NRA: Just Let It Go

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 83-89

I want to finish this preposterous section of Nicolae so that we can move on to the next preposterous section. I seem to have gotten a bit stuck here by the piling up of several too many insurmountable obstacles for the reader — an accumulation of factual impossibilities, implausible events and odious choices.

In order to get through this logjam of absurdities here in Chapter 4, I’ll need to just buck up, as it were, swallow hard, and make “just let it go” my mantra for turning pages. Otherwise I’ll never be able to plow through this so that we can discover the glorious absurdities awaiting in Chapter 5.

At this point in our story, the Bay Area is about to be destroyed. Everyone in San Francisco is about to die, Rayford Steele knows this, and yet he does nothing? Just let it go.

The secret to any successful marriage is having a good Antichrist to oppose.

We’re supposed to see Rayford as a hero because he stalls for time so that Amanda can catch a flight to Milwaukee. This means that dozens of airport workers will spend their final hour dealing with the arrogant hassle of an uncooperative pilot before dying a fiery death. This is heroism? Just let it go.

The nuclear destruction of a half-dozen major cities hasn’t interfered with routine commercial air travel? Just let it go. Nuclear bombs have a no-radiation setting? JLIG. The obliteration of Chicago hasn’t disrupted cell-phone service? JLIG.

We’re getting through this chapter, darn it, no matter how many unacceptable and impossible things Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins pile in our way.

Rayford walks us through all the many exciting ways that a pilot can stall for time while taxiing to the gate after landing. None of these are actually very exciting, but Jenkins still draws it out for several paragraphs until readers share the frustration of the airport workers:

Finally, an exasperated laborer barked into his radio, “What’s the hold-up there, chief? I was told this was a VIP plane that needed fast service.”

We also share in Rayford’s “sigh of relief” when:

… Twenty minutes later … he discovered that Amanda’s plane was en route to Milwaukee. Now he could refuel, play it by the book, and settle in for the long flight over the Pacific.

The difference between our relief and Rayford’s is that he (and Jenkins) seemed to think this scene was fraught with suspense — will Amanda’s connecting flight take off on time? Whereas for readers, the tension wasn’t suspense, but the slow, grinding erosion of our patience — Good Lord, how long is this passage going to go on?

The unbearable thing here — the part I’m having a particularly hard time saying “Just let it go” to — is how wholly relaxed and at ease Rayford seems to be once Amanda’s plane escapes from the doomed city of San Francisco. As soon as that happens, our hero really does “settle in” without ever giving another thought to the millions who are about to be killed. He waves to the ground crew and signs off to the folks in the control tower without any consideration of how they are all about to die.

In order to stomach that, I’ve latched onto a strained and implausible reading of one awkward sentence in this chapter:

The senior flight attendant of a crew that was two-thirds as many people as the entire passenger list rapped on the cockpit door and opened it as Rayford taxied slowly down the runway.

There are two possible ways to read that bit there about the crew being “two-thirds as many people as the entire passenger list.” I’m going to go with the more convoluted reading. This is almost certainly wrong, but it will help me to continue reading instead of flinging this book out of a window.

The likelier reading here is that Rayford is yet again complaining. He has a habit of framing his complaints as indictments against others for not doing things the more sensible way that he would do them, and this seems to be another instance of that. I’m afraid that’s all that Jenkins intends here. Our hero is grumbling about the inefficient extravagances of his new boss. After all, grumbling about their boss while obeying his every order is what the members of the Tribulation Force imagine it means to “stand against the Antichrist.”

But it’s also just barely possible to read that sentence another way. It might indicate Rayford taking some satisfaction in the success of his otherwise-unmentioned scheme to arrange for an inordinately overlarge flight crew.

Maybe this was Rayford’s desperate attempt to save at least a handful of lives by overstaffing his plane. Every extra flight attendant he could get on board would be one life spared from the nuclear annihilation about to be unleashed on San Francisco.

I realize that this would make no sense in the real world, or in any fictional world even slightly resembling our own. Here in reality, every member of the staff on board Air Force One has been carefully screened and has high-level security clearance. Air Force One would never indiscriminately pick up random airline flight attendants at the next stop.

But here in Nicolae, that seems to be exactly how Global Community One operates — relying on all the same airport crews for refueling and safety checks as any routine commercial flight.* So it wouldn’t violate the rules of this book for Rayford to try to save some lives by taking on extra staff.

Is there anything in the text to support this imaginative reading of this one sentence? Well, no. But the text is poorly written enough that it doesn’t wholly rule it out either. So I’m going with this. I’m going to assume that this single fleeting reference to the size of the flight crew implies that Rayford massively overstaffed his plane for the flight out of San Francisco in a desperate bid to save as many lives as he could.

This would be completely out of character for Rayford, but that’s why I’m sticking with this theory. If I’m going to continue reading about Rayford Steele and being expected to admire him, then I need him to do something here — even something as meager as this. Flying off from a doomed city in a still-mostly-empty plane, having only rescued a handful of extra crew members may not seem like much, but it still would put Rayford in an entirely different moral universe from the self-absorbed bystander who “breathes a sigh of relief” and “settles in” after not even trying to help save anyone.

Our friend Buck Williams, meanwhile, is still wandering around the nuked-but-not-irradiated ruins of Chicago. He’s wandering in search of Chloe. Last he heard from her, she was racing along the highway just outside of the city when there was a crash and an explosion. Buck has left the highway and is working his way toward downtown Chicago. (Just let it go.)

Chloe’s situation seems urgent, and a slow, random search on foot doesn’t seem like the most expedient approach, but it gives Buck time to do some pondering. (I’m not sure it qualifies as “soul searching,” since our hero seems to be lacking the prerequisite for that.)

Buck takes this time to ponder his vocation and his marriage, both of which now seem in jeopardy due to the arrival of the second horseman of the apocalypse.

Buck didn’t feel much like a journalist, standing in the midst of the chaos. He should have been drinking it all in, impressing it upon his brain, asking questions of people who seemed to be in charge. But no one seemed in charge. Everyone was working.

The archetype of the modern American journalist, Buck Williams is unable to report on anything unless there’s a press secretary standing at a clearly marked podium, dictating talking points and instructing him what to write.

And Buck didn’t care whether he could translate this into a story or not.

I’m not sure whether I can translate that into a coherent thought or not. The Global Community Air Force bombed the city of Chicago. That’s who, what and where. Readers of this series can never be sure about “when,” but presumably Buck knows what day it is and what time it is, even if the authors never bother to tell us. None of that requires any “translation” to be turned into a report. Nothing does. Who, what, when, where is not an act of translation. Why and how may involve a bit more in the way of interpretation, but it’s still not rocket science.

“GCAF bombs Chicago” is the headline and the first sentence. But Buck won’t ever report that story. His magazine won’t ever report that story (when the story began, everybody at Buck’s office went home).

His magazine, along with every other major media outlet, was controlled, if not owned, by Nicolae Carpathia. As much as he strived to keep things objective, everything seemed to come out with the spin of the master deceiver. The worst part was, Nicolae was good at it. Of course, he had to be. It was his very nature. Buck just hated the idea that he himself was being used to spread propaganda and lies that people were eating like ice cream.

Awww, poor little Buck is powerless to buck the system.

This is nonsense. Buck Williams is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Global Community Weekly. He can print whatever he wants to print. Sure, he might get fired afterward, but he could do it. He’s only powerless to tell the whole truth if he regards keeping his job as more important than telling that truth — which, clearly, he does.

If Buck chose to do so, he could fire off a 5,800-page special edition publishing every word of “Bible prophecy scholarship” from Bruce Barnes’ hard-drive. Nicolae wouldn’t have a chance to stop him until it was too late and all of that prophetic “truth” had become public knowledge. But that would mean no more prestigious “level 2-A clearance,” and no more unlimited expense account to awe the guys at the Range Rover dealership. And if all of Bruce’s secret knowledge were no longer a secret, what would that mean for the secret-keepers of his inner-inner-circle? They would lose the one thing that makes them so special.

Most of all though, right now, right here, he cared about nothing but Chloe. He had allowed the thought to invade his mind that he might have lost her. He knew he would see her again at the end of the Tribulation, but would he have the will to go on without her? She had become the center of his life, around which everything else revolved.

Buck loves his wife so much that he even almost considered telling her about the advance warning he’d been given about when and where World War III was going to start.

During the short time they had been together, she had proved more than he ever could have hoped for in a wife. It was true they were bound in a common cause that made them look past the insignificant and the petty, which seemed to get in so many other couples’ way. But he sensed she would never have been catty or a nag anyway. She was selfless and loving. She trusted him and supported him completely.

The odd thing about this passage is that it seems like its addressed to female readers. It reeks as the sort of boys’ club banter that some men might say to other men when they’re confident no women can overhear (“You know how wives are, doncha guys? Bunch of catty nags, amirite fellas?”). Yet I think it’s actually intended as the authors’ advice to good Christian wives — a short version of the “Proverbs 31 woman” pep talk.

What might otherwise be good advice for any spouse — be selfless and loving, give your spouse your trust and support — becomes irksome when it seems directed primarily, or exclusively, at wives. It gives the sense — reinforced by everything we’ve ever read about Buck and Rayford — that the husband’s job is to be selfish, to be loved, and to expect and enjoy the unconditional trust and support of his wife.

Fortunately, the authors do provide one useful suggestion here for young Christian couples just starting out. The danger in any marriage, the authors suggest, is that you’ll get bogged down in “the insignificant and the petty,” which will result in the wife yielding to the natural feminine tendency to be catty and a nag. But you can spare your marriage the strain of that by finding common cause in an apocalyptic struggle against the forces of Satan.

This may explain why so many “pro-family” Christian groups spend so much time denouncing alleged Satanic conspiracies. They think we need Satan and the Antichrist. They keep our marriages strong.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* This is true even after World War III breaks out. Global Community One simply lands in San Francisco and has whoever happens to be working there come out to refuel the plane. There’s no bother checking to see if any of these workers might be sympathizers with the ex-president or the militias who are, at this very moment, waging armed insurrection against the potentate.

This is particularly strange given that Nicolae’s massively disproportionate response of collective punishment and mass-murder has singled out airports and airport workers as targets of his wanton slaughter.

It’s not hard to imagine an airplane mechanic who just transferred out to San Francisco after more than 10 years in Chicago, where he worked at O’Hare with his brother and several good friends. His brother and all those friends are dead now. They were slain earlier this same day by the very same man whose plane has just arrived — the very same brother-killing mass-murderer whose plane this mechanic has just been tasked with refueling.

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  • GeniusLemur

     The Biblical text doesn’t talk about an Antichrist at all.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Rayford would probably warn him not to, since it’s “going against God’s will.”  If Buck did it anyway, he would warn Carpathia of the plot to stay in the Antichrist’s good graces as his personal pilot.

    Then there would either be a pointlessly dull rescue scene where they free Buck from prison before he could get his head removed from his neck (followed by a scene in which Buck basically said, “Boy, you were right–I was such an idiot for trying to thwart the will of God!”) or else, that would be where Buck died, and when he came back in the last book he still wouldn’t blame Rayford for what he did–after all, Rayford understood that it was God’s will, even when Buck didn’t. 

    But in a better novel published by semi-competent writers, your idea would be a great one.

  • Chloe – The Rise of Antichrist.

    She walked along the ruins of a once great city, neither looking to the right or left.  Behind her, followed a crowd of dozens, perhaps hundreds of awestruck people.  They had watched her gunned down by her own husband, get up unharmed and take the gun away from him.  Buck now walked in the center of them, surrounded by muttering angry people.  Only the word of Chloe kept them from tearing him to shreds.

    “Kill him now and all you have is his dead body,” she said.  “Alive, we can make an example of him.  Trust me, there will payment for him and those who ally with him.”

    Buck knew that he was a dead man walking, so it was pointless to keep up any pretense.  “What are you going to do, now Chloe?”

    “Do you want a divorce?” she asked.  The question was so out of the blue, that he at first didn’t understand the words.  “What?”

    “If you want a divorce, ask and I’ll give it to you.  If you don’t ask, then we stay married.  But know this.  Leave me, and you will not see your child.  Ever.  When she is old enough to ask, her father died in the bombing of Chicago, which is not far from the truth.”

    “You can’t do that!  I have…”

    “Rights?  The only rights you have is what I say you have.  Right now, all I have to do is say the word, and there will be nothing left of you but a few scraps of cloth.”  She raised her voice.  “All you, listen!  Here is what is responsible for the destruction you see!  The people who want to force religion down our throats!  I say that we have had enough of his kind!  Enough of the bloodshed caused by whose holy scripture is correct and which translation is correct and what is the correct length of the candles in the damn sanctuary!”

    “Enough I say.  There will be no more.  You can have your religion but you keep it out of sight.  No more squabbling.  It is clear to me now that peace will only be achieved by making the idiots shut up.”

    A man fell to his knees in front of her.  “Mistress!  My life is yours, if you will but bring peace to our country!”  Another kneeled beside him, then another and another.  Soon there were hundreds, chanting softly.  “My life for you.  My life for you.”

    She could feel their adoration.  It washed over her like a cool breeze that she could almost taste.  She closed her eyes and basked in it.

    “I will bring peace.  Follow me, and I will bring peace.  Peace, along with the heads of those who caused this.”  She looked into the eyes of her husbands.

    “Bring him.”  Hands closed around Buck and lifted him painfully into the air.  The crowds swelled as she made the trip out of the city, picking up the scattered and panicked.  By the time they got to the airport, she had acquired over two thousand followers.

  • Holy creepy “The Stand” references! (O_O)

  • First, to get the urge out of the way…

    “Just repeat to yourself,
    ‘Just let it go,’
    You should really just relax,
    For Nicolae: the Rise of the Antichriiiiist!”

    Yeah, I know it doesn’t really scan, but I’m crap at this kind of thing and it just popped into my head. I tried a couple different ways to render the last line but the normal name of the book (I think?) has the right number of syllables, at least, even if it doesn’t sound quite proper.

    Second, Rayford might almost have been sympathetic if he was stalling for as many planes present to get off the ground as possible, not just the one his wife was on. Who knows how many flights were waiting to go out, lives that could be saved by just a little time-wasting? Ah, but how many were going to possibly come in during this time, either making scheduled or emergency landings, and added to the other side of the balance sheet?

    There could be a lot of personal tension and conflict in the soul-searching (something Rayford similarly lacks the requirement to do) as he attempts to balance the incoming/outgoing numbers with the very personal concern over whether his wife is one of those outgoing. And then the personal concern is taken out of his hands before he can come to a decision as her plane takes off while he’s still dithering, leaving him sick with guilt over how much he weighed her flight over that much larger plane-load of people just now coming in for a landing…

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You’re in the middle of a goddamn genocide, and you’re mad at yourself for not being a character from a movie. But these things shape what we expect.

    On the theme: I read a paper in a medical journal a few years back in which the authors looked at the outcome of comas on tv shows, the general public’s perception of the likely outcome of comas, and reality.

    They found that in the vast majority of cases on tv, the patient recovered from comas of a week or more with no more than temporary symptoms like short term memory loss or a limp. In real life (excluding induced comas), most end badly–in death or permanent severe disability. They found that the public’s perception matched tv, not reality, to the point that medical staff had great difficulty counselling family of coma patients who expect complete recovery.

  • So Buck might simply not know what to do to help and be afraid of making it worse.

    I thought he had a personal connection to an omniscient being.

  • DavidCheatham

    For all their talk about planes and how important Ray is, why doesn’t it ever occur to LeHaye or Jenkins that Ray could simply crash his plane and take out the AntiChrist right there?

    As I’ve said before here, I’d love to see a universe where prophesy was king…and it was nearly impossible to stop it from happening.
    And, more disturbingly, if the TF did stop it, it _happened anyway_. Ray _could_ crash the plane and kill everyone, but as the anti-Christ could not have possibly have died, Ray would  wake up the next day, in bed, after having safely landing the plane.

    For less important things, they could just sorta ‘happen’ regardless of whether or not they actually ‘happened’. For example, the TF could stop the nukes, then everyone who would have died just drops dead anyway, and later everyone just talks about the nukes that went off.

    Which would, heh, be a reasonable explanation for the fact that everyone thinks Chicago  is nuked but secretly wasn’t…instead, it was _supposed_ to be nuked, so even though it actually wasn’t, everyone is somewhat confused except the TF and the anti-Christ.

    ..actually, for a bit of a hope spot, I’d make _all_ non-RTC, Nicky included, not actually notice anything wrong. Someone runs up and assassinates Nicky, only the RTCs remember this five minutes later…but not even the assassin or Nicky will. It’s part of the background satanic mind-control that _everyone_ is subject to. (And then, to change things up, once Satan gets here, he _is_ aware of what’s going on.)

    This gives a bit of hope, a question: Is there someone the heroes can do that is extreme enough to actually _divert_ events? And early one, give them something they think was diverted, but no one is every really sure.

    If a writer wants to make a universe where resistance really is futile, where there is _literally_ a known checklist of things that will happen that cannot be altered, that’s fine…but they can’t do it via the excuse of lazy writing where no one ever tries to change those things. If that _really_ is a constraint of the book, they need to _justify_ it.

  • aunursa

    Ray could crash the plane and kill everyone, but as the anti-Christ could not have possibly have died, Ray would wake up the next day, in bed, after having safely landing the plane.

    Five years before The Rapture

    Ned: Ray? Ray Steele! I thought that was you!
    Rayford: I’m sorry. Have we— uh—
    Ned: My oh my! Rayford Steele. Don’t say you don’t remember me, ’cause I sure as hell remember you. Well?
    Rayford: ???
    Ned: Ned Ryerson? Needlenose Ned? Ned the Head. Come on, buddy. We were fraternity brothers at Purdue?
    Rayford: Ned?
    Ned: I see you clicking through that brain of yours. Click-click, click-click, click-click—Bing! Ned Ryerson, did the whistling trick with my belly button in the talent show. Bing! Ned Ryerson, got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate. Bing again! Ned Ryerson, went out with your ex-girlfriend Kitty Wiley a couple of times— ’til she stopped answering my phone calls. Well?
    Rayford [resigned]: Ned Ryerson.
    Ned: Bing!
    Rayford: So what’re you doing with yourself, Ned?
    Ned: I found Jesus. I’m a born-again Christian.
    Rayford: Of course you are.
    Ned: Have you got Jesus in your heart, Ray?

  • Honestly, I bet that if movies and books didn’t exist at all, there would still be a lot of parents who blame themselves when bad things happen to their children that they are powerless to prevent.

  • Lori

      he seems to see his resources and connections as status-validation and not as tools to use to accomplish his larger mission.   

    In this sense Buck would fit right in with the Washington press corps. If L&J had made him a political reporter for the Post or something he would have kinda, sorta been believable as a character. As a globe-hopping investigative reporter he’s totally ridiculous.

  • Lori


    Well to be fair, US law does breed a culture of not helping:  

    No, it does not. In emergencies most USians will help. There are some circumstances that encourage helping and others that discourage helping, but the laws you mentioned have very little to do with it. The US really isn’t some sort of Hobbesian nightmare.

  • Lori


    There could be a lot of personal tension and conflict in the
    soul-searching (something Rayford similarly lacks the requirement to do)
    as he attempts to balance the incoming/outgoing numbers with the very
    personal concern over whether his wife is one of those outgoing.   

    I’m generally sympathetic to prioritizing one’s spouse in an emergency, but in this story it just grates. Amanda is the one and only person in this scenario who Ray knows for a fact is saved. Her death would be a personal loss for Ray (it would reduce the number of people available to lay hands on him & pray when he’s feeling blue), but in the big scheme of things that’s trivial and anyone with an ounce of decency would grasp that and act accordingly. Ray knows for a fact that the separation would be only a few years long. He also knows for a fact that dying now would not only put Amanda on the express train to heaven, it would spare her  from living through the even more horrific tribulation events that are still to come. Why would he want her to go through what he knows is coming? I know misery loves company, but damn. 

    In short, the Mrs should be the one person in SF that Ray isn’t worried about so the fact that he plays games for the sole purpose of saving her just makes me hate him more.

  • Even if he knows intellectually she’s saved, her immediate death would still probably be enough of an emotional gut-punch that it would influence his judgement. I mean, that he weighs someone he knows (and has, supposedly, fallen in love with) more than strangers is understandable, and it could be written in a light that makes it a genuine moral crisis for him. Most people can’t separate personal from important without difficulty.

    Yes, she’s saved, but people still go to doctors when they’re certain they’re saved, too. People confident in Heaven still try to hold off terminal illnesses for just one more breath. And you can know things without really feeling them, letting your feelings get the better of you. Acknowledging that bit would have almost created an interesting personal dilemma in someone better-written (or just plain better) than Ray, so I’d chalk it up as Yet Another Missed Opportunity here for L&J to actually do anything interesting at all.

  • Lori

    The thing is, people aren’t certain that they’re saved. They may believe it. They may believe it quite strongly. They aren’t certain. Ray knows it for a fact. I’d give it to him if he thought first of Amanda and had to struggle that. That fact that he never even considers the implications of her guaranteed saved status makes it really inexcusable.

  • Paul Durant

    Well to be fair, US law does breed a culture of not helping:

    If it does, it’s a good thing. You might feel heroic and righteous for stepping in to help as a bystander, but the number one piece of advice from first responders on how to deal with accidents and such is: For the love of God, stay out of the way of the people who actually know what they’re doing. If you go in to rescue someone from a dangerous situation, in all likelihood you’re just adding one more person for the actual trained professionals to have to rescue. If you try and apply first aid to a seriously wounded victim, it’s really, REALLY likely you’re just going to make it worse. (Especially if you think you have to drag the victim of a wreck out of the car before it explodes. Cars do not do that unless they are packed with explosives, and if the driver DID pack her car with explosives, she ain’t your problem.) If the EMTs are triaging the wounded and you walk up to ask how you can help, the best impact you can hope for is that one of them WON’T back into you while carrying a gurney and trip over you.

    Buck doesn’t even THINK about pitching in or about the suffering of those other people because he is an obscenely self-centered and narcissistic dick, but his selfishness did coincidentally lead him to the right course of action by not shoving his oafish hands into places they don’t belong.

  • GDwarf

     First aid in a nutshell:

    Don’t move people.
    If they aren’t breathing, CPR
    If it’s bleeding, add pressure.
    If they’re in shock, get them warm and hydrated.

    Otherwise, get them as comfortable as you can without moving them and then leave ’em be. 99 times out of 100 there’s nothing you can do beyond that.

  • I think Kindl may be discussing the fact that “Good Samaritan” laws had to be explicitly passed denying the right to sue in the event of inadvertent injury in order to quell people who would wring their hands saying they wanted to help someone but couldn’t because they didn’t want to get sued.


  • Paul Durant

    Do “Good Samaritan” laws really mean we have a “culture of not helping”? They’re more in response to people actually getting sued after incompetently rendering aid than not doing so for fear of getting sued; in a crisis situation most people act first and think later, and I’m pretty sure that action-without-thought is why so many laypeople get involved. They aren’t there to change people’s course of action to get them to help, they’re there to get people out of the consequences of the thing they do anyway. (I also don’t think a set of laws explicitly absolving people from responsibility for the things they fuck up by shoving their big incompetent mitts where they have no business being is really a good idea.)

    And the bystander effect is definitely a thing, but there’s nothing American about it, so it can’t mean America has a “culture of not helping”.

  • Lori

    Yes. My point was that when you look at actual responses to emergencies the presence of absence of those laws doesn’t really change people’s behavior. People who are going to help, help. People who are not going to help, don’t.

    There are other things, like whether there are other people present, that do have a substantial influence on behavior, but I’ve never seen any reliable data that shows that people are actually standing around just wishing they could help, but held back by the terror of being sued. They may say that after the fact to make themselves feel better about not helping, but it’s not actually what’s driving their behavior in the moment.

  • That’s not the only interpretation:


    The ground leader blamed flight control; flight control blamed the army liaison; the army blamed Nicolae’s head of security; and the head of security blamed Nicolae himself. You gotta ask him. I’m sure there’s a reason—just ask him. He’s very approachable.

    Raymond rang the door to Nicolae’s lavish chambers.

    “Come in! Come in, Raymond.”

    Raymond braced himself. He prayed for protection. And he walked through the door. His dress shoes clicked on marble. On an airplane? He grumbled inwardly. The walls, too, must have cost a fortune—they were entirely clear. They presently took in, it must be said, less than remarkable views of San Francisco International. But when we’re flying, Raymond thought, He must think he’s above it all. Like he’s flying on his own wings.

    Nicolae was leaning back in a high leather chair, smiling broadly.

    “Raymond, have you heard news of your daughter from Chicago?”
    “I… haven’t, sir.”
    “Such a shame. Such a nice city. Seeing them mourn, feeling their pain—it hurts my heart, truly.”

    Nicolae sipped a glass of champagne.

    “But you did not come to me for small talk,” he said. “What is it you need?”

    Raymond swallowed.

    “I apologize for the delay, sir. But it will take some time before we are able to take off. You see, the new crew we are taking on need to be cleared by security.”

    Raymond flipped to the next page of the crew manifest. And the next, and the next, and the next, until he felt his point was made sufficiently.

    “Sir, I don’t want to question your judgment, but is a crew of this size really necessary?”
    “Yes! Of course. Running the world is a big job, Raymond. It requires the work of many hands under my own.” Nicolae smiled. “You may return to your post.”

    Perhaps it was the curt dismissal. Perhaps it was the way Nicolae’s face had darkened, just for a moment, when Raymond asked. But he could not let go.

    “But sir! I looked up some of these people.” He flipped through the manifest. “Patrick… Rutherford? He’s a flight attendant, right out of school. This will literally be his third flight. What could you need with him? Or this one, Tracy Higgins. She’s a baggage handler. Sir, there are ground crews for that.”

    “Tracy Higgins has a wife and two teenaged children.” Nicolae’s voice grew low as Raymond’s face twisted with unease. A wife. Right. “They live in Cleveland. Tracy is visiting her parents here, and will return to them after serving with us. When San Francisco is destroyed, she will be in the air.”
    “I don’t see—”
    “Raymond, come in here. Closer.”

    Nearly against his will, Raymond stepped forward. The doors closed gently behind him, and the walls faded to an opaque burgundy.

    “Would you like to hear a story, Raymond?” Nicolae did not wait for an answer. “It is filled with intrigue and drama—and, I must warn you, despair and tragedy.

    “It is the story of a young boy, born in a small village. This boy was beautiful as only innocence can be. He was otherwise unremarkable, save for the size of his heart.

    “I do not mean this literally. The muscle in his chest beat as all others do. But he loved. He loved spectacularly and thoroughly. He helped those who were kind to him and those who were vicious. He forgave without question. So sensitive was he to suffering, he refused to play the games of other boys. He would not cut up earthworms to watch them twist and die. He would not pull the wings off butterflies. He could not bear it.

    “Do you know what happens to such a boy on the schoolground of a small village? I warned you this would not be such a happy tale.

    “And yet, the boy made it through to adulthood, somehow retaining his love and gaining very few scars where anyone could see. He forgave his bullies. He saw their anger for what it was: pain. And he vowed to help them. He vowed to help everyone.

    “He went into politics. You laugh, but it is not such a bad reason. Politicians have built schools. They have helped communities. He was not interested in power. He wanted to help. There are worse reasons to enter politics, I promise you.

    “He was very successful. He built schools and libraries, hospitals and parks. He taught the police of his village to stand as mediators, not bullies. And so his village grew peaceful, and then his province, and then his country. He was well-loved. It was not enough. He could see only the failures. All the sensitive little boys still beaten on playgrounds. All the mothers beaten by the fathers of their children. And his heart tore open for each and every one.

    “There was a policeman. A policeman from his town, his tiny town in the mountains. This policeman had been taking children in his car. He had cut them up and put them in his yard. Before this man, the boy had pardoned every criminal set to death before him. He had spoken of abolishing the death penalty entirely—barbarous, unjust, not a thing born of love but of revenge. But this man, he did not pardon. He could not. He sent him to the gallows.

    “And perhaps that is why. Or perhaps that was just—what is the expression in English? Yes, the straw on the camel. But the boy received an offer. It is not important from who. But they were wealthy. They had enormous power. Power on a scale the boy could barely comprehend. Have you ever been to Dubai, Raymond? They flew him there. The opulence of the place twisted in his brain. He had seen starving children, not days ago, and here was a city built of gold and marble. They took him to the top of the highest tower. And they whispered in his ear that he could fix it. All of it. They could give him the power to heal the world.

    “You know what they say about power. And so did the boy. He was not naïve. He had seen what power did to people. But perhaps, in that moment, the boy could not unsee the pictures of the children. Perhaps he could not unsee the video of the policeman’s body twisting on a rope. He had made himself watch. And at the top of that tower, the horizon seemed to stretch upward, and the boy thought he could see not only the city, but the whole world stretched out before him.

    “Strange, these desert illusions.

    “The boy made a decision. He would sacrifice himself. He would sacrifice himself to heal the world. You know this story, I think? The boy knew it, too. He swore to himself that when the world was fixed, when there was only love, then he could die. So the boy became the man.

    “And the man, Raymond. The man did terrible things. Worse than the boy thought himself capable of. And he enjoyed them, Raymond. That was the worst part. The part that would have turned the boy’s stomach. The man cackled with glee as millions died. Raymond, if the boy knew what was to happen, he would have flung himself through the window of that tower. But the boy was dead.

    “Or was he? Perhaps not all of him. Perhaps there is still a tiny piece of the boy inside the man. A piece which cries and wails—and yet, cannot stop. It cannot believe the things that are happening by its hand. It cannot believe the pleasure it feels from torture and death. And yet it does feel pleasure. It is torture. It is torture worse than any man could devise.

    “And yet, even through the pain, perhaps there are things the boy can do. Tiny things. The smallest victories for love. Things which cannot possibly make a difference. They cannot possibly make a difference, and perhaps that is why the man allows them. They cannot possibly make a difference, and that is why they are so important to the boy.

    “And perhaps the boy has attempted greater seditions. Has hired agents. Has brought into the closest circle people who would wish to harm the man. People who might wish to kill him. Perhaps he has given one of them control of the mouth with which he speaks to the world, and the other control of the wings with which he flies. Either could kill him in a moment.

    “And yet, the man allows it, because even in this, the boy extends his torment. For this is not the story of a great sacrifice, born of love, which saves the world. This is not a story that ends with an inglorious execution. And these people… these people…

    Nicolae leaned in close, closer. His lips were inches from Raymond’s.

    “Raymond, I love you. And I know you will never, ever betray me.”

    Nicolae sat back and looked over the crew manifest.

    “You’re right. We don’t need these people.” He drew a heavy red line over page after page after page.

    “Let us leave immediately.”
    “Sir, some of those crew have already boarded.”
    “Then send them off. Tell them they are not needed. There is no space for them here, on this plane.”

    Nicolae smiled a wide smile. He sipped his drink.

    “Your commitment to efficiency is one of the things I adore about you, Raymond. Now: go fly your fucking plane.”

  • Twig

    some character from a stupid, unrealistic feel-good movie at a time like that.

    Did we see the same movie?  I remember the movie of a father trying desperately to shield his son from horror, and I remember the scene where he discovers a man he thought was his friend has absolutely no interest in helping him escape or even cares about his plight, and the part where he carries his sleeping son and discovers the mound of corpses in the camp piled higher than he is tall and the part where he’s brutally executed at the end, though he does manage to save his son.

    Nobody has to like any movie, but I think stupid is doing it a great disservice.

  • Akili

    As a slight joke my friends and I did a quiz for Buck and Rayford for the D&D alignment. They both got Lawful Evil, which explains so much. For those who don’t know what that means:

    “A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises.”

  • Zippy

    AndrewSshi: I… don’t… think I can read any more of Fred’s exegesis of LB …. I think I’m done.

    Have faith, so to speak. Even fans admit that Books 2 & 3 & 5 are sophomore slumps compared to 1 & 4, or especially to 7, 9, and 11. Although maybe that’s a blithe reassurance given the rough patch we’re in this month.I suppose you could skip ahead to future books and then come back and ask, “where did that come from” which might be useful in Countdowns of the Next Book. Make it fun for yourself again.This series actually is quite useful in terms of evaluating how our Christian faith is being advertized as opposed to how it ought to be lived.

  • Zippy

    Maybe we could encourage Fred with something like Great Quotes of the Week. Or at least amazing quotes.


    Quote of the week:

    “I’d appreciate a good, long snooze when we get [the plane] on course.”

    (Rayford to co-pilot Mac, regarding his plans to spend the rest of the day after escaping the imminent destruction of San Francisco)

    Discus apparently hates paragraphs today. There were supposed to be paragraph breaks.

  • Zippy

    During the short time they had been together, she had proved more than
    he ever could have hoped for in a wife. It was true they were bound in a
    common cause that made them look past the insignificant and the petty,
    which seemed to get in so many other couples’ way. But he sensed she
    would never have been catty or a nag anyway. She was selfless and
    loving. She trusted him and supported him completely.

    Book 2 and everything in it would like a word with you.

  • Lliira

    But no one seemed in charge. Everyone was working.

    Those two sentences reveal a whole lot about the way Jerry Jenkins’ world works.

    It’s good to be in charge in that world, because then you don’t have to work. This is also the way Athens was set up. Women and slaves worked. Male citizen property-owners didn’t. So they could sit around and think (and rape women and slaves) all day. What a glorious way to run a society — if you’re in charge.

    Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye are in charge. Therefore Buck Williams and Rayford Steele are in charge. That’s why neither Buck nor Rayford ever do any work.

  • Steph

    Actually, if a person is unconscious and looks like they have shallow breathing, it may not be “effective breathing.”  When mom died (congested heart failure), she looked like she was breathing to me, so I did not do anything. (I didn’t know CPR at the time anyway, and, yes, 911 was called.)  I really wish I had known that about “effective breathing.”

  • GDwarf


    Actually, if a person is unconscious and looks like they have shallow
    breathing, it may not be “effective breathing.”  When mom died
    (congested heart failure), she looked like she was breathing to me, so I
    did not do anything. (I didn’t know CPR at the time anyway, and, yes,
    911 was called.)  I really wish I had known that about “effective

    Huh. I’d never heard of that, and I’ve taken a half-dozen first-aid courses. Now, part of those courses is making sure the casualty has an open airway and is in the recovery position, which might address that?

  • Münchner Kindl

     Yeah, you know what I mean – it talks about a deceiver, who is wounded and healed by the beast from the sea. (Although I guess we won’t get real beasts).

    It would be an interesting Right Behind fic, though: God has made Buck and Ray accept positions to do the right thing – Buck to spread the real message (at least Cam-Cam in the movie did something there), and Ray to make an attempt on the life of Nicky; and yet both fail to do what they are supposed to according to prophecy. Either because Nicky’s mind-mojo keeps them from it (if you posit he has magic charisma) or because their wishes to stay in a comfy position with perks fits so nicely with Nicky’s agenda that God’s voice goes unheard (a good opening for an evisceration of both characters).

  • Münchner Kindl

     I don’t consider his ego omniscient ;-)

    No, I meant force of habit – God’s guidance comes after “earnest prayer” as the strong urge to accept a comfy jobs with perks. It’s never been represented as a voice that says “This guy in the black t-shirt is about to choke on his own tongue, so overstretch his head and put him into the stabile side position. This woman in the red dress is about to bleed out in 3 minutes from the gash in her leg, so put a pressure bandage on it. You don’t know how to do a pressure bandage?? Okay, it goes like this…”

    The only source of knowledge in this series is their Scofield/ Hayes mangled version of Revelation, which doesn’t say anything beyond “there will be war”.

  • Münchner Kindl

     TV tropes has an entry on the depiction of CPR, esp. the paddles, and the perception it creates in real life  – on TV, you use the paddles and people are alive again (alternativly, punching the other persons chest and yelling “Don’t you dare die on me!” works guaranteed.)

    In real life, of course, you first need a heartbeat that’s out of whack to use the paddles at all – either from chest compression or from adrenaline injection.  Shocking a flat heart is useless and won’t bring anyone back.

    Yet some paramedics have started to use the paddles on flat-lines (= dead patients) because the relatives expect them and it would take too long/ be too complicated to explain in that stressful situation.
    Really deplorable and basic first aid courses would help people understand better. Alternativly, TV shows should show more accurate medicine.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I didn’t say it is a nightmare. There is no call to put words in my mouth.

    So do you deny that in the majority of the US states, Good samaritian laws that
    1. protect helpers from being sued
    2. actually require people to help
    do not exist?

    Do you deny that there have been quite a lot of cases where people who actually helped medically were later sued for doing it wrong? (So much that even doctors state that they will not help in an accident for fear of being sued unless they are certified for emergency medicine or are required by their state’s law to help).

    Do you deny that the majority of people don’t know basic aid because they are not required to take courses, and are afraid of doing it wrong?

    I did not make a statement about general willingness to help with general stuff. I spoke specifically about medical help. If people don’t know how to put a pressure bandage on, overstretch the neck, do CPR or anything else basic, then what should they do? If people will get heckled or in trouble simply for calling an ambulance because the injured person can’t afford it, or be sued for breaking a rib whole doing chest compression?

  • Münchner Kindl


    You might feel heroic and righteous for stepping in to help as a
    bystander, but the number one piece of advice from first responders on
    how to deal with accidents and such is: For the love of God, stay out of the way of the people who actually know what they’re doing

    Um, our paramedics who teach the first aid basic courses tell us exactly the opposite: Don’t worry about doing anything wrong, because any help is better than nothing, esp. considering that it takes only a few minutes to choke on your tongue when unconscious / bleed out from a deep cut etc.But maybe we are talking about different positions in the rescue chain. Our chain goes like this: 1. secure the accident site (to make sure of your own personal safety)2. call for help (paramedics)3. give first aid(4-6 are the professionals: paramedics and hospitals).So I’m not talking about rushing into a burning building when the firemen are already there, or pushing away paramedics. I’m talking about doing chest compression before the paramedics arrive, or simply overstretching the neck for breathing, putting people into stable positions and putting bandages on wounds.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    There are other things, like whether there are other people present, that do have a substantial influence on behavior, but I’ve never seen any reliable data that shows that people are actually standing around just wishing they could help, but held back by the terror of being sued. They may say that after the fact to make themselves feel better about not helping, but it’s not actually what’s driving their behavior in the moment.

    You’ve got your facts all wrong, Lori. As I learned from our friendly local libertarians, the fear of lawsuits is what makes life awesome in societies with no government regulation whatsoever. If the possibility of lawsuits means that unregulated companies will always provide the best possible service, surely the same applies to unregulated human beings.

  • Münchner Kindl


    but I’ve never seen any reliable data that shows that people are
    actually standing around just wishing they could help, but held back by
    the terror of being sued. They may say that after the fact to make
    themselves feel better about not helping, but it’s not actually what’s
    driving their behavior in the moment.

    I have heard it not as excuse after the fact but far more often when discussing a hypothetical after a news report about an accident. If people are already decided before not to help because they are afraid of doing it wrong, I think this is an even worse obstacle than the bystander effect.

    Even here, where first aid courses are mandatory for people who take a drivers license, most people in middle age when asked will say that they have forgotten everything and are terrible unsure and wouldn’t know what to do in an emergency (though at least calling aid is better than passing by).

  • Münchner Kindl

     I wasn’t talking about the bystander effect, which is a different problem (and is combatted differently) – though our Good Samaritian laws explicitly not only protect the helper, but also require everybody in sight to help to their best of his abilities in order to combat the bystander effect. The police doesn’t always enforce this, but in theory everybody standing around gawking could be fined for not helping, and esp. if they are so busy watching that they are blocking the way for the emergency vehicles.

    And I don’t know what you mean when you’re talking about “fucking it”, considering that people have sued very successfully for what we would consider minor inconvencies compared to saving a life. (E.g. a broken rib from chest compression – if you do it with enough force, you’re likely as layperson to break at least one rib, but this will heal over a few weeks, so better to be alive with a broken rib than dead with unbroken ones, as our paramedics teach us).

    And yes, while the bystander effect itself is universal, American culture has a specially harsh view towards other people not “being my concern” based on the political philosophy of self-help and self-reliance and people being at fault themselves for their misfortune, which is actually more pronounced in American culture than in European culture (where the view that people help each other is stronger).

  • aunursa

    Either because Nicky’s mind-mojo keeps them from it (if you posit he has magic charisma)

    It might be changed for Right Behind.  But in the Left Behind series, Rayford, Buck, and other RTCs are immune to Nicky’s mind control powers.

  • aunursa

    American culture has a specially harsh view towards other people not “being my concern” based on the political philosophy of self-help and self-reliance and people being at fault themselves for their misfortune

    Even those who preach self-help and self-reliance aren’t referring to imminent life-threatening situations.  No one suggests or understands that it’s up to the one in peril to perform CPR on himself.  (That would be left to a Monty Python-type parody.)  Or that it’s his own fault if he can’t escape a burning car. Regardless of who caused the accident.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Of course, one of the major problems with that situation is that we don’t know what exactly the “people” are actually doing, or even who those people are (besides not in charge).

    Are they civilians pulling charred corpses from the fire-zone for later identification? Or did the buildings collapse and cvilians are removing rubble with their bare hands to free trapped people?

    One or two sentences could have fixed this so easily – “Buck saw hundreds of paramedics at work, along with twens wearing Scout uniforms, uniforms of the national guards obeying orders from the technical aid corps about how to support the wreckage before digging out … Everything looked in order and controlled despite the many bleeding and wounded people. A bunch of radio reporters were gathered around an improptu command post at an intersection and repeating information about which schools to evacuate and where to volunteer for what. He was superfluos in this moment.”

    But this would require the authors to think of not-important-characters – what would happen to them after a bomb drop, how would they react, how would it look like?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Just quietly mate, coming from someone who is sick to the back teeth of American exceptionalism, cultural hegemony and lack of knowledge about the rest of the world–you really do have a tendency to lay on the America-bashing a bit thick.

  • So, I’m way behind and only just now getting to reading this.

    Rayford’s plan, crash the plane while still in range of the city forcing the city not to be bombed until such time as Nicolae could be located and evacuated (assuming he survived which Rayford hoped Nicolae wouldn’t) while Cameron used what was left of his now on the run media empire to warn people in the ten cities about to be attacked, was foiled here, described by Nicolae here, and followed by more conversation here.

    Yes, I know the stories don’t line up.  I wrote the middle one last and had apparently forgotten what I’d already covered.

    “Insurgents just took control of printing presses,” Loretta said.

    “What kind of presses?” Verna asked.


    Verna turned her attention from Loretta to who she had been talking to over Loretta’s system, “We just got a paper, no idea how long we’ll hold it for.  I want every asset in every warzone to write up an article now and have it submitted here.

    “Got it?” Pause.  “Good.”

    Verna turned to Loretta, “May I use your people.”


    Verna burst onto the main floor of New Hope, “I need everyone with any experience in print, I don’t care if it was books, magazines or your high school newspaper.  Anyone who wanted to write a scathing article about how Nicolae is the antichrist, I’m not checking credentials.

    “We have a paper and we’re in a hurry.”

    “Alice?”  Loretta asked.

    “Working,” she said, her attention focused on Bruce’s laptop.  “The encryption is heavy, the encryption is good.  He wasn’t using this for the sunday school schedule.”

    “We got a paper.”

    “Yay us,” Alice said.  Her voice was fairly flat, she was too caught up in what she was doing to show emotion, but Loretta could tell she was happy.”

    “Good luck with the computer.”

    “Good luck with the paper.”

    “Do you think the street would have become impassible before or after she passed this way?” Jane asked.

    “I don’t know,” Cameron said, his voice defeated.  The fact that Chloe could very well be dead had finally hit him.  They hadn’t seen much in the way of survivors, just deserted streets and their own voices echoing back when they called, “Chloe!” again and again.

    “Cameron,”Jane said loudly, hoping to break him out of his down state, “This matters.

    “If the street was passable when she made it here she would have taken it, meaning we have to try to get back to this street, if it wasn’t she’d have been forced to take an entirely different route.  If we can’t figure this out we’ll be looking in the wrong place.”

    “I know,” Cameron said.

    Jane started looking through the debris, and said, “Tell me about her.”

    “You’ve met her.”

    “But I’m not her husband.  Tell me about her through your eyes.”

    “What are you doing?” Cameron asked as Jane fiddled with a dead arm.

    “Looking for a broken watch.  If we can find a broken watch-”

    “We can assume the watch broke at about the same time the street became impassible.”

    “Exactly.  Now tell me about her.”

    Cameron joined Jane in searching, “She’s stubborn as a mule, assuming mules are as stubborn as people say.  She likes retelling of Homer that aren’t retellings so much as obvious homage, Joyce’s Ulysses, Walcott’s Omeros.” Cameron’s voice lifted slightly as he spoke, “Whenever she meets someone with glasses she insists on trading glasses with them briefly to compare their vision.  When she stopps laughing there’s aways one last laugh that doesn’t seem to fit but comes out anyway…”

  • Lori


    And yes, while the bystander effect itself is universal, American
    culture has a specially harsh view towards other people not “being my
    concern” based on the political philosophy of self-help and
    self-reliance and people being at fault themselves for their misfortune,
    which is actually more pronounced in American culture than in European
    culture (where the view that people help each other is stronger).   

    It’s things like this that make me wish I could remember not to read your posts.

    The US you are commenting on is not the US I live in and yet you make these statements as if they’re obvious facts. When USians do this about other country’s they are quite rightly called arrogant and “ugly Americans”. What do you think we should call it when you do it about the US?

  • Lorehead

    You’re mistaken, Münchner Kindl; America has a number of Good Samaritan laws that protect people from these lawsuits.

  • Newy stats

    or, “Now he’s poorly from too much electric!”

  • I honestly think it was a useful analogy. Anyone in the middle of a genocide is going to want to protect their kids from seeing the worst of the worst, and hate that their not able to do so. Using the movie refernce was their way of explaining what they wanted, without having to talk directly about what they dealt with.
    My friend in combat often use pop cultural references to convey what they saw and and experienced to people who have no clue. It’s one thing to say, “I climbed into a pit of bodies to hide so I could survive”- its too personal, it’s to visceral for the person saying it; it brings back the smell, the horror, every thing the want to forget- using an analogy is often their way of distancing themselves from the reality of the situation. Ie “it was like that seen in Black Hawk Down when he hid in the bodies in the mass grave.” It’s something both parties can see w/o having to be the main character.

  • Funny, my paramedic husband says the opposite; generally the best help an untrained bystander can provide is getting professionals on the scene. Other than basics of applying pressure to the wound etc, many ppl do actually do more harm than good; you’d be surprised how many ppl think a tourniquet is a great idea for minor wounds. ‘Cause they saw it on TV!
    Granted if you have skills use them, the problem is ppl who love Grays Anatomy and think that makes them an expert and don’t want to get out of the way when the pros do arrive on scene.

  • Even if a professional is doing the chest compressions there’s likely to be a broken rib… Kinda the nature of pounding on a rib cage to make a heart pump