Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Kindness of the Damned

Having fooled the The Keystone Kops GC with his ingenious "They went thataway!" ruse, Judd is on the run, trying to find help for Lionel. Eventually he finds a road leading to a town and though he and Lionel had avoided the main roads, Judd realizes that he has to take the chance if he's going to get help for Lionel. He finds a sign pointing towards a hospital and heads in that direction. Me, I'm breathless with anticipation wondering what BS excuse Judd's going to come up with in order to hide his lack of a Mark. Because y'know the hospital will probably check. Let me guess, what'll probably happen is he'll pull down a hat and be like, "Uh, yeah, I totally have the Mark" and since the GC have never heard of lying, it'll totally work.

Anyway, we cut to Lionel. Lionel is still trapped under a boulder. While wondering about Judd, his phone rings. He answers it and it's Vicki. They proceed to have an awfully cheery conversation, when you take into account that one of the participants is stranded out in the wilderness with a massive boulder on his arm and no food and they haven't even mentioned the water situation.

Anyway, towards the end of this ridiculously cheery conversation, we finally find out what our stalwart heroine, Vicki, has been doing to try to help Judd and Lionel.

“I had Conrad put out a message on the Web site—”
“No. I don’t want to alert the GC.”
“We didn’t give your location. We just put out an SOS so people could pray.”

The record-scratch sound effect seemed the most appropriate way of describing my reaction.

That's what you've been doing Vicki?! The physical and mental equivalent of posting something on your Facebook feed or on Craigslist or whatever and going, "Hey my friend is in life-threatening danger somewhere out in the wilderness. Could you please think some nice thoughts in his direction as opposed to organizing search parties or doing anything that would actually help? kthnxbye." FUCK YOU, VICKI! YOU HAVE A GENERAL IDEA OF WHERE LIONEL MIGHT BE AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN TRYING TO PROVIDE ANY KIND OF SUBSTANTIAL AID! NOT GOING ORGANIZE SEARCH PARTIES OR ANYTHING AT ALL! VICKI, I AWARD YOU NO POINTS AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL! [/ragedump]

Okay, now that I've gotten some of my rage out of my system, I'll provide some slightly less profanity-laden criticism. I suppose maybe the reason Vicki isn't on the phone with every Tribble who might be able to help is because maybe she finally realized that using websites and cell phones to communicate with your rebels-in-arms when you're hiding from an enemy who controls all the infrastructure involved with those things, is a damn stupid idea. I would go with that excuse except WE'VE WATCHED THE TRIBBLES BLATANTLY USE CELL PHONES AND POST SHIT ON THE INTERNET WITHOUT EVER GIVING ANY THOUGHT TO GC MONITORING! AND NOW WHEN A COMRADE IS IN LIFE-THREATENING DANGER, WHEN IT MIGHT DO SOME REAL GOOD, NOW VICKI'S AFRAID OF MAKING CONTACT WITH OTHER TRIBBLES?!

:deep breath:

Vicki hangs up and Lionel is alone again. He finds himself looking at his trapped arm and his knife and wondering if he should cut off his arm. My response: yes, Lionel you should. Since your friends' idea of helping you consist of abandoning you when you need them most and occasionally thinking nice thoughts at you, you should. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if you've taken Ryan's place as the Butt Monkey in this series.

But Lionel decides to wait for Judd.

Judd finally reaches the hospital parking lot. He notices all the expensive vehicles including a Humvee, watches and listens in on a doctor treating a patient. He hides in the parking lot, waiting for a doctor to emerge.

Judd's genius plan for getting a doctor? Well, basically he slid a pipe under the Humvee's tires. When the doctor goes to check, Judd ambushes him and begs him to help his friend. And if you thought I was done with ragedumps for this week, just you wait. If you're wondering the doctor, whose name is Patrick Rose, has the Mark, but he does agree to help Judd, taking him to his home.

Next chapter, Judd is in Dr. Rose's house. Dr. Rose, by now, has realized that Judd doesn't have the Mark and has made the obvious conclusion. Yet rather than just pick up the phone, turn Judd in, and collect the reward money, Dr. Rose continues to be very nice to him, feeding him an omelet and fresh OJ. Granted, at first, I was headdesking at all this because Judd never thinks for a moment that it could be drugged or poisoned or something, just jumps right in and starts eating, but given what we later learn about Dr. Rose in the chapter...yeah, soon you'll be grinding your teeth along with me.

As, Judd eats, he and Dr. Rose talk.

“So, are you a Judah-ite?”
“What difference does it make? If I don’t have the mark you can take me to the GC and get your reward.”
Dr. Rose glanced around the kitchen. “Does it look like I need money?”
“You’re not going to turn me in?”
Dr. Rose took a mouthful of food and sat back. “I became a doctor so I could help people. And I’ve never been impressed with Nicolae, though he did bring sanity when the world fell apart. Coming back from the dead was nothing short of a medical miracle, but I can see through the act.”
“You don’t think Nicolae is god?”
“Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. At the end of the day, it doesn’t do much for my patients. Which brings us to your friend.”

So as you can tell, Dr. Rose is a nice, caring physician, WHO IS GOING TO SUFFER FOR ALL ETERNITY BECAUSE OF A STUPID TATTOO EVEN THOUGH HE'S DOING WHAT THE TRIBBLES ONLY TALK ABOUT DOING, HELPING PEOPLE! But I should parcel out my ragedumps a little more carefully because it's going to get worse for him, much worse.

We get a brief interlude with Lionel. It's started to rain and Lionel's desperately praying, trying to figure out what he should do. In the hands of even an adequate writer, this could be a great, dramatic scene. All the elements are there: an injured, abandoned teenager panicking and trying desperately to figure out what to do next. But as you probably guessed, Lionel's emotional state is only briefly touched upon. Remember if Ellanjay actually showed how horrible the Apocalypse would be for those who didn't say The Prayer, not only would that cut back on all the fun of Haw-hawing as those sinners burn, but their RTC fanbase might :gasp: start asking questions about how all this suffering, inflicted by God, lines up with their assertation that their God is a loving god. We can't have that!

We then get this moment after Lionel prays yet again:

Lionel thought about his prayer. God was his strength. It would take God’s power to move the stone. Unless …
Maybe the reason God hadn’t sent an angel or brought Judd back was because God wanted Lionel to act. Did God want to show his strength through Lionel’s weakness? God winds up showing his strength by not helping Lionel, instead forcing Lionel to cut off his own arm in order to free himself?! HOW IN ANYBODY'S NAME DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?!

It's like a said before: in this series, no matter what, God gets credit for all the good and none of the bad. If a firefighter races into a burning building and rescues a dozen children, that was God acting through him. If a gunman rushes into a building and kills a dozen children, there's blather about free will and how it's totally not God's fault.

The section ends with Lionel looking at his knife and asking God to make it clear whether he should wait for Judd or do something else.

Now we cut back to Dr. Rose and Judd. The section begins with a truly infuriating passage, but I warn you, it is only going to get worse.

Judd couldn’t understand why Dr. Rose was acting like a friend. Could Judd trust anyone with the mark of Carpathia? The man’s eternal destiny was sealed, so there was no sense explaining the truth of God and the Bible. And yet, the man didn’t seem concerned that Judd was an enemy of the Global Community.

Y'know if Ellanjay or whoever wrote this series had some FUCKING CONSISTENCY, it might work. Ellanjay believe that the world can be divided into two groups: the Saved and the Hardened Reprobates Who Deserve to Burn. Fine, but in order for this to work, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY SHOW THE HARDENED REPROBATES AS BEING COMPLETE AND TOTALLY UNREDEEMABLE ASSHOLES! But it's already been shown that Dr. Rose, despite having the Mark that damns you forever no matter what you do, is a kind, caring physician. He's willing to help Judd and Lionel and he's stated that he doesn't believe Nicky's BS. SO THE FACT THAT HE'S DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY REALLY PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF!

But then again, that seems to be a common thread among ex-Fundamentalists. Those who were raised in the strictures of Fundamentalism and eventually left, often talk about what made them decide to leave, and this whole division of the world into The Saved and The Damned, often plays a huge part. There are countless examples, but right now, I'm thinking of the account of Carolyn Jessop. Carolyn Jessop was raised within the confines of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints and like many of Christian Fundamentalist backgrounds, she grew up hearing about how the world outside the faith is evil and wants to hurt the true believers. At 18, she was married off to an older man in the community who had three wives already and proceeded to endure one high-risk pregnancy after another. Her seventh child (she eventually had a total of eight children) was born with special needs. By this point, she had already started to have her doubts about her faith, but it was the kindness of the doctors, who helped changed her mind. She talks about how the doctors were always so compassionate and kind to her and her children, despite their beliefs, showing sympathy towards her struggle to raise her kids, while her fellow believers in the faith, scoffed at her and told her that her child's health problems were her fault for being an unfaithful wife.

So for those going tl;dr, it was the kindness of the Damned, as opposed to the cruelty of the Faithful, was what eventually led her to take her chances in the outside world.

Okay back to the story.

Dr. Rose collects more information on Lionel's condition from Judd and finally states the obvious: that at this point, Lionel is going to lose his arm. The only question is whether they'd be able to save the rest of him. Judd asks "Why are you helping me?" and we get this response.

“I figure, if you’ve made it this far, and if you’re willing to risk your life for your friend, you deserve a chance. The GC may catch you. That’s none of my business. My job is to help anybody I find who’s hurt.”

The only justifiable response to this is the gnashing of teeth and the shouting of "Fuck you!" over and over again. Because as said before, Dr. Rose is actually helping people, while the Tribbles hide in their hole-in-the-ground and talk about it. YET GUESS WHICH ONE IS DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY TO A PLACE OF UNIMAGINABLE TORMENT?!

Since Dr. Rose had mentioned having a wife at some point, Judd, being a compassionate RTC, decides to ask about her. Turns out, as you probably guessed, that Dr. Rose's wife, along with their unborn child, was slaughtered by God during the Rapture, while he was doing a shift at the hospital. Dr. Rose continues to be a sympathetic character as he talks about all the chaos of that night.

Judd's like "What do you think happened?" And Dr. Rose, continuing to be in the lead for the Gold Medal in the Sympathetic Character Olympics, says that he's heard a lot of theories, but it doesn't really matter because he knows they're not coming back. Which, again, is a sensible response. As Fred has mentioned in his posts, Ellanjay make big deal about how those raptured aren't actually dead, but it's hard to see the difference. Gone is gone, whether they were whisked away like Elijah or crashed the car.

Judd's like "I know where they are" but Dr. Rose gives a mild "STFU." There's silence for a bit, but then Dr. Rose is like "All right, so where are they?" After asking a few more questions about the doctor's late wife, Judd launches into his spiel about how Jesus died for your sins and all that. Dr. Rose is like "Yeah, yeah," but then asks about whether they'll see their loved ones again, oh and brace yourselves for what's to come. Marshal up all your rage and profanity because believe me, you're going to need it.

Judd pursed his lips. “Those who accept the gift God offers will see those who disappeared again. That’s one of God’s promises.”

:grinds teeth: In the interest of prying a truffle out of a pig's snout, let me point out that Judd is resisting the urge to go "Nah nah nah! I'm saved and you're not!" That's something isn't it.

Dr. Rose responds by slamming on the brakes, sending Judd forward, and proceeds to chew him out.

“That’s what frosts me about you people. You’re so sure about everything, and it’s all in the future. Someday you’ll do this, and someday God’s going to make everything better. At least Carpathia does stuff for us right now.”

Not a bad smackdown, though Dr. Rose could also point out that according to Judd, GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE SHIT AND MISERY THAT'S HAPPENING WHILE NICKY TRIES TO HELP PEOPLE! but I'll take what I can get.

Judd's like "Nicky's the enemy of God" and starts to say that those who take his Mark are damned, to which Dr. Rose is like "so they don't get a chance at your little after-death party?" Judd's like "I'm just telling you what I believe. If you wanna turn me into the GC, go right ahead."

Dr. Rose, continuing to be sympathetic, is like "If I wanted to do that, believe me, your head would be rolling on the ground." He then asks, "What does your Bible say about me?"

And here's Judd's response:

Judd took a breath. “Taking the mark of Nicolae and worshiping his image means you’ve made your choice.”

I've thought and thought and scoured YouTube but I can't find the right clip to adequately illustrate just how much I hate Ellanjay and their dumbass beliefs. Okay this clip kind of illustrates my reaction to this scene, but still.

I must point out that even after all this, Dr. Rose doesn't do what I would do, which is shove that little sanctimonious turd out of a moving car or rat him out to the GC. What happens after Judd said all that is Dr. Rose receives a page. He makes a phone call and makes a U-turn back to the hospital. According to him, a GC official was ambushed by rebels and the hospital needs his help to patch him up. Judd's like "Can someone else do it?" and Dr. Rose says that the head of the hospital asked specifically for him and wouldn't take no for an answer. Judd asks "What about Lionel?" and finally, Dr. Rose, whom I'm starting to wonder if I should dub him Dr. Awesome, says this:

“So that’s his name, huh? Lionel will have to hold out until we can get to him.” Dr. Rose scowled. “Of course, if we don’t get to him in time, God’ll just take him to heaven, right?”

Gotta give the good doctor credit: he really does have the RTCs' number here. It doesn't matter if he does anything to help Lionel because as said before, Lionel's said The Prayer so no matter what he does, he'll get into Heaven. The RTCs love to boldly proclaim that they aren't afraid of dying, but their boasts ring awful hollow.

:massages temples:

I thought the fact that they had shuffled Joel and Aron off-screen meant that there wouldn't be as many infuriating, blood pressure raising passages in this book. I was wrong. Sorry about all the anger, bitterness, and profanity. I'll try to be more snarky next week, but I can make no guarantees.


Blank Ron said...

Is there any way we can make Dr Rose the hero of these books? He seems to be as close to an ACTUAL Christian as we've seen in these books so far and probably ever WILL see... which means that he's probably either going to drink the kool-aid or die a pointless, implausible death...

Mouse said...

Given that Dr. Rose has the Mark and merely having the Mark damns you forever, regardless of your motivations for taking it in the first place or even if you regret it like Joel, I have feeling Ellanjay are going to have Dr. Rose commit a Kick the Dog moment. But if and when they do, it will read totally false, given what's been shone about him so far, and also whatever crimes Dr. Rose has committed...yeah, kind of pale in comparison to those of the hero of this series. Dammit! Even my strongest curses feel too weak given what I'm up against this week!

aunursa said...

Leah Rose is a nurse who joins the Tribble Force in Book #6 of the main series. (Rose is her married name; her husband committed suicide, I think shortly after their children disappeared in the Rapture.)

I wonder if she's related to Dr. Patrick Rose.

Mouse said...

I don't know, aunursa. Not like Rose is a super uncommon surname. But yeah, hearing about how God slaughtered Dr. Rose's RTC wife and unborn child...yeah, only makes him more sympathetic. In my head, I write my own version of this series where Joel, Dr. Rose, Taylor, and Hasina work together, doing battle against the forces of evil.

aunursa said...

I see them praying earnestly:

"O Lord, please rescue me from this disaster and put me in a better-written series."

Firedrake said...

Like funerals, in the real world praying is mostly about the attitude of the person doing it. Which is fair enough.

But with a god that actually does stuff, praying is silly because it assumes (a) god doesn't already know the situation or (b) god doesn't know how you feel about the situation. But if god does know both those things, well, are you saying you have a better idea of what's the best thing to happen than god does?

If Ryan cuts off his arm, can the arm get a part in a better book?

Of course, it may be that all we see of hell is a fa├žade designed to make the incurable RTCs think that everyone else is suffering eternally – because that's what they need in order to be in their personal paradise. Poor things.

aunursa said...

The Left Behind God is a whimsical deity. A number of the main Tribbles are saved through acts of divine interventions, especially in the later books in the series. But other characters, who were not endowed with divine favor by author Jerry Jenkins, are not so fortunate.

One scene that was recently discussed on Slacktivist speaks directly to your point about the irrational view of prayer, Firedrake. Loretta receives a premonition that Buck is in a dire situation and needs the other Tribbles to pray for him. If this is a direct message FROM GOD HIMSELF, why would Buck's life or death depend on the number of people praying for him?

spiritplumber said...

Does Dr. Rose survive until the final judgement? If so, I'd like to put him in Tripocalypse.