OVER THE next several days, Kenny vacillated between the thrill of his relationship with Ekaterina—they had both professed their love by now and had begun enjoying brief good-night kisses—and a dread over what he was going to do about communicating with Ignace and Lothair Jospin. There would soon be no more putting them off.
Ah, brief good-night kisses. Such passion. Such romance.
Also, let me solve your problem, Kenny.
“Dear Ignace and Lothair, you have dumb names. Seriously, they’re just so dumb. Also, I’m going to be expanding my Jesus Home for Orphans Jesus Made into France to oppose you. Lulz.”
But artificial conflict is conflict, damn it!
He had an idea, a fun one he thought Ekaterina would love, but also one that might help him find valuable counsel. He wanted to update Bruce Barnes, his parents’ old friend, on him and Kat and see if he was willing to officiate at their wedding someday.
Evangelical relationships. From “God told me to date you” to “Let’s get married and have sex!” in three… maybe four weeks tops.
Or as we used to call it: “Bible college.”
Chloe was troubled.
That she married an idiot? That she was devoid of free will and a puppet to an all-powerful being that tortured people? That God tortured people?
But that day her in-box had brought another upsetting note. Unsigned, of course.
If only there was an all-knowing deity that you had a psychic connection with. But I’m going to go with God as the author insert. God knows exactly who wrote the notes, but is forcing Chloe to act out her part in the play to entertain himself.
This note read: Kenneth B. Williams is your culprit in the Risto personnel matter.
Great. Throw it away. Or better yet, have the God Cops come in and dust for fingerprints.
God cop. All God. All cop.
Let’s check in with Abdullah in a plot that at least has something to do with trying to save people from Turbo Vengeance Jesus.
It felt weird to Abdullah to be strolling to “work” every day with a portfolio full of papers and his Bible, setting up shop, as he liked to call it, in the enemy’s lair. It violated every boundary of logic he had ever been aware of, and yet God knew. His ways are not our ways, Abdullah reminded himself.
For example, my ways would not have included Pediatric Cancer and Hell. In that way, I’m better than God.
Mudawar himself had actually been consulting Abdullah almost daily. Despite Mudawar’s appearing to take out his impatience and frustration on Sarsour, he seemed to treat Abdullah with more and more deference. Gone was the sarcastic tone and the ridicule. Often he would ask earnestly, “If I wrote something like this about God, would believers say I was wrong or unfair, or would they just be bothered because they don’t understand Him either?”
Abdullah would study the paragraph and at times even feel led to advise Mudawar how to better frame his argument against God.
Now, you might be tempted to think that as Abdullah is exposed to different ideas and thinks them through, that he might come to see Mudawar’s point a bit and even have an internal dialog with God about the good arguments the Other Light folks are making.
But you’d be wrong.
We’re not going to engage the argument, we’re going to avoid it.
But Abdullah felt God compel him to love the man as Jesus would. No argument of man could besmirch the name of the Lord.
And I think the book is poorer for it. These are some of the more difficult questions that Christians should wrestle with. They should look at their discomfort of “Hell” and question it. They should look at their discomfort with the idea of having to choose between being a slave to God or a slave to Satan.
But they don’t. And so we move on in the narrative.
Abdullah is being nice to the Satanists. He’s buying them their favorite coffee. He’s buying them their favorite hummus, which Jenkins helpfully explains to his readership that thinks Chipotle qualifies as “ethnic food.”
Abdullah continues to woo Sarsour with his tales from the Rapture.
Meanwhile, Chloe decides to show the new letter to Kenny.
Kenny, meanwhile, gets a call from Bruce while he’s with Kat. He gives her a half-truth that he just wanted to talk to Bruce about infiltrating the Jospins, which seems like a big no-no here in Jesusland.
That night Raymie called a meeting of the Millennium Force, and it was clear Zaki was not happy. “You still pining over your buddy?” Raymie said. “I don’t get it. All of us except Kenny here have glorified minds, and you’re still obsessing over what I had to say to Qasim.”
Yeah, I don’t get it either. You’re glorified. Which means you should be sinless and incapable of sin. You should be as foreign to us humans as an alien species would be. But you’re just as screwed up as Kenny and the non-zombies.
I’m starting to think that Jenkins and LaHaye haven’t really thought their afterlife through.
They want perfect humans, but perfect humans cannot have conflicts, so they treat their perfected humans like actual humans and manufacture conflict.
It’s shit writing is what I’m saying.
But after months of meeting in committee talking about maybe they should do something, maybe they shouldn’t, they realize that we’re more than halfway through this fucking book and tell Kenny to go play superspy even though they already know about the Other Light and what they’re trying to do.
I mean, it would be one thing to send Kenny in and get a list of names of people that they could reach out to from the Other Light, but they’re not going to do that.
Back over to Abdullah so we can learn that Mudawar doesn’t want him around when other Other Light people drop by to visit.
“Kenny,” Chloe said, “I decided to call both of you in because I know you’ll tell Ekaterina anyway.”
He and Kat looked at each other. “Tell her what?”
Chloe spun the note on her desk so both could read it.
Ekaterina said, “Oh, for the love . . .”
“Good grief, Mom. Really, why do you even waste your time on stuff like this? You know how ridiculous this is. I’m in love with this woman and plan to marry her. I would no more do her harm than I would harm myself!”
Okay, so we’ve got the second note with a false accusation and everyone agrees it’s totally ridiculous and they shouldn’t pay any attention to it.
You should keep this in mind because the… I don’t know… central conflict of the book is coming soon and is just as much bullshit, but everyone goes with it, because manufactured conflict, damn it!