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NRA: Catering the apocalypse

NRA: Catering the apocalypse August 3, 2012

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 33-37

Jerry Jenkins’ crimes against continuity frustrate the reader’s every attempt to make sense of them. He’ll establish that the post-Rapture world is an anarchic, crime-ridden jungle of violent sinners-gone-wild, and then send Buck and Chloe off for a late-night stroll down quiet streets. Or he’ll drop a perhaps-nuclear bomb on Chicago, then spend a full page negotiating the return of a rental car to the smoldering crater at the center of the blast site.

Things happen but we can never know what they mean or if they mean anything. Causes don’t have effects — or their effects appear, disappear, then reappear. It’s all a bit bewildering to try to follow.

In today’s section, for example, Rayford Steele is nearing Dallas, having fled war-torn Chicago in a Learjet with his wife, the Antichrist, and some kind of Antichrist-assistant. They’re heading for a military airstrip because the commercial airport there is under attack. That’s all been firmly established:

“How about Dallas/Ft. Worth?” Carpathia asked.

“DFW suffered a hit,” the guard said. “Only one major runway is still open. Nothing’s coming in, but lots of planes are heading out of there.”

That was 18 pages ago. Now we read this:

As the Learjet made its initial descent into the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Fortunato ducked into the cockpit and knelt between Hernandez and Rayford. Each slipped the headphone off the ear closest to Carpathia’s aide. “Anybody hungry?” he said.

Rayford hadn’t even thought of food. For all he knew, the world was blowing itself to bits and no one would survive this war.

Rayford’s reaction isn’t quite accurate — at least not if he was paying any attention to all those charts and timelines Bruce Barnes made him study. He knows full well that this war is, according to Bruce and to Tim LaHaye, the second horseman of the apocalypse and one of the “seven seals” of the book of Revelation. And he knows that the first four seals will be given power “over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”

So as far as Rayford knows, three-fourths of the earth is guaranteed to survive this war.

But still, his reaction shows us that the war is still going on. And, more to the point, it shows us that the authors have not forgotten that there’s a war going on. It often seems here as though they had. Throughout these pages, they repeatedly remind us of this ongoing war while simultaneously presenting scenes that are utterly incompatible with it.

And I don’t just mean inappropriate little asides like the next few sentences, in which we are reminded that good little Christian wives should watch their weight:

The very mention of hunger, however, triggered something in him. He realized he was famished. He knew Amanda would be as well. She was a light eater, and he often had to make sure she remembered to eat.

I mean scenes that just seem impossible given what we’ve just been told about this war:

“Potentate Carpathia would like you to contact DFW tower and have something nice waiting for us.”

Hernandez suddenly looked panicky. “What do you think he means by ‘something nice’?”

“I’m sure you’ll arrange for something appropriate, Captain Hernandez.”

Fortunato backed out of the cockpit and Hernandez rolled his eyes at Rayford. “DFW tower, this is Global Community Three, over.”

Alas, Jenkins does not continue this scene, so we do not get to hear from the air traffic controllers in that tower — the brave heroes who stayed at their post under fire, steadfastly directing the planes fleeing the besieged airport. We don’t get to hear how they respond to this request to arrange “something nice” for Carpathia and his passengers to nosh on upon their arrival.

Rayford Steele and Buck Williams greet the “ten international ambassadors who represent huge land masses and populations and report directly to Carpathia.”

And thus, sadly, we don’t get to hear whether or not these hardy souls mention that: 1) they are air traffic controllers, not caterers; 2) the restaurants at DFW are not currently serving food, due to the exigent circumstance of the airport being under aerial attack; 3) the Learjet isn’t even landing at their airport, but at a “military strip” many miles away; and 4) did we mention that the airport is currently under attack?

And yet, somehow, once Rayford et. al. arrive at the military base, they find “a table piled with catered lunches.”

First though, we read another reminder of the war and of the absurdity of having “something nice” delivered at one’s convenience in the midst of it:

Rayford saw billowing black clouds over the Dallas/Ft. Worth commercial airport and thought of the many times he had landed big craft on those long runways. How long would it take to rebuild here?

Let’s revisit that passage from Revelation 6:

And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

Who among us can read of such calamity without being compelled to ask: How long will it take to rebuild the airports?

Rayford “saw no other aircraft on the ground” and assumes “someone had moved all the planes to keep the strip from being a target.” It does not occur to him, or to the authors, that the military airplanes usually resting at this military airstrip might have somewhere important to be just now, what with the outbreak of World War III and the fact that “enemy aircraft” were currently flying over the territory of the former United States, bombing airports at will.

In addition to the food waiting for them, there’s also an entourage of global princes and the “Condor 216” — the newly designed plane Rayford will now be flying in place of Air Force One.*

The “catered lunches” were apparently, if implausibly, arranged as ordered by those poor air traffic controllers from the besieged airport miles away. But we’re not told how the princes or the Condor managed to be here at the airstrip — a site Nicolae only just recently and randomly chose as his escape route.

There, standing at attention in a neat row, were four of the ten international ambassadors who represented huge land masses and populations and reported directly to Carpathia. Rayford had no idea where they had been or how they had gotten here. All he knew was that it was his job to get them all to New Babylon for emergency meetings in light of the outbreak of World War III.

So who are these four “international ambassadors”? What are their names and where are they from? What do they look like? What new realms do they govern?

We’re not told. The authors assume that we readers are as incurious about such things as they are themselves.

But the presence of these “ambassadors” does tell us that the authors also have not forgotten about this business from way back in the first book, where Nicolae Carpathia abolished all national sovereignty (except for Israel’s), divided the world into 10 regional blocks and set up these 10 lieutenants to rule over each as his vice potentates.

Readers will likely have forgotten about that until now. There’s been no mention of it in the 500 or so pages since it happened, and most of what has transpired in those pages has been incompatible with any of that actually having occurred.

Nicolae leads a one-world government and a one-world religion, and we’re told that he also established a one-world currency and one-world language — or at least that he began to establish those more than 18 months ago. Yet the nations of the world still seem to have armies and governments functional enough to launch this “World War III” insurgency. And we’ve just seen Buck Williams speaking English, shopping with dollars and attending his Christian church.

It’s all like that catering and car-shopping amidst the falling bombs of World War III. Things happen but we can never know what they mean or if they mean anything. Causes don’t have effects — or their effects appear, disappear, then reappear. It’s all a bit bewildering to try to follow.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* The new plane is an upgrade with added bells and whistles. Such upgrading is a big theme here in Nicolae.

The Antichrist upgrades from Air Force One to the Condor 216 — a newer, fancier airplane. Buck upgrades from a Lincoln to a Land Rover — a newer, fancier car. The authors upgrade from Bruce Barnes to Tsion Ben-Judah — a newer, fancier “biblical scholar” avatar. And Rayford upgrades from Irene to Amanda — a newer, skinnier wife:

Rayford ate ravenously and tried to encourage Amanda to eat more than usual. She did not.

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