NRA: A lesson for the ladies

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 153-156

It’s Hattie Durham’s turn in the spotlight. Here in the middle of the third book of this series, the authors are taking time to reintroduce several of their peripheral characters, reviewing and revisiting their roles and histories in multi-page flashbacks.

Hattie’s Official Character Summary in these pages comes through the point-of-view of Rayford Steele, which echoes back to how we originally met her, through Rayford’s eyes, in the opening sentences of the first book:

Rayford Steele’s mind was on a woman he had never touched. With his fully loaded 747 on autopilot above the Atlantic en route to a 6 a.m. landing at Heathrow, Rayford had pushed from his mind thoughts of his family.

Over spring break he would spend time with his wife and 12-year-old son. Their daughter would be home from college, too. But for now, with his first officer fighting sleep, Rayford imagined Hattie Durham’s smile and looked forward to their next meeting.

Hattie was Rayford’s senior flight attendant. …

She was, from the opening page, defined by her relationship to Rayford and by her effect on Rayford. But this is never reciprocal. “Hattie was Rayford’s senior flight attendant,” but Rayford is not Hattie’s pilot. The possessives, like Hattie, belong only to him. Hattie is portrayed as the temptress distracting Rayford from his family, but he is not portrayed as the married man stringing her along.

For a brief instant in that first book it seemed like this might lead to something interesting. During the initial panic of the Rapture, we meet Hattie again from Buck Williams’ point of view and she’s nothing like the home-wrecking hussy Rayford described. Buck actually seems impressed with her as she struggles to maintain order and her composure in the face of a disturbing, bewildering crisis.

It seemed like the authors might be signaling that Rayford’s perception of Hattie was unreliable — distorted, unfair. It seemed that maybe they were suggesting that there was more to this woman than what the narcissistic pilot was able to see.

Alas, though, it soon became clear that such subtleties are not part of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ approach to storytelling. In their view, it was Buck who was mistaken about Hattie when he first met her. He couldn’t understand her, the authors suggest, because he did not yet know Rayford, and Hattie is defined by Rayford. She is “Rayford’s.”

The multi-page reintroduction and review of Hattie’s story here could have been a chance to shift away from this awful, reductionist portrayal of Hattie Durham. LaHaye and Jenkins might have softened that a bit in the retelling, or suggested perhaps that both Rayford and Hattie have grown since we first met them at the beginning of the story. But instead the authors double down, reinforcing the worst aspects of their Hattie-hatred by repeating it all in concentrated form. Once again we see that she is defined by Rayford Steele. She is the “other woman,” and nothing more.

The scene starts with what I think is meant to be a piece of advice for godly married men. Rayford wakes up in his New Babylon palace quarters and prepares to meet Hattie for dinner:

He certainly didn’t intend to stay out long with Hattie Durham. He dressed casually, just barely presentable enough for a place like Global Bistro, where Hattie and Nicolae were often seen.

As a good Christian married man, it is imperative that Rayford not create the wrong impression for Hattie or for anyone else who may be watching. By appearing “just barely presentable,” he clearly signals his disdain for her so no one gets the wrong idea and Rayford doesn’t jeopardize his good Christian witness. It’s fine that the entire world knows him to be a loyal servant of the Antichrist, but he can’t have anyone suspecting he might be an adulterer.

Due to his eavesdropping on the plane, Rayford knows Hattie is no longer officially the “personal assistant” of the Antichrist/potentate, and he assumes this demotion is what she wants to talk with him about:

He would have to let her play the story out with all her characteristic emotion and angst.

Re-encountering the condescension and contemptuousness toward Hattie in this section, my initial thought was that someone should have reminded LaHaye and Jenkins that women would be reading their book too.

Women, after all, make up a big chunk of the audience for Christian-brand fiction. Just from a marketing perspective, it seems like a bad idea to alienate so many potential readers with dismissive caricatures. Most of this section has the awkward tone of those “you know how women are” jokes told at men’s prayer breakfasts — the kind of thing some men say about women when they’re sure that no women are listening. So why didn’t the authors realize that women are listening to this passage?

But then it hit me. The authors haven’t forgotten about their women readers. This passage is intended for those readers. It’s directed toward them. This whole survey and summary of Hattie’s history is meant to be a lesson for the ladies.

He would have to let her play the story out with all her characteristic emotion and angst. He didn’t mind. He owed her that much. He still felt guilty about where she was, both geographically and in her life. It didn’t seem that long ago that she had been the object of his lust.

Rayford had never acted on it, of course, but it was Hattie whom he was thinking of the night of the Rapture. How could he have been so deaf, so blind, so out of touch with reality? A successful professional man, married more than 20 years with a college-age daughter and a 12-year-old son, daydreaming about his senior flight attendant and justifying it because his wife had been on a religious kick! He shook his head. Irene, the lovely little woman he had for so long taken for granted …

Write this down ladies. These are your options: Hattie or Irene. You can be an “object of lust” or you can be a “lovely little woman.” You can be a wanton floozy working for a living and leading good men astray, or you can be a mother and a homemaker who has her priorities straight.

Hattie was 15 years his junior, and she was a knockout. Though they had enjoyed dinner together a few times and drinks several times, and despite the silent language of the body and the eyes, Rayford had never so much as touched her. It had not been beyond Hattie to grab his arm as she brushed past him or even to put her hands on his shoulders when speaking to him in the cockpit, but Rayford had somehow kept from letting things go further.

Remember, ladies: No touching! Irene was allowed to touch Rayford, but that was only because she was prepared to bear his children.

The responsibility to ensure that no touching occurs is entirely yours, ladies. That’s why the authors can say that Rayford never touched Hattie even when she touched him. And why Rayford’s “necking session” at an office Christmas party doesn’t count against his spotless record and his claim that he “of course” had “never acted” in response to the wiles of these seductresses. (If Rayford had groped Hattie, you get the sense the authors would have described it by saying, “It had not been beyond Hattie to press her breast into his outstretched hand as she brushed past him.”)

Rayford reminisces a bit more about the awkward dinner at which he had attempted to convert Hattie to the Rapture Gospel after awkwardly attempting to apologize — and to demand/receive an apology from her — for their prolonged non-affair of “the silent language of the body and the eyes.”

And here is the final lesson for you ladies: If any untoward touching, glances or body language occurs, you must forgive without qualification and you must apologize for your role in provoking it. And you should probably also apologize to the man you’re forgiving for allowing him to place himself in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for your forgiveness.

Rayford and the authors again lament Hattie’s failure to embrace the One True Gospel as it was presented to her in Rayford’s “earnest and focused” proselytizing. And they again attribute her rejection of this gospel to her willful hardness of heart and not to the horrifying context of having to sit through a passive-aggressive sermon from a creepy old married guy.

Less than two years later, Hattie was the personal assistant and lover of Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist. Rayford, Buck, and Chloe were believers in Christ.

So let that be a lesson to you all.

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  • purplekitte

    First?

    Poor Hattie. Her own flashback section is still about Rayford. Mostly about how bad a person he is, of course.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Bleh. This comment was supposed to be in response to someone else. Apologies.

    And now Disqus isn’t letting me post my comment where it should have been. Damnit, Disqus….

  • Tara, antisocial social worker

    Are there really men who think women want to be called anyone’s “little woman”? “Rayford was Irene’s lovely little man, and Hattie’s senior pilot….”

  • DavidalBarron

    I would love a book written, for no especial reason, entirely like that.

  • Tara, antisocial social worker

    There’s something missing from this passage. Shouldn’t Hattie get a phone call with Buck,just to round out her character?

  • hidden_urchin

    You can be an “object of lust” or you can be a “lovely little woman.”

    But I want to be a kickass Action Girl.

    Seriously, though, it’s so clear that women can’t win in this world. Can you imagine if Hattie had dressed in such a way that she was “just barely presentable enough”? She wouldn’t be expressing a lack of interest in Rayford, oh no, she would be “letting herself go.” If, however, she takes pride in her appearance then she is being a vain little harlot who needs to be put in her place by a manly man.

    And of course she’s only described in relation to Rayford. He’s the dominant male in the series. All women belong to him and he chooses which he will favor.

    This is just so disgusting.

    I wonder how this fit in with the theater post since Fred mentioned that one was a tangent.

  • atalex

    Can you imagine if Hattie had dressed in such a way that she was “just barely presentable enough”?

    We don’t have to imagine. The part of “the woman who doesn’t care about attracting a man” in this turgid Taliban soap opera is played by Ms. Verna Zee.

  • Lori

    Most of this section has the awkward tone of those “you know how women
    are” jokes told at men’s prayer breakfasts — the kind of thing some men
    say about women when they’re sure that no women are listening. So why
    didn’t the authors realize that women are listening to this passage?

    It’s also the kind of thing some women say about other women when they know full well some of them are listening, because they want to make sure everyone knows that they “aren’t like that”. Those are the women who read and love these wretched books. L&J don’t know good writing and they don’t know good theology and they don’t know from being a good person, but they do know their audience.

  • SisterCoyote

    I want to scream when I hear that coming from women. They will never let you into the clubhouse. Please, please – stop trying to stand outside their clubhouse looking cool, and help us build the bonfire. Because they will never let you in. No matter how Not-Like-Other-Girls you are, they will never see you as As-Good-As-the-Guys. Ever.

  • SkyknightXi

    The men in the clubhouse need to let go of their fatalism, then. At least, the way you phrase makes it sound like they already see themselves at an eternal zenith.

    …So, in addition to abjuring the sorrows of Fate and similar lies, they need to know Humility…

  • FearlessSon

    I am not sure a bonfire will be enough. We ought to be blockading any supply routes into the clubhouse, and chopping down nearby trees to assemble into battering rams, trebuchets, and siege towers. Erect the fortifications and give the sappers their petards, one way or another that club house will be breached!

  • Ben English

    Do we really want the old misogynist club house, though? It was built on a toxic waste dump, after all.

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

    “I think this building should be condemned. There’s serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members, the wiring is substandard, it’s completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone.”

    – Egon Spengler.

  • FearlessSon

    Well, my intention was to sack and raze the place. Burn it to the ground as an example of those who seek shelter behind misogyny’s walls.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Not that it would ever happen, of course, but this section would be greatly improved by the addition of Hattie as a POV character, if only temporarily.

    Hattie is constantly treated as this inscrutable figure, treated by Our Brave Heroes with a mix of pity and contempt. She clearly has a fair amount of power, and really has to be considered a villain (possibly a tragic villain, but still). So why is it that we never get an opportunity to see what she’s thinking? It has to be more palatable than the thin gruel we’re getting – sorry guys, I’m not buying Buck and Ray as the interesting ones in this cast.

    I would love to get some insight on this story from one of the misguided pawns. Any would do, but Hattie has been with us from the start. The only reason Hattie never gets a chance to speak for herself (other than L&J not wanting to write for a girl) is that it might distract from the Mary Sue “heroes.”

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

    Pretty much exactly. The misogyny drips off the pages of this book series. Even if the authors never come out and say it, they show in a thousand ways that they don’t think much of women and can’t be bothered to give Hattie any roles that truly challenge gender stereotyping. She ineffectually attacks the Antichrist and dies in the end, for example.

    And the authors make her undergo far more pain and agony than they would let any of the Tribbles undergo because she’s Rayford’s ‘whore”, not his “Madonna” (Amanda or Irene). She has a failed pregnancy and undergoes all five months of the tortures visited by the Abaddon-beings, etc.

    PS. Thanks for the late LB Friday post :)

  • SisterCoyote

    Getting into the Supernatural fandom recently means that “Abaddon” makes me think mostly of the character of the same name, which, in turn, makes me think – what would this series be like if the Powers That Be reached in and switched Nicolae out for Crowley?

  • EllieMurasaki

    A hell of a lot more snarky and a hell of a lot more fun to read. Though I observe that Crowley’s driving force is what’s best for Crowley, nothing else, which means which side he’s on is variable.

  • SisterCoyote

    Heh. Crowley is the reason I started watching – too many awesome gifs scrolling across my dashboard. He remains my favorite character, with Bobby a close second, and I think I would pawn my favorite hiking boots to read, watch, or in some way observe him curb-stomping the Tribbles.

  • Charity Brighton

    Crowley would probably love it. He’s not as strong as Carpathia, but he’s much smarter and he’s used to fighting with people who actually try to fight back.

    The meek compliance of the Tribulation Force would be preferable to the defiance and deception of the Winchester brothers.

    Honestly, I don’t think they’d even fight. Crowley would offer Rayford and Buck a job and they would take it. They would grumble about it, of course but they would carry out every command faultlessly.

  • FearlessSon

    Getting into the Supernatural fandom recently means that “Abaddon” makes me think mostly of the character of the same name, which, in turn, makes me think – what would this series be like if the Powers That Be reached in and switched Nicolae out for Crowley?

    Being in the Warhammer 40,000 fandom makes me think of the other character named Abaddon, the Despoiler, most favored of the servants of the Ruinous Powers, master of the Black Legion, and a being capable of reducing anything which gets near him to a fine pink mist despite being an armless failure.

  • Abel Undercity

    “Hello, boys” directed at Buck and Rayford? That happy image is going to stay with me all day.

    Oh, and the Doctor putting the kibosh on TurboJesus. That too.

  • Dogfacedboy

    Two more reasons LaHaye & Jenkins wouldn’t let Hattie become a viewpoint character: 1) She isn’t saved, and the only characters for whom we get to read their thoughts are the saved ones, 2) L&J consider Hattie a dingaling, so what would be the use in showing us her thoughts?

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    She isn’t saved, and the only characters for whom we get to read their thoughts are the saved ones

    I admit I’m somewhat grateful they won’t make her a viewpoint character for that very reason. Let’s face it, they’d never do her viewpoint justice. Hell, I doubt they’d even make it semi-believable.

  • http://rapturepractice.wordpress.com/ Phoenix Feather

    I doubt they’d even make it semi-believable.

    Too true. They try to give Hattie’s viewpoint a few times in the prequels, and, from what I can remember, it mostly consists of her thinking about how she wants to steal Rayford from Irene so she can keep him for herself. Which felt out of character given the Hattie that we actually see in the series. I suspect her POV was only tacked on because Jenkins wanted to prove that Hattie was as bad as he claimed by having Hattie herself say it. Not surprisingly, it didn’t work at all; it just made the series seem even more disjointed.

  • FearlessSon

    Does she at least give any rationalization for that? Sympathizing with Rayford for being trapped in an unhappy marriage with a woman who’s holier-than-thou attitude puts a wedge between him and anyone not-Irene?

  • aunursa

    Hattie Durham enjoyed the delectable secret that she was not quite as ditzy as she seemed. How people reacted to her–particularly men–she had recognized so many years before that she couldn’t remember not using it to her advantage. Women seemed to baby talk to her, as if because she was a beautiful blonde she couldn’t have a brain…
    She had never seen herself as a home wrecker, though Captain Steele was hardly the first married man who seemed eager to throw away his family for her…
    But Rayford. He was something different. It had not been lost on her that he had been more than careful… It was clear that he was not happy at home… Yet it was his very discipline that had attracted her… not to mention his striking appearance…
    She knew enough to let Rayford make the next move, and from what she could tell, he was well on his way…
    Hattie’s goal was nothing short of claiming Rayford as her own… He would have to be willing to divorce his wife and pursue her to the altar.

    Prequel #3, The Rapture, pp 261-263

  • Ben English

    That does not gel with the passage Fred just dissected at all. Hattie, for all the hatred the authors want to pile on her, was not actually interested in Rayford. It’s like someone pointed out that Rayford came off a lot worse than Hattie so they decided to make Hattie’s intentions specifically malicious in the prequels.

  • Seraph4377

    She isn’t saved, and the only characters for whom we get to read their thoughts are the saved ones

    Indeed, I think their imagination is so limited that they don’t know how to show the inner workings of characters who aren’t Saved…and the characters who are Saved only think in a particular way: as if they were born and raised in L&J’s subculture. The globe-trotting Man of The World is not only a virgin at 30, but considers hand-holding an intimate act. People who’ve never had contact with an evangelical church know the lingo and the mores as if born to them. L&J just can’t imagine being Saved looking like anything else.

  • reynard61

    I regret that I have but one “^” to give to this comment.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Yep, all the women in the series are entirely defined by some man’s dick. And people like LaHaye and Jenkins like to claim they respect women. Pfft.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    They respect them, just not as people. And therefore they pay them the utmost respect that it is fitting to pay to a sub-person. I bet they respect their pets the same way.

  • Panda Rosa

    Don’t be silly. A Proper Pet (one that does not purr) is always right there, at the ready, submissive, obedient, staring up at their adored Master with silent, unblinking eyes, wishing but to please, knowing they are not worthy. The big problem is that almost none of the Sex Having Just A Womb Not A Penis can live up to that sacred, sacred Need To Be Unquestionably Adored As Is Their GAWD Given Right.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross
  • FearlessSon

    The last paragraph in that link, about Protestants and Catholics being now more alike in their feelings about gender than unalike in their theology, reminds me of something Fred said a while back about the religion of misogynists being misogyny itself. About how they will latch onto any clobber justifications from their ostensible religion to reinforce their misogyny, no matter what their ostensible religion actually is, and in any theological conflict that potentially refutes their misogyny they will just side with the interpretation that supports it.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I’m sure they treat their pets far better. They don’t blame a dog for having been born a dog.

  • Ben English

    Not all the women.

    There’s Verna Zee. (Really wish I could use the Hay Guyz emoticon right here.)

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

    And you can see what a hatchet job they do on her. Buck beats the shit out of her car when he drives it, and it’s trashed to the point where it’s probably undrivable or needs major repairs after the fact, and then nears up at her with a “guided from God” piece of blackmail about her being a lesbian to get her to shut up about seeing Buck and Chloe at one of those special Christian churches.

    And that doesn’t even count all the other pieces of total lack of respect Buck has shown for her.

    (And in the end, never mine that Nicolae already knows pretty much the entire deal about the religious faith Buck and Rayford have, the Tribbles want to play-act as badass moles for God)

  • Ben English

    Not to mention how it rings hollow given the supposed world they’re living in–being a member of an RTC church would be, in their world, a million times ‘worse’/more subversive than being gay. It’s another instance of Jenkins and LaHaye doing fuck all to think through the implications of their world building.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Verna Zee is defined by not worshiping Buck’s dick.

  • Daniel

    I think we can all agree that Buck probably named his penis, and insisted on putting it’s name into the secret santa every year at the office. Verna was the only one who dared tell the GIRAT that a) this wasn’t funny and b) literally millions of people have made a joke about a “journalist’s column” before. This, and not the sensible shoes, is the real reason behind Buck’s antipathy toward her. And since he finally got laid he calls it “the pillar of fire”.

  • Vermic

    A welcome return to form by LaHaye & Jenkins, who round off the last few chapters of unremarkable tedium with some truly classic reprehensible misogyny. It’s as if they realized that they hadn’t been really terrible in a while and wanted to prove they still had their chops.

    What’s the opposite of fanservice? When writers add something gratuitous as if to specifically rouse the passions of the readers who hate them? Because LaHaye & Jenkins have cooked us up a bowl of grade-A hateservice this week.

  • GDwarf

    Trolling?

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Enemyservice?

  • Trixie_Belden

    Foeservice?

  • reynard61

    “hateservice”.

    Yeah. I like that one.

    Pardon me while I indulge in my daily two-minute hateservice…

  • Daniel

    extractorfan-sevice?

  • atalex

    “Fan Disservice,” according to TV Tropes. Though usually it’s either extremely unattractive characters who appear scantily clad in a context meant to disturb the reader/viewer rather than arouse.

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

    It can be unintentional, too. Think of Mark Twain’s sex scenes in Turtledove’s books. Or don’t.

  • FearlessSon

    Incidentally, TvTropes also has a page for IKEA Erotica (insert tab A into slot B, etc.) to describe bland and/or unappealing descriptions of sex in literature and whatnot. Both Bill O’Reilly and Tom Clancy (among others) are in their for the sex scenes in their fiction being dry and uninteresting compared to the rest of their books. In both of the case I just named, I wonder if their Catholic upbringing’s had something to do with it. In the later’s case, techno-thrillers going into detail-porn about some awesome piece of military hardware is one thing, doing the same about sex is a different matter.

  • SisterCoyote

    …aw man, I could happily have gone the rest of my life without knowing that Bill O’Reilly has written sex scenes.

  • Panda Rosa

    It could be worse. It could be — GLENN BECK!

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

    (faintly) Bill O’Reilly?

    That distant crashing sound you just heard was my karate headdesk.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I don’t think it’s fair to attribute their terrible erotica to their sexual repression. Writing readable smut is really hard difficult and should be left to people who are experts at that sort of thing.

  • FearlessSon

    Oh, no question that writing even halfway decent smut is difficult, but I had to wonder if, shall we say, they were unpracticed at it.

    But I think it is more of a kind of enforcement of “sex sells”, therefor they feel the need to put in a sex scene. But as you said it is hard to do a good one, and knowing when skimp on the details is important in maintaining good text. The whole embrace-and-fade-to-black kind of thing works as well in literature as it does in movies.

    Heck, I remember a (possibly apocryphal) quote from Tom Clancy saying something about how he was surprised that one of his books was better received than usual despite not having a sex scene in it. More likely, it was better received in part because it did not have a dull sex scene shoehorned in.

  • DavidCheatham

    Less than two years later, Hattie was the personal assistant and lover of Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist. Rayford, Buck, and Chloe were believers in Christ.

    Almost everything in that paragraph is wrong. Firstly, Hattie _isn’t_ the personal assistant of Nicolae. Secondly, how does _he_ know she’s the ‘lover’ of Nicky? (Yes, I know lover can just mean ‘girlfriend’, but I’m sure getting the ‘has sex with’ vibe from that sentence.)

    And lastly, no fair lumping _other_ people into your side of the comparison, Rayford.

    Let’s try it a bit more honestly:

    Less than two years later, Hattie was girlfriend of Nicolae Carpathia, a man who secretly was the Antichrist. Whereas Rayford, as a believer in Christ, did know Nicolae was the Antichrist, yet choose to serve as ones of the Antichrist’s personal staff because, uh, some reason. Rayford most recently was an accessory before the fact to mass murder, but he is willing to cheerfully ferry the Antichrist around for any crime against humanity, of which he knows the Antichrist will commit dozens. Rayford has chosen not to tell Hattie what’s going on.

  • Ben English

    Didn’t Nicky announce that Hattie was pregnant with his hellspawn just before they got on the plane?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Complete with a “He’ll make an honest woman of me yet! *shows off sparkly ring*” moment.

  • aunursa

    That’s not entirely accurate. Rayford would never cheerfully take the Antichrist around the world. He serves Nicky obediently while acting like a jerk and secretly thinking bad thoughts about his employer.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Rayford doesn’t do his job “cheerfully”, he does it “passive-aggressively”

  • Panda Rosa

    Ooo, so Rayford is [i]thinking Bad Thoughts[/i] while he carries out his duties serving the Antichrist! That’s showing ’em Ray-Ray! You’re really putting your life on the line with that one!

  • aunursa

    Snippets from later in this book…

    “How long could Rayford justify in his own mind that the benefits of being able to eavesdrop and spy on Carpathia outweighed his own culpability in abetting the work of the evil one?”

    “Rayford stared at him. He willed himself not to say the obligatory, ‘You’re welcome.’ He nodded and stood.”

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Ooh, that’s like not saying “thank you” when the cop hands you your speeding ticket. Positively seditious. No wonder these guys are the heroes.

  • P J Evans

    And for some of the backstory on Jerry, try http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/06/15/1216351/-Books-So-Bad-They-re-Good-Raptured-by-Gil-Thorp

    He can’t write comic strips very well, either.

  • Tara, antisocial social worker

    Thanks, I was gonna post that link if no one else did. And down in comments the author refers to Slacktivist as a “national treasure.” (Without Nick Nolte, presumably.)

  • P J Evans

    Without the caps, I wouldn’t worry. When they start capitalizing ‘national treasure’, it’s time to leave.

  • Ben English

    Shaddup. It’s still a better story than Left Behind.

  • atalex

    I assume you meant Nicholas Cage. “National Treasure” would have been vastly improved with Nick Nolte in the lead. I think.

  • Eric Boersma

    Great link! It was an interesting bit, but the author is too verbose by half. There’s a whole boatload of stuff in that column that’s totally irrelevant and seems to be there simply because the author wanted to pad digital inches, or something.

  • FearlessSon

    I was assuming that the author was just trying to go for an authentic Jenkins feel to the writing.

  • P J Evans

    It’s always like that. That’s part of the fun.

  • arcseconds

    For those of you who aren’t getting your recommended daily intake of snark, I give you The Comics Curmudgeon, who, amongst many (or at least several) other comics, has Gil Thorp (Jerry’s old comic strip) in his crosshairs.

    Some of Josh’s subjects, under the light of his arc-lamp, are not unreminiscent of L&J, inasmuch as one starts to get the impression that behind the obvious incompetence, there’s a hyper-ironic, postmodern, existentialist (or possibly absurdist) narrative waiting to be unfurled.

    They bring into question the whole concept of narrative entertainment….

  • http://kadhsempire.yuku.com/ Matt

    I would like to point out that Jenkins wasn’t even writing Gil Thorp. His son was secretly doing it.

  • Sue White

    “Lovely little woman”??? Seriously? Excuse me while I hurl. How is it even possible to write like that?

    Who would want that role anyway, she just ended up being taken for granted until Jesus whisked her away to eternal celibate bliss.

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

    I think it is very telling that Chelsea Noble decided to play that role. She’s Kirk Cameron’s wife, by the way.

  • Sue White

    I thought she played Hattie the Hottie.

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

    Well, yeah, that’s the whole point of my snarky-ass comment.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    But the “lovely little woman” was Irene, not Hattie. Maybe that was your point, but if so, I’m not seeing it.

  • JennyHegemony

    I think the point is that no one, in fact, wants to be thought of that way. Given the choice, even a good RTC like Noble would rather people see her (on screen, at least) as the knockout contended over (sorta) by the hero and the villain than as the canonized-but-frumpy angel in the house.

    Of course, Irene doesn’t get many lines, so that may be more the reasoning there. But it’s fair to suspect that our natural interest in the imperfect might make Hattie a more interesting character to an actress than Irene.

  • Ben English

    I think basically any character in Left Behind except maybe Ray Jr. would be more interesting than Irene.

  • Charity Brighton

    I think that’s exactly right. Anyone who played Irene would have a bit part at best — just a step beyond extra. She is not important to the story beyond her role in introducing Rayford to the church — she could probably be replaced by a family member or a colleague at work who is always preaching without affecting the plot that much.

  • Sue White

    Doh!

  • Panda Rose

    Well, it might fit a beautiful Little Person.
    Ever watch Pit Boss? She does make mistakes, as she will persist in being human, but in regard to saving dogs Ashley is one Beauuuuutiful Little Person.

  • Sue White

    Now I’m picturing Irene with Buck’s tiny friend.

  • Lori

    His phone?

  • Daniel

    So what you’re telling me is that Timkins have stolen a plot from the Flintstones? I really hope there’s a little green Jesus that only Buck can see who gets him into all kinds of scrapes.

  • Ben English

    I’m just choosing to take it that Irene was a Hobbit. The books never tell us she’s NOT a Hobbit.

  • Daniel

    This may seem a little vulgar, so I apologise. But given Rayford and Irene had two children together, supposedly via the normal means, can you imagine them having sex? I mean, the way the characters are written, could you (no pun intended) conceive of that? Rayford is basically Peter Sutcliffe in uniform, and Irene seems like the sort who’d have a full on hysterical fit if she saw a penis, so really how the hell did they do it? My guess is rohypnol. Rayford’s definitely the type.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Please warn if you’re gonna pull out a rape joke.

  • Daniel

    I’m sorry. I know this sounds like awful back peddling but it’s only now I read that back I realise that’s what I said- I was actually just trying to make the point the Rayford is horrendously sleazy and misogynist, the kind of man who regards spiking a drink as “helping things along”. I didn’t consider what it was I was actually saying, so I am sorry. Although I do stand by the comparison with the serial killer.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Yes, I didn’t think you meant to hurt anyone :). I just expected “vulgar” to be about the idea of Rayford and Irene having sex (eew!) so the rape reference was a shock.

  • Daniel

    Yeah, vulgar was in reference to the sex. I think it is an interesting question given what we know about the characters- can you imagine collapsing in lovelorn ecstasy onto a pile of hand crocheted doilies? I’ve probably spent too much time thinking about this, and I think part of Rayford’s hatred for Hattie is that he knows he wouldn’t be as good in bed as the anti-christ.
    I’m getting more vulgar to cover up the embarrassment from the earlier comment, as you can see.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think the only person who could give Rayford competition in the “bad in bed” department is Buck.

  • Daniel

    That is perfect. I don’t know if “the new statesman” reached anywhere outside the UK but the main character in that series thought his incredibly speedy performance showed his virility, and so he timed himself to see how fast he could finish. I imagine Buck is much the same, and no amount of telling him otherwise will ever convince him. I think he probably has a list of personal bests.

  • Charity Brighton

    Well, if you’re talking about Buck in that last sentence, it actually turns out that he was a virgin until he met Chloe. Yeah. Based on his description of his life, he was adhering to the RTC approach to sexuality even when he was an atheist.

    Not because it makes sense with his character — it doesn’t — but because Jenkins can’t relate to any character who isn’t this way. This creates the odd sensation of everyone in the books — including nonbelievers and even villains — who follow the same ethical guideline as devout Christians purely out of instinct.

    It would be like a book written by a Muslim in which every character — even ones that aren’t religious or vegetarian, who grew up in countries without any such taboo — pointedly never eats pork just because.

  • Daniel

    I remember him saying that, but frankly it sounds a little like “the GIRAT doth protest too much”. He had a girlfriend in college and she dumped him for being too slow to make a move on her, after which he realised he’d never really liked her anyway because she wanted to drain his vital essence. From Buck’s general behaviour I think he actually did make a move, and the problem was very much the opposite of being too slow. I think that’s what all the denim, range rovers, general aggression and insistence that he’s the best ever is all about. I think women scare him, a lot.

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

    I woiuld argue consensual doggy style. That way Rayford never has to see Irene’s face, he can just pretend it’s Hattie he’s boinking.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Rayford and/or Irene doing anything but missionary position with the lights out? Doubt it.

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

    True, but that’s only because L&J can’t bring themselves to even describe the sex acts involved in a book set aimed at fundamentalist end-times believers.

    Any reasonable writer would try to both give Rayford and Irene a reasonable sex life but also give Rayford a real case of adultery, too, not this weird twilight of never-quite-there that is in the books.

  • themunck

    “Twilight” indeed. At least in terms of writing quality :P

  • Ben English

    In this comparison, even Twilight still comes on top. At least Stephenie Meyer eventually got around to depicting her characters having sex.

  • FearlessSon

    Any reasonable writer would try to both give Rayford and Irene a reasonable sex life but also give Rayford a real case of adultery, too, not this weird twilight of never-quite-there that is in the books.

    On TvTropes, there is a trope to describe “But Not Too Foreign”, where a character is intended to be a foreigner to the expected audience, but to help them be more sympathetic and less alienating they are “not too foreign”, such as being born in the homeland of the audience and raised elsewhere or has one parent from that homeland, etc.

    To get to my point, some time ago I added that trope to the TvTropes page for Left Behind under the name “But Not Too Sinful”. The reason being that as “sinners” who were not yet “saved” by the time of the Rapture, they are in a sense “foreign” to the intended audience. Hence, the authors had to dial down their “sinfulness” to rather paltry things that the audience would be familiar with, at least as temptation, but not so far as to actually require atonement or forgiveness.

  • Daniel

    I think she’d find any kind of sex degrading. Maybe consensual blindfolding, for both partners, so no one has to see anyone or thing of what they’re doing, and Irene can make them as frilly as she likes- kind of a craft project. I honestly imagine the two of them just rubbing together painfully for a couple of minutes, looking horrified, saying goodnight and going to sleep. Rayford certainly doesn’t strike me as the passionate type.

  • http://rapturepractice.wordpress.com/ Phoenix Feather

    I sort of imagine something like this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS5toi7Xxxg

  • Jenny Islander

    Reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) story of the Pillar of the Community who expounded, at some governmental rubber chicken dinner, on the necessity for wives to have “some little job or other” to pass the time until their husbands come home. He then turned to the woman on his right and inquired, “So what do you do all day?” to which she replied coolly, “I’m a little circuit court judge.”

  • Panda Rosa

    Shouldn’t that be a Short Circuit court? (couldn’t resist)
    And now I’m seeing a Little Person in black robes with a gavel.

  • aunursa

    Short Circuit judge? This is what immediately comes to mind.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You know, two things:

    1. Two of those newspapers have front-page headlines about something that’s going on about women in the catholic church.

    2. WHat the hell were they thinking putting Fisher Stevens in brownface with a fake indian accent? You could still get away with that crap in the 1980s? (Because I was a kid, I didn’t notice the racebending when I watched this movie. It was only like 10-15 years later that I had cause to look up Fisher Stevens’s IMDB page and discovered that, holy crap, that was him playing Ben. WTF.

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

    Yeah, you could. I was a teenager back then and I didn’t think anything of it. I honestly thought the guy was legit South Asian (or as we said back then, “East Indian”).

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

    Short Circuit court? Number Johnny Five, judge presiding. :P

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Though the alliteration is a bit much, Fred missed an opportunity to title this post, “A lesson for the lovely little ladies.”

  • ChristianPinko

    I think this post calls for this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LEJ6tZI7_k

  • arcseconds

    I’m wondering how the Guaranteed Overnight Theatre originally fitted in to this…

  • glendanowakowsk

    I would guess that the participants in the Guaranteed Overnight Theatre put more care and forethought into their short plays than LaHaye and Jenkins put into the entire Left Behind series.

  • reynard61

    Trigger warnings: Slavery, rape.

    “As a good Christian married man, it is imperative that Rayford not create the wrong impression for Hattie or for anyone else who may be watching. By appearing ‘just barely presentable,’ he clearly signals his disdain for her so no one gets the wrong idea and Rayford doesn’t jeopardize his good Christian witness. It’s fine that the entire world knows him to be a loyal servant of the Antichrist, but he can’t have anyone suspecting he might be an adulterer.”

    It’s like someone who had no qualms about being a murderer and the world knowing about it, but objected to having a reputation for stealing candy from children.

    “Re-encountering the condescension and contemptuousness toward Hattie in this section, my initial thought was that someone should have reminded LaHaye and Jenkins that women would be reading their book too.

    “Women, after all, make up a big chunk of the audience for Christian-brand fiction. Just from a marketing perspective, it seems like a bad idea to alienate so many potential readers with dismissive caricatures. Most of this section has the awkward tone of those ‘you know how women are’ jokes told at men’s prayer breakfasts — the kind of thing some men say about women when they’re sure that no women are listening. So why didn’t the authors realize that women are listening to this passage?”

    Probably for the same reason that the Rethuglicans keep passing (at least on the State level) unrealistic and unconstitutional abortion laws that have the effect of reducing women to baby factories. They just don’t think that women are as *Human* as men. The “3/5ths of a person” clause in Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution may originally have applied to “(…)all other persons(…)” — i.e. Black slaves — (the irony being that *free* women were, at the time, counted as whole persons even if they weren’t actually allowed to vote), but a disturbingly large number of Rethuglican-controlled state legislatures and Governors seem hell-bent on reducing their State’s female populations to what would effectively be “3/5ths” status.

    “The responsibility to ensure that no touching occurs is entirely yours, ladies. That’s why the authors can say that Rayford never touched Hattie even when she touched him. And why Rayford’s ‘necking session’ at an office Christmas party doesn’t count against his spotless record and his claim that he ‘of course’ had ‘never acted’ in response to the wiles of these seductresses. (If Rayford had groped Hattie, you get the sense the authors would have described it by saying, ‘It had not been beyond Hattie to press her breast into his outstretched hand as she brushed past him.’)

    And this is why it’s *always* the victim’s fault whenever a bully gets his fists pummeled by their face, or they force their vagina onto that poor, innocent rapist’s penis.

    “And here is the final lesson for you ladies: If any untoward touching, glances or body language occurs, you must forgive without qualification and you must apologize for your role in provoking it. And you should probably also apologize to the man you’re forgiving for allowing him to place himself in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for your forgiveness.

    “Rayford and the authors again lament Hattie’s failure to embrace the One True Gospel as it was presented to her in Rayford’s ‘earnest and focused’ proselytizing. And they again attribute her rejection of this gospel to her willful hardness of heart and not to the horrifying context of having to sit through a passive-aggressive sermon from a creepy old married guy.

    Less than two years later, Hattie was the personal assistant and lover of Nicolae Carpathia, the Antichrist. Rayford, Buck, and Chloe were believers in Christ.

    “So let that be a lesson to you all.”

    The lesson that I see here is that RTCs are a bunch of chauvinist scum that I should make every effort to avoid lest I be tempted to use The Chair Leg of Truth to pound some Brotherly Love (or at least a little sense) into them.

  • SisterCoyote

    Oh man, all of the thumbs up for Spider Jerusalem.

  • rikalous

    “It’s like someone who had no qualms about being a murderer and the world knowing about it, but objected to having a reputation for stealing candy from children.”

    That sounds like a fun villain, actually.
    They may not have morals, but at least they have class. They’d be the
    kind of villain who gives the hero a nice meal where the talk turns to
    how the hero is going to be brutally murdered in the morning, and wish
    them pleasant dreams with all sincerity.

    Speaking of non sequiters, all hail the chair leg of truth, for it is wise and terrible.

  • themunck

    Agreed…sort of.
    Morals are not just a straight line with murder automatically being worse than theft. Murderers tend to believe they’re justified. Terrorist and other mass murderers doubly so. Even when they feel no remorse, the sheer conviction of them can be frightening, but stealing candy from a baby? That’s just petty.
    …That tangent sounded a lot more intelligent in my own head.

  • http://rapturepractice.wordpress.com/ Phoenix Feather

    Nah, I see what you mean. It’s like how in some movies, even if the hero and the villain both end up killing people, you get a couple of scenes showing the hero being nice to little kids or standing up for the underdog, and that helps establish him as the hero.

  • FearlessSon

    Does anyone have a Male Privilege Detector that I can borrow? Mine started flaring up when I began reading about this section of the book, and quickly overloaded and burned out.

    I get the feeling that L&J do not believe that men and women can have platonic relationships, everything is framed in coupling terms to them among characters of different gender. I honestly pity them. What is it like to have such a narrow view of the world?

  • Amtep

    You can have mine if you want. I find it pretty useless — the indicator is always on, no matter what. I had it checked several times and they assured me it was properly calibrated though.

  • Jamoche

    I had a friend who really believed that men and women couldn’t be friends without it leading to sex – or at least used that as justification for cheating on her husband and then accusing me of cheating *with* her husband. Which I found out when she told my *mom*.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    People who cheat are always the most afraid of other people cheating on them.

  • themunck

    Speaking as someone who once cheated on his girlfriend, I suppose I should add an “almost” in there. :/

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

    In a “can men and women be friends” discussion back in school, some of my classmates said no, they couldn’t “unless he’s gay”. Because the man’s orientation and sexual desire matters; it seems that the woman’s doesn’t.

    TRiG.

  • Ben English

    I love how the narration is all “Ooh, Bad Hattie” because she’s the ‘personal assitant and lover’ of the Antichrist, when our POV character is the personal pilot of the Antichrist’s plane and his daughter is married to to the head of the Antichrist’s global media machine. Hattie brings Nicolae lunch. Rayford flies him out of harm’s way as he gives the order to bomb San Francisco.

    Also Hattie didn’t know he was evil when she took the job. Rayford full well did.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I think I’ll be a horrible, independent, working floozy, thanks.

  • Daniel

    The title of an up-tempo country hit.

  • Panda Rosa

    Sure you don’t want to be a brazen hussy? Or how about an impudent strumpet? How about a shameless trollop? Couldn’t you settle for being far better than you ought to be?
    Kids these days… :-)

  • Hexep

    i am so happy that Fred posted this today. I met several Christian people last night and told them about this blog and about Fred’s work deconstructing this series, and now if they come to check it out, this will be on the top of the list!

  • Daniel

    Rayford Steele’s mind was on a dinner he’d never touch. He was sitting before a crisp linen table cloth, elegantly decorated with a single small flower in a simple white vase, and two crystal glasses of mineral water. Across from him was sitting a woman he’d never touched, a once beautiful, now fat, young woman who had formerly been his flight attendant. She was the concubine of another man, a far more evil man who most certainly had touched her. Rayford was unhappy. He had carefully calculated his appearance for this meeting so that no one would get the wrong impression. He had arrived at the Global Bistro- the One World Government was exceedingly brand aware- in an un-ironed shirt and his least smart chinos. He wanted to make sure everyone there knew he was not interested in the woman he’d never touched. But once he had arrived at the restaurant the maitre d’ had told him they didn’t allow men in without a tie.

    “Don’t you know who I am?” Rayford had asked, knowing full well everyone knows the pilot of Global Community One (very brand aware)
    “Yes, sir,” said the Maitre d’ “I loved you in Ice Station Zebra, and I also know
    who you’re dining with- and, well, it wouldn’t do to have you eating with the
    First Lady of the Global Community without a tie… would it?”

    Rayford despaired- was their no limit to Nicolae’s powers of manipulation? Now they thought Hattie was the impotent- IMPORTANT one at this meeting. To say he imagined the world had gone topsy-turvy would be putting it mildly. He took the tie he was offered, and to demonstrate that he certainly wasn’t thinking of touching Hattie he took it with as little grace as he could manage. It was a vile red-and-yellow striped thing, and he felt like a fool wearing it.

    Rayford Steele’s mind was on this, and on dinner, when his waitress came to take his order, and also the order of Hattie, who had arrived. Although he had previously thought emotion was the preserve of women, Rayford had become more emotionally aware since the poorly attended funeral of Bruce Barnes. He had a check list of feelings he could convincingly pretend to be having, and was using all four at this meeting. Hatred, pity, contempt and pride. He felt himself growing as a person.

    “Hello, sir,” she said, and then Rayford felt the blood drain from his face as she spoke to Hattie “And Madam First Lady… I’m sorry I’m not sure how to address you…”
    Hattie grinned warmly at the young girl, barely older than Chloe, and replied
    “Madam First Lady’s a bit of a mouthful- so just call me Hattie, if you’d like. And how should I address you?”
    The girl had smiled and Rayford grimmaced. The blood rushed to Rayford’s face
    just so it could drain back out again. So this is the way things were done by the upper echelons in the OWG? He’d have to put this right.
    “My name’s Usma, miss, erm, Hattie…”
    “And mine’s Captain Steele. And I’m hungry.” He said.
    Usma turned back to Hattie.
    “Don’t worry about him, he’s upset about the tie. Before OWG men would have killed for that tie- it’s from the old MCC.”
    Usma, originally from Pakistan, was apparently a great fan of cricket, and she smiled. She then congratulated Hattie on her pregnancy! If only she knew the truth, thought Rayford sadly. “Hmm, sadness… that’s five.” His former senior flight attendant complimented Usma’s headscarf, and the girl thanked her effusively, all the while apparently ignoring Rayford. The world was going insane.

    Rayford’s waitress, whom Rayford knew he would never touch, wore a head scarf, although it did not cover her face. She was extremely pretty, and Rayford could see in her large green eyes desire for him as she asked if he wanted a salad. She was pretending to think he was gay, a clever ruse. He was the pilot of an aircraft after all, and what young woman doesn’t dream of being groped by a pilot? He fingered his wedding ring. They gave their orders, and Hattie and Usma twittered on like women, until the now calmed younger woman went off to get their food.

    He thought again about how awful this One World Religion was. Usma had clearly been a Muslim, and she still wore the veil, but the OWR hadn’t made her stop. No one but Rayford seemed to see the tyranny of such permissiveness, and he was glad that he had. It would be an effort to keep this knowledge a secret, but with the Lord’s help he knew he could die without telling anyone how they might save their own lives.

    Usma, and several of the other women there, had breasts. Rayford could feel them pointing towards him, and instinctively he held up his wedding ring to ward off their advances. “So many horrid, horrid women,” he thought, “and some of them might be on their…” he couldn’t complete the sentence, and the blood rushed again.

    Hattie had been talking about something for the last five minutes, and Rayford had stalwartly ignored her, knowing she was just prattling. She was, after all, the girlfriend of the man he was risking his life to spy on, and she could have nothing of consequence to say to him on any subject. How had he ever wanted to…?

    As he looked at her now he couldn’t imagine why he’d ever considered an affair. She hadn’t been pregnant for even a year, but she had put on weight, particularly around her mid section, and her stomach bulged like a beach ball.
    She’d also allowed her breasts to get larger, and had made a token attempt to
    cover them by wearing clothes, but Rayford could tell. Under her clothes she was naked, he knew.

    He missed Irene. He’d loved her, in a way, and even though he’d not been there during either of her pregnancies he couldn’t remember her ever being this grotesque, glowing and smiling in an attempt to seduce him. He missed Irene. Even though they had had their disagreements when she was there now that she wasn’t he found her much more loveable. He thought about the old saying “women- can’t live with ’em.” He smiled.
    “I’m surprised you find that amusing.” said Hattie. “I mean, I haven’t even got to the part where I tell you how we’re planning to administer the HPV vaccine world wide, and save millions of lives.”
    Did she know he hadn’t been listening? No. Of course not. She was Hattie, after all. Vapid, stupid, mentally absent Hattie, a thing of breasts and legs and buttocks and a smiling, welcoming mouth and…
    How he missed Irene. And that other one, Angie or whatever.

  • NelC

    A thing of beauty! Laughing like a drain, here.

  • bekabot

    I wish I could give this more than one upvote…

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Construction project, everybody! We need to build dozens hundreds lots of shiny new Internets to present to Daniel!

  • Jamoche

    “She was, after all, the girlfriend of the man he was risking his life to spy on, and she could have nothing of consequence to say to him on any subject. ”

    Awesome!

    ETA: When I first wrote this I thought “and this is what James Bond does all the time” but I couldn’t quite pin down why that didn’t apply.

    On further reflection: L&J appear to think they’re writing in that genre, so somewhere in the back of their minds they realized that “spy gets info out of villain’s girlfriend” is a scene that has to happen, but as usual it’s completely incompatible with the characters they’ve got.

  • Daniel

    Yeah, Rayford holds Hattie in so much contempt he wouldn’t actually listen even if she gave him a total breakdown of everything Nicolae’s planning and he still wouldn’t listen because no penis. She can’t have any information for him because she’s supposed to be unbelievably stupid. So this whole meeting is entirely pointless, since he doesn’t like her either.

  • Ben English

    He doesn’t like her, but he loves her in that he cares about her soul.

    He shows his love for her soul by making no effort to try and save it.

  • Daniel

    That’s pure love- he takes her soul just as it is, dirty, sullied and sinful.

  • themunck

    “She hadn’t been pregnant for even a year”.
    Erhm, Reddie?…most human women are only pregnant for up to 9 months.
    Ladies and gentlemen, what happen when we refuse to give our kids proper sex ed XD

  • Daniel

    Sex ed involves teaching people about other people and how they work. I didn’t imagine Ray would have a great deal of interest in that.

  • flat

    well written.

  • http://rapturepractice.wordpress.com/ Phoenix Feather

    That … was magical.

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

    It’s a small note in the face of all this disgusting condescension towards poor Hattie, but I find it funny that LaJenkins keep harping on the 15-year-age-difference thing. 15 years is really not much (plus, hello, Buck is ten years older than Chloe!). I’ve been doing some ancestry.com stuff lately: my great-grandparents on one side of the family had 14 years between them, and my great-great grandparents on one side had a 35 years between them. And in both cases, family lore has it that the marriages were happy and successful.

    Just seems weird of our esteemed authors, is all. Also, their harping on it doesn’t make Hattie sound younger than she is–it makes Rayford sound older.

    Also, and off-topic: I just posted Part 2 of my blog’s first ever guest critique of a Christian movie!

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/apocalypse-caught-in-the-eye-of-the-storm-part-2/

  • Sue White

    They’re always harping on age differences. Probably their way of reminding us who’s who in the pecking order.
    My parents were 13 years apart but I don’t remember them ever talking about it.

  • Daniel

    exactly- it’s the authority those extra years give the characters. Buck had the good sense to be born ten years before Chloe, illustrating what a dynamic and effective man he is. I have encountered many people in my life who derive their sense of authority from having the same good sense. There’s one thing all your fancy book learnin’ can’t give you- and that’s the ten more years that I’ve had to waste than you, so give me deference.

  • Ben English

    I’m recalling something in the epistles to Timothy about not letting people hold you in lesser esteem because of your age… something like ‘don’t do that’.

    Yeah…

  • Daniel

    The problem there is that in order to understand that instruction you have to read it literally- and as everyone knows, “literally” means “so that it agrees with my existing prejudice”.

  • FearlessSon

    I wonder what L&J must think if they knew that my girlfriend has twelve years over me.

  • christopher_y

    Mine were 13 years apart too. It was particularly common in that generation where a lot of people had to put their lives on hold because of a spot of bother in Europe and the Pacific. That was also LaHaye’s generation, wasn’t it?

  • flat

    my parents are nine years apart, and they are just fine

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Imo, Jenkins has an age kink. Otherwise he wouldn’t stroke the age difference in the books so much.

  • This fellow right here

    More like he puts being an old man (and ONLY an old MAN) on a pedestal, without even thinking up a reason why being an old man should venerated.

    Now, you could think up some reason why the elderly should be respected for their living through some trouble and coming out wiser for it. But the authors seem to assume that thinking in general is much important than it is.

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

    Indeed. Also, I am having trouble thinking of any female character over the age of 45 in these books, though there are many male characters older than that. The only three to come to mind are Rayford’s mom (only in the prequel, “older” mom and thus uncool, dies), Viv 666 (evil, dies screaming), and Buck’s mom (only in the prequel, dies).

  • aunursa

    There’s no record of Viv Ivins’ death (except in the Dramatic Audio version.) I like to think that in Glorious Appearing she mistakenly joined the group on Jesus’ right, her left.

  • Daniel

    Really? Viv Ivins? That’s spectacular. I hope there was at least one person who read that book and had to have her name explained, otherwise all the effort that went into it’s creation was wasted. Finding out McGillicuddy is not the stupidest name in these books has really cheered me up- something to look forward to. Thanks!

  • http://oldmaid.jallman.net/ TheOldMaid

    Indeed. I mentioned elsewhere the problems of ageism, one of which is convincing people of the existence of ageism. Some people believe in it, and some don’t, often those who have not (yet) seen it. Both (to use the official terms) “hostile” ageism and “benevolent” ageism exist.

    Ageism shows a lack of respect for a fellow human
    creature by tagging someone for some personal quality that 1) they can’t help, and 2) there’s nothing wrong with it. People have to learn from each other, or why would there be so many differences in the world?

    Don’t misunderstand me: I do object to an age difference
    in three situations:

    1. Incapacity. This includes mental, statutory, or other.

    2. Predatory.

    3. Gross immaturity that does not fit the definition of
    incapacity but nevertheless does not fit the reasonable standards of the community.

    This is why readers of the “Left Behind” series tend to
    point to Chloe (age 20 when they meet) and Buck (age 30) as examples of one or more of the above exceptions. In contrast, readers may express concerns over the marriage of Rayford (ca. 42-44 plus 2 weeks when they meet) and Amanda (“early fifties”)—but never have I heard anyone, be they fan or foe, ever express any concern over the age difference between them. It simply is not an issue.

    Anyhow, Daniel, the reason LaHaye and Jenkins called a
    character “Viv Ivins” is so that her name could spell VI VI VI, or 666 in Roman numerals.

    ..

    Ben English: “I think basically any character in Left Behind except maybe Ray Jr. would be more interesting than Irene.”

    They’re both in Book 16 ( http://oldmaid.jallman.net if Disqus is being naughty). Judge for yourself (if ye dare). Not a mama’s boy anymore.

  • EllieMurasaki

    At some point I am writing a story involving a threesome between characters named Danielle Cameron, Leah Xander, and Valerie Ingersoll. (Or some such things.)

  • http://oldmaid.jallman.net/ TheOldMaid

    Split among three people, eh?

    Out of curiosity, how many people here learned handwriting, Roman numerals, and all the things that typing and texting supposedly replace?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah. (Look, I made a funny.)

    Aren’t they only just now phasing out teaching cursive in schools? My baby sister learned cursive, and she’s starting ninth grade in the fall. (Unless attending summer school to get the phys ed and health requirements out of the way counts as starting ninth grade.) I haven’t heard that anybody’s phasing out Roman numerals at all, and frankly I’d be astonished if they did.

  • Daniel

    “I hope there was at least one person who read that book and had to have her name explained”
    I wasn’t making a point about ageism there- I haven’t read the books to know who Viv Ivins is, so I have no idea how she is portrayed. I also fully accept ageism is a problem. My point was that “Viv Ivins” is a very, very, very obvious use of “666” and that because the writers clearly think they have been very clever in “encoding” it I hoped for their sakes at least one person had to have that explained. Never mind the tortured variant of “Evans” which if not spelled in an anglicised form is “Ifans” rather that “Ivins”- would a parent be so cruel as to name their child Vivian if this was their surname? It was a dig, once again, at the dreadful writing of Timkins. Also, it should have been Vi I Vins, depending on which Beast they are referring to. And that’s even worse.

  • http://oldmaid.jallman.net/ TheOldMaid

    @Daniel: I know you weren’t talking about ageism as a part of Viv Ivins. I just started with that first because … (counts) … Ruby Tea, Sue White, Ben English, Fearless Son, christopher_y, flat, Lliira, This fellow right here, and back to Ruby Tea (and you, in there) mentioned possible ageisms in L.B. and how some heads might go boom if compared to the real world.
    Also, sometimes I just combine post-thoughts in one post because
    1) because time constraints;
    2) because polar bears;
    3) because Disqus.
    Sorry for the confusion.
    But since some translations of the Bible tag the Deplorable Number as 616 and 216, those pop up in the series as barcode numbers or some such. So there aren’t characters named after the variants; there are trivial pursuit answers named after the variants.

  • EllieMurasaki

    216 has never been a That Number as far as I know. LaJenkins used it because it’s 6 * 6 * 6 see aren’t we clever.

  • bekabot

    Here we observe Rayford making a case for himself. Which is weird, because on the basis of what the text has had to say, nothing has ever really gone on “between” Rayford and Hattie other than a certain amount of straight-person tension which they both wish weren’t there. That’s what Rayford testifies to and a reader naturally supposes, though the story is written from Rayford’s point of view, that Hattie would concur. One supposes Hattie would concur because she’s never done anything other than brush past Rayford and look at him; so she can’t be convicted of flirting. (One supposes, once again, that if Hattie found Rayford irresistible she would be more forthcoming, if only because she’s full of emotion and angst.)

    Rayford’s problem, therefore, is that Hattie can’t be convicted even of flirting.

    So Rayford’s further problem is: what can he convict her of?

    That’s what this whole thing sounds like: like Rayford’s answer to some kind of commission of inquiry. “Brother Rayford, we have long been dismayed about your conduct”, something like that. What doesn’t fit, in this narrative, is that between Hattie and Rayford, there has been no conduct. Yet Rayford havers on and on interiorly, acting as his own lawyer, and even the way he havers is off-key; he doesn’t build a case on the basis of his never having come on to Hattie; instead he seems to be trying to build a case on the basis that Hattie was always coming on to him. (“But gentlemen, what could I do, she was always there, taking up…space.”) This is weak showing and Rayford seems to know it, so he hops onto ground of which he is surer: in the years since, Hattie has become, not just any secretary, but personal secretary to the Antichrist, which is surely not a vocation for an innocent. (Though Rayford is the Antichrist’s pilot — but one inconsistency at a time.)

  • Jamoche

    “But gentlemen, what could I do, she was always there, taking up…space.”

    In the close quarters of an airplane, even!

  • http://kadhsempire.yuku.com/ Matt

    OMG, now everything Rayford says comes in the voice of Snagglepuss. Thanks, I think.

  • Ben English

    It comes from the warped understanding of Lust in evangelical subcultures, where even mentally acknowledging the hotness of a human being who isn’t your wife is a grave sin. Rayford has to make these elaborate protestations and cast aspersions on Hattie for her supposed flirting because obviously if she wasn’t such a floozy then he wouldn’t have such a hard time keeping his thoughts from drifting up her skirt.

  • J Neo Marvin

    “Hattie was Rayford’s senior flight attendant,” but Rayford is not Hattie’s pilot.

    Reminds me of the famous anecdote where Charlie Watts punched a drunk Mick Jagger at a party and said, “Don’t you ever call me ‘my drummer’. You’re MY lead singer.”

  • atalex

    I find it interesting that Amanda seems irrelevant to this scene. Rayford is, after all, remarried now, albeit to a woman who appeared out of nowhere in the aftermath of a flash-forward and who has no discernible personality. I wonder if LaJenkins introduced the character of Amanda (who will soon die — off screen, IIRC) solely to position Rayford as a “devoted husband rejecting the wiles of a homewrecking tramp” despite the handicap of him being effectively a widower since Irene’s pseudo-death.

  • This fellow right here

    It reminds me of how a comment on a much earlier (MUCH EARLIER – more than a year, I thinkl) LF post where it was spoiled that Amanda ends up dying, and then in the last books where Ray meets Irene and Amanda in Heaven. They discuss the fact Ray remarried (I think the commenter said it was quite awkward, amusingly).

    Another commenter responded slyly that perhaps Amanda and Irene “bonded” while waiting for Ray in Heaven, IIRC.

  • aunursa

    “I was so afraid this would be awkward,” Rayford said.

    “Not at all,” Irene said. “I didn’t begrudge you a good wife and companionship. I was so thrilled that you both had come to Jesus. You’re going to realize that He is all that matters now.”

    “And I,” Amanda said, “am just so happy you made it through the Tribulation, Rayford.” She turned back to Irene and took her arm. “You know, Rayford, Irene and I had the pleasure of getting to know each other quite well during our decades together in heaven. You know, your witness and character were the reasons I came to the Lord.”

    From Book #12, Glorious Appearing

  • Daniel

    what a shame we can never find out how Rayford would have responded had the roles been reversed.

  • Ben English

    Paradise: the eternal state in which Jesus carves up your brain and removes your own emotional agency.

  • Charity Brighton

    The character of Amanda is almost completely irrelevant to the story, because she dies pretty soon after she is introduced. If you cut her out and replaced her dialogue with a fellow parishioner of Rayford’s or his sister there would be no effect. I think the only reason Jenkins made him remarry is to have the parallel with Chloe and Buck getting married.

  • themunck

    *thinks* …Does she -ever- say or do anything of importance? Forgot moving her lines, just cut the damn character.

  • Charity Brighton

    I don’t think so. She does have some mild plot-related stuff when Nicolae tries to frame her (postmortem) for being a traitor to the Tribulation Force* but that has no real effect on the story. I think you really could just excise the entire character from the story without having to change anything else.

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

    Pretty much. The only purpose she serves is to give Rayford ALL THE ANGST over whether OMG SHE IS A TRAITOR.

    (Naturally, she totally wasn’t and Nicky Buttes was just being his Evil McEvilson self. Speaking of which, have you noticed how ineffectual his personal evils are to the Tribbles even as he wreaks havoc across the globe to unnamed billions?)

  • Ben English

    He’s mostly just messing with their heads. It’s not like he actually needs to take decisive action against them since they’re not in any way a threat to his regime.

  • Charity Brighton

    They could have done that with Chloe or another character though.

  • Ben English

    Since this post is clearly drawing way more eyes than the GOT post

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8548453/4/Parousia-A-Fanfic-of-the-Earth-s-Last-Days

    Chapter 4 of my Left Behind mockery fanfic.

  • flat

    You know I observed long ago that relationships work by what you do not by what you feel about it.
    That’s why I am far more interested in what keeps a relationship working, rather than what people feel in a relationship.
    which explains my dislike towards twillight, fifty shades of grey etc.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    And let’s not overlook that what you do tends to influence what the other person feels about you and the relationship…

  • flat

    good point.

  • banancat

    Ok, this is a minor thing, but something that has always bugged me. Why did they writers choose a name like Hattie for the archetypical slut? It sounds like an old-fashioned named that your great-aunt librarian would have. Shouldn’t she have a name like Tiffany or Vicky or even Betty? I know that the L&J are older than me, but when has Hattie ever been a name that carried the connotation of a sex object?

  • Sue White

    At least Hattie is a name that I’ve heard of. I want to know where they came up with “Rayford”.

  • Charity Brighton

    Jenkins probably did almost all of the writing in the books that isn’t directly theology based. Sure, ‘Rayford’ and ‘Hattie’ sound odd to us, but he could have given them lazy names that are just mashed-together words from their backgrounds, like Chang Wong or Cendrillon Jospin.

    Although “Durham” is a town in North Carolina…

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    According the the internets, Hattie was a very popular name around 1920. That would mean it was a common name for young women in the 1940s. Tim LaHaye’s 87, so when he was a teenager, there were a lot of young women named “Hattie” whom he probably lusted after but could not have.

    It also pings to me as a Southern name, and when LaHaye was young, “love-starved Southern women” (as they’re called in All About Eve) were common characters in fiction. The idea of the American South as this place of lots and lots of weird sex is still a somewhat common one.

  • Trixie_Belden

    I seem to remember the topic of the choice of the name Hattie came up along time ago on old Slactivist. I think it was suggested that it is kind of below the Mason-Dixon line kind of thing.

  • j_bird

    Way back in 2003, Fred wrote:
    “(Eldridge Cleaver could have written volumes trying to unpack all the Southern sexual myths crammed into that name.)”

    The observation was so apt that the phrase “southern sexual myths” stuck with me all this time and I was able to find it by googling.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2003/10/18/left-behind-pretrib-porno/

  • j_bird

    Good God, has it been ten years?!

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

    Nice find. Thanks. :) And how interesting it’s practically the very first post Fred ever made about Left Behind. :)

  • Trixie_Belden

    Oh my goodness! That was an amazing retrieval! Thanks.

  • Carstonio

    This whole survey and summary of Hattie’s history is meant to be a lesson for the ladies.

    I doubt that – Fred was probably right the first time about the passage feeding the egos of men with LaHaye’s ideology.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think it’s a message to the ladies that we’re supposed to feed mens’ egos.

  • flat

    feeding my ego personally I think it tastes like ham when my ego got fed, so here is ponyo/nostalgia critic expressing my feelings.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbWpSklVzm4

  • Carstonio

    Ellanjay most likely believe women should do that, but the passage doesn’t read like instruction for them. It reads instead like numerous advertisements aimed at men, where the woman is one more accessory, a visible symbol of his masculinity like an expensive car.

  • rizzo

    Hattie and Nicolae hang out at Global Bistro? Hot damn these guys were phoning it in big time…

  • Pacal

    “Rayford Steele’s mind was on a woman he had never touched. With his fully loaded 747 on autopilot above the Atlantic en route to a 6 a.m.”
    “his fully loaded 747”?! Well that one way to refer to it.


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