Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Underground

Where we last left our poor, persecuted RTCs they were working on an underground newspaper titled simply, "The Underground."

Well anyway Judd is finishing up work on it when disaster strikes! The YTF have a fight over who gets credit, who does the work, what the design should be, and a bunch of other boring etc. that MMEGO (Makes My Eyes Glaze Over). You also have to wonder about the fact that they're worrying about this penny-ante stuff when the world has less than seven years to live, but I'm willing to allow this chapter because it shows the protags as acting like more than Elsie Dinsmores in training. Kids fight, often over stupid stuff.

Vicki and Ryan decide to go for a walk and discuss what a jerk Judd's being and they find themselves looking at empty playgrounds and discussing who they've lost. Again, I'll allow this passage because for a brief moment, the characters are being human. It hasn't been that long since their parents were alive; they should still be broken-up about them.

"Do you ever stop missing them?" Ryan asked.
"My family? I think about them all the time. On Saturdays my little sister used to ask me to play that memory game. You know, where you flip the cards over and try to get matches."
"I had one of those. It was animals. You had to match the mothers with their babies. Kinda boring."
"That's what I said. I told her to leave me alone. She'd go into our room and play by herself or with Mom. I wish I had the chance--"
"I dreamed about my mom and dad the other night," Ryan said. "They were looking for me. I kept yelling at them, telling them where I was, but they couldn't hear me."

Ryan has also apparently forgotten that his parents are roasting on a spit in Hell for all eternity, but again, I let this passage slide because finally, a human response from these characters.

But anyway, the YTF kiss and make up, okay, they don't really kiss but they do make up and get back to work when disaster strikes! The Blue Screen of Death has deleted their work in its entirety since Judd's an idiot who didn't think to back it up.

And you know who's to blame for all this? Could it be Satan? Lionel thinks so.

"Know what I think?" Lionel said. "It's got something to do with the devil."
Vicki laughed. "That's crazy. What are we going to do, ask Bruce to come over and cast demons out of the computer?"
"Think about it," Lionel said. "We're putting together an underground newspaper that hundreds of kids are going to read. Hundreds of kids who aren't Christians. Now if you were the devil, would you like that? Would you want all these people reading stuff about the Bible right when they're looking for answers?"

That sound you hear is me busting a gut from laughing. The silence that follows is me realizing they're serious. They seriously believe in that Demonbuster theology. There is so much wrong in that, that I don't even know where to begin tackling it save to remind them that the Bible says it rains on the just and unjust alike.

Am I the only one reminded of Becky Fisher from Jesus Camp praying and speaking in tongues to drive the demons out of her powerpoint presentation?

But Vicki has a more sensible view.

"Yeah," Vicki said, "but don't pin everything on Satan. Maybe God din't want that to be our first edition. Maybe he made the computer crash."

So you're saying the almighty creator of the universe who's currently busy giving mankind the middle finger by orchestrating a massive amount of suffering, still finds time to personally interfere with a bunch of kids' homemade newspaper?

Anyway we have a talk with Buck about Pope Calvin Zwingli. Apparently Ol' Calvin read the Book of Romans and came to agree with Martin Luther. Because Catholics apparently go their whole lives without encountering that book in the Bible. I wish I knew Catholic traditions well enough to snark on it, but just say that LaHaye is virulently anti-Catholic--has published several anti-Catholic tracts. He believes he's being humane in making a concession by having one Catholic raptured, but what he's really saying is that Catholics can only be raptured if they renounce all ties to their church.

Catholics and RTCs such as themselves have kind of an uneasy alliance. In the past, they hated each other with fervent passion; now, they support each other because they both fetishize fetuses and hate women, but every now and then, their true opinion comes shining forth.

Anyway they go to school and prepare to do battle with the evil force in this world by dropping off their newspaper. And I'll leave you to wait with bated breath for the response they get.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Going Underground

Okay so welcome back to another Left Behind: the Kids post. I'm sure you're all thrilled.

Anyway the persecution of our brave heroes never seems to end. Next Judd faces down his history teacher, Miss June, who is described as a spinster. I could write a whole volume on all the sexist implications in that one word, spinster, alone, about how it implies that Miss June is only in teaching because she couldn't find a husband and fulfill her proper wifely duties, but I'll spare you. Just know that I really hate that word.

Before anyone thinks I'm reading way too much into their use of the word "spinster," consider the description Miss June gets.

His history teacher, an old spinster named Miss June, looked as if she had been through a war. Normally tidy and fastidious, today she looked disheveled. Her shoes were scuffed, her blouse wrinkled, her hair pinned in place without much thought.

I can't help but think Ellanjay are silently castigating Miss June for not looking neat and polished like a woman should, though when Bruce comes up to the pulpit looking disheveled, it's a sign of his manly virtue. :eyeroll:

Anyway, an anonymous girl speaks up and says she believes it's not a religious thing. Y'see she has the nerve to go to a church vaguely implied to be Unitarian Universalist and Miss June actually lets her speak, though her belief that it's not a religious thing makes sense when you consider that all the children have disappeared. No way could all of the children have been of the same RTC household as Judd, so it makes sense that someone not as schooled in RTC-anity wouldn't automatically come to the Rapture theory.

Anway, here's a snippet of the Anonymous Skeptic Girl vs. Judd conversation.

"We believe that everybody's the son of God, like Jesus. Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Jesus, all the great moral leaders and teachers."
Judd said, "So you believe Jesus is a son of God but not the Son of God."
"Not the only one, no. We're all children of God."
"So Jesus isn't God."
"Of course not, silly. God is God. There is only one God."

Anonymous Skeptic Girl (ASG for short) then goes on to say that her church accepts all sacred writings such as the Bible, the Torah, the Talmud, but she's cut off by Judd before she can finish her sentence because that's christianly thing to do when debating someone, so we don't know if she also accepts the Dhammapada or the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita though I think we can assume she does. If Ellanjay were better scholars, they could have ASG cite that many religions have a Christ figure in them and many holy figures, a story of a virgin birth, but since true scholarship is anathema to them, I'd wondered if even they're aware of that.

But the worst part is they can't even construct a decent argument for their side aka Judd. Judd's argument consists of saying, "Jesus is God. The Bible says so." He doesn't even try to pull out any verses from the Bible to back up his argument, though that probably wouldn't help much, or any other kind of apologetics or scholarship. Judd's argument is pathetic, the kind that would only work in a Jack Chick tract.

But Miss June quickly draws the argument to a close with her testimony.

Miss June was weeping again. "I don't see any humor in this! Aren't you people the least bit scared? I'm terrified! I can make no sense of this and there seems no recourse. If someone would come forward and take credit for it, make some demands, tell how he or she did it, we could get our minds around it. But this...this..crazy unexplainable mystery! Every morning I wake up and pray it was a dream, that it will end, that it will all be made plain. Talk about it, kids. Talk about how it made you feel."

These are normal human feelings Miss June is feeling in response to such a disaster but again Ellanjay have no sympathy for her, because she doesn't immediately fall on her knees and repent in the face of Judd's almighty awesome truth.

Anyway, Judd and Vicki meet up at lunch and formulate plans. Not for stockpiling canned food and bottled water or for doing something meaningful with their time, now that they know for a fact it's the end of the world, but for an underground newspaper. I know I roll my eyes at their so-called persecution, but I do have to commend them; they're doing a hell of a lot more than the adults. Think about it, if you knew that someone had less than seven years to live, that in seven years they'd die in say, a boating accident, wouldn't you do something to warn that person? Well what if the whole world was in that boat. Wouldn't the Christianly, nay, the human thing to do, be to warn the world, shout it from the rooftops, get the message out anyway you could? Yet the adults spend all their time worrying over whether or not to take a job from the antichrist, and not caring a fig about an entire world in danger.

:deep breath: Sorry about the paragraph of death but it is almost refreshing to see the kids trying to do something to warn people even if it's just an underground newspaper that will probably either get thrown in the trash or litter the hallways.

I'm fairly certain this is a sign of Stockholm Syndrome. These characters have irritated me enough that I want to throw a parade for any good thing they do.

Anyway we finally hear from the youngest members of the YTF again, which is good. I was starting to wonder/hope that they had disappeared into some black hole or something. Anyway, here's a sampling of the horrors that the YTF has to suffer through.

"All we hear is stuff about self-esteem and peace," Ryan said. "Makes me sick."

If only there was a gigantic eyeroll smilie here. I so need it right now.

I know "peace" is a dirty word among RTCs but I have to say, this hatred of self-esteem is kind of new. What's wrong with feeling good about yourself? Whoa...I think I just answered my own question.

Anyway Judd decides to browse the church directory mimicking the part where Buck did the same thing in the adult books. There's no mention of Rayford, thank God, though his daughter Chloe is hanging around the church at the time. In fact, while we've followed Buck's actions fairly closely, we haven't heard a fig about Rayford. I'm wondering if maybe LaHaye wasn't breathing down Jenkins's neck as hard, leaving Jenkins free to write a book where even the kids idolize his Sue.

He picked it up and saw Bruce, a bit younger and fuller in the face with a pasted-on smile. Surrounding him were his wife and children. What a treasure Bruce had lost!

First of all, the directory was taken a year ago, so how much younger could Bruce look. Second of all, pasted-on smile implies that it was a fake smile he was giving. Also, at least they cut out the description where his wife is described as "plump." Anyway, Judd also sees his parents and his twin siblings in there and doesn't immediately break down crying because he has the emotional capacity of a stone.

Anyway, Bruce talks about the two witnesses in Jerusalem, saying that a half dozen thugs tried to charge the witnesses and were burned alive. Once again, I find myself consulting Fred's snarking so I can figure out when I was told about this. Because I just remember the one guy being toasted, not half a dozen. So maybe we can chalk this up to continuity error.

Anyway, that's it for this week. I know turn the snark over to my faithful readers, the few, the proud.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Cry of the Persecuted Hegemon

Okay so I lied. I was going to title this post "The Persecuted Hegemon" but "The Cry of the Persecuted Hegemon" just sounded better. So sue me.

I know at least one reader has put forth the theory that the reason they aren't allowed to discuss the Rapture at Nicholae High is because Nicholae High is now an eeevil global community school. I would be inclined to agree with said reader were it not for the fact that there hasn't been a turnover in staff--everyone still has their jobs--and they keep acting like this is an old rule, part of a long tradition. As said before, Ellanjay knows nothing about public schools. But then again, you can make a long list of things Ellanjay knows nothing about.

This chapter begins with a brief interlude with Vicki's friend, Shelly. Shelly immediately has my sympathies because she's acting like someone who's been traumatized, which makes sense when you hear what she's been through. The whole world should be acting like Shelly but again, Ellanjay don't know anything about suffering.

Basically, a girl named Joyce explains what happened to Shelly.

"She was babysitting for the Fischers. You knew them."
Vicki nodded, moving towards the girls' locker room.
"One of the kids starts crying just when the parents get home. Shelly goes in to check in on her, and the kid's really wailing. She picks her up, and that gets the little guy crying, so she picks him up too. Now she's got two squalling kids in her arms as the Fischers come in the door. She's about to explain that they just then woke up when both kids disappear and the parents too. Mom and Dad, poof, clothes in a pile right where they stood. The babies, gone with their pj's draped over Shelly's arms."

It's hard not to feel real sympathy for Shelly, the only character who acts like someone who's genuinely lost her grip on the world, which makes sense. She has lost her grip on the world; the world has been turned upside down and inside out for her. The rules of reality that she's always known have been ripped to shreds. Yet everyone seems shocked that she's shocked. :eyeroll:

Anyway, meanwhile Judd is in psychology class with Mr. Shellenberger. The psychology part should be enough of a clue that according to Ellanjay, Mr. Shellenberger is one of those eeevil intellectuals who value reason over Christ. But the chief problem with Ellanjay's works is that the eeeevil intellectuals end up making a better case for their beliefs than Ellanjay's protagonists.

Anyway, here's Shellenberger's talk with Judd. Note that he doesn't actually tear Judd's beliefs to shreds, just says that if it brings you comfort, more power to you.

"It's not surprising that you find comfort in ascribing these losses to something divine. It has to make you feel better that your family is in heaven with God."
"I wouldn't denigrate that. You will outgrow it, but I'm sure it is of great comfort to you now. It may be years before you will be able to differentiate between the very real confidance you feel from the defense mechanism your mind has provided."

Shellenberger subscribes to Nicholae's electromagnetism theory. Since Fred has already pointed out all that's wrong with that theory, I'll spare lecturing you about the sheer amount of wrong packed in it.

Anyway, meanwhile Vicki has to face down the eevil Mrs. Waltonen, who we can tell is eevil because she has short hair and teaches in a public school.

But for obvious reasons, no one can focus on gym so they have a discussion on what happened and while Vicki rolls her eyes at all the non-God explanations, I have to say the explanations they're offering make about as much sense as hers. The students bring up a scientific experiment gone wrong, aliens, and a few even venture that maybe the disappeared aren't gone for good, again which makes sense considering what happened. If they were disappeared so quickly without reason, who's to say they're not going to return someday.

Well separation of church and state is brought up and Vicki gets up on her high horse.

"That's what I thought," Vicki said, knowing that she had heard something about this, maybe from her dad, whom she had ignored. "So when did it get turned around to protect the government from religion?"

Once again, Ellanjay's ignorance and their pride in said ignorance is showing. Because protecting the government from religion is entirely what the Constitution intended. Why do you think there's a clause saying that there will be no religious test required to be elected? The government and religion don't belong together and bringing them together only brings misery. It's like mixing horse manure and ice cream: it doesn't do a thing for the manure but it really ruins the ice cream.

But then again, this whole thing is so Ellanjay can rack up street cred by claiming that their protags are modern day martyrs, persecuted for the faith. Except they're not.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Nothing Happens in these Books

For those of you who think that nothing happens in the adult books, I have to warn you: even less happens in the kids series. I just thought I'd explain in case it seems like I'm doing more summarizing than snarking that I'm doing it because nothing happens that's really snarkable.

Anyway that Deacon guy calls Vicki and tells her that the guy she was hitch-hiking up to proselytize, her brother's friend, Bub, is dead. I do not see the point of this unless it is to be touched upon in a later chapter I haven't gotten to yet. The only point I see is Ellanjay possibly trying to do a "This could have been you!" sort of message to scare young readers into converting but since we never meet Bub and said death occurs off stage, it ruins the effect they were going for.

We do get Wallace Theodore's interview with Chaim Rosenzweig and all they talk about is Nicky Appalachian and how humble and perfect he is. Oh and we get some mention of Russia's attack on Israel.

WT: Many say God supernaturally protected you against the Russian attack. With God on your side, do you need to barter with Nicholae Carpathia for protection?

This is problem numero uno with the Russian attack story: it offers incontrovertible proof of the existence of a God, maybe the Judeo-Christian one but that can still be debated, yet the characters still act like it was nothing special when they should be shakened to the core.

They also discuss Nicholae's plan to destroy 90% of the world's weapons while keeping 10% for himself.

WT: But Carpathia doesn't believe in war.
CR: He also knows that the best way to keep the peace is to have the weapons to enforce it.

[loud primal scream about the sheer amount of wrong packed in that passage] You have to remember that Ellanjay thinks that all pacifists are wolves in sheep's clothing despite the fact that most wars were caused by wolves in wolves' clothing. Therefore again, Ellanjay must be terrified whenever they're in Amish country.

Next chapter, well it's back to school. Yeah, I know there are numerous problems with the fact that school's back in session so soon. First of all, since the Young Trib Force (YTF) knows that Earth has less than seven years left, why are they bothering with school? This would be the perfect time to start stockpiling canned goods and preparing for when the sea turns to blood. In fact, thinking about homework would be damn near impossible under circumstances like these.

Also, shouldn't all these teachers be either gone or panicking? They should be worrying about their futures once all the remaining children grow up.

Once again, I find myself wishing I was watching that Kiwi drama, The Tribe, again. It may not have been a perfect show but it at least knew better than to make the elementary mistakes Ellanjay make.

But of course, since Mount Prospect, now Nicholae High, is an eeevil government institution, we get some persecution when the principal, :gasp: :choke:, forbids discussing the Rapture theory. Because you can't talk about Christianity in school. Except that you can. According to the law, students can carry and read Bibles, so long as it doesn't interfere with their schoolwork, pray at their desk, and talk about whatever they want in the lunch room. So let's add this to the long list of things Ellanjay is wrong about.

Anyway that's all that happens. Sorry I can't provide the finest snark this week. I leave it in your hands.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Count the Multitude

Okay in a little attempt to be less negative, I will point out that Bruce does one good deed in these two chapters: he tells Lionel to lay off of Ryan. As I said before even though Ryan is now an RTC, he still gets nothing but abuse from Lionel for not being as schooled in RTC-anity, so it's nice to see someone in authority speaking up about this.

Now, one with the relentless negativity...

Judd missed his parents and his little brother and sister, and he knew the others missed their families too. But he was excited about doing something positive, not sitting around feeling sorry for himself. They had only a few years left, and he wanted to see their group be just as eager to stand and fight as the adult Tribulation Force.

Yea, Judd now aspires to be a child-soldier. You know if he craved to be a child soldier and be exposed daily to abuse and enemy fire, we could send him to Uganda or places like that. Again, the tribulation won't seem like anything special to people living in places like Somalia or Afghanistan.

But then again, being a soldier is manly work, none of that feeding the hungry crap or tending to the sick. That's for wusses.

Anyway, Bruce "Useless Alpha Male" Barnes talks about the great soul harvest about how apparently a billion people will be brought to Christ during the Tribulation thanks to the 144,000 Jews becoming Christians and once again, I have to do my math.

He justifies this number based on Revelation 9:16. For those of you all without bibles, here's the verse.

The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.

For those wondering how that amounts to a billion Christians, Bruce has an explanation.

"Good," Bruce said. "Now, at the risk of being too simple, would you say that army of horsemen, even though it was two hundred million, could be counted?"

Still confused about how that amounts to one billion Christians? You're not alone. Oh and just for the record, let's look at this two hundred million number. 200 million amounts to about the entire current population of the USA. In other words, 200 million is a lot of people. The question is would even the anti-Christ be able to field such a large army with all the children in the world gone plus massive deaths due the Tribulations?

Also Genghis Khan managed to conquer Asia with an army of about 700,000 so you have to question the kind of anti-Christ who would need 200 million men on horses.

To further try to justify the billion Christians number, Bruce then goes to Revelation 7:9. Now I'm sure many of you all are a bit confused by this jumping between chapters, but I've got to warn you: this is minor compared to some of the wild jumping around PMDs favour. Anyway, here's Revelation 7:9:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

How do this come to a billion Christians when no specific number is mentioned? Luckily Bruce is here to help.

"Exactly. THat is how we know there will be a huge soul harvest. THis is talking about people who come to Christ during the Tribulation. If an army of two hundred million can be counted, how many must there be in a crowd no one can number?"

Still don't get how vague mentions of a really big number equals a specific one billion? Neither do I.

There is a brief mention of Buck at the end of this chapter because everything revolves around Buck and Rayford. Apparently he's reading the Gospels and becoming shocked at what a radical Jesus was. Not shocked enough to give away his possessions to the poor or treat female employees with a modicrum of respect, but still shocked.

Next chapter, well, it's Sunday again, and Bruce "It's so hard to be humble, when I'm perfect in every way" Barnes is preaching again. I used that Davis Mac line for a reason; Bruce is extravagantly showing off how humble and perfect he is. Don't believe me; just look.

"Good morning," he began. "I realize a word of explanation is in order. Usually we sing more, but we don't have time for that today. Usually my tie is straighter, my shirt fully tucked in, my suit coat buttoned. That all seems a little less critical this morning. Usually we take up an offering. Be assured we still need it, but please find the baskets on your way out at noon, if I indeed let you out that early."

So Bruce lays out his story about being a phony and losing his family, and we can tell how much he cared about his wife and children by the fact he doesn't bother to give them names. He then lays out the hypothetical bus scenario and launches into his sermon on the the four horseman of the apocalypse.

"During the seven years, GOd will pour out three consecutive sets of judgments--seven seals in a scroll, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. If the Rapture didn't get your attention, the judgments will. And if the judgments don't, you're going to die apart from God. Horrible as these judgments are, I urge you to see them as final warnings from a loving God who is not willing that any should perish."

He's so not willing to perish that he's going to kill you all...Wait what?! Right now it's apparent: Ellanjay's God is the abusive spouse and our role is that of the battered wife or children who say, "He beats me but I know he loves me anyway."

This is a complete shot against all those other passages of the Bible, depicting God as the faithful spouse to a straying wife. I cite as example, Hosea 2:14-17. For those of you who don't know, Hosea was a prophet whom God commanded to marry Gomer, who was, to put it bluntly, a whore. Hosea remains faithful to Gomer even as she runs out on him and sleeps with other men and this is used as an example of how God is. Here's my favourite part, Hosea 2:14-17

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

In that day, declares the LORD, you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master'.

I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.

But then again I have a feeling that the prophets aren't required reading among RTCs. All that wild-eyed talk about social justice which Glen Beck says is commie-talk.

"Notice," Bruce continued, "that it is the Lamb who opens the first seal and reveals that horseman. The Lamb is Jesus Christ, the son of God, who died for our sins, was resurrected, and recently raptured his church."

So again, our loving Zod is unleashing the anti-Christ upon the world, who is only doing what the Lord dictated. Yet he will be punished with ever-lasting fire for doing just that. Our Hero, boys and girls.

And Bruce does his mention of "He has no bow so that means he will come bearing a message of peace" despite the fact the description sounds more like that of Genghis Khan than Gandhi as Fred would put it. It also doesn't mention the anti-Christ having a bowstring. Make of that what you will.

Oh and in an attempt to staunch the flow of relentless negativity, Bruce does give some good advice at the end of this chapter.

"Be careful," Bruce said, "about giving Christlike characteristics to anyone who doesn't align themselves with Christ."

Too bad, the Young Tribulation Force, as they're now calling themselves, doesn't follow that advice and stop attending his church.

Oh and I've decided to change my Bruce Barnes tag to Bruce Barnes is Useless. Because he really is and we need never forget.