Saturday, August 23, 2014

Judd Thompson: Too Dumb to Live

If the snark seems kind of weak regarding the first chapter, it's because once again, nothing happens in these books. I know I say that a lot but I continue to be awed by the way, despite numerous acts of God and Satan, nothing really happens. It takes a special kind of talent in order to drain inherently interesting events of any excitement.

Judd and Lionel are on Z-Van's plane on their way to Paris. Once again, I ask why the hell do they still trust Z-Van? To recycle a metaphor, it's like we're in a zombie movie and Judd keeps going, "Well, he keeps hungering for brains and trying to bite me. But I'm sure that doesn't mean anything." You can't say Judd's trying to convert him because we've already seen Z-Van take the Mark, which means he's officially damned for all eternity. There are no more chances for Z-Van!

You think I'm exaggerating about Judd's stupidity in trusting Z-Van? Hello and welcome to the blog! Let me provide just a sample of Judd's stupidity.

When a woman Judd didn’t recognize climbed aboard, Z-Van got everyone’s attention. “I want you to meet Gabrielle. She’ll be our backup pilot for Westin, should anything happen to him.” He smiled and Judd felt a chill. Was Z-Van planning something in Paris?

I'm not sure which is more irritating: the fact that the heroes of these novels are dumber than dirt or the fact that the villains are.

Judd talks to Chang, who says that the GC can't identify them because apparently those hats, which he must have gotten at the same place Clark Kent gets his glasses, hid their faces. We do get another mention of the Morale Monitor(MM) that Judd trampled. According to Chang, MM is in the hospital in critical condition. I wonder if that's the extent they'll mention this guy or if he'll be given a name and an obligatory conversion scene.

We get a section from Chang. Not much really happens with him, just him hanging around as the GC are like "Der our bombs didn't work." They wonder why and I headdesk. Aunursa, I know you probably don't read this blog anymore but if you do, can you help me out here? I thought Nicky's shtick was that he knew about the cockamamie prophecies and is slavishly following them because he believes for some reason that he can change the outcome. Granted that makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, if Nicky has read the prophecies then he knows how it ends, with his ass getting punted into Hell, so why in anyone's name would he follow them to the letter? I mean, if you received a prophecy saying that two years from now, you'll be stabbed to death while wearing a striped shirt, wouldn't you do something to stop it, even if it's just banning stripes from your wardrobe?

Chang had listened to conversations at the water cooler and around the office and wondered if any of his coworkers had ever considered God. Now, with the mark of Carpathia on every forehead, he grieved for them. He wasn’t any different than any of these people, except that God had broken through and convinced him of the truth.

God broke through and convinced you of the truth because you're an PC as opposed to all the nameless off-screen damned NPCs. But don't call Chang a heartless sociopath: he clearly feels bad that the God he serves will damn them for all eternity to a place of ever-lasting torment. Not bad enough to try to do anything, but still.

I'm fast-forwarding through much of this chapter because again, not really much to snark. Mark talks and thinks about maybe welcoming Vicki back. Vicki and Tanya work on escaping.

Judd is watching a video of Leon Fortunado giving his version of The Great Commission: Go forth and make disciples of all nations in the name of Satan. He empowers Z-Van and we end the chapter with this bit.

When the video ended, Z-Van stepped in front of the monitor. “You have seen what the Most High Reverend Father of Carpathianism has given me. You saw a little of my power onstage in Jerusalem. Tonight, you will see even greater things. Tonight, in front of hundreds of thousands, we will win the hearts of many, turn them to the true lord, and make a sacrifice to our king.”
Z-Van put out his hands and those seated went rigid. He whispered something, then opened his eyes, red as flame, and let loose an evil laugh.

So now that Z-Van is even more obviously evil, you're probably wondering what Judd will do. And the answer, according to the beginning of the second chapter of this week's snark, is not a damned thing. Word of advice, people, if you're ever in any kind of post-apocalyptic scenario with Judd, be it a zombie attack or something else, just throw Judd to the zombies and/or were-things or whatever and save yourself. In fact, if you find yourself on a deserted island with Judd, just get rid of him, even if there is enough food for the two of you. Because eventually something will happen and he'll doom you somehow. He's worse than Gilligan.

But in Judd's defense, he does pray for the guy he trampled, asking that God reach him somehow.

“God, I admit I don’t know what to pray about that guy,” Judd prayed honestly. “I didn’t mean to hurt him. You know who he is and I know that you’re kind and merciful. Please reach one of his family members or someone near him through the pain of this injury. Amen.”

Meanwhile, the Mountain Militia go on high alert. Vicki's friends have found the hideout and have come for her. But I'll fast-forward once again and say their attempts to rescue her fail. Cyrus drags her back under ground and ties her up with duct tape.

Judd emails Chang who basically says get away from Z-Van. He also emails Judd this conversation between Nicky and Leon. I'll only post a small snippet.

Carpathia: I want messiahs.
Leon: Messiahs?
Carpathia: I want saviors in my name.
Leon: Tell me more, Excellency.
Carpathia: Find them—thousands of them. Train them, raise them up, imbue them with the power with which I have blessed you. I want them healing the sick, turning water to blood and blood to water. I want them performing miracles in my name, drawing the undecided, yea, even the enemy away from his god and to me.

Okay, not entirely a stupid plan from Nicky's side: draw people to your team by doing miracles. Certainly makes more sense than Zod's plan which goes something like this:

1. Unleash horrific disaster guaranteed to kill most of the people you're trying to save.
2. ?????
3. PROFIT!

Under those circumstances, I would pick Nicky's side.

Ah heck, the snark's looking skimpy. I'll throw in another chapter.

Z-Van's plane finally lands in Paris and we get a little mention as to how the demonic NWO has changed stuff. Apparently, the Eiffel Tower is gone, but given that from what I've heard, Parisians hate the Eiffel Tower, they're probably happy. Oh and there's a statue
of Nicky on top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Thousands lined the sidewalks in front of the statue. Judd couldn’t believe after all the miracles and signs from God that people were still willing to follow Carpathia. God had given so many chances to believe the truth, but people chose against him.

Ah yes, Ellanjay's gospel, which can essentially be summed up as "He beats me but I know I deserve it and I'm really sorry Mister Lord for making you mad in the first place."

After they land, Z-Van says an eeevil prayer to Nicky and has Westin dragged off. I'll spoil it a little for you: Z-Van's genius plan is to drag Westin onstage at the concert and make him take the Mark. If Westin refuses, he gets the guillotine.

Judd and Lionel are locked in a room on the plane. They managed to escape in a scene that would read as suspenseful if the reader (i.e. Me) wasn't aware of the plot armor they were wearing. They bust out, lose the co-pilot, Gabrielle, and make it to the concert with one backstage pass. Lionel tells Judd to go backstage, saying that he'll try to find transportation for them.

And that's enough for this week.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cherry-Pickin'

So for those of you waiting with bated breath, biting your nails wondering whether Lionel's genius plan would work, I'll go ahead and spoil it for you: it does. They do try to inject some suspense by having Judd trip and a Morale Monitor realizes he doesn't have the Mark, but both he and Lionel make it to Sabir's Magical Cab with nary a bruise.

So Judd and Lionel are still like "Oh whatever will we do? How will we get out of Israel?" while Sabir's like "We've gotta pray." But before I tell you the magical coincidence that saves Our Heroes (because the plot parts for Ellanjay's characters like the Red Sea for Israel), I wanna linger on a small part.

Y'see in a struggle with the Morale Monitor, Judd managed to knock him to the ground and last he saw him, the guy was being trampled by panicked mob. I didn't bring it up previously because I thought it, like everything else, would never be mentioned again, but to my surprise, they actually have Judd reflect on it. I know kids, I'm scared too.

Judd glanced at Lionel. “We should pray for that Morale Monitor at the hotel. I might have killed him.”
“I saw what happened,” Lionel said. “You didn’t mean to hurt him.”
“Yeah. So why doesn’t that make me feel any better?”

Now, in a well-written series, this would be delved into a little more. Judd has, through his own actions, killed someone. Yeah, you can argue it was an accident but killing is something that most humans are hardwired against so I think he'd feel some guilt regardless. But something tells me, this will be the last time we hear of an inkling of guilt from Judd.

But anyway, they call Westin and it turns out Westin caused Z-Van's plane to malfunction so it looks like Our Heroes will get out of Israel.

Now, for the fun part where we hear more about Tanya's heretical beliefs.

Tanya frowned. “I don’t understand. My dad says God’s really ticked off at the world for being so bad. That’s why he’s killing everybody during Armageddon.”
“God is angry at the evil in the world,” Vicki said, “but his judgments are to wake us up to the truth. He wants people to give their lives to him and accept his forgiveness. That’s why he sent his Son.”

Raise your hand if you can't see much of a difference between Tanya's and Vicki's beliefs because I sure can't. Both Tanya's and Vicki's god is someone so evil that the Old Testament Jehovah would blanche at. If I had to choose, though, I'd say Tanya's makes more sense. At least it's consistent with God just being flat-out pissed at everyone good and bad. Again, with Vicki's, they keep claiming God is one of love but he's doing his damnedest to kill us all so He can torture us forever.

But anyway, more on the conversation between Tanya and Vicki.

“My dad says Jesus was a great prophet. He was going to set up his kingdom on earth, but when people killed him, God left that job up to us.”
Vicki scratched her head. “Does your dad believe Jesus came back from the dead?”

Okay, starting to see where Tanya's group diverges from RTCianity, but I am still firmly on Team Tanya here. Whereas the RTCs believe it'll all just get worse until TurboJesus comes back and fixes everything for us, it's clear that Tanya believes that we must actually work to help establish Heaven on Earth.

Tanya shrugged. “I guess so. He says we all come back in some form or another. If we’ve done more bad stuff than good, we come back as an animal or some kind of plant. If we’ve done more good than bad, God lets us into heaven or we become angels.”

And here's the part where I go "Huh?" I thought that the Mountain Militia were Christian Survivalists who believed slightly different things about our Invisible Sky Daddy, not Hindus.

Further reading, it appears Ellanjay are doing a Take That once again against those who believe you can be saved through works. But it's been proven many a time not only do Ellanjay Skip Verse Ten they also ignore the entire Book of James whose central thesis is "Faith without Works is dead." You can't pick on someone for cherry-picking verses in the Bible when that's what you do!

Tanya then mentions her mom who heard the all-inspiring word of Darby and Scofield God and disappeared during the Rapture. Vicki, who never fails to exploit emotional wounds, takes her opening and starts talking to her about how God can't tolerate a single sin even though he created us and thus made us sinful creatures to begin with.

Since the chapter doesn't end with Tanya saying the magical Prayer, I'm going to assume she's still one of the Legion of the Damned, despite her desire to tell her father, Cyrus, all the stuff Vicki's telling her.

Next chapter, Vicki decides to try to convert Cyrus's entire crew. Basically she walks him through the entirety of Pastor Vernon Billings's video.

I tried, how I tried to find it, but Fred's Left Behind archives are down, and I can't. The one I was looking for was basically where Fred points out how Ellanjay cherry-pick verses from 1 Corinthians. Here's the verses Vicki points out.

“‘But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us,’” Cyrus read. “‘Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.’
“‘When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:’
“‘“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
’“‘For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ ”

Now that you've read that quote, let me give you a bigass quote where I quote 1 Corinthians chapter 15 in its entirety so you can see the broader context of those verses.

The Resurrection of Christ

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,


“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”[d]

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”[e] 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Forgive me for the bigass quote and forgive me for not saying it as eloquently as Fred, but the broader context of 1 Corinthians 15 should make it clear that Paul wasn't speaking of RTCs being able to magically cheat death by being bamfed into Heaven by God in the last days; he was speaking of Death plain and simple, and he makes it clear it's coming for everyone.

For those of you wondering, I'm ignoring Judd and Lionel for a while. Vicki's a snark goldmine right now.

If you're wondering, Cyrus doesn't immediately take the bait, which makes me fangirl him. I don't love him the way I did Taylor :sniff: :sniff: but anybody who doesn't immediately kowtow to the tribbles is all right by me.

Cyrus put his fork down and looked at the others. “You all know that Beelzebub is at work in the world, and he has his disciples spreading doctrine of demons. I’ve taught you from the beginning that God punishes the wicked. Our job is to do the right thing. And I think the right thing is to keep this little Jezebel locked up where she can’t hurt anyone else.”

Vicki tries harder quoting again from the video, using Ezekiel 33:11. Don't worry, no bigass quotes this time.

“The God we pray to is a jealous God. He’s angry at people for their sin.”
“But don’t you see,” Vicki pleaded. “God hates sin, but he loves people enough to die for them. Remember the parable Jesus told about the son who went away and wasted all his father’s money?”
“The Prodigal Son,” someone behind her said.
“Yes, that’s it. But one of the main points of the story Jesus told was the love of the father for his rebellious son. He waited and waited, and when the boy finally came home, he didn’t punish him. He prepared a great feast and welcomed him. That’s the kind of love God has for every one of us if we’ll accept it.”

Vicki neglects to mention in the Tale of the Prodigal Son that the Dad didn't pitch the rebellious son into Hell if he refused the feast. She also neglects to mention that in the story, the Dad didn't unleash a series of horrific disasters in order to get his son's attention. In short, you fail, Vicki!

Cyrus has Vicki and Tanya hauled off. Tanya says The Prayer, gets the Zod-Mark, and that's where I'll leave you for this week. Sorry again for the bigass quote, but stuff needed to be said, dammit!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Know the Words, but Not the Music

The beginning isn't really worth noting--just Samuel walking around, talking to people as the flames don't hurt them--but we do get evidence that Ellanjay have heard of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Mr. Stein grabbed Sam’s hands and danced in a circle. “You remember the story of the children of Israel in the fiery furnace?”
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,” Sam said.
“Yes. When the king looked into the fire, he saw four men instead of those three. The Lord was walking with them, giving them victory and safety.”

It's clear: Ellanjay know the words but not the music. I know you guys are probably getting tired of me pointing this out, but the tribbles repeatedly bow to Satan while claiming in their hearts, they bow to God. By that logic, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have just bowed to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar while claiming in their hearts, they bow to God, and remained free and clear in God's eyes just like the tribbles do.

The RTCs gathered in Petra are dancing and singing praises to Zod. But all is not well. Sam finds a boy with no Zod-mark who keeps scowling. Something tells me either said boy will be eventually given a name or he'll become one of the nameless off-screen damned. Either way, you must weep for the poor kid who, in his brief appearance, shows more clear-headedness and intelligence than all the RTC characters in the entire series.

The boy looked up, eyes wild like an animal’s. “I don’t understand. How can we be burning and still be alive?”
“It is the work of almighty God,” Sam said. “He has protected us.”
The boy stared. “Then why didn’t he protect my little brother and sister during the disappearances? Why didn’t he save my mother from the earthquake? Or my father from the poison gas?”
Sam tried to comfort him, but the boy stood. “I don’t want anything to do with a God like that,” he said angrily.
“Then why did you come here?” Sam said.
“Because I heard there might be answers. I listened to Micah in Masada, but he never talked about this!”
The boy wandered into the flames. Others without the mark cowered and wailed. Even with so much evidence of God’s power, some would simply not believe.

I could also point out that if the boy does surrender his identity to the collective and believes, he'll have to accept that his mom and dad are burning in Hell. I know y'all get tired of me bringing stuff like that up, but it needs to be said.

Token Jew then preaches but I'm afraid I can't find anything snarkable.

Last we left Our Brave Heroine, Vicki was captured by the Mountain Militia. Not much happens in her brief little section, just Vicki going "You can't keep me here!" and Tanya saying that their father won't let them leave the underground hidey-hole until Armageddon, which is three years away.

The chapter ends with the tribbles receiving news of this latest miracle and being surprised even though their own prophecy predicted exactly what would happen and you'd think they'd have it memorized by now and not be shocked. But anyway, I'll tell you what happens: water gushes like a geyser out of the Earth, extinguishing the flames. So onto the next chapter.

Chapter two, we finally meet Tanya's father, Cyrus Spivey, and we actually get some description as to what he looks like.

VICKI had wondered what Tanya’s father looked like. She pictured the man as tall with a commanding personality, someone others would follow into a hole in the ground and stay for three years. But this man wasn’t anything like that. He was short and round, with a squarish face and long sideburns. He wore a one-piece outfit that zipped up the front. Vicki gripped his pudgy fingers as he greeted her.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm totes picturing a redneck here.

Next section, is the American Branch reacting to the miracle. We do get some hint of potential drama as Mark threatens to kick Vicki out since she won't follow the rules. But I have a feeling he'll remember that Vicki's a main character and change his ways so it'll all come to nothing just like everything else in this series.

Judd and Lionel are still trapped at the hotel room, waiting for ex-Muslim, I mean Sabir to show up in his magical taxi cab and save them. Why did I call it "the magical taxi cab." Because somehow they believe once they get to the cab, they can totally get passed any kind of security checkpoint. The sad part is they're probably right given that the GC couldn't find their dick with two hands and a map.

Judd also receives a phone call from Chang telling them about the miracle in Petra and asking that they pray for believers in Greece. I'm going to assume that "the believers in Greece" line is another call back to the adult books, but I fail to see why I should care. I know nothing about the believers in Greece and therefore, have no stake in this. A good book stands on its own; you shouldn't have to read a bunch of auxiliary materials to understand what the hell is going on.

But horrors of horrors, the GC aren't completely stupid.

Judd punched in the call and heard Sabir’s voice. “I am at the front of the hotel. There are people lined up along the street to take the mark of Carpathia.”
“It would be suicide to come out the front,” Judd said. “There have to be side exits in a building this big.” “There are Peacekeepers and Morale Monitors at each exit.”
“Fire escape?” Judd said.
“Also guarded.”
Judd looked at Lionel. “We’re trapped. If we go out any exit, they’ll stop us.”
“Then we must pray,” Sabir said.

This would be suspenseful that is if we couldn't see a giant Deus ex Machina headed towards us off the port-valve because only Butt Monkeys like Hattie and Ryan suffer long-term consequences.

Meanwhile, Vicki walks around the Mountain Militia (MM) hideout. But horrors of horrors, Cyrus believes slightly different things about prophecy laid down by Scofield and Darby God!

“Petra’s been attacked?” Vicki said.
“It’s been wiped out along with everyone in it. The timetable is coming true. Armageddon can’t be more than a week or two away. A month tops.”
“But Dr. Ben-Judah said Petra was the place of refuge. Are you sure?”
Cyrus nodded. “God’s going to set up his kingdom with the faithful, and we’re going to be part of the 144,000. You’ll stay here until that comes true. If you want to become one of us, that’s fine. It’s your choice.”
Vicki’s mind reeled. If Petra had been bombed and the Jews and Judah-ites killed, Tsion was wrong.

So yeah, once again this Take That rings hollow seeing as the tribbles' beliefs have as much Biblical basis as Cyrus's.

Vicki tries to win some converts to the kingdom.

Vicki stood, but instead of following Tanya, she turned to the group’s leader. “I came here to help your daughter with food for her body as well as her soul. I believe you’re wrong about God and the timing of everything. In fact, I know you are. I’d like to tell you about him, and I’d like to see you get supplies. We’re not even close to Armageddon. It’s more than three years away. And I promise you, whether you believe what I’m going to tell you or not, I won’t tell the GC about this place. But you can’t keep me here. I have to get back to my friends and the others who are depending on me.”

And I know that I'm doing a lot of quotes in this post, but I've gotta share Cyrus's response.

Cyrus’s face flushed. “Are you finished?” Vicki nodded and he motioned at Tanya to take Vicki away. “In the Old Testament they stoned children for talking back to their parents. You’re not our child, but you’re under our roof now. We’ll decide what’s to be done.”

But this will probably like everything else, come to nothing.

But before we wrap up for this week, let's find out how Judd and Lionel escape. Is it stupid? You better believe it is.

Apparently though they prayed for God to save them, credit goes to Lionel who actually came up with the plan. His genius plan? Light a rolled-up newspaper and hold it to one of the sprinklers. When the sprinklers start and the alarm is triggered, escape during the commotion. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger so you'll have to wait until next week to discover if it works.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

So Much Padding

Even though I don't love Leon Fortunado the way I do Z-Van, I understand why so many do. He's really too laughable to be taken seriously as the second Big Bad in this series, so I can see why so many snarkers have a bizarre affection for him. Why am I bringing this up? Because the chapter begins with Judd watching his speech on television. Again lesser books like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter have the protagonists actually doing stuff to try to defeat the Big Bad; LB readers have to settle for Exciting!TV!Watching!Action.

A massive choir, dressed in their finest robes, stood behind Fortunato as he stepped into the pulpit. Leon looked even stranger than usual, now wearing a flat-topped hat. His outfit seemed to try to incorporate sacred symbols from every religion.

Wait...I thought Nicky had now instituted worship of himself...what's with this every symbol from every religion? That sounds like the EBOWF.

Leon's speech is basically "Your grace period has ended; now everyone has to get the Mark or die." Oh and everyone has to bow three times a day to Nicky. I bet the tribbles are going to do the usual cop-out by bowing to Nicky but claiming that in their hearts, they bow to Zod. Again, you gotta wonder what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have thought of such logic.

But Leon's broadcast is interrupted by an angel who quotes scripture. The angel basically says "You take the Mark; you go to Hell" and you gotta wonder why it doesn't just say so in plain English rather than using all the scripture. And once again we get proof that Zod is capable of witnessing to His people in a way that doesn't involve killing them horribly but chooses not to most of the time because he's a colossal dick.

I've fast-forwarded through much of this chapter. I know I should apologize but it's basically just the characters reacting to the angel appearing on television. Again, the padding for this series is terrible and I find myself wondering do all Christian Fiction writers have such a lack of care for their craft? Because as anyone will tell you, Christian Fiction is just about universally terrible. Oh and don't bring up Tolkien or C.S. Lewis as counter-examples. For all the problematic aspects in their works, they both show much more love of the craft than anyone working today. Besides I'd rather hear about examples that are still working and writing today than people who died in the sixties.

Vicki goes out in search of Tanya's underground base.

The chapter ends with Token Jew showing up in Petra and the sky massing with fighter planes. But since we know nothing can happen to Our Brave Heroes before the three and a half years are up, I have a feeling we're in for more padding as Zod smites the GC. Woo....

Vicki is still creeping around through the woods, trying to find Tanya. As you probably guessed, she gets captured by a member of the Mountain Militia and is taken away. Now that I've gotten the Vicki part out of the way, let's get on with the rest of the chapter which is mostly characters reacting and praying.

The GC are making a sweep of the hotel rooms and given that's where Lionel and Judd are currently, that presents a problem. Lionel gives Judd two baseball caps which they put on their heads, rationalizing that it would hide their foreheads so no one could see that they didn't have the Mark. Yeah, because a Satanic NWO is just going to take them at their word that they have the Mark. Then again, knowing how utterly the GC suck at being villains, this ruse would probably work. If you're wondering how they escape the GC dragnet, here's how:

Judd opened Westin’s suitcase and threw some clothes around the room. The bed rested on a huge, square platform so they couldn’t hide under it. Lionel agreed the closet was a last resort. In the tiny kitchen was an empty space underneath the counter. “Scrunch up in there beside the little refrigerator,” Judd said.
Lionel did. Judd walked from the door to the bedroom and noticed Lionel’s shoes sticking out.

They further camouflage themselves by setting up an ironing board with some clothes on it. And it totally fools the GC. Sweet Zod, the GC are morons! Every time I think they couldn't be stupider, they have to go and top themselves!

All Sam and Chang do is pray and because of the skimpiness of this snark, I'll throw in a third chapter.

As Judd and Lionel hid in the first chapter, the phone rang. The GC pick up the phone. Westin is one the other line and now the GC know to look for Judd and Lionel. They speed off. After they leave, Judd receives a phone call from Westin. Apparently Z-Van is going to Paris, not the states, and is demanding Westin fly him there. Why Westin is still alive and well remains a mystery. After all, Z-Van has taken the Mark. He is a hardened member of the Legion of the Damned. Why would he decide to show mercy to Westin who refuses to give in and get Marked? Westin should be getting guillotined.

Judd tells Westin he'll find another way back to the states. His part in this chapter ends with Judd deciding to call a cab driver. Probably the same one who got him to Jerusalem in the first place.

So the bombs hit Petra. Admittedly at first I was a little excited that something was actually happening, but that quickly dissipates as the bombs harm no one and the chapter ends with this:

Flames shot high above him. This was a lake of fire the likes of which the world had never seen.
Suddenly, a few yards ahead, Sam saw a robed man stepping over burning bodies. White, yellow, red, and orange flames burst from his beard, his hair, and his robe. The man’s face was on fire, but instead of his skin melting and being consumed, he kept walking, as if he were walking underwater wearing weighted boots.
Mr. Stein! Sam thought. Maybe this is what we must go through just before we reach heaven!
But it was not heaven. They were still in Petra.
“Samuel!” Mr. Stein called, using Sam’s full name. As he came closer, the man smiled.
“What happened?” Sam yelled over the noise of the deadly blaze.
“Deliverance,” Mr. Stein shouted. “The Lord has seen fit to deliver us, not by stopping the flames, but by walking through them with us!”

I'll admit the writing isn't too bad in this section. The description of the flames works but all this is affected by the fact that the YTF hadn't suffered in the slightest. They haven't been tortured, scarred,or starved. The only member of the YTF whose suffered long-term consequences is Ryan. This section could work great if they actually had suffered and were now wondering what was next, but like I said, they haven't. That's why the Revelation of John has served to comfort so many; the Christians of John's time had actually suffered for their beliefs (and I don't mean, having a cashier wish them "Happy Holidays" suffering) so it would be comforting to them to believe that this would all pay off, that Jesus would triumph o'er every foe. Again, all the great Christian martyrs are shaking their heads in dismay at the characters of this book.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Once again, Strawman has a point

So Vicki has dragged the black-haired girl into the hideout and now they're questioning her. In a rare show of competent writing, Ellanjay (or most likely, the Ghostwriter) give a description of this girl.

The girl was a little over five feet tall, with jet-black hair that hung down in clumps. She wore a dark, leather jacket and black jeans. Everything was dark about her except her skin, which was quite pale. She had a thin, cute face and brown eyes. Vicki couldn’t help thinking the girl looked like she could use a good meal.

Not bad but I've got to object to the height description. Unless they're at a gas station in front of one of those height measurers by the door, they shouldn't know she's a little over five feet tall. People don't tend to notice someone's height unless they're either really short or really tall and it doesn't sound like this girl's either.

The girl introduces herself as Tanya and talks about her and her father's beliefs.

“The dragon,” Tanya whispered. “This Carpathia dude is the head dragon of Revelation.”
“You read the Bible?”
“My dad does. He believes the prophecies are coming true. That’s why we went underground. The terrorists, or the dragon, were taking over, and it wouldn’t be until Armageddon that we could come out again.”

Uh, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that exactly what the Tribbles believe? That Nicky is the Dragon of Revelation and the only way to survive is to hole up somewhere? Given that Tanya later reveals that her dad's the head of some organization called the Mountain Militia, I'm assuming this is Ellanjay taking potshots at the Christian Survivalists. It doesn't really work though because there's little difference between Ellanjay theology and that of the Christian Survivalists. Both have a cruel God that even the Old Testament Jehovah would blanche at and both have an obsession with fancy toys.

In short, I'm wondering, like Vicki, why Tanya doesn't have the Zod-Mark.

In fact, right now I really wish I could follow Tanya's group because they're actually doing stuff and suffering the consequences unlike the Tribbles who don't have a bruise to show for three and a half years worth of suffering.

Nothing really happens on Judd's end. He talks to Chang and receives some recording of Nicky's rantings. Since they won't talk about what's on the recording until next chapter, I'm fast-forwarding.

Vicki, after hearing all of Tanya's complaints about how it sucks to live underground, sees an opening and decides to start talking to her about God.

Vicki scooted to the edge of her seat. “What do you think about God?”
“I don’t know,” Tanya said. “I don’t really think that much about him these days. Everything seems like it’s determined ahead. Who lives, who dies. What do you think?”
“Just like I think there’s an evil person in the world, I believe God is working out a plan for good to those who believe in him.”

Tanya rolled her eyes. “You call what’s happening in the world good? From what my dad tells me, there’s been a lot of people losing their lives. Now the oceans have turned to blood. Doesn’t sound like God’s doing a very good job.”
“In the Bible, God said he would send his Son to set the captives free. God’s doing that right now for millions of people around the world. He did it for me, and he can do it for you too.”

Raise your hand if right now you're totally on Tanya's side right now? Wow all two of my readers agree with me: Tanya's the one making more cogent points. I don't need to delve to deeply into this debate seeing as it's one we've had before. I'll just remind you that in the LB-verse, God loves his people so much that he's willing to kill them all so that no one will perish.

The chapter ends with Colin reporting that someone is headed their way.

Turns out that someone is Tanya's brother, Ty. Yeah, I'm wondering if this Mountain Militia group comes from the Duggar School of Naming Your Kids. Basically Ty's like, "You're coming with me," and drags Tanya off. Vicki gets in a last minute, "Jesus loves you!" leaving out the part where TurboJesus is also the one trying to kill you horribly.

Well, now we finally get to hear Nicky rant and really it's impossible to snark. I'm sorry but Nicky is just so over-the-top ridiculous that even though we're supposed to see this as a scene of horror, no one, I repeat no one, could possibly take this seriously. All the great villains in literature are shaking their heads in dismay. But because you probably don't believe me and because I believe in spreading suffering around, I'll give you a selection. You may picture Nicky using whatever silly voice you like to get through this.

“Maintain your loyalty mark application sites and make use of the enforcement facilitators. But, effective immediately, do not execute Jews discovered without the mark. I want them imprisoned and suffering. Use existing facilities now but build new centers as soon as possible. They need not be fancy or have any amenities. Just make them secure. Be creative, and share with each other your ideas. Ideally, these people should either long to change their minds or long to die. Do not allow that luxury.
“They will find few remaining Judah-ites to sympathize with them. They will be alone and as lonely as they have ever been, even though their cell mates will be fellow Jews. There are no limits on the degradation I am asking, requiring, you to inflict. No clothes, no heat, no cooling, no medicine. Just enough food to keep them alive for another day of suffering.
“I want reports, gentlemen. Pictures, accounts, descriptions, recordings. These people will wish they had opted for the guillotine. We will televise your best, most inventive ideas. From time immemorial these dogs have claimed the title to ‘God’s chosen people.’ Well, they have met their god now. I have chosen them, all right. And they will not find even death a place they can hide.

Like I said, this speech is mostly this: Nicky ranting about Jews to such an extent that even the most vitriol-filled Neo-Nazi would be like, "Dude, turn it down a notch."

Vicki's group meanwhile is praying for Tanya and her group. Oh and we get this statement which should make everyone headdesk.

Vicki told him. “It sounds like he’s into some weird theology. From what she said, her dad uses the Bible like some kind of code-book. He has them all believing everything’s going to be okay as soon as the final battle ends.”

Just as you can't claim that God loves us when he's doing his damnedest to prove otherwise, you can't criticize a character for using the Bible like a codebook when that's all your good characters do. Remember all that stuff Jesus said about turning the other cheek and sharing the wealth only applies to when he establishes his kingdom on Earth. Also, the seven letter to the seven churches that begins the Book of Revelation...that actually doesn't refer to actual churches around during John's time but to seven ages. I could go on and on about this point but I think I've made it clear.

I thought about throwing in a third chapter but for once, I think this snark is long enough with just two. I never thought I'd stop doing three-chapter-snarks yet here we are.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Zombies Would Starve in the LB-Verse

First of all, a welcome back to our dear Firedrake! Nice to know you haven't died in a freak vomit-choking and/or gardening and/or spontaneous combustion accident.

I'll sum up the first section: Vicki talks to Lenore. I am dead serious here: that's all that happens.

Meanwhile, Judd and Lionel and Westin are, for some unfathomable reason, still trying to bum a ride back to the states off of Z-Van. I know many of you don't understand my irrational love for Z-Van but I can't help myself. He so far hasn't ratted them out, despite the fact you'd think he'd realize by now they're not going to convert to Nickyism, and he gives them front-row seats at his concert, despite them criticizing his music every chance they can get, and most importantly, he lets them use his stuff. It's almost as though he knows Judd and Lionel are main characters for which the plot must part for them like the Red Sea for Israel.

But Westin's noticed something about him, besides the whole Nicky-Mark business.

Westin squinted. “Something’s happened to Z-Van. Maybe it was what the concert did—his new album is number one and they haven’t even released it yet.”
“What do you mean?” Judd said. “His looks have changed?”
Westin shifted in his chair. “The guy has always been into weird, dark stuff, but something’s happened. His eyes are vacant, like Z-Van’s not really there anymore.”
Judd told Westin what Chang had overheard on Carpathia’s plane. “You think Leon could have given Z-Van power to levitate above the stage like that?”
“I guess it’s possible.” Westin smirked. “That’s all we need—more little Carpathias running around.”
“You’re saying Z-Van is under somebody else’s control?” Lionel said.
“Maybe he took some drugs, or he was energized by the concert,” Westin said, “but it sure seemed like I was talking to a different person.”

I'm now picturing Madonna Dahmer spinning his head around and vomiting pea soup.

The chapter ends with Judd wondering if it's safe to be around Z-Van.

Uh, Judd let me give you a subtle hint: NO! Z-VAN HAS TAKEN THE MARK WHICH MEANS HE'S ONE OF THE LEGIONS OF THE DAMNED. :headdesk: It's like we're in a zombie movie and Judd's going "Well he keeps licking his lips and moaning and hungering for brains. I hope it's safe to hang around him."

So Sam's again doing nothing but watching them do stuff at Petra. He finds Micah aka Chaim and they talk. Mostly it's the usual alpha-male posturing we've come to know and love in the LB-verse (though they make the usual "It was God giving me strength" sort of spiel.) And apparently Hattie Durham aka the Great Butt Monkey of Babylon did make something of an impact. Chaim says that she told him that God was going to do great things through him. As thanks, he plans to scatter her ashes once the Glorious Appearing (aka when TurboJesus shows up) happens.

The chapter ends with Judd receiving a call from Chang who's panicked because Nicky just announced he's going to level Petra with bombs. Me, I'm going, "am I the only one who remembers the whole cockamamie prophecy that says you'll be safe until three and a half years are up after which TurboJesus slaughters the GC and institutes his regime peace on Earth.

Next chapter, Judd's all "Are you sure about this?" and Chang's like "Hell yeah, I'm sure." Godwin's Law is invoked as they compare Nicky's plan to Hitler's plan to wipe out all the Jews (as well as handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, and communists and believe me, they had a very loose definition of the word "communist.") This makes me all ranty but I'm afraid I can't quite convey my rage in a coherent fashion, so I'm just going to remind everyone that the Nazis identified as Christian, so yeah.

I'm deliberately fast-forwarding through Vicki's and Sam's parts. Again, it's just more talking and watching. Forgive me, but it's white noise: it's unsnarkable. Let's see what the chapter ends with. :looks ahead: Another meaningless action scene...:whimpers: I'll sum it up for you: Vicki is talking to Anita on the phone as Anita tries to escape. But the chapter ends with Hector going, "I should have taken care of you when I had the chance." Believe me, Hector, I wish you had: it'd be one less pinball for me to keep track of.

Once again, another chapter for you. I don't know when I'll stop doing three-chapter snarks. Probably when something freaking happens.

I'll hit fast-forward again and tell you Anita escapes.

Chaim decides to preach a sermon for us. Let's listen in, shall we?

“John said he heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because you have judged these things.’
“And what,” Micah continued, “of our enemies who have shed the blood of saints and prophets? God has turned the oceans into blood, and one day soon he will turn the rivers and lakes to blood as well, giving them blood to drink. For it is their just due.

It is also the just due of everyone, RTC or otherwise, too poor to have access to other drinking sources who will now die horribly. Because God is a friend of the poor.

“But what shall we his people eat and drink, here in this place of refuge? Some would look upon it and say it is desolate and barren. Yet God says that at twilight we shall eat meat, and in the morning we shall be filled with bread. In this way we shall know that he is the Lord our God.”

Uh, bread and meat's all fine and good, Zod, but what about our Vitamin C? Every hear of Scurvy? It's not a fun way to go.

It then begins to rain quail and bread.

Micah stood at a high place and called out a greeting. “We need not ask ourselves, as the children of Israel did, ‘What is it?’ ” he said.
“For we know God has provided it as bread. Take, eat, and see that it is filling and sweet, like wafers made with honey. As Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.’ ”
“Manna,” Sam whispered.
Micah moved in front of a huge rock, planting his feet firmly in the loose rocks in front of it. “And what shall we drink? Again, God Almighty himself has provided.”
Sam gasped as Micah raised both arms. Gushes of water sprang from rocks everywhere in Petra. Sam jumped down from his perch, put his hands under the fresh, cool stream, and drank.

You'd think Zod would be giving all this fresh water to those who are still on the fence. After all, the people at Petra are all converts: if they die of thirst, they get bamfed into Heaven. After all, it's not the healthy that need a physician.

Meanwhile, in America, Vicki thinks about boys, or to be specific, Judd. Like I said before I like these rare character moments, even though you can tell the ghostwriter is frantically trying to convince us all that, despite having not been on the same continent for several books, Judd and Vicki are totes meant to be together.

In the stillness of the night, with crickets and frogs singing around her, Vicki’s thoughts turned to Judd. Judd’s recent phone call renewed her hopes that they would someday find a way to be together.
Vicki thought about the boys she had known in school. Most of them had been what her father had called “a bad influence,” but that had simply made her want to date them more. Looking back, Vicki wished she hadn’t gotten so involved in dating.
Vicki had once gone to a wedding of a distant cousin whose parents were into church. The couple had decided not to date but “court” each other. When she heard about the guidelines they had both lived by during their engagement, it had seemed strange and almost laughable.

After that paragraph, I expected to hear regurgitated information about courtship and how it's so superior to dating, but surprisingly Ellanjay skip this. I'm not complaining, though; too busy thanking God for small favors.

But the chapter ends with Vicki hearing something moving in the bushes and grabbing a black-haired person by the ankles. That seems a good place to leave you all, so I will.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Tale Told By Idiots

Firedrake, if you're out there and you haven't suffocated in some freak wig closet accident, I have to admit something: you're right. After the epic pig ride, it really is all downhill from here. I know I promised not to complain about how bored I am but right now it's so boring that it's actually painful to read and I'm wondering how the hell am I going to snark this? But I'll give it a shot.

Vicki's section...it's all talking. Nothing but boring talking about the person in the woods, who might it be, could they be a GC or not? Again, it might read as interesting if this series was written by JK Rowling, who wasn't afraid to let bad things happen to her characters, but like I said, we're reading Ellanjay. We do get another appearance by Cheryl who talks about how if her baby's a girl, she'll name it Vicki :gag: and if it's a boy, she'll name it Ryan. I can't help but question the wisdom in naming your baby after the second greatest Butt Monkey in the LB-verse. If you're wondering, the greatest Butt Monkey in the LB-verse is Hattie Durham.

Oh and some of the people in America are leaving. I can't keep track of who's leaving and who's staying because I have a hard time distinguishing between any of the characters in these series.

Judd's section...well guess what, we get Ellanjay's favorite action: Exciting!Telephone!Action. Basically Mr. Stein calls Judd and tells him WHAT WE WITNESSED IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS ABOUT MICHAEL AND THE EARTH SWALLOWING THE GC UP! Me, I find myself just gobsmacked by the true awfulness of it all. Why did they waste several pages with Mr. Stein doing play-by-play of what we just witnessed? I know Judd didn't witness it and needs to know about it, but surely he should know about it GIVEN THAT THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE COCKAMAMIE PROPHECY HE BELIEVES IN PREDICTS! Surely three and a half years in, he'd know every letter and tittle of this meshugenah prophecy. Never have I seen such a naked excuse for padding in my life!

Some of Vicki's friends leave. That's seriously all that happens in the first chapter. I'm so sorry.

The next one begins with Sam in Petra as he and the other evacuees work to try to make it livable. Given the amount of work needed to bring amenities to that ancient city, I can picture all the archeologists in the world screaming in pain, as precious artifacts are destroyed so that they might have comfort. Oh, sure they don't mention them destroying stuff, but given that Ellanjay would never allow their characters to simply rough it, I have to assume that they're destroying artifacts right and left.

Apparently Our Buck is here, directing construction. Naturally Sam is, like all characters in this verse, starstruck. [slightly OT] You ever wonder just how much Jerry Jenkins sees himself in the character of Buck? Does he ask that his friends and relatives refer to him that way? How much you wanna bet he roleplays, with himself as Buck and his wife playing the sexy young ingénue, Chloe? And now that I've grossed you out with that visual, back on topic. [/slightly OT]

They're talking about setting up a computer station and I'm wondering how that's even possible. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Petra in the middle of the freaking desert? How exactly are they supposed to get electricity, let alone Internet access, out there? But then again, in a situation where I'm being hunted down by the anti-Christ, I'd be grateful for safety and water, never mind my precious electronics. But try to picture Ellanjay writing a novel without phones or internet? The plan is to link everything up with their contact in New Babylon, Chang Wong. It's becoming clear: Ellanjay thinks Hacking=Fucking Magic.

Judd is still trying to get back to the states. He talks with Chang and that's about it.

Vicki receives an email from Anita. For those wondering "Who the hell is that?" she's Manny's sister. And judging by how the chapter ends, I smell a conversion scene.

Sam meanwhile, is watching as people build their homes in Petra. Naturally Ellanjay gloss over important details like how the heck are they plugging in computers out in the freaking desert.

The chapter ends with Vicki talking on the phone with Anita. She tells Vicki about her brother's death and naturally, Vicki, never afraid to be a Vulture for Christ, sees an opening she can exploit. Because Christianity is all about exploiting emotional wounds.

I'll throw in a third chapter. Sorry to do so many three-chapter-snarks but really nothing's happening.

First let's examine this headdesker of a conversation between Vicki and Anita.

“You know all about joining a gang, right? When you’re accepted, you take the mark of that gang and become one of them. It’s the same with God, only a lot better. When you ask God to forgive you for the bad stuff you’ve done, he makes you part of his family. But he doesn’t make you pass any tests to get in.”
“But I have to do something to get him to love me, don’t I?”
“No. The Bible says God loves you so much that he gave his only Son. Even before you were born, Jesus died for you, so tell God you believe and you want him to come into your life and forgive you. Do it now.”

Actually Vicki, it's established several times that you have to say The Prayer or else Zod's hands are tied and he'll pitch you into Hell regardless of what kind of life you've lead.

I'll spoil it for you: the section ends with Anita saying The Prayer. Wooo....

Lionel's back from outer space or wherever the hell he's been because we finally hear from him. Too bad nothing of importance happens so I'll just fast-forward through it. If you really want to know, Nicky just shows up in his limo with a lot of guys and Leon's all "Kneel before him!"

Judd talks again with Chang. Aunursa's already told me about Chang's interrogation, so his conversation with Judd is strictly to fill in the readers of the kids version.

“I refused to take the test until my boss, Mr. Figueroa, showed up. He asked me a series of yes-or-no questions. Is today Sunday? Are you a male? That kind of thing. When he asked if I was loyal to the supreme potentate, I closed my eyes and reminded myself that Jesus Christ is the one who fits that description, and I answered yes.”
“So you passed?” Judd said.
“The test went on for some time. I had to evade a couple of answers that could have hurt me, but I think I passed.”

And you thought I was joking when I said that the characters repeatedly bow to Satan while claiming that in their hearts they're bowing to God. You gotta wonder what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (characters in the part of the Book of Daniel that they don't read) think of all this. Apparently they could have just bowed to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar, while thinking of God, and it would have been totally okay.

And that's it for this week. There is some more stuff. Apparently Nicky takes the lie-detector test (why? I don't know.) and the chapter ends with Sam waiting. Once again, I apologize for the weak quality of snark.