Sunday, March 19, 2017

#Heaven-World Problems

Hey Everybody!

Well this week is made up of the sad, pathetic desperation seen in videos by Pick-Up Artists. Don't worry the YouTube link doesn't actually take you to actual pick-up artists; I have too much self respect and too much respect for my readers to put either of us through that. Just that there's something so unbelievably pathetic about all of it, how for all their efforts to be like, "I am Manly and Powerful, dammit!"...well, the fact that one of them created a female persona to explain why he finds cunnilingus undesirable and another mentioned in the video describes sex as shoving a meat cylinder into a hole and delivering a genetic package, let's just say Dave Barry's bit about "I AM THRUSTING MY MASSIVE KNOCKWURST OF LOVE INTO YOUR PASSION PERSIMMON!" actually sounds more appealing and less creepy.

But yeah, that's because it's never about sex with pick-up artists, just about trying desperately to overcompensate for deep-rooted insecurities. Though congratulations, guys. You may have made an unintentional case for celibacy, because if the choice is between sex with you or no sex at all...well let's just say the Catholic Church finally has a way to deal with a shortage of priests, monks, and nuns.

In short, yes there will be Creepy Sex Stuff this week. I don't know whether you should or shouldn't thank me for this.

The cartoonish machismo starts from the very first line.

KENNY HAD cleared several days off so he could complete his clandestine mission to Paris, but almost as soon as he got there he heard from Ekaterina, asking whether he could return and postpone his trip.

Yes, Kenny's mission to Paris really is clandestine, seeing as it will take place under a cover of daylight via a commercial airline and he's already told all his friends and family where he's going and when he'll be back. Also, he is in no danger of dying whatsoever and in fact, doesn't really have to do anything because TurboJesus will pitch his enemies into hell for him. We should all dream of having Kenny's courage and fortitude in the face of unspeakable fear and suffering.

Yeah, I know, I'm laying it on pretty thick, but hey, it's what I do. I'd say this is the equivalent of a six-year-old boy pretending his cardboard box in his parents' backyard, is secretly a hut deep within the Amazon rainforest, but most six-year-olds have enough self-awareness to know that they are only pretending. And however irritating and immature a six-year-old may be, there is hope that they will eventually grow the fuck up and stop being so irritating.

For those of you wondering, Kat didn't ask Kenny to delay his trip, because she's all weak and female and feared for his safety in a First-World Nation that as all the amenities of modern life. Though France does :gasp: have a government-paid healthcare system (aka Universal Healthcare), making it so that everyone has their medical expenses covered by the government and can receive necessary treatments even if they are :pearlclutch: poor. With that in mind, you can understand why Kat might be concerned.

The reason Kat wants Kenny-boy to hold of on his trip is because King David is coming to one of their talks. :whimpers: For the record, his visit is in the next chapter, which I probably won't get to this week. More and more, I'm starting to think that maybe I should actually go through with an idea I've suggested before, where I cut and paste Kingdom Come into a new document, but remove the Mothereffin' Front Matter and all the stuff where Biblical Figure just copy and pastes from the Bible. I am really serious as to whether this book would be long enough to qualify as a novella, minus those materials. But we'll talk about this more later on. In the meantime, let's get back to tearing this chapter a new one.

Kenny-boy tries to reassure his terror-stricken female fearful lady love interest.

“But I prayed about this, sweetheart. I know this is where God wants me, and I have to think that if I make this sacrifice, He will somehow make it up to me.”

“How?”

“Who knows? Maybe by giving me an audience with David as He did my grandfather. I guess someday I’ll have all the time I want with all the biblical characters.”

“I know you’re right, Kenny. And you’ve taught me that God favors obedience even over sacrifice. That’s just hard for me right now, because I was hoping this news would be enough to bring you back to me.”

You have no idea how much I pointed and laughed at all this until tears were streaming down my cheeks. Again, he's going to France, aka a modern country which has both email and telephone which he could use to stay in contact with Kat. Also it has running water, paved roads, electricity, and has been in a state of relative peace since the end of WWII. Since then, their conflicts have been mostly overseas with little, if any, effects on the home front. You are not parachuting behind the Iron Curtain, where Khrushchev's men might make you "disappear" or force the US to exchange a prisoner in order to free you.

I could go on and on about all this about how Kenny's not going to the beaches of Normandy, circa June 6, 1944, or Iwo Jima, circa February 19, 1945, but I think I've pulverized this dead horse into glue.

I freely admit I chose examples from WWII because Ellanjay and their ilk consider that the most manly of wars or the Good War, as it is called. Though no one actually called WWII, the Good War, when it was actually being fought. Only when Vietnam went south, did anyone start calling it, the Good War. During WWII, the thoughts were generally more "Are we going to lose this fight?" and "Will our boys come home from this?" the same as in most wars.

Oh Kenny is really making a huge sacrifice, having to miss out on hearing David's copy-and-paste. Sure he could pick up his Bible and read it for himself, but that smacks too much of effort and he might stumble onto one of the "bad" passages. When it comes to suffering for the sins of humanity, Kenny's got Jesus beat.

OW! Okay, I may have gone a little too far with that. But I can't say I regret it too much. As much as it pains me to defend the Tribbles, at least, they were sort of experiencing actual suffering for their faith. Granted it only happened off-screen to NPCs, but Nicky had outlawed the practice of any faith save for the poorly defined EBOWF/Worship of him, so this "Durr...I'm a rebel!" pose made some sense.

:sighs: One last rant before I finally move on: how many problems could we solve by giving RTC farts one-way tickets to Saudi Arabia, China, or North Korea? If they manage to escape, maybe experiencing actual persecution for their faith, not just "Cashier saying 'Happy Holidays'" persecution, will have given them some much needed perspective. If nothing else, they'll be trapped in Third-World Hellholes and the rest of us can finally get stuff done, without having to deal with them throwing hissies over every advancement in human rights.

The section ends with a shocking announcement: Qasim has taken the week off and won't be there when King David shows up! :cue Dramatic Prairie Dog:

Abdullah's Asshole for Christ campaign continues. I'm having flashbacks to Nicky's regime where for all the wargle-bargle about how eeeevil he is, Nicky was surprisingly respectful of the rights of a group that continually calls for his overthrow and tries to undermine his government in whatever ways it can, allowing them to have a massive public gathering and broadcast their message all around the world.

You can see where I'm going with this. Mudawar and Sarsour have been ridiculously respectful towards someone who, at best, regards them as prospects and, at worse, sees them as dirty godless heathens deserving of nothing but hellfire and damnation for all eternity for the crimes of :gasp: enjoying music with an actual beat, enjoying alcohol, enjoying sex, and saying "Y'know a guy who kills people for disagreeing with him, isn't a good guy."

I am trying to picture the horrors of a TOL regime. Will banal praise choruses be outlawed in favor of music with a beat that addresses the reality of human feelings? Do armed guards show up and say to terrified men, "You will do cunnilingus, not the traditional missionary!" after which the man is like, "But that would be sex performed strictly as an act of love, without any possibility of reproduction!" and all he can do is sob, as the TOLstapo give him and his wife, contraceptives, vibrators, and lubricants.

For those of you wondering, "Mouse, aren't you exaggerating just a little too much?" First of all, why would you think that? and Second of all, I most definitely am not. Forget the League of Awesome, Mudawar and Sarsour should be nominated for sainthood for having resisted the urge to taser the living crap out of him. At least, Thor is pretty to look at, dammit!

Anyway, here are quotes from the section for your perusal. After I post them, I will move on. I just feel like spreading pain around and making sure everyone appreciates the Assholery of Abdullah. Fear not; not even context makes Abdullah's remarks seem less assholish.

“You heard me, Mudawar. I repeat my pledge from the first. I am here under assignment from almighty God. You may be under some illusion or delusion that you— in some moment of madness or genius— decided to allow me in. But the fact is, the Lord has ordained it.”

“Oh, I know you can. But you also know that I would then be stationed in front of your door with my little table and my Bible and my smile, and I will be greeting your honored guests every time they enter or leave. And we both know people are somehow drawn to me.”

“— but a word to the wise: If I were you, I would represent my presence in your offices as your idea, a stroke of brilliance, going against the grain, zigging when the rest of the world is zagging. If you can’t persuade your mentors there’s some benefit to the cause in this, that you have somehow convinced me that my time is better spent here than trying to persuade the same target audience, then perhaps you are not qualified for the role you have been given. Give it some thought.”

I'm just going to post a clip. You totally know why I'm posting this clip.

The next section, well, I hope my readers have their heart medication ready as they see the horrors Kenny faces. He has to stay in a hotel in Paris and the mass transit system makes it easy for him to meet up with Ignace and Lothair with no problem!

And if that isn't bad enough, he endures some minor questioning at their hands. Just listen to the horrible slurs they sling towards Kenny's general direction.

“Hey, guys,” Kenny said, pretending not to notice that they didn’t look happy.

“Just sit down,” Ignace said. “Who do you think you’re kidding anyway?”

“I don’t follow.”

“You don’t follow. You make noises at our cousin’s funeral like you might be one of us, you string us along by e-mail, we get absolute zilch from you— even though your buddy Qasim vouches for you with his life. And how hard do you think it was for us to figure out that your parents— your parents— started COT? And now you want us to believe you’re sympathetic to the Other Light?”

I think I'll retreat into my League of Awesome headcanon for a bit, before trying to take this on. A gal can only handle so much excitement.

On an entirely unrelated note, if I keep communicating in nothing but brutal sarcasm, will I reach the point where I will be unable to communicate in any other form? I wouldn't mind it so much, except that I keep getting dragged out of the house to talk to other people and they may find it somewhat off-putting. Though that problem may quickly resolve itself.

Luckily Kenny has Zod to provide his Saving Throw.

Busted. What could he say?

He breathed a silent prayer. “Lord, what now?”

“Take the offensive,” he heard in his soul.

“Believe what you want to believe,” Kenny said. “But you’d better not have wasted my time, dragging me all the way here just to tell me you don’t trust me. There are plenty of people in other TOL cells who do trust me. And as for where I’m embedded, where do you think you’d get better information?”

Ignace and Lothair respond by printing up a directory of COT employees, complete with addresses and information on salaries. In my headcanon, they laugh derisively as they do. Because even they are like, "You haven't given us any information we couldn't get elsewhere, so why the hell should we listen to you in the first place?" So much Signal from Fred...

But here's the TOL's Final Solution.

“Mexico,” she said. “Drugs, parties, alcohol. We spread the word quietly, and kids who feel oppressed by their parents or by society or by the church come in droves. We get ’em on our mailing lists and go after them with intellectual arguments.”

"They use their skill with the written word to express their opinions on something that matters to them, while enjoying intoxicants and celebrations. This makes Auschwitz seem like a summer vacation in comparison!"

Okay, I might have gone too far with the Auschwitz comparison. I apologize. Though of all the stuff listed, they probably consider "intellectual arguments" to be the most eeeevil and depraved of the TOL's activities.

Kenny, playing the part of infiltrator, offers them a better strategy. Because for some reason, RTCs are allowed to lie, even though they couldn't back when they were facing actual persecution.

“It shouldn’t be that hard. If you’re right, you’ll be convincing. And what you have going for you is the age of your audience. They’re our ages. If they haven’t become believers already, you know they’re searching, wondering, thinking, wanting to use their brainpower. They’re going to be vulnerable to a message that goes against all the rest of society. There’s glamour in being a revolutionary. Tap into that.”

And now I'm laughing until a I cry again. Whenever I find enough air to speak, I'm like, "Physician, heal thyself!"

Because tapping into the glamour and allure that comes with being a revolutionary, is pretty much exactly what the RTC subculture does. Though the TOL has a better claim at being revolutionaries, seeing as they are actually suffering for what they believe and again, not just "Happy Holidays" suffering. Again, the RTC subculture longs simultaneously to be the Roman Empire with great military and financial power, so they may crush those who stand against them, but they also want to cast themselves as the plucky Christian rebels bravely standing up in the face of Roman Oppression. It all results in a toxic, incoherent mess of a belief system.

And that's it for this week. Until then, I hope you light a candle for the suffering Kenny is facing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

To the German Commander. NUTS! The American Commander

Hey, guys! Sorry to be late. Combination of general laziness and life kicking my ass. And increasingly I wonder if I should create a character tag for Abdullah. I've been trying to be careful with those, because I created one for Tom and Josey Fogarty because I thought they might actual matter, given how much stage time they were getting in the early books, only for them to disappear and not return until damn near the end. Though I really should have started tagging Taylor and Hasina earlier, just as I should have started a Butt Monkey Is Dead Count to keep track of how many mentions in the series Ryan received after he had died.

This week's snark is mostly taken up with Abdullah trying to convert Sarsour. And lordy...my personal head canon is that Mudawar or Sarsour or somebody has called the TOL Panthers to deal with Abdullah. In said head canon, they are tasering him and being like, "You have been told repeatedly to leave, yet you wouldn't listen," because like I said in previous posts, given that the police force for the Millies pretty much exist to harass the TOL for exercising their right to free assembly and probably doesn't do jack to serve and protect them from criminals, the TOL created their own police force out of sheer necessity, a force that I'm referring to as the TOL Panthers.

And before any of you are like, "But Mouse, why would they even have crime and criminals in Heaven?" need I remind you that the book has repeated shown that Heaven has all the petty annoyances of Earth, so it's not too far-fetched to think that they would still have crime?

My head canon: while the RTCs have no problem being Brownshirts and crushing dissenters, when it comes to investigating actual crimes committed against members of the TOL, they don't do a damn thing about them. Think of it as being like the central thesis of the book, Ghettoside, where it basically says that the inner-city ghettos suffer simultaneously from Too Much Law Enforcement and Not Enough Law Enforcement. Law Enforcement in that area has no problem coming down on its citizens like a ton of bricks over penny-ante stuff like drug and theft charges, but when one of them is murdered, they don't really do a lot when it comes to investigating and tracking down the murderer.

So like I said, my theory is that the TOL are in a similar approach and they realize that they can't count on the RTCs for jack. Hence the TOL Panthers who serve as a visual warning to the RTC cops (the way the Black Panthers did with their open-carry stuff) and they act as cops, arresting those who pose a threat to their citizens/communities. And there are more checks on their power, because the TOL government is better-run than the RTCs. RTCs are okay with oppression and human rights violations, so long as they are done by the right people for the right reasons. But the TOL acknowledges the reality of abuse and how power lends itself to abuse and therefore, again, they have this thing called checks and balances.

Oh, okay, I'll stop with the headcanons and get to work. Though since I can smell the Conversion story coming right off the port-valve, probably ought to not let Mudawar and Sarsour into the League of Awesome. For the record, current League membership (off the top of my head) is: Taylor, Hasina, Cendrillion, Joel, Aron, Dr. Rose, Verna,the unnamed Jewish soldiers willing to give their lives for their faith Loretta, Jael, and Deborah. And I admit I did include those last two, because like I said, I often wonder how the RTCs explain those two away. Deborah clearly had no problem having authority over men, bossing around Baruch like crazy, and Jael? She drove a tent spike through a man's head. It's safe to say that she's okay with having authority over men.

Abdullah decides to talk with Sarsour. Sarsour is all "Yeah, yeah, you tell a good story, but don't get the idea that you're getting to me." Abdullah is like, "It's not your mind that I care so much about. It's your heart. That is what God is after too." And yes, I only posted that bit so I can link to Mola Ram from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Sarsour talks about how his parents know he is not a believer, but don't know the full details of his work, because, to use his words, “It would be cruel to tell them. They know I am not a believer, that I have a lot of questions and accusations against God. That hurts them enough. I don’t need to nail the final lid in their coffin.”

Uh, I believe the idiom is "to be the final nail in their coffin," not "nail the final lid in their coffin." I know, nobody but me is anal-retentive enough to care, but I like to start with penny-ante complaints before going to the main course.

As you can probably guess, what follows is Abdullah doing Ray Comfort-style evangelizing. He's all patronizing, going on about how they don't stand a chance, and of course, completely missing the point of their rebellion. Again, standing up for what you believe in, whether you have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, is something most people refer to as being heroic. Again, choosing your own way to burn rather than betray the ideals you hold dear, is considered brave.

Oh and when I talk about standing up for what you believe in, I hope you realize I am not referring to that Kim Davis shitstorm. First of all, no matter how much she and the others pretended otherwise, she wasn't likely to die for refusing to do her job. She might get fired, but that's different from, y'know, dying. Also, wouldn't it have been more martyrrific to quit your job in protest and send out some editorial or something talking about how it's all the Gays' fault? But the truth is Kim Davis wanted to have her cake and eat it too, to not do her frigging job yet somehow be able keep her job with all the benefits it entails.

One of the most tiring aspects of these types of Kim Davis self-martyrdom-type stories has to be how even though they blather on how they aren't afraid to stand for Christian principles, whenever the authorities are like, "You want to martyr yourself over something completely stupid? Be my guest," they are all shocked, shocked by this. Say what you will about Christian Martyrs or Catholic Saints, but they at least understood the basic idea that the authorities might actually shrug their shoulders and be like, "Okay, if they want to die, take 'em out to the chemical sheds and shoot them." The RTCs are basically perpetually four-years-old and while holding your breath or screaming until you pass out, might get you that Barbie or Batman figure, it's not likely to convince the authorities to violate the rights and dignities of a minority group, no matter how much you hate them.

Though one of Abdullah's quotes does confirm that a key step of the TOL's plans, involves sex, lots and lots of mind-blowing, headboard-banging, sex. The TOL is probably eeeevil enough that not only do they have sex and enjoy it, they also have oral and anal sex and enjoy it, even though there's no possibility of reproduction with those. Worst of all, they also enjoy sex with someone of the same sex! I would have Toccata and Fugue in D Minor as the TOL's theme music, but since Bach was a Christian and at one point, served as a Cantor, composing music for church services, I probably need to come up with some other theme music. Though Bach was a Lutheran and the churches he composed music for, were also Lutheran. Anybody know where the Lutheran Church fits in the RTC subculture? Because we know they grudgingly tolerate Catholics, despite centuries of hatred and mistrust on both sides, because now they share a common enemy in Roe v. Wade, but the hatred still remains and they still have a general distaste for anything that reeks too much of popery or Catholicism. But I don't know enough about the Lutherans to know if they fall into the "Not Evil But Suspect Due to the Catholic Nature of their Faith" or if they are Real True Christians.

Anyway, here's Abdullah's quote:

“Listen, let’s say you’re right. Let’s say that despite all you TOLers dying off at the end of your hundred years you are somehow able to keep this torch burning down through the centuries as the population expands. By the last century of the Millennium, you have amassed this great army, and all right, let’s say that against all odds and logic and prophecy and the very Word of God, your side prevails. Let me postulate that those of you who thought this up and schemed and strategized are still dead and still in hell and that your leader does not have the power to resurrect you. Convince me I am wrong.”

Like I keep saying, the RTCS keep undermining their own case. Because if given a choice between eating steaming piles of fresh produce and singing hymns or enjoying alcohol and having lots and lots of sex, most would choose the latter.

As you can probably guess, the whole discussion has that tone with Sarsour saying something and Abdullah being like, "Are you sure?" and I think it's safe to say that he drags out the syllables when he says it, this making it sound like the nattering whine of a mosquito. Though now that I think about it, I thought Abdullah planned on witnessing to the TOL, yet all he's done is harass Sarsour and Mudawar. Yeah, they're TOL, but Abdullah could :gasp: leave his office and go talk to other TOL members. Again, what does it say about your character when they're too lazy to rant and rave on a street corner like so many other religious nuts?

And of course, Abdullah's bit would be nothing but variations on Pascal's Wager. Even though the obvious flaw with Pascal's Wager is that given the various deities around and the potential consequences of not worshipping them, wouldn't it make sense to worship all of them, be like Homer and go "Jesus, Buddha, Allah, I love you all!", just to cover your bases?

Also, like I keep saying, the problem isn't that the TOL or all the other rebels don't believe in God. Ignoring the fact the whole MK factor, where they see and talk with Zod and TurboJesus and other biblical figures on a daily basis, in the previous books, they've received incontrovertible proof of the supernatural again and again. The problem is the nature of this god they've mentioned, a petty tyrant who decides to reach the lost by killing them horribly so He can torture them forever, who ties your salvation to specific words in a specific order and if you haven't said them with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, welcome to Hell, mothereffer! if he was a human dictator, say Saddam Hussein, he would be considered monstrous, but the thing is, however bad Saddam was, there was a natural end to his villainy, unlike with Zod.

Though again, maybe I should retract that last bit. Like I keep saying and will keep saying, the Right's fanboyish love of Vladimir Putin proves something I've long suspected about the Right: they're not opposed to tyranny and human rights abuses, so long as they are being done by the right people for the right reasons. The Soviet Dictators ran roughshod over the rights and lives of their others in the name of Communism, which makes their actions wrong. Putin does it in the name of unfettered free market capitalism and cronyism, which makes his actions right.

And for all their wargle-bargle about Saddam Hussein or various other tinpot dictators in the Middle East, they are oddly silent when it comes to Saudi Arabia, aka a country which is every bit as repressive and fundamentalist Islamic as many of the countries we're at war with, and possessing ties to terrorist organizations. And the unpleasant truth regarding Saddam and quite a few of the tinpot dictators is that initially the US funded and backed them. The only reason we turned on Saddam, was because he bit the hand that fed him when he invaded Kuwait. But the Saudis know their place, know better than to outwardly rebel against the US, so the US backs them and turns a blind eye to their atrocities.

Point is, like I keep saying, traditionally the people who stood up to tyranny, said "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise." or "Nuts!" are seen as the Good Guys. Standing up and saying "No!" to the all-powerful tyrant, regardless of your chances of winning, is pretty heroic. It is an implicit understanding that there are things in life more important than personal safety, values worth fighting and dying for. And I managed to make this rant without linking to clips from The Avengers or Power Rangers. You're welcome!

Abdullah is all "What if I had died in the Rapture? I would have been lost forever!" tacitly ignoring the fact that if he did die in the Rapture, it would be God's fault, because he can create the world in seven days, make it look billions of years old, even though its only six thousand years old, and violate all known manner of natural laws, but he can't apply the brakes.

Sarsour returned to his seat and seemed to study Abdullah. “Why does this trouble you so? Why don’t you just leave me to my hopelessness, my wrongness, my— as you call it— foolishness. What am I to you?”

“You’re my friend.”

“Ya Bek, I am your enemy. I disagree with everything you say. I mock your God. I accuse Him. I hold Him accountable.”

“And I am instructed to love my enemy and to pray for those who spitefully use me.”

That sound you hear is me pointing and laughing until I injure myself.

And because I can't go one post without indulging my Captain America fangirlism, it's probably safe to assume when Abdullah is all "You're my friend," he doesn't mean it the way the Captain does. Because we all know, again, Abdullah is just doing the RTC version of The Requirement. If he doesn't be an Asshole for Christ and try to unload some product on Sarsour, then they will both burn in Hell. But if Abdullah does The Requirement and Sarsour doesn't take the bait, then Sarsour still burns in Hell but Abdullah is off the hook because he gave the heathen a chance to save himself.

[TANGENT Regarding Captain America fangirlism] Even before Civil War came out, I felt the final fight scene between Cap and Bucky did illustrate some basic facts about his character. For all his optimism and high ideals, Cap was willing to push them aside and be pragmatic, do whatever he has to, to stop the helicarriers from killing a whole lot of people, even if it means beating the snot out of someone who is the closest thing he has to family*. Heck at the beginning, he did offer Bucky a chance to walk away from all this and only got down to business when Bucky made it clear he wasn't going to.

But after the world was saved, the helicarriers are going down in flames, then the Cap starts trying to reach his buddy again, even though part of him probably knew full well that Bucky might very well kill him.

Though like I keep saying, we must never forget that Captain America secretly hates America.[/TANGENT]

Abdullah reads the letter his wife left, before getting bamfed into Heaven. As you probably already gathered, it is further proof that Abdullah and his family were, at one point, SOOPER SCARRY MOOSLEMS!!!!111 I already knew it as did my readers, but I felt like pointing it out. It relates to one of the questions I have regarding this series. We know Ellanjay didn't envision cell phones, Internet porn, even the Internet in general. Hence why Left Behind (published in 1994 when those tech were still on the horizon) doesn't have them. Granted no sci-fi writer can bat a thousand when it comes to predicting trends of the future, be it far-off or not-so distant**, but they usually put forth some effort.

My point is, I'm kind of wondering when the first few Left Behind books were published, how much Islam-bashing there was in them? Yeah, the Muslims had always been considered suspect (much in the way they considered Jews and Catholics suspect at best, until they found a way to co-opt them), but until Sept. 11, it wasn't a major tenet of their subculture. So long as you hated the Gays and Abortion, said, "Jesus!" a lot, and always voted Republican, they were willing to consider you an RTC. Then September 11th happened and now hating the Muslims became another sacred tenet, making it so that people pant with desire for the genocide of 1.6 billion humans and still be considered RTCs. So aunursa or somebody with scary encyclopedic knowledge of this series wanna help me out? Tell me how heavy the early books were on the Muslim-bashing.

I could do my rants about how the largest Muslim population is in Indonesia and the they only object to Al-Qaeda or ISIS or [Insert whatever group of radical Islamic terrorists here] because they're killing and oppressing people in the name of Islam, not Christianity, but I won't.

I'll ignore much of his wife's letter, save for this one part:

As I have said over and over, the difference between what you call “our religions” is that mine is not religion. I have come to believe that religion is man’s effort to please God. I had always been bound by rules, acts of service, good deeds. I was trying as hard as I could to win the favor of Allah so that in the end I would find heaven on earth.

Ah yes, the old RTC argument about how their religion is not religion...that variation of the No True Scotsman fallacy never gets old.

Oh and for the record, do you know what Arab Christians call God? They call him Allah, because Allah is the Arabic word for God, you morons! I can dust off another rant about "Racial and Religious terms" but again, I make some effort at not repeating myself.

The section with Abdullah ends with this exchange:

“That’s it then, Sarsour? The end of our discussion?”

“It hasn’t been a discussion, sir. It has been a sermon. Why waste your time here with just the two of us? Why are you not out preaching to the masses? There are a lot more undecided young people out there than in here, and they have to be more open-minded than we of the Other Light. We ought to know. They are our audience, our prospects.”

“You are my prospects,” Abdullah said. “I am here in obedience to my Lord Christ, who knows best.”

Again, even the Good Guy character is tacitly admitting to being lazy. Because Abdullah said God had called him to witness to the TOL, yet all he had done, was exactly what Sarsour said: hang around him and his cousin and boss them around. Again, the old "stand of a street corner and rant" method may be irritating as hell, but it would be more consistent with what Abdullah believes and hey, standing and ranting would require some stamina, unlike sitting in a basement office and being an asshole towards a couple of people, who again, have been awful generous in allowing you to hang around and talk endlessly about how they're going to burn in Hell.

Like I keep saying, in my head canon, Sarsour and Mudawar have been polite for as long as they could, trying to basically say, "Hey, we don't want you on our property!" which they have every right to, because again, it is their private property, but since Abdullah keeps steam-rolling over their objections, one of them has signaled the TOL Panthers, who are preparing to move in.

There's an interlude with Kat and Kenny. Kat is all weepy and womanly, concerned about how Kenny is going to infiltrate the TOL meetings. Kenny is all manly and is like, "Hey don't worry." For those of you wondering, here are the brave blows against tyranny that Brave Kenny has bravely made thus far:

“I gave Ignace and Lothair some very innocuous information about COT. I merely told them where it was, how many children we hosted, how large the staff was, and that the big deal now had been the visits from biblical heroes. They were not impressed. Ignace fired back a message that said, ‘Tell us something we don’t know. Tell us something that not everybody in the world knows. And tell us in person.’ I think he was really surprised when I told him I would be there tomorrow. I believe they were really starting to suspect me.”

Again, a quote I made in a previous post about how the Millies Brave Stand against Tyranny would involve lying which they would define as "Saying the Church Bake Sale has been canceled, when :gasp: it has not," isn't too far off the mark. For all my exaggerations, I'm rarely, if ever, too far off the mark.

Though of course, the TOL will still keep Kenny around, even if he has no useful information to give him. Again, while he isn't the highest people on the RTC Hierarchy (Rayford and Buck are), he does have the blood of the two highest-ranking members running through his veins, which puts him ahead of a lot of people. Maybe even ahead of Creepy Raymie, seeing as Raymie only has the blood of Rayford running through his veins and is only related to Buck via his older sister's marriage.

The chapter ends with a conversation between Bruce "Useless" Barnes and St. Rayford.

“You know what I miss?” Bruce said late one night in the Negev as he and Rayford sat outside by a small fire. “Darkness.”

The rest of the team slept in the massive trailer, heavy shades pulled against the daylight-like beaming of the moon.

Rayford chuckled. “You know what the Bible says about that. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.”

“Yeah, I think I was the one who taught you that, Ray. And yep, that’s me. Evil.”

“I know what you mean, though, Bruce. I’d love a starlit night to aid my sleep. But you’ve been to heaven, where there is no night, not even shadow. Were you tired of it there?”

Bruce shook his head. “Heaven is different. And I can’t wait till the books are opened and all the believers go. As fascinating as this world and this kingdom are, I can’t think they hold a candle to the next.”

They chatted long into the night, plotting the coming weeks of their mission. Bruce told Rayford of Kenny’s call. “Think of it, man. Who’d have ever thought I’d officiate your second wedding, your daughter’s, and her son’s?”

Conversation put in as a reminder that Ellanjay are like, "Sweeping vistas of the night sky that attest to the beauty of the cosmos are all fine and good, but dammit! I need something to disrupt my natural circadian rhythms! Life's just not good unless there isn't always the possibility that I can stare at something and go blind as a result!"

And that's it. I'll try to get the next post out at its usual time, but I make no guarantees.

*For the record, even before Civil War really cemented it, I was always more Team Steve/Bucky rather than Steve/Tony. It always seemed kind of one-sided between Steve and Tony; Steve doesn't seem to be as obsessed with Tony, the way Tony is obsessed with him. Seems more lingering Daddy issues than anything else. Again, someone get Tony Stark into therapy!

Whereas Steve and Bucky have so many years of shared history with one another. Bucky is now officially the last person around who knew Steve back when he was a 95 lb. asthmatic. Even if he didn't want Steve going to war, Bucky still probably thought he was a great person, the kind that the world needs more of.

But Civil War really drove the point home. Both of them, Steve and Bucky, are willing to take their knocks. They won't enjoy it, but they'll take 'em and deal with it. But the surest way to get either of them into "Oh fuck you!" mode is to go after the other guy.

And for the record, I will refer to my ship as Steve/Bucky because pairing names are freakin' stupid! I may have only a few principles, but I stand by them, dammit!

**I am a bit disappointed that since suicide booths were supposed to have come into being in 2008, we're not going to get Futurama's vision of the Future. Yeah, it would suck being ruled by the insane head of Richard Nixon, but it would have sweet guys like Fry in it. Plus, Futurama's version of Richard Nixon is actually more toned down, when compared to the actual Richard Nixon. Again, closest thing we'll ever have to having a Bond Villain as president.

We're also not likely to get the Power Rangers SPD version, which is set in the year 2020 and has humans and rubber-suited aliens generally living and working together in peace. Given that people with a higher melanin count still have to say, "Black Lives Matter!" and that "Killing one race at a disproportionate rate than others, is bad," it's probably not going to happen.

On the plus side, Skynet is supposed to have come online by now, so we lucked out there. Before anyone says anything, as far as I'm concerned, the Terminator franchise ended with Terminator 2. The people involved had the sense and realized, "Y'know we've told two good, self-contained stories with this concept. There's no need to run this franchise into the ground with unnecessary sequels that retcon all the good films!"

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage

Hey everybody! How's life treating y'all?

As you guessed, I couldn't think of a title, so I went with a line mentioned in a rap song I linked to.

Well for those who missed the creepy sex stuff, you get some of it at the beginning.

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.

I would say that this passage is a little racy for Christian Fiction™, enough that the Bluehairs would faint, but it feels wrong, calling a passage this creepy, racy. I'm having flashbacks to a strip from Something Positive. No points for guessing which character in that strip represents Kenny. I will assume however that every RTC house is decorated like Augusta's. That's my head canon and I'm sticking with it.

The next paragraph in Kenny's section...In an attempt to curb the relentless negativity, I will say that even though it involves phone calls :whimpers: they are told in narration, thus sparing the readers the boring back-and-forth. It's not much of an accomplishment, but I'll take 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. But maybe Bruce would be a good adviser too. Kenny got Bruce’s number from his mother and called him in Osaze. Bruce was in the middle of a project but promised to call him back that evening.

You're making plans for your wedding even though all you guys have done is held hands and kissed (briefly with none of that sinful tongue involved) and odds are, you haven't ever been alone together? Heck, everyone thought you two sitting together at a public event with thousands of people there, was racy.

Then again, given the mindset of the RTC subculture, which leads to them doing stuff like Purity Balls, this does make sense. :shudders: Like I keep saying, it always winds up being about sex with them. They hate and despise the desires of the flesh, even though it is something hard-wired into us by evolution. So they sublimate these desires in hopes of making them go away. But doing so, only leads to them coming out in even more disturbing ways.

I freely admit that I do not have kids. Given my history of mental illness, I find myself wondering if I should really inflict myself on an innocent child. Plus, with school or other jobs, if you wake up feeling like absolute shit, you can call in sick and spend the day lounging around. There's no such thing as calling in sick when you're a parent. Even if you have some kind of Martian death flu, you still have to get out of bed and take care of the kid, because like I've ranted before, even though humans made it to the top of the food chain, everything about small children seems contrary to the rules of survival.

Anyway, my point is if given a choice between Nelly and the Purity Balls' attitude towards sex, I would rather my kids side with Nelly. I would make sure they knew about contraceptives and condoms, but Nelly being all "Let's get it on, baby," seems a heckuva lot healthier mindset.

I wonder how long until Rap or HipHop stops being the eeeevil corrupt Negro Black African-American music that is corrupting our youth. Is the fact that White People like Eminem are performing in that style enough to de-evilize it or will we have to wait until my generation is in power for that genre to become edgy but safe enough not to corrupt the next generation, like what happened with Rock music. It's the age-old tradition: when it's a predominately a Black artform, it's an eeeevil, corrupting influence on the Youth of today. When White dudes like Elvis step in, it's still edgy and eeeevil, but when marketers start using it to prove that they are "hip" and "with it"*, in order to rope in young people, it gradually becomes interwoven into the culture. Until the marketed generation is in power and is doing the marketing. Then it's all, "Why can't the kids of today listen to nice, safe music like I did? Stuff like songs about shooting men in Reno just to watch them die or enjoying raucous sex?"

I know, I know, I talk too much. But high on my list, if I ever conquer the world is no more articles about the generation gap. They never say anything new and just serve as a source of welfare for lazy-ass journalists. Just change a few words, the name of the tech those crazy kids are using (which was developed by the previous generations) and type whatever bullshit name you're labeling them with, and you're done. Probably if we translated cave paintings, they would be ramblings that go, "Bah, those crazy kids with their bizarre insistence on walking upright and using fire. They'll never experience the joys of E.coli."

Because the chief thing all those generation gap articles ignore, is that the people writing them and whinging about the kids today, raised said kids. If those kids are really as spoiled and entitled as you claim, doesn't that reflect poorly on your generation? You were the ones who gave us trophies for everything, apparently. Though I keep wondering when I'm supposed to get all those participation trophies I'm entitled to. Apparently I was supposed to receive them for doing everything, including breathing, but all I ever got were stickers on my homework and the occasional ribbon. And when I did get those participation ribbons, I knew they were bullshit from a very young age, just as nearly every kid I've ever known. Kids aren't rock-stupid; we know which awards actually mean something and which are just "You participated."

The nonstop excitement of Kingdom Come continues in Chloe's section. Chloe thought that the phony report on Kat had blown over, but just when she thought it was safe to check the inbox, there's another one.

But that day her in-box had brought another upsetting note. Unsigned, of course. Cameron had told her she ought to institute a policy that she look first to see if suggestions or complaints were signed and summarily trash them if not. “If a person isn’t willing to stand by what he says . .  .”

This note read: Kenneth B. Williams is your culprit in the Risto personnel matter.

:Dramatic Prairie Dog:

Ugh, when a guy who willingly wrote a line like "To say the Israelis were caught off guard, is like saying the Great Wall of China is long," is being a voice of reason, you know you have problems.

Because I feel a need to point out that with the so-called phony Kat report, Chloe had no difficulty finding it plausible enough to check into. If she didn't, she would have just looked it over, rolled her eyes, and thrown it away, because chances are, if Kat really was all lazy and such, Chloe would have caught her in the act or someone at the daycare would have said something to her.

Though given the insane amount of laziness Ellanjay demonstrate with every chapter, them ragging on people for being lazy, feels really rich, like Snowflame saying that you should cut back on all the cocaine. I thought about using a real world analogy like Woody Allen criticizing someone's bad parenting, but it felt wrong. So I went with Snowflame, because more people should know about that never-ending bit of WTF. Though said comic does fail, not only as a superhero comic, but as a PSA. It clearly demonstrates that snorting ridiculous amounts of cocaine gives you superpowers.

Yeah, another reason I'm not having kids: I'd be a terrible influence on the next generation.

Given that Kenny is, you know, Chloe's son, you'd think the letter would have even less concern for her. She's probably had to stop him from committing Onan's sin over Kat and therefore, knows he wouldn't try to get her in trouble.

But that would make too much sense.

That made no sense, of course. Ludicrous. And yet Chloe carried the crumpled note around all morning. What was she supposed to do with something like that? Finally she paged Cameron. “It’s not urgent,” she said. “But when you have a moment . .  .”

Now we cut to Abdullah, who is still on his Asshole for Christ campaign.

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.

I'd like to remind you that said enemy is letting you use his facilities to promote your views that God loves you which is why He must kill and torture you horribly for all eternity. Whereas you guys keep siccing the police on them whenever they try to exercise their right to free assembly. It will never stop being about Projection when it comes to the Right, will it? Like I keep saying, maybe it's comforting for you to believe that everyone is just as awful as you are, but it sucks for everyone else.

Though from the looks of things, even though Abdullah is in "the enemy's lair," I'm not sure what exactly he is doing. He seems to just sit in an office, rearrange papers, and talk to Mudawar and Sarsour. I had joked about how he was going to stand on a street corner and rant and rave about how they are all sinful sinners who will burn in Hell. He would be an Asshole for Christ if he were to do that, but it would be less lazy than sitting in an office. Standing on a street corner and ranting and raving would require some endurance and strong vocal cords and it probably wouldn't accomplish much, but it would still be some actual effort.

It's another thing I keep saying about the Modern GOP: they have all the prejudices of their predecessors, but none of the work ethic. Strom Thurmond holds the record for longest filibuster and what he was filibustering against, was Black people being able to vote, but at the same time, he did actually filibuster, rather than pout, cross his arms, and say he was going to do it. He may have been horrible, but he was willing to put forth some effort to fight for what he believed and polish his beliefs, however turdish.

I have similar thoughts regarding Richard Nixon. Yeah, he was a moral sewer of a human being, the closest we'll ever have to having a Bond villain as president, but given the amount of effort and planning he put into his villainy...again, you're glad he was stopped, but at the same time, you have some grudging admiration for him. Though that time you considered killing a journalist who criticized you by coating his steering wheel with LSD...you didn't get the hippies, like at all, did you, Nixon?

I keep trying to think of a pop culture metaphor for the GOP of old versus the modern-day version. I can't find one that completely fits. The best I can come up with is, it's the choice of being ruled by Tywin Lannister versus being ruled by Joffrey Baratheon. They are both horrible and it would suck being ruled by either of them, yet Tywin Lannister has intelligence to his villainy, is one of the Magnificent Bastards in the Game of Thrones universe. He is cold and ruthless and has no qualms about using whatever means he has to, to destroy those who oppose him, but there is planning involved and he wouldn't just throw a massive hissy fit and commit over-the-top, meaningless brutality. He is horrible, but there is planning and design to his horribleness, not just brutality for the sake of brutality.

Whereas Joffrey Baratheon is a spoiled brat sadist who does nothing but throw over-the-top hissy fits that lead to people being horribly maimed and killed, which does not help morale at all, and only serves to make his position and life in the Seven Kingdoms even more precarious. Were it not for the fact he was surrounded by good advisors who did their best to ameliorate the problems he created, Joffrey would have been overthrown pretty fast. He is an older version of the kid who rips the wings off butterflies for the fun of it, except that most butterfly-rippers don't have the resources to do more than that. The same cannot be said about Joffrey.

Though I am being somewhat inaccurate. Abdullah is doing something. He brings Mudawar coffee just the way he likes it from his favorite vendor. As for Sarsour, he brings him his favorite hummus. In order to provide y'all with an opportunity to laugh at people who deserve it, here's how Ellanjay describes Sarsour's favorite kind of hummus.

To win over Sarsour while stringing him along daily with snippets of his own story of his raptured wife, Abdullah discovered Sarsour’s love for a particular kind of hummus, a mash of chickpeas and sesame seeds flavored with garlic and lemon. When he ducked out for Mudawar’s drink, he would also bring back that treat for Sarsour.

Uh, Ellanjay? According to the dictionary, hummus is basically mashed chickpeas and sesame seeds flavored with garlic and lemon. So what you guys are saying, makes about as much sense as saying, "Abdullah brought Sarsour his favorite kind of water, a mixture of two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen." Okay, I am exaggerating, but still.

I would commend Abdullah for taking time out from being an asshole to be considerate of the needs of others, but given that he is only doing this in order to rack up converts, rather than to just be kind, he's still an asshole.

Though given that one of the LB-verse has Token Jew taking Our Buck to a restaurant in Israel, which serves him such exotic, tradition Israeli cooking as bread and sliced apples, this is something of a step up for Ellanjay. It's not much of a step, but hey.

We cut to Chloe and Our Buck talking about the eeeevil letter in the report box. Much as I hate to admit it, Our Buck continues to make good points, basically saying, "Just throw it out." Though he promptly loses whatever points he has gained with the next paragraph.

Cameron sighed. “Before the Rapture, I would have blamed it on the wiles of the devil, devising time wasters to keep us from what’s important. It’s almost worse to know he has nothing to do with it. This is the flesh. Why don’t you ask Kenny if he knows of any enemies who might have some motive for getting him into trouble?”

...

Egads...I'm not even sure where to begin with all this.

Though yeah, you guys did spend a lot of time doing what was important during the Tribulation. I mean, someone had to escort Nicky around the world so he could commit horrific atrocities and serve as his personal propagandist. But to be fair, occasionally the Tribbles thought disdainful thoughts in Nicky's general direction, which totally counts as bravely standing up to tyranny.

Ah, Nicky, you probably could have defeated the RTCs if you just stuck Scratch-and-Stuff stickers at the bottom of swimming pools, or wrote "Want to keep an idiot busy all day? See other side for details" on both sides of dollar bill. Given that an anonymous report is Serious Business! can any of you deny the inherent truth of my previous statement?

Kenny and Kat are walking around :gasp: holding hands and we get this nice bit from Kenny.

That seemed to satisfy Kat, and they spent the dinner hour with her parents, talking openly about their future. Nothing was official yet, of course, but their conversations had progressed even to the logistics of where they would live. Kenny wanted to make his actual proposal something dramatic and special.

"She is of the opposite gender and tolerates my presence. Clearly that is a sign of undying love!"

Kenny-boy goes to meet up with Creepy Raymie who is holding a meeting. But Zaki, the guy who recruited Qasim (aka the Worst Person in the World**), hasn't been sipping the right brand of Kool-Aid.

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.”

Zaki shook his head. “I felt ganged up on, and I know Qasim did. I want to go on record that you overreacted and that you had no right to ban him from our meetings.”

Yeah, I'm sure you really had to be emotionally cruel and kick Qasim out of your Sooper Sekrit Clubb for being somewhat hot-headed, because...:cue tumbleweed gif: I'm sure you really felt great anguish over that decision.

But Bahira has some words for her wayward brother.

“He didn’t belong here!” Bahira said. “He was never a member, and Raymie made it clear he was not to even pretend to represent us, but still he did just that! He called himself our TOL infiltration expert!”

"He committed the greatest crime of all: showing support and trying to help us! History must never forget Qasim's atrocities!"

Though I do feel a need to point out that Qasim was the one who brought you the TOL's manifesto. Granted, said manifesto was dripping with Strawman Has a Point, but he still actually brought you useful information. What has Bahira and Creepy Raymie done in the great battle against the TOL's tyranny? :cue tumbleweed gif again: It's probably a case of Qasim thinks he's a Main Character and is doing Main Character stuff, despite not being a Main Character. This is something the Millies can't let go unpunished! Kenny-boy and Creepy Raymie can act like Main Characters by virtue of having St. Rayford and Our Buck's blood in their veins, but Qasim isn't related to either!

Though in fairness, Creepy Raymie only has St. Rayford's blood and is only related to Our Buck by his sister's marriage to him. Since Kenny has both Rayford and Buck's blood in him, does that give Kenny-boy a higher ranking in the LB-verse hierarchy or what?

They talk for a bit and there's this moment, which confused the hell out of me.

“Guess that means a green light from us,” Raymie said. “Be careful and keep us posted.”

“Of course,” Bruce said. “Kenny, I would be honored. And I agree it’s a nice touch, tying your wedding to that of your parents. But you must get Ekaterina on board. She may have another idea. It has to be her call. I won’t be offended either way.”

While they were connected by their implanted cellular phones, Kenny filled Bruce in on the situation with the Other Light in Paris.

This through me because I thought Kenny was at a meeting with Creepy Raymie, Bahira, and Zaki all hanging around. So when they mentioned Bruce, I was like, "WTF?! When did he show up?" Did he just beam in there like something on Star Trek? Has he been quiet the entire time, not even making breathing noises?

Then I realized that Kenny-boy is communicating with Bruce over the skull phone and I'm like, "Okay so did Kenny put Bruce on speakerphone somehow?" Because the dialogue seems to imply that Kenny had been talking with Bruce, but nothing before gives any indication, no part where Kenny is like, "Hey I'm going to have to put you on hold here?" or he says, "Hey I'm talking with Bruce. Maybe he can help us," before going to speakerphone. This kind of error is so bad, I can't even find the words for it. If I try, my keyboard will probably go on strike and all I'll be able to do, is type nonsense like apsodinf;aosijfab.

Though the MK having skull phones...given that spiritplumber said that Jenkins considers the LB-verse to be a sequel to the Shitstain Trilogy...well, I'd wonder if there's a deeper meaning behind the skull phones, but that may be giving Ellanjay too much credit.

Though it probably is some kind of telepathic uplink ala the Borg. Bruce, as a servant of TurboJesus, is allowed to be a part of said link, the better to disseminate orders, lest the drones forget their place. And Bruce is in turn monitored by others who all answer to TurboJesus. The only ones who aren't linked, are St. Rayford and Our Buck, because they outrank everyone in the LB-verse, including Zod and TurboJesus. As such, the arc of the universe bends to their will and they have no need of the telepathic uplink.

The section ends with Chloe talking to Kenny-boy. Even Kenny-boy is like, "Seriously?!" in response to all this. They talk for a bit about Who Could Have Done Such a Horrible Thing? but Kenny is like, "Just forget about it." In my head, Kenny leaves and he and Our Buck start making plans to have her put in a home, because Dementia has clearly set in. Before anyone says, "But Mouse, this is supposed to be Heaven!" given that it's already been shown that Heaven has all the annoyances of Earth, is it too much of a stretch to believe that Dementia is still a thing?

And that's it. Have fun and stay out of trouble.

*Yes, you may say them like Doctor Evil would, complete with the finger quotes. In fact, you would be remiss in your duties if you didn't.

**You have to admit that this video with Keith Olbermann laying into Glenn Beck, feels kind of quaint given that we're now in the Trump-era. Trump could unhinge his jaw and devour a live newborn baby in front of its terrified mother, and he would still have supporters. They would be like, "Hey, babies are a well-known source of protein, which he will need if he plans to solve all our problems forever." Though if the baby devoured, is a PoC, good luck getting them to express any opinion on it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

X Gon' Give It To Ya

Hey everybody!

If you're wondering about the post title, I couldn't think of anything, so I decided to go with an earworm. You're welcome.

I don't know if you guys were hoping and praying for it, but there will probably be no creepy sex stuff. I suppose I could try to read something into "The Lord's anger was aroused," but I don't think I will.

No, this week, we're getting Copy-and-Paste from Caleb and Joshua. Were it not for the fact that I'm lazy, I'd do an experiment, see how high the word count is for this book if you cut out all the copy-and-paste stuff from the Bible and the mothereffin' front matter. Would this book even be long enough to qualify as a novella after that? But you better believe I will turn my inner Smart-Aleck Sunday School Kid loose. It pays to know the weird parts of the Bible.

Anyway, Cam-Cam decides to get the kids ready by having them recite the Bible verse they had learned:

Cameron cued the kids, and from thousands of young voices came: “ ’ The Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, “Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.”’  ”

Those verses are from Numbers 32:10-12 for those of you wondering. And I'm like, "Seriously you chose that verse for them to recite?" Because how many kids would be able to easily pronounce words like Jephunneh and Kenizzite, without tripping over them. It also is a rather large, unwieldy verse you're asking them to learn. It would have made more sense to go with the tail end of Joshua 24:15 and have the kids say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Shorter and easier to learn and it has fewer confusing words for them to stumble over.

Don't tell me that Ellanjay hasn't heard of this verse; it's one of the most popular ones that gets plastered on numerous Christian knick-knacks. That and Ellanjay have proven again and again that they would much rather deal in sweeping clich├ęs regarding the Bible, rather than any of the stuff that makes you think, so that verse would be right done their alley.

I could also point out that we have a hard time getting three or four adults to sing Happy Birthday in key (and at a reasonable tempo, rather than a dirge-like one), so yeah, all the thousands of kids reciting it all in perfect unison? That sound you hear is me pointing and laughing. Ellanjay haven't been around kids like at all.

I suppose I could, if I wanted to be super anal-retentive, draw up some specks to map out how big a room would have to be to seat thousands of kids and however many adults who came to this thing, but it is Heaven, where there are no limitations on materials, labor, and time, so I'll let Ellanjay off the hook here. I feel dirty about it, but I must be fair.

Though the idea with that many kids and so few supervisors, the daycare hasn't morphed into a cross between Thunderdome and Springfield Elementary as run by Ned Flanders...I can only suspend my disbelief for so long, people.

Joshua and Caleb start talking and Smart Aleck Sunday School Kid (henceforth referred to as SASS because) would be like, "Okay, you're just reciting copy-and-paste from the Bible as opposed to anything that would provide actually personal insight into the events. Can't we just stay home and read our Bibles, rather than be elbow-to-elbow with a bunch of freaks?"

“Well, yes, amen and amen!” Joshua said, again miraculously able to be heard by all. “Thank you, children! Caleb and I thank you. You are right that the Lord’s anger was aroused. He made Israel wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in His sight was gone. You know, many people believe the wilderness journey simply took that long, but from the Scriptures you know that the forty years were a punishment for their lack of faith. If you trace our journey on a map, you’ll see that we simply wandered around, getting nowhere.

"But if the Israelites literally wandered around the Sinai Desert for forty years, wouldn't there be tons of archaeological proof of their presence? Yeah, time wears away and decays a lot of stuff, but this is the desert. The dry, arid nature of such a place, tends to preserve things very well," said SASS.

Of course, I'm one of those weirdoes who believes that when they give a number like forty years in the Bible, they're using a form of shorthand to say, "A really long time." Given that the Gregorian calendar wasn't a thing like at all, how exactly would the Israelites keep track of the days? I'm picturing a Monty Python-esque scenario: "Forty Years or 14,600 days, is the time we shall wander around the desert, not 14,601 days or 14,599 days. 14,602 days would be way out. No, the number of days we shall wander is 14,600."

And yes, I freely admit I forgot to calculate leap years. Dammit! Cut me some slack! Math is one of those things I generally run like hell away from. I think I might actually fear math more than bears. Bears will just eat you and there's some consolation in that they may survive a winter because of you. Math, on the other hand, reduces your sanity to a pile of mush, leaves you forever going, "The horror, the horror," at the sight of Xs and Ys. Sine and Cosine are like tactical nukes to the psyche.

Caleb stepped forward. His voice was reedier than Joshua’s but just as loud and understandable. “Joshua and I were born in Egypt, while our parents and all the children of Israel were slaves. Even the adults, our parents and aunts and uncles, were called children, because they were the children of God, His chosen people. Joshua and I experienced everything the rest of our tribes went through in the wilderness after escaping. Joshua proved to be a mighty man of valor, serving as a commander in the great war against the Amalekites. He also ministered to our leader, Moses, when he went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from the Lord.

To get the penny-ante stuff out of the way before I turn SASS loose, what exactly is a reedy voice and what would it sound like? I hear reedy and I think reed, which leads me to woodwinds, but I think most people would be a little freaked out if someone sounded like a clarinet when they talked. Have nothing against clarinets as an instrument, but wouldn't you be a little freaked out if someone opened their mouth and out came the clarinet part from Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue?

It's like all those commercials for toilet paper and menstrual products that demonstrate how good they are, by absorbing blue fluid, even though if something blue was coming out of someone's sin zone, the last thing we'd worry about is how absorbent their pad is. Before anyone chimes in and says that they couldn't get away with using the actual color, I am well aware of this; I was just poking fun at advertising shorthand.

Anyway, now to turn SASS loose. "When is this enslavement supposed to have taken place? And before you start talking about how you guys built the pyramids, archeological evidence has shown that the workers involved with the construction of the pyramids, were skilled craftsmen who were compensated and paid very well for their labors. And you guys only became slaves because Joseph, the one of technicolor dream coat fame, conspired with Pharaoh to enslave every last one of you for filthy, filthy lucre."

Joshua or Caleb (I'm too lazy to keep track of which) talk about how Moses sent them to scope out the Holy Land. They came back and told everybody about how it was flowing with milk and honey, though I'll assume not literally like it is in the MK. But everybody is all "I want to go back to Egypt, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb do some clothes-tearing, and God is like, "I will smite the living hell out of you guys," and only backs down when, Moses is like, “ ’ Now if You kill these people, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, “Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.” ’

And God changes his mind, though it really isn't a testament of his loving nature in that He decides not to smite people for being whiny, because Moses said, "If you do, who will worship you." At least the Ninevites were up to some actual evil in the Book of Jonah.

The next paragraph talks about how it proves that God can change His mind. Of course, the obvious question--"If God can change his mind, couldn't He very easily be like, 'Nah, they've had enough and put a stop to all these Tribulation plagues and whatnot?"--goes unasked. It's kind of how the Right is, how they manage to believe two contradictory things at once. So Immigrants somehow manage to be both a bunch of lazy, shiftless moochers who are simultaneously stealing jobs from hard-working Americans.*

And then they start quoting verse by verse the whole thing about how the fought the battle of Jericho and DAMMIT! I CAN'T DO IT!

All the copy-and-paste has snapped my mind like a twig. Damn you, YouTube! I scoured and scoured, but you don't have the clip I was looking for, where Sideshow Bob is watching That '30s Show and is like," Tom Shails gave this show a good review. And I'm the one in prison!" Because that's really what comes close to what I'm feeling right now. All this time and money spent publishing and marketing this book, while damn good authors struggle to get their foot in the door...It fills me with rage which some might say is of the Brooklyn variety.

And yes, I am including myself in the "Damn Good Authors" category, both because I'm egotistical and because no matter how bad anyone is as a writer, they're still better that Ellanjay. The only exception to this rule is the guy who wrote "Chibi-Usa's Seventh Birthday Party," which I won't link to because I don't want to find myself on a government list AND because when not even going all MST3K softens the blow of a bad fanfic, you know it's bad.

:pauses to drink brain bleach:

I did enjoy some minor amusement as they talk about how Rahab the harlot helped them out. I picture a kid, not necessarily SASS, raising their hand and being like, "What's a harlot?" Because they keep using that word like everyone knows what it means, but given what children are like...I'm assuming I don't need to go any further.

Then again, I am talking about actual children, not the creepy Village of the Damned type that makes up this novel. No wait, Village of the Damned would be kind of cool because then there might be hope that they would use their scary mind-powers to make head asplode. So I'm going to do a variation on the fanon I created for Nicolae: Rise of the Anti-Christ** where I posited that the congregation listening to Rayford's never-ending eulogy for Bruce, were actually cardboard cut-outs and the sobbing noises were supplied via tape recorders hidden in the pews. And all this was done, because Loretta and the actual congregation were out getting stuff done, but they needed to keep the Tribbles busy, because they would only slow them down. Given the Tribbles' general obliviousness, can you deny that it wouldn't work, that Rayford and co. would never at any point notice how suspiciously flat and cardboard-like the congregation is?

Anyway, where I'm going with this, is I've talked many times about how poorly run this daycare is and how if these were actually kids, conditions would have degenerated to a level that would make Lord of the Flies*** look like a Disney movie in comparison, but now I wonder if any of these kids actually exist? Maybe they are all cardboard cut-outs or elaborate mannequins, created to keep by the TOL so the Tribbles will leave them alone? Or it could be possible that the RTCs have had a mass psychotic break and are hallucinating all these kids. Maybe it's something wrong in the wine that flows in rivers in the MK. The reason the TOL isn't having problems is because of Lothair's distillation removes whatever causes the psychotic symptoms, thus enabling them to enjoy the wine without any freakouts. And all the while, the TOL is trying desperately to help the RTCs, but they're so ensnared by delusions that they don't have much luck.

Though the next section does have Kenny-boy leading a kid through The Prayer, so maybe that head canon is jossed. Nah, I'll just assume there are a few actual kids thrown in the keep the Tribbles from figuring everything out.

We cut to Abdullah who is still working on his Asshole for Christ campaign. He sings a hymn to himself and strikes up a conversation with Sarsour. Sarsour is all "Yeah, my parents raised me to believe all this stuff, but as soon as he started reading other stuff and talking to other people, he walked away from it." Oh I am fighting the urge to post so many links about the secretive nature of the RTC subculture and how it leads to horrific abuse. To be fair, though, a secretive "We mustn't let the outsiders know!" attitude would lead to abuses within any subculture, but with religious ones, it's arguably worse because the abusers bring in God to provide air support.

Abdullah is all "But what about all the prophecies you've witnessed?" And again, we're getting so much "Strawman has a point."

Sarsour shrugged. “It’s like He’s head of the occupying army. We’re the resistance, that’s all. The rebels.”

“And you don’t feel destined to lose in the end?”

“We’re outnumbered. We’re the outcasts, the rejects, the dregs. But we won’t give up hope until it’s all over. And then we’ll see who wins.”

Like I keep saying, nearly every form of entertainment knows the guy or gal who stands up to an almighty, all-powerful force and saying, "No!" even if they don't stand a chance in hell of winning, is the hero. The Avengers knew this. Bulk and Skull on Power Rangers knew this. The Comedic Relief character from SPD knew it. The people involved with the DCAU knew it.

I could probably go on posting links until the end of time, because most generally believe that standing up and choosing your own way to burn, makes you damn heroic. If I showed all those clips to just about anyone, regardless of whether they're a fan of the franchise or not, they would probably consider the ordinary folk standing up and saying, "NO!" to be the good guys, rather than side with the godlike alien zapping people with his omega beam.

And I suppose I could have posted examples from franchises that don't have heroes in spandex battling to save the world, but I'm kind of obsessed with those and it's my blog, so there!

Ellanjay are basically Goliath wondering why no one will take their side in the battle against that David-asshole. And for the record, when I talk about David and Goliath, I'm not referring to the ones from this awesome animated series. It was probably obvious, but hey, I look for any excuse to indulge in rampant fangirlism.

The Strawman Has A Point is even more obvious further on in the conversation. Abdullah points out that all Sarsour's friends keep dying at the age of a hundred.

“And that doesn’t tell you anything?”

“It just proves God isn’t who He says He is.”

“How do you figure?”

“He’s mean and unloving and unforgiving, violent and judgmental. Disagree and you get killed.”

Like I said, Strawman has a point. Because that's exactly what God's doing: killing anyone who disagrees with him.

I suppose it is too much to hope for one of the characters to give anything close to either of these speeches from the sadly short-lived show, Jeremiah:

What did any of us ever do to you? What did the whole fucking world do to you that we deserve all of this? I mean, come on, the locusts and the death of the first-born wasn't good enough for you anymore so now it's the death of the eldest? The death of heroes? You know what? Fuck you. Because we're not just gonna lay down and die down here. You want to finish off the job? Come down here! Do it yourself. You send the Angel of Death, you better give him one hell of a big sword, because I tell you what, we are gonna kick his ass all the way back to the great white fucking throne. And then we're coming for you. We're coming for you.

Interrogator: Would you like something to drink?
Markus: Yeah.
Interrogator: In return, will you give us the names of the other individuals involved in your attempt to overthrow the United States government?
Markus: There is no United States government. There hasn't been one in fifteen years.
Interrogator: This place is the government. The lawfully established seat of power...
Markus: This place is a bad memory. This place is a testament to everything that was wrong with the old world. A triumph of brute force over basic humanity.
Interrogator: Does it make it easier for you to think of us in that way?
Markus: Easier? No. More honest? F**k, yeah.

Ellanjay would probably object the most to the foul language in those quotes, rather than the actual content/context of said quotes. Again, God can slay people by the billions, but heaven forbid, anyone says "Oh shit," or drops the F-bomb.

Abdullah is like "He's not willing that anyone should perish." And my kneejerk response is "Which is why He's killing all of you so He can torture you for all eternity!"

And Abdullah starts blabbing out his story, despite Sarsour being like, "I'm not interested," because RTCs refuse to believe in respecting the boundaries and needs of others. Abdullah talks about how he was raised in another faith entirely and I'm kind of amazed the links they go to, to avoid actually saying Islam.

Here's how Abdullah describes his old faith:

“Yes. I was what some would call a star. I taught. And I was given the best assignments. I considered myself religious because I followed all the tenets of my faith. Keeping away from impure things. Trying to do right. Praying at prescribed times every day."

First of all, the stuff Abdullah mentioned is pretty much generic to any faith. Most religions can be summed up as "Don't do bad things, don't be an asshole, and give thanks to deity of choice."

Secondly, well, I'm kind of raising an eyebrow about how Ellanjay go to such links to avoid saying, "Abdullah was a Muslim" or anything close. Given the rampant Islamophobia on the Right, I find it hard to believe that they are bending over backwards to avoid offending Muslims. :goes to Wikipedia to look up book's publishing date: This was published in 2007, so they can't claim that they didn't know Islamophobia was around. They may have failed to foresee the rise of cell phones and Internet porn, but Islamophobia was very much a thing going on around them.

Since I have only a surface knowledge of the Islamic faith, I will bow out and not try to explain Muslim theology, because I'd know I'd majorly screw up. In lieu of that, I'll provide a list of facts.

Fact: The Islamic faith consists of 1.6 billion followers or 23% of the world population of 7 billion. The country with the largest Muslim population isn't any of those scary places in the Middle East; it's Indonesia. Yet the problems facing Indonesia are pretty much the stuff facing any first-world nation: growing population, lack of resources. Again, if the problem was Islam, wouldn't Indonesia make Syria look like Switzerland in comparison?

And even if they weren't such a large demographic, it's still wrong to kill them for being Muslim. I just thought I ought to give some numbers to all those idiots who pant with desire for a genocide.

That's it for this week. Maybe next week there will be some actual story content. :peeks ahead: Nope, more fake report box action and Abdullah being filled with Christ's love. But then again, y'all probably weren't expecting anything different.

*The argument I often hear in favor of immigration is "They do the jobs that Americans won't do," which is technically true, but it's more accurate when it's rendered as "They do the jobs that Americans used to do, until Big Business was like, 'Y'know I could hire an American worker, pay them wages and benefits and follow pesky labor laws, or I can prey on the poverty and desperation of foreigners who will be too scared to go to the authorities about anything I do.'" Don't get me wrong: I am totally in favor of overhauling immigration law, am opposed to Trump's wall, and thoroughly support punching Nazis in the face. But I strive for accuracy in discourse. John Oliver's summation of Trump's Wall can easily apply to Trump himself: big, dumb idea that gets more expensive with time.

And yes, when I talk about punching Nazis, I am referring to both Captain America's debut issue
and the Richard Spencer incident. Fascists are so obsessed with presenting an image of hypermasculinity; we should all do our part to point out what bullshit said pose is. Sometimes the best way to do that, is to turn them into jokes.

**I understand why Fred's snark of this is in hiatus, but it still won't stop me from longing for more installments. Though if he's reading this, take care.

***I admit Lord of the Flies was one of the Required Reading books I didn't completely hate, but I feel like digging up William Golding and shouting, "The idea that kids are every bit as capable of evil as adults, is only shocking to bullies and toadies!" That and he does love to belabor the point, make sure we get that the scar on the island, represents man introducing evil into an edenic paradise.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Blessed Are the Powerful, For They Deserve Everything, Including the Tears of Losers.

Hey Everybody!

Well you'll be happy to know that there really isn't much by the way of Creepy Sex Stuff. Don't know if any of y'all were getting tired of it, but I was just a little bit. Seriously, is the problem that I'm a drooling pervert or that Ellanjay are closet ones?

Instead of Creepy Sex Stuff, we've mostly got oodles and oodles of Strawman Has A Point. Thought I'd post that link at the beginning and get it over with, even despite all the hazards associated with linking to TV Tropes. There is a reason they have a page called "TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life."

Though despite avoiding the Creepy Sex Stuff, I did find myself typing up a lot of rants about power and abuse, so I thought I'd give a heads up.

The bulk of the chapter is told from Abdullah's perspective as he, harasses some guys on private property for believing different things from him, I mean, bravely witnesses to some godless heathens.

A nameless woman tells him where to go, tells him that the two guys who run the place are named Mudawar and Sarsour. As you can probably guessed they are scary brown Mooslems111!!!!1

I took the liberty of running those two names through Google, just to see what came up. Surprise, surprise, they are actual names if by actual names, you mean surnames, bolding put in for emphasis. I know by now I shouldn't be shocked by Ellanjay's cultural insensitivity or their tin ear when it comes to naming characters, but I still can't stop shaking my head and going, "Really, guys?!" Though most of the matches for Sarsour were in reference to a Palestinian-American activist named Linda Sarsour. As you guessed, Linda Sarsour is both :gasp: a woman and a Muslim, making her super-scary to Ellanjay. Linda Sarsour is currently filing a sweeping lawsuit against Donald Trump called Sarsour v. Trump challenging his Muslim ban, but given that when we meet Mudawar and Sarsour, they are both dudes, natch, Ellanjay probably weren't doing a Take That against her.

Abdullah bangs on the door until Sarsour opens it and lordy, brace yourselves for all the cringing you will have to do, as Abdullah valiantly does battle with a pair of Strawman.

How to Win Debates According to Ellanjay and just about Everybody Else on the Right: Hector, bully, and do whatever you can to make sure your opponent isn't allowed to get in a word, edgewise. That proves the strength of your arguments in that you don't need to face potential criticism to know that you are right. Only wusses need their beliefs to stand up under scrutiny.

Oh and several times the text makes a point of talking about how short Mudawar and Sarsour are, which is a reoccurring meme in both LaHaye and Jenkins's works. Hero always has to be the manliest man around and therefore, has to be at least six feet tall, always taller than any of the men in the story. In terms of character height in their works, I think Rayford Steele is in the lead, being the tallest of all of LaHaye and Jenkins's protagonists, but I'm too lazy to dig around wikis and whatnot to confirm it. Maybe if I was laid up with massive spinal trauma I would, but that sounds like something that would increase my trauma, not alleviate it.

Now that I've said all this, let the debate, such as it is, ensue.

“What, you’re really here for theological classes? None are scheduled currently.”

“Another lie, this time of omission. You never teach theology, do you?”

“In a manner of speaking, sometimes we do, actually.”

“Antitheology would be more accurate.”

All this stuff about "Another lie by omission," is probably build-up to a Ray Comfort-style witnessing attempt. Let me just say for those of you who don't feel you did enough rage-cringing while watching the link, just look for "way of the master witnessing clips" on YouTube and try to remember that for some reason, if you punch out either Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron, the law will call that such unpleasant names as Assault or Battery, even though they were the ones being assholes on planes or getting in your face when you're trying to, y'know, enjoy yourself in a public place.

Though I don't know. Buzz Aldrin managed to punch Bart Siebrel and get away with it. Though if it had gone to court, all Aldrin's lawyer would have to do is say, "How many of you are thinking about punching him right now?" The crowd would be deafened by all the applause. But maybe this is a stunt you can only get away with if you're an elderly astronaut who actually walked on the friggin' moon. Though that clip is pretty satisfying to watch.

In Comfort and Cameron's case, maybe I can use my natural girliness to get away with it. Spray them with pepper spray and say in a tearful voice, "He wouldn't leave me alone, officers." Than and again, if it went to trial, have my attorney be like, "How many of you would do the same?" Because even their own mothers would raise their hands in agreement.

Oh all right, I'll get back to the book and stop talking about assaulting smug assholes.

Though yeah, Abdullah is already calling it "antitheology" even though he hasn't heard a word of their arguments and doesn't know what they actually believe. He probably aced "Debate According to the Rightwing." You ever find yourself in a situation like that, well, best thing to do is to shut them out of the conversation entirely, because they clearly aren't interested in open and honest discourse.

I keep wishing the Democratic Party, whenever the GOP brought up one of their asinine ideas, would just be like, "Shut up, the grownups are trying to a have discussion on a serious answer," and shut them out of the conversation entirely. Yeah, it's childish, but if they're going to act like overgrown toddlers, best thing to do, is treat them as such. Because often the trouble is if you do debate them, not only will they cheat (see Bill O'Reilly cutting off mikes), but merely debating them lends said asinine beliefs a note of credence, as though what the other guy is saying, makes actual sense.

But okay, maybe you're trapped and you can't get out for some reason. In that case, whatever you do, if they label you, don't play defense. Don't try to explain how you're totally not a godless heathen or an America-hater; ignore them and push on through. I suppose I shouldn't use combat rules to refer to debating, but given how much they've poisoned the discourse, it may be the best option. In any case, the rule I'm thinking of is, "Take the fight to them. Don't fight them; make them fight you."

It's one of the many things that irritates me about the Democratic Party, how they keep following the whole "Moderate and the other side will like you" scheme, no matter how many times the GOP has made it clear that they won't play fair and they will never like them, no matter what they do. In fact, the "Moderate and they will like you strategy" probably makes them hate them even more, because even bullies, deep down, despise toadies. So accept that they will hate you and be the goddanged opposition, you spineless mothereffers!

But Mudawar is onscreen. I pray that my readers are strong enough to handle the horrors to follow.

Mudawar appeared, also living up to his billing. He was fairer skinned that Sarsour, the same (limited) height, but heavy and oily. Abdullah had the urge to pull out a handkerchief and wipe the man’s face.

“This is getting old and boring,” Mudawar said. “We have been dragged before the judges before, even threatened to be deported to Israel for an audience with one of the apostles. We pled for the freedom to exercise our own free will and pledged to lie low. Have we not been lying low enough, or have your superiors not kept you up to date on our file?”

Oh course, Ellanjay would make sure to stress that, "Oh by the way, they're short, which means they're effeminate, weak, and therefore, evil." I'll envision a league of fictional Dwarfs, Tyrion and Gimli and the twelves guys from The Hobbit all coming together to curbstomp Ellanjay. Another rule of combat: it's not what you've got; it's how you use what you have. That and all the tall, manly characters might want to remember that while they are taller, the dwarf is eye-level with their...OW! Okay I'll stop.

Sorry if I offended any of my readers with the usage of the word, dwarf. In my defense, there will probably never be a proper terminology agreed upon by every part of a group. I have no problem with being referred to as Autistic, but some would rather be referred to as "person with Autism." Even if I don't agree, I will respect their wishes and try to do my best to obey them. Because it's called accepting that people have different experiences or views from you or in short, NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE!

In addition to being short, fat, and brown, all of which are proof of their inherent eeeevil, Mudawar also :gasp: suffers from oily skin. Yeah, Ellanjay are totally from the Conservapedia School of Debate: in order to win, all you need to do is say, "Oh yeah! Well, you're fat!" then do your well-deserved victory dance. Because fat or ugly or fat and ugly people never have anything wise or insightful to say.

Though you don't really have to dig too deep to find all the massive "Strawman Has A Point" in Mudawar's dialogue. Like I keep saying and probably will to the end of the book, all the TOL is doing, is living their lives in a manner they see fit and practicing their beliefs. They are not trying to infiltrate the Millies nor do they call the police to arrest them for exercising their right to assembly. In fact, they generally leave the Millies alone and to the extent they express any hostility, it's because the Millies keep butting in and refusing to let them do the same. The TOL is like, "Yeah, you guys can sit around, sing hymns, and listen to Biblical Figures doing copy and paste. We're going to enjoy Heaven," but the Millies feel, like all fundamentalists or fanatics, that they can't properly be holy as long as all those other sinners are out there, flashing their ankles and listening to music with an actual beat. Hence why they bully and persecute the TOL.

Though all this stuff about dragging them before an Apostle, here's to hoping that said apostle, is Thomas, of Doubting fame. Because if you read his part in the Gospel of John (the only gospel that has that story), even though Jesus praises those who believe without having seen, he is still respectful towards Thomas, willing to show his wounds to him, so he may feel it, rather than do a frothing rant about how Thomas is eeeevil and will burn in hell for all eternity. In other words, Jesus would have failed Conservative Debate Class.

And well the debate is, like all those clips from The Way of the Master, just endless smugging from Abdullah. Like in the rest of the LB-verse, Abdullah isn't the least-bit interested in actually converting anyone; if he was, he would probably pay attention to what they other guy is saying and if he isn't reaching them, reevaluate his approach. That's what people do when they are honestly interested in talking about something they care about, rather than just doing the RTC Equivalent of the Spanish Requirement of 1513. Even the Apostle Paul, for all his faults, was willing to honestly and openly address his opponents' arguments. As both a Jew and a Roman citizen, Paul knew his opponents' arguments and where they were coming from, so he had no problem listening to them, then explaining his position, so that both sides learn a little more about each other and can come to a new understanding.

Or think of it as being TOS Captain Kirk vs. nu!Trek Captain Kirk. I don't know if Stardust still hangs around this blog or what, but his/her words about the Old version vs. the New, are quite interesting and kind of go along with my general theme of "Good Debaters aren't afraid to hear the other guy's side and address it," theme.

Old Kirk actually had charisma. He was also campy, in the kind of way the old Batman was; you forgive a lot for that. Sensible leadership? Excuse me, I need to throw a Bat-paradox* at this AI to make it explode!

But old Kirk actually, although I could be misremembering, listened to McCoy and Spock and genuinely liked him /even when they disagreed/ without needing an excuse of 'his planet was destroyed' to feel sorry for him first. He debated him with the goal of changing his mind and coming to a better understanding, not proving himself right and beating old pointy ears! Old Kirk was an idealist. New Kirk... is much more dark and gritty (in an immature 'haha boobies' way; the old 'I have to seduce this woman for information or she'll destroy my ship!' type plot was much more mature even if it was hammy) and therefore really loses everything that made old campy Kirk shine.

*OK, no bat-paradoxes in Star Trek. It wasn't quite that campy.

I will say the latest nu!Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond, was actually kind of decent, in that they let the other characters be competent and do stuff, rather than have it all be about Captain Kirk and how he is the greatest man since Jesus.

“I am a chaplain. I minister the Word of God to people’s hearts. I teach. I counsel. I pray. I advise.”

“And you are offering your services to our Theological Training Institute?”

“No, sir. I am offering them to this cell chapter of the Other Light.”

“Aah. I see. So there is no pretense here. You aren’t pretending to not know who we are, and neither are you trying to represent yourself as someone other than who you are.”

Given that Abdullah is planning on ranting on a street corner whether he gets their permission or not, it seems weird that he would bother to ask for their permission or converse with them at all. Probably a combination of "Ellanjay need to pad out the word count" and The Requirement thing I mentioned earlier.

Though their attempts at making this sound all cloak-and-dagger espionage-level stuff...My personal headcanon is that Mudawar is using this lingo in order to make Abdullah feel all manly and important to buy time, while his buddy, Sarsour contacts the TOL's version of the police. Given that the TOL have been repeatedly harassed by the police acting on behalf of the Millies, my headcanon says that eventually, in order to protect themselves, the TOL form their own version of the police to provide protection, so their citizens don't have to be harassed for believing something different from the Status Quo.

Or in other words, the TOL has their equivalent of The Black Panthers. For the record, despite stereotypes people have about the Black Panthers, their beliefs were actually more nuanced than just, "Black is good; kill whitey!" In fact, the Ten-Point Program which was written by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and would serve as the Panthers' charter, while it's not as loaded with religion as Martin Luther King, Jr. (who, again, said more than just that one quote), it sounds suspiciously similar to what MLK was fighting for: an end to being killed or treated like crap just because they have a higher melanin count than some other people.

In addition to all the pictures of them packing heat, which they were allowed to do under Open-Carry Laws (not just for insecure White People) the Black Panthers also set up school lunch programs and other forms of outreach to the community. In fact, a large reason as to why they became more radicalized, is probably due in part to the harassment they received at the hands of law enforcement and the FBI via COINTELPRO. Constantly shove someone against a wall, refuse to let up at any moment, and they will lash out, because they feel they don't have any better options. Heck, the person shoving them against the wall, is refusing to allow for any other options.

Anyway, while Mudawar is distracting Abdullah, Sarsour is talking to the TOL Panthers, being like, "We've asked him several times to leave, but he won't. We've been polite long enough. Feel free to bring in the tear gas."

Because that is basically what is happening in this "debate." Mudawar is trying repeatedly to use soft refusals, to say as nicely as possible to Abdullah, "We are not interested." But Abdullah repeatedly steamrolls over these refusals, ignoring their objections no matter what they do, forcing Mudawar to have to become more and more rude in an attempt to get Abdullah to leave them alone. Despite all this, Mudawar and Sarsour are the real rude ones, what with their refusing to let Abdullah do whatever he wants on their property, even though it is private property and legally belongs to them, thus giving them the right to dictate who is allowed to use it.

For those of you wondering, yes, you will see numerous copy-and-pasted quotes proving my point.

Mudawar seemed to study him, squinting. He shook his head. “No, he couldn’t. Now tell me, uh . .  . I didn’t catch your name.”

“Abdullah Ababneh.”

“Tell me, Khouri Ababneh, what value would your services be to us?”

“That would be up to you, and you may refer to me as Mr. Ababneh or even by my given name.”

“Oh! What an honor! I respectfully decline your offer, thank you for dropping in on us, and wish you a good day.”

Like I keep saying, it continues like this for the entire "debate." Mudawar keeps going "Sorry, we're not interested," and Abdullah continues to steam-roll over them, while talking about how they're horrible people, deserving of nothing but wrath.

For the record, I did run the word "Khouri" through Google to find out its meaning, because the text seems to imply that they are insulting Abdullah by calling him that. According to Wikipedia, Khouri is an Arabic surname unique mostly to Christians in the Middle East. It is most popular in Lebanon, but it is also commonly used in Christian communities in Syria, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. And yes, the bolding was done for emphasis.

A Repeated Fun Fact: You can be Middle Eastern or Arab without being of the Islamic faith, and you can be a Muslim, without being of a Middle Eastern or Arabic racial background. Like I keep telling people, Muslim is a religious term, but Arab is a racial term, which are two different things.

“You will not be providing me office space, then?”

“I beg your pardon.”

“I see that you are crowded, but I also understand that you do not hold religious classes here. Perhaps you could clear a little more clutter and find me a space to— how do we say it?— set up shop.”

“This has been an amusing interruption, sir, but playtime is over. You may leave now.”

“Oh, but I am not leaving. If I am not provided an office here, I shall be forced to bring a portable table from home and establish myself before your door. Do not, however, expect me to double as your receptionist and inform the curious of your comings and goings.”

NO HE WON'T, YOU WORTHLESS DIPSHIT! THIS IS HIS PROPERTY AND HE HAS EVERY RIGHT TO SAY NO ABOUT IT!

:deep breath:

In my head canon, the TOL Panthers proceed to show up and kick Abdullah out on his lazy, disrespectful ass, but unfortunately, I'm not writing these books.

[slight tangent] Though my bit earlier where I mentioned that Sarsour was like, "Bring in the Tear Gas," now I'm thinking of some other hobby horse I like to talk about. Often in the past, we've seen Rightwing Protestors get treated with kid gloves, with everyone fretting about giving them so much as a bruise, while Leftists Ones, like, say, the Ferguson protestors, face tear gas and cops in military gear.

At first, I thought the factor was racism. Because for some reason, law enforcement believes that Black people have superpowers, though unfortunately, none of them involve being bullet-proof. But they can say the N-Word, which I suppose makes up for being killed and imprisoned at a greater rate and having less economic power than their white counterparts.

But I also thought about the treatment given to the Occupy Wall Street protests, especially in Occupy Oakland, so now I wonder if it's a matter of ideology. Take over a wildlife preserve for BS Rightwing reasons, brandish guns and talk about how you will kill anyone who stops you? Law Enforcement's response is like, "It would be nice if you would stop it, but no pressure." Protest and occupy land in the name of economic or racial inequality or because you don't want an oil pipeline going through land you consider sacred? Law enforcement's response is "Say hello to tanks and teargas, mothereffers!"

So I'm wondering if we should advise Standing Rock Protestors or #BlackLivesMatter or any leftwing cause, to practice open-carry, wear big-ass cross necklaces, and other Rightwing gear like NRA t-shirts or something.

Though the simplest and most concise answer is that Rightwing BS is contained within the pyramid, posing no threat to those on top. But with Leftist protests, the message is explicitly addressed to the top of the pyramid, threatening systems of power and control. Hence why the SWAT team and military gear come out to play. [/slight tangent]

“Well,” Mudawar said, standing and thrusting out his hand, “I have already clearly told you we are declining your offer.”

Abdullah ignored his hand. He pointed into the corner of the next room. “I would be perfectly comfortable right there, and I would be handy to you.”

“I am losing patience, friend.”

“Oh, I like that you call me friend, as you are the enemy of the One I serve. Would you not find it advantageous to have me in the next room the next time you send out a message to your adherents? You could ask whether you have accurately interpreted something you are criticizing from the Scriptures or even from tradition.”

"How dare he not let me hang around his private property so I can shout about how he and his friends are all horrible people deserving of nothing but an eternity of torture for believing differently from me! They're the real monsters!"

Though I don't know how many of y'all read my slight tangent, but between what I said there and this bit, I'm honestly thinking we ought to figure out how to sic the military cops on them. Maybe once the Right experiences actual persecution for their beliefs, they won't be such whiny pansies. Would secretly tie-dying all their clothing be enough to convince the authorities that they are eeeevil Leftwing hippie protestors, rather than peace-loving Rightwing protestors who only want to kill anyone who disagrees with them?

And here comes the culmination of so much, Strawman Has A Point:

Color began to rise from Mudawar’s neck to his moist face. “So the big boss has assigned you to torment us, eh?”

“No, actually to love you.”

“To love us. This from the same God who vaporized two earnest, sincere opponents in Egypt, just because they didn’t get in line with all the other sheep who trekked to Jerusalem for the—”

“Osaze, you mean.”

“You call it what you will. It will always be Egypt to me. And your so-called God of love— is He not the same one who obliterated one of ours who merely deigned to try to make love with one of His ‘glorifieds’? This is the same God who slew millions, if the stories of the Old Testament can be believed.”

I think I've made it abundantly clear where my sympathies lie. Spoiler Alert: It's with the one who isn't being an asshole. I'm wondering if I should add Mudawar and Sarsour to the League of Awesome, but I should probably have some standards for League membership and not just appoint anyone who is all pissy towards the Millies/Tribbles. Given that the last bit of the chapter has Mudawar giving in and handing over the space, thus setting up the potential for a Jack Chick-style Strawman debate between all that is good and righteous and the eeeevil satanic Satanist forces of eeeevil, I'm wondering if they should be disqualified for League membership.

I don't know if said Jack Chick-style confrontation will happen or if, like in Left Behind, they talk about it, but it never actually takes place on screen, but in preparation, have a Jack Chick parody tract: "Who's Your Daddy?" Though in not having the debate happen onscreen, Ellanjay proved just how lazy they really are. This is the kind of low-hanging fruit that RTCs love to go after; they love setting up Strawman, so they can knock it over and strut around about it.

But at the same time, Mudawar and Sarsour are making damn good points. The part about the Obliteration of Rapist TOL, I'm assuming that's an attempt at an Authors Saving Throw. One person doing something bad in the name of a Leftwing Ideology proves that said ideology is eeeevil, whereas White Dudes shooting up places on behalf of Rightwing causes in no way indicates that racism and sexism and other -isms are a problem that still warrants being addressed.

Or to use real world examples, a #BlackLivesMatter protestor killing cops in the name of said ideology, is proof that BLM is a terrorist organization, even though the sniper was apprehended due in part to aid from other protestors, who were as outraged by his actions as the police were.

But Robert Dear shooting up a Planned Parenthood, while reciting BS circulated among Anti-Choice websites, in no way conveys that the said subculture is a domestic terrorist organization that needs to be closely monitored by the feds.

Abdullah is all "Mudawar, let's sit down and discuss this," which is BS because we all know Abdullah isn't the least bit interested in an open discussion.

“Oh, but there is. My first duty as your chaplain is to correct your view of God, especially if you see Him as merciless and unloving.”

“Well, that’s the way I see Him!”

“Do you have another moment for me, friend, as I would like to make what I consider a most interesting point?” Mudawar sat heavily and sighed. “One more minute, but don’t call me friend.”

“Fair enough, though you may feel free to call me that. Here’s what I find intriguing: When I was a young man, younger than you, my problem was that I thought all the dire warnings of God’s judgment were wrong, because all I had heard about Jesus was that He was kind and loving and a pacifist, turning the other cheek, preaching the Golden Rule. Then came the end of His patience and mercy, His people were swept off to heaven, and He spent the next seven years trying to get man’s attention and persuade him that God was not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. And now, here you are, a hundred years later, unable to accept His love.”

I can't say this enough: Ellanjay's vision of God has him unshaven, wearing a wife-beater, and shouting, "Now look at what you made me do!" while his terrified spouse and children cower in the corner.

And of course, afterwards, there will be a whole lotta gaslighting and denial by both sides. Obviously, neither Zod nor TurboJesus could admit that their actions were wrong, because that would destroy their standing and the reputation they've built for themselves. Also, if they spoke about it honestly, they would not be able to keep doing it.

But the victims would also become amnesiacs, smile and tacitly refuse to acknowledge and look at what Zod and TurboJesus is doing to those other people, because it's safer if they don't. If Zod and TurboJesus are focused on the other guys, they won't come after them. And of course, in order to earn sympathy and further lessen the odds of their abuser turning on them, they will do whatever they can to make sure the Abuser is focused on the Bad Ones Who Deserve It, not them. Eventually, they will actually come to believe that the Other Guys Genuinely Do Deserve It, that if the Other Guys would stop being all stubborn and bad, Zod would leave them alone and everything would be okay.

...

Okay, that was damn creepy. I'm actually starting to long for Creepy Sex Stuff, so maybe I can have fun making, "That's what she said," remarks.

Anyway, here's the inevitable setup for the Jack Chick confrontation. Me, I continue to long for TOL Panthers to show up.

Mudawar slapped his palms on the table, making both Abdullah and Sarsour jump. “I should have my head examined,” he said. “Sarsour, clear the corner of that office.”

“What?”

“You heard me! Just do it. This old fool won’t be in our way, and who knows? Maybe he’ll come in handy. I will ask him to defend his God when we have aught against Him. He’ll just prove that God is indefensible, that there is neither rhyme nor reason to the maddening two sides of His character.”

“Oh, but there is,” Abdullah said. “He is loving and full of grace, but he is also perfect and just.”

“Yeah, yeah, save it. If you’re camping out in here, you’ll get plenty of time to spew your platitudes. I’ve got a newsletter to get out, so you’re going to stay out of my hair for the rest of today. Got it?”

“Certainly, but know that I am willing to proofread that for you and make sure you’re on track. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be guilty of raging against straw men, would you?”

“Sarsour, get him set up in there, and then shut his door.”

“Thank you, friend,” Abdullah said, offering his hand.

Mudawar gripped it lightly. “Yeah, yeah.”

Oy vey, it will never stop being about Projection when it comes to the Right, Christian or otherwise. Maybe it's comforting, believing that everyone is just as horrible as you are, but it sucks for everyone else.

And that's it. Sorry for sounding more than just a wee bit didactic. It's kind of what I do.