Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 334-336
No one at New Hope Village Church seems to remember how funerals are supposed to go. Bruce Barnes served on the pastoral staff of the church for years before the Rapture, and as visitation pastor he surely must have conducted and attended quite a few funerals. But, alas, Bruce is unavailable to conduct his own funeral, and since everyone else in the church is a recent convert, they wind up just kind of winging it.
This unfamiliarity with funerals is remarkable given that everyone in this congregation has been living through the Great Tribulation — a period that
the Bible the dust jacket of this book says is the deadliest in human history. We’re apparently five “seals” into that Tribulation, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse “given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence.” You would think that the death of “a fourth of the earth” might mean the need for a few funerals — particularly for a church sitting a few miles from the smoking ruins of the nuclear destruction of Chicago. You would also think the Rapture itself — involving the disintegration of half of Rayford’s family, all of Bruce’s, and all of Loretta’s — might also have led to a funeral or two.
But no, this is the first and only such service for NHVC, which is why they’ve awkwardly scheduled a viewing after the marathon memorial service earlier in the day.
Since Bruce has no remaining family, and since he didn’t have any friends outside of his inner-inner-circle, they’ve just stuck Bruce’s open casket in the front of the church with Rayford Steele standing next to it, alone.
Rayford barely knows any of these people. He could only name a small handful of them and he can’t bring himself to get to know them any better during this shared experience of grief. Mostly, he’s just bored.
So are the authors, who treat the occasion of Bruce’s viewing as a chance to get other things done. The first order of business is to re-introduce the long-neglected “computer whiz” Buck enlisted to serve as the IT department for the Tribulation Force.
This book came out in 1997, remember, when it was more or less mandatory for every story to include at least one preternatural “computer whiz.” Usually, these characters were given “quirky” costumes — bright blue hair or piercings or some such. (“Wait — how is she hacking into a non-digital archive? That’s impossible.” “But she has blue hair.” “Oh, OK, then.”)
On the plus side, Jerry Jenkins avoids the cliché of the quirky computer whiz in the quirky costume. On the minus side, he avoids this by never telling us anything at all about Donny’s character, appearance, or personality:
Rayford stood near Bruce’s coffin, shaking hands with mourners. Donny Moore approached. “I’m sorry to bother you with a question right here,” Donny said, “but would you know where I could find Mr. Williams? He ordered some stuff from me, and I’ve got it for him.”
Rayford directed him to the office.
Donny is an amazing character. He has super powers. He makes magical laptop computers that can hack into the Antichrist’s satellite system and Global Community Web while simultaneously preventing the Antichrist and his global police from finding anyone using them. How is it that Donny Moore — some guy who just happens to attend this evangelical church in the suburbs — has developed software and hardware that’s a generation ahead of the best technology available to the rest of the world?
That doesn’t matter. All you need to know about the laptops, readers, is that Donny made them. And all you need to know about Donny is that he’s the one who made the laptops. Now that he has delivered them, his work here is done. Goodbye, Donny. Thanks for the magic laptops.
As Donny and dozens of others filed past, Rayford wondered how long Hattie Durham would be with her mother in Denver. Carpathia had scheduled a meeting with Pontifex Maximus Peter Mathews, who had recently been named Supreme Pontiff of Enigma Babylon One World Faith, a conglomeration of all the religions in the world. Carpathia wanted Rayford back to New Babylon by the Thursday after next to fly the Condor 216 to Rome. …
This is, allegedly, a paragraph. Jerry Jenkins wrote each of these three sentences, then crammed them together and declared it to be a paragraph. Read this again and let that sink in:
As Donny and dozens of others filed past, Rayford wondered how long Hattie Durham would be with her mother in Denver. Carpathia had scheduled a meeting with Pontifex Maximus Peter Mathews, who had recent been named Supreme Pontiff of Enigma Babylon One World Faith, a conglomeration of all the religions in the world. Carpathia wanted Rayford back to New Babylon by the Thursday after next to fly the Condor 216 to Rome. There he was to pick up Mathews and bring him to New Babylon. Carpathia had made noises about headquartering Mathews and One World Faith in New Babylon, along with almost every other international organization.
That phrase “international organization” is anachronistic. The Antichrist is now the “global potentate” — sole leader of a One World Government in which every national sovereignty has been abolished. There no longer exists a plural number of nations among which there might be anything “international.”
Technically, I suppose, the arbitrary continued existence of Israel as a sovereign state outside of the Antichrist’s OWG might make it possible to have an “international organization.” But that can’t apply to Nicolae’s One World Religion because just as Israel was exempted from the OWG, so too it has been exempted from the EBOWF and its “conglomeration of all the religions in the world.” While every Muslim, Hindu, atheist, Rastafarian and Episcopalian is enthusiastically submitting to the still-unspecified doctrines of the new Pontifex Maximus,* the Jewish Jews of Israel remain faithful to the central tenets of Judaism — denying Christ, rebuilding the Temple, and slaughtering the wives and children of converts to Christianity.
After cramming all that strange exposition into the preceding “paragraph,” Jenkins suddenly realizes that this device — having Rayford’s mind wander aimlessly while he’s supposed to be pastoring this congregation during a funeral — might seem a bit disrespectful to Bruce and to the rest of the congregation. So he inserts a not-quite-successful attempt to inoculate against that before continuing on with the random daydream-of-consciousness exposition:
Rayford found himself numb, shaking hand after hand. He tried not to look at Bruce’s body. He busied himself remembering what else he’d heard Carpathia saying through that ingenious reverse intercom bugging device the late Earl Halliday had installed in the Condor.
It’s not that Rayford doesn’t care about Bruce and all the people coming to grieve. It’s that Rayford cares too much, and so he’s forced to allow his mind to wander so as not to be confronted with the overwhelming pain of his and their shared grief. That might make it seem like he’s a shallow jerk bored by all these strangers and their grief, but really it’s just a survival mechanism.
Or maybe he’s just a shallow jerk and he’s bored:
Most interesting to Rayford was Carpathia’s insistence on taking over leadership of several of the groups and committees that had been headed by his old friend and financial angel Jonathan Stonagal. Buck had told Rayford and the rest of the Tribulation Force that he was in the room when Carpathia murdered Stonagal and then brainwashed everyone else to believe they’d just witnessed a suicide. With Carpathia now angling his way into the leadership of international relations committees, commissions on international harmony, and, most important, secret financial cooperatives, his motives for that murder became clear.
Readers may remember that murder and brainwashing from the end of the first book. They may also remember that this shooting occurred during the very meeting at which Carpathia dissolved all the nations of the world, replacing them with his One World Government and enthroning himself as the totalitarian global sovereign.
That event, in other words, was the first “Seal Judgment” from the book of Revelation — the first Horseman of the Apocalypse: “And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”
Nicolae Carpathia came and saw and conquered and “a crown was given to him.” This already happened. It had to happen, in Tim LaHaye’s scheme, because the establishment of the Antichrist’s OWG is Item No. 1 on the list of prophecies that have to be fulfilled. The next four “seals” couldn’t come to pass until after that prophecy came true.
So why, then, are we still worrying about “international relations committees” or “commissions on international harmony”? International harmony has already been decreed, by fiat, by the word of the global potentate. And why is the man already enthroned as global potentate worrying about “angling his way into the leadership” of anything? He’s already the leader of everything, ruling the world from his global capital in New Babylon — as Jenkins/Rayford were just reminding us.
Once again, “continuity error” doesn’t begin to capture the sheer scope of what’s going on here. This is a continuity erasure — a continuity obliteration. It’s a rejection of the very idea of continuity as something to be sought, valued or followed in a story.
Rayford let his mind wander to the good old days, when all he had to do was show up at O’Hare on time, fly his routes, and come home. Of course, he was not a believer then. Not the kind of husband and father he should have been. The good old days really hadn’t been so good at all.
Yes, things are so much better now — with his wife and son and O’Hare airport itself all vaporized in an instant. Now he can focus on being a better husband to his new wife, and on his exciting new job as the Antichrist’s personal chauffeur.
He couldn’t complain about the excitement in his life. While he despised Carpathia and hated to be in a position of actual service to the man, he had long since decided to be obedient to God. If this was where God wanted him, it was where he would serve.
Take this lesson to heart, dear readers, sometimes that high-paying, high-prestige job serving the evilest of evil powers might be right where God wants you to be.
Sure, it might seem troubling that by piloting Nicolae around during his nuclear-bombing spree Rayford was, in effect, facilitating the slaughter of tens of millions of innocent people. But it’s only because he was right up close to the Antichrist, serving as his personal pilot, that Rayford was able to listen in with that “ingenious reverse intercom,” and thereby to learn all the sordid details of the horrific evils he was helping Nicolae to carry out.
So on the one hand, yes, Rayford’s service as pilot was the only reason Nicolae was able to kill every inhabitant of San Francisco. But God has a plan. If Rayford hadn’t been piloting that plane, he would never have learned that Nicolae was also nefariously “angling his way into the leadership of … commissions on international harmony.” And where would he be if he hadn’t learned that?
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* It doesn’t matter to any of these folks what the EBOWF actually teaches, because all such false religions are the same in Tim LaHaye’s binary understanding of belief. For LaHaye, there are only two categories of religion: X and Not-X. X refers to real, true Christianity — belief in an imminent Rapture and the End of the World, when Jesus Christ comes back to kill everyone. Not-X refers to everything else, i.e., to the explicit, stubborn, willful rejection of this real, true Christianity. Thus despite the apparently vast and irreconcilable beliefs of all the world’s religions, none of those supposed differences actually matter.
All of this EBOWF business was only plausible to LaHaye’s readers because they had been taught to share his glib disregard and disrespect for every other religion in the world. That attitude tends to have real-world consequences. See, for example, the widespread glib enthusiasm for the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq or the current enthusiasm for indiscriminately bombing the “bad guys” in the Syrian civil war.