing answer in general,* and it’s an utterly unconvincing answer here in this specific situation.

Here, right at this moment, it doesn’t matter if Nicolae will eventually “be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself.” Right at this moment, the only thing that matters is that every living thing in San Francisco will die if Rayford doesn’t act. If stopping Nicolae here only means that Undead Nicolae will be coming back later to try again, then Rayford can try to deal with that later.

Right now, his urgent concern shouldn’t be that complicated. It’s like one of those hypothetical questions from an ethics textbook — the kind so narrowly constructed that even Gandhi, Dorothy Day and John Howard Yoder would respond, “Well, in that case, I would kill the guy …”**

2. The idea that the Antichrist will “be assassinated one day and be resurrected from the dead by Satan himself” is based on Tim LaHaye’s “literal” interpretation of Revelation 13:1-3:

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast.

This same opaque passage was popular back in the 1980s when “Bible prophecy scholars” were proclaiming Mikhail Gorbachev as the most likely candidate for Antichrist. They saw it as a reference to the port-wine stain birthmark on Gorbachev’s forehead. (Yes, really.)

Even within the tiny world of premillennial dispensationalist End Times mania, this passage has many different interpretations. Rayford and his friends only ever considered one of those — that of the Rev. Billings and of Tim LaHaye. And they’re so confident that this one view must be right they’re willing to sit idly by as millions of people die.

3. Rayford Steele knows that he is already a mere “pawn in a huge cosmic game.” As the personal pilot and a key assistant to the Antichrist, he seems to be Nicolae’s pawn, but he thinks of himself as a pawn for God.

But that doesn’t really matter. The way this cosmic game works, both sides are up to the same thing. Nicolae wants to slaughter millions of people and God wants to slaughter millions of people. And after all, in this game, the Antichrist is simply playing out his divinely appointed role in God’s great plan. So is Satan, for that matter.

Serve the Antichrist or serve Satan and you’re really just serving God, ultimately. And vice versa. That’s the game.

You may think that calling this a “huge cosmic game” is a devastating critique of the authors’ religious ideology, but it’s a phrase they use here themselves. And they use it proudly.

For LaHaye and Jenkins, it’s all just a game, but it is God’s game. If the Antichrist wants to kill millions of people, then God must want those people dead. And if God wants them dead, then it would be wrong to try to save them.

Rayford, of course, does not try to save them. He is a mere pawn in this huge cosmic game, but not the sort of pawn that does anything to interfere.

He asks Nicolae for permission for Amanda to fly to Milwaukee.

“I would really feel a lot better if she could be there with them to help as needed.”

“As you wish,” Carpathia said, and it was all Rayford could do not to breathe a huge sigh of relief in the man’s face.

Forget about Rayford going out in a blaze of glory like Samson. Forget about him lifting a finger to warn anyone in San Francisco of the unholy death about to rain down on them all. Rayford can’t worry about that right now, because he’s using every ounce of strength and courage he has to avoid looking relieved.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* So now we know that the Antichrist is prophesied to be assassinated, after which Satan will bring him back from the dead, more powerful than ever. And it seems the Tribulation Force can’t do anything to change that.

OK. But they could at least try to make the devil work for it. If Satan plans on resurrecting the Antichrist, then let him have to sift Nicolae’s ashes out of the other ashes with which his scattered remains have been mixed before being buried in hundreds of separate parcels on six continents, all on holy ground. Why make it easy for him?

** My undergrad ethics professor seemed to enjoy my efforts to strain such hypotheticals to the breaking point:

“I’m a lousy shot, I’d probably just end up killing one of those poor kids.”

“Mistah Clock,” he’d say in that accent of his. “You ah an excellent shot. A world-class mocksman. You nevah miss.”



“Then I shoot the red wire on the bomb’s detonator, defusing the bomb and allowing the children to escape.”

“Ah, Mistah Clock, but the red wire is directly ova his hot. To shoot the wire you’ll have to kill the terrorist.”

[Ten minutes later, after several more implausible scenarios are ruled out.]

“Well, in that case, I guess I would kill the guy.”

He was really amazing at constructing those hypotheticals so that any other option became impossible. In one semester of his class, I think I killed more hypothetical Nazis than Aldo Raine.

"That's not "irony". It's JUSTICE."

Romans 13 and the Gettysburg Address
"They barely have a basic understanding of words that appear in dictionaries."

Romans 13 and the Gettysburg Address
"So what they're saying is that their God has no power at all whatsoever?"

Romans 13 and the Gettysburg Address

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  • Grey Seer

    I refer folks to H.P Lovecraft, who’s cosmology includes an insane, dribbling moron named Azatoth, which also happens to be omnipotent. Several entire species are dedicated to playing it pleasing music, so that it doesn’t lash out and unmake reality in an unthinking spasm.

    That’s the one way I’ve found of having an all-powerful, all-knowing creator god that still leaves room for Free Will. The god has to be insane and/or stupid to the point of non-functionality.

    Unlike Left Behind, however, the Lovecraft Mythos treats this as a horror story…

  • Exactly. And if I shove Dave off of the Empire State Building, is it really logical for me to blame him for hitting the ground and sentence him to be tortured for all of eternity? Is that justice?

    And if Lori is standing right next to him on the roof, but I choose not to shove Lori off the building, should I give her a medal for Not Being Shoved Off The Roof  By A Maniac?

    Because that’s basically the theology I’m seeing here. God has a list of people who will be Saved and a list of people who will be Damned, and no one has any control over which list they’ll be on, but somehow it’s their fault — morally speaking — when God finally gets around to putting them in their place.

  • Aaron Boyden

    Indeed, I am myself skeptical of the whole thing, though I try to be polite in my comments about Christianity in places like this, where the local Christians have a track record of being similarly polite in talking about people like me.  Such goodwill is not something to be discouraged or undermined.  And I suppose the big difference between Paul and LaHaye/Jenkins is that Paul at least realized that “God makes people do bad things and then punishes them for doing what He made them do” sounds bad and felt he had to say something to account for it, while LaHaye/Jenkins don’t even seem to realize that there’s a problem.

  • mcc

    Sorry– I was assuming we were speaking within the context of, we are sketching works of fiction, and we have by this point already decided that within our fictional stories God or Godlike beings exist, because this potentially makes the story more interesting. If this is what we are doing, then I think one especially interesting option is for the omnipotent God entity to turn out to have the mental faculties and motivations of, say, a squirrel, or an ant.


    Hell, poor Hattie figured out Nicholae’s true plans the second week she
    was dating him, she keeps realizing what she must do and has been over
    and over making attempts to warn Rayford, to warn everybody, to push
    Nicholae over the railing of the penthouse when he’s unsuspecting, but–
    but then when it comes to the moment of acting, Nicholae
    disinterestedly wipes her memory and the cycle starts over again as she
    “discovers” what Nicholae is up to the next week. Imagine what she’s
    thinking during THIS scene.

    So wait, are you saying that there’s some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?

  • The Lodger

    But even a small chance to buck destiny is better to take than never having tried at all.

    I see what you did there.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Heck, in supplemental materials they even said that the shuttlecraft were kept in mostly as plot devices to isolate crew members.  They said that they would probably not make “safer” shuttles because it would lock them out of being able to write certain kinds of episode scripts.


    I thought the official handwavium explanation was that the transporter beam was wonderful if nothing was interfering with transmission, and a particularly horrific way to die if something was.  And natural weather in the upper or lower atmosphere of an M-class planet could interfere with transmission something awful.


    In universe it makes sense, though – it’s gonna be expensive to fly the 400m capital ship around the system, so it makes more sense to have small launches you can use to go from place to place when you don’t need the whole thing.

    ISTR an officially approved story set in early Starfleet days in which SOP was always, but always, to send a rock or an empty box or something before sending people, to make sure that they wouldn’t arrive inside out due to something the ship’s scanners hadn’t detected.


    Yeah, ST scanners are actually kind of sad about 50% of the time.  They should probably continue doing that in the series, at least when they’re aren’t transporting to another pad.

    Harry Potter decides to adopt an alias and travel the world. Purely by accident, he ends up causing people to mistakenly assume he has unnatural abilities and give him a wide berth therefore.

    You mean, more unnatural abilities than usual?

    If that’s the kind of stuff you can expect from peaceful, highly controlled demolitions, what can you expect from large-scale, hostile, indiscriminate and tactical use of nuclear weapons?

    …less?  Operation Plowshare involved using subterranean explosions as a means of demolition.  When you’ve got a surface or subterranean detonation, you’re going to kick up a lot of dust, which will then become irradiated and spread the fallout far and wide.  A submarine detonation, which was also common in Plowshare, is even worse, because the contaminated water is harder to remove.  In contrast, a bomb used as a weapon would ideally be detonated as a fairly high airburst, which would kick up less dirt, and therefore cause fewer irradiate particles.  It’s pretty much impossible to have a fallout-free bomb, but you could make one with less by decreasing the amount of spent fuel and controlling the detonation so that more of the energy is released as high-wavelength (heat and light, mainly) rather than ionizing radiation.  Basically the same concept as a neutron bomb, but in the other direction.  A pure-fusion weapon with a thin casing detonated as an airburst would produce barely significant amounts of fallout.

    That said, we do run into the problem that we cannot actually build such a weapon as of now.  But it’s not a theoretical impossibility…

  • P J Evans

     But at least with Plowshare, they were trying to find actual uses for the things in order to make life better. (Although, as it turns out, the sea-level canal thing would have been a bad idea even without added nukes.)

  • Chloe – The Rise of Antichrist.

    Chloe sat in the back of the plane, working on her speech.  She had never spoken in front of more than ten people in her life, and now she was going to be seen by millions, no Billions of people all at once, hanging on her every word.  She should feel nervous, but she only felt confident.  Whatever she said, they would eat it up.

    She could feel Amanda’s icy stare.  Chloe had an urge to tell her to say what was on her mind, or stop staring.  But she didn’t need to. She knew what they were all thinking.  They wanted her dead, but she was part of
    the Plan so she had to keep living.  Not only that, but she had manipulated them all into working for her.

    Evil will always triumph because Good is dumb.  Maybe she’d have that inscribed on the GC seal.  In Latin of course.

    “I can’t figure out how to start this thing.  ‘My Fellow Americans’ doesn’t work anymore.  ‘People of Earth?’  No… that makes me sound like I just stepped off a flying saucer.  ‘Friends?’  Too informal. Ah well I’ll figure it out later.”  She clicked on CNN to gaze upon her handiwork.

    “Quite the show isn’t it, Amanda?”

    “Mrs Steele, if you don’t mind,” the other woman said through clenched teeth.”

    “Whatever you say, Amanda.”  She swiveled her chair to face her.  “I could call you Mom, I suppose, but I won’t.  My mom is gone.  And less than two years later, my dad jumps in the sack with another woman.  I guess we all work through our grief in our own way.”

    “Don’t make our love into some type of cheap affair!”

    “Love?  I stopped believing in love a year and a half ago.  Let me show you how far love will go.”  She gestured out the window.  “Next on my list of targets is the city of San Francisco.  Oh don’t act so surprised.  You could have stopped me hours ago.  Now the people in the Bay area can be saved.  All you have to do is tell my dad that you’ve fallen in love with someone else and you want a divorce.”  She tapped her chin.  “Make it another woman.  Yes, that’ll grind his gears.”

    Chloe wished she could have bottled the expression on Amanda’s face.  “What?”

    “Did I stutter?  Divorce my dad, never see him again and the millions of people in San Francisco will be spared.  You have five minutes to make up your mind.”

    They stared at each other, Chloe’s face of icy calm, Amanda’s alternating between anger, terror and sadness.

    The door to the cockpit banged open.  Rayford stalked over to them.  He grabbed the nearest hard object, a bottle of champagne and raised it over his head.

    “Been spying on me, dearest Daddy?”  Chloe said, not taking her eyes of Amanda.

    “I’m not your dad.  Not anymore.  You’re the spawn of Satan, and I’m going to stop this!”

    “And whose going to stop me?  You?  The bunch of you couldn’t stop anything.  You can’t.  It’s all part of the plan.”

    “I’ll crack your skull and we’ll see how well your plan goes.”

    Her head turned slowly and she fixed her father with the most evil look.  “Then do it.”

    He raised the bottle up and for a second it looked like he might actually bring it down on his only daughter’s face.  Then he lowered his arm and turned, his face down towards the floor.

    “Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Now run up and keep flying the plane like a good little lackey.  And if you threaten me like that again, then I’ll open up the emergency exit and we’ll see how good you are at flying without a plane.”

    He left and Chloe settled back in the seat.  “You see, the problem is that you picked the wrong team.  My Master comes through when I need him to.  Your master always bails out when things get tough.  Just like him.”

  • Toodles

     “And although you protest your disinterest
    I know clandestinely…
    You’re gonna grin and bear it
    Your newfound popularity!!”


    Yeah, ST scanners are actually kind of sad about 50% of the time.  They
    should probably continue doing that in the series, at least when they’re
    aren’t transporting to another pad.

    Ask that new science officer in Star Trek 1 if “We’re only transporting to another pad” is sufficiently safe.

    (Part of my New Understanding that Partially Redeems Star Trek: The Slow-Motion Picture is that in the entire movie, the thngs which kill people are: 1. Gettin’ Scanned, 2. Commuting to Work.)

  • It sounds to me like the bombs here were pre-positioned in the cities, ready to detonate, rather than delivered by bombers or ICBMs (“trigger,” not “drop” or “deliver” or “launch”), especially if they’re as big as or bigger than the Tsar Bomba.  If so, they would be at or close to ground level, and should be pretty dirty, kicking up lots of bits of vaporized & irradiated buildings, and a fair bit of earth.

  • Suppose I’d grown up in a culture that believed that humans, once they fall off a bridge for whatever reason, can fly away and land safely if they choose to. (I know people who claim to believe this, so it’s not an impossible belief to hold, although my culture doesn’t believe it.)

    If I embraced that particular belief of my culture, I suspect I’d believe that falling to my death after being dropped off a bridge was a choice I was making of my own free will.

    I have not grown up in such a culture; my culture believes that falling to my death in such a situation is just the result of matter and energy expressing physical law. I embrace that belief. Consequently, in that situation I don’t consider the act of falling to my death an expression of free will.

    But I have grown up in a culture that believes that humans, when they jump off a bridge without any special external forces acting on them, could just as easily have chosen not to. And consequently we believe that jumping off such a bridge in the absence of such forces is an expression of free will.

    I suspect we’re right about the former case, but wrong about the latter. I suspect my brain making decisions about whether or not to jump off a bridge is matter and energy expressing physical law just as my body accelerating towards the center of the earth after my brain makes the decision to jump of a bridge is.

    It just makes me uncomfortable to think that, just as the analogous thought about falling would make me uncomfortable if I were raised in that first culture.

    in what way is it meaningful to say that you had free will?

    It distinguishes the case where I decide that jumping off the bridge is a good idea and consequently do it (what we call “choosing” to jump), from the case where I don’t decide that but for whatever reason end up jumping or falling off the bridge anyway (what we call “accidentally” or “unintentionally” jumping).

    We often find that a useful distinction to make, because it lets us treat those cases differently. If I choose to jump, for example, we might condemn me in order to reduce the chance that others will choose similarly, or we might provide more social support for others in similar situations in order to reduce that chance, or etc. If I jump accidentally, we probably won’t do those things, though we might instead put a stronger fence on the bridge to prevent others from accidentally jumping, or etc.

    Why would it be fair to hold you responsible for going over the side?

    I’m not sure it would be fair.

    I’m also not sure it’s fair to hold the bridge manufacturer responsible for me going over the side, if it’s the sort of action we call an accident. That said, we do that all the time, and whether it’s fair or not, it has the effect of reducing accidental deaths in the long run, which I endorse, so I’m OK with holding the bridge manufacturer responsible. Not because I believe doing so fair, though it might be, but because I expect doing so to save lives.

    I think I endorse holding me accountable for jumping off the bridge of my own free will for the same reason… not because it’s fair, but because I expect doing so to save lives.

    Why should you own going over

    There’s no particular reason I should own jumping, nor why I should own falling once I’ve jumped.

    While we’re at it, neither is there any particular reason why I should own not jumping. E.g., I walked across a bridge today and didn’t jump off of it. Did I choose not to jump of my own free will? Well… I’d have to say “no.” At least, if I’d instead jumped off the bridge with just as little deliberation or contemplation, I’d be inclined to say I’d jumped off the bridge but I hadn’t chosen to jump of my own free will, and it seems weird to say it’s free will if I choose one way but not the other. 

    So, OK… I don’t own that particular act of not-jumping. There’s nothing wrong with that, there’s no ethical code I’m violating… I’m just observing what I do.

    I’m not making ethical judgments about what actions I ought to own or
    not own. I either perform the act, or I don’t. Whichever I do, I either
    own doing that, or I don’t. That’s all.


    but somehow it’s their fault — morally speaking — when God finally gets around to putting them in their place

    Yeah. That’s the part of all this I reject, God or no God.

    I understand it. I empathize with it. I accept it as human nature. I mean, I’m still angry at my dad for dying, even though I suspect he didn’t really have a choice, even though I know I’m being unfair, I still behave like it’s his fault. 

    But I reject it.

  • Tybult

    That strikes me as being willfully dumb, which in my book is worse than any inherent lack of intelligence.

    If someone can’t be bothered with the end of the fucking world because of gender roles, I’m leaving their asses behind. 
    (Of course, the fur coat would cause me to heave Amanda over the side of the boat long before anything else.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    * worldwide nuclear war: Yes, I know strictly speaking it’s in the USA, but given that L&J are very sloppy about how they write this, let’s assume that absent Nicky Volcanic Eruption’s effective authority the USA would be like Jericho and for all intents and purposes it would be worldwide, anyway.

    No, that will not do at all. If the eastern hemisphere has to put up with Jenkins pretending we don’t exist then we don’t need you dropping bombs on us on his behalf. We’ll just keep going about our business.

    I assume we’re supposed to have forgotten by this point that Nic is Romanian, right? Because I’m having trouble imagining the modern Romanian epitome of evil deciding to bomb San Francisco in addition to LA, but not throwing any carnage Russia’s way.

  • Carstonio

    I find that option to be interesting as well. Still, the fictional context draws upon real-world theological concepts and their weaknesses, and the context arguably makes the weaknesses more obvious.

  • Well, to the average USA resident whose city got nuked, until effective communications were restored I suspect it would matter little if the whole world got nuked or just the continental US.

  • mcc

    “Suppose I’d grown up in a culture that believed that humans, once they fall off a bridge for whatever reason, can fly away and land safely if they choose to… If I embraced that particular belief of my culture, I suspect I’d believe that falling to my death after being dropped off a bridge was a choice I was making of my own free will.”

    This is an interesting analogy to me because I happen to live in a culture which believes that people who become poor or unemployed can simply choose to stop doing so.

  • You know, it’s a shame Jericho didn’t come out in 1996, because the far more realistic response of people to a nuclear attack and a shadowy government conspiracy lurking behind that nuclear attack is beautifully laid out in that series.

    Jenkins would have done well to watch it. :

  • Kadh2000

    But he wouldn’t have.

  • If Jenkins managed to ignore all of the hundreds of superior Rapture, apocalypse, war, and disaster-themed movies and books that preceded his own, why would having one more to disregard make any impact?

  • The Lodger

     I’m having trouble imagining the modern Romanian epitome of evil
    deciding to bomb San Francisco in addition to LA, but not throwing any
    carnage Russia’s way.

    From the POV of the Left Behind readership, bombing Russia may not be the act of an evil person.

    (Believe it or not, I hate being this cynical.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Well, to the average USA resident whose city got nuked, until effective communications were restored I suspect it would matter little if the whole world got nuked or just the continental US.

    Let’s be honest. Even after effective communications were restored the fate of Africa, Asia and Oceania wouldn’t matter to the average USA resident whose city got nuked.

  • Jon Frater

    It’s a day late and a dollar short, but I had to put this in:

    “Moscow in flames, missiles headed to new York. Film at 11.”

  • So Nicky is like the liquid metal Terminator!

  • aunursa

    Yes.  In fact, that’s precisely the image that I had in my mind when I was writing that comment.  I’m glad you picked up on it.

    This video shows scenes from the movie, including the “T2” ending. 

    The full-length movie (95 minutes) is also on Youtube.

  • Eamon Knight

     Then you’ll be glad to know it’s been done (or pretty close): Good Omens by Pratchett & Gaiman.

  • Eamon Knight

    Joshua Judges Rayford

    I see what you did there ;-).

  • Eamon Knight

     Augh, that was supposed to be a reply to the person wanting a hypothetical book called Inconveniencing the Anti-Christ.

  • I keep thinking it’s Joshua Jordan. :P

  • histrogeek

    “Here’s a sentence that no human being will ever speak: “More breaking
    news on the destruction of Chicago, New York, Washington and London, but
    first, a word from our sponsors.” ”
    Didn’t Edward R. Morrow begin his London broadcasts with “This is London…, but first a word from Lucky Strikes.” ?

  •  Delicious, healthful Lucky Strikes. They’re toasted.

    (Also fun were World War II-era advertising which cautioned specifically women against smoking cigarettes — to conserve our precious cigarette supplies for “those for whom God intended them: our fighting men overseas.”  Not making this up; actual advertising attached to WWII-era Sherlock Holmes radio play. Delivered by Nigel Bruce in-character as Doctor Watson.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Is that an ad quote or a Mad Men quote?

  •  The line about lucky stripes is a composite between actual 1950s ads I’ve seen and the reference upthread about Luckies being “toasted” (My Grandfather smoked Luckies. I am given to understand that he chose that particular brand because he prefered the toasted flavor to regular untoasted cigarettes.)

    The WWII cigarette ad is real. Accompanied an episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a box set I got once (One of the peculiarities of old-time radio collecting is that people who circulate recordings of gold and silver-age radio leave the commercials in).

  • Tricksterson

    That’s because thanks to cultural dissonance the commercials can be as entertaining as the programs, if not more so.

  • Tricksterson

    I feel like it should be a mnemonic for something.

  • Reading about what they should be doing reminded me of a Star Wars comic I was reading, about Boba Fett.  Fett was working for these two Hutts (longish story) who hated each other (one had married the other’s daughter) and the one whose daughter had been married had a servant who loathed him and was always trying to assassinate him…unsuccessfully.  He tried poisoning the Hutt’s drink; the Hutt spilled it while waving his arms and ranting Evil Hutt Rants ™ and ordered him to make another one; he tried cutting the cord holding a heavy chandelier over his employer’s head, but the tower shook just as the chandelier fell, and it missed.  And on and on and on. 

    If our two “authors” had had more skill, they could have the Trib Force trying frantically to assassinate Nicky, only to have the Fickle Fingers of Fate spoil their plans again and again and again.  Steele tries flying the plane into the ground, and it turns out that by zooming low just when he did, they miss a missile shot at Antichrist One by Nicky’s enemies; they try poisoning his drink, only for it to spill or for the poison to turn out to be bad, stepped-on stuff…it could become a leitmotif of the books.  But our two “authors” have less humor between them than a week-old corpse, so they don’t even think of that.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Forget about Rayford going out in a blaze of glory like Samson. Forget about him lifting a finger to warn anyone in San Francisco of the unholy death about to rain down on them all. Rayford can’t worry about that right now, because he’s using every ounce of strength and courage he has to avoid looking relieved.


    You think bad fanfic would lift a finger against its Author Self-Insert, no matter what the collateral damage?

    And remember the ironclad trope of Christian Apocalyptic:  Everything must go down in order according to The Checklist.  Characters exist only as roving POVs to Witness the Events of the Checklist, after which they break the fourth wall to lecture the reader about “How What We Just Witnessed Fulfills Such-and-Such Prophecy.”

    Compounded by Ellenjay’s decision at the beginning to tell the Epic Story of Cosmic proportions ONLY from the POVs of the two Author Self-Inserts.

  • John Evans

    ““If you think I would be safe.”
    “There’s no radiation.””

    My head hurts. I was so blindsided by that “no use of fallout” thing that I convinced myself that OK, they’ve invented some special sort of highly efficient, minimised-fallout bomb — sounds highly implausible, but maybe dirty bombs are the norm in this universe and Nicky’s such a gentleman he won’t consider such a thing. But no — we’re supposed to believe there’s literally no radiation. They flipped the switch on their nuclear bombs from “radioactive fission” to “non-radioactive fission”. Couple that with the bizarrely low yield of these bombs, and… why don’t they just say they’re using conventional explosives?? (Oh, right, because nukes sound so much cooler….)

  • John Evans

    Heracles would probably have taken until around this point in the story to figure out that Nicky was a Bad Guy, but to his credit he’d have gone straight back there and ripped his head off his shoulders without thinking twi- er, once.

  • John Evans

    Plus it would make such a great one-liner.

    Buck: I’m not sure what the point of that was. He’s just going to resurrect.
    Rayford: [drags on cigar] Then I’ll just have to kill him again.