Saturday, March 14, 2015

God's Burninating UR Peasants!

Okay, first off, an announcement. Like I said last week, family issues have come up, so after this week, it'll probably be a couple weeks before I post another snark. I apologize but it's one of those things that just can't be helped. Wish I could give a definite time as to when I'll start posting again, but right now, I'm not sure. I just hope this snark will tide you over until then.

First off, for those of you somewhat curious as to, "Okay just what disasters are supposed to go down during the Tribulation," well here's an infographic of the entire timeline. Make of it what you will. Frankly it didn't help me much. Were it not for the fact that thanks in part to hucksters like Hagee, LaHaye, and Lindsay, millions of people actually believe this shit is going to go down exactly how the infographic lays it out, I'd assume whoever put this together was a schizophrenic patient with computer skills trying to make sense of a particularly bizarre dream. It does confirm that "the waters turning to blood" disaster does happen more than once, because apparently it takes several tries for the Almighty Creator of the Universe to pull this off.

Anyway, let's get on with it. Pick your poison of choice and eighties montage music of choice to get you pumped up and get to it.

As we've been hacking our way through this series, we've learned many surprising lessons. Such as apparently the Jewish people, far from being divided up into many different sects each with their own beliefs and interpretations regarding their scriptures, they're actually a collective similar to the Borg from Star Trek, except with beards. It's gotten to the point that whenever I read about a character identifying another character as being Jewish, I assume it's because the other character is wearing a Kippah, sporting sidelocks, eating a bagel, and shouting, "Oy vey!" at various intervals. Because that's what all Jews do, aside from spending all their time sitting around denying Jesus is the Messiah. Again, I don't know if Jewish Fiction is a thing the way Christian Fiction is (and we all know how universally awful most Christian fiction is), but I keep waiting for someone to publish Jewish fiction where all the Christian characters have names like Christian McLoveJesus and their lives revolve around doing non-Jewish practices like not circumcising their boys. I'm a firm believer in Turnabout is Fair Play.

Anyway, what we learn this week is that while it is wrong for Nicky to be all gleeful and happy when his enemies die horribly in nuclear fire, it's perfectly okay and just for Christians to celebrate when their enemies die horribly. I mean, love your enemies? What kind of Islamo-Commie-Fascist philosopher bullshit is that?

The chapter begins with, well, it's mostly just Chang talking to Judd over the phone. Chang is all excited about this disaster and because Ellanjay believe in padding almost as much as they believe in Telling, rather than Showing what's happening, basically Chang gives us a rundown on the SHIT WE ALREADY WITNESSED IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER!

Like I said before, high on my list of "Stuff that Makes Me Question the Existence of a Loving God" is the fact that both LaHaye and Jenkins are disgustingly rich despite showing absolutely no skill or any desire to improve said skill at all. I'm not sure where this goes on my list, but it's probably up there with the whole "Fred Phelps made it to his eighties, while Jim Henson, who by all accounts was a sweet man who loved entertaining people, died in his fifties."

Chang talks about watching Rasha (aka the redshirt who died in the previous snark) burn up along with anyone who tried to help her. He mentions that while she was a Carpathia follower, she had expressed interest in RTCism. But Chang is like, "Oh well she had the Mark so she was doomed anyway," and if you guessed he says this casually, as though he were talking about stubbing his toe, rather than a thinking, feeling human who's going to suffer for all eternity, give yourself a pat on the back and take several swigs of whatever booze you choose. I have a feeling you're going to need it this week.

Here's a sampling of the awfulness of this first section. You should know by now I'm a firm believer in "Misery Loves Company." Sometimes the only way you can endure pain is by spreading it around.

“It was awful,” Chang said. “A woman was walking her dog below us. She let go of the animal and tried to get inside a car, but she burned her hands on the door handles. The dog ran in a circle, trying to find some shade or relief from the heat, but it finally turned into a dog torch.”

Judd shuddered. “And the same thing happened to people?”

“They fell out of their cars. Tires exploded. I saw windshields melt. My boss ordered everyone into the basement.”

I have to admit that while many might see me getting upset over the dog as being really callous, especially since all these people are dying horribly and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Ellanjay are probably the type who say that animals don't have souls (so therefore, they aren't burning for all eternity like their owners). But it is still damn upsetting. If I bend my mind and pretend I'm a sociopath (much like the writers of these books and the characters in these books), I can almost justify Zod burninating the peasants, but is there a reason Ellanjay felt a need to drag animals into this? As if it isn't bad enough they're all probably either dead or will soon be dead as a result of poisoned water, you have to burn them alive? Seriously, WTF, Ellanjay!?

I am, of course, thinking of the much better written "Children of the Goats" series by ako on Right Behind. I know, given how much time has passed, that chances are ako has died in some kind of freak accident so we'll likely never get any more new installments, but I felt I should throw in some kind of palate cleanser for my poor, suffering readers.

I suppose if I was in a mood to be charitable, I could try to interpret the callousness of the characters as being similar to Tim O'Brien's characters in The Things They Carried in which the soldiers try to cope with their pain and suffering by using callous language to refer to someone dying like saying "they were offed" or "zapped while zipping." But thing is, O'Brien had shown how the soldiers were suffering both physically and emotionally and that this callous attitude was all a front to keep from falling to pieces.

Judd and Chang talk some more about the disaster, but eventually Judd hangs up and goes to Token Jew's website. And if you guessed he was all callous about it, give yourself more points. Said points are redeemable for a No-Prize of your choice.

My dear friends in Christ, I want you to know that we have reached another terrible milestone. For those of you in the former USA and other places where the sun is yet to rise, the deadly fourth Bowl Judgment has struck, as prophesied in the Bible, and every time zone in the world will be affected.

Here in Petra, by ten in the morning, people out in the sun without the seal of God were burned alive. This may seem an unparalleled opportunity to plead once again for the souls of men and women, because millions will lose loved ones. But the Scriptures also indicate that this may come so late in the hearts of the undecided that they will have already been hardened.

Is it weird that the part of this that I'm most confused about is the time zone factor? Token Jew uses the Book of Revelation as his source for the whole "Burninating the Peasants" plague, but I find myself wondering whether the attributed author, John, knew that the world was round. I suppose it's possible given that the Ancient Greeks had managed to figure out the Earth was round and one of them, Eratosthenes, managed to calculate Earth's circumference. From what I read, Eratosthenes, was off a little in his calculations but still managed to come pretty damn close, which is an amazing feat given that he didn't have much tech with which to do his calculations.

This makes me think of Roger Ebert's delightfully scathing review of End of Days, aka that movie where Arnold faces off against Satan. I'll provide a quote for those too lazy to click on the link.

Movies like this are particularly vulnerable to logic, and "End of Days'' even has a little fun trying to sort out the reasoning behind the satanic timetable. When Jericho has the Millennium Eve timetable explained to him, including the requirement that the Prince of Darkness do his dirty deed precisely between 11 p.m. and midnight, he asks the very question I was asking myself: "Eastern Standard Time?'' The answer, Jericho is told, is that the exact timing was meticulously worked out centuries ago by the Gregorian monks, and indeed their work on this project included, as a bonus spinoff, the invention of the Gregorian calendar.

Let's see. Rome is seven hours ahead of New York. In other words, those clever monks said, "The baby will be conceived between 6 and 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, Rome time, but that will be between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. in a city that does not yet exist, on a continent we have no knowledge of, assuming the world is round, and there are different times in different places as it revolves around the sun, which of course it would be a heresy to suggest.'' With headaches like this, no wonder they invented Gregorian chants to take the load off.

For a brief instant, Judd is somewhat horrified, but after reading the verse which is from Revelation 16, specifically verses eight through nine, he abandons that line of thought and goes back to thinking about how this will affect his ability to get laid before God takes away sex for everyone get back together with Vicki. He wonders if the Sun plague, which has been shown making cars explode, will affect RTC cars as well and the section ends with him deciding to call St. Rayford and see if he could help. Even though, I'm fairly certain planes aren't immune from exploding, but still.

After this, we cut back to Vicki and once again, Ellanjay try to pull off an Author's Saving Throw. Vicki is tired and frustrated because of the Cheryl issue, but there's also dissension in the ranks.

But Vicki had to admit that Cheryl wasn’t the only reason she was losing sleep. Members of the Young Tribulation Force had grown frustrated. Some wanted to take more chances to find people without the mark of Carpathia. Mark had talked about leaving the group and traveling, but Zeke had convinced him to stay.

Once again, kids are made out to be worse than Hitler for the crime of being kids. As many will tell you, people under high-stress situations like, say, the Apocalypse, don't always behave at their best. They often make stupid/rash decisions because they're tired and hungry and can't think straight, they fight and squabble for stupid reasons. After five years, Vicki should be used to this kind of shit by now, used to people being volatile and on edge.

Tanya's upset by all this fighting as well. Vicki tries to comfort her by talking about how God never said things would be easy for you, even after becoming a Believer. Tanya, in a rare human response, is like "If God loves us, why won't he solve our problems?" I was expecting Vicki to give some canned response to the issue, but for once, the writers let her actually respond in a human way.

Vicki couldn’t think of a Bible passage that addressed the subject, and she had to admit she felt the same way. She wanted God to fix things. The world’s troubles had united the kids for a time, but each day brought new struggles.

Something moved outside the cabin, and Vicki sat up. The moon shone through the curtains, casting an eerie glow. She strained to hear, but all was quiet.

If you guessed this moment doesn't last long, you guessed right. In the next paragraph, Vicki decides that if God brings Judd back to her, she could handle any problem.

After this, we cut back to Judd. The bulk of his section is taken up with his phone call to St. Rayford because that's what kids are into these days, Exciting!Phone!Action! I suppose I could make some tasteless joke about Ellanjay's hard-on for phones, but I won't. I just assume that portable phones or cell phones becoming ubiquitous was a high-water mark in their lives because no longer did they have to worry about the length of a phone cord while indulging their phone lust. They could hear that dial tone wherever they went. Yeah, I apologize for putting that visual in your heads, but if it's any consolation, it's in mine, and you know I believe in spreading pain around.

Anyway, Judd asks about how the Sun Plague will affect Believers. Rayford says that while the RTCs do feel a little warm, they aren't burning up in a ball of hellfire like those heathen unbelievers.

Judd gives Rayford his location and asks if said plague will affect planes. Rayford says he doesn't think the heat would affect the planes but cautions Judd saying don't get too excited about getting back to your designated love interest because the authors might still decide to pad things even more that they don't know how long this plague will last.

“I hope so. You have to understand we have no idea how long this will last. It could be a few hours, a few days, or weeks. Tsion cautioned that God has never been predictable with these plagues. We know the order they come in, and we used to think that when one ended the next one began. Now we know they can overlap. Tsion just doesn’t want to see us caught in the open when the thing ends.”

Uh, actually isn't the whole point of this series is that the End of the World is entirely predictable?! Don't you all have charts and graphs showing exactly when all these plagues will happen in the seven-year timeline? I thought the whole point of Ellanjay's thesis was that the truth was plain as the nose on your face and the only reason people don't immediately recognize their cobbled together interpretation of scripture, was because they hate God or something along those lines.

Also, the idea of overlap is a foreign one to them, the idea that one disaster could pave the way for another? Like with the Haiti Earthquake, the destroyed infrastructure inadvertently led to a Cholera outbreak and between those two factors (the destroyed infrastructure and the Cholera), a helluva a lot of people died. This is a foreign concept to them?!

I know I've made the joke before, but I'm starting to think that the Left Behind series was the favorite reading material of the Bush II administration. Certainly explain the clusterfuck that was their response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush II probably just assumed, "Oh it's just a hurricane. Surely those plucky people will be back to normal within days."

Ellanjay make an another attempt to convince us that "The world has really gone to Hell and people are totes suffering!" but like all their Saving Throws, it doesn't work because they just have the characters tell us instead of showing us the appalling misery. Words of advice to aspiring writers, if you want to show the progression of events from A to Q, you actually have to show us all the steps in between. Shouting "Q!" and hoping no one notices doesn't work!

Rayford gives an anecdote about the adventures of two evangelists in Germany. I'm going to assume this is yet another scrap thrown in for those who read the adult books, but since I don't really care, I'm going to fast-forward through it. The RTCs preached, they were ratted out, but Zod sent angels to save them.

Judd talks about how he's kind of given up on reaching the Undecided, but Rayford says this:

“This is the greatest rescue mission the earth has ever known. On the video reports about the wrath of the Lamb earthquake, people dug through collapsed buildings for days, even weeks, looking for just one survivor. In one hospital, they found a baby alive fifteen days after the earthquake. I like to think our mission is the same. We have to keep digging, keep praying, keep hoping that we’ll find someone who’s ready to hear the message.”

By people, I'm assuming Rayford is referring to those hardened reprobates aka the GC because I sure as hell haven't seen or heard of any of the Tribbles doing anything except reading their emails/talking on the phone. I could also point out that even if you hadn't rescued that baby, it would have been bamfed into Heaven and been spared more suffering on Earth, so why aren't you getting abortions and killing small children right and left? After all, if the kids get past the "You must be this short to be Raptured" line, they might :gasp: :choke: fall away and wind up damned for all eternity.

Reminds me of all the idiots who called Hurricane Katrina, God's punishment for aborting babies. My response is that God was so angry over people surgically aborting unborn life that he unleashed a disaster that probably killed many babies, unborn and otherwise, slowly from dehydration as they desperately awaited rescue. I know I've repeated variations on this point a lot, but shit needs to be repeated, lest we forget.

Rayford talks about how this could reach those on the fence about God and we get this head-bangingly infuriating conversation.

“People have lost faith in the GC and its leaders. If there’s anyone out there without Carpathia’s mark, and we can get to them, I have to believe they’ll choose the light instead of darkness. They’re going to be suffering as the sun rises every day.”

Judd paused. “But hasn’t Dr. Ben-Judah said God is actually showing mercy with these judgments?”

“I asked him about that, and he still thinks the fact that more plagues are coming means God still wants people to repent. Most won’t and will curse God, but Tsion supports our efforts to find the remaining undecided.”

“Then I want to be part of it. And I’ll bet there’s a bunch of people in Wisconsin who would too and some here in Ohio.”

Rayford is like "Have you forgotten the sacred ethos of Doing Nothing?" "Let's see what tomorrow brings." The section wraps up with him telling Judd that he could get him to Vicki in a few days. As always, assuming the writers don't decide they always wanted a solid gold Humvee and decide to pad out the series further.

The chapter ends with Vicki waking up to Josey Fogarty shrieking about how Ryan Victor is gone. Cheryl has taken him, stolen a van, and left. As said before, my sympathies in this conflict are entirely with Cheryl, but this snark is getting hella long and I'm getting a headache. So again, another one chapter snark. I'm not going to say that they're definitely going to be a thing here on out until we get to the part where TurboJesus slaughters everyone, but it's leaning towards that. It's just that my snarking skills have improved to the point where I can find so much material in one chapter.

Anyway, sorry for the upcoming delay. Hope this snark wasn't a complete waste of time and gives you stuff to chew over until I get back to this.


Blank Ron said...

You want an even better example of how unfair the world is?
Terry Pratchett, one of the best and most human writers the English language has even produced, is gone - while pseudo-Buck and pseudo-Raymond continue to vomit this muck upon us pretty much at will.

More after I calm down and have a drink with dinner. A BIG drink...

Blank Ron said...

First off - take the time you need, boss. Family has to come first; as a father of two I've had that well drilled into my head. And good luck. We'll be waiting.

Couple of things struck me this week.

I've been trying to think of whose style the Trouble Twins have been copying - a chapter following one character, ending in a cliff hanger, then the same for another character, then back, then etc. - and it finally hit me: they're copying DAN BROWN. The difference is that at least Brown knows how to write a proper pot-boiler. Mutt and Jeff, not so much.

I dunno if this is an original thought or not, but I may have figured out why they insist on an endless round of tell-don't-show. Could it perhaps be so that they insulate themselves and their readers from developing empathy for God's their victims? It's one thing to watch people suffer God's wrath be cruelly murdered on television, but quite another to have it happen at your feet, especially when you already know you're immune. And it would NEVER do to have an RTC feel anything but smug self-satisfaction at the suffering of billions who haven't drunk the kool-aid.
Same with actually, you know, doing something. If you actually go out in the field and try to help people, you might start to sympathise with them, and if THAT happens, you might stop believing in that essential faith-not-works mishegoss that allows you to call yourself a Christian without, y'know, actually being anything LIKE Jesus.

I'd say something about God's Burke and Hare's miraculous maintaining of the world's infrastructure after asteroid strikes, the poisoning of the entire planet's ecosystem, nuclear war, and now the unusually selective torching of the Earth's surface, but I think I need to go do something creative as a sort of 'F*** uou' to L(ois) & J(immy)...

Blank Ron said...

dang, my 'strikethru' tags didn't work... anyone know how to do that?

Mouse said...

Fred Clark and I had suspected something similar, Blank Ron. As toxic the attitude behind most traditional PMD lit, which usually goes in the style of "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God," at least, you felt while reading them that the authors were genuinely trying to reached the lost so that that they wouldn't wind up pitched into Hell for all eternity. Whereas, Ellanjay...they're basically like the prophet Jonah; the only reason they're preaching the word is out of desire to watch those sinful sinners get what's coming to them. So yeah, that's probably why they choose to Tell us rather than Show. After all, if they really delved into the disasters and showed their physical and psychological effects, that would definitely cut back on all the joyous "I told you so!" gloating.

I share your sentiments about Dan Brown. Yeah, he's basically writing a male power fantasy (Robert Langdon is definitely his Mary Sue surrogate the way Bucky is Jenkins's) and all his female characters are pretty much Sexy Lamps, but dammit, say what you will but at least he knows how to make this all entertaining. He may be a hack with only a few tricks in his repertoire but he at least knows how to use said tricks. He also has more tricks than Ellanjay do.

Like I said before, for all their talk about how horrible Nicky is, I'm firmly with you. Nicky has managed to maintain a global infrastructure despite back-to-back acts of God. In fact, while Our Loving God is trying repeatedly to kill us, Nicky is trying to save us. Remember the previous chapters where he :gasp: :choke: tried to tap into the fresh water spring at Petra so as to provide fresh drinking water to his subjects so they wouldn't die horribly from drinking poisoned water? Can you imagine any greater evil than trying to make sure all your subjects have clean drinking water?

Firedrake said...

Yeah, as others have said, please feel no pressure to come back here and mud-pludget through these books for our benefit. It's fun when you do, but I hope it's fun for you too.

As far as I know, the Jews in general don't actively encourage converts - they'll take them but they don't go out looking for them - which suggests that there wouldn't be a market for the Conversion Scene that's at the core of so much Christian™-brand fiction.

The dog, of course, does not go to heaven because it has no soul. There's surely a short story somewhere about a pet-owner coming to terms with the whole seven-year horizon thing and quietly killing his/her animals as painlessly as possible before the Bad Stuff starts.

"It's no good! I've talked to everybody in the Apocalypse Shelter, twice, and I still haven't found any unbelievers who want to hear the word of God! Truly these are the final days."