We begin by cutting to the boring couple of boringness aka Judd and Vicki. I know I could stand think of a better name for them, but they're just so damn boring it doesn't feel worth the effort. I will continue to assert that Judd and Vicki got married just so they could get laid and while they're being boring, I'll think about the adventures of the League of Awesome, all the exciting shit they're doing while the Tribbles just dick around. Because like I and many others have said, even if this whole convoluted prophecy has to go forward (even though the last few chapters of the Book of Jonah proves that God's capable of changing his mind), the Tribbles could still actually do stuff, like feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, and all that. But okay, maybe they consider all those activities a bunch of Islamo-Commie-Fascism that has no place in Christianity. Fine. Then I will continue to keep wondering why the hell they don't just go to the nearest GC recruitment center and preach about TurboJesus until the guards empty several rounds into them. They have absolute confirmation this is all real; so why not just take advantage of said one-way ticket to Heaven and leave already if they're not going to, y'know, do stuff?
Anyway, Judd and Vicki are both going "Oh Noes!" about Mark. I'm wondering if now that they've finally gotten married if I should change my tags regarding them to "Judd and Vicki" rather than have separate ones for each character. Because you just know that they will be treated as a unit rather than two separate people from here on out.
Anyway, they talk about how they're still all broken up about Chloe's death. According to Vicki, a lady named Priscilla Sebastien has been looking about Kenny. In the interest of providing accurate snarkage, I actually checked the Left Behind wiki and said character actually exists. Given that I don't think she's ever been mentioned in the Kids' series up till this point, I have no idea why they thought we would care. I suppose it's one of those callbacks they do to reward the readers of the adult series and all I have to say is just stop doing it, Ellanjay. Unless you want to put forth some effort to make them fit cohesively with the kids series and make the target audience care, just stop.
We get a mention of Our Buck. Basically he's just thrown himself into work. It'd actually be nice if they provided a little more detail about this. Does he stumble around bleary-eyed with a perpetual five 'o' clock shadow because he just can't seem to remember to take care of it? Is his domicile full of dirty laundry/dishes because he's so busy grieving and throwing himself into work to find time and energy to clean? This would actually be good stuff to mention, stuff that would reveal insight into Cam-Cam's character. Because even though he has absolute confirmation that Chloe's in Heaven, he still lost his wife and that's still got to hurt.
Though maybe I'm wrong to assume that Our Buck's domicile would be a mess. I just made the kneejerk assumption that Ellanjay probably consider stuff like washing dishes and doing laundry to be women's work, labor unbefitting that of the GIRAT. Even though given that Our Buck was a virgin, who lived on his own until he was thirty, he'd probably :gasp: done his own laundry for a while, unless he'd just throw out his dirty clothes/dishes and get new ones or something.
We get the closest thing we have to a talk about sex as Judd and Vicki briefly discuss the possibility of having kids.
“He really likes you,” Judd said. “You’d make a good mom.”
Vicki grinned. “I don’t know. It seems like such a huge responsibility.” She paused. “But if that’s what God has for us, to be parents, I’m up for the challenge.”
Judd touched her shoulder. “I’ve been thinking about all that time before the Rapture. My parents wanted me to become a godly man—I didn’t even know what that meant, didn’t care. I think I want the chance to pass God’s love on to other people, kids. And maybe they’re not ours. Maybe they’re kids without parents like you’re talking about.”
I suppose I could make so many jokes, all of them dirty and incredibly inappropriate, but I think I'll pass. I'll just continue to shake my head sadly, because again, you know they got married just so they could get laid before God takes away sex forever. That combined with the fact that they've no doubt internalized the RTC's dim view of sex and all the baggage that comes with it...were it not for the fact that they are just so damn boring that I keep blinking in and out of consciousness just to escape them, I'd say I feel sorry for them. I often wonder about all these RTC kids who do as their parents/pastor ask them to, manage to save it for marriage, only to discover on their wedding night that their first time is rarely as magical as it's hyped up to be. I keep picturing them going, "The hell?! This is what everyone was making such a big deal over?!"
Vicki and Judd then talk about their RTC parents and how much said parents loved them and about how they were totally not worthy and all that.
Their section ends with this little passage:
Vicki groaned. “It makes me so sad to think what I was like before all this. It’s almost like I wasn’t alive—I was just a shell looking for something to numb myself even more, so I drank or smoked or did stuff to help me not feel anything.”
Judd nodded. “I guess if you don’t have God, you don’t want to feel anything because it’s so scary. You’re all alone.”
“Yeah, and that’s what makes being a believer so great. You can finally be alive. I think about the verse that says the evil one comes to steal and kill and destroy but Jesus came to give real life.”
“That’s what I want. Even though life can bring a lot of pain and can really be awful, I’ll take living it with God’s help rather than being a spiritual zombie.”
Dammit...one of the problems of having this series be so damn long is that there's really no way to avoid repeating the same jokes over and over again. It's just not possible, dammit!
So I'll respond by making the obvious remarks that afterwards, two gin-scented tears rolled down their cheeks while they stare all wide-eyed and talk about how, "It's good that you did that, God, really good."
I know, I know, I'm being entirely too link-happy this week, but this chapter...there's really nothing new to say about any of it. So I amuse myself by imagining all the exciting adventures of the League of Awesome and thinking, y'know, about ACTUAL HEROIC CHARACTERS WHO ACTUALLY DO SHIT THAT WARRANTS THEM BEING CALLED HEROES!
Because I too, don't like bullies, regardless of where they come from. And in fact, I actually find the tribbles' constant toadying towards the Great Cosmic Bully in the Sky to be FAR MORE IRRITATING THAN ANYTHING NICKY OR GOD ACTUALLY DOES!
Or to put it another way: which is worse, the bully who uses his strength to hurt people and get what he wants or the toady who kisses up to the bully to avoid becoming one of the bully's victims and proceeds to point the bully towards other targets to save his or her own skin?
Yeah, I'll close out my snark of the opening section by posting Valerie's letter from V for Vendetta aka the only part of that comic that really got to me. I'll provide it both written form and video form for those who don't like reading. Again, however much the Wachowski Siblings may have muddled the message of V for Vendetta, they couldn't rob Valerie's letter of its emotional power.
Anyway, Mark is in jail and starts talking to the prisoners. Turns out one of them is a guy named LeRoy Banks, who killed Lionel's uncle. But given that was in the single digit books AND NOTHING RELATED TO IT, INCLUDING LIONEL'S UNCLE, HAS BEEN MENTIONED SINCE, you can't blame me for completely drawing a blank and screaming, "WHY SHOULD I CARE?!" AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS.
Mark decides to ask around and see if there are any prisoners who don't have Nicky's Mark. Just get a look at the hard-hitting realism of this dialogue:
Mark stared down the row of darkened cells. He had no idea how long he had before the GC came back for him. “Excuse me,” he began nervously. “I don’t mean to wake you, but how many of you—?”
“We’re trying to sleep, stupid!” Others cursed him and threw things at the cell bars.
Mark took a breath and kept going. “Just give me a minute and answer this. How many of you in here don’t have the mark of Carpathia?”
“Shut your yap, jerk!”
For those of you who have forgotten, Mark has to make sure they don't have the Nicky-Mark, because in this universe, God isn't bigger than the Bogeyman and can be defeated by a tattoo with a microchip inside.
So Mark decides to rack up some converts on his fuselage and starts by talking about the Rapture. Here's a sampling. For bonus points, which are redeemable for nothing, try to guess what I was screaming about during this lecture before you get to the end of the quoted passage.
Mark studied the unmarked men. “The reason those people vanished is because God came back for his true children. They were immediately taken to heaven, which is where they are today. That means every one of us in here didn’t know God. Anybody who was left behind missed the truth.”
He took a step to his right. “You might have gone to church or grown up hearing stories from the Bible. I know a lot of people who lived good lives but were left behind. The truth is, everyone still on earth never asked God to forgive them, and they never turned away from the bad stuff they’d done.”
If you're wondering, I was going, "Y'know who else disappeared during the Rapture? EVERY DAMN CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF TWELVE AND BY CHILD, THAT ALSO INCLUDES FETUSES, EMBRYOS, AND ZYGOTES! HELL, PROBABLY EVEN EGGS THAT HAD JUST BEEN FERTILIZED AND HADN'T ATTACHED TO THE UTERINE WALL DISAPPEARED AS WELL! THAT'S A LOSS OF BILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE! AND RTCS SAY THAT LIBERALS DON'T VALUE HUMAN LIFE!
:deep breath: Now, that I've gotten that out of my system, I'll continue. But seriously, I just couldn't believe they let that pertinent detail slip their brains. But then again, funny thing about that whole weaselly Age of Accountability shtick that RTCs use to weasel out of the consequences and uncomfortable questions brought up by their actions: SAID AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY SHTICK APPEARS NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE AND IF YOU HAVE TO RESORT TO THAT KIND OF TRICKERY, MAYBE YOU SHOULD ASK SOME LONG, HARD QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STUFF YOU BELIEVE IN!
Again, sorry about the repetitiveness of this snark: at the rate I'm going, my Capslock will go on strike or I'm going to lose the ability to express anything in a calm, clear-headed manner. I will say in my defense that I can't help being so damn repetitive, given how repetitive the book is, but that's not saying much, is it?
The next paragraph...I know I should object to lazy writing, which is what summarizing is, but I've come to welcome those moments; they're much easier to handle. Mark talks about how all the plagues were totally predicted in the Bible and that Jesus is the Messiah.
“That man’s name is Jesus,” Mark said. “He was God in the flesh, and he lived a perfect life and died in your place on the cross.”
“Why would God have to die to let us go to heaven?” a man said.
Mark paused, trying to think of a way to explain. “God is the great judge of every person, and because he’s holy, he can’t let anyone into heaven who’s not perfect. Is there any one of you who’s done everything right?”
“My wife always thought she was perfect,” a man said, and the others laughed.
“Everybody falls short of God’s standard,” Mark said. “We’re all guilty and deserve to be separated from him forever. But instead of punishing us, the judge himself became a prisoner, lived a perfect life, and then took our sentence.”
Yeah, I'm thinking of a Jack Chick tract, ably snarked by Enter the Jabberwock. Because like I said, much as RTCs try to distance themselves from Chick, especially his virulent anti-Catholic views (because the Catholics and the Christian Right now share an uneasy alliance), he seems to be a good barometer when it comes to the ideas being discussed among the RTCs. The only things the RTCs really object to, regarding Jack Chick, is his anti-Catholic views and the fact that he just flat-out says what they're thinking, rather than using the proper dog whistles.
[TANGENT] Y'know until the Internet came along, I had never heard of Jack Chick or his tracts. When I first stumbled onto his website at Snopes, I was like, how have I not heard of this overwhelming fount of insanity until now? The first tract I read was "Big Daddy." Anyway, that's my Chick story; I'm sure y'all have yours.[/TANGENT].
But RTCs, like Jack Chick, also don't understand the various principles behind justice. Because there is probably no one, not even Draco Hammurabi Javert, who would just slam down the gavel and pass sentence without even factoring in circumstances. Because sometimes people do bad things because they are caught in the vise of circumstances and can't see any other options, not because they steeple their fingers and are like, "Haw Haw! I shall do this because it is wrong and I am evil!" Yeah, stealing is wrong, but what if you're in a Jean Valjean-type situation have to steal a loaf of bread to save your starving family?
Plus, even Draco Hammurabi Javert recognize the basic principle that some crimes are worse than others and must be dealt with accordingly. So they wouldn't give the same punishment to a teenager who stole a five-dollar bracelet as they would to a guy who decapitated a bus full of schoolchildren.
But according to RTC-ianity, all crimes are the same, unless you say The Prayer. Therefore the kid, who daydreamed about the pretty girl who sat in front of him in Math Class, will suffer the same punishment as Adolf Hitler, who systematically murdered some 11 million plus people for having bad genes.
Unless of course, before blowing his brains out, Adolf Hitler said The Prayer. In which case, he's safe and gets to romp around Heaven for all eternity, while the kid who daydreamed about the girl in math class? Again, unless he said The Prayer, it doesn't matter what he does: he's going to suffer for all eternity even if he's so saintly even Jesus is awed by him.
If you're not a little ranty about that illogic, then congratulations: you are either a pod person or a robot or a possible pod-bot. I realize that in using Hitler in the above scenario, I did invoke Godwin's Law, but I am a firm believer in that there are times in which it's okay to bring up Hitler and Nazis. I felt my example was one of those times, but I apologize if it comes across as needlessly hyperbolic.
I could also point out another thing about Justice in that well, we may debate whether it's right or wrong to torture suspects at Gitmo (and frankly it depresses me that apparently saying, "I believe it's wrong to torture someone" is now a radical statement), but for all the harm we do, at least there is an endpoint to the victim's suffering: can't torture someone who's dead, after all. But since Ellanjay no doubt believe that Heaven and Hell last for eternity without the possibility of parole...yeah, I don't need to say anymore.
Anyway, there's more talk, but Mark gets dragged off before he could lead the inmates in The Prayer. As he's getting dragged off, he asks this guy named Steve to lead them in The Prayer. Because Mark, being a good RTC, knows that if The Prayer isn't spoken with the precise amount of sincerity demanded by God, then God will have no choice but to sentence them to hellfire for all eternity.
Since so little happened this week, I thought about throwing on another chapter, but I've read through next week's and it looks considerably more promising, snarkwise. So too-da-loo until then, guys.