Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Insult to Martyrs

Well you'll be happy to know we're nearing the end of my edition of the book. My edition is basically the first four books shoved together so after next week, we'll have done the first four books of Left Behind: the Kids. Woo-hoo! Only thirty-six more to go. Let's take a few moments to give some kind words to Fred, who's condemned to a Wandering Jew-like existence given how long it's taken him to get through two books of a thirteen book series. I'm kidding, Fred, I love you. I wouldn't even be doing this snark if it weren't for you providing me with the inspiration.

Anyway, Josey has decided to kneel before Zod and Vicki is not sure what to do. That's because in Ellanjay's world, Christianity isn't a beggar telling another beggar where they found bread, but a case of possessing the correct gnosis or secret knowledge. Josey will be lost forever unless she demonstrates proper knowledge of all End Times philosophy.

Anyway, here's Josey's prayer. Read it and weep: Josey is about to have her conscience surgically removed.

"God," Josey whispered, her voice thick with emotion, "you know I've been looking for you for years, and I'm glad to hear you've been looking for me too. I know I'm supposed to start by telling you that I know I'm a sinner and that I need you. Part of me always wanted to do good and be known as a nice person, but I knew myself then and I know myself now. I've never been able to be the kind of person I know you would want me to be. Thank you for dying for my sins and for forgiving me. Forgive me for not being ready when you came for your people. If you will accept me, and I believe you will, I offer you the rest of my life."

I have to admit, Josey's prayer did get an emotional response from me that wasn't disgust at the writer, which is rare when it comes to Jenkins' prose. Josey, who, as I said before, was seeking something bigger than herself, has accepted a small-minded tyrant who will hold every sin, no matter how small, as a mark against her. Not to mention, you have to remember that both Ellanjay and their god have little value for women, especially those who demonstrate any kind of questioning nature, such as Josey with her interest in New Age Philosophy. I expect it won't be long before Josey becomes an obedient Stepford wife who spends her time silently praying for her black sheep of a husband.

Speaking of Tom Fogarty, he and Judd are at the hospital now getting word on a fellow cop and the news is not good. In fact, the news is delivered by the most insensitive nurse on the planet. It's clear Ellanjay have grown up in a plastic bubble and have never heard anyone actually speak. Basically what the nurse says, sounds like something off of an autopsy report written by someone with a hard-on for ammunition porn. Don't believe me? Here's a sample
"You sounded like you wanted the truth, young man. I'm giving it to you. This patient took--" she began reading--" 'a high-speed, hollow-point, nine-millimeter shell to the cheek-bone from less than six feet away, fired from a Beretta service revolver.'"

Do I need to explain why this dialogue is awful? Every single bit of it is clumsy and awkward and reaks of what Turkey City Lexicon would call "I've suffered for my art and now it's your turn."

Anyway, the cop that they were visiting dies and not surprisingly, Tom has some very pointed questions for Judd. This isn't surprising at all--it's a very human response to a tragedy--but Ellanjay have no answers except "The Devil Made them Do it" or in other words, the worst thing you can possibly say to someone who's suffering, "It's God's will."

Judd tries to frame it as a lesson which Tom doesn't take well at all. In fact his response is every human's response to that kind of framing and reading it makes you cheer for Tom and hope desperately that he escapes being converted, because, as you recall, in Ellanjay land, conversion doesn't make you a more humane, caring individual; it makes you even more of a self-centered jackass than before.

"Explain that one to me," he said, "if you know the mind of God so well."
"I never claimed that, Mr. Fogarty, but it's sure a lesson, isn't it?"
"Yeah? What's the moral of this story?"
"Don't wait. If you're curious about God, don't put off finding out about him."
"So a great young cop dies to warn me to find God? I don't think so."

Again, right now, Tom is being Huck. He is resisting the idea that other humans were created to serve as moral lessons for him to learn; he is saying that if others go to hell, than he will go to hell.

Again, I really like Tom. He has more a knowledge of human suffering than Judd "I'm too sexy for my parents" Thompson and Bruce "Bible College" Barnes. He even apologizes for taking out his anger on Judd and asks that Judd not lose his faith because of him.

Next chapter, it's Sunday again which means the Static Quartet and the Tribulation Farce are all gathered along with the nameless extras. But Bruce has already told the Static Quartet and Tribulation Farce that he thinks Nicholae Carpathia is the anti-Christ, but has decided to keep this from his congregation and let them suffer under a brutal dictator because they are not worthy of the gnosis or secret knowledge. Read this next passage. If your blood pressure doesn't rise, then you're officially a corpse.

When Judd heard Bruce's message that Sunday, he realized the point of all the secrecy. Bruce outlined from Scripture what he believed were the characteristics of the antichrist, and anybody with a brain could see he was talking about Carpathia. But Bruce was careful not to use his name or the name of the organization he ran. Judd decided that Bruce had big plans and that he wanted to survive in order to carry them out. He wanted to expand his ministry, to branch out and teach small groups in homes all over America and maybe the rest of the world. If he said from the pulpit exactly who he thought was the antichrist--and if he were right--his life would be worthless.

Our hero, everyone, more concerned with expanding his church than possibly witnessing and through said witnessing, preventing the suffering of millions.

Not only is Ellanjay the anti-Huck, they're also the anti-Shadrach, anti-Meshach, and anti-Abednego. For those whose knowledge of the Bible is rusty, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were three Jews who refused to bow down and worship an idol of Nebuchadnezzar and for their troubles, were thrown into a furnace. Yet God spared them and through them, they were able to convert thousands to the Lord. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's example has served to inspire countless people of faith the world over but I think an even better example can be found in Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith. Stephen believed so strongly in his faith and was so willing to die for said faith that he preached before the Sanhedrin itself and for his efforts, was stoned. Yet as he was stoned he prayed to the Lord to forgive the Sanhedrin.

Sorry to be so long-winded but Bruce Barnes is a coward, more concerned with filling pews, than with true witness for God. He is the anti-Stephen.

Anyway, Bruce pulls out the TV and they and the rest of the congregation watch a videotape of Carpathia. Once again, Bruce keeps pussy-footing around the issue, going, essentially, "Now I'm not saying Carpathia is the antichrist, but if I was..."

"I am on a crusade to see the peoples of the world come together. I do not seek a position of power or authority. I simply ask to be heard. I hope my message comes through in the article as well."

Now I'm assuming though Ellanjay want to use this series to convert the young unconverted, these books, like the adult books, will end up primarily in the hands of children in RTC households. Therefore, these books are primarily reinforcing the catcechism they're already learning and chief among these is "He's bringing peace and love. Don't let him get away."

Again, Ellanjay have a faulty understanding of human nature. Right now, the world is reeling from the loss of their children. They are right in assuming that this would be the perfect time for some dictator to take over, but they make the wrong assumptions about this dictator. This dictator would come to power with promises to find and bring back the children and initially the world, which is frightened and not thinking clearly, will agree to whatever they want. The dictator would probably pick some ethnic group to pick on, maybe the muslims because that's in right now, or maybe they'd go for that old-fashioned standby: the Jews. In fact, picking on the Jews would make sense; after all, they had been spared by the nuke attack. It wouldn't be that hard to start scape-goating them and accusing them of a new blood libel involving all the children in the world.

Or the dictator in question might choose to avoid human scapegoats and blame the aliens. Use the old "there's an outside threat but if you trust in me, I'll keep you safe" bit. Either way, my message is, in short, Carpathia makes no sense. People wouldn't want to hold hands and sing kumbayah after such a tragedy; they demand action and answers.

Carpathia responded, "I would say that is the perfect way to attack a pacifist, one who is committed to disarmament not only in Romania and the rest of Europe but also globally."
"In other words," Bruce interjected quickly. "he doesn't believe in war and weaponry."

And you know who else didn't believe in war and weaponry? Hitler...oh wait...Again, no one points out that Carpathia is hardly a pacifist because Ellanjay thinks that all pacifists are wolves in sheep's clothing. The trouble is that Ellanjay overlooks the wolves in wolves' clothing that are responsible for most conflicts, not the sheep. As Fred puts it, Ellanjay must be terrified whenever they're in Amish country.

The rest of the chapter is more the same with nonsense about the ten rulers and mention of the Trip-and-Die guys. Since again, I just wrote another War and Peace of posts, I'll sign out now and let my readers, the few, the proud, begin a discussion.


Firedrake said...

Wow! I realise you're only hitting the high points (such as they are), but... we're four books in? Already? Apart from the Rapture itself, has anything really happened? OK, I guess I know how L&J padded it out to forty volumes...

"Part of me always wanted to do good and be known as a nice person". I wish I'd had a proper classical education; then I could pin down this particular bit of rhetorical twisting like the bug it is. It's an example of the way that in L&Jworld, the only reason people "do good" is to "be known as a nice person". I don't think they can conceive of someone doing good without an ulterior motive. In fact, I believe that the concept of altruism doesn't exist in their mental landscape.

(RTCs don't "do good", they "win souls". Which conveniently allows them to run the hungry off their property, and shame the naked.)

Mouse said...

You should know by now that nothing happens in these books. :grins:

Anyway, what can you expect from a coward like Bruce as a model? The thought of actually doing good, aside from macho gunplay, terrifies them because then they'd have to confront the reality of suffering in this world, something which they'd rather not do.

Ruby said...

Geez, these conversions! Okay, I am far from an expert in conversions, so maybe someone who knows of them can tell me--honestly, does anyone ever convert like this? And I don't mean convert from one Christian denomination to another, I mean convert from essentially a vague "there's something out there, maybe" (like Josey) right to RTC-anity?

Mouse said...

I'm not ruling out the possibility of Josey going from New Age "Maybe there's something out there" to RTC. I'm disappointed but I see the possibility. She's already expressed a desire to know more about the Bible by going to a Bible study and she was raised in the church, so it's possible that under duress, she'd embrace RTC-anity as you so put it. The problem is that Ellanjay doesn't consider the possibility that Josey is doing this under duress: Zod's holding her kids hostage and she'll do anything if it means she'll see them again. Again, all conversions in Ellanjay-land are genuine and for the right reasons, whereas all other faiths are disingenuous.

I'd like to hear more about what y'all think of her husband Tom and what you think of Bruce and the gnosis.

Firedrake said...

Oh yeah, that prayer is definitely a proto-RTC state. "I give up all responsibility for my own life and promise to do what I'm told from now on", in effect.

Tom seems sensible enough, but let's face it - everyone in these books is either a Good Example or an Awful Warning. That we can't yet tell which one he is argues for a greater subtlety in the writing than is usual, I suppose...

As for Bruce, this whole "I won't say just who is the antichrist" business sounds to me very like the sort of evasion that lets preachers not-quite-endorse political candidates while still not having to pay taxes. I suspect that L&J put it in for just that reason - it's something they're used to - rather than because it makes any sense in the new context.

Mink said...

Tom just really, really needs to be rescued from this book. I have this fantasy where LaHaye is smugly reading LB:TK again, to bask in his perceived awesomeness, and comes up to a passage that Jenkins had NOT written for him, where Tom somehow clearly and without question escapes the entire damn universe. Then LaHaye goes back to LB and finds passages where Hattie and Verna escape in the same way, and so does pre-Stepfordized Chloe (replaced by a character who's wooden even to his atrocious so-called creativity). And so on through these horrible books, where good, human, Really Not That Bad characters clearly and unequivocably escape from Jenkin's shitty writing. Seriously, the guy doesn't deserve to have control over even fictional people.

Oh, well. It would have been nice. =)

Apocalypse Review said...

@Mink: We can wish, can't we? :D