NRA: One tough coroner

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 111-113

Chapter 6 begins with a quiet scene. Buck Williams relaxes after breakfast as he plans Sunday’s service at New Hope Village Church:

Buck sat bleary-eyed at the breakfast table, his ear stinging and his rib cage tender. Only he and Loretta were up. She was heading to the church office after having been assured she would not have to handle the arrangements for Bruce’s body or for the memorial service, which would be part of Sunday morning’s agenda. Verna Zee was asleep in a small bedroom in the finished basement. “It feels so good to have people in this place again,” Loretta said. “Y’all can stay as long as you need to or want to.”

Taken on its own, that’s a capable little portrait of ordinary life at Loretta’s house in the Chicago suburbs.

But coming after the previous five chapters, this scene is stark raving bonkers.

The previous chapters don’t allow any possibility for ordinary life in the Chicago suburbs. The previous chapters seemed to blow ordinary life to smithereens. Yet Jerry Jenkins carries on as though nothing has changed, catching readers up on all sorts of mundane details about the accommodations at Loretta’s house, the plans for Bruce’s funeral, and Buck’s joy over his new “deluxe universal cell phone.”

This is one of many places in this book where I had to stop reading and flip back to double-check what I’d read earlier to make sure I hadn’t imagined it all.

Isn’t World War III going on? The red horse of the apocalypse? And didn’t the Antichrist just destroy Chicago with nuclear weapons?

Flip flip flip. Hmmm. Yeah, it says that’s what happened. But like so many things in these books, it both happened and also didn’t happen. It’s as though everything we just read in the previous chapters was all a dream.

“We’re grateful,” Buck said. “Amanda may sleep till noon, but then she’ll get right on those arrangements with the coroner’s office. Chloe didn’t sleep much with that ankle cast. She’s dead to the world now, though, so I expect her to sleep a long time.”

Buck had used the dining-room table to put back in order all the pages from Bruce’s transcripts that had been strewn throughout the back of the Range Rover. He had a huge job ahead of him, checking the text and determining what would be best for reproduction and distribution. …

Jenkins’ tone is so blandly matter-of-fact that we can almost be lulled into following along. He seems to have so utterly forgotten World War III that its tempting to forget it ourselves.

But then we keep tripping over all the impossibilities Jenkins lays out in front of us. Such as Amanda making “arrangements with the coroner’s office.”

The coroner’s office is in downtown Chicago.

Downtown Chicago was just struck with multiple nuclear missiles.

PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to the nuclear assault on the city Tuesday, Wednesday’s regularly scheduled trash collection will be postponed until Thursday. All city and county offices will be open Wednesday. All city high schools will have a two-hour delay. Elementary schools will remain closed due to disintegration of all pupils 19 months ago.

It seems unlikely that the coroner’s office would be open today. Amanda might as well be trying to call the coroner’s office on Alderaan.

But OK, let’s try to get past that. We’ve been told that these nuclear missiles are some kind of special, non-radioactive weapon. Let’s interpret that to mean that these bombs are really small, such that maybe multiple such non-atomic atomic explosions in downtown Chicago left the coroner’s office intact.

So let’s just make a huge leap. Let’s just assume that the coroner was not killed in the attack, that the coroner’s downtown office was not damaged, that Bruce’s body was transported there without delay or incident despite the bombing, that the phone lines and power for the office continue to function as they did before the attack, that the coroner himself and all of his staff managed to make their way through all the debris and devastation to get to the building and that now, today — one day after the Antichrist’s military nuked the city of Chicago — the Cook County Office of the Medical Examiner is open for business during regular office hours.

That’s a huge leap, but we still have problems. Bruce Barnes was killed in the first brief wave of conventional bombing, in which dozens of other people also died. That single mass-casualty incident at the hospital in Arlington Heights would be enough to completely overwhelm the coroner’s staff for weeks to come. But again, that single incident was followed just hours later by the nuclear destruction of O’Hare International Airport, and then still later by the non-radioactive nuclear attack on downtown Chicago mentioned above.

So even if we make the huge leap to say that the coroner is alive, that the coroner’s office was not destroyed, and that the office is now open for business with working electricity and phones, it still seems unlikely that anyone there would be willing or able to answer those phones. They may be a little too busy dealing with the million or more casualties in the area that have occurred since Bruce died.

That context also makes everything we’re told there about “Sunday morning’s agenda” at the church seem utterly wrong.

The events that have just occurred are not the sort of thing that one should plan to address in the upcoming Sunday service. It is, rather, the sort of thing that means you need to get your butt to the church, immediately, to start coordinating all the search-and-rescue, grief-counseling, blood donation, bandage-rolling, information sharing, vigil praying, candle-lighting, food and water distributing, etc., that anyone connected with that church will and must be doing for several days without taking any breaks for Sunday services or sleep.

It simply doesn’t occur to Buck, or to the authors, that anyone from the congregation other than Bruce might have been killed in World War III. They keep reciting that bit from Revelation 6 about the horsemen of the Apocalypse now riding forth — “And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword …” — but it seems that power was not given unto them over the fourth part of New Hope Village Church.

This is partly yet another example of the authors’ general principle that non-named characters do not matter, but I think it also has to do with some weird notion that I can’t quite grasp having to do with the city and its suburbs. The effect of the nuclear strikes on Chicago seems to have confined itself to the city limits. NHVC is in the suburbs, and therefore is unscathed — not because it’s further removed from the blast radius of the attacks, but because the suburbs, by definition, cannot be harmed by an attack on downtown.

Since New Hope is a suburban congregation, Buck is not worried that anyone from the church might have been harmed in the bombing. And I suppose the suburban people of New Hope have only suburban friends and suburban relatives. So Bruce’s is the only funeral they need to worry about. And they can let those downtown, urban churches deal with the recent unpleasantness in the city itself.

Yes, yes, you’re surely thinking, enough already about the millions of people killed or injured in the bombing. What about the really important stuff? What about the phones? What happened to all those cell phones Chloe bought just before the attacks? Were they damaged in the crash?

OK, maybe you weren’t thinking that. But Jerry Jenkins seems to think we all were, so he takes pains to reassure us:

[Buck] laid out the five deluxe universal cell phones Chloe had bought. Fortunately, they had been packed in spongy foam and had survived her accident.

Phew. Countless people are dead, but the phones are OK. Better than OK — they’re deluxe.

He had told her not to scrimp, and she certainly hadn’t. He didn’t even want to guess the total price, but these phones had everything, including the ability to take calls anywhere in the world, due to a built-in satellite chip.

After Loretta left for the church, Buck rummaged for batteries, then quickly taught himself the basics from the instruction manual and tried his first phone call.

The call is to his old friend Ken Ritz, the charter pilot we met back in the first book. He hires Ritz to fly him to Israel, because now that Bruce Barnes is dead, he needs to go pick up Tsion Ben-Bruce’s replacement.

If I were Buck, I wouldn’t buy a round-trip ticket. He should have moved to Israel 18 months ago.

Tim LaHaye’s premillennial dispensationalist “Bible prophecy” timeline is cobbled together mostly from the books of Daniel and Revelation. The two books are the same genre — they’re both apocalypses — but the PMD effort to mush them together into a single narrative doesn’t really work.

Granted, one imperial tyrant who sets himself up as God is pretty much the same as any other imperial tyrant who sets himself up as God, and Daniel and Revelation are both about life under such tyrants. But Daniel is about Israel struggling under the reign of one regional empire while Revelation is about the church struggling under the reign of a global (to them) empire. Treating these two different stories about two different communities under two different empires as all one big “prophecy” produces some strange results.

Thus we get LaHaye’s timeline, in which the Antichrist establishes a one-world government, ruling over all the world with an iron fist … except for Israel. Israel can’t be part of the Antichrist’s OWG because LaHaye’s prophecy also says that Israel has to make a peace treaty with the Antichrist. The signing of this treaty, LaHaye says, marks the beginning of the seven-year “Great Tribulation.”

LaHaye says that the Antichrist will break this treaty and betray Israel exactly half-way through those seven years, but he says until that betrayal, the treaty guarantees peace and prosperity for Israel. In other words, during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation, places like Chicago will experience the tyranny of the Antichrist along with war, pestilence, famine, locusts, etc. But for those three and a half years, Israel is sitting pretty.

War may be riding forth on his red horse, but according to LaHaye’s timeline, he can’t ride forth on Israel yet — the only sovereign nation remaining in the world has got another couple of years still left on its treaty.

Buck shouldn’t be planning a quick trip to Israel, he should move there, for at least the next two years.


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  • ako

    It seems like a lot of the obsessive technical stuff comes from reading a common disaster fiction trope and fundamentally misunderstanding it.

    In survival situations, material goods can suddenly become intensely important.  A knife, a piece of rope, a cigarette lighter, a cell phone (provided the infrastructure to keep it running is still there), a decent pair of socks, all things that can assume a new level of importance, as they’re how you can survive.  So there can be really good stories where the protagonist is fixated on their equipment because they know they need it.

    L&J may have noticed that trope, but like the creators of many Mary Sues, they have decided that their protagonists 1) need the coolest stuff because it’s cool, 2) should get to be smug about how they’re more well-prepared than everyone else, and therefore smarter and better, and 3) aren’t going to show any of the genuine weakness, fallibility, and vulnerability that makes all of those random bystanders so much more sympathetic than Our Heroes.  Plus, they can’t write an effective and convincing disaster to save their life.  Combine that with the technologically-illiterate techno-porn thing and you get the inexplicable Cult of the Phone vibe.

  • Bificommander

    Oh no, Buck couldn’t move to Israel. Buck and LaHaye may love Jews, but they can’t deny the reality that Israel is filled with frothing-at-the-mouth Christ hating jews who slaughter entire families if they so much as catch a hint that the person is a Christian, as seen several chapters ago.

  • KevinC

    OK, here’s one thing I don’t get.  Isn’t it so that a great, big chunk of the appeal of Apocalypse is that once it starts, all that boring, ordinary, workaday stuff just goes away?  I mean, once the zombies are prowling the streets you can totally forget about that presentation the boss wants for Friday, and get on with collecting some shotguns and welding a big spiked bumper onto your truck and loading supplies and jerry-cans of gas into the back.  Sure, getting a can o’ beans at the grocery store is now gonna be an epic quest, and you’ll get the bejabbers scared out of you every time you hear any random sound, ’cause it could be the first of the zombie horde coming to eat you…but it sure won’t be boring!  Right?

    But not for Ellenjay’s Apocalypse, oh, no!  No matter how many nukular wars and seven-headed, ten-horned flying purple people eaters there might be, you still gotta tie your tie each morning and get to the office on time so you can pay your credit card bills, right up until The Actual Moment that Jesus Himself shows up at Armageddon.*  And what’s the most exciting and thrilling thing you can expect to experience during The End of the World?  “ZOMG, look at this new PHONE!  It’s got a 5″ screen, Siri interface, and unlimited voice and texting for just $100.00 a month!  Wooohooo!”

    I mean, doesn’t that kinda defeat the whole purpose of any Apocalyptic story? 

    Ellenjay do Walking Dead:

    “OH, GHOODDD, BUCK, HEEELP ME!” Nick cried as the walkers’ jagged yellow teeth tore into his stomach, pulling out his intestines in ropy strands.

    “Oh, hey, Nick, how’s it going?” Buck replied.  “Have you seen my new Deluxe iPrivilege Platinum phablet?” he said, pulling the new mobile from its Venetian silk holster, its platinum-plated case winking in the sun.  “Six inch screen, global coverage, unlimited calls and text, and the best battery life on the planet!”

    “Yeah, that’s totally sweet,” Nick replied.  “I wish I had one.  I can only afford the iSuburbanite Gold.  If only I was as awesome as you.  So, how’s Chloe?”

    “She’s fine.  Complains more than a woman should, but you know how it is.  It’s tough getting Timmy to soccer practice, what with the whole city gutted and overrun with walkers, even with the new Range Rover I got her.”

    “I know, right?  Emily and Becky got chomped last week, and now that Becky’s a walker, she’s having a real hard time in gymnastics.  I’m wondering if maybe I should have Emily take her out of it, because it’s hard on her self-esteem, especially after her left foot fell off.”

    “Bummer, man.  Anyway, I gotta go.  I’ve got a 5,000 manuscript about zombie physiology and prepper info to get printed out and put in binders.  I hope they’ve got big enough binders at Office Max.”

    “Sounds exciting!  Good luck, man.  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!”

    Buck smiled at his reflection in his phone’s screen as he walked away.   

    *And maybe afterward?  IIRC isn’t there mention, somewhere before or after the bit about the piles of steaming vegetables, about the even more super-awesome PHONES!!! they’ll have in God’s Glorious Kingdom?  If there’s PHONES, there’s PHONE bills, I presume. 

  • KevinC

    Addendum to Ellenjay’s Walking Dead:

    Hearing Nick’s screams, Buck shook his head, smiling.  Kinda served Nick right, really.  Buck wondered if, assuming there was enough of Nick left to join Team Z, the guy would man up as a walker enough to stop worrying about hippie crap like ‘self-esteem.’

  • KevinC

     Oops, that’s supposed to be “5,000 page manuscript.”

  • Ken

    It takes a special kind of mind to parse a passage that says “a star fell, and it was called Wormwood” – and decide that “star” is non-literal and “Wormwood” is literal.

    (Marge Simpson:  “Now when you say special…”)

  • Ken

     a nuclear war is going on and he’s raving about the fact that the Range Rover can play miniCDs

    We must entertain the idea that Buck and Rayford have been driven insane by the Tribulation events, and they are concocting fantasies in which they are heroes, with only the loosest possible connection to what is really going on around them.

    Alternatively, we must entertain the idea that LaHaye and Jenkins have been driven insane by their Tribulation theology, and they are concocting fantasies in which etc etc.

  • I think Buck’s injuries (such as they are) are from stumbling around during the actual disaster, not a consequence of Chloe’s car crash.

    And while I understand that pretty much everyone has been injured in some way, and everyone’s injuries deserve attention, shouldn’t Buck be thinking about and taking care of poor Chloe’s injuries, which are about 27 times worse than is, rather than sitting on his ass and thinking whiny thoughts about his aching ribs?

    What a man.

  • I haven’t read any other apocalyptic stories or seen many disaster movies, so I was wondering – does the action normally stop for a memorial service?

  • Kiba

    After Loretta left for the church, Buck rummaged for batteries, then quickly taught himself the basics from the instruction manual and tried his first phone call.

    Wait. He rummaged around for batteries? So these things run on Duracell? 
    Granted, I hate cell phones with a fiery passion that’s almost holy but the few that I’ve actually owned/used all came with their own batteries intact and all I had to do was plug em in and charge em up. 

  • ohiolibrarian

     Now would it be heaven if your cell phone had a bill?

  • GeniusLemur

     L&J didn’t have cell phones when they wrote it, so Buck doesn’t.

  • GeniusLemur

     He’s probably just copying the feature list from an ad.

  • GeniusLemur

     But Buck’s not a Mary Sue! He bumped his head once in book one! And he had that trouble with the patch in book two! Those are flaws at least as good as “stubborn” (even though Mary Sue is always right) and “cares about her friends too much.”

  • esmerelda_ogg

    After all, he has to be able to say that he *tried*, but he can’t take
    the risk that someone might convert after speaking to him.  That would
    deprive him of the pleasure of seeing them condemned to hell for
    believing differently than he does. – Sofia

    Thinking back, there may be something more going on. I grew up in a fundy church where it was made clear that one of our duties in order to earn our ticket into heaven (yeah, dubious theology…) was to do our very bestest to Share the Gospel with others. On the other hand, we were also told that there were a strictly limited number of spots in heaven…kind of like trying to get hired for an upper management job, where most people just aren’t going to make the cut no matter how good they are. (Or, in today’s economy, kind of like trying to get hired for any kind of job, but I’ll try to stay on the subject.)

    Now, in fairness, nobody at church ever connected those two doctrines for us. But to a teenager with a tendency to overthink things, it was pretty obvious that converting the people you know runs the risk that they might proceed to be better than you and wind up with the spot in heaven you hoped to work your way into. Since we very emphatically did not believe in purgatory, that meant that you could find yourself in hell after all. Even if you were the very strictest and pushiest and holiest little RTC you could be.

    If getting into heaven requires you to try to convert people, but successfully converting them might result in you getting squeezed out of heaven, that’s a pretty strong reason for doing an inept job of evangelizing. (And yeah, major logic fail just in the idea that God the All-knowing wouldn’t see right through you, but whaddaya gonna do?)

  • Once in awhile Buck is clumsy.

    Also, Rayford has a big flaw: sometimes he loves Jesus so much that he is snappish with his acquaintances.


  • Aren’t there supposed to be 5000 5000-page manuscripts?

  • Grogs

    I really like the idea someone mentioned upthread that Buck and Ray are just massively delusional and they’re imagining the whole thing. Ray got fired from his airline job for having an affair with Hattie, and his wife left him and took the kids. Buck got demoted and sent to Chicago because he was an incompetent reporter. These events caused a mental snap, and now they see the whole world out to get them. Then they fall in with a crazy right-wind evangelical cult, led by Bruce,  which reinforces their delusion. Ray’s wife and family leaving was the “rapture”. Nicolae is President Obama, or some other President who’s “persecuting Christians”, etc.

    Then every event in the book is a massive re-imagining of minor events seen through the lens of a massive delusion and persecution complex. Ray gets a job flying for a third-rate cargo hauler, so he imagines that he’s really piloting a super-duper secret version of Air Force One. Meanwhile, Buck is running around doing pop culture pieces, imagining that he’s really the GIRAT, covering the most important stories ever told and putting his boss in her place. The “nuclear war” was really just a small explosion triggered by a gas leak, etc. This would explain why all of the standard services like taxis, airlines, police, coroners, car dealers, etc continue to function just fine despite all of the cataclysmic events going on around them.

  • Wednesday

    Sadly, that’s only true for some providers these days.  Our phone is provided through the cable lines (along with internet), and requires the modem to be on to work. If the power goes out, we lose our phones — including 911 access.

    The company didn’t actually tell us any of this until we’d already signed the contract. And we live in Small Rural Town, so I’m not sure there’s even a competitor who offers phone service through the actual phonelines.

  • GeniusLemur

     No, Rayford’s flaw is that he once kind-sorta lusted after Hattie. He’s done with that now, but it was sex.

  • Launcifer

    I’ve been wondering: does the coroner have a name?

    It’s not Quincy, is it?

  • Oh, no! My chances of being an extra in the new version have just been severely diminished, as the filming is delayed for a couple of years due to the fighting over product placement between the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy.

  • Makabit

    Wait, that’s not a joke? I can’t tell with these books any more. The comet is made of rotted wood because it’s called “Wormwood” in Revelations?

    Absinthe. Wormwood, in English, is absinthe, artemesia, it’s not wood that’s being eaten by worms. It’s bitter. That’s why the freaking star is called…I’m seeing John beating his head against a railing on the Patmos ferry dock here, muttering to himself. Possibly while Jesus tries to comfort him with a nice glass of absinthe.

  • Also, even in Fail-Safe, the US President and the Soviet Premier only arrived at their horrible mutual compromise after realizing that any other way out meant mutual worldwide nuclear war.

    I cannot imagine L&J writing such a deep-thinking, soul-searching President.

  • Makabit

    Oh no, Buck couldn’t move to Israel. Buck and LaHaye may love Jews, but they can’t deny the reality that Israel is filled with frothing-at-the-mouth Christ hating jews who slaughter entire families if they so much as catch a hint that the person is a Christian, as seen several chapters ago.

    But surely that wouldn’t affect Our Heroes, any more than the crime wave and the whatever-kind-of-bombing-it-was of Chicago have. I mean, it would be terrible, they would be in constant fear for their lives, but at the same time, I’m sure New Hope would be entirely able to reconstruct their whole way of life in Jerusalem without anyone actually being even slightly inconvenienced.

  • So the comet should really have been a giant shaker full of Sazeracs, then?

  • Launcifer

    Would that make the apocalypse a really complicated drinking game, rather than – y’know – the end of the world?

  • End Times analysis literature from the WorldWide Church of God at least has the benefit of showing some considered analysis of the figurative aspects, and the writer of their little booklet on the subject suggested that Wormwood could mean chemical or nuclear warfare, with the subsequent poisoning of the air and the water.

  • I think there is a law that requires all cell providers to allow 911 calls even from inactive cell phones.

  • Makabit

    Heck, I think I need a couple right now. 

  • Makabit

    OK, now that makes sense, if you’re going to put Revelations in a modern setting. Something comes shining from the sky, and you can’t drink the water afterward…OK, that works. But a rotted-wood comet…it’s like a contest where you come up with the most bizarrely literal photoshop of a verse from Revelations that you can. would do something with it.

    This is not even to complain that ‘wormwood’ is pure English, and I would guess that the word in Greek has no such connotations.

  • Tricksterson

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenkins and LaHaye reject Copernican astronomy and think the stars are just bright lights fixed in a crystal sphere.

  • Not tremendously often, but they aren’t rare either. They tend to either be big emotional scenes to remind us that these people are still human and to bring the audience back to  “one death is a tragedy” from “a million deaths is a statistic” mode, or else they tend to be jarring stops that screw up the momentum of the piece.

    The fourth or so episode of ‘The Tribe’ had the main characters stop and have a big ostentatious secret funeral for the character who had until then been built up as the Big Bad. 

  • P J Evans

     Artemisia is a nice landscaping plant, too. (Most of the ‘sagebrushes’ are artemisia – it’s fragrant.)

  • Tricksterson

    I think it a given that any with question that includes the phrase “or doesn’t Jenkins know…” )or a varient thereof) this is the go to option.

  • Tricksterson

    Except Jews are a lot worse than nuclear war.

  •  My dad’s very first cell phone took 8 AAA batteries, though there was also a rechargeable battery pack available.

    Also, to see the remaining battery power, you had to press *4 (4 = GHI = Gas)

  • Jenny Islander

    Re Buck and Rayford being reality challenged: I may have posted this already before–Cammie and Ray (they hate their nicknames) are two preacher boys flying home cross country from their unaccredited Bible college.  The whole series is them LARPing through Chicago-O’Hare during a long layover, hence the easy access to fresh cookies and other conveniences and the unaffected masses of bystanders.  They constantly text and call each other on their cell phones to keep the plot going, hence the obsession with phones.  And being a couple of ignorant, arrogant preacher boys, they really, really can’t tell a decent story to save their lives.  And they can’t be bothered to check a single fact even though they can get the Internet on their phones.  Because that would be worldly.

  • Worthless Beast

    Maybe the war and the mundane events are taking place in two different dimensions?  Maybe one Chicago got bombed into obvlion, but it played like a dream or an image on a screen to people in the mundane-verse?  The bombs were holographic.  That is why everything still works.   Trying desperately here…

    I found myself complaining not long ago to a friend about a movie I’d seen… I don’t know if they ever actually explain why the electricity is still on during the Virus outbreak in “Zombieland” but it bothers me.  Bill Murray probably has a generator on his home, but the rest of the infastructure – lighted grocery stores and such weeks after most of the human race is a shambling muncher-horde — it really bothers me.  Power plants can keep on generating without people to a degree, but if “Life After People” tells me anything, it will not be for weeks.   I made sure to lampshade that very thing in a short story of mine: People were gone but everything was still running was *a part of the weirdness factor* and noted by the protagonist. 

    This stuff I’d long forgotten about in LB is like… one of those horrible continuity errors that should make common sense rise up and bite the authors in the throat.  It’s worse than leaving the lights on during the apocalypse.  I mean… nukes!

    Who edited this stuff?  I may be an unpublished peon, but the editor of this series and I need to have words.  

  • Worthless Beast

    I support your alternate interpretation of the text! 

    One could turn into a great “fan” – novel exploring the depths and sadness of insanity.  It might even make the protagonists sympathetic, being that they are overwhelmed men whose minds are spiraling into the abyss.

  • Lori

    I haven’t read any other apocalyptic stories or seen many disaster movies, so I was wondering – does the action normally stop for a
    memorial service?  

    Yes, but…

    You know where this is going. In the hands of better writers the memorial service for the fallen shows the survivors hanging onto their humanity  in spite of their situation, pausing to feel (or at least try to feel) one piece of the horrible loss they’ve experienced. Either that or, as others have suggested, it shows that folks have basically lost their shit and are doing normal things because they can’t process the total lack of normality in their lives.

    This is the first time I’ve ever seen a mid-apocalypse funeral described as just another item on the Sunday service agenda. (And who has an agenda for Sunday service any way?)

  • Worthless Beast

    Ffft.  Everyone knows that they’re fireflies.  They’re fireflies that got stuck up in the big, bluish-black thing.

  • Mouse

    I recently rewatched the British film “Threads” and right now, I really want to tie Ellanjay up and force them to watch it and shout, “See that’s what happens in a nuclear war, you idiots!”

    Oh and aunursa, thanks for the plug.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wouldn’t say ‘agenda’, but ‘order of service’ or some such? Like, for Catholics, opening hymn and procession, Old Testament reading, New Testament reading, Gospel reading, etc etc etc.

  • P J Evans

     I’ve never seen a funeral, or even a memorial, held as part of a Sunday service. Baptisms,yes. Even a wedding, once (and the minister said he wouldn’t do it again, because it was so hard to fit in).

  • The frustrating thing is how close to workable the text is in spots. These scenes nearly work; to make them work requires only the slightest of changes…


    Buck sat bleary-eyed at the breakfast table. An empty coffee cup sat by his elbow, and the orange juice he was drinking was not an effective substitute. Buck had tried using the coffee maker before realizing the power was still out. Then he had tried making hot water for tea before realizing the gas was out as well. The only bright spot Buck could see to all of this was figuring it out before he tried to take a hot shower. 

    Amanda was supposed to co-ordinate with Loretta for Bruce’s memorial service. The original plans, involving coroners and a viewing of the body and a traditional ceremony were blown to smithereens by yesterday’s bombing just as effectively as the rest of Chicago was. But Bruce’s death could still mean something, could still be a call to the members of the church to pass along Bruce’s wisdom, his warnings, and his lessons. 

    Buck fought back tears. Bruce tried to be a good pastor, a good shepherd to his flock, but his own failings, the very fact that he had been left behind, burdened him with a terrible doubt that cast a shadow over everything else. Bruce believed he had solved the riddle of the End of Days, thought he had discovered the identity of the Antichrist and the timeline for the Seven Seals. The evidence, the scripture, and the logic were all laid out in his writings. But so was his doubt. 

    Bruce feared to preach these truths, feared that just as he was wrong about his salvation before, he was wrong about God’s plan now. To speak of false prophets and falling stars could just as easily drive people away from the Word. Preaching of the coming of the four horsemen was a sermon of despair and doom at a time when Bruce felt his church needed hope. That was the real story of Bruce’s notes: a search for hope as a flight from doubt, with neither discovery nor escape. 

    Buck squared his shoulders. Bruce had been searching, looking for something that would confirm his beliefs, would show that his timeline of Armageddon was true, and in a cruel twist, the proof had happened mere hours after his own passing. Buck felt shame at the silence Bruce had kept, the knowledge Bruce withheld from the congregation, and  his own complicity in it. The secrecy would end, and Bruce’s final message to his people would be delivered at his own memorial, a fitting capstone to his work. 

  • Lori

    Order of service I get. Agenda, not so much. And it’s not like “funeral” is a common entry on the order of service. L&J are just weird.

  •  This is not even to complain that ‘wormwood’ is pure English, and I would guess that the word in Greek has no such connotations.

    Remember that the Greek text is merely an inaccurate translation of the One True Version of the Bible, which was given by God to the KJV committee in 1611.

  • KevinC

     What, you think Heaven is gonna be some kinda socialist hippie paradise where everybody gets free stuff?!  No doubt it’ll all come out of the pockets of the hard working Job Creators(tm), right?  And I bet you guys think there won’t be any guns there either!  Man, Bill O’Reilly and Mitt Romney are totally right about you 47%’ers!  ‘Scuse me, I got some pearls to clutch! 


  • EllieMurasaki

    What, you think Heaven is gonna be some kinda socialist hippie paradise where everybody gets free stuff?!

    Wait, hold up.

    Can somebody explain the concept of ‘heaven’ as understood by various Christian denominations to me? Because the too-long-let-me-sum-up version as I understand it is that the book lover’s heaven is a colossal library.
    Not a colossal bookstore.