Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oy Gevalt!

What have the YTF been up to? I'm sure you're all dying to know, so I'll tell you: they've been busy reading email responses to the Underground and giving out Bibles. Thrillsville.

Meanwhile, Vicki is curious to know more about the Steins' daughter, Chaya, so she starts digging around for information and it turns out, despite the Steins saying she's dead, she's actually alive. [cue dramatic prairie dog]

Well, she meets up with Chaya and they talk about her last conversation with Chaya's christian friend, Tom. And Chaya talks about how her parents would have reacted if she had told them she had become a Christian.

"Becoming a heretic. Believing lies. Turning your back on everything you've been taught. I could have robbed a bank, gotten pregnant--whatever--and it wouldn't have been as terrible as becoming a Christian. A couple of years ago a friend of the family became a Christian, and I thought my parents would sit shivah for him on the day he was baptized."

Once again, I am handicapped by the fact I am a Christian and therefore, am ignorant of much of Jewish culture, but right now I'm going, "O RLY?" at the whole they'd rather have me rob a bank than become a Christian. Because it seems like Ellanjay's perception of Jews is that of some guys with beards going "Oy Gevalt." all the time. I bet if I were to ask Ellanjay what Jews eat, they would answer, "Bagels," and they probably think that Jews spend all their time, sitting around denying that Jesus is the Messiah, when in reality, they have their own traditions and own scriptures to debate.

Now to the next chapter. It turns out Judd has decided to leave for Jewishstan, aka Israel. Great show of leadership, genius, leaving a thirteen-year-old and a twelve-year-old to look after each other. Before you ask, Bruce "Useless" Barnes is going with him.

Anyway we get the Athiest Inquisition round deux, but it turns out that Coach Handlesmen was pretending to be on their side. He was the one who returned Mark and John's bibles to them and he has taken all the blame for the YTF's paper.

Anyway to make a long story short, at the end of the second chapter, Bruce and Judd are on their way to Israel and Vicki and Chaya are on the run from the eeevil athiests.

Now to the third chapter.

Bruce and Judd are on the plane and we finally get a brief discussion of dating, though both of them pussy-foot around the subject a little. You just know that Judd is dying to get into Vicki's pants but wants permission from the Pope of Mount Prospect, aka Bruce, and to Bruce's credit, he doesn't exactly say no but neither does he say yes. I guess part of him realizes the old scare stories they use to scare kids into not having sex aren't going to work when the world has less than seven years to live and both Bruce and Judd know it. Still rather than suggest that Judd just marry Vicki and get to shagging, Bruce tells him to work on his relationship with Zod.

Okay, so they get to Israel and meet with Token Jew's wife and kids. Naturally, they are all Christians and they decide to give Judd a tour of Israel. In the hands of a good writer, the telling of all the sacred sites they see and their reaction to it, could take up several pages, but unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, we're in the hands of Ellanjay who delegates all this to one paragraph.

Judd was amazed to think that Jesus had actually walked these same roads, carried the cross, was crucified, and rose again in this ancient land. He was awestruck at the Garden of Gethsemane. That afternoon, the Bible came alive to him.

It's times like this that I wish we were in the hands of a real hack writer like Dan Brown or anybody besides Ellanjay. Reading this passage is like watching a slide show with someone standing in front of the screen the whole time, blocking the view. At least a hack writer would let us see the sites a little.

So Judd goes to Teddy Kollek stadium where Moishe and Eli are proclaiming their message.

"You have been gathered from the twelve tribes of Israel, the chosen ones of the Almighty. And we have been given the high calling of proclaiming his name to every nation, every tribe, every tongue--"

This is supposed to be inspiring but I can't help but wonder which twelve tribes they're talking about. I also doubt that any of the Jews could say for certain which tribe they belong to, because after centuries and centuries of marriages, it would be impossible to distinguish one from another. Not to mention, the bible can't even agree on the tribes. As Fred put it, if I was a Danite, I'd be highly insulted.

They go on to recite basic scripture which anyone remotely familiar with the Bible would know, but Ellanjay realizes they don't have the talent needed to write the words of a prophet so they just quote bits of scripture and have the other characters say how inspiring they are in hopes of covering the deficit.

Anyway, the chapter ends with Vicki being arrested after breaking into Judd's house and I headdesk at her stupidity and decide to let you all discuss Ellanjay's latest failings in the comments section.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Token Jew Says, "What?!"

Well in this chapter we finally hear from Token Jew aka Tsion-Ben-Judah. Now, a few of you readers new to the Left Behind series might be a little offended that I refer to Tsion as Token Jew, but the truth is, Tsion Ben-Judah serves as Ellanjay's concession, as their way of saying, "See we don't think all Jews are wrong-headed idiots." Because that's what they do think. According to them, Jews exist to serve one purpose: to return to Israel and to convert or die in the last act of Armageddon.

It's not hard to see the anti-Semitism that colours this view. Maybe they're not saying "Hitler was right" but they are saying that their views are wrong, clung to by stubbornness and ignorance (which is a step above the disingenousness they accuse every other religion of). They basically believe that Jews are cute but wrong, needing only to hear of the almighty truth of Jesus in order to become good Christians.

To quote Gershom Gorenburg's review of the Left Behind series, for a Jewish person, reading this series is like "The experience is jarring, like meeting someone who calls you by your name, insists he knows you, remembers you from a high school you didn't attend, a job you never had. I'm reading a book set largely in the country where I live -- but not really, because the authors' Israel is a landscape of their imagination, and the characters called "Jews" might as well be named hobbits or warlocks. Israel and Jews are central to Nicolae and the other books of the hugely successful Left Behind series -- but the country belongs to the map of a Christian myth; the people speak lines from a script foreign to flesh-and-blood Jews."

That about sums it up Ellanjay's views and if we didn't have so much more wrongheadedness to go through, we could stop there, but we do so let's continue.

First of all, there is no reason for the Israel government to appoint Tsion Ben-Judah to do his study in the first place for the same reason you don't see the US appointing a minister to find out when the second coming of Christ will be: a truly secular government has more important things to devote time and money then to finding out the answers to questions like how many angels could dance on the end of a pen.

Anyway, back to the story. Right now, Vicki has been released from the Detention center and sent to live with a Jewish couple. Which makes sense: most social workers would frown on a fourteen-year-old girl living with only a sixteen-year-old boy and Bruce "Useless" Barnes as guardians. Why they haven't put the rest of the YTF in foster homes, I don't know.

So she's watching the news and Tsion Ben-Judah comes on.

"I promise not to bore you with statistics, but we believe that there are at least 109 separate and distinct prophecies Messiah must fulfill. They require a man so unusual and a life so unique as to eliminate all pretenders."

And right now I'm playing the Wikipedian Protester. I looked up the specific 109 number and I only found a bunch of Christian websites, and even they couldn't agree on the specific number of prophecies that point towards the messiah. I did look up Jewish Messianism on Wikipedia to find out what they say about the Messiah and here's a list of what they consider Messianic prophecies:

Isaiah 1:26: "And I will restore your judges as at first and your counsellors as in the beginning; afterwards you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City." Some Jews interpret this to mean that the Sanhedrin will be re-established. (Isaiah 1:26)

Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)

The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:11-17)

He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:8-10, 2 Chronicles 7:18)

The "spirit of the Lord" will be upon him, and he will have a "fear of God" (Isaiah 11:2)

Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)

Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)

He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)

All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)

Death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8)

There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)

All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)

The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)

He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)

Nations will recognize the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)

The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)

The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)

Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)

The people of Israel will have direct access to the Torah through their minds and Torah study will become the study of the wisdom of the heart (Jeremiah 31:33)

He will give you all the worthy desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)

He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9)

Sorry for the bigass quote but things needed to be said. And before anybody objects I am aware Wikipedia is not the bestest most accurate source in the world, but I consider it a hell of a lot more accurate than Ellanjay.

Meanwhile, back to the list...Ask yourselves, how many of those prophecies did Jesus fulfill? Little to none. The Messiah is supposed to be a figure who brings peace to the Jewish people yet ever since the time of Jesus, they've faced continual threats of extinction.

Besides, not even the Jews and the Christians can agree on what constitutes a messianic prophecy. I've seen websites pull from Psalms as examples of prophecy which is completely not the intent of the book of Psalms. Psalms is a collection of hymns and prayers, not prophecies.

Okay, deep breath, back to the story.

Ol' Tsion recites the usual story about how the Messiah is born of a virgin than proceeds to say this headslapper.

"Let me close by saying that the three years I have invested in searching the sacred writings of Moses and the prophets have been the most rewarding of my life. I expanded my study to books of history and other sacred writings, including the New Testament of the Gentiles, combing every record I could find to see if anyone has ever lived up to the messianic qualifications..."

If you didn't find at least one reason to headdesk in that last paragraph, your IQ is below sea level. Why would Jews consult outside works to explain a Jewish prophecy. Wouldn't it make more sense for them to dig into their own works, studying their history and authorship?

Again, the paragraph doesn't mention if Token Jew sullied himself by reading the Koran, or Buddhist Suttras, or the Upanishads, but if he or Ellanjay had even bothered to take a glimpse at another culture's religion, they would discover that the virgin birth is a fairly common motif, claimed of many figures such as Mohammad and Buddha.

He goes on to point out usual prophecies that aren't on wikipedia's list and then says on that I've tried to verify but when I googled it, only Christian websites would come up, not Jewish.

"According to one of the greatest of all Hebrew prophets, Daniel, there would be exactly 483 years between the decree to rebuld the wall and the city of Jersualem would be 'in troublesome times' before the Messiah would be cut off for the sins of the people."
Ben-Judah looked directly into the camera. "Exactly 483 years after the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its walls, Jesus Christ of Nazerath offered himself to the nation of Israel."

:headdesks again: Again, I remind you I cannot verify this 483 years bit, but I can point out one thing: the world and Israel is still in troublesome times even after Jesus's life and that's probably what we should focus on, not on this whether or not it counts as exactly 483 years or not. Poverty and war are still rampant even though according to Messianic prophecy they were supposed to be ended.

Also, this reading of the prophets, as only picking and nitpicking out verses that could conceivably relate to a Messiah, ignores the real purpose of the prophets. The prophets weren't just a bunch of clairvoyants; they were passionate, wild-eyed people who loved social justice and still have much they could say for us today. But as said before, Social Justice equals commie-talk among RTCs.

Vicki's family turns off the TV then and Vicki goes into her room and reads the journal of their disappeared daughter, Chaya. Chaya had apparently started to wonder if Jesus was the messiah.

Meanwhile, back to Bruce "Useless" Barnes and the rest of YTF. Apparently a militia movement has started to stockpile guns, which, given what Bruce knows about the next seven years, stocking up guns and food and water should be a reasonable thing to do. But Bruce isn't thrilled about the idea of them joining the militia.

"There may be a place for military strength," Bruce said. "But I would hate to see you get involved with them."
"But why? If somebody doesn't stand up to Carpathia we'll all be serving the devil! I don't see why you're against this."

Neither do I. As I recall, don't the TF end up forming a militia? But I have a feeling, Bruce is more objecting to them serving under someone besides him than really the idea of a militia itself. Bruce then cites Ephesians 6, but still Mark isn't convinced.

"Why can't I be a Christian and fight with weapons?" Mark said. "The Bible is full of examples."

That is true and Bruce could say that he could fight against Carpathia by helping to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison. That is what Christ would do and doing what He would do, would be opposing the anti-Christ, but luckily Bruce is a manly man and doesn't go for that wussy touchy-feely stuff.

"Just be sure that you're doing this God's way. Zechariah 4:6 says, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.'"

And with that, I'll leave you all to discuss. Please, if any of you are scholars of Judaism, fill in the gaps of my lack of knowledge. I have done my best with Google and Wikipedia but I realize neither is what you could call a reliable source. Again, I am handicapped by the fact I don't have a degree in Theology like Fred and can't give the best information on the scriptures, their meaning, and the history behind them.

Sorry to do only one chapter this week, but I think I've made a good, substantial post, nonetheless. :grins:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thrill as Our Heroes Bravely Watch Television!

You'll be pleased to know I'm back to just covering two chapters.

This chapter begins with Moishe and Eli receiting verses from the Bible because even Jenkins is smart enough to realize he can't possibly create prose worthy of prophets. I'm just disappointed that he didn't replicate Stephen's sermon to the Sanhedrin though that Stephen did have a tendency to go on about social justice, stuff that RTCs just can't get behind.

Anyway, we do get this wonderful quote from Bruce which makes you want to slam your head repeatedly against your desk.

For those of you wondering, this is referring to a Muslim graveyard on the site.

"Jewish tradition says that in the end times, Messiah and Elijah will lead the Jews to the temple in triumph through the gate from the east. But Elijah is a priest and walking through a graveyard would defile him, so they put a cemetery there to make the triumphal entry impossible."

Ah, those evil Muslims, always acting so evil and muslim. You got to wonder that if the Muslims didn't believe in the messiah, why would they bother with such calculating evil?

Sorry for the poor quality of the snark but I tried to find out more information on the Muslim graveyard but all that came up were websites of dubious quality making similar claims as Ellanjay.

Vicki, meanwhile is in solitary and tries to witness to the girl who got her locked up to no avail.

But it turns out, the eeevil they were trying to use a message from Vicki as a trap, but the YTF figure it out in time, and return home only to see a police car in the driveway. It turns out someone tried to break in and Ryan called Tom Fogarty. Pity, I was rather hoping that he had somehow escaped the book. Anyway, that's the end of that chapter.

Ugh, all they do is hand out their stupid paper and watch TV at school. Does Ellanjay really believe this is how you hook in those young'uns, with lots of tv-watching action?

Basically, for those curious, it's a repeat of what happened in the adult books, with the treaty, the gift of air force one, and everyone being surprisingingly willing to destroy their weapons like characters in a bad Superman movie.

That's it for this week. Next week, we finally hear from the incredibly wrong-headed prophet, Tsion ben Judah.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vicki's Got Stripes

So Vicki is let go but she soon discovers she's being followed. She even resorts to hiding in a dumpster to escape from them, but is soon found. Luckily Judd rescues her and it's off to another Trib Force meeting. What are our brave heroes doing? Listening to the radio and here's what it has to say.

"Not a day has passed without some major development with new UN Secretary-General Nicholae Carpathia," the reporter said. "And today was no exception. Cincinnatti Archbishop Peter Cardinal Matthews, who some see as a successor to the vanished pope, announced a new cooperative religion that will incorporate the tenets of all major religions. He calls it the Global Community Faith."

Fred has already gone into great detail about why this is impossible so I won't talk much on the subject except to further state that it is. Sure I mean people will agree on a few basic tenets such as "murder is wrong" but Christians have killed other Christians over issues such as infant baptism, let alone factoring other faiths such as Islam, or Buddhism, or Animism, and on and on.

But the eevil stooges of the Public School system pick up Vicki and haul her away to a social worker and it is decided that Vicki will be placed in a detention center.

I had considered only doing two chapters but so little has happened, I think I'll throw in a third, just to keep my dear readers happy.

Basically in the next chapter, the boys are working on the next edition of the Underground, throwing in some information on the temple as given to them by Buck from Rabbi Marc Feinberg. I've decided not to quote the passage in full because it's the basic information any of us knows about the history of the temple. It's like Buck basically copied from the Encyclopedia Britannica. I will point out one detail: it says the Dome of the Rock is on Mount Moriah. Emphasis mine. That means it's on a mountain that you can't just pick up and move. Too bad Ellanjay copied the information without it ever sinking in.

But meanwhile at the Detention Center, Vicki is getting aquainted with her new life. In addition to having her stuff compensated, the eevil athiest detention center aslo has a chaplain. Most of the kids nod off during the chaplain's sermon, but Vicki is disgusted.

"God is love and love comes from God. He is in each of you and if you want his lght, you must embrace him. I encourage you to search for God in your own way. Become yourself as much as you can, and you will grow ever closer to the divine."

Naturally Vicki is appalled though I don't see really why. The first sentence of the sermon is a basic tenet of most peoples' faith. The rest is a bunch of new-agey crap that wouldn't work in this new world. In a world where all the children have been snatched, they would be demanding answers, not wanting to hold hands and sing kumbayah.

But someone plants joints in Vicki's bible so she's busted and has to spend five days in solitary.

At the end of this chapter, we get the first appearance of Chloe Steele who is worried about her dad taking the job with Carpathia. Apparently he told Carpathia, he was a Christian which is exactly the thing you say to the anti-Christ. And the YTF and TF's collective response is "I hope that doesn't get him in trouble," and the sound you hear is me banging my head against my desk repeatedly.