NRA: Stealing from the starving

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 74-89

I do not like Buck Williams. If he were a real person whom I met in real life I would not want to spend time with him. Ditto for Rayford Steele.

The heroes of a story do not have to be likable. I have liked many stories that featured protagonists I did not like. But what sets Buck and Rayford apart from all those other unlikable heroes in otherwise likable stories is that the protagonists here in Left Behind are unintentionally unlikable.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins want us to like Buck and Rayford. They expect us to like them — to admire them, to find them good, funny and fun, clever and charming. And yet Buck and Rayford do not come across as any of those things.

A bunch of government bureaucrats getting in Buck’s way.

Stranger still is that Buck and Rayford are most unlikable due to the very things the authors most expect will make us like them. That’s particularly clear in the pages we’re revisiting today. Jenkins seems to be working hard here to show us Buck Williams: Cool Guy. But what we find instead is Buck Williams: Big Jerk.

The context here is one in which Buck ought to have our sympathy. His wife is missing and in jeopardy and he’s racing to find her. That’s a situation in which I’m inclined to give a character every benefit of the doubt. Buck is facing an emergency, and the context of an emergency can make some otherwise jerk-like behavior seem excusable or even commendable. We can forgive a person in a life-and-death emergency for being rude, impatient or testy — that just shows they’re focused on the proper priority with an appropriate urgency.

But the underlying problem in this chapter — and all throughout this series — is that Buck responds to his own emergency without acknowledging that everyone around him is also facing the very same emergency and the very same stakes.

We can forgive a character who steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving children, but we cannot forgive a character who steals that bread from someone else’s starving children.

For six pages, Buck races through traffic and that’s all the other vehicles and motorists are to him, traffic — objects and obstacles in his way. Buck’s aggressive disregard for those people is excused as a necessary expediency because his loved one may be in danger after his city has been destroyed. It does not occur to either Buck or Jenkins that everyone else on the road is in the exact same predicament. The sequence is thus presented as though everyone else were just commuting or running errands while Buck and Buck alone has an urgent need to get somewhere.

This disregard for everyone else becomes even sharper when Buck finally skids to a stop amidst “a busy force of emergency workers.”

Jenkins typed those words: “busy,” “emergency” and “workers.” And yet the meaning of those words do not seem to have registered with him. He presents them, and Buck reacts to them, as just another set of obstacles, just more annoying others getting in Buck’s way.

Jenkins even tells us that the scene includes “squad cars, ambulances, fire trucks” — so this is a crowd of first responders who are “busy” responding when Buck nearly runs them down. Yet Buck and Jenkins regard them as government bureaucrats.

This creates two unnecessary problems, both of which make Buck more difficult to like. First, it means he spends several pages interfering with these emergency workers who have to stop busily helping people in a war zone in order to deal with him. But secondly it also means that it doesn’t occur to Buck to enlist their help.

And this crew would have been very helpful. Buck knows Chloe was in a crash, so she may need the help of firefighters and EMTs. But he doesn’t know where the crash happened — so a police officer with a patrol-car radio linked to other patrol cars in the area seems like just exactly what Chloe needs right now.

Yet Buck doesn’t ask for their help. He doesn’t tell them that he’s trying to find his wife, that she’s been in a crash and may be injured. He doesn’t describe Chloe or her SUV or ask any of these workers if they’ve seen or heard of anything to match that description. All Buck thinks about, instead, is how to get past and away from these bureaucrats, these people in his way.

“I’m Cameron Williams, publisher of Global Community Weekly,” he tells them. “I report directly to the potentate.”

A young, slender cop pulled Buck’s real ID wallet from the hands of the woman officer. “Let me just have a look at this,” he said with sarcasm. “If you really report to Nicolae Carpathia, you’d have level 2-A clearance, and I don’t see — oops, I guess I do see level 2-A security clearance here.”

The three officers huddled to peer at the unusual identification card. “You know, carrying phony 2-A security clearance is punishable by death –”

“Yes, I do.”

The reader has to do most of the work in this series to construct the world of Nicolae Carpathia’s one-world dictatorship. Little scraps of information like this have to be collected carefully throughout these books in order to piece together the picture of life under the Antichrist. This is a significant detail, revealing that Nicolae is running a tyrannical police state of the sort in which impersonating an officer can be grounds for execution.

Informing us of that doesn’t seem to have been the purpose of including this detail here, though. The effect Jenkins is trying for seems to be, instead, to show us that Buck is cool. The police officers are awed by his security clearance, after all, so that must mean he is awesome.

“I borrowed this car from a friend named Zee,” Buck tells the officers. “You can check that for sure before you have it junked.”

“You can’t leave this car here!”

“What am I gonna do with it?” Buck said. “It’s worthless, it’s got a flat tire, and there’s no way we’re gonna find help for that tonight.”

“Or for the next two weeks, most likely,” one of the cops said.

So one of the world’s major cities can be rebuilt after a nuclear attack in about two weeks, but a car with a flat tire is beyond repair.

For all Buck knows, Verna has a spare tire in the trunk, but he decides to set out on foot without even checking. One gets the feeling that he’d have abandoned Verna’s car even if it had just run out of gas — “It’s worthless, the tank is empty!”

That “two weeks” bit highlights the weirdness of this entire scene, none of which seems like it plays out in the context of a nuclear war zone. The cop’s next question to Buck is: “So, where were you goin’ in such an all-fired hurry?” Set aside the oddness of a Chicago police officer talking like someone at an old-timey Wild West show, and just try to imagine anyone asking such a question makes any sense in the immediate aftermath of the obliteration of Chicago by perhaps-nuclear bombs. “What’s your hurry?” just isn’t a question most people would think to ask in a war zone.

Buck tells the officer he has to get to the Drake hotel, and he seems to mean it, even though this is the one place in all of the Chicago region that he knows Chloe can’t be.

“Where have you been, pal? Don’t you listen to the news? Most of Michigan Avenue is toast.”

“Including The Drake?”

“I don’t know about that, but it can’t be in too good a shape by now.”

“If I walk up over that rise and get onto Michigan Avenue on foot, am I gonna die of radiation poisoning?”

“Civil Defense guys tell us there’s no fallout readings. That means this must have been done by the militia, trying to spare as much human life as possible. Anyway, if those bombs had been nuclear, the radiation would have traveled a lot farther than this already.”

“True enough,” Buck said. “Am I free to go?”

Here are more details to try to fit into our picture of the world. Chicago police officers are still armed, so they must really be Global Community forces, since everyone else has been dis-armed by Nicolae’s OWG (except for militia groups, which have their own ultra-modern air force and nuclear arsenal, apparently). Chicago and/or the Global Community also operates something called “Civil Defense,” the function of which is unclear in a one-world government. I am having a hard time making all of these pieces fit together.

I’m also having a hard time figuring out Buck’s plan here. Chloe was just leaving Chicago on a highway when she crashed, so why is Buck headed all the way into downtown Chicago? And why on foot? How are he and Chloe going to get back to Mount Prospect? Or what if Chloe needs to be rushed to a hospital (if any non-nuked hospitals still stand)? Is he just assuming that his beloved Range Rover will still be able to drive?

Buck doesn’t think about any of that as he trudges inexplicably toward the hotel. He’s thinking about Verna. No, he’s not thinking, “It was so nice of Verna to lend me her car and I feel just awful that I won’t be able to return it to her.” He’s thinking, rather, that perhaps he should not have offered to help her in the first place.

It suddenly hit Buck that he had taken a huge risk. It wouldn’t be long before Verna Zee learned that he had, at least at one time, been a full-fledged member of New Hope Village Church. He had been so careful about not taking a leadership role there, not speaking in public, not being known to very many people. Now one of his own employees — and a long-standing enemy at that — would have knowledge that could ruin him, even cost him his life.

Buck’s cautious secrecy about his church is strange when we contrast it with Rayford’s missionary zeal toward his co-workers. Rayford’s outspoken proselytizing shows that Buck’s furtiveness is not necessary — Nicolae doesn’t seem to care that Rayford is a born-again Christian. It also underscores the selfishness of Buck’s attitude. He believes that Verna and Alice and the others will be damned to Hell for eternity unless he warns them not to take the Mark of the Beast, but he’s not willing to warn them if that means risking his “level 2-A clearance” and all the perks that go with it.

Worrying that Verna has learned all his secrets, Buck dials Loretta’s house and asks to speak to Verna.

Loretta said, “I’m just tellin’ her my story, as I assumed you wanted me to.”

Buck was silent. Finally, he said, “Put her on, would you, Loretta?”

This could have been a nice character moment — a chance for some gentle musing on Buck’s reluctance to see Verna converted and to have to then welcome her as a sister. But it’s not presented that way. It’s presented, instead, as an attempt to build suspense … Oh no! What if Verna learns the Jesus secret?!

Once he’s talking to Verna on the phone, Buck briefly behaves decently — offering to replace her car with an upgrade and asking if there’s anything she needs from the old one before he abandons it.

“Is there anything you need out of it?”

“Nothing I can think of. There is a hairbrush I really like in the glove box.”

“Verna!”

“That does seem a little trivial in light of everything.”

“No documents, personal belongings, hidden money, anything like that?”

“No. Just do what you gotta do. It would be nice if I didn’t get in trouble for this.”

“I’ll leave word with the authorities that when they get around to it they can tow this car to any junkyard and trade whatever the yard gives them for it for the towing fee.”

A hair brush isn’t a personal belonging?

Buck’s plan for abandoning the car recalls the earlier scene in which he elaborately arranges to have his rental car returned to the airport — less than an hour after he witnessed the destruction of the airport by a perhaps-nuclear bomb. Once again Buck seems serenely certain that a nuclear assault won’t have any bearing on the routine operation of towing companies or salvage yards.

Before he hangs up, Verna mentions that Loretta has “got some really strange ideas.” Buck pockets the phone, worrying that Loretta will tell Verna all about the Antichrist and the Tribulation Force and Bruce’s charts and all the rest. He thinks to himself:

“Either she becomes a believer, or I’m dead.”

This is why I don’t like Buck Williams. Even when the subject is somebody else’s eternal soul, he still thinks it’s all about him.

  • PandaRosa

    First, maybe.

  • Tofu_Killer

    Well the hairbrush is a girlie thing, and therefore unworthy of Buck’s attention. Notice he asks about manly stuff like ” documents, personal belongings, hidden money, anything like that”.

    That explains about 98% of Left Behind right there

  • http://feygelegoy.com/ Feygele Goy

    “I’m Cameron Williams, publisher of Global Community Weekly,” he tells them. “I report directly to the potentate.”

    Oh, man.  I seriously could not stop laughing for half a minute.  And it was not a good laugh.
    Seriously, when one appends Atlas Shrugged to the Bible as an unoffical Third Testament, a viewpoint like L&J’s is a likely result.

  • aunursa

    Can someone please rewrite this scene so that the cops give Buck what he deserves?

  • Deborah Moore

    Wikipedia says that LaHaye was a gunner on a bomber plane during WWII.  I suspect that the descriptions of bombing here are based on LaHaye’s experiences of conventional bombing in WWII.  Neither of the authors understands just how much more powerful and deadly nuclear bombs are.

  • aunursa

    Jenkins typed those words: “busy,” “emergency” and “workers.” And yet the meaning of those words do not seem to have registered with him. He presents them, and Buck reacts to them, as just another set of obstacles, just more annoying others getting in Buck’s way.

    Interesting how we’re discussing this particular scene during this particular week.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     placeholder…

  • flat

    Oh man look Buck got an A-2 security clearance, he is such a rad dude.

    (how is my eighties slang by the way)

  • hidden_urchin

    The hidden money was in the hairbrush, genius. Verna just didn’t want you getting your hands on it. No doubt she’ll have the awesome salvage yard employees hold it when they call to comfirm ownership of the car. Loretta will drive her there and will witness to said employees, saving a half dozen souls and gaining new resistance fighters.

  • aunursa

    fake placeholder [in protest of placeholders -- you know who you are]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “That does seem a little trivial in light of everything.”

    The whole discussion was trivial in light of everything.  What was the point of this scene anyway?

  • X

    Love to, but “hostile stare” and “cold shoulder” don’t have onomatopoeiae.

  • GeniusLemur

    Holy shit! “That means this must have been done by the militia, trying to spare as much human life as possible.” What the hell? If someone’s trying to spare as much human life as possible, they DON’T BOMB A CROWDED CITY!

    And this ties back to the original insurgency, where Fitzhugh and the militias figured that blowing up New York would rally the country to their side. How is it possible to even begin to be this deluded?

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Just for once, I want to read the interview where someone points out Buck’s character failures to the series’ authors and asks them, “What were you THINKING?”

    I don’t expect to hear any answers that would satisfy me. I’m not even sure I’d hear anything that would surprise me. I just want to hear Jenkins and LaHaye out themselves  further and in their own words as Colossal Jerks.

  • hidden_urchin

    Oh man look Buck got an A-2 security clearance…

    If you know what I mean. Remember, Bucky, it’s not the level of your security clearance that matters. It’s what you do with it.

    Alas, yours is only for show.

  • aunursa

    I would pay to attend an event in which L&J are read a few of Fred’s posts, and then we see their reactions and responses.

  • GeniusLemur

    For someone who hates Carpathia and the OWG, Buck sure is eager to name-drop him and wave his “look how much Carpathia likes me” OWG ID around.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “The Jesus Secret” almost sounds like the title a Robert Ludlum-style thriller novel — but not quite… Oh, I know! “The Paraclete Codex”!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    Good enough to be a mega-church youth pastor circa 2002.

  • VMink

    Now one of his own employees — and a long-standing enemy at that — would have knowledge that could ruin him, even cost him his life.

    Yes, the long-standing enemy who loaned you her car.  Friggin’ myopic dumbass.  *grumble grumble*

    And this: “Either she becomes a believer, or I’m dead.”  Considering Verna is listed as ‘possibly damned’ then I’m going to be disappointed that Herb “Call me Cameron ‘Call me Buck’ Williams” Katz didn’t get himself shellacked.

    Again, there is nothing admirable about this man.

  • GeniusLemur

    It would be fun if L&J had the slightest intellectual honesty, but I rather suspect they’d storm out, scream “NO! NO! NO!” a lot, or cover their ears and sing “Mary had a Little Lamb” at the top of their lungs.

  • VMink

    An atomic wedgie sounds like a nice thing. ^_^  Barring that, a “We’re busy here, go ‘way,” brush-off would do.

    Instead, everyone must bow to the awesomeness that is this man.  Sigh.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Utterly impossible. Though Atlas Shrugged’s heroes are just as one-dimensional and unlikeable as Buck, and at least some of Atlas Shrugged’s heroes get out of the cities before the equivalent of nuclear explosions occur. Also, Ayn Rand was not so much about accepting Christ into one’s heart (she was an atheist) as she was about entrepreneurs keeping the fruits of their labor and the moochers&looters to not receive the fruits of anyone else’s labor. She did, however, have a very evident contempt for collectivists (cf. the train disaster scene and the scene towards the end where the heroes kill a guard who is insufficiently decisive for Rand).

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 259 pages

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    They probably do in Japanese.

  • VMink

    This observation actually has an interesting subtext to it.

    Both Buck and Ray have been given certain authority by the Antichrist — and it’s clear that they also have, to some extent, the favor of the Antichrist as well.  Almost as if they’ve been… marked.  Which, I do not believe is an altogether too outre jump to make.  How many times do they wave their… clearance around, in order to transact or trade with others?  Like Buck’s ‘Babylon Express Fuligin Card’ that has enough of a credit limit to get a fully-loaded Range Rover?

    Rayford and Buck have been offered, and have accepted and use, the Mark of the Beast.

  • MaryKaye

    It is so bizarre that taking favors *from the Antichrist* is supposed to make you cool.

    It’s as if you redid _Schindler’s List_ and tried to play up the fact that Schindler was a Nazi as a way to make him more appealing–instead of having it be a character flaw that he must repent.

  • aunursa

    It’s been awhile since I saw the film.  But didn’t Schindler use his status as a Nazi Party member to aid his quest to save Jews?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “Either she becomes a believer, or I’m dead.”Such a show of faith.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Last week, I mocked the bad storytelling, this time, I’ll take a swing at the bad… storytelling.

    There’s a basic structure to your moralizing and your parables. There’s no religious text that has the story of the Really Well-Off Man with Lots of Food who Meets the Starving Kids and Gives Them Food. (“Don’t you think that’s a bit on-the-nose, Paul?” “Look, John, if we don’t spell these things out, who knows what they’ll go reading into the text in 2000 years?”)

    L&J are trying to create tension by having uncertainty surround Chloe’s fate. But that’s the wrong kind of tension for a story like this.*  That’s a tension between “what we hope” and “what we fear”, and that works great in general, but if you’re trying to tell a Christian story, then the tension that matters is the struggle between “what is easy” and “what is right”! 

    Imagine if Chloe had called Buck, and said “The car is in a ditch, I think I’m OK, but there’s some water flowing in. It’s not very fast, but if you don’t make it by nightfall, things could get bad.” Then, as Buck tried to drive across the devastated city to reach her, he keeps running into people in need. There’s a pair of people on the sidewalk, one badly injured, and Buck has to give first aid. There’s a Fire Marshall whose car isn’t working, who needs a lift just a little out of Buck’s way. The granddaughter of an elderly woman is trapped inside a half-bombed building, and she’s unable to manage the rubble to save her. Each of these diversions takes a little time, and Buck knows there’s a clock ticking. 

    Rushing past those folks would be easy, and reaching Chloe immediately would make Buck feel better, but none of it would be the right, proper, Christian thing to do. 

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

    /<-rw4d!!!!

    80s BBS slang is even worse. :P But Buck would totally type like he's an ankie who thinks he's among the k00l k1dz.

  • GeniusLemur

    Good point. In a very real sense, they have. And it’s a mark on their hand, sort of(holding the ID).

    But, of course L&J think the mark is supposed to something seperate that’s bleeding obvious to the point of actually calling it the mark, so no one can ever be mistaken. It’s an interesting contrast to the Jack Chick tract I saw the other day that claimed that by joining the freemasons, people can become Satanists without knowing it.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I’m kinda surprised that Jenkins thinks that lesbians even use hairbrushes or that they could “like” them even if they did.

    That hairbrush thing really gets me.  Verna might have nothing as of one hour ago.  Her home could be leveled, her every possession gone, and there she is, surrounded by people who either pity her (Loretta) or despise her (Buck and Chloe), and the woman isn’t even permitted the dignity of having her own hairbrush.

    (And what makes it worse is that the hairbrush could have been a symbol of Buck’s “new nature.”  What a scene it would be if he carried that hairbrush around in his backpack until he got back to Mount Prospect and presented it to Verna, the brush being, by that point, a representation of Buck’s new mindset, a wonderful gift he could give to this woman who has been his “enemy.”  But no, fuck you, Verna, NO HAIRBRUSH FOR YOU!

    In Soon, Jenkins actually references the movie Con Air.  His reference is utterly ridiculous in context, but it is proof that Jenkins knows the movie, and has seen the finale, in which the hero presents his daughter with a stuffed toy, which was pristine at the beginning of the movie but now tattered and dirty as a result of the hero’s ordeals.  So Jenkins saw Con Air, but didn’t actually see it.)

    (Edited for spelling and grammar because it’s Friday night.)

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

    This reminds me again of how Buck and Rayford repeatedly protested that they would not never no absolutely posilutely never EVER work for Nicolae Carpathia.

    And then Bruce Barnes offers like, some weaksauced rationalization for going ahead, and boy oh boy do those fellas race like hell for the perks of the jobs instead of running the other way.

    It’s like they want to have it both ways…

    but doesn’t the Bible they claim to believe in say something about a man and two masters?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Oh no! What if Verna learns the Jesus secret?!

    Then, one of the Saved might be *gasp* a lesbian!  Oh noes, God might not smite all teh ghayes!  All our prayer is for naught!  

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Ya know – I often worry about my writing; I consider how my characters may be received by the audience – how their personalities may impact both other characters and a reader’s opinions of them and such… I worry that my characters may be unrealistic or unlikeable….

    And then I come here and am reminded of the existence of Buck Williams and the worry dissipates significantly.  No matter how awful my characters turn out to be, I can take some comfort in the knowledge that they are not Buck Williams.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It’s been awhile since I saw the film.  But didn’t Schindler use his status as a Nazi Party member to aid his quest to save Jews?

    Yes, but he is much less insufferable than Buck about it.  Schindler used his money and connections (including outright smuggling and bribery) to get Jews out of danger and kept them protected as best he could.  His efforts were at great material cost and bodily risk to himself, to save others who’s chances of survival otherwise were very grim.  

    Buck on the other hand, seems to simply use the trappings of power Nicky grants him for his own comfort or his own priorities, giving not a care to actually employing that power to help others.  It would be if Schindler were afraid to help any Jews because it might cost him his good name with the Nazis.  He would be a pretty unsympathetic character if he did so.  

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “A hair brush isn’t a personal belonging?”
    Well, it’s a hair brush. The sort of thing that’s just kicking around in a car, I think I must have two under the seats in my car. Presumably it’s easy to find another like it; barely worth lugging back to someone from the city while leaving her car to be towed.

    Unless, of course, nuclear war had just broken out or something. I guess if a nuclear war had just broken out and you were fleeing the burning ruins of Chicago, suddenly certain kinds of goods and equipment– cars, refrigerated goods– would suddenly become somewhere between unuseful and problematic, whereas certain previously commonplace and useless items, like hairbrushes, dry goods and portable hotplates, would suddenly become important luxuries, things to hold on to tight because you don’t know when or if you’d ever find another. But of course we don’t have to worry about that here.

  • Carstonio

    Civil Defense guys tell us there’s no fallout readings. That means this must have been done by the militia, trying to spare as much human life as possible.

    Yeah, because a group of hatful racist killers can be real softies when it comes to human life. Wouldn’t they have limited the bombings to neighborhoods populated by ethnic minorities?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee is a much nicer person than I am, but if I lent Buck Williams my car, and it was the end of the world and I would be living out of my purse for the forseeable future, I can well imagine myself grateful if he grabbed my tiny hairbrush that I got solely because it fits in my glovebox, and my emergency lipgloss and hand cream while he’s at it. 

    That’s pretty much the least he can do, under the circumstances. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jess-Goodwin/28602067 Jess Goodwin

     Oh, Lord and Lady, please don’t call him Bucky. :p

    A much more awesome character with that name would have drilled a bullet between Nicky Rwenzori’s eyes within a chapter or two of realizing what he was, thus sparing the world a good deal of trouble. Granted, he’d have to have a few noir-ish, brooding internal monologues first.

  • Carstonio

    I read the hairbrush comment as more of Ellanjay’s sexism, with women apparently being so vain and simple that they think preserving their appearance takes precedence in the middle of a war.

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

    It could have been sentimental, too. :

  • http://mistermunshun.blogspot.com/ Carl Eusebius

    This entry highlights one of the reasons I started my blog on Twilight as an imitation of this one. Like Buck, Bella Swan is thoroughly unlikeable not just against the author’s intentions but because of what we’re supposed to like about her. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the novel now, and I don’t think we have ever actually read the dialogue of Bella’s friend Jessica. We hear about how she’s “nattering” or “going on” while Bella “isn’t really listening”, and so we never see what she says. Except for one time, when she’s talking about Edward Cullen. That’s the only time we actually get Jessica’s dialogue, because it’s the only time Bella is actually listening to her. This is supposed to make us identify with Bella’s True Love for Edward, but what it really does is reveal Bella’s narcissistic lack of concern for others.

    Just like Buck’s.

  • aunursa

    But what sets Buck and Rayford apart from all those other unlikable heroes in otherwise likable stories is that the protagonists here in Left Behind are unintentionally unlikable.

    A glance into the hearts of Left Behind fans…

    Results of the Last Poll
    Who is your favorite character in the series?
    Buck Williams: 39%
    Rayford Steele: 24%
    Chloe Steele: 16%
    Chaim Rosenzweig: 6%
    Other: 6%
    Nicolae Carpathia: 4%
    Abdullah Ababneh: 2%
    Hattie Durham: 1%
    Irene Steele: 1%
    Leon Fortunato: 0%
    Viv Ivins: 0%

  • Matthew E.

     I’m intrigued by the 4% who voted for Nicky — was it simply a prank pulled by a handful of (possibly slacktivite) wags, or has the heartbeat of rebellion begun to beat in some young readers’ chests?

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Loretta said, “I’m just tellin’ her my story, as I assumed you wanted me to.”

    Buck was silent. Finally, he said, “Put her on, would you, Loretta?”

    I feel for Loretta. She’s so terrified of Buck that she’s tailoring her conversations with other people to what she perceives as his wishes, defensively making sure he knows it, and still getting that patented Buck attitude for her trouble. I wonder if he waves around that 2-A clearance card at New Hope when he isn’t getting his way.

  • Michael Pullmann

     I know there’s been a lot of talk in these entries and comments about how the inflexibility of Tim & Jerry’s prophecy checklist hamstrings’ the characters’ effectiveness as Rebel Fighters Against Satan. Nicolae’s temporary victory is preordained, so they can’t stop it. They know how the story ends, and are powerless to change that ending.

    Except there’s one thing they *can* do, precisely because they know how the story ends. They know that, once TurboJesus shows up, Satan loses. There is, to coin a phrase, no version of this where he comes out on top. The only shred of victory Satan can hope for is to cheat God out of as many souls as possible by denying them the Way, the Truth and the Life.

    The Tribulation Force has it within their power to deny Satan even that victory, with every soul they save and convert. If you accept the lousy cosmology they’ve been saddled with, then *that* should be their one and only goal. One more soul in Heaven equals one less in Hell. Save Verna Zee. Save Alice. Save Hattie. Save everyone they can, at every opportunity, at any cost. After all, what need to fear death when you know you’ll experience the Resurrection?

    A Trib Force that was actually heroic would be doing this. Instead, mankind is stuck with these assholes.

  • Carstonio

    If these were any other writers, I would agree. Not ones who treat independent females as villains or as future Stepford wives.

  • http://tobascodagama.com Tobasco da Gama

     It was divinely revealed to him in a matter utterly indistinguishable from making it up as he goes along. Mysterious ways.


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