Edge of Apocalypse: pages 225-228 (Chapter Thirty-Nine)
And so we meet back with our rather unusual young man of the Jordan family. Say hello to Cal, people!
*Distant chorus of hallos*
*Cal hesitantly waves back*
So our good buddy’s in the lecture hall at good ol’ Liberty U and he’s just gotten called on his distracton by a professor:
“Mr. Jordan, perhaps you could answer that question?”
Cal Jordan had been busy sketching a picture on his notepad. He looked up with embarrassment to find the entire class staring at him.
The question turns out to have been a pretty loaded question, since it’s about the powers of Congressional committees:
At the front of the class the professor frowned and tried again. “The question, Mr. Jordan, from one of your fellow classmates, was, Why should Congress have the power to force a private citizen to testify in a congressional hearing?”
For a moment, Cal’s brain froze.
The professor studied Cal and then expanded his question. “We are studying the powers of the Congress. Mr. Hitchney asked a salient question about the subpoena power of the Congress.”
Ok, hold up a sec. Why’s the prof picking Cal to answer this question when by rights Doctor whoever ought to be answering it? You know, this is another one of those situations where LaHaye and Parshall are artificially structuring the story to make points to their audience. The characters should drive the plot, not be shoved in where the plot is deemed convenient.
This isn’t a smal tutorial type session either – it’s in a big lecture hall where this sort of inter-student discussion isn’t really practical anyway. Skipping ahead, we see that the prof is trying to link into current events:
“Mr. Jordan,” the professor said, pressing in gently, “I thought you might have some thoughts on the subject considering the fact that your father, Joshua Jordan, is in the news on that exact issue.”
Mmkay, fair enough. Still kinda making me squint a bit. Also, who’s this Hitchney guy?
Cal turned around and looked ten rows back until he located the face of Jeff Hitchney, another student in the class. Hitchney, a tall blond sophomore had a twisted half-smile on his face. Cal now realized that the student had planted the question on purpose to embarrass him. Hitchney was the star pitcher on the college baseball team and was the leader of the school debate team. But there was one more thing. He had a keen interest in Cal’s girlfriend, Karen Hester. And Hitchney seemed intent on harassing Cal. After all, how could Karen have preferred Cal over him?
Even with this, it still feels a bit contrived. Also, it feels a bit like Parshall is trying for a frat-boy jock vs the intellectual set-up, but it doesn’t quite seem to get pulled off right. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that LaHaye and Parshall seem to be conceding that for at least certain values of intellectual, it’s permissible to want to study and know more about the world instead of rotely restudying the Bible for the nth time. Given the somewhat anti-intellectual strain that surfaces occasionally among the Christian political right, it’s worth noting that a potentially RTC intellectual type is at least somewhat positively portrayed, even if only because he has the last name Jordan.
But anyway, here’s one possible source of Cal’s insecurities: This Jeff fellow sounds like he’s a lot more like a chip off the old block than Cal himself is, and while he probably knows in his gut that Karen likes him for him, it doesn’t change his wondering about other men.
Following the professor’s question, moar insecurities, this time with respect to dear old dad:
Cal cringed. There it is again. Colonel Joshua Jordan. The man who single-handedly rescued New York City from the perils of incoming nuclear missiles. Wherever I go, I can’t escape my father.
(italics in the original)
It’s kind of interesting that Parshall has Cal thinking about his dad with his name and rank. It’s almost as though Cal sees his father as this distant, larger than life figure who overshadows him every step of the way. If LaHaye and Parshall intend this to be a statement about how we ought to regard God, I’ll pass.
So Cal notes that the power of Congress to subpoena witnesses is presumed to be for the good of the country generally. Hitchney gets a dig in about what Josh said (which is in direct opposition to the stated public interest), and Cal partly concedes the point while switching to a new angle of attack:
“Mr. Hitchney is correct that I am admitting the power of Congress to subpoena witnesses. But that’s not what my father’s case is about. What that case is about is the fact that Congress can’t force someone to give away trade secrets and business intelligence. Which is what they are trying to do. Plus…there’s something else involved too…”
Considering that the whole thing was sponsored under the aegis of the US military, Parshall putting those words in Cal’s mouth tells us that whatever he heard from LaHaye about military affairs, it’s not even worth a hill of beans for accuracy. Also, I note that no modern university I know of bothers maintaining the old traditions of an honorific before a student’s or even a TA’s name these days. Maybe Liberty U is special, but I’d need a confirm on that.
Cal paused. He now was in the interesting dilemma of having to defend his father’s case. He wasn’t hot on that idea. Plus the things that his mom and his sister, Deborah, had shared with him about his father’s legal situation were strictly interfamily matters. Very private. But Cal had another overriding thought. On the other hand, there’s no way I’m letting Hitchney off the hook.
“Okay. Here’s the deal,” Cal replied. “My father invented this laser weapon…the RTS. Return-to-Sender thing. He never gave the government full ownership of the design. It was still in, like, an experimental phase. Then the North Koreans launched missiles at us. The government used my dad’s weapon to stop the missiles–“
We can see that part of Cal’s sudden earnestness is the ol’ mano a mano thing with Jeff Hitchney. But any reasonable son would defend his father, I would think, and Cal’s certainly stepping up to the job. The chapter segues into a debate that’s already been discussed on this blog, which is the question of the true ownership of the RTS-RGS, as well as to what extent we-the-people making up the government constitutes allowing a private citizen under military contract to stand on that ground when denying access to the technical documentation for the RTS-RGS.
In the book, we’re expected to take Josh Jordan’s (and by proxy, Cal’s) position that he’s entitled to withhold the documents and fail to appear before the committee.
The prof has a little chat with Cal after the dust clears:
Then the professor turned to Cal again. “Just wondering Mr. Jordan, what’s your major?”
“Well, if you ever get tired of art, you may want to think about pre-law. You raised some good points today. And you might give some thought to joining the debate team too.”
Considering that the whole thing was contrived to reiterate the points that Josh Jordan already made in an earlier chapter, just tranposing it to Cal vs the jerk who wants his girlfriend, I’m not sure the prof ought to be congratulating anyone yet.
GUYS GUYS GUYS GUYS
CAL HAS AN ALLFONE
Oh my god. He’s been given the Seal of Cool by LaHaye and Parshall, how about that, eh?!
As the professor continued his lecture, Cal felt his Allfone vibrate. He had set the vibrate mode on Morse code. Home was coded to vibrate dots and dashes for the word family. But calls from his father’s office were set to vibrate out the code for SOS–the international distress signal. That was his own private joke.
This time it was the SOS. He wasn’t going to take it. At least not right now, when the eyes of half the class were still glued on him.
So I wonder, did Josh decide to spring for the Allfone after hearing Cal’s other phone got busted? Or did he just want to make sure his son hears the news when he and his Roundtable decide to bust in on the news networks? Must keep up appearances – can’t get Cal think he’s being cut out of too much.
(Sorry; I get remarkably cynical, it seems, about the interaction between Cal and his dad and the motivations behind Josh doing anything for Cal when the book has made it clear that Cal’s not considered part of the family in the same way as Deb is. And speaking of which, why is it Parshall never shows us Cal talking to his sis? The book there has Cal thinking about Deborah telling him things about the legal wrangling over the RTS-RGS, but we don’t see it at all in the book. Nice telling and no showing, Parshall buddy ol pal.)
Anyway, this ends the chapter from Cal’s side of things. The other half follows Josh Jordan up to when he calls the Calmeister and checks in to see how he’s doing. Catch you in the next writeup, folks. 🙂