Carpathia Still Has Like No Dialogue: Left Behind Chapter 14

Posted on February 16, 2016 by

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Left Behind: Chapter 14

This chapter drops us right into the middle of one of my biggest problems with Left Behind. The book’s message is that literally no part of who you are matters unless you’re a “true Christian*”, and then it spends apparently 16 books defining that asterisk. So then by definition, that should mean that the people who got left behind is a cast of flawed people who now have to confront those flaws, or rapidly spiral downward in them. When you break it down like that, you know, this kinda sounds like it could be an interesting story! Problematic, but the theory seems mechanically solid.

The problem is that it’s not clear what the book is saying those flaws are. It’s conflating everything into a single “well, it’s not undying love for Jesus” point of “bad” things. So when Rayford and his daughter talk about inviting a woman he previously lusted over for dinner…

“I want to see when Hattie can join us for dinner. That’s all right with you, isn’t it?”
“As long as you don’t expect me to cook or something sexist and domestic like that.”
“I hadn’t even thought of it. She loves Chinese. We’ll order some.”
“She loves Chinese?” Chloe repeated. “You are familiar with this woman, aren’t you?”

…it’s kind of hard to tell whether we’re supposed to be critical of previously not-religious Rayford’s wandering eyes, or agnostic Chloe’s… entirely rational concerns about her father’s misogyny.

Ok, most of the chapter is about Buck doing journalism, so I promise there will be jokes soon.

asdf

Jokes!

Buck tries to re-secure his interview with Carpathia. Also, the world realizes that Buck isn’t actually dead. Given that this is all because of a higher-than-government organization’s assassination attempt, there’s astoundingly little in the way of consequences here.

asdf

After Carpathia finishes his press conference – where Left Behind very weirdly barely wrote any of his actual press conference, but just summarized what he talked about, because writing is super hard – he gives a question and answer session. Which still doesn’t actually bother writing most of Carpathia’s dialogue.

The young Romanian was no less impressive and persuasive up close, beginning the session with his own statement before fielding questions. He conducted himself like an old pro

This has to be the closest to an admission of “yeah, we have no clue how to write this” I’ve ever seen in a book.

Carpathia launched into another minispeech, again showing incredible knowledge and grasp of the U.N. and its mission.

Seriously, this is so weird. Even when Jenkins and LaHaye bother writing Carpathia’s dialogue, it only supports my theory that they wrote themselves into a corner and had no idea how to write a charismatic politician.

“As you know,” he said, speaking again of things long before he was born, “the U.N. has its legacy in the League of Nations, which I believe was the first international peacekeeping body. It came about at the end of the First World War, but when it failed to prevent a second, it became anachronistic.”

Where do I begin? This is like bad writing Christmas. Do I point out that that’s not what the word “anachronstic” means? Do I point out that, if he were really an expert, he should know whether the League of Nations was the first international peacekeeping body or not? Do I point out that a politician talking about “things long before he was born” isn’t really an impressive point? Do I point out that even in a pre-Wikipedia world, this hardly demonstrates “incredible knowledge” of the U.N.? THERE’S TOO MUCH.

asdf

Eventually, someone asks Carpathia about the disappearances, which is great, because this is the first time the book has bothered trying to tie the Carpathia plot together with the rapture, which is weirdly second fiddle in this story. Carpathia says that his BFF Dr. Rosenzweig is working on a theory, and you know when Dr. “crops+desert=ISRAEL FLUSH WITH CASH” comes to town, Left Behind‘s gonna get ridiculous.

“the theory that makes the most sense is as follows: The world has been stockpiling nuclear weapons for innumerable years […] some confluence of electromagnetism in the atmosphere, combined with as yet unknown or unexplained atomic ionization [has] triggered [this] instant action throughout the world.”

Oh. My. God. YES.

“They are postulating that certain people’s levels of electricity made them more likely to be affected. That would account for all the babies and even fetal material that vanished. Their electromagnetism was not developed”

I take it all back. Left Behind contains some of the most beautiful sentences I’ve ever read in my life.

“Sort of like someone striking a match in a room full of gasoline vapors?” a journalist suggested.
Carpathia nodded thoughtfully.

breaking bad yeah science

Even crazier, Carpathia also recognizes Buck immediately despite his press badge with his fake name, for some reason. I don’t even fucking care how unbelievable this is. “Their electromagnetism was not developed” was an actual sentence in this book. I’m still riding that high.

Left Behind summarizes the press reaction to the conference (which, incidentally, is the appropriate time to start summarizing the events of your story, as opposed to “basically every time the villain is talking”). Nicholas Carpathia wins the world over overnight, creating pressure to name him an emergency advisor to the UN. More importantly, he also gets the cute new press nickname of “Saint Nick”. Adorbs.

Meanwhile, Rayford returns home from grocery shopping. Lest we think that maybe things are pretty much ok in this post-Rapture world because Rayford could do something as chill and dependent upon large international infrastructures like grocery shopping… IT IS NOT SO.

The window of the storm door was broken and the door hung on one hinge. The main door had been kicked in. […] Everything of immediate material value seemed to be gone.

Even the cops are like, “Yup, this is representative of the world the story takes place in now. Not constant jetsetting. ANARCHY.”

“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.”

ANARCHY! Except for the insurance industry, which is totally fine.

“I’m just glad Chloe didn’t walk in on them,” Rayford said.
The cop nodded on his way out. “You can be grateful for that. I imagine your insurance will take care of a lot of this.”

breakfast club anarchy

And insurance claims!

Chloe and Rayford count their blessings. Chloe suggests they get another copy of the pastor’s DVD.

Suddenly Chloe laughed.
“Now this is funny?” Rayford said.
“I just had a thought,” she said, smiling through her tears. “What if the burglars watch that DVD?”

It probably wouldn’t change their opinions much. Much like this book.

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Posted in: Left Behind