Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Cavalcade of Assholery

First of all, before we dive into the cavalcade, I must make an announcement. I can't say for certain but judging by how this chapter begins with a rundown of the events of all the previous chapters, I think we're in the second book. Woo-hoo [pauses to dance around maypole and whoop it up] Only thirty-nine books left to go. This is going to take awhile but given how long it's taken Fred to go through Trib Force, not that it hasn't been worth waiting, I should be grateful. At least, I'm not, like him, condemned to a wandering Jew like existence until the last book is snarked. I might be able to accomplish this within my lifetime. Anyway, onto the cavalcade.

They believed not only in God, but also in Christ. And they weren't just churchgoers. These were people who had believed that the way to God, the way to heaven was through Christ. In other words, they did not agree with so many people who believed that if you just tried to live right and be good and treat other people fairly, you could earn your way to heaven and to favor with God.

Remember in Ellanjay's universe, you cannot passionately and sincerely believe in another faith, because all other faiths are disingenuous. They do not have their own ideas about faith or the nature of God; their faith consists of sticking their heads in the sand and going, "La-La-La! Can't hear you!" As a result in Ellanjay's mind, these faiths can't possibly be doing good deads, healing the sick and taking care of the poor, with out an ulterior motive.

But Ryan Daley was still a holdout. He was scared. He was sad. He was angry. And while he'd been hanging out with Lionel since they had met, Lionel made him feel like a wimp. Well, he didn't just feel like one. He was one. Lionel seemed brave. He confronted his uncle's enemies, he had been to the morgue to try to identify his uncle's body, and he had gone into Ryan's house after a burglary. Ryan couldn't force himself to do any of that stuff, and it made him feel terrible.

Which he shouldn't because he's a twelve-year-old boy, not Superman. Poor Ryan has enough guilt and shame on his shoulders and he's only going to get more heaped on him, instead of the comfort he desperately needs.

And here it comes, boys and girls, the cavalcade as promise. Step right up, come one, come all. See how not to live as a follower of Christ!

Judd had called the kids together one evening after they had all recieved their Bibles from Bruce. "I'm not trying to be the boss or anything," he began, "but I am the oldest and this is my house, and so there are going to be some rules. To stay in this house, we all have to agree to watch out for each other. Let each other know where you are all the time so we don't worry about you. Don't do anything stupid like getting in trouble, breaking the law, staying out all night, that kind of stuff. ANd I think we all ought to be reading what Bruce tells us to read every day and also going to whatever meetings he invites us to, besides church of course. I mean, we're going to church every Sunday to keep up with what's going on."

First of all, since three of them are children of RTCs, shouldn't they already have Bibles with all the passages necessary to the Rapture theory highlighted? What kind of shiftless RTC parent lets their kids pass the "You must be this short to be raptured" Line without a Bible?

Also, shouldn't Judd be more worried about guarding the house from the looters and checking his stockpile of canned food to see how long it will last since it should be too dangerous to go to the grocery store? At least that's how it would play out in a competently written book.

Once again, I keep thinking about how Ebony from the Tribe would handle this. For those of you who don't know, The Tribe was a kiwi drama that ran until 2003. It was about a world where a virus had wiped out all the adults, leaving behind only the children. Ebony was the series's Magnificent Bastard who played all the Tribes against each other and would have effectively ruled the city where it not for outside forces beyond her control.

Now, I'll admit The Tribe wasn't a perfect series: it was more of a teen soap opera, when it should have been closer in tone to Cormac McCarthy's The Road but it did a damn better job of showing kids trying to function without adults than Ellanjay. Some of the kids tried to work towards a healthy future, some were just in for themselves, and others went plain crazy.

But anyway, if Ebony was in this book, she would play all the kids against each other and would make mincemeat out of Judd. Heck, as said before, she would make mincemeat out of Nicky Semien and she's only fourteen at the beginning of the series.

Sorry for that digression, on with the cavalcade.

Vicki and Lionel nodded. "Of course," Vicki said. "Sounds fair."

And of course it sounds fair to them; they're in the majority.

Naturally, Ryan protests.

"Not to me," Ryan said. "I'm not into this stuff, and you all know it."
"Guess you're going to have to live somewhere else then," Lionel said.


Wow...So much for Christian Hospitality...Nice to know you're going to send a twelve-year-old boy out, alone, into a world full of rioters and looters, all because he won't kowtow to your god.

"That's not for you to say, Lionel!" Ryan said. "This isn't your house! Judd's not going to make me read the Bible and go to church meetings just to stay here. Are you, Judd?"
"Matter of fact, I am," Judd said.
"I can hardly believe I'm saying this," Judd said, "because just last week it made me so mad when my parents said the same thing. But here goes. As long as you live under my roof, you follow my rules."
Ryan's face was red, and it appeared he might bold out of there like he often did when he heard something he didn't like.

And the world cheers for him to bolt. Leave this unchristian house and go take shelter at one of the other churches in Mount Prospect, one of the other churches that are offering shelter and hospitality without strings attached.

"I'm not going to force you to become a Christian," Judd said. "Nobody can do that. Even Vicki and I needed to decide that in our own time on our own terms. But I'm taking you in, man. You're staying here because I asked you to. The least you could do is to join in with what the rest of us are doing. It's all for one and one for all. We're going to look out for you and protect you and taske care of you, even if you don't believe like we do, and we're going to expect you to do the same for us. I can't even make you read the Bible, but we're going to go to church and to Bruce's special little meetings, and we're going together. You can plug your ears or sleep through them, but you're going."

They keep saying they're not going to force him to become a Christian, but they neglect to mention that they'll take advantage of his fear and sorrow over losing his parents and guilt-trip him until he does, and they'll hold hospitality over his head like a carrot, until he does. I wouldn't be surprised if they started Love-bombing him instant he becomes an RTC. Right now, their behaviour seems more in line with cults than with the love of Jesus.

"And if I don't?"
"Then you can find someplace else to stay."
"He'll never do that," Lionel said. "He's too much of a scaredy-cat."

It bears in mind to remember that Lionel, Judd, and Vicki are being upheld as models for young Christians everywhere. So why do they act more like the bullies who caused me to spend middle-school to high-school, borderline suicidal/homicidal?

Once again, if any of you want to write fanfiction for Left Behind: the Kids, my inbox is open and ready to receive, especially if you write a happier end for Ryan, because right now, he's the series's butt monkey.

Ryan tells Lionel to Shut up and in my mind, he turns into Superman and melts Lionel into a pile of goo. But Vicki has something to say.

"Lay off him, Lionel," Vicki said. "You're not going to win him over that way."

Yeah, don't lay off of him, because you're being the anti-christ (opposite of Christ) towards him or because even though he refuses to kneal before Zod, he's still deserving of basic human dignity, lay off him because you're hurting your sales quota.

"Well," Judd said, "what's the deal. You in or out?"
"I have to decide right now?"
"We have a meeting with Bruce tonight and church tomorrow morning. You go with us tonight and you promise to go with us tomorrow, or you move out this afternoon."
"The man's drawing a line in the sand for you," Lionel said.
"Lionel!" Vicki scolded.
"I'm just saying', the line has been drawn. You crossing the line, Ryan? Or are you with us?"

I'm just sayin' youse better be with us. It's a dangerous world out there. Bad things happen to your body, your eternal soul, etc. We can offer youse protection, my man. [/bad attempt at a gangster voice]

Ryan responds by going to his room and packing his belongings, and once again, the world cheers and Meta-Ryan's fandom grows.

"We need to pray for him," Vicki said. "It's hard enough for us, but imagine what it's like for him. We know where our parents are. If he believes like we do that our parents were raptured and his weren't, he has to accept that his parents are in hell. Think about that. He's going to fight this a long time, because even if he wants to become a believer, that means he's accepting that his parents are lost forever."

Yes, let's think about that Vicki, the justice in the fact that Ryan's parents are burning in Hell because not only did they not say The Prayer, they never had a chance because God can't apply the brakes. These were ordinary people, who loved their son and worked hard to provide for him. We don't know anything about Ryan's parents. All we know was that his dad was a sales manager for a plumbing supplies company and as a result, traveled a lot, and that his mother was on her way to O'Hare to check on her husband when she was killed in an explosion. There's not enough information to say for sure, but their sins were probably limited to the paltry ones committed by people everyday such as taking a glance at Playboy or flipping off someone who just cut them off on the freeway. As I said in another post, only Adolf Q. Stalin-Pot would deem such offenses worthy of eternal punishment.

Again, somebody write some fiction about Ryan and his parents. There's just not enough about them out there.

Anyway the chapter ends with Lionel trying to talk to Ryan. It's notable because of this exchange.

"Are you finished?" Ryan asked, his hand on the door.
"No, I--"
"Yes, you are," Ryan said. And he pushed the door shut in Lionel's face.

I had considered doing two chapters in this snark but since I just wrote the War and Peace of snarks, I think I'll hold back on you. Sorry if I got too personal; the assholish behaviour of the characters really got under my skin.

Anyway, I think that last quote should give you a little hope and make you feel a little good inside, which is nice because next week, I'll have to extinguish that faint, faint hope.


Firedrake said...

Oh, those silly, silly people who try to make the world a better place. When will they ever learn?

"There's an oppressive world government out there. Soon we'll be breaking the law merely by being Christians. So don't break the law."

I think it points up the quality of writing in these books that if you read them (as we do) without that one significant assumption - "everyone wearing an RTC badge is a Good Guy" - the whole moral sense inverts, because there aren't any real villains and the "heroes" are thoroughly offensive.

Ruby said...

Oh, meta-Ryan. If only you could have shut the door in Lionel's face and never come back.

I do NOT remember Lionel being such a jerk when I first read this. Ryan's supposed to be his newest best buddy, wtf? And Judd has just done what he probably would have done anyway, had his parents not died/been Raptured--gotten over his "youthful rebellion" and become just like them.

Even Vicki is being a jerk, despite Jenkins' desperate attempt to turn her, overnight, into the mother-hen figure.

Mouse said...

Before anyone asks, I thought I'd remind you that I am not making any of this up. The assholish behaviour you see here is completely from the book. I did not put words in anybody's mouth that weren't already there.

Ruby said...

Hey Mouse,

I realize in rereading my post and seeing your follow-up that I may have given that impression. I totally did not mean to state or imply that you were making anything up. I just meant that you had brought to light an aspect that I had either not recognized or not remembered when I zipped through the series a few years back.

That's the beautiful thing about the LaHaye/Jenkins body of work, isn't it? Just when you think you've reached the height of asshattery, you turn the page...

Mink said...

Good lord.

It's writing like this that has made people stand up and soundly renounce the Rapture God, that they would prefer Hell to that one's Heaven. After seeing the sort of jerk behavior that these kids -- especially Lionel and Judd -- are engaging in, if this is rewarded then there is no justice in the LaHaye-verse.

Apocalypse Review said...

Holy smokes.

Yeah, I forgot about this part when I briefly read the books a couple years back, and I really am surprised as to what complete jerks Judd and Vicki are to a younger child who needs their help.