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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Left Behind: Chapter 14, Part 2

Welcome back one and all to our regular feature on Left Behind, the book that pus the "impotent" in "impotent rage." Last time we hung around with Rayford and Chloe for a moment or two and then witnessed a press conference featuring the anti-christ. What happens this week? Absolutely nothing. I mean it- just nothing. We talk about things that could happen, or will happen, or almost happened, but nothing actually just happens.

As always we have a comment of the week. This week that "honor" goes to Ken for a little subtle innuendo:

"then return to Rayford and Chloe, who have gotten into all sorts of trouble since we last checked in."

Really don't want think about that. This is what happens when you let your daughter drive stick.

Ah yes, Chloe and her loose morals, only barely restrained by the fervent prayers of Irene, who is no longer in the picture to do any praying. We can only assume that the debauchery will commence any moment now. I said, ANY MOMENT NOW! Ah hell. In any case, congratulations Ken, and keep at it everyone! The suffering has only just begun!

And with that, let's begin! As always, page/line numbers are in bold, quotes from the book are in block quotes, my commentary is in regular print, and you can navigate the whole series with the provided tag.


Dramatis Personae

In an order determined by a dog and a ouija board...

Rayford Steele: Airline captain. Husband of Irene Steele. Possible former gay porn star. Ditherer. No longer attracted to Hattie. Bad father. Cries a lot. Lying hypocrite. Christian.

Irene Steele: Wife of Rayford Steele. Born-again Christian. Not perfect, just forgiven. Reader of marriage books. Cleans obsessively. Likes egg in her coffee. Bakes really silly cookies. Likes butter churns.

Cameron "Buck" Williams: Reporter. Known for "bucking tradition and authority." Terrible Excellent writer. Spiritually attuned. Electronics wiz. Fast typist. Clumsy on slides. Travels a lot. Graduated from Princeton. Human alarm clock. Expert in Romanian politics.

Hattie Durham: Flight attendant. Toucher. Hottie. Hysterical female type. Girl power devotee. Unhealthily thin. Twenty-seven years old. Blonde. Claims no moral or religious code.

Chris Smith: Airline co-pilot. Worked with Rayford Steele. Father of two. Husband. Killed himself.

Chloe Steele: Daughter of Rayford Steele. Student at Stanford. Religiously unaffiliated. Kinda stupid.

Chaim Rosenzweig: Israeli chemist. Kinda freaky. Friend of Buck's.

Steve Plank: Buck's boss at Global Weekly. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Nicolae Carpathia: Businessman. Romanian Senator. Romanian President. Antichrist. Favors arms reductions. An inch or two over six feet tall. Broad shouldered. Thick chested. Trim. Athletic. Tanned. Blonde. Blue eyes. Thick eyebrows. Roman nose and jaw. Carries self with a sense of humility and purpose. Wears understated jewelry. Excellent memory.

Raymie Steele: Son of Rayford Steele. Taken in the rapture.

Dirk Burton: English guy Buck knows. Graduated from Princeton. Kinda gullible. Killed himself Murdered. Left handed.

Joshua Todd-Cothran: English finance guy.

Jonathon Stonagal: American ultra-rich dude. Involved in international monetary cabal. Has ties to duck lips.

Marge Potter: Steve Planck's secretary. Matronly.

Lucinda Washington: Fiftyish black woman. Raptured.

Ken Ritz: Pilot. Profiteering on the rapture. Actually quite polite. Fired for being too careful. Believes in aliens.

Juan Ortiz: Global Weekly international events editor.

Jimmy Borland: Global Weekly religion editor.

Barbara Donahue: Global Weekly financial editor.

Nigel Leonard: Employee of the London exchange.

Alan Tompkins: Investigator at Scotland Yard. Friend of Buck. Kind of a chickenshit. Blown up by an evil conspiracy car bomb.

Bruce Barnes: Visitation Pastor at New Hope Village Church. Likes to be mysterious.

Vernon Billings: Pastor at New Hope Village Church. Likes video tape. Raptured.

Mwangati Ngumo: Secretary-General of the United Nations. Botswanan national.


Page 256- Line Chocolate:

When we left off Buck was in a press conference featuring Carpathia. And that's where we still are, believe it or not. There are a few more questions, revealing that Carpathia may be in New York for a while. Then we get this...

Page 256- Line 9-11:
By the time of the evening network news, a new international star had been born. He even had a nickname: Saint Nick.

Right. Yes. The anti-christ shares a name with Santa Claus. Subtle, guys. I don't even know what to do with the whole nicknaming thing. That isn't exactly common in my experience but, hey, if it worked for Norman 'Stormin' Schwarzkopf maybe it can work here? Regardless, we next get to a really sinister set of remarks...

Page 256- Line 16-19:
He [Carpathia] had carefully avoided specific talk of global disarmament. His was a message of love and peace and understanding and brotherhood, and to quit fighting seemed to go without saying.

Wow. That's scary. I can certainly see why good Christians like the authors would be terrified of someone who wants us to stop killing each other.* Anyway, the press conference ends, Rosenzweig tells Buck that he (Buck) has an interview with Carpathia that evening, and Buck goes back to his apartment with Steve to prepare for the interview. Steve raises the issue- once more- of whether Buck should trust Carpathia given that Carpathia has ties to Stonagal who has ties to Joshua Todd-Cothran** who apparently has ties to nasty people who blow up cars outside London pubs. Buck's response is fairly typical.

Page 258- Line 21-28:
"Until he proves otherwise, I'm [Buck] just going to trust Nicolae Carpathia."

"Hmph," Steve said.


"It's just that usually you work the other way around. You distrust someone until they prove otherwise."

"Well, it's a new world, Steve. Nothing's the same as it was last week, is it?"

Indeed, nothing is the same since you witnessed that craziness in Israel and decided that nothing is beyond belief (Page 15- Line 5-10). I'm suddenly forced to wonder what else Buck considers plausible. Unicorns? Leprechauns? The Loch Ness Monster? Seriously, folks, where does the stupid end? Alas, we don't get to find out because the narrative suddenly shifts back to Rayford, who is about to make a shocking discovery!

Page 259- Line 1-6:
Rayford pulled into his driveway with a sack of groceries on the seat beside him. He had gotten hold of Hattie Durham, who wanted to keep him on the phone talking until he begged off. She was delighted with the dinner invitation and said she could come three nights later, on Thursday.

Which makes this... what? Monday? Should we care about that? I mean, the authors are being specific. Is this a plot point? Eh. Probably not. I'm just glad they didn't describe Rayford's deep spiritual crisis in the produce aisle. I mean, cucumbers look so much like penises that they just have to be sinful, am I right?

Page 259- Line 7-11:
Rayford guessed he was half an hour behind Chloe, and he was impressed that she had left the garage door open for him. When he found the door locked between the garage and the house, however, he was concerned. He knocked. No answer.

And this is weird. See, Chloe knew Rayford was stopping for groceries so it seems to me that it wouldn't make sense to just leave the garage door sitting open. And if you were going to do that, seems like locking the door to the rest of the house would just be good sense. Apparently, though, Rayford really expected his sole remaining daughter, who was alone in the house, to just leave all the doors open for anyone who happened past. Right. In any case, he opens the garage door so he can go around to the front of the house to let himself in- revealing to our collective astonishment that he doesn't have a key to his own back door- and then notices something amiss!

Page 259- Line 17-19:
Rayford walked around the Jeep at the end. Raymie's stuff was missing! His bike. His four-wheeler. What was this?

Oh no! Raymie's four-wheeler was raptured! But why not the Jeep? Was it too proud? Too proud of its capitalized proper brand name when the four-wheeler just went by the modest title of four-wheeler? Alas! Does sin taint even our personal recreational vehicles?

Page 259- Line 20-25:
Rayford jogged to the front door. The window of the storm door was broken and the door hung on one hinge. The main door had been kicked in. No small feat, as the door was huge and heavy with a dead bolt. The entire frame had been obliterated and lay in pieces on the floor of the entryway. Rayford rushed in, calling for Chloe.

Or... while they were out a SWAT team broke in looking for a meth lab? I mean, what the hell? As it turns out, what we're seeing aren't signs of a rapture of personal property that has received Christ as its savior, but signs of a robbery. Indeed, the authors flatly state that "everything of immediate material value" was gone (Page 259- Line 27-28). Rayford calls the cops, but then proceeds to put them on hold so he can get the call waiting, which proves to be Chloe, who gives a hurried account of what happened to her.

Page 260- Line 6-11:
"Oh, Daddy!" she said, crying. "Are you all right? I came in through the garage and saw all that stuff missing. I thought maybe they'd come back, so I locked the door to the garage and was going to lock the front, but I saw the glass and wood and everything, so I ran out the back. I'm three doors down now."

And we are reminded once again that Chloe is a moron. She comes into a house that has clearly been broken into. Does she immediately leave and call the police? No. She locks herself in. Then, when she discovers more signs of criminal activity, she freaks out and runs into as-yet unexplored portions of the house, rather than retreating to a part of the house where she knows the criminals aren't. Brilliant. Was she failing out of Stanford, or what? Anyway, Chloe returns from the neighbors' house and Rayford calls the cops. There's a conversation in which Rayford admits that they don't use their burglar alarm because, in their neighborhood, they never expected to need it.

Page 260- Line 27-30:
"This kind of crime is up two hundred percent here in the last week alone," the officer said. "The bad guys know we don't have the time or manpower to do a blessed thing about it."

I truly have no idea what the authors mean here. Do they mean that a large plurality, even a majority, of police are born again Christian who would be gone following the rapture? Do they mean that the cops are still really busy with emergency work? I really couldn't say. Maybe it's just terrible writing and pointless dialogue? Parsimony is king, you know.

Page 261- Line 22-26:
Rayford embraced Chloe, who was still shaking. "Can you do me a favor, Dad?" she said.


"I want another copy of that video, the one from the pastor."

"I'll call Bruce, and we'll pick one up tonight."

My margin note at this point reads, "Oh my. Seriously?" It's a fair point since this is quite a change of heart for Chloe. I mean, personally nothing reassures me after a traumatic experience like a creepy videotape of preaching, but I didn't expect my proclivities to extend to Chloe. In retrospect, though, I'm just trying to figure out what the hell they think they're going to do with a new videotape when their T.V. and VCR have been stolen. It's magnetic tape- you can't just hold it up to a lamp, you know? Regardless, let's all notice how the authors are once more trying to use fear to sell religion. Whoops! Look out! You coulda gotten in trouble there! Better believe in this stuff I tell you about so you won't go to this bad place that you never knew about until I told you about it! Seriously, the world has more than enough genuinely frightening things- I don't need people to invent new ones for me to be afraid of. Nor do I need to base my entire worldview on fear of punishment.

Page 261- Line 27:
Suddenly Chloe laughed.

Because she was just fucking with Rayford about that whole tape thing?

Page 261- Line 28-30:
"Now this is funny?" Rayford said.

"I just had a thought," she said, smiling through her tears. "What if the burglars watch that tape?"

I dunno. They laugh at it? That's usually what happens to me if I watch TBN for a few minutes. Either that or I feel very, very frightened of my neighbors.

Regardless, however, that wraps up chapter fourteen. And yes, if it seemed short, that's because it was! Come back next time when we learn more about the anti-christ, have a truly disturbing conversation, and Rayford tries to put the moves on Hattie. Trust me: you're gonna want to see this one.

* Actually, that's a lie. I don't have any particular affection for Christianity, but I have to say that an admonishment against killing people seems to be a core part of its theological message. Most centuries, anyway.

** You know, it just occurred to me that in the dramatis personae for months I've been indicating that Stonagal has ties to duck lips. Could it be that "Duck Lips" is just Joshua Todd-Cothran's nickname? Woah, man. That's deep.



Blogger scripto said...

"...and said she could come three nights later, on Thursday."

And only if she brought two vibrators - one for Rayford.

Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:27:00 AM  

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