NRA: Moses and ELIZA

Nicolae, The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 163-164

I apologize for an error in the most recent post in this series. I overestimated Buck Williams.

I assumed when the last scene ended that Buck had finally understood the clumsy, obvious Bible Code spoken by the Two Witnesses in this story. Moishe and Eli had told him, repeatedly, that he would find his friend Tsion Ben-Judah in Galilee — even repeating this message to Buck telepathically. (In Tim LaHaye’s Bible prophecy world, Moses and Elijah are telepaths, as any literal reading of the Bible clearly says.)

I thought it was impossible for Buck not to pick up on that. But this is Buck Williams we’re talking about — not picking up on things is kind of his trademark. I suppose the telepathy only confused him further. They should have tried telephony instead.

Thus we return to find Buck exactly where we left him, dimly trying to grasp what the Witnesses are saying:

Buck stood riveted before the witnesses as the sun went down. He looked around to be sure it was still just him and them, “That’s all I get? He’s in Galilee?”

Again, without moving their lips, the witnesses spoke: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Using telepathy to tell someone to “use your ears” really doesn’t make much sense. It’s like a telepath saying, “Read my lips.”

I sympathize with Buck a bit here. He’s just trying to get a straight answer, but the Witnesses can’t give him one because they’re unable to speak except by quoting unrelated snippets of Bible verses. I’m starting to think that Eli isn’t short for Elijah, but for ELIZA — the early chatterbot computer program that recited lines from its scripts in a way that sometimes almost sort of mimicked human conversation. ELIZA was pretty crude, but it had a better shot at passing the Turing Test than Moses and Elijah do here as they mechanically repeat the handful of Bible passages the authors allow them to say.

In nimbler, more biblically literate hands, this device of speaking only in Bible quotations might have been effective.* The problem here is that Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are dispensationalists — meaning they’ve “rightly divided the word of truth” in a way that allows them to focus only on the supposedly “prophecy” related parts that interest them. With such a limited segment of scripture to draw from, the authors wind up making their Two Witnesses sound like a 1960s computer program, or like tourists using an abridged, religious version of the Hungarian phrasebook from Monty Python.

This clumsiness is a bit of an obstacle for poor Buck. He’s trying to find one man who’s gone into hiding, and “Galilee” — the name of a large region — doesn’t really help him very much. Plus, he’s Buck Williams, so this vague direction helps him even less than it might help someone less dim.

Galilee? Did it even exist anymore? Where would Buck start, and when would he start? Surely he didn’t want to be poking around there in the night. He had to know where he was going, have some sort of bearing. He spun on his heel to see if any taxis were in the area. He saw a few.

Galilee is still a commonly used name for the region in northern Israel and for the Sea of Galilee itself, a large freshwater lake also known as Lake Kinneret. It’s kind of hard to miss.

“Did it even exist anymore?” is an odd thing for Buck Williams to be wondering. He’s supposed to be a sophisticated, jet-setting world traveler and someone who is intimately familiar with Israel, a country he’s visited numerous times. This is a bit like having Buck — who’s also supposed to be a savvy New Yorker — wondering to himself whether or not Connecticut even exists anymore. (Come to think of it, that’s actually a more reasonable question, what with the Antichrist having recently nuked much of North America off the map.)

One gets the sense here that it’s not just the character, Buck Williams, who is wondering this, but also the authors themselves. And, again, that’s odd. I’m sure that both authors have visited Israel themselves, and the Sea of Galilee is an almost mandatory stop for us Christian Americans when we tour the Holy Land. (We swim in the lake, then have a worship service along the shore at which someone sings, “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.”) Tim LaHaye, like most American preachers in the End-Times racket, has led tour groups in Israel (note Days 6 & 7 of the itinerary for one recent such junket pilgrimage).

But then here — and even more so in the pages ahead — we’re given passages in this book that seem wholly unfamiliar with the geography of Israel and that portray it in implausible and impossible ways. (Wait until we get to how Buck eventually travels to Galilee and you’ll see what I mean.) It’s all just … odd.

Buck seems tempted to hail a cab and tell the driver, “Galilee — and step on it!” But until he knows more about where that is, how would he be able to tell he wasn’t overcharged for the trip? He decides he still needs more information.

He turned back to the witnesses. “If I came back here later tonight, might I learn more?”

Moishe backed away from the fence and sat on the pavement, leaning against a wall. Eli gestured and spoke aloud, “Birds of the air have nests,” he said, “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

“I don’t understand,” Buck said, “tell me more.”

“He who has ears –”

Buck was frustrated. “I’ll come back at midnight. I’m pleading for your help.”

Eli was now backing away too. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

And now I must apologize again — this time to Joseph Weizenbaum of MIT, the creator of ELIZA. His program sounded far more like a real human than the Two Witnesses in this book do. Buck would have been better off consulting a Magic Eight Ball.

The scene ends with Buck no closer to finding Ben-Judah, but at least he has scheduled a second consultation with Moses and Eliza, and that promises to be just as fruitfully informative as this first session.

Buck left, still planning to come back, but also strangely warmed by that last mysterious promise. Those were the words of Christ. Was Jesus speaking directly to him through the mouths of these witnesses? What an unspeakable privilege!

Earlier, Buck was completely unimpressed that Deutero-Isaiah had spoken directly to him in the same indirect way of speaking directly. And, of course, “these witnesses” are themselves none other than Moses and Elijah — yet Buck doesn’t seem to think speaking directly to them is an “unspeakable privilege” either.

Buck doesn’t seem to realize, though, that “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” is also the words of Christ. So when he cut off Eli just now, was Buck directly interrupting Jesus himself? And when Eli quoted those words of Christ as a way of telling Buck to shut up and go away, it was as though Jesus himself was telling Buck to get lost. What an unspeakable privilege!

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* Consider, for example, the way the Gospel of Matthew uses this device in the curious story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. (Curious because Jesus isn’t the one telling this story, but he’s the only one who could, since no one else was there to see it.) That story features a character who speaks almost entirely in carefully chosen quotations from scripture, and it works there. In Matthew, of course, the Bible-quoting character is Satan, not Moses, but the device is much the same.

Here in Nicolae the device seems so clumsy that I keep thinking of the old joke about the “spirit-led” preacher who asks for direction from God as he repeatedly opens his Bible at random. That joke would work in this scene:

MOISHE: He is going before you into Galilee. There you will see him.

BUCK: I don’t understand.

ELI: I know whom you seek. He is not here. He is going before you into Galilee.

BUCK: So is he here then?

MOISHE: Behold, I have told you.

ELI: He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

BUCK: I’m just not following this. Just tell me, specifically, what I’m supposed to do.

MOISHE: And Judas went out and hanged himself.

BUCK: In Galilee?

ELI: Go thou and do likewise.

MOISHE: What thou doest, do quickly.


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  • themunck

    Honestly, I don’t think L&J have ever read the temptation of Christ. I don’t think they could ever imagine why someone would say no to power.
    Also, first? That’s a novelty.

  • SkyknightXi

    If you mean the scene in the Evangel, and not the novel, they have. In the prequels, Nicolae is subjected to the same trials by Satan–and accedes to all three.

  • Lorehead

    But then, as Fred noticed all those years ago, so did Buck.

  • aunursa

    The Left Behind movie reboot begins filming next month in Baton Rouge.

  • Lori

    At least they’ll be putting some money into the local economy in a place that can use it. I suspect that may end up being the only really positive thing that can be said about this project.

  • Coleslaw

    I’m sure we can use it, but the Baton Rouge economy is not that bad. Unemployment, for instance, is 6.4%. We have a port that is part of the Port of South Louisiana, the fourth largest port by volume in the world, a thriving petrochemical industry (whatever you might think of the petrochemical industry) and the largest semi-pro athletic complex university in the state.

  • Lori

    Well then, give it over. Our unemployment rate is higher than that and the jobs we do have, at least in the northern part of the state, are mostly crap. :)

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Hear, hear.

  • Coleslaw

    Woo-hoo! Maybe I can be an extra!

  • Lori

    You totally need to sign up and then report back to us about it. If you’ve got a flexible schedule and are willing to spend a lot of time sitting around waiting it’s not usually too difficult to get in a crowd scene or the like. Maybe you could be one of the dead bodies Buck steps over on the runaway.

  • GeniusLemur

    Well, at least Buck steps over them. Rayford kicks them aside.

  • Lori

    Oh, maybe Coleslaw could get to be one of those extras. Then she could be faux-kicked by Nicolas Cage.

  • reynard61

    oh. squee. faux-kicked by rayford steel. every woman’s dream. [/Raven-esque snark]

  • Carstonio

    I admit I’m uncomfortable with any promotion of Ellanjay’s hateful ideology in another medium. But I have no basis for assuming that the reboot will reflect their views of women or gender roles or non-Christians.

  • tricksterson

    Considerin this movie has been condemned by them as bein “in name only” I have hopes for it.

  • aunursa

    Tim LaHaye condemned the movie, but Jerry Jenkins has expressed his support for it.

  • aunursa

    What an unspeakable privilege!

    This phrase or something similar appears in the minds of our two heroes so often in the series, it is positively nauseating.

    e.g. “What an unspeakable privilege it was for Buck to be the first one allowed to read Tsion’s message, before he transmitted it to the millions waiting impatiently online.”

  • themunck

    Ironic, considering how they’re supposed to be oppressed minorities.

  • FearlessSon

    No more ironic than in reality, where Christian groups in the U.S., afforded every informal privilege, think of themselves as “oppressed” for seeing anything other than their tribe endorsed.

  • themunck

    That was where I going with that, yes :P. I still remember an article Fred linked a while back, where the blogger cut off the RTC’s speech after a line going something like “I discussed the persecution of us in my last meeting with vice-president Biden”…

  • Amaryllis

    What an unspeakable privilege!

    In the evangelical fiction of which I’ve read rather too much, Christians are very fond of quoting the last verse of the last chapter of the Second Letter to the Galatians:

    Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!

    No doubt L&J, or at least LaHaye, would have heard the phrase all their lives. It’s Chistianese cropping out again, sort of.

    In context, the verse comes at the end of a section praising the Galatians for their generosity to the poor among them, and assuring them that they’re on the right path:

    For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the
    saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

    Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for
    your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the
    liberality of your contribution to them and to all,while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.

    Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
    – New American Standard Version– “unspeakable” is King-James-speech.

    But even King James (okay, his translators, and don’t get me started on Lancelot Andrewes) uses the word “gift,” as does every other translation I’ve seen. No, Buck isn’t directly quoting, but you’re right that the substitution of “privilege” for “gift” is pretty telling.

  • VMink

    Unaussprechlichen Privilegien?

    (Sorry; obscure Cthulhu mythos joke.)

  • tricksterson

    I got it.

  • MaryKaye

    That was my first thought too. “Unspeakable” is a highly negatively-loaded term for me–I probably read too much Lovecraft as a child, but I think it’s true more generally. “Unspeakable horror” gets approximately 10x more Google hits than “unspeakable privilege” (and the latter are nearly all King James quotes) or “unspeakable beauty”.

    Not much ear for connotation, L&J.

    You know, though, I think this is one of the best parts of this book so far. The one thing, to my taste, that Jenkins occasionally does well is a little throwaway detail–Rayford feeling someone watching him in the cockpit, and here, Buck getting dissed by the Witnesses, complete with body language (rather than a tedious explanation).

  • FearlessSon

    I have said before that I think that Tribulation Force is a Lovecraftian doomsday cult. They operate in secret, try to work their agents into positions near the heart of mortal power, meet in hidden temple basements to conduct ritual communion with their deity, whom they hope will enter the mortal realm and bring death and destruction to the world as we know it.

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Y’wah fhtagn, He is Risen!”

  • Ruby_Tea

    And that’s a big part of the problem, isn’t it? The vast majority of the time, when they’re talking about Unspeakable Privileges, they’re talking about looking at things. And usually things that other people either will see very soon in the same way (like Tsion’s messages) or on TV.

    Man, I am such a warrior! I WATCHED SOMETHING HAPPEN.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    It’s like L&J think Rayford and Buck have to be constantly in awe of God or whatever they say is of God, so they clumsily frame everything in this way.

  • GeniusLemur

    “Man, I am such a warrior! I WATCHED SOMETHING HAPPEN.”

    Hey, if it works for every right winger ever…

  • Ruby_Tea

    And social justice warriors…

  • Lectorel

    Hey, be fair. We also write bitchy blog posts about it.

    No, really, we do try to do better than that, but every group has it’s irritating loudmouths

  • caryjamesbond

    Ah, the angry blog post. Truly, no great movement for justice would get anywhere without them.

    No, really, we do try to do better than that, but every group has it’s irritating loudmouths

    It’s partially that, and partially something Fred always talks about with the anti-kitten burning coalition posts and the “Christians in the US aren’t oppressed” posts. People tend to think that their ideas, their particular set of beliefs, their particular causes, are the ne plus ultra. It’s the same reason, really, why scientist is such a difficult career- being able to say “no, I’m wrong” is extremely difficult for people to do.

    Whether Fundies recasting “atheist bench next to ten commandments” as ‘oppression’ or SJWs recasting ‘writing angry blog comments’ as ‘fighting the powers that be’- the problem is the same. REAL change, real activism, is messy, complex, hard, and involves standing up and moving around. Much simpler to recast what you’re already doing as heroic.

  • Lectorel

    I speak solely from my own experience here, and I admit that makes me biased. But most social justice people I know have ‘writing bitchy blog posts’ as part of their activism, not the entirety.

    (And writing those posts can be damn scary at times. Some of my friends have gotten death threats, rape threats, multi-page rants on why they should kill themselves, because they decided not to be silent. I’m one of the ‘lucky ones’ in that I’ve only had people tell me that slut shaming is a great idea, and that I’m a humorless bitch.)

    And I will protest on the Fundies=SJW comparison. Unlike fundamentalists, social justice causes are legitimately stigmatized and maligned. Speaking up that ‘this country is a christian nation, grumble grumble’ won’t get the pushback that saying, for example, ‘casting a white person for a character of color is a shitty thing to do.’

  • caryjamesbond

    Oh, I agree in large part with what you say. And I seperate out people working for social justice (a group I occasionally try to be part of) and the Social Justice Warrior. Social justice workers tend to write long reasonable blog posts focused on education and explication before going out and holding a sign or making a donation or whatever.

    The ultimate example of the difference between social justice activists and SJW’s is a recent blog post about Wendy Davis’ filibuster and the entire clusterfuck that resulted that day.

    This person talked about how exhausted they were the next day, how that was one of the costs of their activism. This person talked about how Rick Perry “called us unruly,” This person talked about how they were part of a great victory for feminism.

    Which would all be true, if that person had been at the statehouse, if that person had been standing, protesting, risking arrest, shouting, staying up in the gallery and at the statehouse until god knows when people actually got to LEAVE what with parking and all.

    But this person had not been. This person had spent the entire day watching the live feed of the filibuster and writing twitter updates. Which is fine- I did pretty much the same thing. The difference is that I don’t conflate what I was doing either with activism in general or the real, amazing, courageous actions taken by the people actually at the statehouse. They were activists, the rest were spectators, and, as Ruby points out, conflating watching with action is the fundamental mistake of both Buck and the SJW’s.

    Also, both Buck and SJW’s tend to be rude as HELL.

  • Lectorel

    I admit, I’m very, very dubious of people who complain about ‘SJWs’ because – really? Of all the issues, you’re annoyed about the people who are trying make things better? I see a lot more people complaining about social justice warriors than I see people complaining about the injustices SJ is concerned with. Which makes me suspicious if they’re really irritated with the so-called ‘SJW’, or if they’re irritated they’re being asked to care about social justice at all. Maybe it’s not a concious thought process, but I strongly suspect it’s there.

    It also seems like people who get angry are disproportionately likely to get slapped with the label, and anger is the reason a lot of people care about social justice. A lot of us are angry, and hurting, which also leads to people identifying very strongly with certain things. I can get triggered by religious homophobia, even when not directed at me. I have written things about how much dealing with it, watching it unfold, being unable to stop it wipes me out. And that’s true. (Without going into details, agoraphobia and disasociation at the same time is . . . interesting.)

    I’m assuming, based on your username, you’re male. Please correct me if I’m wrong. So, on the blog post you mentioned – for you, watching and twittering on the filibuster was about an important issue, but one which ultimately, does not have the power to substantially effect your life.

    For a woman, it was watching an 11-hour defense against an attack on her basic rights. It was watching a major government body attempt to declare her lesser. It was an attack on her. It’s exhausting, to watch a battle which impacts you, but you can’t be on the floor to fight. It’s exhausting to watch so many men with so much power declare themselves your enemies. It’s exhausting to care so much for something that impacts you personally.

    There’s a joke that goes around social justice circles, about being sick of being an activist, and wanting to stomp your feet, declaring I don’t care anymore, you can’t make me! Because it’s so tiring, to live in a world that’s so cruel, and sometimes you just want to go back to not knowing.

    Another resource you might find interesting is the discussion of Nukers, Appeasers, Logic Bombers, and Emoters:
    It addresses the rudeness thing you mentioned.

    Now, I’m sorry to cop out of this discussion, but I really don’t have the spoons for it today. I spent most of last night discuss the Paula Dean debacle with my Aunt, and if I spend too much more time discussing this kind of thing, I’m going to end up doing some short-term damage to my emotional health.

  • Ruby_Tea

    As a woman, and the one who brought up the whole SJW thing to begin with, I would ask that you not treat all women as a monolith. It is simply not the same thing to watch events on TV and tweet about them, no matter how momentous they may be, than it is to be there and put yourself on the line. And of course, not all of us can be there. But that doesn’t mean that watching an event is the same thing as participating in the event. Unless you think that Rayford Steele and Buck Williams really are fighting Nicolae, really are stalwart warriors for God.

    And not for nothing, but I think that whole Paula Deen thing is, to coin a phrase, being blown way out of proportion.

  • caryjamesbond

    Of all the issues, you’re annoyed about the people who are trying make things better?

    Well, I don’t really CARE about SJW’s that much, anymore than I care about PETA protesters, and for much the same reason.

    I find them entertaining, for the most part, occasionally frustrating, and way too fundamentalist and prone to friendly fire to work with. A large part of effective action means working with people you don’t agree with to get shit done, whereas SJWS are more focused on making sure everyone agrees with their entire policy, line by line, then maybe seeing about doing something useful.. I learned this working with the homeless, which meant working with churches and deeply religious people most of the time, which meant working side by side with people who had opinions that I hated. Ultimately, I found that I cared more about their ability to bring in canned goods and donations than I did about the particulars of their beliefs.

    It’s exhausting, to watch a battle which impacts you, but you can’t be on the floor to fight.

    I don’t doubt that. Nor do I doubt that she was more tired than I was. Nor do I think she necessarily SHOULD have tried to be there- one of the more insidious SJW narratives is that you’re ALWAYS an activist. Which is not true. It is, I would say, analogous to the evangelical idea that you’re ALWAYS evangelizing. That doesn’t lead to more or better evangelism, it leads to a wide variety of pointless activities (like posting “Jesus loves you” on the web, or shoving a tract in the credit card slot of a gas pump) being catagorized as “evangelism”. SJW’s do the same thing- they aren’t taking more effective measures, they’re just saying “oh, posting on twitter is activism.” What she was doing was tiring, no doubt….but not everything that makes you tired is activism.

    Another resource you might find interesting is the discussion of Nukers, Appeasers, Logic Bombers, and Emoters:

    Read it. Years ago. It’s bullshit.

    First reason: people like to think they’re swayed by rationality and numbers and logic. They aren’t. Belief is about 75% what your daddy/mommy/trusted authority figure growing up said, 5% logic backed up by numbers. and the other 20% emotion. On the right you see this in the opposition to gay marriage, which makes no sense. On the left, you see this in the constant, strange attempts to ban assault weapons, which do virtually none of the killing by percentage….but tend to do all the high profile ones.

    Internet posts can open your eyes, they can make you readjust your stance, but the radical shifts in position don’t come from that. Simply put- because there is no human contact.

    If you want to know how to change minds- read books on sales. Sales is nothing but getting someone to go from the default “no” to a yes. I’ve done it, I’ve done it well, and it bears no resemblance to any of the categories described in that blog post. Some of those techniques described apply, but they miss the number one thing. They view the person you’re arguing with as an enemy to be defeated. Not another person that you care about and want to do well. And that’s the secret to sales- you have to actually, really, give a crap about your customers best interests- or why should he give a crap about yours?

    You can’t change someones beliefs. They can only change their own. And if you’re saying “Cary, believe XYZ” for me to start believing XYZ, I have to be willing to do something for YOU. People do things things for people they like and trust. People who are clearly not trying to manipulate, or win- people who actually care.

    99% of sales is presenting yourself and acting in such a way that people want to please you, and do things for you. And most of those things- handshakes, smiles, tone, physical contact- can’t be conveyed over the internet.

    But most of all- people don’t do things for nukers. People might ignore your logic, or not care about your appeals to emotion, and no matter how friendly and conciliatory you are, sometimes its just no sale today.

    But people can think one of three ways about you: they can like you, they can not care about you at all, or they can dislike you. Sales is all about shifting someone from neutral to liking you so they’ll do things for you (like give you money.) As soon as they DISLIKE you, though? Even a little?

    Run. People that don’t care about you will just ignore you. People that dislike you, however irrationally, will actively seek to harm you. If you’re knocking door to door, its not the fifty people that said “no thanks” that will call the cops on you. It’s the one woman whose baby you woke up, or guy you interrupted barbecuing (Trust me on this one.)

    And the people you make happy won’t remember you in a month and a half. I have customers from a year or two ago who no longer recognize me, even though they sung my praises. But the guy that had a deal go sour, and that ended up unhappy? He’ll never forget my name or face, and I just hope I never end up asking him for a job or some such.

    That article is shit. It goes against everything we know about human nature, it goes against everything we know about changing minds. It’s simply someone who wanted to be a nuker writing a justification for nuking.

  • Lliira

    But griping about a group of people who are trying to change the world for a better, however they go about it, in multiple comments on someone else’s blog makes you a big damn hero, right?

    Look, I have my own problems with certain people who use social justice as an excuse to bully people. (No one who comments here is included in that.) However, when you accuse everyone who gets angry over social justice issues on the internet of being “SJWs”, which is a pejorative? Maybe you need to look at yourself a bit harder.

  • Ruby_Tea

    I think SJW is much like RTC–a term we use to separate out the nice (not Nice) people from those who are just using a platform–be it Christianity or social justice–to bully people and vent their negative feelings on the world. Nowhere in Cary’s comments have I seen anything arguing against those who want to make the world a better place. (And I have a feeling that plenty of RTCs think they are trying to make the world a better place.)

  • Lorehead

    Do they? Nobody likes to admit that they’re proposing a trade-off, so you get pro forma insistence that marriage equality doesn’t just emotionally bother them, it causes real, specific problems. Then you ask what those are, and they don’t know.

  • caryjamesbond

    In my experience, yeah, they do think that. Gay marriage is something of an anomaly, but even then, they’ll tell you its about what God wants. But in general, they do seem to have shallow, but true beliefs about abortion, taxes, american greatness, school prayer, etc.

  • Lorehead

    Everybody always thinks their ideas would “make the world a better place,” but gay marriage and abortion are specifically about the afterlife. School prayer is symbolic. Taxes and American greatness aren’t particularly classified as religious or “moral.”

  • caryjamesbond

    They don’t see prayer as symbolic, nor gay marriage. They believe that flouting the will of god is responsible for school shootings and such. Abortion is regarded as murder, pure and simple. Taxes are theft.

    Ridiculous positions, perhaps, but they hold them none the less.

  • Lorehead

    Yeah, but the causation admittedly involves the supernatural.

  • caryjamesbond

    I occasionally have these weird moments where I realize other people actually, truly, really believe there is a magical man in the sky who cares what we do.

    It’s WEIRD man. Super weird.

  • Lorehead

    True. Let me try to reformulate: social conservatives typically assert that they can make a sound apologetic argument for their positions, one that would be logically convincing to an intelligent, unbiased nonbeliever. And a claim that God will smite the nation that displeases me him is not that argument.

  • Ross

    I keep thinking more and more about this, and it’s something I want to talk about, but I can’t quite get it into a coherent thesis.

    But if they really think abortion is murder, then they believe that a huge percentage of women are murderers or can’t be trusted to take care of their own health without committing murder. That women are so murderous that we need to tightly control their rights with respect to their own bodies in order to stop their murder sprees.

    I don’t even. I can’t. I–

    I mean, what.

    Of course they hate women. It would be bizarre if they didn’t hate women, when they earnestly believe women are, in general, murderous.

    Is this related to the thing where an evangelical will say they can’t comprehend why athests don’t run around committing murder all the time?

  • aunursa

    Although they think abortion is murder, most realize that the women who have abortions don’t consider it to be murder. So what they believe about those women and their culpability might be different from what you assume they believe.

  • Ruby_Tea

    I saw an interview some years back where various anti-choicers were questioned as to what they thought should happen to women who got abortions…I mean, murdered babies. Unsurprisingly, they mostly had not given it any thought–and admitted as much. Their responses were mainly along the lines of “well, they should feel really bad about what they did. Which I doubt is the same punishment they would want for a person who strangled someone.

    One person, I think, did advocate prison. One.

    Found it!

    (I don’t usually do this, but I will warn that there is a shot of a “pro-life” poster, with a picture that is alleged to be of an aborted fetus, at the beginning and the end of the video.)

  • Ross

    Can you really support that given the fact that every single week at least one of them comes in here and tells Fred or one of us that in our hearts, we all know that it’s murder and are just shamelessly lying to ourselves and others out of our willfullness to continue on our rampage of baby-murder?

    Insofar as they don’t find women who have abortions culpable, it’s only because they don’t think of women as people.

  • aunursa

    Yes, because I’m extremely confident that the few abortion opponents who comment on this blog are not representative of abortion opponents in general. Just as all the commenters here, or any particular subcategory, are not representative of the population at large.

  • caryjamesbond

    If you ever REALLY want to stymie a “but its MURDER” pro-lifer, point out that they live in a nation that is making the holocaust look like Texas’ death row, and that simply protesting with tape over your mouth is the most cowardly possible reaction.

    Especially if they’ve condemned the ACTUAL murderers that killed Dr. Tiller and others- point out that in their social paradigm, those people are heroes.

  • caryjamesbond

    But griping about a group of people who are trying to change the world for a better, however they go about it, in multiple comments on someone else’s blog makes you a big damn hero, right?

    Err….no. That’s when I spent so much time talking about how to actually change minds, and how twittering/blog comments aren’t activism. Because this is a conversation, not heroic anything.

    However, when you accuse everyone who gets angry over social justice issues on the internet of being “SJWs”, which is a pejorative?

    Fred gets VERY angry about social justice, all the time. I don’t think he’s an SJW. Ruby, Ross, Lorehead, Lectorel, you, me, Dragoness Eclectic- all these people seem to care about social justice issues, none of them have done anything I’d say is like an SJW.

    Simply put- its about tone. I’m pretty sure that the tone argument, like the article on how nukers are the best that always gets dragged out, was invented by someone desperate to defend their personal preference for dickery, because everything we know about people contradicts it. People take most of their information from your tone, from your body language, and a fraction of it from your actual words. And even on the internet, people pick up on tone.

    There is nothing wrong with being angry about social justice issues. There is something wrong with using your anger at social justice issues to pitch capslocked, cursefilled rants at anyone who disagrees with you.

    Now, here in this very thread are several people, yourself included, who disagree with me. Coolio! We’re talking about things we disagree about. How fun for everyone.

    Much more fun than obscenity laced rants. More useful, too.

    When the person they’re nuking is actually hurting people, this can be a fine decision.

    I have something of an issue with the way people on the internet have turned “person disagreed on the internet” into “harm.” Yes, there are truly harmful things that can be said. I don’t think in all the time I’ve been on slacktivist, I’ve seen anything that bad- nothing into the physical threat range. I’ve seen a lot of nuking over non-harmful things, though.

    But even granting that- most nukers don’t stop there. Most nukers go from “hey, I’mma nuke that troll” to “you disagreed with me about voting, so I’m going to nuke you.”

  • Ross

    My experience of nukers is that they aren’t trying to win hearts and minds,. They just want anyone who disagrees with them to shut up and go cower in the corner.

    When the person they’re nuking is actually hurting people, this can be a fine decision. But claiming that they’re doing a bad job of persuading people over to their side is not much of a counterargument, since nukers don’t actually want to win people over, just silence dissent.

  • dpolicar

    Sometimes nukers also believe that the unchallenged speech of the person they’re nuking is causing people who disagree with that person to shut up and sit quietly in the corner, and they want those silenced dissenters to hear someone speaking up for them.

  • Ruby_Tea

    I’ve seen this very belief turn against itself. Ned Nuker starts nuking, and a few people chime in to say, “Hey, I happen to agree with Ned’s point, but his nuking does not speak for me. Please stop nuking, Ned.”

  • dpolicar

    Yup, this happens.

    My point was that the belief exists, and Ross’ summary of Ned’s motivations is at therefore least incomplete… it’s more complicated than that.

    But I certainly don’t mean to suggest that the belief accurately describes everyone.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    Nukers are activism’s biggest liability. All they do is alienate people and convince neutral parties that you are a bunch of extremist kooks and that the opponents of your cause are probably right.

    If the nukee is actually hurting people, being hateful and insulting isn’t going to make him want to stop, and if the nukee is subtle about his nastiness, it may convince bystanders that he’s the victim here. I see no upside to “nuking” and lots of downsides.

  • FearlessSon

    If this kind of thing is so unspeakable, why are the authors putting it into words?

  • Launcifer

    To render it unreadable as well?

  • Daniel

    they keep using that word… I don’t think it means what they think it means.

  • FearlessSon

    What an unspeakable privilege!

    I suppose it could be worse. They could unleash an UNSPEAKABLE EVIL!

  • Invisible Neutrino


  • FearlessSon

    Do search engines not exist in this universe?

  • themunck

    This was written in 1997. How exactly would Google help him find the street address of Tsion’s hideaway? oO

  • FearlessSon

    AOL Search? Hotbot? AltaVista? Yahoo!? There were plenty of search engines out there before Google came along.

    Even so, I get the feeling that the authors are pretty bad about forward-thinking speculative fiction if they could not extrapolate some of the technology that existed at the time.

  • themunck

    Not my point. I just don’t quite see how a search engine would help in this specific situation.

  • FearlessSon

    Okay, granted. But I was more exasperated with Buck’s ignorance of the region in general. They may not have given him specifics, but they have narrowed the scope of his search down.

    It would have been nice to see him do something his supposed-career as a reporter has prepared him to do: research in the name of finding out the truth.

  • Lorehead

    In a better novel, whose authors retained some benefit of the doubt, I’d give them that. He went to the wise old oracle, he got a cryptic answer, but it at least told him where to go next. In this kind of story, the next leg of the hero’s journey is to head over, face whatever test of his worthiness is waiting for him, and trust that he’ll find out more when he gets there.

    No, he realistically doesn’t have enough information to find Ben-Tsion, but under the rules of the story he’s in, he’s supposed to have faith that God told him exactly what he needs to know right now.

  • wygrif

    a map?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    You’d think, but our globe-trotting GIRAT is apparently not only too cool to listen to two fire-spouting guys talking to him and tease out what they have to say, but he’s also too cool to get a fucking map and look for the modern name of Galilee. Hell, don’t some Bibles contain mini-concordances which discuss exactly this kind of thing?

  • P J Evans

    Some bibles have maps at the back, so you can find the places. They might even have, like the one I got in Sunday school, a map of historical Israel on three double-page spreads. With the mountains and rivers labeled.

  • tricksterson

    It could at least give him a map telling hiim where Galilee is in relation to modern Isreal. For that matter don’t Bibles have maps of Biblical areas any more? Ours used to.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Hell, I remember MapQuest being, like, A Thing back in those days.

  • PepperjackCandy

    A quick Whois search says that MapQuest was first registered in January of 1996.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    So in short, L&J, by the time of Nicolae, knew of a way to get at least static maps of a country with a computer and a phone connection.

  • Lorehead

    Or walk to the nearest shop and buy one? As Fred points out, though, Buck as well as L&J really should know this.

  • Invisible Neutrino


  • P J Evans

    Walking into a store or a travel agency and asking if they have road maps of Israel? Or bus schedules with route maps?
    You can’t tell me that they don'[t have those in Jerusalem, tourist center of the country.

  • aunursa

    The LB series is supposed to take place sometime during the first half of the 21st century.

  • FearlessSon

    “I find their lack of extrapolative imagination disturbing.” [/James Earl Jones]

  • hidden_urchin

    I overestimated Buck Williams.

    It happens. One tries to give him the benefit of the doubt because it is so incomprehensible that someone could be so oblivious (to put it nicely). To put it not-nicely, my smartphone shows greater intelligence than Buck Williams.

  • themunck

    Honestly, a 90-era wallphone shows more intelligence than mister Williams…

  • D Johnston

    Hook it up to an autodialer and a tape machine, and that phone could completely replace Buck Williams.

  • Boze Herrington

    I’m pretty sure this happened in one of H. P. Lovecraft’s stories.

  • caryjamesbond

    Hell- it’d be far more useful.

    At least with the autodialer/tape machine combo, it MIGHT call a real journalist while simultaneously playing the tape of useful information about the Tribulation. Whatever one in a billion coincidence of machine failures that would take is far more likely than Buck being anything more than a self-serving cowardly prick.

  • Daniel

    a phone as his replacement? It’s what he’d want.

  • tricksterson

    it is known.

  • Daniel

    What with the reboot coming along has anyone mooted a kind of robocop/End Times mashup- give Buck a phone for an arm and a bluetooth headset that can artificially alter his derisive sneer to thirty three times normal human levels?He’d be unstoppable.

  • D Johnston

    He’s just trying to get a straight answer, but the Witnesses can’t give him one because they’re unable to speak except by quoting unrelated snippets of Bible verses.

    This sort of thing would make me suspicious that I was dealing with a pair of crazy people and/or con artists (with superpowers, granted, but that’s hardly unusual for this universe). If God is speaking to or through them, I’d think the speech would be a little more natural. Repeating lines verbatim makes it sound like two guys who don’t have a good grasp on the cadence of the era.

  • Jen K

    It’s a pity the witnesses can’t refer Buck to Tim LaHaye’s tourbook.

  • themunck

    I dunno, I’m still 50/50 on one of them pulling it out of their pockets and handing it to him with a “seek, and you shall find” or something. Never underestimate L&J’s power to sell out!

  • atalex

    I’m surprised Fred refers to Christian tourists in the Holy Land making a mandatory visit to the Sea of Galilee without mentioning the hilarious (IMO) story from last year about Republican/Christian politicians who made that pit stop while on a junket to Israel … and promptly got drunk and went skinnydipping in the waters that Christ walked upon.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    And they claim to have loads and loads of respect for God because well shut up.

  • c2t2

    … and promptly got drunk and went skinnydipping in the waters that Christ walked upon.

    For some reason, I don’t think Jesus would have a problem with this.

    Edit to add: I found it!
    KJV Ecclesiastes 8:15 – Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry…

    See? We can has prooftext too!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Maybe not, but think of the absolute fit they’d throw back home if some Muslim dared use a Bible verse to prove they’re a bunch of political hypocrites. See my other reply to atalex.

  • Paul D.

    According to the Scofield Bible that LaHayes gets his dispensationalist beliefs from, Ecclesiastes was only included in the Bible as *negative* inspiration. All that stuff about there being no afterlife and about drinking and merrymaking is just too much for a fundamentalist to handle.

  • flat

    sigh reading this made me ashamed that they called themselves christians,
    well atleast I am not an American.

  • AnonymousSam

    “That which made the world and all things therein, through whom are all things, and all things through whom. The Lord is refuge and strength, even should the earth give way and mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Those who trust in the Mighty One have a shield against any peril. That which transcends is merciful beyond measure, compassionate beyond comparison. The ultimate truth rests within the most glorious and the source of peace and sustenance. This is the Lord.

    The Lord has chosen to share with you this glorious purpose. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away. You need only put your faith in the Almighty. If a man dies, he will live again. At the end of his hard service will come renewal. He will be called and he will answer.”

    —The Antichrist describes God and His plan to make extinct the human race.

  • Chris Doggett

    For writers talking about the end times full of wonders and miracles, L&J don’t really get how useful miracles can be as plot devices.

    Buck stood before the two witnesses.

    “Where can I find Ben-Judah?” he asked

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    As they said this, Buck felt a stirring in him, a tugging, as though a string had been tied to his finger, and someone was gently pulling on it, indicating a direction. Buck looked in that direction. He remembered not much civilization in that part of Israel.

    “Wait, that’s all I get? A vague sense of direction? I’m supposed to wander in the desert until I discover him? ”

    Moishe gave him a flat look, but said nothing further.

    It’s also a missed opportunity for some character development, and a little object lesson about humility:

    “Where can I find Ben-Judah?” Buck asked.

    The witnesses said nothing. Buck dropped to his knees, and began praying, but felt only emptiness.

    “What am I doing wrong?” Buck asked. A moment later, he realized he was thinking of himself as ‘Buck’ Williams, a worldly name, taken in pride, valuing defiance over submission. He took a deep breath, and began again.

    Cameron Williams let his hands drop to his sides, and began a silent prayer, hoping for direction in his quest. When he opened his eyes, the witnesses had not moved, but his own hands were dusty. There, in the dirt before him, someone had drawn a crude map.

    It wouldn’t be hard to use this need to do some good storytelling, which is why having the Bible-o-matic responses of the prophets so… pointless.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Now, THAT would’ve been amazing, and actually works as a narrative device about the ongoing spiritual growth that Rayford and Buck would be embarking on as they survive the next six-ish years.

  • Matri

    about the ongoing spiritual growth that Rayford and Buck would be embarking on

    You said “growth”. That’s not what we do here.

    I’m afraid you’re going to need to come with us for your… Re-education.

  • flat

    somehow I was’t thinking that somebody drawed a map in front of buck I was more thinking of a crude dick drawn in the dirt.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Something like this, maybe? The idea of this miraculously appearing in front of CallMeBuck gives me a happy. I’m not right.

  • Daniel

    I would rather have seen the classic cock-and-balls “with a dotted line emanating from the crown” (to quote Alan Partridge) but then I am a traditionalist. However, this is an excellent alternative.

  • Lori

    Surely he didn’t want to be poking around there in the night.

    This is odd phrasing for modern American English. Jenkins’ obsession with reproducing Biblical phrases is very annoying.

  • Jon Maki

    For my part, I can’t help but think of Airplane:
    He does want you to go poking around there in the night. And don’t call him Shirley.

  • D Johnston

    A bit off-topic, but possibly interesting: I’ve been fiddling around with this serial literature website, and I found a story that was clearly inspired by the oeuvre of Jerry Jenkins. The nations of the world have united under a OWG, Christianity is specifically outlawed for no adequately explained reason…you can probably sing along by this point.

    What’s interesting is all the ways that the author apes Jenkins’s style. You’ve got the general antipathy towards worldbuilding (the OWG has banned most medicine…why? How?), the ignorance of the real world (pre-OWG, half the world’s nations were married to active dignitaries from the other half, and no one found this odd), but the big tipoff is the incredible amount of detail about totally banal things. I’m talking a whole paragraph describing a character writing a file to a flash drive, or going through the fridge for a snack, and of course an extremely detailed description of a phone.

    After a few chapters, the author just flat-out namechecks LB, so there’s really no doubt. And it does make me a little sad. It’s not like she would have been a great author were it not for Jenkins, but she would have at least been an author. Jenkins is really teaching people to avoid writing literature in favor of agitprop – bad agitprop.

  • themunck

    What was the title?

  • D Johnston

    It goes under the punchy title A Novella Called “Launch Day”. Not a typo, not a faulty entry – I read far enough into this thing to find out that a copy of a book called “Launch Day” is the story’s MacGuffin.

  • FearlessSon

    This serial literature website… is it a fanfiction page? Because this sounds like bad LB fanfic.

  • D Johnston

    Yeah, I wish. She’s actually only a candidate at this point, waiting for more people to endorse the story so that it gets formally picked up. I have, however, read the entire thing (don’t ask why, I’m not sure myself). It’s open to comments, and I’m presently trying to find a way to communicate “Your story is irredeemably flawed” in nicer words.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    “I see you’re working on getting your first million words out of the way…”

  • reynard61

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

  • flat

    open a link to slacktivist on her website.
    Hopefully she learns something here.

  • Lori

    I wonder if the author sounds like Jenkins because he’s a graduate of one of Jenkins’ writing classes.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I sincerely hope not. The thought of the poor person having laid out thousands of dollars for the “privilege” of learning at Jenkins’s feet is just too much to contemplate.

    I mean, on a ripoff scale of 1 to 10, Jenkins’s writing school ripoff is an 11.

  • Lori

    I agree that the classes are a giant rip-off, but someone is taking them.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I still just feel so sorry for people who take those “classes”. They probably don’t know any better and they have no idea they’re being taken for a ride by a guy who writes total crap. :(

  • Lori

    I’m torn. On the one hand Jenkiins is taking advantage of the people who don’t know better. That’s bad and I feel bad for his victims. On the other hand their not knowing better takes the form of them thinking that Jerry Jenkins is a good writer. Unless they’ve lived so far inside the bubble their whole lives that they’ve never been exposed to better writing (which is probably true for at least some of them) then it’s a case of ODF* and I don’t have a lot of sympathy to waste on that.

    *Own Damn Fault

  • aunursa

    How does Jenkins take advantage of his writers guild customers?

    And why shouldn’t they think that he’s a good writer? He has more than 160 published titles in a variety of genres. His signature series has sold more than 63 million copies and is about to become a feature film starring Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage. With LaHaye he was #9 in Amazon’s 10th anniversary hall of fame authors, ranked according to number of books sold. He was featured on the cover of Newsweek. He helped Billy Graham write his New York Times-bestselling memoir. And no less an authority than Stephen King has declared that Jenkins “writes sturdy prose and plots well. He’s also warm and compassionate. Understands families inside and out.”

    Even if you think he is a very bad writer (and we Slacktivist commenters certainly agree that he is,) you have to admit that he’s a damn good writer in terms of getting his books published and sold. And that may be a primary goal for the aspiring writers attracted to his courses.

  • Lori

    How does Jenkins take advantage of his writers guild customers?

    He sells himself as someone who can teach them to write. You can’t teach what you don’t know. I’d have a lot less trouble with what he does if he was honest enough to pitch “How to sell a bazillion copies.” Even at that he’d almost certainly be selling nothing because I don’t think you can really teach what he did, but at least he’d be in the neighborhood of honest.

    Even if you think he is a very bad writer (and we Slacktivist commenters certainly agree that he is,) you have to admit that he’s a damn good writer in terms of getting his books published and sold. I wouldn’t say that he’s in any sense a good writer. He is undoubtedly

    I don’t think that he is in any sense a good writer. He is indisputably good at knowing his audience and he can clearly sell. That makes him a skilled huckster, not a good writer.

  • aunursa

    You can’t teach what you don’t know.

    But obviously he does know how to write. And he knows how to get published and how to write best-selling books. So you have not explained how Jenkins is being dishonest.

    I don’t think that he is in any sense a good writer. He is indisputably good at knowing his audience and he can clearly sell. That makes him a skilled huckster,

    Did the books write themselves? Did he lie about the content of his books? Are his readers demanding their money back because he didn’t deliver what he promised?

  • Lori

    The fact that Jenkins has crapped out a bunch of books that perfectly target a particular audience doesn’t make him a good writer. Again, it makes him a good huckster. If he was teaching “How To Make Millions By Playing To All The Worst Aspects of US Evangelical Culture” I’d give him points for honesty. As long as he’s holding himself out as an expert on writing I’m going to think his writing classes are basically a scam.

    If you believe that making money in the almighty market means that something is by definition good then fine, you believe that. I don’t.

  • Daniel

    Knowing how to write and knowing how to exploit a pre-existing audience who will buy, read, watch and vote any way bile spitting demagogues tell them to are two very different things. If aunursa wants to get all semantic on this then yes, technically Jenkins knows how to write, he can physically put words onto paper. He also knows how to get published- take your work to a specialist publisher that publishes for a very particular niche market, reinforcing views they already have and get said bile spitters to promote the books and their spinoff films as required reading. Jenkins knows how to exploit a market, he shouldn’t be teaching a writing course because his actual abilities as a writer are limited to the purely literal (appropriately enough) definition: he can make coherent marks on a page.

  • aunursa

    If aunursa wants to get all semantic on this then yes, technically Jenkins … also knows how to get published- take your work to a specialist publisher that publishes for a very particular niche market, reinforcing views they already have and get said bile spitters to promote the books and their spinoff films as required reading.

    And how is that different from what he’s promoting?

  • Daniel

    Touche. He does seem to be promoting it as though “writing” is essentially the same as advertising. I’ll say it again- he doesn’t know writing he knows how to sell stuff. And it’s not really like he knows that well- he’s got a preexisting customer base. He’s not even teaching you how to sell something that could be described as original. It’s teaching you to just repeat something with just enough cynical manipulation of people’s beliefs to guarantee further sales. It’s not “writing” its “selling” so at best it’s a misnomer.

  • Daniel

    Oh yeah, in that first comment I wasn’t meaning the people taking his course were the preexisting audience he exploits. I meant the people who his books are aimed at, as I assume it’s not necessary to have bought his books to take his classes.

  • aunursa

    How is Jenkins a huckster? Because he profited by recognizing a huge potential market for Christian end-times fiction and filling that demand?

    If you believe that making money in the almighty market means that something is by definition good

    I haven’t said that at all. I’ve made my opinion of LB clear, an opinion in alignment with yours, our host’s, and most of the other commenters. The fact that we agree that he’s a terrible writer doesn’t mean that he’s lying when he promotes himself as a good writer. He certainly believes that he’s a good writer, and no doubt he would consider the sales, awards, and recognition as evidence of that.

    You could go up to Jerry Jenkins, show him the series of Slacktivist critiques, and tell him that he is a terrible writer. And he would respond, “Really, Lori? Cause Stephen King and 63 million other friends think that I’m a good writer.”

  • Lori

    I don’t claim to know why Stephen King fluffed Jenkins’ ego and 63 million people can be wrong.

    It’s possible that Jerry doesn’t have enough clue and/or self-awareness to realize that his writing is crap. If that’s the case then I suppose he’s not technically lying, which I suppose would make his classes not technically a scam in the traditional sense (and obviously I’m aware that they’re not a scam in the legal sense.) They’re still bullshit and I’m not sure why this is the semantic nit you decided to pick. And pick. And pick.

  • aunursa

    Absolutely 63 million people can be wrong.* Nevertheless I haven’t seen any evidence to support the assertion that Jerry Jenkins thinks he’s a bad writer. All the evidence that I have seen suggests otherwise.

    If that’s the case then I suppose he’s not technically lying

    That’s correct. You can call him a terrible writer and you won’t get any argument from me. But if you suggest that he is being dishonest in promoting his Christian Writers Guild, if you call him a huckster (which implies deception,) if you claim that he’s taking advantage of his customers, I ask you to provide evidence. If it’s merely your personal opinion, just say so and I’ll be on my way.

    * Of course 63 million people can be wrong. Hey, 65 million people voted for Barack Obama. ;-)

    And having debated online with Christian apologists for almost 15 years, I’ve responded several times to the assertion that “Two billion Christians can’t be wrong” by replying, “Oh yes they can!” In fact the idea that 2 billion Christians couldn’t all be wrong is #1 on the list of my “Top 10 Favorite Christian Missionary Arguments.”

  • Lorehead

    I’d say it’s worse if they’re consciously aware that Jenkins got rich selling trash to the tribe and want a piece of that action.

  • Charby

    It makes me feel better to imagine that anyone who signs up for Jenkins’s classes somehow has it coming. Like, maybe they are the kinds of people who slash strangers’ tires in parking lots, or put broken glass in houseguests’ shoes. Then that makes this karma.

  • SisterCoyote

    One can always hope.

  • SororAyin

    We’ve just stumbled upon what “unspeakable privilege” means.

  • Tony Prost

    Will no one rid me of this troublesome reporter?

  • Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 184 pages

  • Invisible Neutrino

    What amazes me is that this kind of unself-conscious utter blockheadedness in Buck or Rayford is not the first time it’s been presented as a desirable character trait because heroes and reasons.

    Remember when Rayford contacts Pastor Bruce Barnes and is all like I WILL NOW TALK IN ZE SEKRIT KODE and Bruce basically in not so many words tells him to re-read the Bible, dumbass, you can figure this shit out.

    And this was after what, six months of diligently poring over the Bible?

    There is no palm that can encompass the magnitude of my facepalm at the sheer dumbassery exhibited by our point of view characters in these books.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Will Buck (or Ray-Ray) ever show signs of approximately-human intelligence?

    Signs point to NO.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Sad to say you are probably correct. :|

    After all, look at what Rayford thinks constitutes effectively countering the AntiChrist on his own soil:

    1. Imitating random voices so that Nicolae is annoyed when he can’t see who is uttering them.
    2. Using the prop wash from his airplane to blow Nicolae across the tarmac at the New Babylon airport.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Yeah, least effective underground resistance movement ever. Fluffy bunnies would be scarier (and, for that matter, more destructive).

  • SkyknightXi

    Again, I think the point is mostly that the TF is actively denying the glory that Nicolae and Satan think is their due. The glory that ought to accrue to God is THE thing they’re after…and not only are the TF not giving them honor, they’re giving them the opposite, humiliation.

    Although it doesn’t say much about LaHaye’s philosophy if he puts THIS much weight on glory.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    “not only are the TF not giving them honor, they’re giving them the opposite, humiliation.” – SkyknightXi

    Hmm, that’s an interesting point that hadn’t occurred to me. But it’s such petty, childish, almost-invisible humiliation! (Granted, there’s a school of thought that holds that the devil is exactly childish and petty enough to launch photon torpedoes against such gnat-sized opposition. If that’s the idea, though, Timkins don’t describe it very well – surprise.)

  • Carstonio

    It’s really status as a social concept. Buck and Rayford deserve respect because the former is the GIRAT and the latter is a airliner captain. Nicolae and Satan are mere pretenders to status. The two supposed heroes of the story are like squabbling children, alternating between sounding like older siblings who believe that birth order equates to status, and younger siblings whose response to that is “You’re not the boss of me!”

  • Daniel

    That’ll show ’em! Somehow now Rayford has transformed into a sahib in the Raj, sitting on the lawn taking high tea with the memsahib in the middle of the mutiny.

    “No dear, let’s not dignify their evil plans by trying to thwart them- that’s what they want us to do.”
    “Of course, darling, how silly of me.”
    “That’s quite understandable- you are a woman after all, and by nature foolish.”
    “Indeed. I would have thought that Satan. prince of darkness, father of all lies and chafer of all bottoms would have had better posture.”
    “Yes, well. I think he’s from the north.”

  • Ben English

    Anya Jenkins sockpuppet account spotted

  • Hummingwolf

    Anya would have chosen a different made-up last name if she’d known about Left Behind. Then again, maybe it is an appropriate name for a (former) vengeance demon!

    Edit: Disqus, you are much too easy to hate.

  • Hummingwolf

    One hopes that Anya would have picked a better lame-ass made-up name if she had known about Left Behind. Then again, given the theology we see in these books, perhaps Jenkins is an appropriate name for a (former) vengeance demon.

  • Daniel

    Bunnies can literally undermine things. They could bring the walls of New Babylon crashing down. And fluff gets up your nose. Rabbits are no laughing matter. Anything that multiplies that fast must be good at maths, and as we’ve seen before Nick’s plan for world domination rests on taxes. So he needs the rabbits on side. Rabbit accountants. With guns.

  • GeniusLemur

    I have this mental image of the witnesses going one further, and answering questions with things like “Matthew 4-12, Micah 7-9, Genesis 27-3!” While Buck frantically flips back and forth in his Bible.

    Then they go back to their regular speeches: “Revelation 1-1! Revelation 1-2!…”

  • spinetingler

    So, Jack Van Impe then.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Those were the words of Christ. Was Jesus speaking directly to him through the mouths of these witnesses? What an unspeakable privilege!

    I thought having a personal relationship with Christ was a big part of being an RTC. Has Buck been faking all along? Or is it like Lynard Skynard playing Freebird; Buck is just thrilled to hear the hits, no more of Jesus chirping tracks off the new album into his head, such lesser numbers as “Stop Working for the Antichrist!” and “Start Spreading the News (Like, Yesterday).”

  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I’ve had a few relationships where I was always trying to guess what the other person wanted because they wouldn’t talk to me straight, but I didn’t really enjoy them.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I’ve known one or two people like that. It’s a uniquely frustrating experience at times.

  • Matticus

    “I suppose the telepathy only confused him further. They should have tried telephony instead.”

  • Amaryllis

    As long as it wasn’t Eletelephony, or he’d be even worse off…

  • Jamoche

    It could be the E’telekeli instead.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    *high-five* Another Cordwainer Smith fan!

  • reynard61

    Sweet Luna, that takes me back! That poem was in my 3rd or 4th grade Reading textbook and I used to get a kick out of it Everytime I read it — which was quite often! Thanks for posting it!

  • Amaryllis

    You’re welcome! It was one of my daughter’s favorites around that age, too. I have fond memories of reading it with her and we’d both get the giggles.

    Sadly, I’ve never read Cordwainer Smith, so the “E’telekel” reference goes right over my head. It’s a lovely word, though.

    *wanders off to google *

  • tricksterson

    Cordwainer Smith, along with Henry Kuttner and his wife, C. L. Moore, are among the obscure science-fiction/fantasy authors you should make it your job to track down and read.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Yes! And, just for fun, you should also track down James Schmitz, one of my obscure favorites – among other things, back in the sixties he came up with an Internet-equivalent called the Comweb, which is as casual a part of the background for his characters as this one is for us. More to the point, he wrote a bunch of loosely-linked entertaining tales.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    Schmitz is not hard to track down; Baen Books has published collections of almost all his stories in recent years, edited by Eric Flint. I’ve got them in eBook format.

    Hmm, on checking, they also have collected Cordwainer Smith’s stories into omnibus editions. Sadly, they only have one Kuttner, and no C. L. Moore, nor Lewis Padgett (pseudonym for their co-written stories).

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    However, they do have Leigh Brackett’s planetary romances, which rocked.

  • Jamoche

    Cordwainer Smith stories are difficult to summarize, but “polar opposite of L&J in every imaginable way” is a start. The E’telekeli is the Moses figure to his people (oversimplifying *immensely*), from “The Ballad of Lost C’Mell”, which is available in an (oops, not free, but a couple of the stories are available as samples) e-book:

  • Amaryllis

    Thank you! The TBR list has has just expanded.

    “polar opposite of L&J in every imaginable way” is a good start.

    I feel as if I must have read Kuttner and Moore, I just can’t seem to remember anything about them. So they go on the list too.

    i do remember James H Schmitz. The Witches of Karres and Telzey Amberdon, right?

    I always wanted to be the Leewit. Allowed to be grumpy, and able to understand any language after hearing it spoken.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    OH yes! The Leewit is one of my favorite characters from anywhere.

  • P J Evans

    AKA Lewis Padgett and Lawrence O’Donnell, if that helps any.

  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    The more Fred describes the tedious task Moses and Elijah are doing, and the ridiculous and arbitrary limitations they’re laboring under, the more I wonder if they’re being punished for something. If these are two of God’s favorites, what can the blessed peons expect to be doing throughout eternity?

  • themunck

    But…but….they get to deal with Buck Williams, the GIRAT! How is that not the greatest blessing the almighty can bestow?

  • Hth

    Truly, having an elliptical, artificially prolonged conversation about geography with Buck Williams is an Unspeakable Privilege.

  • mattepntr

    Well, somebody’s got to be working the kitchens! Those steaming piles of vegetables drenched in butter aren’t going to be cooking themselves!

  • Daniel

    It would be much more interesting to find out that along with their own languages, everyone in the crowd was also hearing the prophets quoting different books- specifically everyone in the crowd hears the prophets quoting verbatim from their own favorite book. This has the unfortunate effect of meaning people who like good literature simply walking away and the only ones who remain being the people who are impressed by two men quoting religious texts, and the very few who hear the words “Rayford Steele’s mind was on a woman he’d never touch”. If Buck’s favorite book wasn’t the bible, or if he actually bothered to ask anyone else what they’d heard, he’d find out he was a character in a novel, and not a very well written one.

  • aunursa

    If Buck’s favorite book wasn’t the bible, or if he actually bothered to ask anyone else what they’d heard, he’d find out he was a character in a novel, and not a very well written one.

    Buck is so dense, he wouldn’t understand.

  • tricksterson

    I’m thinking they aren’t actually people, just programs loaded down into biological vessels.

  • Daniel

    I think the arbitrary limitations are there because this all started as a game at a family gathering- like charades but with Bible quotes- and Moses and Elijah are the two most competitive uncles. Everyone else has just given up and gone home, but those to will keep playing until one of them definitively wins. Even though they’ve been at it now for so long the house has disappeared and they’re just outside in the street still going “film! four words! A TIME TO KILL!”

  • Lorehead

    Matthew does this a great deal. (Although it’s Jesus who speaks only in famous quotations there, not Satan.) I personally suspect that the transfiguration narrative in Matthew 17, which is probably why the characters here are Moses and Elijah, is another example. An unnamed character in the story speaks up to point out that what just happened makes no sense—wasn’t Elijah supposed to have come before the Messiah?—and Jesus gives an answer that isn’t very informative, but depending on which manuscript you read, the disciples then realize that John the Baptist is Elijah. (One might then ask how the disciples recognize Moses and Elijah but not John the Baptist.)

    That’s the kind of solution you get when you’re trying to explain away the problems in your story, but without putting any new words in the main character’s mouth because that would be blasphemy. You end up re-purposing whatever quote vaguely fits and writing a new context for it in which it means what you want it to mean. Something similar happens in Chapter 10 of Luke, where Luke shoehorns the Parable of the Good Samaritan into the story from Mark, but Luke tells a much better story. On the other hand, it’s likely that Luke’s quotation of his other sources is about as verbatim as his quotation of Mark.

  • de_la_Nae

    Admittedly it’s been a few minutes, but I thought both the Tempter and Jesus in that story used quotations for their arguments.

  • Lorehead

    Both of them quoted scripture, but only Jesus in that story spoke exclusively in quotations.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    What’s interesting is that L&J apparently feel free to have Satan speak extemporaneously when vilifying Nicolae.

  • Lorehead

    Matthew does seem to consistently write around the need to invent new dialogue for Jesus in particular.

  • Dogfacedboy

    I sympathize with Buck a bit here. He’s just trying to get a straight answer, but the Witnesses can’t give him one because they’re unable to speak except by quoting unrelated snippets of Bible verses.

    MOISHE: Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils for wherein is he to be account of?

    BUCK: Yes, yes – where is Tsion, who breathes with his nose?

    ELI: Hear ye now what the Lord saith: Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.

    BUCK: He’s hiding in some mountains or hills? Can you be a bit more specific?

    MOISHE: And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up.

    BUCK: Er, all of them?

    ELI: Oh daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth and wallow thyself in ashes.

    BUCK: Okay, um. I’m a dude. They call me Buck. Hey, you’re probably interested to know why….

    MOISHE: Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.

    BUCK: Got it! [winks, pulls a twenty out of his wallet and offers it to Moishe, who doesn’t react. Buck tucks it into his burlap outfit and gives it a little pat.] Now, if we can get back to Tsion for a moment….

    ELI: Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these.

    BUCK: Well, I would never accuse you two of lying. But do you guys know Verna Zee? I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her.

    MOISHE: The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered, he openeth his eyes, and he is not.

    BUCK: …

    ELI: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

    BUCK: Tell you what – I’ll come back around midnight, and we can try this again. Do you guys like blintzes?

  • Lorehead

    If so, too bad; Israeli cuisine is a lot more Sephardi than Ashkenazi.

  • Sue White

    Those were the words of Christ. Was Jesus speaking directly to him through the mouths of these witnesses? What an unspeakable privilege!

    What unspeakable bullshit. *Anyone* can recite canned Bible verses. Especially ones that are common knowledge.

    Then again, the theory that the Two Witlesses are just humanoid microphones for Jesus makes more sense than that they are living, breathing human beings.

  • SkyknightXi

    I’m pretty sure the main conceit behind fundamentalist divine inspiration of the Bible is that ALL the writers were effectively humanoid microphones for God/the Christ. Multiple authors, but always the same will and mentality dictating to them.

    (So…Yhwh, in LaHaye’s view, is a Superfriends writer?)

  • flat

    well it is how the holy spirit is supposed to work.
    It just doesn’t work the way they want it.

  • SisterCoyote

    That really depends on your interpretation. I think it’s dangerous to assume that any human being is a mere “mouthpiece.” I mean… huh. That kinda just occurred to me.

    [Literalist] Baptists have this big issue with the Pope, partly because nobody gets to speak for God, right? Yet their whole canon for how the Bible came to be involves all these people speaking for God very literally indeed, and then a handful of Englishmen being conscripted by King James to speak for God again…

    Is there some trick of the light, some strange theological explanation, that makes this make sense?

  • tricksterson

    Because the Biblical authors and KJV translators are all safely dead and can’t say different?

  • Daniel

    I think it’s more that they did it a long time ago, and as we all know A Long Time Ago is when everything was great and there were no problems at all.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Is there some trick of the light, some strange theological explanation, that makes this make sense? – SisterCoyote

    To them. Not to the rest of us.

  • Jamoche

    It’s the difference between “God speaks through them” and “they speak for God”. The latter is interpretation, and we know how they feel about that.

  • Turcano

    It makes theological sense because those people weren’t dirty and Catholic.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Yep, humanoid microphones, even when they say they aren’t. In one of St. Paul’s letters – I forget offhand which one – he specifically says that he isn’t sure what God’s position would be on an issue the people he’s writing to wanted advice about, and tells them he’s just going to give his own opinion. I’ve come across fundamentalist comments on that passage that insist that Paul was really writing precisely what God made him write, without knowing it.


  • caryjamesbond

    Does anyone care about Spoilers for Left Behind? If you do- there’s a big one coming.

    It’s worth noting that, of the four original tribbers, only one survives all the way through- a bit of ham-fisted foreshadowing from L&J constantly repeating that 3/4’s of the population will die.

    The only one who survives? Rayford.

    Because, you see- He’s LaHaye’s author avatar. Even Bucky doesn’t quite make it- he dies like, a quarter of an hour before Jesus comes back, but he doesn’t make it all the way.

    Pretty sure that was a deliberate choice.

  • Ben English

    The scene in which Buck dies also doesn’t make it clear that it’s Buck dying. He’s refered to in pronouns through the entire scene at the end of Armaggedon. They wanted to make sure you pick up Glorious Appearing to learn the final fates of the characters!

  • aunursa

    Can we expect a major cliffhanger in Armageddon?
    “Yes, I introduce a new character named Cliff Hanger. Just kidding. In truth, this one ends with the biggest cliff hanger of them all, even more than Assassins.”

    From an April 2003 interview with Jerry Jenkins

  • aunursa

    hattielover: are buck and chloe going to make it all the way to the glorious appering?

    Jerry Jenkins: Only one of the original Trib Force members (Bruce, Rayford, Buck, Chloe) will survive till the GA. And one of them is already gone

    elfangor262: have you already decided who dies before the great appearing and who lives, or do you decide that as you go along?

    Jerry Jenkins: I don’t decide. I discover. But I have already discovered that one.

    From a chat following the publication of Book #10

    Personally I had always assumed that Rayford would survive to the end because his was the first perspective given in the series. (In fact his is the first perspective in most of the books.)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Well, yeah. Jenkins wouldn’t kill off Tim LaHaye’s Fully-Loaded Author Avatar. You don’t bite the hand of the guy whose name gets you guaranteed royalties for life.

    And he doesn’t decide, he craps.

  • Zorya_EvenStar

    5 minutes with an internet search engine would have given Buck plenty of information on Galilee – much more than the two witnesses seem to know.

  • Lorehead

    L&J simply didn’t anticipate how important the Internet would be, but even then, when I went there, I knew where the Galil was.

    It looks to me like a very bizarre manifestation of the idea that the only source you need to, or should, look at is the (Scofield) Bible. They almost deliberately seem to be making the point that you don’t need to know anything about the world today. Are the cities mentioned in the Bible part of Israel now? Does Galilee still exist? You don’t need to know any of that.

  • christinaarcher

    Four grand for the ‘privilege’ of touring the Holy Land with Tim? Is that a good deal, or a complete rip-off? The only interesting part about that would be to make bets about the first time Tim commits blasphemy.

  • reynard61

    BUCK: I’m just not following this. Just tell me, specifically, what I’m supposed to do.
    MOISHE: And Judas went out and hanged himself.
    BUCK: In Galilee?
    ELI: Go thou and do likewise.
    MOISHE: What thou doest, do quickly.

    Oh, yes! Sweet Merciful Luna, *YES*, Buck! For literacy’s — not to mention sanity’s — sake, go thou and do likewise! And do quickly!

    He turned back to the witnesses. “If I came back here later tonight, might I learn more?”

    Moishe backed away from the fence and sat on the pavement, leaning against a wall. Eli gestured and spoke aloud, “Birds of the air have nests,” he said, “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

    “I don’t understand,” Buck said, “tell me more.”

    “He who has ears –”

    Buck was frustrated. “I’ll come back at midnight. I’m pleading for your help.”

    Eli was now backing away too. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

    Am I the only one who hears Eli(ZA)’s dialogue in the voice of Joshua from War Games?

    Buck left, still planning to come back, but also strangely warmed by that last mysterious promise. Those were the words of Christ. Was Jesus speaking directly to him through the mouths of these witnesses? What an unspeakable privilege!

    “Earlier, Buck was completely unimpressed that Deutero-Isaiah had spoken directly to him in the same indirect way of speaking directly. And, of course, ‘these witnesses’ are themselves none other than Moses and Elijah — yet Buck doesn’t seem to think speaking directly to them is an ‘unspeakable privilege’ either.

    “Buck doesn’t seem to realize, though, that ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’ is also the words of Christ. So when he cut off Eli just now, was Buck directly interrupting Jesus himself? And when Eli quoted those words of Christ as a way of telling Buck to shut up and go away, it was as though Jesus himself was telling Buck to get lost. What an unspeakable privilege!”

    Well; it’s certainly unspeakable, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a privilege…

  • reynard61

    For some reason, Disqus is being naughty and won’t let me edit my post. “(L)iteracy’s” is supposed to be “Literature’s”.

  • Hummingwolf

    That reason would be that Disqus is being Disqus.

  • reynard61

    Which is rather odd because I find Disqus to be better-behaved than most other commenting programs — except, perhaps, Gravatar.

  • Daniel

    “Birds of the air have nests,” he said, “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
    Story of Jesus’ life. Who makes travel plans for the Of Nazareths? Why can they never arrange a hotel room in time?

  • Michael Albright

    Telepathy is one of those weird powers heroes managed to get with no explanation in bad cartoons in the ’80s. Now that I’ve thought that, I imagine Nicolae has cameras EVERYWHERE and is constantly able to watch everything relevant to his plan and everything the heroes do outside their headquarters. To be fair, Nicolae has proven to be somewhat more competent a villain than Krang and Lex Luthor (Superfriends only) combined. Nicky has taken over the world with a staff of fewer than 30. The Legion of Doom would have gone thirty billion dollars in debt trying to rob a bank of a hundred billion dollars.

    Also, Buck and Nicolae are even less useful than Superman constantly ramming his head into forcefields and Batman solving the Riddler’s word salad riddles.

  • Charby

    The Legion of Doom would have gone thirty billion dollars in debt trying to rob a bank of a hundred billion dollars.

    Hey, that’s a $70 billion dollar profit. I’d take it!

    Nicolae doesn’t need cameras everywhere. The world of LB is divided into two groups — the sheep who are aware he is evil and comply with his every whim while secretly plotting against him, and the goats who are not aware he is evil and comply with his every whim.

    Lex Luthor could conquer the universe if Superman would only content himself with grumbling about how much he resents working for Luthor while he eagerly carries out Luthor’s schemes.

  • Matri

    Uhm, I think the $30bil debt is what’s left after adding in the hundred billion.

  • Michael Albright

    Actually, that was a typo. It was supposed to be $100 mil. I kinda undercut my point there.

  • Michael Albright

    $100 million, not billion. Sorry; typo.

  • Dan Hetrick

    Completely off-subject, but as a comics nerd, it’s totally awesome to see a panel from the recent X-Men comics as the pic of the post :-)

  • J_Enigma32

    BUCK [holding magic 8 ball]: where is Dr. Jew Bin Jewenjewstein?

    [Shakes ball]


    BUCK: What? I don’t understand. Will I understand your next answer?

    [Shakes ball]


    BUCK: This is harder than I thought. Why can’t you just give me a straight answer? Can you give me an answer I can understand?!

    [Shakes ball]


    [Buck shakes ball furiously].

  • flat

    pity the magic 8 ball

  • Panda Rosa

    How about the Magic Conch, from SpongeBob?

  • Jessica_R

    I’d like to think the Two Witnesses are being purposely unhelpful for the negative amount of help he gave Hattie. “Oh you didn’t feel like saying out loud ‘Don’t you’re about to make the beast with two backs with the beast with seven heads!’ eh? Then we’re going to be vague like a mofo punk! Vague like character motivation in a Damon Lindeolf script. Yeah! That vague!”

  • The Other Weirdo

    …Don’t you’re about to make the beast with two backs…

    This. I have no heard this before. This is now my very most favourite this.

  • Pops

    “I suppose the telepathy only confused him further. They should have tried telephony instead.”

    Oh man, that joke has been almost 10 years in the making.

  • flat

    Hey Fred you don’t need to apologize for those things, you are only human, anyone can make a mistake.

  • finbikkifin

    It’s like a terrible _Darmok_.

  • SororAyin

    Is there any other kind? I never liked that episode. Well, that’s not true. It just gets re-run so often that I’ve gotten sick of it.

  • finbikkifin

    I find the best way to continue to appreciate Star Trek is to not watch re-runs. Another good option is to watch Galaxy Quest every so often instead!

  • SororAyin

    Galaxy Quest is awesome. And, yeah. I should probably just stay away from ST:TNG re-runs. There were seven seasons, if I remember right, and the same ten shows are all that seem to get shown on teevee.

  • finbikkifin

    Eight, I believe.

  • Lorehead

    I’m not sure from your reply how in on the joke you are, but that account lists the plots from “the unaired season 8” of TNG, which invariably demonstrate how the writers were out of ideas. There was no season 8.

    When Viacom did in fact recycle all their rejected TNG scripts into a new series, they called it Voyager.

  • finbikkifin

    I’m in on that particular joke, but googling for the Twitter account did lead me to the #Actual_TNG hashtag, which is real episodes in TNG_S8 format.

    “Picard and Data return from a trip. Barclay turns into a spider.” Quick! Actual_TNG or TNG_S8? And if it wasn’t a particularly memorable episode, would you really be able to guess?

  • Lorehead

    I remember that one. I thought it was goofy fun, even if the plot hung together on contrivance (Every disease-of-the-week plot had to because Data was in the cast and should have been immune,) technobabble (There’s less of an excuse for that,) and absurd misunderstandings of how evolution works.

    Light-years better than when Voyager took the same plot and called it “Threshold.”

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Technobabble got pretty bad with Deep Space 9, but that said, I really liked the storylines they came up with. :)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Probably the same General Top Ten TNG Eps that quite a few fans think are good, heh.

  • Daniel

    I have a solution. It relies on a homophone, but I think I’ve managed something:

    Luke 3:1 “Tiberius”
    Genesis 35:27 “Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned”

    There is (according to google maps) a town by the sea of Galilee called Tiberias, and a street in that town named Hebron, which also has the advantage of being the name of one of the Cities of Refuge (Wikipedia) where people would be able to escape punishment for manslaughter. Also it’s not a very big street, so Buck could just go door to door to find him.

  • themunck

    …if he heard “Hebron”, wouldn’t he more likely just go to Hebron, which is in the opposite direction? (Assuming my info is right. All I know of Israeli geography is from Crusader Kings II)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    It would be a good test of Buck’s mental acuity :P

  • Daniel

    I was worried about that, but I thought the symbolic meaning of it (as opposed to what Hebron is actually like now) would perhaps make him look at a map.

    What am I saying, of course he wouldn’t. Maps can’t be read literally.

  • Lorehead

    Hebron and Galilee are in the same places they were in 1066, yes. Although the game, before a patch fixed it, did put Alexandria in the wrong place.

  • themunck

    I remember that ^^. Was a joy to read in the patch notes that “The county of Alexandria has been expanded to include the actual location of Alexandria”

  • PepperjackCandy

    There’s a hotel called the Caesar Premier Tiberias. It’s a pretty big hotel, too, so L&J could waste several chapters of Buck wandering around lost in a manly, action-oriented fashion.

  • Daniel

    I’d like to see that scene- particularly if the only staff in the hotel that night are female, so he can’t admit that he’s lost or ask for help from them because penis. It could make for an excellent silent slapstick bit with him going Scooby-Doo like to each door in the hotel and being chased by angry guests.

  • Carstonio

    Two of the Jewish religion’s most prominent prophets repeating the words of Jesus? How much further can Ellanjay go in treating Judaism as the Protoceratops to Christianity’s Triceratops, and treating Jews as just Christians in denial? Perhaps they’ll have Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wearing rainbow wigs and John 3:16 T-shirts.

  • Hummingwolf

    How much further can Ellanjay go in treating Judaism as the Protoceratops to Christianity’s Triceratops, and treating Jews as just Christians in denial?

    Really, really far, actually. Some Christians can spend their entire lives basing all their ideas of Judaism on selected verses of the Bible, without ever speaking enough to actual, living Jewish people to find out that Judaism is more than Christianity Lite.

    (It should be noted that basing your ideas of Judaism on the theory that it’s just a precursor to Christianity is still better than basing your ideas of Judaism on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. )

  • aunursa

    On some interfaith and conservative sites, I’ve spent days trying to explain to Evangelicals that Judaism is not simply Christianity without Christ. The typical end result is my head repeatedly banging against a wall.

  • Lorehead

    Silly us, thinking our religion is alive instead of a museum exhibit that went into a glass case the moment Jesus was born. Also that we weren’t terrible people, whom God didn’t even bother giving real ethics because we’d never understand them, until the Christians showed up to set us straight.

  • aunursa

    Oh no, many of these people have great respect and appreciation for Jews and the Jewish religion. They just have a misconception over how we understand the (Hebrew) Bible and that we have different concerns than they do. In other words, I’ve seen several Christian theologians posit one or more questions, typically about sin and/or the afterlife, that EVERY PERSON AND/OR RELIGION MUST ANSWER. They have no idea that their questions aren’t even an issue or problem for Judaism (and, I imagine, many other religions.)

  • Lorehead

    There are a lot of different attitudes out there, but combining the misconception that Judaism is Christianity minus the New Testament with the misconception that there’s the Bad Testament and the Good Testament is definitely one of them.

  • aunursa

    It was a big turnoff when I learned that the bright, cheerful South Rose Window in the Notre Dame Cathedral is symbolic of the New Testament, while the darker North Rose Window represents the “Old Testament.” And the contrast is deliberate.

  • Lorehead

    It’s not something only Christians do, either. I’ve read atheists try to use fundamentalist proof-texting with clobber verses to show that we supposedly believe all sorts of things, as if we thought that way.

  • aunursa

    Exactly. And sometimes Judaism gets blamed by atheists for the actions of non-Jews. Here is an essay about Judaism on an atheist site in which the author blames Judaism for, among other things, Christian atrocities committed against Jews and others … because the Christians studied the Hebrew Bible. For example…

    This question [about Biblical ethics and genocide] becomes all the more evident since we have indeed verifiable evidence of how biblical ethics affected the behavior of historical societies confronted with exactly this moral problem… [T]his evidence may be derived from Christian societies. The Crusades come to mind…

  • Lorehead

    At least that one has some basic awareness of the Talmud and Maimonides. But really, when was the last time you’ve heard of any Jew killing an Amalekite? There are definitely criticisms of traditional Jewish doctrine that I personally would accept as sound, although I’m not very observant. (In fact, look how often I’ve posted on Shabbos.) The asymmetry in marriage law favoring separated husbands over wives comes to mind. But that essay beelines straight for the easy targets that aren’t relevant to how people today live their lives.

    The part about the traditional laws of animal-slaughter having a lot of loopholes by modern standards comes closest (I recall a scandal recently in which some slaughterhouses were following only the letter of the Law, while cutting every corner possible, and the rabbis refused to certify them as kosher on the grounds that God does not approve of animal cruelty.) A lot of the time, the complaint is just that we have the same universal ethical precepts as everyone else. Well, yes!

  • Amaryllis

    Huh, I didn’t know that either. And any window with a Madonna and Child at its center is not much of an accurate representation of the Jewish scriptures, is it?

    I haven’t quoted poetry at you all lately, but this conversation reminds me of Karl Shapiro’s The Alphabet.

  • Mniot

    As someone who’s done plenty of AI, I wanted to correct the description of ELIZA here. ELIZA is sort of a parody of a Rogerian therapist: whatever you say to it, it reforms as a question and echoes back to you. For example, if you say, “I’ve been arguing with my mother a lot,” then ELIZA will reply with something like, “Why do you think you’ve been arguing with your mother a lot?”

    Since Buck is so empty-headed, there isn’t really anything useful for ELIZA to echo back to him, and so Eli’s Selected Words from the Bible is actually much more informative. I actually tried to play Buck with a copy of ELIZA, but it’s more difficult than you’d think!

    Hello. My name is Eliza. How may I help you?
    I’m looking for rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah.
    Did you come to me because you are looking for rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah?
    Are you Sure?
    Do you expect a different answer by repeating yourself?
    Are you sure?
    Look, I’m just wondering where he is. Have you seen him?
    How long have you been just wondering where he is. Have me seen him?
    Since I got to Israel.
    Come, come, elucidate your thoughts.
    Is he in Galilee?
    That is quite interesting.
    If I came back here later tonight, might I learn more?
    Can you elaborate on that?
    That’s what I’m asking you!
    Did you come to me because you are asking me?
    I understand.

  • Lorehead

    Old piece of AI folklore from 1968:

    Late one night several weeks ago an unnamed MIT student went into the A.I. Project Office to use a teletype terminal on the Project MAC time-shared computer system. When he arrived, no one was in the room and the teletype appeared to be available; however, a note over the terminal read, “Computer time reserved by Dan Bobrow.” The student did not want to start working if he was going to be interrupted when Bobrow, a lecturer at MIT, arrived. Yet he also knew that Bobrow had a teletype in his home and sometimes worked from there, forgetting to cancel his office reservation.

    In an attempt to clarify the situation, the student sat down at the teletype and attempted to link to Bobrow’s home terminal to ask him if the office terminal was going to be free. Unfortunately, he dialed the wrong number and unknowingly became linked to a user who had left Weizenbaum’s ELIZA program (sometimes known as the “psychiatrist” or “doctor” program) running. A conversation something like the following ensued.

    Student: May I use your computer time from the office?

    Teletype response: Do you want to use my computer time?

    Student: Yes.

    Teletype response: I understand.

    Student: Are you planning to come into the office tonight?

    Teletype response: Why do you want to know whether I am planning to come into the office tonight?

    Student: Because I want to use your computer time!

    Teletype response: I see.

    Student: Well?

    Teletype response: What do you mean, “Well”?

    Student: Well, what’s your answer to my questions?

    Teletype response: Let’s explore further why you want to use my computer time.

    After about ten minutes of increasing frustration and anger, the student rushed to a telephone and dialed Bobrow’s home, rousing him from a deep sleep.

    Student: What the heck do you think you’re doing?

    Bobrow: What do you mean, What the heck do I think I’m doing?

  • reynard61

    Such are the perils of answering a question with a question without some kind of context as to why this is being done.

  • Jamoche

    Back when Usenet had a viable signal to noise ratio, someone had this exchange in their sig:

    “Nice day,” Foyle remarked.
    “Always a lovely day somewhere, sir,” the robot beamed.
    “Awful day,” Foyle said.
    “Always a lovely day somewhere, sir,” the robot responded.
    “Day,” Foyle said.
    “Always a lovely day somewhere, sir,” the robot said.

    – from “The Stars My Destination” by Alfred Bester

  • Lliira

    This is like the fourth time I’ve seen this form of “conversation” used in writing in two days.

    Sue: What do I do?

    Lisa: I will give you a little hint.
    Sue: I don’t get it.
    Lisa: Here is another little hint.
    Sue: I don’t get it.
    Lisa: Here is another little hint.

    Sue: I don’t get it.
    Lisa: Okay, here’s the whole thing perfectly laid out.
    Sue:… I don’t get it.

    Why can’t Lisa just tell Sue the answer outright? And why, when she does, does Sue not understand? IT IS SO ANNOYING.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    A frustrating part is when professors or other teaching-type people incorporate this to an excessive degree in their pedagogy. It’s one thing to try and give hints to get a student to think about a problem, but it’s another to ultimately refuse to answer outright when the student is clearly floundering.

  • guest

    I so had to learn this the hard way when I started teaching….

  • bekabot

    But then here — and even more so in the pages ahead — we’re given
    passages in this book that seem wholly unfamiliar with the geography of
    Israel and that portray it in implausible and impossible ways. (Wait
    until we get to how Buck eventually travels to Galilee and you’ll see what I mean.) It’s all just … odd

    Perhaps Ellenjay are counting on a reader who is neither extensively traveled and well-experienced, the way a real Buck Williams* would be, nor moderately-traveled within narrow in-group parameters, the way they are. Maybe they’re courting the rural vote: they could be counting on a reader who is flummoxed by cities and lives out around the back-end of nowhere and isn’t sure Israel exists anywhere outside the Bible and is a Christian the way other fanboys/fangirls are Trekkies or Twihards. (I too am flummoxed by cities and live out around the back-end of nowhere, so please don’t tell me I’m disrespecting such people: I’m one of them.) I’m not proposing that this is the case but it would explain the discrepancy explored above. “He’s been to the place himself…so how could he have his ghost writer wonder whether or not the place is real, even if the ghost writer does it via Marty Stu, especially since Marty Stu is supposed to have so much on the ball?” A good question, which I don’t expect I’ve answered. But then condescension seems to be a stance or an emotion which comes easily to L & J both, possibly to the extent that they transmit it even when they don’t intend to.

    Buck seems tempted to hail a cab and tell the driver, ‘Galilee — and step on it!’

    “Sbyybj gung zvyx-juvgr nff!” No, I guess he can’t say that.

    *By “real Buck Williams” I mean a journalist who would deserve the GIRAT label foisted upon Buck Williams. I don’t mean the real Buck Williams as presented by Jenkins.

  • Lorehead

    I’d have to say the most glaring example I’ve ever run into was from Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders. At one point, the new President Jack Ryan extemporaneously talks about “the two Chinas” in front of a TV camera. His advisors all tell him that the People’s Republic of China is going to be livid about this, but he doesn’t get it, because, straight-talking man of the people that he is, why shouldn’t he call the People’s Republic and the Republic of China “the two Chinas?” This is on the heels of his whining in his internal monologue that no one respects his doctorate, specializing in the postwar history of Asia.

    Clancy makes this even more insulting later on, as his president deals with all the evil foreigners plotting against us by threatening to bomb them, and at the end, announces that he will now recognize the independence of Taiwan from China. (Which it has never even declared. Tom Clancy also thinks that Japan was carrying out economic warfare against the U.S. and had the U.S. reconquer and reoccupy it, also has the U.S. conquering Iraq and Iran and being welcomed as liberators, and directly, as the author, states that India is not really a democracy and that the end of colonialism in Africa was a mistake.) There’s no recognition, within the author’s fantasy, that this strategy might not work on another nuclear power. For what it’s worth, there are a lot of places within the novel where Clancy seems to let on that he knows better, and when George W. Bush actually tried jingoism in real life, Clancy did publicly say that it was a disaster and he wouldn’t be voting for him again in 2004.

  • bekabot

    True…my point would be, Clancy can think whatever he thinks, but you can bet he doesn’t go around talking about “the two Chinas”. But a judgement has been made by somebody somewhere that that’s what’s good enough for his readers. The disconnect there doesn’t have to be explained, because it explains itself.

    For what it’s worth, there are a lot of places within the novel where Clancy seems to let on that he knows better…

    …which he would have to, because he’s smart enough to put words down on paper; in fact he’s smart enough to put lots of words down on paper…

    …and when George W. Bush actually tried jingoism in real life, Clancy did publicly say that it was a disaster…

    …the way it would be a disaster if James O’Keefe were suddenly acclaimed the Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time and then decided that it would be a cute idea to try and broker the Second Coming and if everybody went along with him because they all figured his elevation proved that Time was coming to a halt…

    …and he wouldn’t be voting for him again in 2004.

    …but even so it wouldn’t be too late for the experimental method, because some kinds of vaudeville never get old.

  • Jamoche

    But a judgement has been made by somebody somewhere that that’s what’s good enough for his readers

    I was wondering what had happened. The last Clancy I read was Patriot Games, where Charles and Diana were a pair of lovestruck newlyweds (which stood out since I was reading this several years after it was first published :) )- but other than that it seemed as grounded in reality as a techno-thriller gets.

  • Lorehead

    Prince Charles shows up at President Marty Stu’s inaugural gala and is good chums with him. So do a world leader who’s obviously—in the ’90s—Indira Gandhi, and a prime minister of Japan who seems to be straight out of Shogun. He’s secretly plotting the destruction of America until he feels the new President’s steely glare and firm handshake, and realizes, I am not making this up, He is samurai. I was surprised not to see Abdul Nasser.

  • bekabot

    The “He is samurai” moment of satori is something I’ve heard about. It might make sense if it were translated as: “He’s the kind of person who thinks his county ought to be encysted against all outside influences,” but I doubt that was the author’s intent.

  • Jamoche

    steely glare and firm handshake

    Terry Pratchett has a con artist character who practices that because there are so many people convinced they can judge someone’s character by their handshake.

  • hidden_urchin

    I really dislike it when people think they can judge other’s character based on a handshake. That’s why my preferred method is to mirror the other person.

  • Charby

    If you have a firm enough handshake, you can jerk the other person towards you, swiftly elbow them in the face, bring them to the ground with a sudden snap kick and grab their wallet/purse/other valuables and scurry away while they’re still reeling from how… firm and trustworthy your character is.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Ditto The Sum of All Fears. I actually liked the book although I persisted in thinking of Narmonov as Nemerov (since I saw the movie first).

  • Lorehead

    Oh, and as for him not going around and saying “the two Chinas—” actually, he’s the kind of person who would still think of Taiwan and mainland China as Our China and Their China. He clearly knows that, if the President of the United States made that gaffe, Beijing would be furious, since that happens in the novel and he writes Jack Ryan’s advisors as knowing that it would; the fantasy is that the President of the United States doesn’t care what those stinking [Asians] think about anything because the U.S. military is invincible.

    Likewise, L&J clearly know that Galilee is still there. I suppose it’s barely possible that Jenkins tried to think of a Bible verse he could throw in that said someone was someplace, came up with Galilee, wrote it in before doing any research, and then figured that if he didn’t know whether the Israelis still call Galilee Galilee, Buck Williams wouldn’t, either. But since he does apparently go there next, the real problem with this is that it reveals the character, whom we’re told believes all the same things you, dear reader, do but is more intelligent and sophisticated than any of those elitists who look down on you, to have no idea what he’s talking about.

  • P J Evans

    That ‘map’ is funnier when you know that Reagan grew up in Northern Illinois, and diidn’t care much about anything in California outside of LA and Hollywood, and, late in his life, his ‘ranch’ in the Santa Ynez Mountains.

  • ReverendRef

    Okay . . . I’ve got time for a couple of fly-by thoughts before I’m away from the computer for most of the day:

    1. Using telepathy to tell someone to “use your ears” really doesn’t make much sense. It’s like a telepath saying, “Read my lips.” — Or a mime.

    2. Buck would have been better off consulting a Magic Eight Ball. — I actually have one of those sitting on my desk. It makes for some interesting conversations, especially when someone is wondering about “God’s plan for me.”

    3. we’re given passages in this book that seem wholly unfamiliar with the
    geography of Israel and that portray it in implausible and impossible
    ways. (Wait until we get to how Buck eventually travels to Galilee and you’ll see what I mean.)
    — Is this going to involve another cruse ship?

    4. MOISHE: He is going before you into Galilee. There you will see him.
    BUCK: I don’t understand.
    ELI: I know whom you seek. He is not here. He is going before you into Galilee.
    BUCK: So is he here then?

    This sounds like a Rapture-Ready version of “Who’s on first?”

    Sorry I don’t have anything more substantive, but it’s Saturday and my brain is resting.

  • caryjamesbond

    You know, going with the conceit that Buck really is a superstar reporter……

    E&M’s reticence to tell him anything makes more sense.

    “Where is my friend that the all-powerful empire is hunting down?”

    “Lo, he has gone before you into Galilee.”

    “I can’t find him just knowing he’s in Galilee!”

    “Find him!?!? Everyone from here to Australia knows who you are! You’re one of the most famous men in the world, and you want to track down the guy in hiding!?! Why don’t you go get your buddies Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to help you look? Where did you learn about spycraft? The blundering shithead academy?”


    “Uhhh…..was that from the Bible, because I’ve never read that….”

    “Song of Solomon.”

    “Ohhhhhh! Ok. Thanks Elijah! I’m off to Galilee. I figure someone there will know where he is.”

    *walks off*


    “So you got Tsion the tickets for Argentina and the fake passport, right?”


    “Why do you think a guy like Tsion hangs out with that idiot?”



  • otrame

    Lol’d in real life when I read “Song of Solomon. Very good.

  • Daniel

    Since the reign of the antichrist had begun, and the children had been disappeared, since the waves of non-radioactive nuclear fire had been poured from the sky onto the major conurbations of the world and since the father of lies had sired a child by the woman who’d introduced him to his wife, Buck had been forced to find the silver lining in every cloud. The nuclear attacks had made finding a flat much easier, for example, and if anything the bigger places were easier still- for some reason houses and apartments with multiple bedrooms were selling at rock bottom prices. Buck saw this for what it was, a gift from God, as was the promotion to head of Global Weekly. He’d made a joke about it since the change of management to the Antichrist, he flipped through his journalists’ notebook (which was written in large faux-painted letters on the front- he’d had it since childhood) until he found it. He chuckled “Global Weakly”. That was the first nail in the coffin of the tyrannical one world government. Against a hail of laughter, no tyranny can stand- and one day, when he got round to publishing it, all the world would laugh at that pun and the walls of the antichrist’s empire would come tumbling down.

    This optimism served him well as he walked back to his hotel, chewing over the details of his meeting with the prophets by the wall. They had told him to return later, the crowds would almost certainly have dissipated by then- if there’s one thing the religious hate it’s midnight services listening to preachers quoting the Bible. So that was one point up for Buck. He’d also have time for something to eat, another shower, and possibly another nap. If there was any more time, he might start writing a story or prepare some questions, though besides the whereabouts of Tsion it was unlikely that Moses and Elijah would have anything else to tell him. He knew all the important bits of the bible anyway- Bruce Barnes had told him those. So after thirty minutes ceaseless walking Buck arrived back at the hotel, where something caught his eye across the lobby- a brief flash of flannel, a hint of combat trouser but no… it couldn’t be… not here. He went to his room to sleep and wait.

    Midnight came and Buck slipped out, covertly, demonstrating again his skill for ninja-like reportering that had enabled him to be declared the Greatest Investigative Reporter In The 6000 Year History of the Universe. There was no need to do this, of course, but it was always useful to keep in top reportery shape. That shape is as close to James Bond as possible. Buck took his Conman 66 torch, the best torch in the world, which Steve Plank had designed for him. There had been a press conference mooted, where Nicolae was going to present Buck with his new torch in front of all the world’s media, much like Rayford’s appointment as pilot of a well decorated plane, but Buck knew if people saw him receiving gifts from the Antichrist their cynicism would take over and they’d begin to question his integrity. Years on the job had taught him that gifts from officials were best kept secret- the public didn’t know how much he distained the officials who gave him those gifts after all. If they only knew he held Nicolae in so much contempt that he wouldn’t even write stories about him… but no. People are bitter, and jaded. People would misunderstand and persecute Buck for this. As he turned the torch on though there was again that Predator quick flash of plaid flannel. Buck was wary. He stood at the corner of the street and prayed.

    There was still a crowd at the wall when he arrived, and they were not happy when Buck shone his enormously powerful torch in their eyes.

    ” The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Said a voice.
    Buck was relieved. Soon the people in the crowd would be dead, and he could finally get some answers.
    He approached the two prophets who were sitting on the ground, talking to
    another man wearing… a plaid flannel shirt and combat trousers. Buck seethed.
    It was his arch nemesis. Buck yelled to him:
    “Cameron.” said the other.
    “I prefer Buck.”
    “I know.”
    “What are you doing here?”
    ” I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes” said a charmingly Hebrew accented voice behind William.
    “Investigating a story actually, I’m still at the World This Week. Investigating what’s going on here.”

    Buck’s lip curled in righteous contempt. William S. Cameron- a man without the
    imagination to give himself a nickname- was everything Buck was not. He had
    published a number of articles “investigating” different possible causes of the disappearances. He had “explored” the reasons behind the nuclear attacks, and had concluded there was something fishy about them. Unlike Buck, he did not know what that was, and unlike Buck William Cameron was all too willing to let people know. Buck still had the edge, but this guy was constantly on his heels. And here he was asking questions of Moses and Elijah when Buck needed them to give him directions!

    “What have they told you?”

    “Well it’s actually rather interesting- I speak a little Spanish and I was brought up in Quebec so I speak a lot of French- and it seems that though everyone hears them speak in their own language they’re not saying the same things to everyone. It’s like they’re saying what people want to hear. I mean, I’ve heard them quoting Lewis Carroll for the last half an hour. Whatever they’re saying though it’s blissful. Speaking to them is… an ineffable privilege.”

    Buck was too bored to listen. He got something about Spain. Something
    about mixed messages. He missed his phone.

    “No doubt you’ll write a story about that?” he said, putting as much sarcasm into his voice as he could. Inside his soul danced in celebration.

    “Well, yes…”

    “For your editor? Who is that now- still Sarah What’s-her-name?”


    Having reminded him that he worked for a woman, Buck decided he’d humiliated
    his rival enough and dismissed him. There was no point worrying about the
    prophets- Buck knew he was part of the elect, and no prophet could deceive him.
    He walked up and asked them bluntly

    “Where is Tsion?”

    Moses looked at Elijah. Elijah looked at Moses. Neither burst into flame.

    “Ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of
    hypocrisy and iniquity”

    Those were the very words of Jesus! What an unspeakable privilege! He
    wondered if hearing the word of the Lord was a right instead… no. No it was
    definitely a privilege, and one he deserved.

    Moses, sounding slightly angry, said

    “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? ”

    “That’s not really relevant. I ask you again, WHERE IS TSION?”

    Elijah looked sadly at Moses. He was trying.

    “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be

    “See Cameron?!” He interrobanged at his rival, lurking in the shadows,
    waiting no doubt to pick on Buck’s scraps once he’d left.
    “Now please, I beg you, please tell me where my friend is. He’s Jewish. Like you. You must know- all you told me was Galilee. How am I expected to find him? Look up his name in some magic book that gives the phone numbers and addresses of all the people living in a certain area? Go door to door and ask? I know the Bible has all the answers, but I’m finding it hard to find his address in there. You see the problem…”

    Moses rubbed the bridge of his nose and screwed up his eyes. He wanted his
    veil back- the torch was still shining fully and even the pillar of fire was not that intense. Which is just what the advert, that Buck had not seen, claimed.

    Elijah rolled his eyes

    “In Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast”

    “Do you have a house number? Or a street? I’m not a detective.”

    “No. He who has eyes to see… Just bloody go there. Just look for Christ’s sake.”

    “That doesn’t sound very biblical.”

    “It’s from… Maccabees. The one that’s OK, but you haven’t read yet. As is that. Thou goest there and thou lookest, I cannest not do everything for thou. Oh yeah- seek and ye shall find. Knock and… well you know.” Elijah sighed at this nice save.

    “Lazy schmuck.” grunted Moses.

    Buck smiled. He had come. He had seen. He had beaten his rival. And now he
    might be able to find his friend. He had no time to lose. He sped off back to
    the hotel, to pack a bag, and hope against hope he could arrive before the hot
    water ran out.

  • Lorehead

    Flat and torch? He picked that up from his layover in Britain, and how many times has he been to Israel without knowing a thing about it?

  • Daniel

    Sorry. I’ve got a tear in my eye for the homeland today because (not that this will mean anything to you) the Lions finished a stunning series win in Australia for the first time in a decade. It was everything in me not to have a character eating scones and getting free healthcare for their morbid obesity. Buck believes adopting British terms like this makes him sound more international… that’s my defence (with a “c”) and I’m sticking to it.

  • Lorehead

    I’m caught out, bowled over and stumped.

  • Daniel

    I’m so looking forward to the Ashes too, don’t get me started with cricket references…

  • bekabot

    I get it. Buck and William Cameron are duplicates, like Tom Canty and Edward Tudor in The Prince and The Pauper. Separated at birth, only not. Buck is the Prince (hence Buck’s attitude: he inherits the orneriness of kings) and fate therefore ensures that he ends up inside the good old U. S. of A., the way a kid should. Destiny isn’t so kind to Cameron the foundling: he’s given into the care of an humble draft-dodger (compleat with self-willed wife) and grows up watching hockey, learning languages, and eating funny condiments on his fries. A plebian origin, through and through.

    Blood tells, though, which is why Cameron, as a adult, speaks faultless, if slightly mannered, American English, while Buck natters on about the flat and the torch. (No doubt he pronounces “bathe” with a short “a”.) And he wants to be James Bond. You need more? All there is to people is heredity and training, but with certain individuals the training does not take because the heredity will not be obscured.

  • Daniel

    I wish I’d put that much thought into it. I was thinking more like Alec Baldwin and Will Arnett in 30 Rock. I just liked the “cameron williams/william cameron” thing. I think that’s where Poe fell down in William Wilson- not enough puns.
    What do the Canadians eat on their fries? Are they like the Belgians with their mayonnaise?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    It varies. There’s gravy, ketchup, vinegar, or just eating them plain.

  • Daniel

    There was me thinking chips and gravy was just a northern English thing…

  • Beroli

    Fries with gravy sounds definitely worth trying. With vinegar also, though not quite as much.

  • Daniel

    So do Americans not do salt and vinegar on chips? Brave new world.

  • Jamoche

    So do Americans not do salt and vinegar on chips?

    Chips yes, fries no :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Red wine vinegar on fries is quite tasty. Dunno about salt on them too, though.

  • Ross

    Wait. There are people who eat fries unsalted?

    Anyway, the proper sort of vinegar for a fry is malt vinegar. Red wine would be…

    Well actually it sounds just fine. But it’d need to be the right sort of fry.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Mom slices potatoes lengthwise into big chunks, usually eight or so to a potato, and bakes them (we call them ‘oven fries’ or ‘company potatoes’), and come to think there might be salt on them at the baking stage.

    Malt vinegar, huh? I may bake me up some oven fries tonight just to try that. I was trying to figure out what dinner should be anyway, since nobody else is home to care what or when I eat and nothing in the fridge appeals.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Salt and vinegar + chips* = omnom. :)

    *by which I mean “fries”.

  • Daniel

    Can I just clarify as well- these are fries i.e the thin ones, not chips i.e. fat ones? Because only one of those with cheese sounds right.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    We tend to be a bit fuzzy on “chips”, as the word can be used to refer to the thin deep-fried potato wedges as well as the larger thinly-sliced bagged potato crisps.

    I do refer to the deep-fried kind, as in “fish and chips”.

  • bekabot

    I think that’s where Poe fell down in William Wilson- not enough puns.

    But…surely you don’t think Poe was trying to be funny… {shudders}

    Canadians have been known to eat cheese on their fries, also gravy, sometimes both. (Though as a starch-and-condiment combination that’s not too unlike nachos.)

  • Daniel

    Hmm. It seems the Canadians have a lot in common with us then. Cheesy chips, chips and gravy and the unholy combination of the two are staples of British chippies.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Quebecois are especially famous for inventing poutine.

  • Lee B.

    According to my (Quebecois) mother, patat frites carts there did usually serve them with mayonnaise.

    Poutine is also surprisingly good during cold weather. I’m fond of it served with diced tomatoes and hot sauce.

  • Jamoche

    Because I’ve just discovered Welcome to Night Vale – a place where conspiracies go to feel welcome – I just had to send Buck there:

    You may have noticed a stranger on the streets of Night Vale, a person who claims to be a reporter by the name of Buck Williams. The City Council would like me to remind you that the children of Night Vale did not disappear mysteriously 18 months ago, nor did they reappear just as mysteriously six months later, and Desert Bluffs’ claims that we stole their children are completely foundless – we certainly aren’t to blaim for their inability to maintain their bloodstone circles. For shame, Desert Bluffs. For shame.

    The Sheriff’s Secret Police have investigated this Williams and reassure me that he is not, as he claims, the World’s Greatest Reporter, and his claims of a vast conspiracy are baseless. Surely if these non-events were of any interest to the outside world there would be more than one so-called reporter here to investigate it. Our newest intern Carmella saw him ostentatiously ducking behind buildings while the black helicopters flew overhead, but, she says, they paid him absolutely no attention. If that isn’t proof I don’t know what is. And on that note, congratulations to Carmella for surviving her first month here at the station. Well done, Carmella!

  • guest

    That looks awesome–am now subscribing.

  • Jamoche

    I thought about continuing on, having the citizens of Night Vale treat the various supernatural signs of the Apocalypse as just another ordinary day, but then remembered that three books in we still haven’t seen any of them.

  • Kermode

    You have no idea how happy I am to see Welcome to Night Vale on this blog. :D

  • Andrew Ryan’s Caddy

    This reminds me a little of a part in The Book of the New Sun, I forget which volume, where everyone in Severian’s hospital ward is telling stories to pass the time while they recover. One’s by an enemy soldier, a man from a country where everyone is only allowed to speak in phrases what seemed to be a cross between a holy document and Mao’s Little Red Book. Another person there interprets. Like, for one phrase that seems completely opaque, she knows he’s saying he was a beggar for a while because it’s the phrase that beggars in that country use to ask for money. It’s strangely fascinating.

    Of course, the main difference between that and this is that there’s a lot of thought put into it and it’s good.

  • Will Hennessy

    And now, because you linked to the previous post and because said previous post mentioned the Mount Carmel episode, I am now picturing “Moishe” and “Eli” having a heated discussion over the “thou shalt not kill” thing (considering how the barbecue at Carmel ended and all…).

  • Urpo Lankinen

    Reminds me so much of Dragon Age: Origins.

    Chanters have sworn only to speak whatever is written in the Chant of Light. People find this either noble… or amusing.

    Warden: “A Chanter says, “What?””‘

    Chanter Devons: “What?”

    Kid: “Oh, you got him to speak!”

    Chanter Devons: “Err… What hath man’s sin wrought?”

    Kid: “Oh, he cheated!”