Just in Case You Were Skeptical, This is Most Definitely the Rapture: Left Behind Chapter 11

Posted on February 8, 2016 by

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Warning, warning, this chapter contains a rando soliloquising (for almost the whole chapter) about how he wasn’t a true Christian.

Left Behind Chapter 11:

Even Rayford is getting kind of bored of his story:

Rayford was glad he could take Chloe out for a drive Saturday after having been cooped up with their grief.

Glad we can go on the road to grieve with the remaining Steeles. And cringe at their terrible banter.

As they chatted on the short drive, he reminded her that after their day trip to
Atlanta Monday they would have to drive home separately from O’Hare so he could
get his car back. She smiled at him. “I think I can handle that, now that I’m twenty.”

“I do treat you like a little girl sometimes, don’t I?” he said.

“Not too much anymore,” she said. “You can make up for it, though.”

“I know what you’re going to say.”

“You don’t either,” she said. “Guess.”

I sometimes feel like the dialogue in this book is just slightly askew. Like when a picture just isn’t quite straight, but you’re not sure if you’re imagining things or something is genuinely off about it. In this case, what is that ‘either’ doing in Chloe’s last bit of dialogue.

“You’re going to say I can make up for treating you like a little girl by letting you
have your own mind today, by not trying to talk you into anything.”

“That goes without saying, I hope. But you’re wrong, smart guy. I was going to say
you could convince me you see me as a responsible adult by letting me drive your
car back from the airport Monday.”

“That’s easy,” Rayford said, suddenly switching to a babyish voice. “Would that
make you feel like a big girl? OK, Daddy will do that.”

Maybe I spoke too soon when I said I was glad they weren’t grieving at home anymore. There is something about Rayford referring to himself as Daddy in the third person to his twenty-year-old daughter that makes my face reflexively screw itself up in disgust.

They arrive at the church, and Chloe reluctantly goes inside with Ray. Here, we meet the two saddest left behinders yet.

Bruce Barnes was short and slightly pudgy, with curly hair and wire-rimmed glasses. He dressed casually but with class, and Rayford guessed him to be in his early thirties. He emerged from the sanctuary with a small vacuum in his hands. “Sorry,” he said. “You must be the Steele’s. I’m kind of the whole staff around here now, except for Loretta.”

“Hello,” an older woman said from behind Rayford and Chloe. She stood in the doorway of the church offices sunken-eyed and disheveled, as if she’d come through a war. After pleasantries she retreated to a desk in the outer office.

Seriously, this is a book about people losing friends and family because they’ve been left behind and are definitely going to go through some really rough, apocalyptic shit soon, and Bruce and Loretta are the saddest characters we’ve met yet. Loretta is just done. 

Barnes says that he’s give them the tape, but first he’d like a minute of their time. I have read the chapter in full, and I can tell you this deceptive man takes up far more than a mere minute of their time. AND OUR TIME. With his elaborately boring tale of his family being raptured.

But first, Chloe tries really hard to become the least likeable character:

Barnes led them to the senior pastor’s office. “I don’t sit at his desk or use his library,” the younger man said, “but I do work in here at his conference table. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me or to the church, and I certainly don’t want to be presumptuous. I can’t imagine God would call me to take over this work, but if he does, I want to be ready.”

“And how will he call you?” Chloe said, a smile playing at her mouth. “By phone?”

Look, Chloe, we know you get your terrible sense of humor from your father (see creepy ‘Daddy’ joke above), but just stop. Please.

Chloe takes my constructive criticism to heart and switches tactics to a more straightforward antagonism:

“Folks, Loretta there looks like I feel. We’re shell-shocked and we’re devastated, because we know exactly what happened.”

“Or you think you do,” Chloe said. Rayford tried to catch her eye to encourage her to back off, but she seemed unwilling to look at him. “There’s every kind of theory you want on every TV show in the country.”

I also like the emphasis placed on just how shitty Loretta looks. Dayyyyuum, Loretta, the Rapture hit you hard, gurl.

Chloe points out that everyone’s theories about what happened are pretty self-serving, which is a solid point:

“And each is self-serving,” she added. “The tabloids say it was space invaders, which would prove the stupid stories they’ve been running for years. The government says it’s some sort of enemy, so we can spend more on high-tech defense. You’re going to say it was God so you can start remodeling your church.”

It’s really sad, but probably true, that the government would be like. “This is an awesome opportunity to increase our high-tech defence budget!” I wonder what other players are creating self-serving theories. Is McDonalds trying to convince the world that the Hamburgler was involved in this tragedy in an effort to increase brand awareness? Is Marvel going to link this to a supervillain attack in order to justify launching another 1000 series on Netflix?

Bruce gets pretty sassy himself, and is like, “Bitch, can I please just have a minute where you don’t interrupt me unless you actually have a legit question? Thanks. I have the floor.”

I think his best moment here is actually, “I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want you to be either.” WOAH, BRUCE.

Instead of Rayford being taken aback by this random dude talking to his daughter that way, he fucking loves it! “Rayford thought Barnes was brilliant. He had put Chloe in her place, leaving her no smart remark.”

Bruce explains that he and Loretta are really sad (yeah, you and everybody else, buddy.) Loretta had like hundreds of family members, and she’s the only one who didn’t get an invite to Jesus’ party. Classic case of FOMO on Loretta’s part.

Bruce tries to act like his story can compare and that it is at all interesting. But even the book can’t lie to us about this story being interesting:

“It’s all right,” Barnes said. “My situation is almost as bad as Loretta’s, only on a smaller scale. Of course it’s not small for me. Let me tell you my story.” As soon as he began with seemingly innocuous details, his voice grew thick and quiet. “I was in bed with my wife. She was sleeping. I was reading. Our children had been down for a couple of hours. They were five, three, and one. The oldest was a girl, the other two boys. That was normal for us, me reading while my wife slept. She worked so hard with the kids and a part-time job that she was always knocked out by nine or so.

“He began with seemingly innocuous details that remain innocuous for the whole story. Not one of these details is at all necessary. This story is basically like every other person’s we’ve heard about in the book so far!”His details are so useless that he tells us he was reading a sports magazine and that his wife was so annoyed she kept sighing really loudly and asking him to go to bed. Yes, tell me more, Bruce.

The story only gets more boring from there. I’m not exaggerating. He thinks his wife got up to go to the bathroom, but then realizes everyone in his family is missing. He’s confused, but then is like OH SHIT, THE RAPTURE. It’s so sad because he tries so hard to make it suspenseful, but we all know how it turns out! And it takes him so long to tell.

"I'm so bored gif"

Ray, who is basically Bruce’s number one fan, starts crying because he’s so moved by this story. I get it. Wounds are still fresh and all, but ug Bruce, seriously.

Afterwards, Ray tries to understand why Bruce and Loretta got left behind.

“I’m going to tell you, Ray, because I no longer have anything to hide. I’m ashamed of myself, and if I never really had the desire or the motivation to tell others about Christ before, I sure have it now…”

Basically, he was too lazy to make an effort for Christ. Also the dude really liked porn.

“I was lazy. I cut corners. When people thought I was out calling, I might be at a movie in another town. I was also lustful. I read things I shouldn’t have read, looked at magazines that fed my lusts.”

He must have done that enough to give God pause because I don’t for a second believe that all the other adults who were raptured never looked at porn.

Also, Bruce just wanted to be cool:

“When people found out I was on the pastoral staff at New Hope, I would tell them about the cool pastor and the neat church, but I was shy about telling them about Christ. If they challenged me and asked if New Hope was one of those churches that said Jesus was the only way to God, I did everything but deny it. I wanted them to think I was OK, that I was with it…”

“I wanted them to think I was one cool cat. I thought I was too cool for school, too cool for Christ, but I was wrong!”

Loretta just kind of went along with everything at church but didn’t actually accept Christ into her heart either. Bruce explains that no matter how good of a person you are, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t do that.

Bruce promises he can help them become true Christians so when they do die, they’ll be able to be reunited with their family. I guess this means Bruce and Loretta aren’t going to be…left behind…after this chapter.

Even though Bruce offers to pray with the Steeles and help them accept Christ right then and there, they say they need more time to think. Um. Why? Bruce and myself are pretty surprised given Ray is 100% convinced it was the Rapture. What on earth would be the harm in accepting Christ at this point?

Bruce warns them that they better do it sooner rather than later, and the Steeles agree they’ll watch the tape first and get back to him.

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Posted in: Left Behind