Sunday, October 12, 2014

What the Deep-Fried Hell?!

If you like reading about travel logistics and wrong-headed preaching, then this week's post is for you! Sorry it's late: yesterday was a busy day for me.

Those of you know I do have a tendency to repeat myself. I apologize for that but there's really only so many ways you can say Ellanjay Know Nothing About Humans or Their God is a Cruel Bastard. Like I said, maybe because I'm not experiencing the suffering first hand, but I find myself in awe of our dear Fred's ability to take only a few pages from the adult series and say so much more than just "This is awful." Fred, if by some chance you're reading this blog, me and all the other snarkers out there salute you. Here's a song for you.

Judd is sitting and waiting for the plane that will take him and Lionel to Petra. Once they get to Petra, they'll be flown back to the states. Ellanjay do try to set the stage, but given their hatred of painting in anything but broad strokes...yeah.

JUDD sat in the tiny car near a runway on the outskirts of Saarbrücken and listened to Jacques explain the history of the region. The area had switched hands so many times in the past century that it was hard to keep up with all the changes. But one thing was certain: The Global Community now controlled Saarbrücken.

Here I raise an eyebrow. Hasn't the Global Community controlled every place on earth except Petra for nearly four years now? Try to keep track of your worldbuilding, Ellanjay.

So Judd, Lionel, and Westin sit around and wait for five hours. After five hours with no plane in sight, Judd finally calls Chang to ask what's up. Chang's ever helpful response is to shrug his shoulders and say that the plane should have been there five hours ago.

We do get a mention of that paragon of awesomeness aka Taylor Graham. That's the sole reason I'm quoting this section. For those who haven't yet been exposed to the awesomeness that is Taylor Graham, I'll give you a quick primer. Taylor Graham was Conrad's brother and while he didn't kiss the Tribbles' ass and kneel before Zod, he still rebelled against the GC. Unlike the so-called rebels in this series, Taylor actually did stuff rather than just pull stupid pranks and look disdainful. He remains the only character who recognized the gap between the GC's words and actions: everyone else just assumed being a pistol-packing pacifist made perfect sense. He died, along with his partner in awesome, in a suitably cool fashion, thumbing his nose both at the GC and Zod. If you want to know more, click the tag "Taylor is Awesome."

Judd thought of Taylor Graham, a pilot who had taken a lot of chances to help the kids. It was a plan Taylor would have loved, but Judd felt queasy as he explained it to the others.

I find myself wondering why the writers felt a need to mention Taylor again. Is this just their annoying habit of dredging up forgotten characters or is there some deeper zen meaning? Ah, heck, y'all are probably tired of me going on and on about Taylor so let's move on.

A plane finally lands. But horrors of horrors, both the plane and the pilot have the GC logo. However will our brave heroes escape?!

Well for those of you who were finally hoping something exciting would happen...gotta break it to you. Nothing happens. Turns out the pilot's an RTC named Jerry Kingston and the Mark's a fake. I have no idea if Jerry Kingston appears in the adult books and I'm too lazy to look it up for myself, but Ellanjay do bother to give us a description.

The man was just under six feet tall, had sandy blond hair, and a day’s growth of beard. On his forehead was a -6, the mark of the United North American States. He put his palm to the mark, rubbed it hard, then grasped the edges with his fingers and peeled it from his skin. “Friend of mine made this for me. Lets me move around the GC without drawing suspicion.” He put out his hand. “Jerry Kingston. Are you Westin?”

Again, they make a point in mentioning his height even though the only way someone would know someone's exact height just by looking at them would be if this was staged in front of one of those height things at the gas station. But it's vitally important for the audience to know that while Jerry's a manly RTC, he's not as manly as Our Buck or St. Rayford, both of whom are taller than six feet.

So now that they're in the air, Jerry decides to tell us his story. :whimpers: I'll sum it up. Jerry was in the Air Force, doing a tour overseas (they never say where overseas) with his RTC buddy, Brad. While they were flying, the Rapture happened, Brad was bamfed out of his flight suit and plane. Jerry later joined the GC, but had his qualms about some of the stuff they were having him do.

“Then I started noticing things about the GC. Orders that came down that didn’t seem like what a peace-loving group would do. When I challenged them, I was told the orders came from the highest level.”

Have to admit when I first read this line, I got a little excited thinking maybe we finally, finally have another character who recognizes the gap between Nicky's alleged pacifistic beliefs and his actions. But how quickly, how very quickly that hope was squelched. Oh, Taylor Graham, no one can replace you and I should really stop grasping at any hope that someone could.

“What did they ask you to do?” Judd said.
“Just drop a little nuclear warhead on London,” Jerry said with a scowl. “Can you believe I did that?”
“I remember that,” Lionel said. “Thousands were killed.”

:grinds teeth: So Jerry's killed thousands of people by his own admission but the RTCs just welcome him with open arms, not even bothering to suggest he be tried as a war criminal, even though, yeah, I'm fairly certain the Hague would consider nuking London to be a war crime and Nuremburg proved you can't use, "I was just following orders," as an excuse. To be fair, I'm not sure the RTCs have the means to hold war crimes tribunals but they have all these planes and just about every other kind of tech at Petra, so don't try to tell me they're just a plucky group of rag-clad rebels.

Before, you mention Paul, keep in mind we're talking about completely different scales. Nuking a major metropolitan city is on a completely different scale from his alleged persecution of the church back when he was called Saul. I'm sure there are some London RTCs who will admit they're glad Jerry's an RTC, they probably still want to see justice done.

More and more, I think of the conundrum aunursa likes to propose to RTCs: if Hitler or one of the SS made a sincere confession of faith before they died, would they go to Heaven while Anne Frank and the rest of their victims burned in Hell?

Sorry to make so much hay over a few lines, but it cheesed me off.

Jerry admits that after nuking London he couldn't live himself, so he flew out into the ocean, planning to dive-bomb and kill himself. But he has an epiphany and pulls out of the nosedive just in time. He googles "eternity" and apparently Token Jew's website was the first thing that came up. In the interest of curiosity, I'm going to do the same. Well, I have to say I'm disappointed. Most of what came up was just definitions. I was hoping it'd be porn so I could make a cheap "Internet is for Porn" joke and provide some links to the few, the proud, the blog-readers. Sorry.

Anyway, after reading Token Jew's site, Jerry converted, left the GC, and became a member of the Co-Op.

Second chapter, they finally, at long last, arrive in Petra.

Lionel walks around eating the manna and quail that magically falls from Heaven. Ignoring the fact that bamfing some manna from Heaven into the hands of an undecided would really help them make a decision, I've gotta say, "Zod, could you bother to send down some lime trees or something? Ever hear of Scurvy? It's not a fun way to go."

We then get to the wrong-headed preaching part of this week's section, when Lionel finally decides to ask some questions of Token Jew. His question is essentially this: after all these miracles, how come people still don't believe.

Yeah, about these miracles...let's consult Wikipedia for the definition of a miracle.

A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (God or gods), a miracle worker, a saint or a religious leader. Theologians say that, with divine providence, gods regularly work through created nature yet are free to work without, above, or against it as well.

The word "miracle" is often used to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a "wonderful" occurrence, regardless of likelihood, such as a birth. Other miracles might be: survival of an illness diagnosed as terminal, escaping a life-threatening situation or 'beating the odds'. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles

I suppose if we use that definition then Zod has been doing miracles, but it's the nature of these miracles we need to talk about. If terrorists rendered your water undrinkable, killing millions, would your kneejerk response be to embrace their beliefs because clearly their cause is right and just? Didn't think so. RTCs are basically as many have put it, Cthulhu cultists except that Lovecraft, who by all accounts was a racist asshole, at least he knew you couldn't claim that the Old Ones did what they did out of love.

So Lione's like "Why can't God just make them believe?" Here's Token Jew's response.

“Our God is sovereign, which means he is involved in all of the events of this world. He knew you would ask this question. He knew Judd would not accept his parents’ faith and be left behind. He knew my family would be killed.”

Again, by their own admission, Ellanjay admit that God is responsible for all the evil in this 'verse. Maybe you think I'm being extreme but if you say God is involved in all the events in this world, you can't credit him with the good without crediting him with the bad.

Lionel then asks the obvious question: "Why didn't he stop that?" And of course, Token Jew gives a weaksauce answer.

“Our ways are not his ways. I do not understand why he let my family be killed, but I know that he is in control. And though we would like to make everyone believe the truth about him, he has chosen to give each person the freedom to choose or reject him.”

Yeah, about that...I've got to dredge up a question I ask a lot about RTCs. Since they came up with that weaselly Age of Accountability shtick, I'm going to assume that those under twelve, along with miscarriages and stillbirths, are safe. But what about the profoundly retarded unable to choose or reject or uncontacted peoples like the people of North Sentinel Island? I've heard regarding uncontacted people that RTCs will allow them in, saying that God forgives them for never having heard of Christ, but in that case, why do they send out missionaries to try to convert people? Remember, if they've heard of Christ and rejected him, they go to Hell when they die, whereas if they'd never been witnessed to by the missionaries, they'd get into Heaven.

Lionel scrunched up his face and looked around the room. “I’m not trying to be difficult. I really don’t understand how God can want people to come to him and not make it happen.”

“If God forced people to become believers, they would have no choice. They would be acting like robots. Instead, God demonstrated his love by dying for them, in their place on the cross, and allows each person to accept or reject God’s sacrifice.”

Every hear of a Hobson's Choice, Ellanjay? You've made it clear that those who choose to reject wind up in Hell, so no one really has a choice here.

The conversation, thankfully draws to an end after this, with Chaim and Token Jew basically saying, keep trying to rack up converts, which would be nice advice if Lionel ever actually followed it. But he doesn't.

The chapter ends with Vicki's viewpoint. They've made it to the new hideout and settled in. Tanya's upset because her father's dead, but I have a feeling this won't lead to her reading the other parts of the Bible and asking Vicki some very pointed questions.

Most of the section is taken up with Marshall giving his testimony. Not another testimony in less than two chapters. Make the bad men stop with that overused plot device! A hint to aspiring writers out there: having sections where a character drones on about their life and choices is boring as hell. There's a reason everyone skips the Chapter Two of a Babysitters' Club novel.

Because this snark is getting hella long, I'll try to wrap it up. Marshall owned a Christian Radio station and knew a lot of preachers and a lot of Bible verses but didn't have Jesus in his heart. When the Rapture happened, he was left behind. He got religion and has been an RTC since.

Sorry that this post is hella long and ranty. All I can say is buttons were pushed.


aunursa said...

But what about the profoundly retarded unable to choose

L&J would say that those without the mental capacity to understand are automatically saved.

Mouse said...

Okay, aunursa, you're more a scholar of the RTC mindset than me. I've got another question: if by some chance an SS officer made a sincere conversion, does that mean he's in Heaven, whereas Anne Frank and his victims are burning in Hell?

And of course, Ellanjay allowing the developmentally delayed in... that raises so many questions too. Like if someone is chronologically, I don't know, twenty but functions mentally at the level of a twelve-year-old are they still covered in the Rapture? Then again, the whole "If you're twelve and up, you will be tried as an adult," thing is pretty awful. Even if you ignore that those of their politics tend to endorse candidates who believe if you're poor and black, you should be tried as an adult at twelve, whereas if you're rich and white, you can have youthful indiscretions well into your fifties. I mean, really what's the difference between someone who is a 11 years and 364 days old and someone who is 12 years and one day old? I'll stop: this comment's getting long and I'm getting hemorrhages trying to work it all out.

aunursa said...

I've got another question: if by some chance an SS officer made a sincere conversion, does that mean he's in Heaven, whereas Anne Frank and his victims are burning in Hell?

Typically they will hem and haw and try to avoid giving a direct answer. But if you can pin him down, an honest RTC will admit that the answer is "Yes. The born-again Nazi is in heaven and Anne Frank is in hell."

"what's the difference between someone who is a 11 years and 364 days old and someone who is 12 years and one day old?"

It's not a specific line. It's the age of accountability, which would be different for different people based on a person's mental capability. One person might be able to understand at age 10, while another person might be 20 when she is able to understand.

aunursa said...

Apparently L&J believe that most people would be able to understand and make an informed decision at about age 11-13.

Firedrake said...

Oddly enough, Saarbrücken was called that before any of the bridges across the Saar were built. But it's certainly a good crossing-place, and so of course it's been fought over.

I know that peeling off the fake mark makes for good cinema, but it's lousy security. What happens if a GC guard happens to be looking your way?

Ooh, yes, thousands die in the nuclear bombing of London. You get "thousands" of people in one freaking building, L&J! I know you like to pretend to be small-town boys but this is getting beyond a joke.

(And while I'm not as keen on eliminating the passive voice as some people, I do feel that "you killed thousands of people" would have more punch!)

The Zod-miracle style is basically the same deal as the Conquistadors or the Independence Day film: "I am just this much tougher than you, you have no chance to survive make your obeisance". Generally in a modern (especially post-WWII) story that's something the bad guys do, before the scrappy heroic resistance comes together to fight them.

I don't think retarded people are ever explicitly mentioned in the LB books, though I'll admit I haven't read them all. But let's face it, this is a series which largely ignores the vaporisation of all the children because the vaporisation of a much smaller number of RTCs is so much more interesting. (In LB book 1: "Up to a certain age, which is probably different for each individual, we believe God will not hold a child accountable for a decision that must be made with heart and mind, fully cognizant of the ramifications.")

And yeah, this is the pathological extreme of faith over works: it doesn't matter what you did or didn't do, the only thing that counts is whether your faith is right.

Mouse said...

Re: Age of Accountability:

I think they mentioned way back in the single digits that all the Raptured children were younger than Ryan (who was twelve at the time of the Rapture) which is where I got the Age of Accountability only applies to those twelve and younger. Because when you start to get hair down there, that's proof you're ready to be tried as an adult. Never mind that I heard the brain isn't really developed until you're twenty. But there's a reason I call the Age of Accountability thing weaselly. Yeah it's better than the alternative but when you have to come up with all this weaselly reasoning to soften the blow of your horrific theology, maybe it's time to start asking some questions about your theology.

They do have one member of the YTF who might be mentally retarded: Charlie. They don't actually give him a diagnosis--they just keep calling him slow--so I'm forced to conclude that maybe they'll cut some slack if you're really stunted but if you're just Forest Gump (in other words, a little slow), you're screwed.

Stardust said...

Hmm, so would it be possible for an adult someone to claim they just don't understand the concept of god and therefore they can't go to hell?

I'm guessing that wouldn't fly. Be worth a try, though.

Mr. Knox said...

As far as unreached people go, there are some RTCs/fundamentalists that believe the rapture won't happen until the Gospel has been translated into all languages on the earth. I went to a missionary camp that specialized in linguistics and translation to deep-jungle tribes. I can't remember which verse it is that talks about the gospel and all tongues of the land or whatever; it's been a while.

Anonymous said...

Seed of Bismuth Said ...
they can't have a trail for Jerry because then Saint Steele would have to account for his 9, NINE! nuclear bombs in USA while giving Nick [mountain range] the stink-eye.