Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ellanjay Don't Get It, Like At All

For those of you who missed my all-caps ragedumps, you're in luck because like I said last week, this chapter is a doozy. If you don't like all-caps ragedumps, then skip this week's selection and wait for next week's. Next week's chapter, while boring and pointless, is a lot less rage-inducing.

Like I said, in a futile attempt inject some suspense and convince us that the characters are really in danger, Ellanjay take a page from Raymond Chandler and send a man in with a gun. Okay, if we must split hairs, it's a woman with a gun, but the basic principle is the same.

But since there are never any consequences to anything that happens in the LB-verse and since, like I said last week, the woman with a gun is STILL BLIND AS A RESULT OF THE LATEST ZOD PLAGUE! I'm going to picture the scene where she goes after Judd as playing out like this scene in Muppets Treasure Island. Thing is, at least Muppets are actually funny, whereas Ellanjay...their worst moments are when they try to be funny.

As you can imagine, the lady's shots are pretty much going wild. In spite of this, Judd decides not to rush her and disarm her or even hide behind a desk. Instead, he picks up a glass paperweight, shaped like Nicky, and throws it at a wall, causing her to freak out and start shooting everywhere. Me, I desperately wished that the GC WEREN'T ROCK-STUPID and had other weapons at their disposal, like batons (both electric and non-electric) as well as knives OR SOME FORM OF CLOSE-QUARTERS WEAPONRY SO THEY AREN'T COMPLETELY HELPLESS AND EASILY PWNED BY A WORTHLESS IDIOT LIKE JUDD! BASIC RULE OF LIFE: ALWAYS HAVE BACKUPS TO YOUR BACKUPS SO YOU'RE NOT COMPLETELY SCREWED IF WEAPON A FAILS FOR SOME REASON!

As you can imagine, given my love of the Internet, I am familiar with the Evil Overlord List and how the LB-verse would be much improved if Ellanjay were as well. Not going to quote all the lists, but a few rules did stand out.

23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

56.My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

197. I will explain to my Legions of Terror that guns are ranged weapons and swords are not. Anyone who attempts to throw a sword at the hero or club him with a gun will be summarily executed.

After throwing the paperweight, Judd goes to ZZ Top and continues to try to convert one of those foolish Christ-killers Jews to RTCianity.

ZZ Top talks about how there have been all these mysterious appearances at beheadings and whatnot.

Zvi was panicking now, breathing heavily and shaking. “A friend told me he saw a man appear at one of the mass beheadings of Judah-ites. Right out of thin air. He wasn’t there, and then he was. Do you think that was from God?”

“What did the man say?”

“He talked about God’s forgiveness, like you.”

“I’ve seen angels do the same thing,” Judd said. “They come as God’s messengers to warn people about not taking Carpathia’s mark. And they plead with the undecided to choose Christ. It’s another display of God’s love.”

Yeah, it's a truly powerful display of God's love, akin to how an abusive asshole, after beating their spouse or kid senseless, will clean and dress their victims' wounds, often apologizing and saying it won't ever happen again, I just lost my temper, and all that.


This is really the only justifiable response to this...


Because as the Book of Jonah, chapters 3 and 4 make it clear, GOD CAN CHANGE HIS MIND! I understand why the Old Testament God makes some people blanch, but compared with the God of Ellanjay...yeah, it's not even a contest. In fact, aren't Ellanjay basically placing limits on a being they believe is limitless, by saying that God cannot change his mind?

But I have a feeling they probably don't read the last two chapters of Jonah. Though they really, really should.

ZZ Top is all "I won't take Nicky's Mark!" and Judd preaches the Gospel of George W. Bush by saying,“It’s not enough to be against Nicolae. Jesus said those who are not for him are against him. That puts you in some pretty awful company.”

As you can imagine, every time I stumble onto a line like that in these books, I have uncomfortable flashbacks to 2003 where us anti-War types (of which, I was one) were constantly having to explain that being opposed to invading Iraq doesn't mean we love Saddam Hussein. Given the ideology and makeup of the Bush II administration, it's not too hard to see the parallels. Because for some reason, while the Right is able to grasp the idea that cities and states tend to contain large groups of people, many of whom have little if any influence over government affairs, for some reason, they think that only one person lives in Afghanistan or Iraq or Whatever Middle Eastern Country the Right is chomping at the bit to go to war with.

Judd sees the woman lying down and pointing the gun at her head. For those of you who thought that previous all-caps ragedump was impressive, just you wait. Because to quote Bachman-Turner Overdrive: You ain't seen nothing yet.

And I know I'm doing another bigass quote, but you know by now I believe in spreading the misery around.

The woman looked wild, clawing at her skin until it bled. Big patches of hair were gone from her head. “Oh, God, help me. I don’t want to go through another one of these!” She finally stopped and put out a hand toward Judd. “Who are you?”

“A friend. Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“You’re one of them, aren’t you? One of the Judahites.”

Judd didn’t answer. He simply stared at the -6 on her forehead, signifying that she was from the United North American States.

“Before the disappearances, before any of the bad things started happening, I went to one of those big meetings,” she said. “The kind they used to have in stadiums.” Saliva ran down the woman’s lips and onto her chin. She was sobbing as she talked, reaching out, then pulling her hand back. “A man sang and then another one stood up and talked about the Bible. I didn’t want any part of it. My friends and I were there to make fun of the meeting. And then I saw some people from my neighborhood going forward. I almost went with them, just to see what would happen. I almost did.”

“Why didn’t you?” Judd said.

“I thought religion was for weak people. I thought I had plenty of time to decide. I wanted to have fun with my life. But …”

With this, the woman flew into a frenzy of scratching and wailing. Her eyes flew open and Judd saw how hollow they looked, as if he could see all the way to her soul.

When she settled, Judd came closer. “Let me help you to a safe place.”

“Where can I go in this blackness that’s safe?” she spat. “I might as well throw myself off the side of the building. There’s no hope!”

Judd wanted to tell her she could call out to God and be forgiven, but he couldn’t. The best he could do for her was ease her pain a little.

“I know what I’ve done!” the woman yelled. “I had a lot of chances to say yes to God, but I kept putting it off. Kept saying no. And now look what happened.”

I'm fighting the urge to repost the link to that Nostalgia Critic clip I posted earlier. You should thank me. Instead I scoured YouTube searching for a clip from The Simpsons, specifically their parody of Left Behind called Left Below. Because it is so close to the actually thing that it is barely satire.

Because Ellanjay, like I and Fred before me, have said before, they are Jonah. They're preaching the Gospel not because they genuinely care about people and want them to be saved, but because like Jonah, they're obliged by God to give those heathens, The Requirement. Their only consolation is that after having done The Requirement, RTCs are completely off the hook. They get to set back and laugh as those horrible people who believe slightly different things from them, burn for all eternity! After all, you did your part. CLEARLY THE BLAME LIES WITH THEM FOR NOT CHANGING THEIR CHERISHED BELIEFS AT THE DROP OF A HAT!

:deep breath: I knew I was in it for this week, but really...

As you can imagine, Judd displays the warmth and compassion we've come to associate with RTCs.

Judd sat back, drained of emotion. How many other people on earth could say the same thing? How many had hardened their hearts toward God, making jokes of the message or saying they would get around to it later? Judd had been one of them. He had ignored the truth for so long, but God had given him a second chance.

That's the difference between the forces of good and the forces of evil in these books. Satan has no value for human life, which is why he does his best to try to clean up the massive mess God created, so as to lessen the death toll. God on the other hand, values human life and is so willing to not let a single one perish that he DECIDES TO KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!

Yeah, in order to both soothe my temper and allow me to gush like a fangirl, I'm going to talk about Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nothing but awesome, because the people involved know that there should be a clear difference between the heroes and the villains. I was nothing but impressed in the final climatic battle, when Ultron is basically like "Okay, you can stop me or save the citizens of this city" and Captain America, along with everyone else on the team, responds by saying,"STFU! We're doing both!" And they proceed to do so.

Because that's the kind of thing heroes do: when given a choice between options A and B, they try to find an option C, which is all of the above.

In fact, that's why of the Avengers, Captain America is my favorite. While I don't hate angsty heroes, at the same time, his optimism is quite refreshing. Optimism is too often conflated with naïveté, but I don't think that describes the Captain. He knows there are bad people in the world, but he steadfastly believes that they are far out-weighed by all the good people and that when push comes to shove, the good people will stand up and do the right thing.

Plus, previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe prove that the Captain, when faced with having to choose between the lives of many against the lives of few, he will be pragmatic and choose the many. Because as that previous clip shows, he does give his former friend a chance to back down, but when said friend makes it clear that he's not going to, the Captain gets down to business and does whatever he has to in order to save the world.

:sighs: If we could just spend more time gushing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we'd all be a lot happier. I know I would be. But this blog is devoted to tearing Left Behind: the Kids a new one, so let's get back to business.

Judd does display some compassion. He takes the sobbing woman to a back room and gives her soda and sandwiches. That is seriously all that does. Though to be fair, that's still more compassion that Our Buck or St. Rayford ever demonstrate towards anyone.

“I know he tried to reach me,” the woman whispered. “I watched them bring people through here and treat them like dogs, then talk about peace and love and goodwill. I knew in my heart it was fake and the other message was true.” She looked up and opened her mouth. Her chin quivered as she tried to form the words. Then tears welled in her eyes.

Judd guessed what she was trying to say. She wanted to know if there was any hope, if God would somehow give her one more chance. But the woman must have known the answer. She put her head on the table and sobbed.

And that's the extent of said Unnamed Female Guard's participation in this chapter. No soul-searching from Judd whatsoever. He can't be bothered even to pray and say to God, "Yeah, I know about this whole Mark business but couldn't you cut this person a little slack here?"

It's probably for the best, though: if Judd started asking God to cut this one person some slack, he might :gasp: :choke: start thinking of other people, realize that they matter as well and ask God why he can't cut them some slack as well! We mustn't allow such heretical ideas to take root!

So Judd and ZZ Top walk down the hall and we get what makes up the bulk of this chapter: RTCsplainning!

Yeah, when an amateur scholar like me (I took a Bible Study course in college and I read about theology in my spare time) can easily poke holes in your theology, you've failed.

“How could you have compassion for that woman when she wanted to kill you?” Zvi said.

“Because I was exactly like her before the disappearances. For some reason, God gave me mercy and allowed me to call on him before it was too late.”

“Why do I still have a chance when that woman doesn’t?”

"Because thanks in part to the writers, God is weaker than a tattoo with a computer chip in it, making it so that he can't save you if you have one for any reason. Plus the writers deemed that you would serve as a good representation of all Jews everywhere as a means of deflating criticism that they're anti-Semitic, even though all they want is for Jewish people to stop being Jewish. So that's why they've let you temporarily off the hook. My advice: convert or wind up a brief sad example for me, the Main Character, to reflect on."

Anyway, ZZ Top says, "Tell me why you think Jesus is the Messiah," thus paving the way for many wrong-headed lectures. Let's brace ourselves.

Judd starts with the Old Testament. I'll post his entire thing on it, so we can all enjoy just how wrong he is.

Judd began in the Old Testament and from memory shared many prophecies that looked forward to the Messiah. “In Genesis, God curses the serpent and says that a descendant of Eve will crush the serpent’s head. Jesus won the victory over the devil on the cross. In Isaiah it’s predicted that a virgin will conceive a child and give birth to a son. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a virgin.

“In one of the little books, Micah, I think, it says that out of Bethlehem will come a ruler over Israel whose origins are from ancient times. Jesus was born in Bethlehem.”

If you're wondering, the one about the descendant of Eve crushing the serpent's head, that's in Genesis 3, verse 15 to be specific. And it really is an astounding prediction. Given that Eve is considered to be the Mother of all Humans, it really takes a lot of prophetic insight to predict that one of her many offspring will at some point in the future, step on a snake.

I can't be the only one wondering what would happen if I pointed out that there are two creation stories and two flood stories and from there, asked them which one they believed was true. Because if the Bible is inerrant with each book being equally authoritative...

Judd is clearly speaking about Isaiah 7 where there's a verse about how "a virgin shall conceive." Oddly enough, the original Hebrew version of Isaiah doesn't use the word traditionally used to refer to virgins "betulah." Instead, the word they use is "almah" which Wikipedia defines as:

a young woman of childbearing age who has not yet had a child, and who may be an unmarried virgin or a married young woman.[1] The term occurs nine times in the Hebrew Bible – see usage below.

So yeah, Isaiah may have just said, "A young lady will have a baby," which most will agree is different from "A woman who has never so much as masturbated, never mind performed the filthy act of sex (which we only perform in order to fill the pews, not because we enjoy it), will miraculously bear a baby."

As many scholars point out, Paul's letters are the oldest part of the New Testament and it's rather interesting that for all his striving to try to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah, he doesn't ever mention a Virgin Birth. You'd think something that notable would be worth bringing up.

Ellanjay do a little better in that there is a part of Micah that speaks of a great ruler coming out of Bethlehem in Micah 5. But once again, Ellanjay assume that the writers of the gospels recorded exactly what happened, even though the oldest of the gospels, Mark, was written several decades after Jesus had lived and died. Also, Mark doesn't have a birth story in it.

But as aunursa will point out, if you actually read Micah 5, compare the actions of said predicted ruler with those of Jesus. Granted the gospels are not history books, no matter what Ellanjay say, but even so, Jesus is a very different figure from the one in Micah. Micah's ruler triumphs over all his enemies; Jesus died a criminal's death on the cross.

Plus since Bethlehem wasn't exactly a little one-horse town at the time of Jesus's birth, I really doubt that it's an astounding insight to suggest that at some point, somebody will be born in that town and grow up to do great things. As for the "origins from ancient lines" bit, given that Ellanjay believe that Adam and Eve are the parents of all humans everywhere, that's not much of an accomplishment. Also, since both David and his son, Solomon, had multiple wives/concubines, I doubt that they each produced only one direct offspring, so you can't use the Line of David bit as well.

ZZ Top is all "But Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, right?" Thus allowing Judd, in a masterful display of Circular Reasoning, to quote several passages from the Gospels. Even though, like I said, the Gospels weren't meant to be history books. Gospel means Good News and that's essentially what they were: these guys trying to spread the word of a guy who had done amazing things and helped them to do amazing things as well.

In fact, even if we assumed that the Gospels were meant to be history tracts, ancient people weren't as scrupulous about history as we are. Ancient historians tended to compile history not so much as "Here's exactly what happened" but as a series of stories from which a moral can be drawn. Also, basic fact when it comes to studying the field of history: there is no such thing as an unbiased study of history. Even if you just listed the facts, the mere act of choosing which facts to list and which to leave out, is in itself a product of the writer's bias.

Anyway, there's a brief interlude in the "Convert the Jew" lecture as Judd receives a phone call from Chang, who tells him that St. Rayford will fly him and everyone else out to Petra. Wooo...Just remember that this detour in New Babylon allowed Ellanjay to build another wing on their mansions, so it can't be called pointless, at all.

Anyway, as you probably guessed, the chapter ends with ZZ Top, after doing the Obligatory "How could I have been so blind?" self-flagellating, saying The Prayer. After which, he can see. I must confess that frankly I wonder about The Prayer. Ellanjay treat it in a manner akin to the "Bloody Mary" chant where if you do it the right way with the precise amount of sincerity dictated, you win. I sometimes wonder if there's a way to measure the precise amount of sincerity needed. Obviously, you can be too insincere but I wonder if you can go too far and not be insincere enough.

Just remember that unless you say The Prayer, it doesn't count. Not even if you're in a foxhole and your friends are dying around you. Unless you say The Prayer, you can't just shout "O God, Save Us!" Because no matter how sincere you might be, even if you genuinely believe that the Christian God will answer your prayer, it doesn't count.

And I realize I spent a lot of time this week being angry and probably not that funny. I like to think I was at least informative in that I gave you stuff to think about, but in the interest of lightning the mood, I'll provide a link to a music video by Veggie Tales that is both funny, informative, and somewhat related to what we've been talking about this week. Plus, it proves that Christian Art doesn't always suck nard. Jonah Was A Prophet.

Ellanjay could really stand to listen to the chorus of that song, is all I'm going to say.


aunursa said...

So yeah, Isaiah may have just said, "A young lady will have a baby,"

The Hebrew is in the present tense and with a definite article. Rather than "A virgin shall conceive and give birth", it's "The young woman is with child and shall give birth..." This passage is speaking about someone who was currently pregnant and was known to both Isaiah and King Ahaz. Many Jewish theologians believe that the woman was Isaiah's own wife.

aunursa said...

Jews who are awaiting the arrival of the Messiah are not expecting that he will be born in a particular city. The Messiah's origin is a reference to the birthplace of his ancestor, King David. The Messiah is known as the Messiah ben David. In other words, the passage in Micah is not a prophecy of the Messiah's birth place but a historical footnote of King David's birth place.

Firedrake said...

A man with a gun is the normal order of the universe. A woman with a gun is UNNATURAL. (Unless she's defending her home and children, of course.)

You know what these guys need? Killer robots. Even if they're struck blind, they can still hunt by sound and millimetric radar. (And since AIs are regarded as unworthy of heaven by most religious types who've thought about it at all, there aren't any questions of loyalty.)

But then I remember the film Blind Fury (one of Rutger Hauer's most, um, Rutgery performances).

The main problem I see with this scene is that it's too tied into the modern evangelistic setup: yes, YOUR friends, dear reader, could end up like this if they don't say yes to God before it's too late!

If you start an MCU Fan Blog, I will read it. :)

I get the impression a lot of RTCs would be fine with Jews if they weren't, you know, so Jewish.

Everyone who was anyone around the BC/AD changeover had a virgin birth and vague prophecies referring to them.

Clearly we have to equip the abovementioned killer robots with sincerometers.

(One day the phrase "prove you're not a robot" will be see for the hurtful biochauvinism that it is.)

Mouse said...

Thanks for the comments, aunursa, learning is good. I like to think I did okay poking holes in Ellanjay's logic, but I always appreciate input.

I am kicking myself for also not pointing out, regarding Isaiah's prophecy that at the time he made it, the Jewish people were yet again facing a possible annihilation at yet another enemy. How much comfort would the King have drawn from Isaiah's prophecy if Isaiah basically said, "At some indeterminate point in the future, probably years after you die, a woman will have a child who will change everything?" Wouldn't the King be more like, "Yeah, that's all fine and good, but how about something that tells me when and where these bastards will attack?"

Anonymous said...

Mouse, I really fear for the state of your brain.

But I must also say that I've learned a lot from reading your sporkings, even if it wasn't necessarily what L&J intended :-)

Blank Ron said...

So, wait, Judd did a Kind Thing for a minion of the Enemy?
TurboJesus is going to be SO pissed at him.