Saturday, March 29, 2014

Terrible Handbooks

With this week, once again, Ellanjay try to create some tension about "OMG! Will Vicki make it?!" but as we all know, it fails miserably just like all the times before, because Ellanjay can't bear to have actual lasting harm come to their characters. Once again, I pity the RTC kids who got stuck with these books.

It is my understanding that people of Ellanjay's ilk tend to believe that the Rapture will happen within their lifetime and that these books are meant to serve as fictionalized handbooks for those left behind. In which case, Ellanjay do their readers a great disservice. There is nothing in here that would serve to help them should an evil dictatorship take over. Better to read The Hiding Place or even the first six chapters of Daniel (which Fred has already mentioned that they ignore).

Vicki's all "Why are we turning?" but Mark's like "Jim told us it was a good idea." I wish it would turn out that Jim was stringing them along, but I know it can't because it's already established that Jim has the Zod-mark so he can't be evil. Because Christians are never evil even though the vast majority of the Nazis identified as Christians. Yeah, I know I just invoked Godwin's Law here. Hopefully, it wasn't unnecessary.

Meanwhile, Judd and Lionel meet with Westin and they discuss Chang. Lionel wonders if Chang's a plant by the GC, but Judd believes there's more to the story: after all, Chang has the Zod-mark and you can't have that and be evil, like I said before.

Vicki goes to confront the truck tailing them but it turns out that the truck is being driven by Pete. For those of you wondering, "Who the Hell is that?" Pete's a trucker that Judd befriended following the Wrath of the Lambquake, but then again, all you really need to know about his character is that he's a believer. That tells you everything.

Pete tells Vicki he's been driving for Chloe's Co-Op and that he and a bunch of other believers are the ones responsible for diverting and destroying shipments of guillotines. Apparently Pete hasn't been as well-versed in the Tribbles ethos of doing nothing, because when questioned about stealing GC property, he gives this response:

“I guess you could call it that. I know some people might think it’s wrong, but I figure the only reason these contraptions exist is to kill believers. If I can do something to stop it, I will.”

Strangely enough, none of the YTF actually call him on this. I guess the "Do Nothing" ethos doesn't apply to characters that have been off-screen for 90% of the series.

The section ends with Ellanjay trying to set up the inevitable Vicki/Judd ship.

“No, what about Judd and you?”
Shelly rolled her eyes. “She doesn’t think anybody knows.”
Pete laughed. “Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see you two were meant for each other.”
Vicki blushed. “This isn’t anybody’s business.”
Pete playfully socked her shoulder. “When it’s my sister, it’s my business, you get me? You can deny it all you want, but just the way you’re reacting now tells me a lot.”
Vicki smiled. “Can we change the subject?”

Frankly given how boring and useless both Judd and Vicki are, it's safe to say that they deserve each other.

The chapter ends with Judd and Lionel finding out that Z-Van plans on taking the Mark. Shocker, I know.

Next chapter, Lionel follows Z-Van as he goes to get his mark, bravely demonstrating brave Christian witness by bravely saying nothing about how taking the mark damns you for all eternity. I know they've already tried to convert Z-Van but you'd think the brave martyrrific thing to do would be to try and try until they haul you off to the guillotine. Oh and Roy Donaldson makes another appearance. He's all keyed up to meet both Nicky (who will be present at Z-Van's marking) and Z-Van.

I keep digging around online trying to find out more about Roy Donaldson. Frankly he's made too many appearances to be just written off. I suspect either we'll have his conversion scene or he'll take the Mark. If the second one comes to pass, I'll feel a little sad because Roy so far has been nothing but a decent person to our heroes. But then again, according to Ellanjay, being good is meaningless unless you say The Prayer. After you've said the prayer, you can go on being the same person you were before then, but until you do, you're a hardened reprobate deserving of hellfire and damnation.

Meanwhile, it turns out that those believers Vicki wanted to rescue have already been taken into GC custody. But fear not! Our heroes have a plan.

Colin outlined the plan and everyone received their assignments. Pete would deliver the injector machines after dark that evening, while the others cut a hole in the fence outside the camp. Jim Dekker would put an order in from the fictitious Commander Blakely that all suspected Judah-ites be separated and left outside overnight. That would give the kids a chance to get their friends’ attention and free them. “Plus we don’t have to set foot inside the camp,” Colin said.

If you can't see several things wrong with this plan...Sorry I don't know how to properly portray just how dumb an idea this is. Whether it's dumber than Buck's plan to get Token Jew to Egypt is your call.

But there's a hitch in their plan. Turns out the place already has a guillotine and is just waiting on the injectors, which means that the YTF will have to go in earlier than expected. I suppose I should be grateful that they aren't just shrugging their shoulders and saying, "Well they're already believers so they'll go to Heaven so who cares if they die," but I'm not.

Vicki's section ends with Colin saying, "We need a decoy."

Next section, we get exciting reading action with Judd reading an email from Token Jew. Part of me keeps wondering if I should start a poll: Who is worse, Bruce "Useless" Barnes or Token Jew? Me, if forced to choose, I would have to give the edge to Token Jew. Not only does he make more appearances that Bruce "Useless" Barnes, but Token Jew manages to be a caricature of a culture that's already suffered more than enough persecution in its long history.

Anyway, Token Jew says not to fight Nicky and even Judd is like "WTF?" in response.

So, as worthy and noble a goal as it is to go on the offensive against the evil one, I believe we can do that most effectively by focusing on persuading the undecided to come to faith. Knowing that every day could be our last, that we could be found out and dragged to a mark application center, there to make our decision to die for the sake of Christ, we must be more urgent
about our task than ever.

That would be a noble task--preaching from the rooftops--that is if we ever saw the characters do that. So far, Judd has had ample chances to do so, but has wussed out every time. Something tells me the characters in the adult books don't do much better at this "Try to Convert the Heathens!" bit than the kids.

But Token Jew has good news. Wanna hear it?

I have good news for you. The Bible tells us that once one is either sealed by God as a believer or accepts the mark of loyalty to Antichrist, this is a once-and-for-all choice. … That tells me that somehow, when we face the ultimate test, God miraculously overcomes our evil, selfish flesh and gives us the grace and courage to make the right decision in spite of ourselves. My interpretation of this is that we will be unable to deny Jesus, unable to even choose the mark that would temporarily save our lives.

I'm reminded of that quote by Fred Clark that I posted last week about the appeal of martyr stories, how they reduce the hard struggle of Christian living down to a one question pass-or-fail test. It seems apt here, but since I posted it last week, I'm not going to post it again.

After reading Token Jew's epistle, Judd gets an email from Chang asking him to come meet him. Judd, not being completely rock-stupid, wonders whether it's such a smart idea and wonders what the Mark will do to Chang's soul.

The chapter ends with Lionel witnessing Z-Van take the Mark and if you're wondering, yes, he does bravely refuse to give Christian witness, knowing fully well that Z-Van's now damned for all eternity.

Lionel wanted to scream and tell Z-Van not to take the mark, not to sell his soul to the devil, but Lionel knew he was helpless. Z-Van stood spellbound by this enemy of God.

The chapter ends with Nicky turning towards the camera and saying "Who's next?"


aunursa said...

It is my understanding that people of Ellanjay's ilk tend to believe that the Rapture will happen within their lifetime

They believe that the Rapture could happen at any time. All of the prophetic pieces are in place. But they believe it will happen whenever God decides it will happen. It could happen in the next second. Or it could happen in 100 years.

and that these books are meant to serve as fictionalized handbooks for those left behind.

The books are meant to serve two purposes. For RTCs, they provide a fictional account of how prophecies written 1900+ years ago can take place in a contemporary world. For unbelievers, they are meant to bring them to accept Jesus so that they won't be left behind. Although they weren't written for the purpose of serving as a handbook, L&J would probably say that they could be used for that purpose.

There is online post-Rapture material. See for example...

Firedrake said...

aunursa, at least going by the RTCs I've met, while they claim to believe as you've stated in practice they'd probably be terribly disappointed if the Rapture didn't happen within their own lifetimes. In the extreme cases you get someone like Harold Camping.

Still, if I were trying to prepare people for a world like this, I'd give them practical books on survival techniques, shelters, and avoiding the notice of the secret police. (Also how to live on solid oxygen when the world freezes. Oops.)

Why doesn't anyone ever show up with a fake Zod-mark?

"Yeah, when it's my property, I mean my sister, it's my business."

As far as I can see, refusal to use the abundant proof available to the neo-RTCs is one of the big compromises the book makes to reach its avowed purpose as a propaganda tool: real RTCs now aren't able to say "look at that miracle", so the neo-RTCs of the TF can't do so either, even though it would be the obvious approach to take.

Dying for a cause is much easier than living for it.

spiritplumber said...

"Yeah, when it's my property, I mean my sister, it's my business."

Pete confirmed for Immortan Joe.