NRA: Cringe with those who cringe

Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist; pp. 200-208

Back in the second book of this series, Tribulation Force, readers were subjected to the scene of an “inner circle” prayer meeting in Pastor Bruce Barnes’ office. Maybe you remember that scene. Or maybe you’ve suppressed that memory in the hopes that you’d never be forced to live through such extreme discomfort again.

If the latter is true, you’ll probably also want to skip these pages in Nicolae, because here again we encounter the same doubly awkward, cringe-inducing attempt to present the authors’ idea of worshipful ecstasy.

Buck and Michael beach their riverboat on the eastern shore of the Jordan River and set off, “through the underbrush,” to the secret hideout where the messianic underground has hidden renegade ex-rabbit Tsion Ben-Judah:

Buck had forgotten how long five kilometers could be. The ground was uneven and moist. The overgrowth slapped him in the face. He switched his bag from shoulder to shoulder, never fully comfortable. He was in good shape, but this was hard. This was not jogging or cycling or running on a treadmill. This was working your way through sandy shoreline to who knew where?

In our world, the eastern shore of the Jordan River is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In the world of Left Behind, the nation of Jordan does not exist and its nearly 7 million residents have mysteriously vanished. Not, like, Rapture-vanished — they’re simply absent from this world, displaced from their homes without a trace and with no mention of where they have gone or what happened to them. That was established in a parenthetical flashback-within-a-flashback in the first chapter of the first book. Here we learn that, apparently, after the Jordanians were peacefully ethnically cleansed and their country was absorbed into the Greater Israel of Tim LaHaye’s prophesied Middle East, the former nation of Jordan reverted to a scrubby, post-human wilderness. (Or, maybe, LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins just vaguely remember reading that John the Baptist ministered along the Jordan, and since he was described as “a voice crying in the wilderness,” they figure this is what the area must be like today.)

Anyway, this long hike gives Buck a chance to prepare for his first meeting with Tsion Ben-Judah since his friend’s wife and children were slaughtered in the streets:

He dreaded seeing Dr. Ben-Judah. He wanted to be reunited with his friend and brother in Christ, but what does one say to one who has lost his family? No platitudes, no words would make it better. The man had paid one of the steepest prices that anyone could pay, and nothing short of heaven could make it better.

It’s not meant to be foreshadowing, I don’t think, but after reading those words — “No platitudes” — here in the conclusion of Chapter 10, can you guess what we’ll find when Buck is reunited with his friend in the beginning of Chapter 11?

Buck enters Michael’s “underground shelter invisible to anyone who hadn’t come there on purpose” and the very first thing he noticed is “that there were no real beds and no pillows” — just as the Bible prophesied 2,000 years ago!

Three other gaunt and desperate-looking young men, who could have been Michael’s brothers, huddled in the dugout, where there was barely room to stand. … He was introduced all around, but only Michael, of the four, understood English.

And only Michael, of the four, gets a name. Think of the others as henchmen or redshirts or just set-dressing extras. What strikes me most about this whole bunch is how depressed and depressing they all seem. This isn’t a merry band of outlaws, burning with zeal to reach the whole world with the glorious good news of their joyful message of salvation. It’s just a bunch of sad, hungry men hiding in a hole.

Buck squinted, looking for Tsion. He could hear him, but he could not see him. Finally, a dim, electric lantern was illuminated. There, sitting in the corner, his back to the wall, was one of the first and surely the most famous of what would become the 144,000 witnesses prophesied of in the Bible.

At some point we’ll need to step back and discuss this whole “144,000” business. Tim LaHaye has a slight variation to the usual premillennial dispensationalist take on the passages from Revelation that give us that number, and we should talk about the way he and other “Bible prophecy scholars” regard the 144,000 as opposed to the way actual biblical scholars treat those passages. For now, let’s just say this: When you read a number like that which do you think is likelier: That this is a precise figure denoting a precise whole-number amount greater than 143,999 and lesser than 144,001? Or that this big round number — a dozen dozen thousands — may be a figure of speech suggesting something other than such a precise quantification?

Buck whispered that he would like a moment alone with Tsion. Michael and the others climbed through the opening and stood idly in the underbrush, weapons at the ready. Buck crouched next to Dr. Ben-Judah.

“Tsion,” Buck said, “God loves you.” The words had surprised even Buck. Could it possibly seem to Tsion that God loved him now? And what kind of a platitude was that? Was it now his place to speak for God?

Jenkins reach exceeds his grasp here, but I won’t judge this bit too harshly because at least he’s reaching for something ambitious. Better writers have also struggled, and failed, with how to discuss the inadequacy of words — even of truthful words — in the context of suffering. Jenkins is grappling with something difficult and meaningful here, and that’s to be encouraged, so I don’t want to come down too hard on him for the way this particular attempt fails.

But still, it fails. After half-acknowledging there that anything Buck says is going to sound here like empty, pious platitudes, Jenkins and Buck plow ahead with a litany of empty, pious platitudes:

“What do you know for sure?” Buck asked, wondering himself what in the world he was talking about.

Tsion’s reply, in his barely understandable Israeli accent, squeaked from a constricted throat: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”

“What else do you know?” Buck said, listening as much as speaking.

“I know that He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.”

Praise God! Buck thought.

And then Tsion’s voice transformed into a deep, Paul-Robeson baritone, and he began to sing “When peace like a river atten-en-deth my waaayyyy …”

I imagine we caught a glimpse there of meta-Tsion trying to surface in protest of this whole scene and it’s attempt to mine his suffering for uplift. Buck hears that first answer — “I know that my Redeemer lives” — as an inspirational affirmation of Tsion’s unshakable faith, and that’s how Jenkins frames it here. But it’s also imaginable that Tsion’s throat is constricted with anger and that he’s citing the book of Job there as a warning — “Back off, Bildad! The last thing I need right now is a recitation of the theodicy of half-wits.”

Alas, though, Buck isn’t done yet. And neither is Jenkins, who wants to be sure he hasn’t been too subtle in clubbing readers with his message here:

Buck slumped to the ground and sat next to Ben-Judah, his back against the wall. He had come to rescue this man, to minister to him. Now he had been ministered to. Only God could provide such assurance and confidence at a time of such grief.

“Your wife and your children were believers –”

“Today, they see God,” Tsion finished for him.

Tsion asks Buck if he brought his Bible with him. “Not in book form, sir,” Buck says. “I have the entire Scripture on my computer.”

And thus we embark on a two-page tangent in which Buck ponders the cutting-edge Bible software of 1997 while still not quite getting it right. As he digs out his computer, Tsion asks if he would “happen to have the Old Testament in Hebrew?” (Because rabbis always refer to the Old Testament as “the Old Testament” — just as they’re more likely to quote Philippians or James, in the King James, than anything from that Old Testament.)

“No, but those programs are widely available.”

“At least they are now,” Tsion said, a sob still in his throat. “My most recent studies have led me to believe that our religious freedoms will soon become scarce at an alarming pace.”

It took this guy “study” to figure out that the Antichrist might be hostile to religious freedom? Wait until he continues his “studies” and finds out that “the 144,000 witnesses prophesied of in the Bible” are actually described in Revelation as 144,000 martyrs.

“I sometimes find the Psalms comforting,” Buck said.

Tsion nodded, now covering his mouth with his hand. The man’s chest heaved and he could hold back the sobs no longer. He leaned over onto Buck and collapsed in tears. “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” he moaned over and over. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Joy, Buck thought. What a concept in this place, at this time. The name of the game now was survival. Certainly joy took on a different meaning than ever before in Buck’s life. He used to equate joy with happiness. Clearly Tsion Ben-Judah was not implying that he was happy. He might never be happy again. This joy was a deep, abiding peace, an assurance that God was sovereign. They didn’t have to like what was happening. They merely had to trust that God knew what he was doing.

In retrospect, that “No platitudes” bit at the end of the last chapter was far more ominous than I realized.

“Ask the others to join us for prayer,” Tsion says to Buck, and the reader’s eyes involuntarily scan ahead to see an unbroken block of text that continues for the next two pages. Oh no. No, not that, not again. They’re going to pray and we’re going to have to watch.

What follows is, like that earlier scene in Bruce Barnes’ office, wincingly awkward in two ways. First because of what Jenkins is attempting to portray, and secondly because of the failure of that attempt. This prayer is meant to be a time of transcendent spiritual ecstasy, but witnessing the ecstasy of others without being a participant in it is either mortifying or, for a certain kind of voyeur, titillating. Either way, it seems cheapened, which is why storytellers who are not pornographers know when it is wisest to fade to black.

Jerry Jenkins does not fade to black. He makes us watch:

A few minutes later, the six men knelt in a circle, Tsion spoke to them briefly in Hebrew, Michael quietly whispering the interpretation into Buck’s ear. “My friends and brothers in Christ, though I am deeply wounded, yet I must pray. I pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I praise you because you are the one and only true God, the God above all other gods. You sit high above the heavens. There is none other like you. In you there is no variation or shadow of turning.” With that, Tsion broke down again and asked that the others pray for him.

Buck had never heard people praying together aloud in a foreign language. Hearing the fervency of these witness-evangelists made him fall prostrate. He felt the cold mud on the backs of his hands as he buried his face in his palms. He didn’t know about Tsion but felt as if he were being borne along on clouds of peace. Suddenly Tsion’s voice could be heard above the rest. Michael bent down and whispered in Buck’s ear, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Buck did not know how long he lay on the floor. Eventually the prayers became groanings and what sounded like Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs. Buck rose to his knees and felt stiff and sore. Tsion looked at him, his face still wet but seemingly finished crying for now. “I believe I can finally sleep,” the rabbi said.

 

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  • aunursa

    The man had paid one of the steepest prices that anyone could pay,

    Five years until he’s reunited with his family in heaven. I can think of millions of people in the LB series who will pay a much steeper price.

  • Jenny Mingus

    cough:Hattie:cough

    To say nothing of the people who wind up roasting on a spit for all eternity.

  • Ben English

    At least Hattie went to heaven. Tison’s driver guy didn’t even get that.

  • Amtep

    Yeah… why do I keep getting the impression that the authors don’t believe their own theology?

  • GeniusLemur

    Because you’re thinking about this stuff. If you do what they do, mindlessly use it to feed your selfish arrogance by saying, “I’m better than you, and my tribe is better than your tribe,” you can believe this shit.

  • ScorpioUndone

    You mean like us, torturing ourselves with twelve+ books of this dreck?

  • Nick

    Wow, this legitimately does read in some ways like a badly-written sex scene.

  • Ben English

    Buck did not know how long he lay on the floor. Eventually…Buck rose to his knees and felt stiff and sore. Tsion looked at him, his face still wet but seemingly finished crying for now.

    “I believe I can finally sleep,” the rabbi said.

    Just a few words deleted, but..

  • TheDarkArtist

    Holy loly

  • eamonknight

    Funny, I was just thinking there should be a Bad Prayer Scene Writing Award to go with the Bad Sex Scene Writing Award….

  • aunursa

    Buck had never heard people praying together aloud in a foreign language.

    Globe-trotting reporter Buck Williams had never witnessed a Jewish, Muslim, or Catholic prayer service. In all his travels Buck has never witnessed people praying in Mexico, Central or South America, continental Europe, Asia…

    And note the Anglo-centric “foreign language” reference, ironically with Buck being the only foreigner in the group. A better writer would have written: “Buck had never heard people praying together aloud in a language other than English.”

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I was going to make this same observation. Wasn’t he in Israel as God stopped the Russian and Ethiopian bombs from exploding? There were no impromptu group prayers? The only explanation I can come up with is that only RTC prayer counts as praying.

  • aunursa

    It appeared to Buck that every command officer expected to be put out of his misery in seconds when the fusillade reached the ground and covered the nation.

    Buck knew the end was near. There was no escape. Some personnel actually left their posts screaming, and their commanders did not try to stop them. Even senior officers dived under equipment and covered their ears…

    The roar and the cacophony continued, the explosions so
    horrifying that veteran military leaders buried their faces and
    screamed in terror.

    From Left Behind, p 14 and Prequel #2: The Regime

  • Sue White

    I know! Where the hell has this guy been hiding?

  • Ben English

    A better writer would have known better than to assign this detail to a globe-trotting GIRAT.

  • Gelrir

    Or was he ever at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem? Heh.

  • Lorehead

    But that’s become the rebuilt Temple, under the sovereignty of the Global Community, whose One World Language is English.

  • themunck

    Wait, Israel isn’t part of the GB. But they just let the temple be run by them?

  • Lorehead

    I think by the Enigma Babylon One World Faith, or something. From Fred’s post a few months back, L&J seem to have thought about it as much as they thought about the geography of the East Bank of the Jordan.

  • themunck

    But…it is the Jewish temple….did Israel convert to the new church too? I thought they stayed Jewish.

  • Lunch Meat

    I thought the treaty between the GC and Israel only lasted 3 1/2 years before Nicolae broke it. And then they were forced to convert, except some stubborn people who refused to who were executed and then went to hell because they were also too stubborn to convert to RTCism, even though they new it was true. I could be misremembering though.

  • Lorehead

    It’s like how the Secretary-General of the United Nations established his one-world government, reorganizing all the world’s borders into ten divisions, such as “the Great States of Britain, which now include much of Western and Eastern Europe,” appointed ambassadors to govern them himself, and then signed a peace treaty with Israel. Fred talked before about the very disturbing implication running through these books that “everyone” really means “everyone but the Jews.”

    (Edit: I forgot until I looked it up that the Middle East plus at least Greece and Romania are now the United Holy Land States.)

    From what we’ve seen so far, then, Jewish “Zealots” are murdering the wives and children of men who convert to Christianity, but just agreed to let the United Nations and the new Pope take over the Temple Mount and build a new temple there to a different religion. But we still pray at the Western Wall instead of there. I would guess because it’s against (mainstream) Judaism even to walk on the Temple Mount because we might be stepping into the Holy of Holies, except that if L&J remembered that, none of this could have happened.

    We had a discussion here of some of the reasons none of this made any sense when Fred got to the passage where it was just casually mentioned.

  • http://kadhsempire.yuku.com/ Matt

    Buck is the least observant person on the planet. It’s quite possible for him to have completely tuned out every previous instance of prayer he’s been around. I think a better phrasing would be “Buck had never listened to people praying aloud in a language other than English.”

  • Jake

    It makes me wonder what a non-hebre version of amen or hallelujah would sound like.

  • $190147

    M’neh.” (That’s not the non-Hebrew but the non-believer version.)

  • http://myeckblog.blogspot.com/ myeck waters

    Doo DOOOOO, doodoodoo

  • SkyknightXi

    Praising God only/primarily because he’s a sovereign with a severe case of fixity? Not because of how beautiful his ideals look? Is this appreciation or appeasement? Never mind that in the appeasement scenario, I’m not sure WHAT’S being praised. How does one praise what one does not hold as beautiful/beneficent?

  • Hth

    A certain type of authoritarianism is pretty central to the RTC worldview, where the powerful deserve to be praised because they are powerful. Power isn’t a means, but an end unto itself, and the more you have of it…the more you have of it. What you believe about power or what you do with it is essentially irrelevant.

    Sadly, it’s pretty central to a lot of worldviews, not just the RTC one.

  • SkyknightXi

    {tries to figure out how power does anything on its own}
    {fails miserably}

  • Lorehead

    If you have all the power, no one can threaten you and you don’t have to be so afraid.

  • reynard61

    Although, in The Real World, the reverse tends to hold true. Remember this guy? For a while he was like unto a god within his nation’s borders, with the power of Life and Death over his countrymen. He knew it, and they knew it; and rarely was a word spoken otherwise.

    But, as events have proven, Saddam’s “power” was both an illusion and a self-delusion. He was god-like *within* his borders; but when the U.S. military machine came a-calling, his “power” was revealed to be nothing more than a cult-of-personality built on ruthless violence and ever-fragile, ever-shifting religious, political and familial alliances. Once those alliances were shattered, his “power” pretty much disappeared almost overnight and he and his sons were reduced to lives (and in his son’s cases, deaths) on the run or in hiding in underground “spider-hole”s until inevitable capture. (And again, of course, death.)

    So, yeah; power might confer on one a certain *sense* of safety, but it can also blind you to the target that’s on your back.

  • Lorehead

    The United States learned something from that about the limits of power, too. Eventually.

  • Mark Z.

    Greetings, traveler from the future. If you don’t mind my asking, how long will it take us?

  • flat

    long.

  • Lorehead

    I never said we remembered it.

  • Albanaeon

    There’s a bit of a vicious cycle built into that, isn’t there?

    More power will reduce the chance of the people you’ve taken the power from to harm you, but it also seems to increase the awareness that the powerless aren’t going to have reasons to be kind if that power is stripped away. So you have to get MORE power to protect yourself, which causes more resentment, and so on and so forth.

    Which seems to be where we are at right now. Hope it doesn’t reach a breaking point before things change…

  • FearlessSon

    RationalWiki has a nice article showing some of the problems with dictatorship.

  • SororAyin

    There is no good and evil. There is only power and those too weak to seek it.
    So RTCs are Death Eaters. That explains a lot, actually.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    What Hth says. You can see this in their frequent rhetoric about how God is the only arbiter capable of properly enforcing a concept of good and evil, because if there were no God, then death automatically frees anyone from answering for their crimes.

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

    It’s almost like they don’t think courts of law exist or something. -_-

  • reynard61

    Well, they tend to view the court system as a puppet of “man’s law” and, thus, imperfect, corrupt (especially when filled with “activist judges” who refuse to rule *their* way), Godless, etc. Remember: Only The Tribe can fairly judge it’s own.

  • Turcano

    The problem with that line of reasoning is that in the other case, conversion automatically frees people from answering for their crimes, at least in terms of the afterlife. So either way, the concept of universal justice is illusory.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Oh, but see, conversion only counts if you really truly mean it, which most people don’t because they’re only doing it for selfish sinful reasons, which is why they know that most people aren’t really Christians. That and because they don’t have a proper interpretation of the Bible, which is something only people really serious about being Christians would have. Jesus is so lucky to have real true Christians!

  • Turcano

    This is the big difference between worship and propitiation: one is done out a sense of gratitude or maybe an attempt to curry favor, while the other is done to avoid arbitrary punishment. Note that no one propitiates deities they actually like.

  • SkyknightXi

    And to think that “propitiation” was actually the word I was looking for in lieu of “appeasement”…Although one has to admit that the way RTCs tend to view God somehow manages to be “worship” and “propitiation”, at least as you’re defining them, at the exact same time. I wonder if they think it possible to have love for a superior entity that ISN’T mixed with fear.

    Meanwhile, I can’t shake the feeling that “arbitrary punishment” is an oxymoron…

  • Lorehead

    If we intend the original meaning of arbitrary, namely, chosen or decided upon, then no. If we mean completely unrelated to the facts of the case, then yes. If we mean punishment that is capricious or biased, then possibly: a rule that unmarried women get punished for getting pregnant, but the fathers don’t share in the punishment, is unfairly arbitrary, but the woman is indeed getting punished.

  • Yawny

    Jerry Jenkins does not fade to black. He makes us watch…

    So Left Behind is the fundamentalist Christian’s Fifty Shades of Gray. Got it.

  • SkyknightXi

    Question is whether FSoG has obvious self-inserts in it or not. (I’ve not read it, and have zero plans to.)

  • Ben English

    More like Edward and Bella-inserts…

    Though I suppose Bella is basically an amorphous void into which any overly romantic and insecure girl can insert herself.

  • Daniel

    “Bella is basically an amorphous void into which any overly romantic and insecure girl can insert herself.”…
    I’ll bite
    “Really? I thought Bella is basically an amorphous void into which any overly romantic and insecure vampire can insert himself.”

  • Ben English

    Well played, sir.

  • tatortotcassie

    Given that FSoG originally started as “Twilight” fanfic . . . extra points to you, sir!

  • Turcano

    A lot of people (most notably Spoony) have pointed out that, in this story with vampires and werewolves in it, Bella is the real monster.

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

    It’s basically a Twilight fanfic with the serial numbers filed off. This is documented and proven, actually.

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

    It certainly fits, what with the cookie eating and attempts at describing a titillating phenomenon for an audience largely not used to such things.

  • Lori

    And the failure. Don’t forget the writing FAIL.

  • Dash1

    No, no! Fundamentalists do not tolerate any shades of gray. Fifty Shades of Black and White.

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

    Potassium permanganate can have 50 shades of purple depending on the dilution. ;)

  • P J Evans

    And it’s a remarkably permanent dye, even if it promptly turns brown.

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

    Oh, indeed. I always have to warn students in the chemistry labs I help run with professors that it stains like a mo… well, you get the idea. :P I don’t use that word, but I do point out it stains very readily.

  • P J Evans

    had chemistry, understand perfectly. And it’s such a wonderful purple. Or, as the Frisbie says, ‘PURPLE’.

  • themunck

    My main problem with is was always a bit more practical, at least back in public school. Once it’s been exposed to air, it apparently crystallizes. Meaning that if you didn’t close the lid on the container properly, good luck ever opening the bottle again. Then again, it might just have an inside job to keep a very staining substance away from 13-year-olds.

  • P J Evans

    My favorite very-staining substances are easy to get hold of: pomegranate juice is good. So is turmeric. ‘Superwash’ wool can be dyed with sugar-free Kool-aid.
    (My second-year biology class had a section on bacteria, complete with staining.)

  • SkyknightXi

    What about potassium perrhenate? Assuming you can afford enough rhenium in the first place…

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

    I honestly have no idea what it looks like as a solid or in solution. Compounds of the third row transition elements tend to be expensive. :O

    Just for fun there are people who work with potassium pertechnetate. I can only imagine the Charlie Foxtrot that would happen if you accidentally splashed THAT on your PPE.

  • SkyknightXi

    There are isotopes of technetium that have that long a half-life? I thought that one was just barely more long-lived that nobelium.

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

    The most stable isotopes have half-lives in the millions of years. :)

    Now for fun times, try francium. It naturally occurs on Earth only as a result of the uranium decay chain. Half-life?

    22 MINUTES. And that’s for the most stable isotope.

  • SkyknightXi

    I think I’ll settle for seeing if anyone’s succeeded in making (reasonably) stable roentgenium. I don’t think it’ll become anybody’s basis for a currency, though.

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

    The most stable isotope is apparently with a half-life of 10 minutes*. Lab-scale quantities? Not any time soon. There are some big challenges with the production cross-sections, though in recent years people have been playing some rather inventive ‘tricks’ as it were, to try and get the fusion-evaporation reactions to work better.


    * looks like it was predicted on the basis of systematics and not on anything experimental.

  • P J Evans

    At least it’s a long enough half-life that useful experimentation would be possible, if it were available. As compared to isotopes with half-lives of ‘Wha–‘

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

    At least you wouldn’t have to worry much about inflation. Deflation might hit you pretty hard & fast, though.

  • SkyknightXi

    And to think I was just curious at first as to what color a dye potassium perrhenate would be, as per potassium permanganate being a violet/brown dye…

    Never mind I’m surprised no one’s found a way to get an electromagnetic simulator to figure out what color roentgenium would be if you could get a stable ingot of it for some time. Copper and gold get their colors from the particular way their electron clouds reflect/refract light, and since roentgenium is in the same periodic family as them–albeit also as silver–I keep wondering if it might be similarly odd-colored as metals go.

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

    You can do the equivalent of a shell model calculation for atoms with some assumptions about the wavefunctions of the electron orbitals to figure out what the likely optical transitions would be. But ultimately laser spectroscopy is needed to seal the deal experimentally.

    EDIT to add: And it’s more complicated because the relativistic shifting of orbital energies partly cancels the general contraction due to increasing Z, and… anyway, I could go on.

  • PorlockJunior

    “The most stable [technetium] isotopes have half-lives in the millions of years. :)”

    They’d have to have longish half-lives in order to be distributed and used for injection into people whose livers need to be examined for blank areas that don’t function. I mean, without cutting them up. To which I’d have objected strenuously at the time.

    What do you call someone who has been injected with both technetium and thallium (at different times)?

    Old. Deduct a point if you said “radioactive”.

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

    Even a few hours works fine if you have a rapid delivery system and a fast on-line isotope factory. MDS Nordion has such facilities for radiotracers. :)

  • GeniusLemur

    On the rare occasions they actually group pray, yes. But there have been 2 of those is 3 books. So it doesn’t get the job done as prayer-porn. But then it doesn’t get the job done anywhere else.

  • Ben English

    …Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs. Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs.

    Hebrew versions of Amens and Hallelujahs.

    Jenkins, you have disappointed me. I didn’t think that was possible at this point, but you did.

  • SkyknightXi

    I wasn’t sure whether Hallelujah was Hebrew or something else. Amen, though, I *know* is just Hebrew for “verily”.

    Wait…Jenkins, are you saying that you don’t ascribe actual meaning to “amen”? Well and truly? Like it’s just some sort of sorcerous phrase?

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Hallelujah means “Praise Jehovah” in Hebrew. Amen does mean “verily” (or “truly” in more modern English).

    Maybe we can have some Muslims saying “Allah” in Arabic…..

  • Ben English

    As Rayford left the Global Bistro, to his left a young Iraqi man greeted a sullen-looking Imam, breathing an Arabic version of an Allahu Akbar.

  • Mark Z.

    A sullen-looking Islamic version of an Imam.

    FTFY.

  • http://www.matthewkeville.com/ Seraph4377

    They’re not alone in that. There are many Christians of all denominations who go their whole lives knowing only that “Amen” is “The End” for prayers, and “Hallelujah” is what you use instead of “Hey Nonny Nonny” in hymns.

  • http://www.gayellowpages.com/ hagsrus

    Do you pronounce it Aymen or Amen?

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

    Turtledove’s books render it “Omayn”.

  • Lorehead

    With or without the cot-caught merger?

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

    Beats me. The characters who say it are from New York and environs, though.

  • http://www.matthewkeville.com/ Seraph4377

    Me? Well, for me and the people I grew up around, it’s “Aymen” when spoken and “Ahmen” when sung. You try to hold that “Ay” sound and it comes out “Aaaeeeeee”. Not pretty.

  • tsig

    Ahmen

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

    Based on the previous answers, it seems that many people think the initial ‘r’ is silent.

  • crazylikeafox

    That’s what I noticed too. Isn’t the Hebrew versions of amen and hallelujah, amen and hallelujah?

  • Ben English

    Yes. It’s like saying “the Japanese versions of Sayonaras and Konichiwas” or “the Latin versions of Ave Marias and Corpus Cristis”

  • arghous

    Though there are Japanese versions of Fujiyama, harikari, and saki (not that Ellinjay would have the wherewithall to have used that sense here).

  • SkyknightXi

    What is the proper replacement of Fuji-yama, exactly? Yama-Fuji? Dai Fuji? (This obviously isn’t something I know…I know the other two are more properly “seppuku” and “sake”, at least.)

  • Rakka

    Fuji-san is commonly accepted IIRC.

  • guest

    That means they said them in thick Israeli accents.

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

    An accent over which Buck Williams will never be able to get: in a later book, he thinks of how much Chaim’s accent reminds him of “Jewish comedians.”

  • Ben English

    …So what Chaim sounds like Sarah Silverman?

  • Charby

    If the filmmakers had some courage, they might have made Tsion a female character.

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

    Tsion is one of Tim LaHaye’s stand-ins, so that would be…less than likely.

    Of course, no woman is allowed any kind of truly pivotal role in the Tribbles. Not even Chloe, who (allegedly) runs the “international co-op”: we never see her doing anything to do with it. Occasionally a man will say that she’s doing a good job, but when we actually see Chloe doing or saying something, she is watching TV, or whining about her weight, or fussing over Buck, or getting herself caught and executed.

    The only other two women I can think of who (again, allegedly) have roles in the Tribbles are both nurses…in a situation where God will not allow believers to be injured.

  • Ben English

    Well, he’ll allow them to be decapitated. Though that injury is a bit beyond a woman’s capacity to repair.

  • Anton_Mates

    Of course not; in that case, Buck would have thought about “Jewish women comedians.” There’s people, you know, and then there’s female people.

  • Ben English

    My point was more… what does a “Jewish comedian” sound like? Jewish is an ethnic and religious signifier, not an accent or nationality.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Wouldn’t a “Jewish comedian” have a Yiddish accent? Which doesn’t sound all that much like a Hebrew accent.

    Unless all non-American accents sound the same to you.

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

    That’s pretty insulting, actually. How L&J can make their Jewish characters into such absurd caricatures is beyond me. There are other comparisons. Chaim could sound thoughtful. He could sound introspective. He could sound carefree. He could – you get the point.

    “Chaim’s cadence reminded Buck of all the highly educated people he’d met in his travels. They had a way about them – a carefulness that always tinged their language – you could tell that every word was exactingly considered and not one was wasted.”

    That would be far more respectful than any of the ridiculous fascistic heel-clicking Buck does over the phone when he’s talking to Tsion or Chaim.

  • MikeJ

    Just be glad he didn’t say he sounded like a greedy banker.

  • Lorehead

    Now, that’s not fair. The secret cabal of international bankers who rule the world to deliver it to the Antichrist were from the first book.

  • SkyknightXi

    I wonder if one of the books introduces someone as having a thick American accent–when our two viewpoint characters are themselves both American.

    Although, I get reminded of a recurring gag from Get Smart…

    SMART (to a revealed East German double agent): Wait a minute, you’re talking with an accent!
    DOUBLE AGENT: BEFORE I was talking with an accent. Now I’m talking straight!

  • Jamoche

    When Star Trek TNG first came out, there was a lot of fuss over Picard not having a French accent. Seemed logical to me that someone from France who spoke “unaccented” English would have a British accent, not Southern California TV, but a lot of people didn’t agree.

  • P J Evans

    It was far more disconcerting to me that a French captain would be singing ‘Heart of Oak’. Unless Starfleet adopted a lot of old traditions from various wet-navy predecessors.

  • Ben English

    One would expect him to have a French accent, wouldn’t they? I never understood what the point of making him French was if you’re going to cast a literal knight of the English throne for the part. Plus California would make more sense than Patrick Stewart’s accent given that Star Fleet Academy is in San Francisco.

    Not that I’d actually change anything about Picard of course.

  • http://www.to-hither.com/ PepperjackCandy

    My maternal grandmother (who wasn’t an actress but did have foreign-born in-laws) said that when a character is supposed to be speaking the character’s native language in a movie or television show, translated into English for our convenience as necessary, it would make more sense for the actor to speak in his or her regular regional variation because one doesn’t speak one’s own language with a foreign accent. Accents should be used to indicate that a character is speaking a language foreign to him or her.

    So, following that rule, perhaps Picard is speaking French and we hear it as English because of the universal translator?

  • Sue White

    What, he talks like Jerry Seinfeld? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  • Carstonio

    Given LaHaye’s age, probably Jackie Mason or Shecky Greene.

  • Lorehead

    Well, amen in Hebrew is pronounced differently from how any Evangelicals say it, but that can’t save him on hallelujah.

  • Evan

    Unless his church pronounces it the Latin way, as Alleluiah?

    … okay, I’m trying too hard.

  • flat

    well Jenkins is as we know a stupid writer, and I believe stupidity is one of those things you can’t predict.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    As examples of the authors’ extreme incuriosity about people and cultures who aren’t white-male-pretribChristian-Englishspeaking-American, this bit tops out.

    It’s like in season 2 of Heroes, when the writers had a girl in just-post-Katrina New Orleans say “Half of everybody in this county is still living in FEMA trailers,” and your jaw drops, and you think, Did the writers not even bother looking at a frickin’ map?* and you realize that the writers didn’t because they seriously didn’t give a damn about the real life people they’re referencing and the injustices their suffering, but just using them to make a shallow narrative point.

    Yes, yes, I know we’ve had plenty of evidence already that Jenkins and LaHaye not only know nothing about Hebrew, Judaism, Israel, etc., but don’t even care enough learn. I know. But this piece of evidence takes the cake.

    *For those who don’t know, which is understandable unless you are trying to set a work of fiction there, in which case you really do need to learn: No one in New Orleans, nor yet the whole state of Louisiana, lives in a county, FEMA trailer or not. The girl in the Heroes episode lives in Orleans Parish. I grew up in Jefferson Parish. (I do, however, slip up from time to time and say Jefferson County, but that’s only because I live in Colorado right now and there’s a Jefferson County just 30 miles away. It screws up my verbal autopilot.)

  • SkyknightXi

    On a side note: It looks like 144,000 will divide evenly by 36 (as in the Lamed Vov whose continued presence/membership/etc. is what gives God hope that the world is NOT irreparably corrupt), getting a quotient of 4000. So next question is, does Jewish numerology ascribe any particular meaning to 4000?

    I suppose LaHaye thinks it is a specific amount because of the Apocalypse’s author going into detail about there being 12,000 from every one of the tribes descended from Jacob. (Unfortunately, 12,000 does NOT divide evenly by 36…) But I wonder if John was just interpolating a sense that the Lost Tribes would be recovered, and they would not have diminished in comparison to the two remaining tribes?

  • https://hummingwolf.dreamwidth.org/ Hummingwolf

    If you add together all the numbers from 1 through 36, guess what number you get?
    666!
    I am not even making this up.

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

    I never noticed that before. Damn. :O

  • http://www.markedwardsmart.com/ Mark Edward

    This is actually a mathematical thing called a ‘triangular number’. Think of a square number… but… a triangle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_number

    It’s a pretty massive coincidence that the triangular of 36 (i.e. 6×6) is 666.

  • arghous

    144,000 / 6 / 6 / 6 = 666.666…..

    He who has a calculator to crunch, let him crunch.

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

    I’ll be dipped.

  • sidhe

    Okay, here we go with Insane Expansion from the Qabalah – which means it may be illegitimate, but will certainly be fascinating:

    There are four letters in the Tetragrammaton, and four Quabalistic worlds. The Hebrew word ShRTQ – which has the gematria value of 1000 – means “That’s fascinating.” In other words, 4 (indicative of G-d and the divine plan) by 1000 indicate the massively (4000 is a largish number) fascinating coincidences that appear in G-d’s creation. ;-)

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

    Fred, I think Tsion ben-Jewishguy being an ex-rabbit is a hilarious mental image, but may also be a typo. :)

  • aunursa

    Hop-hop-hopping for Jesus!

  • Daniel

    I was thinking “Little Bunny Faux-Jew hopping through the forest…”

  • Dogfacedboy

    I thought they were all rabbits. They’re in their little underground warren and, judging from that passage, doing what rabbits are known to do.

  • GeniusLemur

    Here comes Tsion Ben-Judah-tail, hopping down the RTC trail, hippity hoppity, Apocalypse’s on it’s way…

  • Jamoche

    Faith, hop, and charity!

  • Vermic

    This rabbit has ceased to be! He’s kicked the bucket, he’s shuffled off this mortal — you know what, I can’t do this.

  • Redcrow

    “He should have hopped faster.”

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

    Was that a Torchwood joke? Or did it come from elsewhere?

  • Redcrow

    Elsewhere, sorry to disappoint. My main current fandom these days is, um, “Hannibal”. TV series, I mean. (The not-fast-enough rabbit in question, as you can guess, wasn’t a rabbit at all…)

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

    Sounds like it’s pretty similar to the one I was thinking of, then. A character who’d been on death row (it gets complicated) had said of one of his victims “she should have run faster.” It’s a bit of rather heavy-handed puppy kicking.

  • Ben English

    “I’m the Doctor. I’m 904 years old. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation Kasterborous. I’m the oncoming storm, the bringer of darkness and you… are basically just a Rabbi, aren’t you? Carry on then. Just a general… warning.”

  • tatortotcassie

    Much like chocolate, the Doctor makes everything better! :D

  • Daniel

    The Choctor.
    That is all.

  • http://www.to-hither.com/ PepperjackCandy

    So that’s how you spell Kasterborous. I never knew that.

  • $7768756

    The image of Tennant delivery that speech to Mel Brooks circa “Men in Tights” is somehow even funnier than the very funny thing that already happened there.

  • https://hummingwolf.dreamwidth.org/ Hummingwolf

    I was planning to plead with Fred not to fix that typo. It makes this scene so much more bearable.

  • crazylikeafox

    I thought he did it on purpose

  • arghous

    Silly ex-rabbit, kinks are for Tribs.

  • eamonknight

    Damn, beat me to it!

  • Random_Lurker

    I hope he leaves it in. Considering the depiction of the character, it’s just as accurate a descriptor as ‘Rabbi” would be.

  • Lorehead

    I mean, even if he read the Gospels and converted to Christianity, couldn’t he at least have called it what Jesus did instead of “the Old Testament?” The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, or Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim, or Tanakh for short? Especially since that’s still its name in Hebrew today?

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

    Well, more specifically, of course, they would be the Jewish versions of the Torah, Nevi’im, & Ketuvim.

  • Lorehead

    That’s probably supposed to be a joke, but IIRC he did specifically cite translations used by Christians rather than the Hebrew version of it. For example, the Hebrew version of the suffering servant passage of Isaiah translates to, ”a young woman has given birth,” whereas the version, “a virgin shall give birth” comes from the Septuagint (although this was also a Jewish version).

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

    (Yes, joke, going with the “Hebrew versions of ‘amen’ and ‘halleluiah’ thing.)

  • Lorehead

    In his thick Israeli accent, it sounded like he said Asherah bunny.

  • Carstonio

    I feel obtuse because I’m having trouble seeing how the last scene portrays transcendent spiritual ecstasy.

  • SkyknightXi

    Well, all the positives mentioned in this element are about God’s sovereignty and power, so I guess knowledge that you’re going to win is somehow counted as ecstasy all by itself.

  • Ben English

    Fred did say it was a failure.

  • https://hummingwolf.dreamwidth.org/ Hummingwolf

    I think it’s the falling prostrate and “being borne along on clouds of peace” that’s supposed to show us Buck’s having a sincerely transcendent spiritual experience here.

  • tatortotcassie

    Well, Buck did assume the position prescribed by Jack Chick tracts. Actually, he took it one step further because in the tracts the mark tends to just be kneeling. Buck actually got into the mud. ( . . . and rolled around in it?)

  • flat

    transcendent spiritual ecstasy is something personal I think someone can experience an TSE while others can walk away from it shaking their heads.
    If you aren’t experiencing it maybe the best you can do is walk away, or stay.
    Personally I really think it depends on the situation.

  • Carstonio

    Valid point, but my point was that the scene as written doesn’t suggest an ecstatic experience. If anything, it resembles Robert Duvall in The Handmaid’s Tale impregnating Natasha Richardson like he’s having a wart removed.

  • Jake

    I don’t wish to be snide, but the “Hebrew version of amen” is… amen. Just sayin’

  • Daniel

    “Buck had forgotten how long [and hard] five kilometers could be. The ground was
    uneven and [deliciously] moist. The overgrowth slapped him in the face [roughly]. [He found he liked that] He switched his bag from shoulder to shoulder, never fully comfortable. He was in good shape, but this was hard [and getting harder]. This was not jogging or cycling or running on a treadmill. This was working your way through Sandy’s “shoreline” to who knew where?”
    [note- Sandy is a sailor, the sex of whom is left to the readers’ tastes]

    Leaving aside the fact that all he’s being asked to do is walk 5km. ON THE BEACH. Which is really not very hard at all.

  • SkyknightXi

    I wonder if Jenkins thinks five kilometers is somehow torturous? Or he’s just badly overestimating how long a kilometer (or mile) is.

  • Ben English

    I got the sense that it was more the terrain than the distance, but it’s probably a little bit of column A and a little bit of columns B-Z too.

  • P J Evans

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he thinks a kilometer is the same as a mile. It’s about his level of ‘research’.

  • eamonknight

    Um, ever hiked in rough hilly country? One mile per hour is what you plan on. Two if you’re in good shape. Now whether the Jordan valley at all resembles the Adirondacks, well, I’ll leave that to someone who has seen both places….

  • rrhersh

    I used to hike through very rough country, mostly in northern Arizona, when I was both younger and in better shape. Sure, hiking in rough country is tough, and hiking in sand sucks (though dry sand is worse than wet). And Buck doesn’t have a decent pack, and probably not decent footwear. But that being said, this is a bit over three miles. I probably wouldn’t consider it a fun hike today, but I am neither as young as I used to be or in as good shape. Back when I was Buck’s age, and considered myself in pretty decent shape, three miles of ground plausibly described as “uneven” was a quick stretch of the legs when I didn’t have for anything more serious.

  • tatortotcassie

    To be fair to Jenkins (she said through clenched teeth, disgusted by the prospect) walking on sand is more strenuous than say, walking through a grassy field.
    That said, I like to think a little meta is creeping in here. Buck thinks he’s in great shape because he works out in a gym. But put him out in nature and he’s huffing and puffing like the marshmallow he is.

  • j_bird

    Aside from the question of whether Buck’s trek should be hard for someone “in good shape,” there’s just something about the references to exercises you’d do in a gym or on your overly-fancy road bike that means the scene never fully leaves suburban Chicago.

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

    Buck had forgotten how long five kilometers could be. The ground was uneven and moist.

    This reminded me SO MUCH of Buck gasping and wheezing his way through Manhattan.

    I mean, okay, a dude like John Candy you wouldn’t expect to be in chipper condition after a hard walk like that but Buck Douchebag is supposed to be trim, vain and a GIRAT. Which means naturally he looks as good as Kirk Cameron did in his early 20s (image here). Yet Buck Douchebag can’t take a walk, or a hike, that should leave him no more than breathing a little heavier than usual.

  • Lori

    Thin is not the same thing as in shape but yes, a globe-trotting investigative reporter ought to be able to take a walk without sucking wind.

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

    Also, parenthetically, doesn’t the look on Kirk Cameron’s face so perfectly capture the kind of smug asshattery Buck is known for?

  • Sue White

    I just looked up the original text, and it says they made the trip in about half an hour. Which would be walking pretty fast. And by the way, Fred left out a lot of suckitude in this section.

  • P J Evans

    half an hour is reasonable for, say, a mile and a half or two miles. For 5 km, with underbrush and sand and who knows what else (because Ellanjay certainly haven’t bothered to find out) – at least an hour. Maybe two.

  • Ben English

    We all know that Buck is an incredibly unreliable narrator even when Jenkins doesn’t mean for him to be, so maybe he estimated the walk being either shorter in time or longer in distance than it really was.

  • Mrs Grimble

    The world speed record for walking is held by Mikhail Shchennikov; in 1995, he did 5 kilometres in 18 min. 7.08 sec.
    And that was indoors on level flooring, by an athlete who had spent years in preparation (and – possibly – with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs). So 5 kilometres in 30 minutes, over rough terrain and sand, by averagely fit men – a little unlikely.

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

    I mean, okay, a dude like John Candy you wouldn’t expect to be in chipper condition after a hard walk like that….

    Well, what with the being dead and all, I certainly wouldn’t; death can take a lot out of a man. Unless you mean in a woodchipper condition, maybe.

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

    While I do get the joke you were trying to make, I was implicitly taking the “while he was still alive” perspective.

  • Sue White

    Well, they do mention underbrush and overgrowth, so it’s not quite a stroll in the park. But the fact that Buck is still thinking “exercise” means walking on a treadmill in his upscale penthouse shows what a weenie he is.

  • j_bird

    5 k through rough terrain without a trail*, carrying a bag, especially if you’re trying to do it in 30 minutes, is, I’d say, legitimately hard. What strikes me as slightly weird about the passage is Buck’s protestation that he’s in good shape.

    The phrase just doesn’t give us much information. “Good shape” can mean many different abilities and levels of fitness, depending on who you’re talking to. Here it just gives the sense of Buck feeling mildly embarrassed to be in a situation outside his comfort zone and protesting, “Hey, I’m in good shape!” (Or perhaps the sense of the *authors* protesting that their beloved self-insert is in good shape.) Not that this is out of character for His Entitled Whininess, Lord Buckington. It’s just that if the authors want to impress us with how hard Buck’s current trek is, they’re going to have to be a bit more specific

    If L&J wanted to give us more information (and maybe actually impress us), they’d need to say something like, “On previous assignments, Buck had tramped for days through South American rain forests and carried video equipment into the foothills of Nepal, but never had he been quite so weary as now, as the mud sucked at his shoes and thorns slapped his face.”

    Or maybe they’d like to give Buck a moment of humility. But then they’d have to write something like: “A feeling alien to Buck came over him: a feeling of weakness, of insufficiency. He began to realize that his thrice-weekly jogs of two or three miles on the treadmill and occasional bike trips had come nowhere near preparing him for slogging through unknown terrain, his ankles twisting repeatedly in the uneven ground and his last meal a distant memory.”

    *(leaving aside the fact that I can’t quite picture this overgrown, uneven sandy shoreline)

  • Panda Rosa

    Why do I keep thinking that Sandy is the squirrel Sandy Cheeks from “SpongeBob”?
    Yes, I need help.

  • sketchesbyboze

    “Tell that guy to take a hike!”

    “Hey, wanna go on a hike with me?”

  • arghous

    They’re not walking along the beach, but go “through the underbrush”, as Fred quotes. And the ground was “moist”. Yes, the Jordan River has a 5km-wide riparian zone. How cool is that? Everyone who underestimated the might of the Jordan River should be thoroughly ashamed!

  • Ben English

    Well if it’s swollen so big that it supports ferry traffic now maybe it does have a huge riparian zone. Hardly the most implausible thing in these books!

  • Anton_Mates

    Plus, “underbrush” is by definition under the canopy of larger trees. They’re not just in a riparian zone, they’re in some kind of swampy forest. The Everglades of Palestine, or something.

    And here our posters were pretending that Buck was on a jungle cruise for parody purposes. You’ve lapped us again, Ellenjay!

  • http://www.skjam.com SKJAM!

    This is the same Buck who nearly collapsed walking two or so miles in New York City. In good shape he is not.

  • Barry_D

    “Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs.”

    Which are Hebrew words.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I KNOW, RIGHT?

    I was specifically reading through all the comments to see whether this still needed point out. Because if it hadn’t been, I was gonna. I swear, I hit that sentence, and I just… what? Really?

    Puts me in mind of that Gallagher anecdote about the conversation with the fundy, the one whose punchline is, “Oh, you mean like Buddha, Krishna, Mithras, and all them?” “No sir! Jesus was an American!

  • Daniel

    The subtext is just a gift that keeps on giving:
    “Buck slumped to the ground and sat next to Ben-Judah, his back against
    the wall. He had come to rescue this man, to minister to him. Now he had
    been ministered to. He had been ministered to till he could barely take any more ministering. Though he hated to think this of his friend, even Bruce Barnes had been unable to minister like that, and he was younger- and richer- than Ben-Judah. His ministering had always felt slightly forced, like he wasn’t really into it. Tsion had ministered like Buck had only read about in magazines. Buck knew he never wanted to be ministered to by anyone else again. Tsion lit a cigarette and handed it to Buck
    “Thanks, but I don’t normally smoke…”
    “You don’t normally get ministered to like that”
    Buck smiled
    “Good point” and for the second time that day he took something hot of Tsion’s and put it in his mouth.”

    He sent this into Playgoy‘s letters page.

  • flat

    Daniel I swear you are going to burn in hell for this.
    (the same way Buck just got ministered)

  • https://hummingwolf.dreamwidth.org/ Hummingwolf

    “Back off, Bildad! The last thing I need right now is a recitation of the theodicy of half-wits.”

    I need to memorize this statement. I need to go back in time and memorize this statement, like, twenty years ago. There are so many times when I have needed to say just that and didn’t have the words ready on my tongue.

  • http://www.markedwardsmart.com/ Mark Edward

    Given just how parallel Tsion’s situation was with Job’s in this section, right down to having Tsion quote his dialogue when dumpface Buck tries to ‘comfort’ him… it really is a marvel that L&J never noticed what role they were casting Buck into.

  • Lorehead

    I lost my capacity to be amazed at this when the Antichrist showed Buck all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he accepted.

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

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 140 pages

  • Sue White

    …but what does one say to one who has lost his family?

    Indeed. I know there’s been a bit of unpleasantness in the story so far, but at least most people haven’t actually lost loved ones or anything. Poor Buck must really be at a loss for words in such a novel situation. As if that non-jogging 5k trek wasn’t hard enough.

  • Ben English

    Maybe he should call Rayford on his cell phone and ask him.

  • Lorehead

    Did he actually bring that and its GPS locator with him?

  • Lunch Meat

    Rayford would say, “It’s cool, you can always get new ones! Sometimes even younger and hotter!”

  • Ivkra

    “What does one say to a non-bit character who has lost his family?”

  • Lunch Meat

    What does one say to a character who thinks of his family and loved ones as people instead of status symbols?

  • Dogfacedboy

    “What else do you know?” Buck said, listening as much as speaking.
    This skill might serve him well if he ever decided to become a reporter.

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

    “He didn’t know about Tsion but felt as if he were being borne along on clouds of peace”

    “Michael bent down and whispered in Buck’s ear,”

    And, most importantly….

    “Buck did not know how long he lay on the floor. Eventually the prayers
    became groanings and what sounded like Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs.
    Buck rose to his knees and felt stiff and sore. Tsion looked at him,
    his face still wet but seemingly finished crying for now. “I believe I
    can finally sleep,” the rabbi said.”

    Good hot damn… the porn comparison is more than accurate. This is more accidentally erotic than any willful attempt to be erotic that Cinemax has ever done. I seriously doubt that Daniel or any other jokers in that vein could play up the subtext for laughs through any better way than just pasting the text verbatim like I did.
    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    P.S. “Tsion’s reply, in his barely understandable Israeli accent,”

    Ellenjay. We know where Tsion grew up. We know where he lives now. We know what kind of accent he can only possibly have. & the Hebrew-to-English accent isn’t even that ‘exotic’ or ‘difficult’ anyway. Especially when spoken by an educated Israeli who knows are language well, and most especially not when coming from a ‘friend’ that you ‘love’ and have conversed with in some depth before.
    Israeli English is highly American influenced you dopes. There are, after all, some famously deep cultural/political ties between us two, (You know, those ties. The ones that you love and appreciate better than everyone else.) The man who is PM of Israel right now studied here. You can go to Youtube anytime you like and hear him speak English in a clear-as-day Yankee clip. Ayyy.

  • Jurgan

    Plus, if it’s barely understandable, how come Buck never seems to have trouble understanding him? From what I can tell, the dialogue is always recorded accurately.

  • guest

    You’d think Buck would have had more practice in what to say to someone who has lost their family when all the children in the world have disappeared.

    That last paragraph, the slash fiction writes itself.

  • Ben English

    That first sentence is exactly the point I was about to make before I read the excerpt and got distracted by the Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs. His very father in law has had basically the same thing happen to him that has now happened to Tison. And at least there’s something to bury of Tsion’s family, unlike Raymie and Irene who left nothing but their clothes.

  • Daniel

    “I praise you because you are the one and only true God, the God above all other gods. You sit high above the heavens. There is none other like you. Even those other Gods I just mentioned, who obviously don’t exist. Which makes it a little odd that I’d mention them at all, really. So what I’m trying to say, what we’re all trying to say, is you’re… well you’re just swell. I really mean that. But what with having no other Gods to actually compare you to it’s hard to tell you how great you are. So, assuming any others existed- which clearly they don’t- you’d be much better than them, and sit higher than them, if they were there. Which they’re not. In you there is no variation or shadow of turning. Except, of course, for the way you quite spectacularly varied recently, what with the change from “moving in mysterious ways” and depending on the evidence of things not seen and all to… well to acting extremely visibly by disappearing all the kids and causing all that death and destruction and all… and what with all the death you’ve promised us for later on… to be honest, some of us think that shows quite a large change in you, notwithstanding what I just said about you never changing. Erm… Amen, I guess.”

  • tatortotcassie

    Oh, Lord, ooh, you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell you. Forgive Us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery. But you are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic! Amen.

    … and Jenkins… apparently your mother died this morning.

    Oh Lord, please don’t burn us,
    Don’t grill or toast your flock,
    Don’t put us on the barbecue,
    Or simmer us in stock,
    Don’t braise or bake or boil us,
    Or stir-fry us in a wok…
    Oh please don’t lightly poach us,
    Or baste us with hot fat,
    Don’t fricassee or roast us,
    Or boil us in a vat,
    And please don’t stick thy servants Lord,
    In a Rotissomat.

    Edit: I just realized, because I was copying and pasting, that the boy whose mother died was named “Jenkins.” Appropriate or creepy?

  • Panda Rosa

    Just roll us up in rice,
    And wrap us in seaweed,
    Add a tiny dab of wasabi,
    Then dip us lightly in the soy sauce.
    –sushi is eaten raw, you left that out.

  • P J Evans

    Depends on the seafood – eel is cooked, and shellfish, of course. Raw only works with high-quality very fresh fish.

  • Panda Rosa

    Mmmm, eel, one of my favorites.
    How about a nice tartare of long pig? With a nice Chianti to wash it down?

  • Redcrow

    Okay. Though I don’t drink wine. Or beer, for that matter.

    (Which incarnation hosts the party, by the way? I prefer to spend my time in TV-verse, to be honest, so if the invitation is for Hopkins’ fans only, I’m sorry for imposing myself on you. Have a nise feast.)

  • Panda Rosa

    I welcome such impositions with open arms. Mondays in Savannah there’s a Philo Cafe, where we all drink a toast to worthy thoughts.
    Beer, wine, or spirits, indulge, imbibe, enjoy.

  • themunck

    Beat me to it ^^

  • $190147

    That’s brilliant.

    Should it be sung to the tune of “Don’t Let It Be The Grays?”

  • themunck
  • Daniel

    “Buck had never heard people praying together aloud in a foreign language.”
    Buck Williams who made daily visits to the Wailing Wall to watch Moses and Elijah preach to crowds.

  • Ben English

    That doesn’t count because the TARDIS Moshe and Elijah magically translated everything into English for him.

  • arcseconds

    Despite travelling the world as an Ace Reporter, Buck has never been to a mosque, a temple, or a synagogue, or a church in a non-English-speaking country, or a latin mass, or seen a documentary or a film where any of these things are pictured, nor seen any movies set in the medieval ages involving monks or churchmen.

  • http://inthelandofthedragons.wordpress.com schweinsty

    I was skimming through the comments, as one does, and somehow misread ‘churchmen’ as ‘leprechauns’. And now I really want to read/write? a story exploring the religious lives of leprechauns. Whatever the end product, it would at least be better than anything LaHaye/Jenkins could come up with.

  • Daniel

    They’re living off the gold at the end of the rainbow. Given that God invented rainbows to say sorry for killing everyone, that basically means Leprechauns are like certain unprincipled Swiss bankers living off Nazi gold.
    I can’t believe I’ve just godwined a comment about leprechauns.

  • http://inthelandofthedragons.wordpress.com schweinsty

    See, I was thinking of the mischief-making leprechauns for whom April Fool’s is the holiest feast day. Less Nazis, more Puck (or Marvel-movie-fandom Loki). :D

    And now I’ve got ex-Rabbit Tsion slashing it up with the Lucky Charms leprechaun in my brain.

  • Sue White

    You should write a cereal.

  • http://inthelandofthedragons.wordpress.com schweinsty

    For anyone interested, I was planning on trying to put up a set of Valentine-themed stories on Smashwords in February, and I’m thinking of actually writing this leprechaun thing as a bonus free story.

  • damanoid

    I wonder how fervently one would have to pray at Jerry Jenkins before he falls to the floor and rolls around in ecstasy. I mean, I know there are many religious practices which aim to provoke this exact reaction, but I honestly hadn’t imagined it to feature in the LaHaye/Jenkins Witnessing Christian Sincerity Inventory. It seems uncharacteristically ethnic.

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

    I think L&J were influenced a bit by the Holy Rollers.

  • Panda Rosa

    Now what we need is a Holy Roller Derby team.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    You whistled, ref?

    Holy Rollers TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls (Facebook)

  • Darkrose

    So Buck is prostrate on the floor and some guy’s whispering in his ear? Seriously?

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think Ellenjay were just trolling us all.

  • Charby

    In the previous draft Jenkins includes a description of Michael’s hot wet breath tickling his ear with its moisture but the editor made him take it out because it was getting too obvious that Buck and Michael have more chemistry in two scenes than Buck and Chloe have had in three books.

  • Lorehead

    Previous draft?

  • Taneli Huuskonen

    You know, the part that got lost when the power went off just as Jenkins was typing.

  • Rakka

    Editor?

  • Ben English

    That’s because Buck and Michael are people whereas Chloe is a woman.

  • Darkrose

    If not for this blog, I’d have missed the Easter egg with the population of Sleepy Hollow. Thanks, Fred!

  • Ivkra

    Buck rose to his knees and felt stiff and sore. Tsion looked at him, his face still wet but seemingly finished crying for now. “I believe I can finally sleep,” the rabbi said.

    *shudder*

  • tsig

    But does he still respect him.

  • Cosmo Fish

    “…renegade ex-rabbit Tsion Ben-Judah” Now I’m just thinking of Lubomir Mykytiuk in a pair of rabbit ears.

  • tricksterson

    I’m picturing Bugs Bunny in a yarmulke.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I read this as “renegade sex rabbit.” Something is probably wrong with me.

  • Daniel

    I want to make a pun on “Bucky O’Hare” to make him a renegade sex-rabbit, but I can’t think of an appropriate word to replace his first name with…

  • Ben English

    Lucky O’Hair?

  • guest

    Fucky O’Hare?

  • Sue White

    Three other gaunt and desperate-looking young men, who could have been Michael’s brothers…
    I don’t know how I’m supposed to interpret that. They all look alike to Buck?

  • Random_Lurker

    More to the point, they all look alike to the author.

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

    Which is a pretty interesting reveal of L&J’s basic worldview. A common complaint by people who hold racist viewpoints is that “they all look the same”; this shows that they’re not even putting forth any basic effort to recognize individual differences among people of a different skin color.

    Well, as far as L&J are concerned any non-American, non-Tribble characters are basically fungible.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    I’m not racist, honest, it’s just that all you humans look alike to me.

  • Lunch Meat

    How hard would it have been to add four sentences of characterization here? “Three other gaunt and desperate-looking young men huddled in the dugout. One glared suspiciously at Buck as he entered, and turned to angrily whisper into the ear of another. But the second wasn’t listening; his eyes were wide and scared, his mouth moving ceaselessly with silent prayers. The third just sat there, unspeaking, unmoving, hardly breathing. His eyes were empty.”

  • GeniusLemur

    Too hard for Jenkins.

  • Sue White

    Oh sure, easy for *you*. You don’t have to crank out a whole book in a month.

  • Veleda_k

    “Your wife and your children were believers –”

    “Today, they see God,” Tsion finished for him.

    That’s lucky. It would be awkward if, on top of everything else, Tsion’s wife and children were burning in Hell for all eternity.

    Oh, who am I kidding. It’s not like anyone cares about non-believing loved ones at any other time.

  • Charby

    Funny story about that. During a random routine audit of departed souls conducted by Heaven’s internal QA team, it was discovered that Tsion’s wife and one of his children misstated two key clauses of the salvation prayer.

    A senior archangel reviewed the findings and determined that their salvation was “structurally deficient” and “invalid as a matter of divine procedure” therefore rendered void, which unfortunately meant that they were chucked directly into the Lake of Fire to suffer for the rest of eternity.

    Of course, when Tsion does get to Heaven he will be swiftly lobotomized before he can ask why his wife and child aren’t there, so it’s all good!

  • Panda Rosa

    Remember, you have to not only die in excruciating agony but with the name of JAY-zus on your bruised and bloody lips. Oh, and you have to forgive your tormentors to their face for everything inflicted on you. Just getting blown up randomly does not count.

  • Lorehead

    Buck asked whether he believed his wife and children were in Hell without knowing the answer. Of course.

  • ohiolibrarian

    That 144,(000) kind of reminds me of the Birthday Party in LotR. Especially the part when some of the guests are offended that they were invited to equal the addition of Bilbo’s age (111) and Frodo’s age (33). As if they were just invited as filler to get to the right number! With Tolkien, it could be a kind of sly commentary on the numerology wing of Christianity.

  • tatortotcassie

    I thought they were offended because Bilbo called 144 a gross (“gross” being somehow vulgar and inappropriate for polite company to say.)

  • Ben English

    Somehow the pun works in Westron and English.

  • ohiolibrarian

    A gross was considered inappropriate when talking about people (hobbits). Because gross was a term that referred to things.

  • Loki1001

    Buck does a worse job comforting someone than Randy from Airplane.

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

    Bonus points for having a song about the Jordan River.

  • Daniel

    Buck awoke to find Michael washing his hair under the marvellous showerhead from Baath Sheba’s.
    “It fell out of your bag.” He said, by way of gruff explanation. Though anyone else having used it without permission would have angered Buck, seeing how glad Michael was as, with soap suds dripping from his muscled rower’s body, he scrubbed the layer of dirt off his bronzed torso made Buck mellow, and he smiled that he had helped his friend like this. Besides, it was a relief to have the showerhead back.
    “But… where’s the jungle…?”
    “Jungle?”
    “And the snake…?”
    “Snake? I think you must have been dreaming.”
    More aberrant dreams again?
    “But it seemed so real… and you were there, and I was there, and Tsion was there…”
    “No,” said Michael waving his hand as he answered the question “the whole thing was clearly just a dream, so we needn’t bother with any of that any more. Whatever it was.”
    Buck was glad. A proper friendship, like a true religion, could only be built if there was a clear hierarchy. Buck’s correct place was at the top. Michael’s eloquence in the dream had made Buck worry he was trying to make himself Buck’s equal, to get on top of Buck, to pin Buck down underneath him and to break the sacred seal of friendship, or at least stretch it painfully. This made Buck shudder with a frisson of fear, his mind once again aberrant. He looked away from Michael’s now clean body, covered in droplets of water that shone in the early morning sunlight. God found ways to reflect his will in Buck’s day to day life, subtle little ways, but ones that Buck’s mind was more than sharp enough to discern. Just as Buck was beneath God, so Michael was beneath Buck. Just as the lush jungle in his dream had been a symbol of the devil, so the barren desert stretching into the distance reflected God’s plan for Buck. However, this was not metaphor of mere symbolism, it was literal because Buck could not think in merely symbolic terms.

    He was to be a hero.

    They stepped off the boat and tied it up, Michael twisting the rope into a series of knots that Buck promised he’d look up the names of when he go back to civilisation and wrote this story up. It could make him quite a nice sum, if it were marketed right, and it would be money he could enjoy, unlike the phenomenal amount he got from Nicolae which he had to spend on luxury items to avoid tainting anything good with the evil of the source. He’d use marketers Nicolas recommended- if there was one thing the Antichrist was good at it was manipulating people. He’d get Nicolae back for everything: the promotion, the flat, the expense account, the editorship… everything. He smiled to himself when he thought how upset Nicolae would be when he found out Buck was the hero.

    Now began the great challenge. They were to walk into the desert. They had crossed the Jordan and were wandering into the wilderness. There they would find Tsion, whom the Lord had chosen, and the cave acquired for his habitation. They walked on in silence, the sun beating down relentfully, the air periodically disturbed by gently raging breezes, the mild harshness of the weather made worse by the occasional savage brush of a leaf from the overgrowth. Buck had forgotten what five kilometres felt like, the metric system having been an invention of the devil to confuse him. It had started to feel like a little over three miles, which he had not expected. He was in good shape- at least, he was made in God’s image and to Biblical proportions- but this was hard. This was not jogging or cycling or running on a treadmill, which he would have done had the gym in his apartment block not been owned by Nicolae, and besides, he was sin-free now. Sinners lived by the sweat of their brows, and Buck was forgiven. This was not climbing, or shopping, or canoeing, or weaving, or jumping. There were a thousand verbs that this was not, and Buck knew them all. This was walking by a river. This was something only the most reckless men, true heroes, ever did, sometimes with their dogs and picnics. Heroic actions were done in continuous tenses- the hero can not indicate when the action will finish, if at all. Buck’s internal narrator was working as hard as his legs, which he kept on the outside to keep his soles from dirtying his soul.

    Buck persevered, struggling against the breeze and the sunshine, and eventually he arrived with Michael at the cave where Tsion was hiding out. There were three ragged men standing outside, hollow men, leaning together and whispering in dry voices that Buck could not be expected to understand- they had accents made less intelligible than even Tsion’s by their obvious poverty. They could clearly not afford lessons in diction. But Buck forgave them.

    He entered the cave, and found Tsion, the first and surely the most famous- therefore the best- of the 144 000 witnesses that would come to spread the word of Jesus, once they’d left their caves, crying with his face to the wall. He whispered to Michael that he’d like a moment alone with Tsion. Michael took a step to the left. Buck whispered that maybe he should wait outside.
    “I am outside.” Truly the hideout of the chosen was a tiny one.
    “Maybe you should wait a bit further outside- with those men I just saw…”
    “My brothers?”
    Buck grinned. He’d guessed correctly- his reporter’s eye was still keen even in darkness. He’d spotted the resemblance- the nose ran in the family. Michael slunk off, grumbling, while Buck set to work to cheer up his friend. It is the mark of a hero to try even when all the odds are stacked against him. Even though it would have been prideful to admit it out loud, Buck knew in his heart that he was chosen by God to be a hero. Besides, it was only prideful to tell someone who already knew it. Telling people who didn’t, and who might mock you for saying so, was suffering for Christ, and was the greatest gift a Tribulation Saint could receive.

    Buck dreaded seeing Dr. Ben-Judah. He wanted to be reunited with his friend and brother in Christ, but what does one say to one who has lost his family? No platitudes, no words would make it better. Also, there was a very real chance he’d be crying. Buck was never sure how to deal with this. He was, after all, a man, and had no time for emotion. But Buck was a hero and he owed it to Tsion. So he would try, even if it was fruitless, to find the right platitudes.

    “Tsion,” Buck said, “God loves you.” That was a good opening line. It would remind Tsion of exactly where he stood, that God loved him and that was why he’d hurt him so profoundly. It also subtly reminded Tsion that God had also lost a son, and that his suffering had been far worse than Tsion’s, so the elderly Rabbi should probably just put things into perspective and stop crying. Tsion didn’t reply, except to cry a little bit again. It would be a tough Job to comfort him, but Buck was determined. What was called for now was a healthy dose of sternness. Tsion needed to be shaken out of his moping, and his friend would help him to Buck his ideas up. “That would make an excellent strapline for my columns”, Buck thought, and he made a mental note to tell Tsion, once this business had been sorted out. It was just the sort of clever word play a Rabbi would enjoy. But on with the task at hand.

    “What do you know for sure?” Buck asked, wondering himself what in the world
    he was talking about. He was very aware of his thoughts at this point, so much
    so they almost drowned out Tsion’s replies. Tsion’s reply, in his barely understandable Israeli accent- just once Buck wished Tsion would meet him halfway and at least get some elocution lessons, after all Buck had been back and forth to Israel several times, and he’d probably end up being there a lot more as the end of days approached, and it would just make their communication so much easier if Tsion would learn to speak the one world language so it was intelligible- squeaked from a constricted throat:
    “I know that my family have been butchered.”

    There was a brief silence as Buck ran an imaginary finger down the script in
    his head. The line “my family was butchered” wasn’t on there. His brain flashed with suggestions: “DID YOU MEAN: I KNOW A FAMILY BUTCHER?” No, he thought, that’s not what Tsion meant. “DID YOU MEAN: IT’S GOOD YOU’VE GOT FAMILY?” Not that either. “TRY “CHIN UP OLD SON”.” This was a worrying invasion of his brain by Britishness. He knew from the few films he’d seen before his rebirth that the Devil always spoke Britishly. So he settled on something more comfortable and less demonic. He asked the same question again.
    “What else do you know?” Buck said, now listening as much as speaking- his thoughts had a wonderfully strong, manly voice and it was very hard to ignore them, particularly as the alternative was listening to an old man crying.
    “I know that they were killed because of me. Now I am committed to a faith I started investigating for purely academic reasons, the thrill of learning…” Buck was surprised, he forgot how many differences he and Tsion had, despite their kinship in Christ “your faith. Now I find myself tied to it, like Odysseus lashed to the mast, while the screams of the dying are everywhere calling out to me to unblock my ears and join them… Oblivion would be better than life without them…now I find myself committed to…our… faith because I cannot – will not- accept they all died in vain.”

    Buck was anxious. Tsion was not getting what he was asking him, though he
    seemed to have understood God’s methods. Emotional turmoil cut off the worrying tendency of people to think, and that made them far more receptive to the idea that they were deeply flawed, that their suffering was their own fault, and that they needed to spend their lives doing precisely what they were told in order to minimize God’s justified wrath and be rewarded with a quick, painful death and an eternity praising Him. Platitudes were a way of making sure that no creeping “thoughts” interfered with the process of explaining, condoning and eventually feeling gratitude for God’s actions. They formed a barrier between mouth and brain, allowing pain to be soothed easily, without taxing the emotionally charged mind by asking it to work out why an all loving God would do something that caused such pain to someone who loved him so much. The brain could frequently tie itself in knots over this, and could, in extremis, cause people to doubt the goodness of God, despite all the evidence the disappearances and nuclear war had provided. But platitudes don’t work when only one person says them. Tsion seemed to take no joy in his abandonment of false belief and the acceptance of the real true word of God. He seemed to find his family’s martyrdom a cause for sadness. Buck tried again, wishing fervently that Tsion would just stop crying and making him feel so awkward.
    “Tsion, I’m saying this as a friend, I think you’re being rather selfish. You’re not listening to me. What. Do. You. Know?”
    Tsion looked up. Buck was encouraging him with his eyes shining, pointing at
    his bible as a clue. It was really, really important that he should say the right words. That’s all that mattered to God, after all. Anyone’s family could be killed for their faith. Many had been, in a manner of speaking, murdered by people mocking them, or ignoring them, which was worse than actual death. At least people paid attention to someone when they got murdered, and the guilt arising from not helping them was always guaranteed to bring a couple more followers in. But being ignored… that was a fate worse than death.
    “What do you know for sure?” Buck asked again.
    Tsion sighed, and in his barely understandable Israeli accent, which to the
    untrained ear might have sounded weary and slightly angry, said “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
    “Great! What else do you know?” Buck asked again.
    “I know that He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.”
    Praise God! Buck thought. Maybe now he’s finally over that thing with his wife. Maybe he’ll stop crying!
    But it was not to be, and he had to endure more suffering as Tsion leaned
    over onto his shoulder and collapsed in tears. “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” he moaned over and over. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
    “Exactly, just keep repeating that, and you’ll be fine.”
    “But what can that mean when he destroys all I love?”
    “Best not to think about what the words mean, just keep saying them. Besides, man is born to suffer…” Buck smiled at his wisdom, and praised himself for not just upbraiding Tsion by explaining all about his own suffering. That would have put Tsion’s in perspective. At least Tsion didn’t have to work with women, or face a daily commute.

    He used to equate joy with happiness. But he had long since burned all the thesauruses in the Global Weakly’s office and had locked Chloe out of their apartment when she brought one home. He had only let her back in when she had been able to make a two minute speech using no synonyms explaining why she should be allowed to re-enter. It had taken most of the night. Words should only have one meaning each, ambiguity led to confusion, and that led to disbelief. The thesauruses had hardly been a loss- most words had taken on new meanings since the Rapture. It was part of God’s wonderful plan, and Buck often marvelled at the elegance of the scheme. The Saved were those who would die horribly. God’s mercy would be displayed by Him allowing them to be slaughtered by his enemies. Peace meant the world ending war between good and evil. And God’s wisdom was allowing his enemies to take over his creation and mislead his people before destroying nearly all of them and sending them to burn for what was left of eternity in hell, under the supervision of the Devil he’d just defeated as punishment for trying to take those souls. Buck was overawed by the majesty of it. God was powerful enough to make words mean anything, and he could twist and shape them in so many ways that only his true followers could understand. War was peace. Freedom was slavery. Buck was amazed no one had ever thought of this before.

    Clearly Tsion Ben-Judah was not implying that he was happy. He might never be happy again. Then again, he might. It hadn’t taken Buck long to recover from his nephews’ (though the apostrophe should maybe have gone before the “s”- God had been kind and soothed him enough that he could no longer remember how many children his brother had had) disappearance, and Rayford had recovered from his loss by marrying Aureline, who was proving to be an excellent replacement for Irene- or at least she was much better looking. But both Buck and Rayford were pragmatists, expending little of their vital energy on the time consuming and misleading task of “thought”. Tsion, of course, was different. Where they had been simply ignorant of Christ Tsion had been Jewish.

    Joy was a deep, abiding peace, an assurance that God was sovereign- less like happiness than subservience or a glorious obsequiousness. This joy came from abandoning stiff necked pride, removing the bones that made them look at God in the face. Perfected souls are immaterial, they have no need of spines, and it was their duty now to imitate with their imperfect carnal forms the perfect souls that dwelt within. They didn’t have to like what was happening. They merely had to trust that God knew what he was doing. Platitudes made this requirement much easier. It was clear He did know what he was doing- He had chosen Buck to represent Him, and Buck could think of no-one better for the task. Pride caused men to equate joy and happiness, but Buck knew they’d be shown the error of their prideful ways. God would make them see – the world would not end with a bang, but a whimper.

    Their whimpers.

  • Daniel

    A few minutes later, the six men knelt in a circle, Tsion spoke to them briefly in Hebrew, Michael quietly whispering the interpretation into Buck’s ear.
    Buck was used to this- he had been to an all boys school- though here there was no biscuit. They could pray without- they weren’t Catholic after all. And there was the small mercy that this meant he definitely wouldn’t have to eat it after the prayer was done.

  • themunck

    Since I actually know what practice you’re referencing…have anyone ever actually -done- that? It’s always kinda struck me as an urban legend.

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

    Yeah, I’ve never heard of anyone consummating the practice myself. But there are enough fictional stories out there…

  • Daniel

    I knew a guy who claimed to have done in in his minor public school in Oxfordshire. I think it may have been more a fantasy on his part, though.

    *wikipedia- “According to the book Law of the Playground, 1866 men were asked: “How close have you got to the game of Soggy Biscuit, in which you race to wank onto a cracker?” 6.2% reportedly admitted to having played the game.[4] In November 2011 The Eagle-Tribune reported that police were investigating claims that two Andover High School basketball players were hazed by older team members into playing the game.[5] In January 2012 it was reported that two students were expelled over the incident and a further five were suspended. A grand jury was convened to determine if any of the students should be charged criminally”*

  • christinaarcher

    Bad writing. bad praying and bad theology. Three in one. Can’t do better than that.

  • GeniusLemur

    “‘I believe I can finally sleep,’ the rabbi said.”
    Now that I’ve seen BUCK and had BUCK yack empty platitudes at me and had a pornographic prayer session with BUCK, I can finally sleep. Good thing BUCK was here, because one of the nameless extras hiding with me couldn’t pray with me or yack empty platitudes at me.

  • Lunch Meat

    Hearing the fervency of these witness-evangelists

    “Witness” and “evangelist” mean the same thing theologically.

    What I notice from this is that because all the supporting characters are there to provide Buck with character development, Michael doesn’t get to experience spiritual ecstasy because he has to sit there telling Buck what everyone is saying. I get the feeling that if he didn’t do it from the start, Buck would be the kind of person to elbow Michael and loudly whisper, “What did he say?” after every sobbing, heartrending outcry. The only situations I’ve ever been in where someone translated prayers are joint worship services between two congregations–otherwise I think it’s just rude to expect someone to translate for you after every sentence (particularly if you’re the privileged one who usually gets to hear your language used).

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Jesus, Buck. I can walk to the Korean Christian Reformed Church a mile away and listen to people praying together in a language other than English, and I’m just some homebody dweeb who lives in small-town Iowa and has a full-time office job, not a guy who has spent his career traveling to exotic foreign lands, networking and researching the people and local events with his endless unsupervised time.

  • Ben English

    Neither is Buck… he’s done the traveling but his research and networking stop the moment before which he has to talk to someone with a median income of 75K or less.

  • sidhe

    I read the prayer passage to my wife, with some minor editing. She wanted to know why I was reading her strange Messianic Homosexual Erotica. It’s fantastic.

  • Sue White

    “Not in book form, sir,” Buck says. “I have the entire Scripture on my computer.”
    Wouldn’t you think Buck could have gotten hold of one of those pocket-sized New Testament + Psalms? Instead he’s been lugging around a late 90’s style laptop, just so his devastated friend can sit there farting around with a mouse trying to bring up the appropriate scriptures. A timeless scene of inspiration indeed.

  • P J Evans

    I would expect it to be available for e-readers and tablet computers, but they weren’t around when this was written.

  • http://www.to-hither.com/ PepperjackCandy

    One could get the Bible on the Newton PDA back in 1995 or so and 1997 they started producing it for the Palm, as well. If we pretend that LH&J were tech-savvy enough to give Buck a PDA back then, we could pretend that Buck could have had a Palm and, thus, the “Scripture” app at this point.

  • Sue White

    We could pretend that, if the book didn’t make a point of describing Tsion fumbling with the keys, then using a mouse to “cursor through” the Psalms. But I guess I should stop nitpicking and just be glad it doesn’t go on about how expensive the whole thing was.

  • P J Evans

    Well, you could have had mice before that – I’ve been using a trackball since the late 80s, starting with DOS. They’ve certainly improved since then.

  • Sue White

    Come to think of it, why didn’t Tsion or Michael or one of the Michael clones have a Bible if they’re so fired up for Jesus?

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    “Or maybe you’ve suppressed that memory in the hopes that you’d never be forced to live through such extreme discomfort again.”

    That’s pretty much how I feel about every scene you quote from the books. I have a strong sympathetic embarrassment reflex that kicks in whenever you quote passages.

  • Lliira

    Either way, it seems cheapened, which is why storytellers who are not pornographers know when it is wisest to fade to black.

    Look. No. Please stop claiming that anyone who writes sex scenes is a “pornographer” (and that this is of course a bad thing). It is, not to put too fine a point on it, bullshit. Insulting bullshit.

    Sex is simply a part of life. By exploring it, one can explore character and even plot. And hey, if it’s fun to read about it, so much the better. To extend your metaphor, there is nothing wrong at all with trying to portray religious ecstasy. The WAY in which it is done can be bad, a la Ikea sex in novels, but trying to do it is not wrong. That Jerry Jenkins tries to write about this central facet of his characters’ experience is not one of his countless writing sins.

    If you’re uncomfortable with seeing prayer or sex, that’s your prerogative. But stop accusing those of us who like to write sex scenes of having terrible motives. Or shall I start calling you a gigantic prude who fears sex, if we’re gonna sling mud?

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

    I think it’s more of a case if one does not think one can believably write the scene(s) in question, then one should take the more expedient option.

    It’s a variant on being thought a fool versus proving the fact.

  • Guest

    I was going to say, clearly Fred’s never read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I do think however that Fred has a point worth considering in that perhaps writing about sex and other super intimate situations is more difficult to get right. Writing about such things without making the reader feel like a creep who is spying on situations they shouldn’t be seems to present a pretty interesting challenge.

  • Sue White

    “Ikea sex”? *shudder*

  • quietglow

    “Ikea Erotica.” It just means a flat, clinical “tab A in slot B” description.

  • Sue White

    I’m not into erotica, but it’s kind of depressing to think anyone would write it like that.

  • Lori

    Lots of people write like that, including some well-known and generally talented authors. There’s a reason the bad sex scene awards exist and the nominees are always cringe-inducing. Writing a good sex scene is difficult and plenty of people don’t have a clue.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10492760/Bad-Sex-Award-2013-Manil-Suri-wins-for-explicit-scene.html

  • Sue White

    Oh my! The examples provided in that link were pretty much the opposite of what the phrase “Ikea sex” conjures up in my mind. :-D Then again, I think Ikea is usually kind of bland.

  • Ian

    The harder question is to point to good examples… Any links on that side of the scale, so we can see how it should be done? I ask seriously, not facetiously.

  • MaryKaye

    It’s a how-to, not an example (though it has a lot of internal examples) but Lars Eighner’s _Elements of Arousal: How to Write and Sell Gay Men’s Erotica_ is well thought of–I’ve seen it recommended not just for its stated purpose but for general writing advice. By far the majority of what he says is applicable to non-m/m stories as well.

    For fiction, I’m partial to “Winter Flesh” by Tabico, on http://www.mcstories.com. (I’d also list Jukebox’s “Voices Carry” from the same site, but on re-reading it’s not at all explicit. But just about all of Jukebox’s work is worth recommending.) Or in longer form, Rachel Pollack’s _Temporary Agency_ has heartwarming sex scenes and also horrific ones, both necessary to the plot.

    (My tastes run kinky, as those examples show; mileage will vary!)

  • Ian

    Thanks Mary. I asked because, I enjoy reading excellent writing. Though I don’t seek out erotica, I’ve read a few bits here and there. But I couldn’t think of one explicit sex scene in anything I’d read that didn’t have more than a little of the ‘bad sex scene’ about it. Though I agree with Lori’s sentiment, that the ‘pornographer’ accusation was insulting. I couldn’t actually think of a counter-example: a good writer who didn’t fade to black, but wrote the sex well and explicitly. I’ll look up your suggestions. Thanks. I’m pretty easy going in my tastes, so no worries about the kink or otherwise.

  • Lori

    Though I agree with Lori’s sentiment, that the ‘pornographer’ accusation was insulting.

    Just to be clear, that wasn’t me that was Lliira.

    I think I understand what Fred meant and generally agree with it. The problem with badly written explicit sex and badly written prayer isn’t the explicit sex or the prayer it’s writing to titillate in an ugly, manipulative way. It’s not exploring anything meaningful about the characters or the story, which is what good erotic writing does. It’s not honest wank fodder, which I think is fine. It’s writing that has no regard for craft because everyone knows that sex stuff doesn’t require real work, or that’s pretentious bullshit trying to pass itself off as art because the author thinks writing sex that’s actually sexy is beneath his/her dignity or it’s the written equivalent of George Takei’s “Oh, my” gif, only not fun.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    It’s also worth remembering that Fred often refers to this series of books as “pretrib porn.” When he refers to pornography and pornographers, he is using the word in a very precise way.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    And if I had bothered to read the second link, I would not have to make a second post. But he touches on this exact subject in it, perhaps in a way that would not have invited a misreading:

    Religious ecstasy, like sexual ecstasy, is difficult to portray directly in a work of art. It is too intimate, sacred and transcendent — and any portrayal that fails to respect that will seem reductive and cheap. A good artist knows when to fade to black (or, as in Dante’s “Paradiso,” to fade to white), when to suggest rather than to show, when implicit metaphor will be more truthful than explicit detail. Pornographers — be they sexual or spiritual — don’t care about such things. They neither acknowledge nor seek to convey anything transcendent in their subject, replacing transcendence with titillation. Their audience is never caught up in the mystery and ecstasy of rapture, only teased with the cheap thrills of a great snatch.

    And, well, sometimes you want to provide cheap thrills and titillation. There’s nothing wrong with porn, so long as both provider and consumer are on the same page about the product. LaHaye and Jenkins appear to have written one while thinking they’ve written the other, and the results are embarrassing and sleazy by turns.

  • Lori

    There’s nothing wrong with porn, so long as both provider and consumer
    are on the same page about the product. LaHaye and Jenkins appear to
    have written one while thinking they’ve written the other, and the
    results are embarrassing and sleazy by turns.

    Exactly. I have no problem with honest porn, but dishonest porn is another issue and that’s what Fred is complaining about.

  • Ian

    “Just to be clear, that wasn’t me that was Lliira.” – apologies!
    Thanks for the rest of the response. I largely agree. And that’s what I took from Fred’s point. That sex is either played purely to arouse the reader (i.e. pornography), or else it is used to push forward a broader agenda in plot or characters. And in the latter case, there is very little point being explicit, and a lot to lose by the attempt. So ‘good writers fade to black’. There must be some exceptions though, surely?

  • StevoR

    One short story by “James Tiptree” (a woman despite the psuedonym) springs to mind, forgot the title but a good (semi?) post apocalypse and sort of time travel one. (Its complicated.)

  • Lori

    IME most authors don’t do a good job with explicit sex scenes and would therefore be better off not trying. Some should just fade to black. Others can land in that middle ground between fade to black and explicit and do OK. Very few should go beyond that.

    There are some erotica authors who have made the effort to learn to write sex well and who I think do a good job. How much any one person likes any particular book obviously depends on what you’re into.

  • Ian

    So the road is narrow and few can walk it. But any examples of people who have? What does a good sex explicit sex scene look like?

    I’m not trying to be a jerk (any jerkness is accidental). Just really trying to push you to give an example of a scene that is neither bad-sex-scene-awards material, nor draws the curtain.

  • Lori

    You’re not being a jerk. I’m just never sure what to say to this kind of question. Taste in erotica is really personal and so recommendations are tough, for much the same reason that writing sex well is tough.

    I can’t think off hand of anything that’s available online because I don’t read a lot of online erotica and most of what I have read is not particularly good*.

    *In fairness, much of it isn’t exactly aiming at “good” in the way we’re discussing good. A lot of it is very straightforward wank fodder and I think the standards for that are different because the goal is different.

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

    Try reading any number of fan-fiction erotica. Hell, in Harry Potter you can throw a stone and hit ten at once.

  • Jamoche

    Just remember that Ted Sturgeon was talking about stuff that had been through an editor. Assume every level of filtering strips away the worst 90%, and raw fan fiction is going to be at least 99% crap.

    That does mean that there’s probably 400 really good Harry Potter fics on fanfiction.net alone. It’s just that finding them… not so easy.

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

    Also, ff.n biases the sample by causing authors to self-select away from writing explicit scenes because technically the M rating does not permit them.

    EDIT: However hpfanfiction, fictionalley, skyehawke and others do permit the full gamut.

  • Ian

    Well, how about, if you’ve read them and found the good ones in amongst the crap, you suggest one to read?

    I realise I’m in danger of sounding like a writing-snob, demanding that people put forward their best attempts to face my scorn. That’s not what I’m trying to come across like at all.

    I’m just increasingly noticing that there are a lot of vague statements here, but very few actual examples. That along is interesting. Is it because we are embarrassed to share this stuff, in case people judge our sexuality, or is it because we have a shared group-think that there is good stuff out there, but we can’t actually pin it down?

  • Redcrow

    One person’s “good stuff” is another person’s “eww, who would want to do it” is third person’s “meh, too boring”. Different people get turned on by different things. Even if we ignore acts themselves and look at language only. Too purple? Too graphic? Not graphic enough? “Good stuff” is subjective. What are *your* criteria for “good stuff”?

  • Ian

    As I said, I don’t have some ‘good stuff’ criteria. I’m not asking for folks to somehow meet my discerning taste (as if I’m some worthwhile barometer on anything literary!). I’m just interested that most people aren’t willing to say what they think is good. So most folks seem to think there is good stuff, but be either unwilling or unable to say what it is. That, alone, is interesting, isn’t it?

    I suspect it is more to do with embarrassment than anything. There’s a kind of snobbery around literature. We don’t want to appear downmarket or aesthetically naive. Nobody wants to say “Fifty Shades of Grey!” because it is fashionable to be snooty about it. Is it really any better writing than Jenkins manages in LB? So it is easier to point to works that are bad, than ones we think are good.

    My original question on this came out of literary curiosity. Now I’m rather more intrigued by the psychology of the conversation!

  • quietglow

    Nobody has said it hasn’t been done at all. It’s just one of the most subjective things out there.

    Just one aspect: what words for the parts you’re going to find in a sex scene annoy you? What are the few that you’re not going to make an undignified snort about when the author runs them by you? What are the few that you’re fine with? What are the odds that anyone here likes a piece that matches that? Romance novels are famed for going over the top in description, but obviously that works for someone.

    The characters are another aspect: virginal, hesitant woman? Inspiring to some, uninteresting to others. Both partners experienced and confident? Same. Aggressive, dominant woman? Same. No woman? Same. Several women? Same. Nobody has a clue what you’d agree with.

    At a guess, people don’t want to link to them because it can also be pretty personal; someone mentioned fanfic, which you wouldn’t care about unless you liked the books to start with. And two or three stories could probably reveal a cross-section of what that person found interesting, which people might be reluctant to share on comments for an evangelical dude’s writing. We’re a pretty raucous lot, but comfort levels vary.

  • Ian

    I think you’re right, nobody wants to say what they think is good, for feature of being (silently) judged!

    I don’t really care what words and characters: I’m really easy about any of that. I’m just pointing out that there’s few examples that anybody has been willing to stand behind to counter Fred’s point: that good writing fades to black on sex. Mary gave specific examples. Nobody else has, which strikes me as interesting.

    If the question were ‘what are some good death scenes in literature’, would we have the same coyness? i don’t think so. I’d kick off with the death of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, or the drowning in Junger’s Perfect Storm. Now you’re definition of good might differ from mine, but I think most readers would appreciate that neither are going to appear in a ‘bad-death-scenes’ award list!

  • Ian

    I asked some friends who have read a lot of literary fiction. One suggestion that came up twice was the sex scenes in Alan Hollinghurt’s The Folding Star. Apparently he uses the explicit carnal details of the guy’s bodies to contrast with the transcendence going on in their head.

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

    It’s really subjective. I mean, that Paarfirotica link? The olde Englishe style made me giggle more than anything else.

    Incidentally, since I’ve been discussing the HP fandom there’s a few fics which have romantic/sexual elements in them which go into more or less explicit detail.

    One which is fairly tame, but which I still like, is this:

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3735743/1/The-Moment-It-Began

    (Snape goes back in time to the 1970s)

    Secrets: http://www.hpfandom.net/eff/viewstory.php?sid=6256

    (Fairly explicit when it comes to the sex, has crossdressing elements, too. It’s also Harry/Draco which may or may not be your thing, but the author makes it work)

    Malfoy Flavor: http://www.hpfandom.net/eff/viewstory.php?sid=2199

    (Also explicit, Harry/Draco but not the same ‘verse as “Secrets”)

  • P J Evans

    There’s one that’s Paarfi writing erotica. It’s remarkably non-explicit. (Paarfirotica: http://dreamcafe.com/downloads/ )

  • Ben English

    Though I’d kind of recommend avoiding anything that puts Harry Potter and erotica within the same sphere of possibility since you’re likely going to end up with a fourteen year old Hermione having desk sex with Snape or something.

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

    Oh good lord, no. I don’t have any liking for all those teacher/student romance fics.

  • MuseofIre

    A few of my personal recommendations, with a caveat: in romance novels, the hotness/rightness of the sex is integrally involved with the characters and the story. So if you’re not into the story, the sex may not work for you.
    Laura Kinsale, especially Shadowheart (medieval S&M!) and Midsummer Moon (sex in a fountain!)
    Loretta Chase, esp. Captives of the Night and Mr. Impossible

    J.D. Robb, the In Death series
    Victoria Dahl, esp. Talk Me Down

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

    One of the key things IMO is getting the pronouns right so you don’t get mixed up with who’s doing what, and not accidentally writing an impossible sex position.

  • Lori

    So much easier said than done. So many people fail one or both of those on a routine basis, it’s just sad.

    More than once I’ve been tempted to write a (not) fan letter to an author and ask, “Did you ever actually get into this position? Never mind doing anything smexy, smexy once you got there, just get into this position and remain there for longer than say, a minute?”

    And do not get me started on the badness that so often happens when there’s more than one “he” or “she” in the scene. Oy.

  • Daniel

    Also finding out after ages spent messing about with the various parts that something is missing and giving up, angry, frustrated and tired.

    Although maybe that’s just me.

  • quietglow

    Fortunately you can just order parts off the internet.

    Uh, depending on what we’re actually talking about. Whichever you want, I suppose…

  • quietglow

    Since you mention it, fading to black is, in itself, writing erotica. It sets the scene, plays sexual tension down to the wire, and then lets the reader’s imagination take over. It’s just coy instead of blatant.

    Erotica isn’t necessarily explicit. Since nothing on a page can convey the intimacy of touch, it has to rely on tension, emotion, and the reader’s imagination. Probably why people are quoting bare-bones from the LB passage and finding it scorching stuff.

  • Lori

    Fred didn’t say “storytellers who are not pornographers always fade to black.” I suspect that means something.

  • Ben English

    I think the sentiment is more “put up or shut up”. It’s possible to write both very good erotica and successful transcendent/religious experiences, but if you can’t, if you’re not up to it (and Jenkins assuredly isn’t) then just don’t even bother.

    It’s a principle I think extends beyond just intimate things like prayer and erotica… Like, Tolkien would have been better off sticking to the world-saving epic and leaving the Elven poetry up to our imaginations.

  • Lorehead

    Tolkien really did know how to create a family of languages.

  • Ben English

    Of course. His linguistics skills were remarkable, but the English language poems that appear intermittently in his novels would have been better left to our imaginations, I think.

  • Lorehead

    I liked them as a child. The ”Where is the horse and the rider” one even made it into the movie as blank verse. He also translated both Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl into modern English.

  • Guest

    I have to disagree. I think Tolkien’s poetry was quite beautiful and well used. Also, I feel The Lord of the Rings is exactly what it needs to be. It needs its poetry and its songs and its weird diversions and lengthy chapters of nothing but dialogue about backstory. Anything else would damage the mythological weight of the thing. It isn’t a novel it’s a huge mythological epic similar to the great works of actual myth. The attempt to make it anything else, to make it conform to any kind of normal modern standards for writing or storytelling would diminish it significantly. Hope that makes sense and sorry for the fanboying.

  • Guest

    Side note: if they are part of this discussion, I feel the above goes for the Silmarillion and such, except perhaps even more so.

  • P J Evans

    Well, he was/i> a linguist.

  • Lorehead

    But was he a cunning linguist?

  • P J Evans

    damfino.

  • Ben English

    He was Catholic so I’m guessing no.

  • $190147

    Buck had forgotten how long five kilometers could be. The ground was uneven and moist. The overgrowth slapped him in the face. He switched his bag from shoulder to shoulder, never fully comfortable. He was in good shape, but this was hard. This was not jogging or cycling or running on a treadmill.

    That’s because Buck’s been wanderchaste. He’s been wanderchaste for long enough that he’s no longer a wanderin’ fool, so long that when he’s surfin’ through sand, it’s simply not that cool.

    This was working your way through sandy shoreline to who knew where?

    Given the amount of topographical confusion prevalent in this world, that’s a good question.

    My most recent studies have led me to believe that our religious freedoms will soon become scarce at an alarming pace.

    That’s right. All religious freedoms, along with all other freedoms, are bound to become scarce at an alarming pace, since none of the people we’re reading about have got much more than 5 more years before they* disappear forever.

    *the freedoms, I mean

  • Ben English

    Not to mention the part where all the world’s religions have been forcibly merged into the Edward Nygma Universalist Church of Babylon headed by Pete Matthews the Pontifex Maximus. Religious freedom already doesn’t exist in any legal capacity.

  • $190147

    Well, no, but then remember, the ideal state of things for the authors is one in which freedom, not just religious freedom but freedom of any kind, is impossible. The Universalist Church of Babylon isn’t bad because it’s bad but because it’s being run by the wrong people. All it needs is a change of management, and then lo, behold the new Jerusalem.

  • SororAyin

    Michael and the others climbed through the opening and stood idly in the underbrush, weapons at the ready.
    Stood idly…weapons at the ready…. Okay. My brain just broke.

  • lowtechcyclist

    “what sounded like Hebrew versions of amens and hallelujahs.”

    In the 299 comments before mine, I’m sure someone else has picked up on this, but the ‘Hebrew version’ of hallelujah is hallelujah.

    :headdesk:

  • SkyknightXi

    Several times before, actually. The only explanation I can think of is that Jenkins thought it was a Latin term. (So where does he think “amen” comes from? Beowulf-era English?)

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

    I think it’s simpler than that. I think they just can’t imagine Jews doing anything that isn’t “weird and other”.