Pastor’s Blog: An Orderly Fail

Pastor’s Blog: An Orderly Fail

Gabriel Allon is one of my favorite characters in popular fiction. The literary child of novelist, Daniel Silva, Allon is, after many years, the head of the Israeli Secret Service. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, Allon was recruited in adolescence out of the art world to be one of Israel’s “avenging angels,” the team of assassins who hunted down those who perpetrated the murder of Israeli Olympic athletes at the 1968 games in Munich.

Throughout his adult years, Allon has made his living as a restorer of mostly religious masterpieces. Enemies killed his little boy and destroyed the mental health of his first wife, Leah, in a car bombing. Periodically, he has been called back into the service of his country in order to stop some hideous plot by Israel’s enemies. Allon has spared the life of a pope, who became his friend, and has finally found love and marriage again and been blessed with fraternal twins. After years of saying no to his elderly mentor, Allon has become the head of the Israeli Secret Service, but he cannot even stay out of “the field” by going on vacation to his wife’s hometown Venice.

In Silva’s much anticipated latest novel, “The Order,” Allon’s friend, the pope, has been murdered by a rightwing order within the Roman Catholic Church. Apparently, the pope has discovered an apocryphal work by Pontius Pilate that describes the death of Jesus and makes clear the Jews were not responsible for his death and the resulting twenty centuries of anti-semitism at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, in particular, and their right wing friends.

Silva tells a good story, as always, but at its heart this novel is an orderly fail, because justifiable anger towards anti-semitism overrides his storytelling. Reading the afterword list of sources reveals a long list of authors and pundits whose common worldview is popularly leftist. His religious sources are the media darlings one would expect to see on every cable documentary. His circle of admired friends and sources include the spectacularly wrong-headed economist Paul Krugman, who predicted a Trump win in 2016 would destroy the stock market, and Jeff Zucker, the head of conspiracy cable network, CNN, and before that NBC.

When an attorney for either the prosecution or defense builds a narrative, it only works if there is no room for reasonable doubt. Silva’s plot is an orderly fail, precisely because his dismissal of traditional scholarship and patristics (the study of the early Church fathers) is so weak. Silva is a much better novelist than Dan Brown will ever be, and yet he stoops to the level of Hilary Clinton’s raving about “a vast rightwing conspiracy” that destroyed her political future. One really ought to avoid the intellectual company of a politician not burdened by self-awareness.

In these Orwellian times, the old adage comes to mind: “Who are you going to believe? Me? Or your lying eyes?” Day by day, night by night, the mainstream media ignore Antifa violence as “mostly peaceful protests” and lazily refuse to draw the obvious comparisons with Hitler’s brown shirts. The narrative of the fashionable left refuses to admit that socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried, and that more misery and mass murder have come at the hands of socialist leaders. The left refuses to acknowledge that 20 million of the 61 million babies killed since Roe v. Wade have been black. The left refuses to acknowledge its own systemic racism whether in failed inner city schools or ignoring the thousands of victims of black-on-black crime in cities run by leftist politicians with the most stringent gun laws. And the right is the problem?

It seems many of this summer’s popular novelists are so terrified of a Trump reelection that they cannot help themselves when it comes to trying to beat their readers over the head with fears of a worldwide rightwing conspiracy. Meanwhile, those of us, who fell for their nonsense in our twenties, remain in recovery with a nose for the evil that’s there when you open your eyes.

Anti-semitism is a greater problem on the left than on the right. That’s no fantasy. In every generation, orthodox Christians have cherished the Hebrew Bible, affirmed the Jewishness of Jesus and the first generations of Christians, and have both held to the Christian gospel that Jesus is truly God and truly human, the Savior of the world, while maintaining that love of neighbor compels the protection of the weak. The murder of humans, whether in or outside the womb, is forbidden by one of the ten words from Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5. That some Christians participated in the systemic persecution and killing of Jews throughout the centuries was evil and not permitted by the Christian faith, which loves and reveres its Jewish Messiah and His kin.

I will keep reading Daniel Silva and admiring his character Gabriel Allon. When the 2020 election is past, I hope that the better storytellers will return to their craft somewhat chastened. By vocation, orthodox Christians are creatures of hope and believers in miracles. On the other hand, we also intellectually affirm that evil is a palpable presence in every human heart and mind. So, I pray that those who see terrors on the right will devote some well-deserved time of reflection on the evil in their own souls and the logical consequences of promoting evil causes.

The New Testament teaches that everyone will give an account of his or her life to God, and eternity is very long for anyone who has given him- or herself to the old, rebellious evil one.

St Matthew's Pastor Sam Zumwalt


The Rev. Dr. Samuel Zumwalt has worked in churches for 44 years and in May 2020 celebrated the 39th anniversary of his ordination to the holy ministry. He is a member of the Society of the Holy Trinity ( In 2004, Pr. Zumwalt moved with his family to Wilmington from Texas, where he served for 23 years as pastor of small, midsize, and large congregations.