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.

  • Tricksterson

    And a hyphen.  Don’t forget the poor hyphen.

  • Tricksterson

    Is stalker behavior stalkery if the object of obssession welcomes it?  I’ve only read the first book but it seems like she stalks him almost as much as he does her.

  • Tricksterson

    “just imagine everybody in San Francisco as the “47%” “51.2%””

  • Kiba

    I had a gerbil that used to try to run the cats over when she was in the ball. 

    I had a gerbil that did that too. There was one cat, my black and white, that he avoided though. The first time he tried to run her over with his little plastic bubble of protection she just looked at him, then gave the ball one hard smack and sent him spinning across the room. After that when he was put in his ball and he saw her come into the room he beat feet in the other direction. 

  • Jessica_R

    I think it’s very telling that Buck doesn’t see someone standing around doing nothing and therefore assumes there’s nobody there important enough to be worthy to talk to him. Putz. 

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

    I still boggle at the part where Buck actually calls the car dealership back up and talks about “buyer’s remorse” when Chicago just got blasted to hell and gone. :O

  • Kiba

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic but it looks like the BBC is going to make a six part adaptation of Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/bbc-one-commissions-nov.html

    So maybe Fred has something to look forward to as he tirelessly slogs through this dreck. 

  • Paul Durant

    “Nicolae is so confident and/or powerful he doesn’t need to think about personal security” would be something that illustrates his character, so it’s totally out of bounds for the book named for him.

    A lot has been said about the horrible failings of Buck and Ray as characters, but honestly, you could say just as much about the authors’ total and abject failure to provide anything interesting about their villain. He doesn’t have a motivation, he doesn’t have a personality for crying out loud! Nothing he does makes sense and nothing he does provides any reason to give a shit about him. 

    A common failing of zealots across any political spectrum is that they just aren’t able to imagine how or why anyone could think differently than they do, so they imagine ridiculous supposed motivations for why people would oppose them (usually “because they are evil and wicked and hate this self-evidently good thing I align myself with”) that just prove themselves even more right. You see this everywhere — when zealots try to figure out what an opponent might say, they come up with bizarre nonsense that sounds totally unlike anything a human being has ever argued for. LHJ can’t come up with a “cunning” or “charming” Devil figure who sways people from the path of Real True Christianity with his silver tongue, because they are incapable of envisioning why anyone would be swayed from Real True Christianity.

    But hey, they’re writing the Antichrist. They have ample excuse to make him ludicrously evil and over the top, saying things no person would ever say, because he’s the definition of evil. And they can’t even do that! They can’t make him intimidating, overpowering, or flat-out batshit. If you put an unhinged character like Greg Stillson from The Dead Zone in his place (and if ever there was a “flash fiction writers, get on this” it’s now), you could explain all his illogical plans as “he’s just that fucking wappo but he has power because when people are told what they want to hear they don’t care if the person saying it is clearly foaming at the mouth insane”. But that would take effort. That would be a memorable character with presence. Nicolae is a cardboard standee. 

    LHJ don’t understand the book of Revelation, for reasons already covered. I don’t think that’s a limited patch of blindness. They don’t understand what a story is at all. They think every story is the same thing as what they see in Revelation: just a checklist of events to go through. They put all this mental effort into constructing this “Biblical prophecy scheme” and never thought for  single second about WHY any character involved did any of the things they were supposed to do. They don’t just lack the ability to imagine the mental state of others not like them, they’ve forgotten those people even have mental states. Nicolae does the things he does because the story requires him to do them, and he doesn’t have a personality because LHJ don’t see “personality” on any checklist. 

  • Mrs Grimble

    In that film, the newspaper building scenes were shot inside a real newspaper building (the Daily Express), with the paper’s real-life editor playing a major role as the fictional editor.  So although the science was hokey (atomic bomb explosions knock the Earth out of orbit), the depiction of journalism was pretty accurate and the journalists were perforce heroic.

  • Deborah Moore

    It bears repeating.  LaHaye served on a conventional bomber during WWII and presumably based the bombing sequences on his own experiences.  He obviously has no conception just how different a nuclear bomb is.

  • Fusina

     My gerbil held grudges. The cat she was trying to run over had done that at least once. Well, it was that or she liked roller coasters. And she didn’t seem to get dizzy either. One time when he smacked the ball, she went for him as soon as she got control back.

  • Anon Mouse

    *sigh*  Nuked-but-not-irradiated?  You really need to get your nuclear weapons information from some place other than bad movies.  It’s trivially possible to nuke a city while holding radiation to a minimum -  that’s precisely what the “airburst” setting on a bomb’s fuse is *for*.

    As I’ve said before, don’t take L&J to task for getting stuff wrong if you can’t be bothered to get off your ass and get it right yourself.

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

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 259 pages

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    He also doesn’t seem to realize that any large-scale bombing campaign will disrupt life in a major city. Did he not understand why air forces bombed enemy countries? Or maybe he just didn’t share his experiences with Jenkins and just told him to read Wikipedia summaries of Tom Clancy novels for inspiration instead.

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

    Just imagine everybody in San Francisco as the “47%.” I’m pretty sure LaJenkins do. Then it’s easy to feel like nothing of value would be lost. They’re not people. They’re gays and moochers.

    Yeah, nobody need imagine for a moment that LaJenkins feel any sympathy for the residents of San Francisco.  Jenkins (on his own) made San Francisco the setting for an atheists-massacre-Christians scene in the dystopian Atheistopia of Soon.

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/soon-chapter-5-frisco/

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/soon-chapter-6-the-raid/

  • Lori

    Have you read the previous installments and the comments on them? Did you see the description, such as it was, of the attacks on Chicago? Do you think it’s consistent with nuclear bombs with their fuses on “airburst”? Did you read the description, such as it was, of how people are responding to the attack? Does it seem to you to be consistent with even minimal radiation?

    L&J pretty clearly did no research. They called the attack nuclear because nukes are the worestest thing ever and obviously that’s what the anti-Christ would do, but they treated it like a conventional bombing attack straight out of a WW II movie. That fact that Fred shorthands that by saying “nuked-but-not-irradiated” doesn’t make Fred lazy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I like the photo of Carpathia though. “I don’t need to try to control you! Look into my eyes and I’ll own you!”

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

    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.

    Why does it only occur to him to ask questions of the people “in charge”?  I know, I know, authoritarian jerk, but c’mon, Buckster.  You can’t get a good quote from someone who’s working disaster relief?  Jesus.

    Also, the tone of this makes it sound like a bad thing that no one seemed to be in charge.  But isn’t this a good thing?  Everyone is working.  Yet Buck seems to want some man (of course a man is in charge) holding a clipboard and a bullhorn and yelling at people to do what they’re already doing.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    It bears repeating.  LaHaye served on a conventional bomber during WWII
    and presumably based the bombing sequences on his own experiences.  He
    obviously has no conception just how different a nuclear bomb is.

    I am fairly sure that even back in WWII, when a town got bombed, they closed the car dealerships.

  • GeniusLemur

     I recall a guy a lot more emotional and compassionate than Rayford in a similar situation. The conclusion he came to was “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one.”

  • Lori

    Having people working with no one in charge can be a bad thing. For example,  if people aren’t prioritizing their efforts in a sensible way or they’re working at cross-purposes and unintentionally undermining each other’s efforts.

    Obviously there’s no indication in the passage that that’s the case. People are working, L&J don’t say anything to indicate that they’re not doing fine, but the absence of a boss is kryptonite to Buck’s GRAT powers. Apparently any situation in which there is no clear man in charge is just bad. Results don’t matter, only authority matters.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

     The impression you’re creating with this is wrong, although there’s a grain of truth in the detail. Nuclear detonations at altitude still generate radiation. It is true that airburst detonations minimize radioactive fallout, but they do not generate no radiation as L&J have depicted.

    Hiroshima was bombed with a weapon set to detonate about 2,000 ft above ground level. Radiation casualties from the bomb at Hiroshima are on the order of 70,000 to 90,000 deaths, whereas the immediate blast effects of the bomb killed about 70-80,000 people.

    In general, the higher the airburst (the farther away the bomb goes off) and the less radiation people on the ground will be exposed to, and especially airburst detonations minimize fallout by not throwing up chunks of dirt and debris that are irradiated into the atmosphere. But the bad news is that airbursts at low enough altitude to destroy a city, still generate a lot of casualties from radiation, in the case of Hiroshima, over 50%.

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

    The lulziest part is where Chicago becomes all, like, special because it’s fake nuked, because nobody can tell if the radiation readings are real. *rolls eyes*

    Cue the STRONG BUILDING and 50 SUVs gassed up and ready to go.

  • GeniusLemur

     I’m also sure that it was well-known in WWII that people being bombed take cover instead of climbing onto car roofs to watch.

  • P J Evans

     Yes, and I’d trust him in an emergency, or a desperate situation. (He ha a better sense of humor than Ray, too.)

  • Jenny Islander

    If Buck bellowed, “Who’s in charge here?” and the dirties, sweatiest person there stood up from whatever he/she was stooping over and said, “I am,” Buck wouldn’t believe it.  You can’t be in authority without a crisp off-the-rack suit and a tie!  The little people grub around in the wreckage.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZNNUWEXUPQUQAYGBFDHTEIJBUI Joshua

     I think Buck would probably ignore any “she” that stood up, even if she was sitting in a plush office adorned in all the trappings of wealth.

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

    Given the way he treats Verna, it’s even money he’d kick a door in her face.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    You can’t get a good quote from someone who’s working disaster relief?

    This is Buck. The quotes he’d get are all “If you’re not going to help, get out of the way.”

  • Bruce

    ‘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.’
    It seems to be hard for LaHaye/Jenkins to imagine that.  Then again, it seems to me that they see mechanics, flight line personnel, and other miscellaneous airport staff as The Help, and not *real human beings*..

  • Bruce

    As for Buck’s concern with endangering his job and all the perquisites that come with it, my thought all along, every time it’s been mentioned, is that he seems to see his resources and connections as status-validation and not as tools to use to accomplish his larger mission.  Which doesn’t sound at all like Hero-thinking to me .. it sounds more like Entitled-Person-Acting-Out-Hero-Fantasy thinking.  The former is actually useful and meets challenges .. the latter is worse than useless.  And as much of a recurring theme as it is in this story, it seems to be a window into how LaHaye and Jenkins think more than a plot device.  Real heroes in situations like this use everything they have at their disposal to accomplish what needs to be done, and if they burn bridges or break connections or make use-once resources unavailable, they simply think strategically about how best to burn up those use-once resources to get the most benefit out of them.  Publish the 5600-page special edition and put the message that needs to go out in front of thousands or millions of readers, and let the cat so far out of the bag that there’s no getting it back in?  Dive Global Community One into a field in Pennsylvania and take Nicolae out for good?  Absolutely, no regrets.  These people think like rich entitled cowards.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Hang on. Since when has the Daily Express been a real newspaper?

    TRiG.

  • Jurgan

    You have to think about what’s at stake.  The fate of the world is not at stake, because it’s already been decided.  The only thing at stake is how many people get saved with it.  As such, the only heroic thing they could do is spread the word and try to save as many souls as possible, even at the cost of their lives.  Of course, they don’t, because that would be hard.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Actually, if we go by how much time Buck spends thinking and talking about each day (that parts of his day we readers see) than Nicky is the center of his life, along with how great a journalist he is, and how frustrating it is to be not able to report on this, but how nice the perks are.

    Do we ever see him thinking about Chloe when he’s not searching for her after the telephone was interrupted.

  • Münchner Kindl

    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.

    I thought what the authors were clumsily trying to say is that Buck is so stunned by the devastation and disaster around him (injured people, crashed cars), that he can’t think coherently enough to write down.

    The problem is the preceding part Fred quoted about there being no one in charge to ask, because everybody is busy; and that somebody in the business for 5 years (or how long it was) should be in the habit of composing articles in his head automatically. After all, in the 1st or 2nd book we were told about how globe-trotting and used to major events Buck is, so he should be able to cope even with a major disaster.

  • Münchner Kindl

    And, since they all believe Christ will defeat Nicolae and redeem the world in the end anyway,
    what’s the risk dying heroically?  Aren’t they already, technically,
    saved?  Their tickets to eternal paradise are already stamped.

    Which is why there passivity is doubly horribly: they know with surety that they won’t suffer long – but everybody else they don’t lift a hand to save will end up in hell.

    And the really infuriating thing is the insistence on “events are prophesied = we can’t change them” when most parts are not prophesied. The characters know that a war will happen – even without the Bible they know because Fitz told Buck – and that the Antichrist will win. (In Revelation, IIRC it only says war will be waged, not who will win, but JLIG).
    But they don’t know which cities will be destroyed- two or 10 or 100? They don’t know how many people will die – 1 000 or 1 million? And they don’t know who will die (besides Chloe, maybe) – John Smith, who’s a saved Christian, or Henry Miller, who’s unsaved? They could do heroic things and still accept the prophecy of grand schemes.

    It’s really aggravating.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Showing flawed characters doing the right thing for the wrong reasons
    could give an insight into the human thought process, giving us
    glimpses into our own flaws and how we overcome them.

    Could that work out, or am I thinking way too artsy for this garbage?

    This would be a very interesting story. Esp. if you have (you would probably need) a few other protagonists who are idealistic yet clever enough to see the egoism and manipulate the anti-heroes into doing good.

    As Tv tropes says, Good is not nice – see Prof Snape in the Potterverse, or Granny Weatherwax in Discworld. And “the opposite of meaning well is doing good”, so this could be used to show why intentions are less important than actions: by having a naive, “good” character who ends up causing lots of bad things because of his lack of knowledge; egoistic anti-heroes, who end up doing good for selfish reasons; and idealistic smart heroes who manipulate them or simply convince them why helping people is smart long-term.

    Yes, very interesting, and also plausible because you can find dozens of cases for each type in history.

    My first example I always think of is Bismarck: he hated social democrats, so he passed two major laws: one forbidding all socialists including social democrats (which was bad); and the other starting social insurance (for health, old age pensions and later accidents). Why? Because circumstances for workers were terrible, and he realized that by removing legitimate grievances, people would be less attracted by the social democrats and be thankful for getting their basic needs granted. Whereas if their complaints were ignored by the govt. and the employers and no help available, the workers were more likely to push for revolution. So bad intentions => good work; helping people = self-interest long term. (Screwing people and enviroment over is always done by people too stupid to think long-term, as every research shows.)

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    I have a vague memory of a news report of a disaster with an eyewitness
    account where the person said like “it was like a scene from a movie”.
    If the only exposure you have to natural disasters are action films,
    then disasters are no longer things that destroy property or harm
    people, they become things that you observe.

    Of course, that’s one of the many things a first-worlder takes so much for granted they don’t stop to think about: we don’t experience catastrophes first-hand any more. (unless natural catastrophes like Sandy and Katrina, but then only if you live in certain areas).

    It’s a good thing of course we don’t experience them firsthand, only from TV or reports by aid workers or stories from our parents and grandparents about how WWII and the years after were like for civilians.

    But on the other hand, it is one step of removal to empathy. A normal person will of course consciously take that step and remind themselves that the suffering are people.

    Buck is on a street crowded with EMTs and injured people, and he’s not
    even considering helping anyone. Why? Because this is Rapture business!

    Well to be fair, US law does breed a culture of not helping:
    1. People are not required to take a first aid course for their drivers license, so most people don’t know any basic help
    2. While some states do have Samaritian laws, in many other states people who help and do wrong can be sued later.

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

    Also, it’s a dilemma that serious journalists (those who actually do write reports) face every time they are in an emergency situation: stand around and report – because their news will affect 100 000s of viewers, who can then spend money or send technical aid corps/ red cross etc.
    or pitch in and help.

    Many good reporters couldn’t cope with this and committed suicide for not doing more. (TV tropes has a page listing real life examples).

  • Münchner Kindl

    Bravo! That’s a hero.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    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?

    Ray either thought or will think shortly of crashing, but dismiss it because Prophecy says the Anti-Christ will rise again anyway.

    Again, this is stupid: The biblical text doesn’t say anything about how or when the Anti-Christ will be killed and then rise (or how long a resting period he needs) so maybe God put Ray in the position of pilot because Ray was meant to try and kill Nicky according to scripture.

    But that thought never occurs. Prophecy = sit passivly and watch is the only thing the authors can grasp.

  • Makabit

    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?

    This is the recurrent thought everyone seems to have, (me too). The only two things I can assume are:

    1. Possibly that wouldn’t stop Nicolae. (“Um Jack, I’m pretty sure President Johnson is dead.” “That wouldn’t stop Lyndon!!”) Nicolae is, it seems, rather more than human. Perhaps a plane crash would kill everyone on board, but Nicolae would miraculously walk away from the crash, to even greater public acclaim. But if that’s true, it should be explicitly acknowledged as their problem–no assassination attempt will rid them of this man.

    2. I don’t know evangelical culture, but is it possible that fear of damnation for the suicide/murder of the people on board who are not Nicolae would keep Rayford from doing this? It’s still not the greatest excuse–Huck Finn, after all, who was just a kid, had the guts to say “All right, I’ll GO to hell!” But it might explain the thought process.

    Other than that, I got nothing. 

  • Münchner Kindl

    LaHaye served on a conventional bomber during WWII and presumably based
    the bombing sequences on his own experiences.  He obviously has no
    conception just how different a nuclear bomb is.

    1. This could explain why everybody is observing – bombers are far removed from the consequences of war and their personal actions. They just press a button. There was a MASH ep. where Hawkeye treats a child injured by bombs and a visiting bomber pilot is upset and tries to find out if it was “our or their bomb”; Hawkeye blows up at him and tells him it doesn’t matter to the hurt child.

    2. We could postulate that the existing real resistance – contacted by Fitz after Buck was a dead end? – removed the nuclear warheads from the bombs so “only” the normal effect would be felt.

    Alternativly, Nicky removed them, because he didn’t want to make the cities uninhabitable for long.

    After all, he knows what’s going to happen, and has no real motivations of his own, so his actions can flip-flop as much as necessary.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Yet Buck seems to want some man (of course a man is in charge) holding a clipboard and a bullhorn and yelling at people to do what they’re already doing.

    To be fair, in the hands of better writers, this would be a hint of research: whether it’s a big fire, or the aftermath of Sandy, you’ll see real reporters talking to either the chief of firebrigade / a coordinator for disaster relief, or their official press coordination.

    That’s because an emergency needs not only people on the ground doing the work right now, but one guy at least who coordinates: who knows how many bandages and blood plasma are necessary for the wounded; which hospital is standing but full and which ones are still open; that 20 blocks to the south are school gyms that can be used as shelters; where gas mains have been turned off to prevent explosions, so cooking isn’t possible; where a water pipe has burst, so no drinking water and then reroute everybody into another area etc. etc.

    But yeah, with Buck, it’s simply authorianism.

  • Makabit

    I have a vague memory of a news report of a disaster with an eyewitness account where the person said like “it was like a scene from a movie”. 
    If the only exposure you have to natural disasters are action films, 
    then disasters are no longer things that destroy property or harm 
    people, they become things that you observe.

    I remember reading a story out of Bosnia, back in the 90s, where a reporter commented that a few different parents had told her that they felt guilty for not having been able to protect their kids from knowing what was going on–like the guy in “Life is Beautiful” did. 

    That just killed me. 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.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    “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.”

    I came across this heartwarming little nugget while crusing the nutcase lair yesterday. 
     
    “Men fight and die for their families, not something called society.”  http://www.grasstopsusa.com/df112912.html

    Does go a long way to explaining how those who imagine everyone but themselves to be helpless cowards can at the same time be so obsessively fearful of everyone but themselves.  One needs to be threatened before he can fight like a man is supposed to after all. 

  • Paul Durant

    He also doesn’t seem to realize that any large-scale bombing campaign will disrupt life in a major city.

    His Biblical Prophecy Checklist says that the major cities will be nuked (from his pure literal interpretation, of course!). Does the Checklist say that life will be disrupted? No, therefore, it won’t happen.

  • fraser

     Brain Wave ain’t great, but I didn’t find it exceptionally bad, either.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle have written books with some superficial similarities to L&J –  global catastrophes that somehow manage to stay US-centric, the only people who can save the world are fiercely independent ordinary citizens, the authors’ agendas are as subtle as a brick to the head – but what lifts their writing above the likes of “Left Behind” is that they make their minor characters real. (That, and the ordinary citizens actually do something to save the world.)

    They even have a reporter in one book; one chapter consists entirely of short excerpts of the reporter’s interviews with ordinary people and how they’re reacting to the crisis.

    N&P would have no trouble writing about the airplane mechanic’s crisis of conscience.

  • Münchner Kindl

     To be fair, that’s not the fault of the movies. A hundred years ago, people’s conceptions were shaped by books and by legends. In WWI, young men marched off singing because they believed the stories that war was noble and would make men out of them. The parents in this story might have compared themselves to other legendary heroes who managed to save their children instead of a movie.

    Yes, movies and literature influences the perceptions, morals and beliefs of society, but it also goes the other way: changing beliefs and morals of society are reflected in movies and shows.

  • Makabit

    True, other media couldand have similar effects. But movies are a major one in the past few generations, and…it just broke me up that people would compare themselves unfavorably to some character from a stupid, unrealistic feel-good movie at a time like that.


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