Sunday, May 26, 2013

Those Jewishy Jews

Sorry about being late with the post. Let's just say stuff happened and leave it at that.

So apparently I was wrong about how they went about smuggling Marjorie back to the GC. I thought that they used the GC truck to do it but apparently they've kept it and been monitoring GC transmissions. Now I can't help but think that if Marjorie's safely back in GC hands, she's probably ratted them out for stealing the truck meaning that the GC should be looking for them or at least they should have changed their radio stations so the YTF can't casually listen in on their transmissions.

So the YTF listen in on the eeevil GC and we learn that the eevil GC has decided to very eeevilly give their Morale Monitors stun-guns so that if they suspect someone's a Judah-ite, they can just stun them into submission. Y'know what would work better for an evil government run by the anti-Christ: actual guns. That way they don't have to bother with imprisoning them and wasting valuable resources feeding and sheltering them. Remember the world only has maybe three or four years to live so there's really no point in reeducation.

The section ends with the YTF hearing the sound of GC helicopters. But just in case you were afraid something might actually happen that might endanger their operation, fear not. Conrad throws a sheet over the truck's satellite dish and they continue their work.

In Israel, Judd meets up with Mr. Stein who's at the meeting handing out his pamphlets, when he runs into some Orthodox Jews. Mr. Stein tries to convert them but the Orthodox Jews are all inscrutable and Jewish and say that while they hate Carpathia, they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. I could question how Mr. Stein could tell they were Orthodox Jews given that Ellanjay seem to believe that Jews have a hive mind; therefore they all wear forelocks and have beards and all the accoutrements associated with Hassidic Jews. Anyone wanna tell them about Reform Jews? Again, I'm going to defer to Gershom Gorenberg's take on Left Behind's treatment of Jews:

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.

But the eeevil GC peace-keepers burst in. Everyone's scared except the brave RTCs, of course. Mr. Stein starts praying and suddenly, the peace-keepers are swept aside. One starts freaking out about the two men surrounding Mr. Stein, which the astute reader knows are angels, and the chapter ends with Mr. Stein saying this:

Mr. Stein smiled. “God has protected us again. We asked for his help and he has given it.”

Uh, what about all those innocent children and babies who died from drinking bad water? What about all those RTC groups that got arrested because the YTF trusted Chris Traickin when they really shouldn't have? Nice to know that Zod personally decided to take time out from killing everybody so none should perish to help you out. I know it's not an exact parallel but I'm reminded of Snopes's takedown of a very obnoxious glurge.

Next chapter begins with the YTF working towards setting their plan to hijack the GC broadcast in motion. But that's kind of boring, so let's jump back to Israel.

The Peace-keepers want to run like hell but Mr. Stein talks them into staying and hearing the message. Afterwards, several pray and Judd is approached by a man who gives him a business car. Given that the man is given two sentences worth of cliched description, I immediately knew he would be eventually given a name and play a bigger role than a mere walk-on. Turns out I'm right. His name is General Solomon Zimmerman, and given what's later revealed about him being an Israeli general that makes yet another Jewish character with a Jewy McJew kind of name.

So they go to General Jew's (that's my name for this guy) house. To Judd's surprise, General Jew has several copies of the Bible because no one in Ellanjayland collects religious literature because they have a general interest in religion. He admits though, he didn't collect these Bibles because he always believed the truth.

“I studied the Bible because to me it was a book of warfare. In my military history classes I learned, and later taught, about the many battles described in what you call the Old Testament. There is great wisdom in the way Gideon divided his men, the way King David attacked the Philistines, and of course, God’s soldier Joshua, and the way he took Jericho. In all the time I studied those battles, I never considered them of any spiritual importance. They were simply stories. Now that I know the truth, they are much more than stories.”

Uh, I'm fairly certain the Jewish scripture covers most of the Old Testament and that the general wouldn't have to get Bibles to read about King David and Joshua. Also, while the Old Testament is an interesting work that contains several battles, I'm not sure how it works as a guide to military strategy. For example, I'm fairly certain that we can't count on the sun to stay up to give us longer time to kill our enemies and the jawbone of an ass probably wouldn't do much against tanks and machine guns. Just a thought.

But it turns out the General witnessed the Russian-Ethiopian-Third Country I've forgotten attack on Israel. Lionel asks him about it and the bulk of the section is taken up with him describing what happened.

Meanwhile, in America, the YTF are continuing to work on their plan to hijack the satellite. There is a brief mention from Conrad about his brother, aka the awesome Taylor Graham, which really should have come up sooner given that they're freaking brothers you'd think Conrad would actually care that Taylor died unsaved and is burning in Hell for all eternity. This moment is over quickly and it doesn't mention the "Burning in Hell" part.

But the chapter ends with a horrifying discovery: the satellite has been damaged so they can't send out their message. Uh-oh, this would actually be worrying if I didn't know that nothing bad happens to the YTF and I couldn't smell a divine intervention coming in off the port valve.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Marjorie escapes but Janie doesn't

So Vicki and Marjorie decide to talk with Vicki taking Marjorie through RTC-ianity. Naturally rather than quoting the verses that might do some good, the verses which predict every disaster that has befallen humanity thus far, Vicki does the standard "Jesus died for our sins" spiel as though she were living in our world where God is a matter of faith, as opposed to the LB-verse in which he bats aside nukes like their children's playthings.

Vicki mentions the "God can't allow sin in his presence" bit.

“That doesn’t seem fair. I only do one bad thing and I get the death penalty?”
Vicki explained God’s holiness. “Say you have a gorgeous new Morale Monitor uniform. You’ve just shined all the buttons, you have a pair of bright white gloves on, and then you find out somebody has worn your boots and walked through mud.”
“I’d be ticked.”
“Would you wear the boots?”
“Of course not. I’d shine ’em up.”
“Right,” Vicki said. “Now think about God. Every part of him is perfect. Would you expect him to allow anything in his presence that’s not perfect?”
“I guess not. But that would mean we’re all doomed.”
“Exactly, but stick with me. God knew we were all imperfect. He knew we’d do bad stuff, and that even one sin is enough to separate us from him forever.”

Y'know if God knows were imperfect because he created us as such, doesn't that make his whole "one mistake and you're out of the ballgame" thing reflect a little badly on him? But apparently his hands are tied by his own rules he created, so for the crime of not being perfect, he's condemned billions to Hell.

And people wonder why I keep bringing up comparisons to Lovecraft.

But Marjorie is still refusing to take the bait saying that if she had to choose between Jesus and Nicky, she'd choose Nicky. Vicki quotes the Gospel according to George W. Bush: You're either for Jesus or against him. Marjorie responds by saying that Nicky believes that Jesus was a great teacher which gives Vicki an excuse to dust off the "Liar-Lunatic-Lord" trilemma.

But in spite of this, the section ends with Marjorie continuing to praise Nicky, saying that he's gotten them through hard times. Once again, I can point out that given that Nicky's infrastructure has withstood several acts of Zod back to back, I'm going to have to side with Nicky as well.

In Israel, Judd and the others are collecting their flyers, when Jamal pulls him aside. Jamal has given up on the plan to assassinate Nicky, but Kasim hasn't so he asks Judd to follow him closely and when Kasim puts his plan into motion, stop him. That's all that happens before we're back in America.

What happens is Janie starts laying out her past before Marjorie and I start cringing because I can see Janie's upcoming lobotomization for TurboJesus coming and I can't stop it, no matter how many times I beg and plead. It really does break your heart as once again, a kid is being torn into and made to feel ashamed for being a kid, but then again, that's what happens when you follow the golden rule of RTC-ianity which is essentially "One mistake and you're out of the ball game."

There's another awkward cut back to Israel. All that happens is Lionel wakes up early, feels the need to pray but he doesn't know for whom to pray, talks with Hat Dude, and finally decides to pray for Vicki.

So both Janie and Marjorie want to pray and Vicki leads them in The Prayer.

“God, I believe you’re there and that you care for me. I’m sorry for the bad things I’ve done. Forgive me. I believe Jesus died in my place on the cross, and right now I want to receive the gift you’re offering me. Change my life from the inside out. Save me from my sin and help me to follow you every day of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Note again how it is the basic same prayer and that until Janie utters it, even though she's crying out to God and confessing her sins, she doesn't get the mark. Because The Prayer is essentially a form of spell-casting allowing you to untie Zod's hands (which he alone tied).

After saying The Prayer, Janie has the mark, which means she's now a lobotomized follower of Zod. But Marjorie doesn't. Dun-Dun-Dun.

Now, if we were in a series where the heroes weren't dumber than rocks, someone would smell a rat with Marjorie and take immediate action. But all that happens at the beginning of the next chapter is Vicki asks Marjorie to room with her, then tells Mark to call an emergency YTF meeting.

In Israel, Judd receives an email from Token Jew. I'm not going to disect since it basically says, "I'm sorry for your loss" and little more than that. But lest you think that the Tribbles are sipping non-alcoholic grape juice while the world outside burns, we do find out that they are suffering. Apparently the hole-in-the-ground is very hot during the summer. So our brave heroes have to endure this without air conditioning. :gasp::choke: You mean to tell me the apocalypse involves real suffering?!

But in the midst of this discussion, Mark and Vicki come in and the YTF have a discussion about Marjorie and come to the conclusion that she's conning them. They decide they have to get her away from the schoolhouse but at the same time, they know that once she's out of their hands, she'll rat them all out to the GC. So naturally they decide to imprison her indefinitely without trial because that's the only Christian thing to do.

Anyway, Marjorie is going a little over-the-top in this whole God thing, not that I can blame her: I'd probably do whatever I had to in order to escape the Tribbles. She manages to get her radio and gun back, but the YTF give her drugged lemonade, which she drinks and promptly passes out. Amateur mistake, drinking something given to you by the enemy, Marjorie.

They radio in a phony distress call then smuggle Marjorie in the van and drop her off.

Meanwhile, Judd meets up with Kasim. Kasim is poised and ready to shoot Nicky but asks Judd to get him a rifle with a scope. The chapter ends with Kasim opening the Bible to Revelation 13 which says that the beast will be fatally wounded. Naturally he's come to the conclusion that he's the one who is going to fatally wound said beast.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Warning! Ragedump ahead!

So okay, the YTF aren't completely rock-stupid: they emptied Marjorie's gun and disabled her radio so she can't call for backup. That still doesn't cancel out the complete rock-stupidity of keeping her at the school in the first place, but I take whatever crumbs I can get from these stories.

The conversation between the YTF and Marjorie is mostly bluster so I'll do a lot of summarizing. As always, the Strawman (or woman in this case) always has a point.

The YTF try to convert her but she points out that the Judah-ites (ugh, really hate that term) are the primary suspects in these mysterious attacks and I have to commend Nicky for showing some villain cred by blaming a hated minority that has been unscathed by most of the suffering. It's pretty much the only smart decision he's ever made.

So like I said, the only argument the YTF have is "God did it!" and Marjorie, who's on the fast track to becoming a favorite character, chews them out.

“Right. It was God who let my parents and most of my friends get killed. It was God who killed our principal at Nicolae High. Mrs. Jenness was one of my best friends.…”

Naturally if you're expecting the YTF to total this argument in a dazzling display of wit, you clearly haven't been reading this series. Hello and welcome to the blog. The YTF can't give any kind of response except "Let us help you," because they know that Marjorie's right: God did kill her parents and her friends and he's going to kill two-thirds of the world's population in order that not one might perish, but have eternal life, unless they do perish in which case they have eternal life in Hell.

In Israel, the news media, having read the book summary, have moved on from discussing the recent mysterious terrorist attack that's left millions dead worldwide to more pertinent earth-shattering news: the GC is holding a gala. Judd and Mr. Stein brainstorm about how to witness at said gala and come to this genius conclusion: they're going to hand out pamphlets. My laughter cannot be derisive enough.

But Kasim pulls Judd aside while he's on his way to the print shop. Kasim has decided to assassinate Nicky Blackwelder on the first night of the gala in order to save the witnesses. Judd's all "The Bible says--" but Kasim says he's determined to do his part and rid the world of this evil man and he needs Judd's help, because his dad wussed out on him. Judd is reluctant, but agrees to help him though he says Kasim would do more good by spreading Token Jew's message. But Kasim says nothing will keep him from his mission and that's where the Israel section ends.

In America, well, I think I'll copy and paste so you can see for yourself what's going on.

Vicki didn’t want to lock Marjorie in the basement hideout, but the kids couldn’t let her get away. Vicki made sure Marjorie didn’t see the door to the underground tunnel and that there was enough food and water for the night.

Remember kids, when the GC imprisons people indefinitely in their gulags for believing the wrong things, that's wrong. When Brave RTCs imprison people indefinitely, they're showing pure Christian love. Again, I know killing Marjorie would definitely cause the series to take a darker turn, but they can't deny that imprisoning her and lovebombing her in the hopes that eventually she'll become a good lobotomized follower of Zod, isn't helping much either. It'd be nice if this series would acknowledge the shades of grey that in wartime, sometimes you have to make hard decisions that don't have clear right or wrong answers, but this series refuses to acknowledge the existence of shades of grey and therefore has the heroes do repulsive things while remaining pure and holy because what matters is not what they do, but their saved/unsaved status.

Marjorie tries to spook the YTF by pointing out that the GC are looking for her at the satellite schools, but Mark says it'll take them a few days to reorganize after the attacks. Marjorie then asks them to turn up the radio so she can listen to Nicky's speech.

Nicky's speech is, like all his speeches, a collection of cliches, notable only for the part where he accuses the enemies of peace of causing all this. Then comes this really headdesking part of his speech. Warning, brace yourselves...

“I have plans for at least two of our enemies, and those plans will be carried out at the Gala in Jerusalem. It is time for us to put the death and grieving aside. And so I invite you, wherever you are, to this grand party. Even those who are against our ideals should come. To show how accepting and tolerant I am, I extend a personal invitation to Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah. He may attend our celebration as an international statesman.”
“That shows you what kind of man the potentate is,” Marjorie said. “He even invites his enemies.”
The camera pulled back as Carpathia walked to the front of his massive desk. “We have every reason to want revenge, but as your leader and a man committed to peace, I offer one more opportunity to our enemies. Let us put aside our differences and strive together for a new world of love and unity. Join the faith of your brothers and sisters across the planet, the Enigma Babylon One World Faith.”



Ahem, Nicky let me explain something to you. I'll even use all-caps in order to drive the point home.



Sorry about that but the sheer amount of stupid overwhelmed me for a bit. Out of curiosity, just what do they put in tranquilizer darts and is it possible/safe to mainline it?

I'll be charitable an assume that Nicky's statement was supposed to come across as vaguely menacing, but given that it has the same delivery as all his other speeches, chalk it up to yet another thing that Ellanjay fails at.

Anyway, there's really not much more to say for this chapter. Janie comes downstairs and Marjorie recognizes her. I know I shouldn't only do one chapter, but a lot goes down in the next, so I guess this will do for this week.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Seeing Shades of Grey

Okay so Mark's big idea is to steal the GC truck as a means of getting out of there. The others react with horror to this idea, though I don't see why: they regularly break the law by being RTCs and browsing Token Jew's website, so what's wrong with a little grand theft auto?

But in addition to using the truck to get back to their hideyhole, Mark wants to use the equipment inside to hack the feed for the school so they can get their message out. On one hand, this is a better idea than their stupid newspaper (which I still say was probably balled up and thrown away rather than read) but how exactly would having a GC truck enable them to do some hacking?

But Vicki isn't cool with this. She says if God wants them to do this, he'll provide a way. Mark's response is essentially mine: What if this is God providing a way? Mark points out that Our Buck and Token Jew break the law on a daily basis and I have to sa I'm a bit disappointed with this argument, mostly because it should have come up a lot sooner in this series. Remember it's against the law to be an RTC, so shouldn't they have been dealing with moral conundrums sooner? Like is it all right to lie to the GC if they ask you, point blank, if you're an RTC?

Oh and almost as though they read my previous snark where I pointed out that Lionel's virtually disappeared from this series, next section focuses on Lionel in Israel. He finds himself reflecting on the past three years (apparently that's how much time has passed in this series) and even though I've made my distaste for this character known, I almost feel sorry for him. Lionel spends his section thinking about his slaughtered missing family and castigating himself for not treating them better. I suppose this kind of survivor's guilt is common, but to me it felt like the writers heaping guilt on a kid simply for being a kid and y'know, occasionally picking on his older sister and being a brat to his younger siblings. I wanna hug him, but quickly this rare introspective moment ends as Lionel approaches the Gruesome Twosome (GT).

Nothing happens in the next Vicki section except that Mark changes the flat tire and they all, minus Mark because there wasn't enough room in the car for him, speed away from the scene.

So Lionel approaches the GT and we finally get description as to what Moist and Ellie look like.

They still wore sackcloth robes and looked like the picture of John the Baptist in Lionel’s first Bible. They had dark, leathery skin, and their feet were dirty. Their bony hands stuck out of their clothes like sticks, and their long gray hair and beards floated in the breeze.

So yeah, in addition to sounding like crazy hobos, they also look like them. I'll admit eccentric appearances/behaviors is par the course for biblical prophets but since when has looking and sounding like a crazed hobo attracted an audience of dazzled followers? Then again as Fred has already pointed out, as soon as the GT started attracting a crowd, the authorities would have diagnosed them with Jerusalem Syndrome and had them hospitalized.

Lionel asks them when they will die. The answer, if you're wondering, is after 1260 days. The section ends with him looking up the day and gasping.

Mark calls Carl and finally arrives in the truck. Naturally Vicki is pissed, but according to Mark, the GC listed this vehicle as having been destroyed in the attack. Because when there's some mysterious attack and people are dropping like flies, a person's first instinct is to update the vehicle registry. But it also turns out that the Morale Monitor inside the truck, is actually alive, not dead as previously assumed.

Next chapter, Vicki is pissed at Mark for bringing the Morale Monitor, whose name is Marjorie Amherst, to the schoolhouse and putting them all in danger, a justifiable reason to be pissed if you ask me. Mark apologizes, saying if he had known, he wouldn't have taken the truck. Anyway, while they debate about what to do about the unconscious Marjorie, who apparently was infamous for wrecking the curve back when she was in school, which leads to Charlie asking how someone so smart could have been misled by Nicky. Vicki says that you'll never find God through human wisdom. Charlie asks if that means you can't be smart and believe in God. Ellanjay are smart enough not to give an emphatic Yes! to this question; Vicki just responds by quoting several verses about God choosing the things that are foolish in order to shame the wise. I really wish I had Fred's background in theology so I can properly dissect these verses, but oh well.

Mark's idea regarding Marjorie, is to blindfold her and he'll drive her away in the truck. But Melinda objects.

“Wait,” Melinda said. “Is that all we’re going to do with her, just ship her back? You didn’t do that with me. You guys were straight with me from the start.”

Surprisingly Vicki agrees with Melinda saying that they'll be honest with Marjorie and if she's okay with them, they'll leave her be; if not, they'll ship her back. Me, I can think of several flaws in this genius scheme and so can the readers of my blog. Remember when they say they'll be honest with Marjorie, by that they mean they'll admit to being members of a religion that's been declared illegal and punishable by gulag according to the dictates of the GC. This could form an interesting moral dilemma if Ellanjay were willing to look at, let alone tackle, shades of grey. Like would it be wrong if the YTF killed Marjorie in order to protect themselves and other RTCs? Or maybe they could just load Marjorie into the truck WHILE she's still unconscious and not have to face a potential dilemma on their hands.

In Israel, Lionel runs to meet up with Judd and the others. Apparently the GT have three months to live and will die during Nicky's big blowout, which I don't remember being mentioned before now.

Sam is horrified about them dying, but the RTCs, being well-versed in the Tribbles' philosophy of doing nothing scripture, are calm, saying that all things serve God and that God will raise the GT to life anyway.

Lionel motions for Kasim and his family and delivers a message given to him by the GT. The message is basically God hears the cries of the distressed and delivers them. Kasim thanks Lionel for his words but still no word on whether he's given up on his plan to kill Nicky.

Vicki and the others monitor Marjorie's condition, but the chapter ends with her regaining consciousness, grabbing her (empty) gun and saying, "Come inside and close the door, Judah-ite!"