Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brace Yourself for the Death of Meta-Verna

Oh man, do I love all of my posters. I make a smart-alecky remark about my lack of posts and you guys turn out in droves. I love you all.

An interesting fact about this section of books which I haven't mentioned until now: beneath the logo mentioning Ellanjay, another writer is mentioned: Chris Fabry. I'm assuming Chris Fabry is the ghostwriter who got suckered into writing for this series because I can't imagine Ellanjay being able to churn out forty kids books in addition to a Zod-Only-Knows-How-Long adult series. This would fit in with Ellanjay's commitment to slapdash work, hiring a ghostwriter.

So Judd begs Buck to go to Israel but Our Buck says no, because he thinks he would be in danger, because apparently Judd's perfectly safe in a city that was just bombed. Also Vicki hears from the eeevil child welfare services who are justifiably concerned about a child living with little to any adult supervision.

Meanwhile, the remaining Stahleys are trying to escape the NWO net. There's a lot of talk and none of it interesting as they try to make plans. That takes up most of the two chapters but in the meantime, here's the setup for Verna's inevitable conversion. NO! I loved some of the Slacktivist's crews' depiction of Verna. Sorry if I can't remember all y'all's names but I loved them.

"That's a laugh," Verna said. "I've probably been to church about a dozen times in my whole life. And that includes weddings and funerals.
"My dad was an athiest," Verna continued. "My mom grew up in strict home. Her parents said it was evil to watch TV. Couldn't go to dances or drink anything stronger than Kool-Aid, and that may have been too strong, I don't know. When she got old enough, she turned her back on religion and said yes to my father. Then I came along."
"So you never went to church as a child or an adult?" Loretta said.
"The idea of attending church was never discussed," Verna said. "Wasn't an option."
"And what do you think about God now?" Loretta said.
"I don't think about it," Verna said. "I figure if there is a God out there, a force or a being of some kind, he'll weigh out my good and bad points."

You have to admit, Verna is the one making sense here. Loretta is apparently shocked that an athiest doesn't spend all her time thinking about God when really, to an athiest, the whole question of God is irrelevant. Athiests don't spend all their time thinking about something they don't believe exists. Also, Verna's idea of God judging by good and bad points makes considerable more sense than the magic words approach.

"But haven't you ever been curious?" Loretta said. "Most people look for some kind of deeper meaning in life than what they see from day to day."

Actually, by listening to this conversation, Verna is demonstrating more intellectual curiosity than most RTCs. RTCs never listen to the stories of people they try to convert all the way through because as far as they're concerned, the convert's story is irrelevant when really it is of upmost importance.

"I don't have time for deeper meaning," Verna said. "I do what I do and leave it at that."
"That seems kind of sad to me," Vicki said. "Mr. Williams talks about journalism as a noble profession. Seeking truth and all that but you're saying--"

"What I'm saying is that I find meaning in the work I produce and in my life with my family and friends, not some cobbled together interpretation of works written by a bunch of shepherds and fishermen." Oh how I wish Verna would respond that way.

"I think what Vicki is saying is that without some kind of deeper purpose, life is empty. To do what you do, you have to be motivated by more than just your paycheck, right?"
"Look, I'll admit I don't live the happiest life on the planet," Verna said. "I'm skeptical. I see the glass as half empty. But I like being this way."

And I like you this way, Verna, but I'm afraid you've got several strikes against you, according to Ellanjay. You're an uppitty female who has the gal to think they can boss around Our Buck, you're a female, you don't immediately bite the hook given to you, and did I mention you're a female character with brains in a story written by a pair of anti-intellectual misogynists?

But I peeked ahead at the next chapter and something tells me, Verna will be made to kneel before Zod.


BeardyBeard said...

"Mr. Williams talks about journalism as a noble profession."

Yes, of course he does, like in the first book, where he did not bother to look into the Disappearings, but instead ran off to London, and then made an agreement with the Antichrist to not report on his activities in exchange for his life.

Oh, and, for after the conversion scene, to show that he didn't change, he said stayed quiet rather than mention anything about the Antichrist being, ya know, the Antichrist as he witnessed a double homicide committed by him.

That doesn't include all the stuff in the other books that also contradicts that, of course. Still, his actions speak louder than words, just like many of the other characters in this series.

Firedrake said...

Ah, a touch of the Tom Clancys in this writing empire. (One of his - I think it was the first Op Center - had no credit for the actual author at all. I hope the real author was paid a lot...)

Mr Williams talks about journalism as a noble profession. I'm sure there are prostitutes and black-marketeers who talk the same way.

Verna here almost starts to sound like a real person - but of course she's of no interest to the authors in that way, the only thing that matters about any character is the big SAVED / UNSAVED billboard s/he wears.

rikalous said...

Verna's not just a real person here, she's a likeable, relatable interesting person. Gah. I can't even work up the energy to scream "Curse you, Ellenjay!" to the heavens.

Evil Paul said...

Verna Zee turns RTC?!

Why Zod?!! Why?!!!

Ivan said...

I do love the 'talks about journalism as a noble profession' bit as well. We don't see him talking about it all that much in the adult books I think, but he does talk (or think) how awesome he is at it plenty. Too bad he never gets around to doing it, but hey, it's a noble profession.

"Look, I'll admit I don't live the happiest life on the planet," Verna said. "I'm skeptical. I see the glass as half empty. But I like being this way."
I will give props to the writers (whether that's L&J or not). This comes pretty damn close to how I would describe myself. I don't actually like the unhappy parts, and I do hope to change some of it, but nothing about my planned/hoped changes involve conversion. So hey, an atheist in an LB book describing herself in terms an actual atheist recognizes: That's a first.

Too bad about "I don't have time for deeper meaning," Verna said. "I do what I do and leave it at that." I do think about the meaning of life, the universe and everything, I just haven't concluded 'God' features prominently in the answer. (Well, how can it, the whole answer is only a number. But you get the point.)

Of course having a realisticly talking atheist turn around and becomming an RTC 10 minutes later is arguably more depressing than a strawman who might as well convert since he obviously doesn't understand anything about his current religion (or lack thereof).

By the way, is this retconning the adult books? I thought Verna died in the adult books in the big earthquake shortly after Buck outs her as *GASP* gay. But if she converts before death, shouldn't she be bestest buds with Buck, because obviously the only reason anyone could dislike Buck is by being a filthy non-RTC who hates him for being such an awesome good Christian.

Anonymous said...

How did they manage to (accidentally, one assumes) write a reasonable, realistic, likable person? O_o Oh, wait, they managed it once before, again presumably by accident.

The bad thing about this is that it means that somewhere in there they know what real people are like. They just prefer creepy, inhuman pod people.

(smurasaki, but blogger has decided it hates livejournal today. -_-)

Ivan said...

Another bad part is that the story and RTC characters treat these realistic, likable non-RTCs the same as the pod-people, i.e. like bad, wrong people. Reading about Imaginary Liberals(tm) is annoying, but at least we aren't too bothered when they're reduced to stammering incoherently by an RTC one-liner. When someone is making good points and is still smacked down by some pointless, unconvincing drivel, it makes it all the sadder.

By the way, they're REALLY hung up on people assuming that God will just weigh their good points and let them in. This is, what, the third conversation like this? Ryan did it, and I think so did the cop. I know the 'faith vs works'-deal is a big part of their identity, but I don't think most religions propagate that never caring about God and just ambling through life and not being too evil is enough. I think Buddism is the only thing that gets close, but only somewhat. Those dastardly work-righteous-Catholics, for instance, have a whole procedure of going to a priest to admit your sins and then praying for them to be forgiven.

It is just weird to see how active they are in US politics, ensuring that non-RTCs are banned by law from doing 'sinfull' acts (abortion, gay marriage, practicing other religions freely, etc.) even though they keep insisting that just not doing those things doesn't matter jackshit to Zod. So what's the point of forbidding them? Zod still hates the people who don't commit those sins enough to cast them into hell, so he can't care all that much.

chris the cynic said...

I think that when characters that resemble actual human beings come through in these books it's the result of one of two things. One is the often discussed way the authors' own humanity seems to claw its way to the surface when they're not looking.

The other is that they do in fact have lives and have in fact met people in those lives. When an atheist says something that seems reasonable and realistic, it may be because a real live atheist actually said it to the author at one point. The atheist's subsequent unrealistic reaction to the RTC's response is the way the author thinks the conversation should have gone.

Just a theory.


I'm increasingly thinking of Verna as someone who studied classics, so I'm picturing her thinking of the quote, "Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones," in Latin as she says this.

The quote is misattributed to Marcus Aurelius. I'm picturing Verna as having translated it into Latin, mostly for the hell of it, when she learned that Aurelius never really said it.

Yeah, my brain is odd.

(Well, how can it, the whole answer is only a number. But you get the point.)

You're ignoring the possibility that god is a vital part of the question. And the fact that there must be gods as someone had to write the final message to their creation. It has to be real, Marvin saw it.

Firedrake said...

chris the cynic, on that basis one could regard these books as the world's biggest (and most profitable) revenge fantasy. "They won't be laughing at me any more when they're all burning in Hell forever!"

Ivan said...

"A localboy kicked me in the butt last week.
I just smiled at him, and I turned the other cheek.
I really don't care, in fact I wish him well.
Cause I'll be laughing my head off when he's burning in Hell!"

Ruby said...

"But haven't you ever been curious?" Loretta said. "Most people look for some kind of deeper meaning in life than what they see from day to day."

Screw you, Loretta, my life has whatever meaning I choose to give it.

Gah, these Kids books are actually much more anti-atheist than the adult versions. Weird.