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.


Firedrake said...

* "Just as eager to stand and fight as the Tribulation Force" - so that would be not at all, then? Will they be digging their own hole in the ground, or do they get to share the grown-ups' one?

* Looking at, you could get 200 million purely out of men aged 20-24. Even with some losses from RTCs, I don't think it'll be hard to reach that number.

I think it's probably worth mentioning off to the side of these calculations that there seems to have been a common mode of speech using numbers metaphorically (boo hiss) - I'm not aware of anyone who thinks Matthew 18:22 should be taken literally, for example. ("488... 489... 490! I don't forgive you any more!")

* We had to destroy the planet in order to save it.

* Modern RTCianity is mostly a post-WWII phenomenon (fanaticism has to reinvent itself from time to time), so they're aware that "only following orders" isn't considered a valid excuse any more. Even for the Antichrist!

Mouse said...

RE:Following Orders:

But the anti-Christ was programmed to do precisely what he was doing by God. He is only following the dictates of his creation just like any robot obeys his master. How come RTCs get nothing but praise for obeying God yet the anti-Christ gets nothing but censure?

Redwood said...

"Only following orders" isn't an excuse when an order is immoral. But to an RTC, everything God does or says is by definition moral, as God is the source of all morality!

Evil Paul said...

Was (useless) Bruce Barnes's second sermon a direct quote from the books? If so I think L&J pulled a cut-and-paste job from TF.

"...Judd now aspires to be a child-soldier..."


I'm about halfway through Romeo Dallaire's book on child soldiers right now. It is seriously disturbing stuff. If the Tribulation Force ever decides to add a children's brigade to their ranks....

_shudder/convulsions/fetal position_

Mouse said...

Pretty much all the Bruce stuff is cut-and-paste except he left out the football team joke. I think this is because if the adult trib force's job is primarily to serve as witnesses to the events and the kids' job is to serve as secondhand witness to the adults...whoa...that's a lot of meta as commentators have already pointed out. I think I've spot the chief reason nothing happens in these books.

GDwarf said...

I'm about halfway through Romeo Dallaire's book on child soldiers right now. It is seriously disturbing stuff. If the Tribulation Force ever decides to add a children's brigade to their ranks....
Have you ever watched Now and Then, Here and There?

It's a Japanese animated look at child soldiers. It's entirely fiction, but is heart-wrenching. The protagonist ends up transported to a devastated dystopia where water is scarce and brutal warlords control everything.

He ends up first tortured, then conscripted, into one such warlord's army.

It's just relentless in showing how horrible this life is and just what it does to people. The director decided to create it after he did some reading up on African warlords and child soldiers.

The thought that anyone would ever encourage any child to live a life anything like that...Monster is far too mild a word to describe them.

Apocalypse Review said...

Kind of odd that the books here discuss a literal army of 200 million men when the adult books show that they're spiritual in nature.

That said, a faith I used to try and follow had the notion that the end times couldn't be until now because a world of less than 200 million people in it couldn't field an army of literally 200 million men.


Judd seems like he'd be the perfect teenage soldier, really. He's young, presumably reasonably physically fit, and he's already checked his brain into permanent cryogenic storage.

All that's left is to hand him a gun and tell him the Carpathia-ites are after him.

Evil Paul said...

"Pretty much all the Bruce stuff is cut-and-paste except he left out the football team joke."

Fuck. That is seriously lazy. And limiting too. Putting a different perspective on a familiar story could open up all kinds of avenues for even a halfway competent writer. You'd think someone calling himself a Bible expert would know a thing or two about telling the same story from...oh I don't know...let's say four different points of view.

"Have you ever watched Now and Then, Here and There?"

Haven't heard of it, but I'll definitely check it out!

"Judd seems like he'd be the perfect teenage soldier"

The depressing thing is, there really isn't any criteria for an effective child soldier. As long as the kid can pick up an AK, then the rest can be accomplished with abuse and drugs. Out of our four protagonists, Ryan would probably be the "best" candidate since he submits more easily to emotional abuse and instinctively tries to please his tormentors...
....okay this is starting to creep me out. I'm going to to go read some Terry Pratchet now.

Anonymous said...

Judd's a bit old to be an "ideal" child soldier. "Ideally" you kidnap them young and then make it clear that you're the only source of food and water around, that making you happy means fewer beatings and maybe even some extra rations. By the time they're old enough to challenge you they won't be psychologically capable of it.

That's how the warlord in NT,HT does it, anyways. Raids villages and marches off with the children and able-bodied men, telling them that if they serve loyally until the war is done that they'll be free to go home, if not, they and their families will be killed.

Then, once the new "recruits" are back at camp, raize the village so that it can't produce any rebels. By the time the children realize that they aren't going home they'll have been broken.

The even more horrifying part of all this is that the above is very similar to what our heroes actually are doing, to each other no less. Judd'd make a distressingly capable warlord now that he's essentially founded his own branch of the cult.

muenchner kindl said...

About the child soldier thing: of course non-RTCs know about the world outside the US and that real child soldiers live a terrible life.

But in the narrow RTC culture and the narrow US culture, being a soldier is both cool and honorable. Most people in the US still have no problem with the Army offering free video games (shooters) on the web as recruitment tool, or recruiters coming into high schools, or people not old enough to vote signing up.

Secondly, going just by the quote you gave (I don't have the books themselves), it doesn't sound to me as if Judd wants to fight *as soldier* for the Trib. (Would also be reallly difficult to emulate the Adult Triblets, given that they never really fight!)

To me, it sounds more like offering to do the secondary support that children in guerrilla / resistance war voluntary can and have done (historically): running messages (once the phones are tapped of course, Ellenjay can't let go of their phone fetish, but fanfics can do better!); standing guard over meetings (esp. children "playing harmlessly in the street" are well-suited for that); cooking meals (to free the women for nursing, which might be too hard to stomach for real kids); going squirrel hunting (kids already do that) to get food once famine strikes etc.

So non-canon kids/ teens wanting to help others against the coming horror could be helpful without turning into child soldiers. Of course that requires competent writers aka fanfiction.