Edge of Apocalypse: pages 82-84 (Chapter Sixteen)
Abigail’s gone to church. Joshua sits alone, introspecting.
Surprisingly for his relative lack of clue and extra helping of self-centeredness, he does do quite a bit of thinking about his problems with his son. Even so, the basic mental process is fundamentally about how Cal fell short, not about how Josh fell short.
“Joshua was left alone in his own private place of turmoil. His thoughts turned to two of the most important people in his life.
His son had lied to his face. But there was more to it than that. Joshua remembered his feelings about his son when he had decided not to pursue military school. Then his decision to leave engineering and go into art. At every step, at every crossroad, Cal had ignored Joshua’s advice. Even Joshua’s cautions about his son’s girlfriend fell on deaf ears.”
(Ed. note: Bold is mine)
There is an excellent word that has made the rounds of fandom communities on sites like JournalFen’s fandom_wank and other such over the years: “butthurt”.
And that’s what Josh is being right now. He’s all butthurt because his son isn’t doing exactly as he’s being told. Because Daddy Knows Best – as noted by the bolded text. And Daddy Knowing Best means that his son should be just like him, rather than (pearl clutch!) taking after his mother (what a crime!).
After some more thinking over Cal legitimately dealing with some psychological aftershocks, Joshua turns to thinking of his wife:
“Then there was Abby. He loved her like crazy. But there was a kind of uncertainty between them ever since she’d started this spiritual journey of hers. Not that he resented her recent pursuit of a higher purpose. Not really. He tried to respect her choice to disappear into this new world of Bible reading, church going, and God talk. She seemed happy enough. But he had his own goals. And especially now that he’d been drawn into this national crisis over the North Korean attack and his RTS design. His plate had become full to the point of overflowing.”
The dynamic between Joshua and Abigail here is a bit reminiscent of Rayford and Irene Steele from Left Behind. Even their basic personality traits are a little similar: Rayford “can’t make it compute”, and Josh…
“[is] a mission-specific guy. And God was not part of his mission. He had nothing against religion. In fact, in the quiet moments he often wondered about what Abby had found that had worked so well in her life. He even questioned what his real motives were in keeping God at a safe distance. Was it a perfectionistic pilot’s need for absolute control over his own life, his own ‘flight pattern’? Maybe too much need for control…”
Mission-specific guy. I like that. 😛
But there are interesting similarities between Joshua and Rayford – both airplane pilots, both portrayed as basically rational men who don’t easily fall into “being converted”. And notice again the motif – a motif I recognize from my own readings – of it being unGodly and full of hubris to fail to”‘give in to God”, instead of assuming one “can do it all oneself”; the implicit assumption is that “doing it all by oneself” is Satan-inspired*.
A common theme in the WWCOG lit I used to read was the idea that “for six thousand years, God has let man go his own way”. And for six thousand years, it was said, all people have aimed for perfection (i.e. what God is) and all have fallen short. This is obviously reminiscent of the more personalized theme that trying to “go one’s own way” instead of “in God’s way” is doomed to failure.
We circle back around to the Daddy Issues, as someone once termed them:
“So, was that the problem between him and Cal too? Trying to exert too much control over his son?
Just like my own dad? Deja vu?
Joshua’s dad was a career airman, a chief master sergeant in the Air Force. In his home nothing was out of place. Not a bed sheet. Not a dirty dish. Not a bicycle left on the lawn. Nothing. God was given a kind of hat-tip. But ultimately, in his house, you figured things out on your own. You took responsibility on your own. Your problems were your own, and you fixed them.”
Incidentally, Tanya Huff and Elizabeth Moon have both written military-themed science fiction novels, and one thing about Master Sergeants that definitely came up was how strict and orderly they could be in their commands. Not a thing out of place – complete spit and polish, the whole works. So LaHaye and Parshall’s portrayal of Joshua’s father seems to ring true here.
But that Master Sergeantry? Great for maintaining a military, bad for running a household. I’m just amazed Joshua didn’t run away from home at sixteen, or something. ‘Cause damn, yaknow?
Now, we learn what a great guy Gary Stu Joshua Jordan is.
“Of course, that kind of order and discipline later served Joshua well in his own career. Mental toughness was a must. Like when he flew five secret reconnaissance flights over Iran, taking pictures of their nuclear sites. On his fifth flyover he got a scrambled code from his air support that he’d ‘just been made.’ Iranian radar had apparently picked him up. The sky was about to get jammed with ground-to-air missiles–all aimed at him. But he wasn’t done. Joshua patiently kept his recon camera whirling so every last-minute detail of the nuclear plants could be documented, knowing he could be blasted from the air at any minute.”
Something about this really bothers me, somehow. I think it has to do with the fact that he didn’t immediately abort and try to evade or dodge or whatever, he just kept taking pictures… even if the plane, camera, and his own self were all going to get blasted into pink mist**.
“But the missiles didn’t come. Only months later did he learn why. An Israeli plant within the Iranian air defense sabotaged their radar at the last minute. The Israeli Mossad agent was found out and brutally executed by the Iranians. But Joshua and his mission were saved.”
And of course a dollop of “those narsty ebil Iranians” for the audience. We get it, LaHaye and Parshall; the Iranians aren’t nice. Nobody denies this.
Back to Josh’s introspecting again.
“Up there on his terrace ‘crow’s nest,’ as he called it, Joshua had no answers for the loose ends that seemed incapable of being tied neatly together. Personal things that seemed to defy a schematically engineered resolution. He was a decision maker. A problem solver. Lack of resolve was not something he was comfortable with. Least of all with his own son.”
LaHaye and Parshall seem determined to keep hammering on this “Joshua is a logical mission-specific get-er-done kind of guy***” theme. Also note the theme of being secluded, cut off from the rest of the world even though it’s a penthouse suite he lives in.
And now for Josh to play with his Allfone.
“He grabbed his small digital newsreader off the garden table and clicked on the InstantNews function. After scrolling through some sections, one headline grabbed his attention.
JORDAN DEFIES CONGRESS IN MISSILE PROBE
‘That was a closed hearing!’ Joshua yelled out into the air. ‘Who leaked it?’
The report concluded with a scorching personal indictment:
Sources hint that Joshua Jordan may be attempting to drive up the price of his RTS system while haggling with Congress over his design documents.”
Yes, who leaked it, indeed? And who put forth that scurrilous libel? Oooh! Those wascawwy powiticians! (yes, it does turn out to be those horrible venal politicians we first saw as caricatured variants of their real-life counterparts earlier in the book)
Sounds like Josh has an open-and-shut libel lawsuit ready to roll; he calls his lawyer and declares himself ready to rumble.
Next chapter we meet with FBI Agent John Gallagher.
* All the more ironic that my way of trying to be a Christian involved a huge helping of DIY in terms of reading WWCOG lit and my Bible. 😛
** Credit for the “blasted into pink mist” line goes to the novelization of Alien Nation (the movie); these words were spoken by the indomitably irascible Matthew Sykes.
*** So did his commanding officer ever tell him “Let ‘er go, Gallagher”? 😛