Saturday, January 30, 2016

Every RTC Adores a Fascist

Hello and happy Saturday, everybody!

Well, Spiritplumber got into an interesting discussion going on military tactics and whatnot. I admit to having only an amateur knowledge of military strategy (though even with that, I can point out how Ellanjay fail), so I appreciate hearing from others who actually know more. In the interest of keeping the discussion going, I'll link to Spiritplumber's wiki. Though I admit that I am with Firedrake in that I'm like, "Why not tear-gas the mothereffers?" I suppose if I suggest any strategy, Ellanjay will say, "Because God!" because like I've said before, whenever I read these books and how neither good nor bad have any knowledge of strategy, yet Good always wins, I feel like I'm playing superheroes with that one kid who, no matter what, every time you get him is like, "Nuh-uh...My character's immune to that." This goes on a bit until you get bored as hell and are like, "Screw it, I'm playing with someone else."

Some advice for writers: making your heroes completely lacking in flaws and vulnerabilities does not make us like them more; it makes them boring as hell to read about!

[TANGENT Where I Rant about Superman] And before anyone chimes in with "But Superman..." I'll freely admit that writers have fallen into traps with his character. John Byrne, from what I hear, may be a horse's ass personality-wise, but I do feel that he did a damn good job rewriting Superman's character during the eighties. He toned down the powers--Superman is still nigh invulnerable and inhumanly strong, but not "juggling planets strong"--but probably the greatest strength of the John Byrne rewrite, was that he switched the whole man and the mask conundrum around. For years, Superman had been written like Batman, with writers treating Superman as the core personality (Click here for obligatory link to Superdickery) and Clark Kent as the Mask, but John Byrne changed that, making it so he's fundamentally Clark Kent, the aw-shucks all-American farmboy from Kansas, and Superman is just a mask he wears in battle.

Which I really like. I hear so many complaints about how Superman's boring either because he's so powerful (which I admit makes writing him tricky) or because he's good. As you can imagine, that last one irritates me. Not every hero has to be an asshole, dripping with angst, to be worth reading about! Heck, I thought that was one of the strengths of the second Captain America 2 movie*. The titular hero of that movie is basically a good guy with a strong moral code and while he does have some angst, it's not the core of his personality. Yeah, it sucks that most of the people who knew him in the forties, either have one foot in the grave or are actually in the grave. But the Captain just deals with it and keeps going. But what made the movie so compelling is that they basically took a good guy and dropped him into a morally sticky situation, where said good guy has to figure out, which of the moral rules he follows, apply in this situation, which rules can be bent, and which can be jettisoned, and if he does outright break said rules, is he crossing a line he can't come back from? And of course, it also has a classic "Who can I trust?" vibe going.

So do that with Superman! The DCAU (which is pure awesome) managed to do great things with his character by doing so, putting him in situations where he has to debate which lines he's willing to cross and how far is too far, and all that. Besides, whenever stories come out that have him being all angsty about how he's an alien and whatnot, I admit to being like, "Really?" Because he came to Earth as a baby! I am in full agreement with this panel from John Byrne's rewrite; while being an alien among humans would be a little rough, at the same time, Earth is the only home he's ever known. Superman gets his powers and DNA from his Kryptonian parents, but ultimately his personality and moral code (aka the stuff that makes him who he really is) come from a pair of Kansas farmers. Though I do admit that some of the best Superman stories and one of my favorite comic book two-parters, are less about Superman punching out evil and more about how he inspires others and the effect he has on Average Joe Blow Human.

Goddangit! I did it again! But I put it inside tangent tags so anyone not interested, can just scroll past. Point is, you can tell stories with more straightforward heroic types and still make them interesting!

Though if I were in Nicky's thigh-high stiletto boots (a must for every supervillain!) I'd tell my armies, "Eh, just surround the place, shoot anyone who tries to get out or make trouble, but other than that, just let 'em rot." I understand why he'd want to come down on a terrorist organization advocating a violent overthrow of his government** but if the majority of them are contained within Petra, why not just keep them there? Given what I know about RTCs in the real world, I find myself wondering how long Petra would remain a peaceful haven, if they were no longer able to unite themselves in their hatred of Nicky. Think about it: at first they'd be all "OMG!" at the massive army surrounding them, but what if said army just sat there and didn't do much of anything?

Again, given the motives behind so many acts of violence between Christian sects can be summed up as "They believe slightly different things about our Magical Sky Daddy! Let's kill them!" and since, like I've said, Token Jew's government is about as free and democratic as North Korea's, my guess is after being shut up inside Petra for awhile, eventually they'll turn on each other. Get sick of eating Quail and Manna (and I'm really wondering how they're not suffering from nutritional deficiencies) and someone will disagree with someone on something, saying something crazy like, "I believe that it is wrong to baptize infants" or espouse some heresy like :gasp: Christian Pacifism or that church services should be held on the Sabbath, rather than Sunday. From there, tempers will boil over, sparks will fly, and the stones won't be the only thing that's red in Petra.

So again, my suggestion: surround the place and while the terrorists are all pinned in, Nicky can take advantage to get shit done, feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless, which we all know is something only the eeevil anti-Christ would do, unlike the actual Christ.

But an open assault by Nicky, would give them something to unite them and focus their hatred towards, similar to how RTCs and Catholics, since Roe v. Wade made them realize they have a common enemy, have formed an uneasy alliance. Both sides still mistrust and hate each other and periodically, slippage of lips reveal how they really feel towards each other, but right now, they need each other's numbers/organization in order to win. So they'll hold off on stomping out heresies until later.

[Tangent About Religious Freedom]Though they will inevitably try to stomp out heresies; history bears this out. While the history of America is nowhere near as lengthy as any of the countries of Europe (Old Joke: the difference between America and Britain is America thinks a hundred years is a long time, and Britain thinks a hundred miles is a long distance), but I think the First Amendment serves to protect us as well. If someone disagrees with the practices of their church, they're free to break off and start their own sect and don't have to fear the government taking up arms to quash their heresy. Worst thing that will happen is that if they're from a church, like the Catholics, that practices excommunication, they might get excommunicated. But that will be the extent of it. They will still be able to live freely and practice their believes freely, so long as they aren't damaging people or property in the process. That whole thing about Separation of Church and State works both ways. Just as the Church can't enshrine their beliefs in law, the State also can't step in and write the Church's doctrine. Many Orthodox Jewish sects believe that it is wrong to marry a Jew and a non-Jew. Under current law, they're free to refuse. Non-Jew and Jew can go seek out another church or synagogue or a justice of the peace if they want someone to marry them.

But even though the Right has long nursed a mistrust of the Catholic Church, I think they secretly envy them. They wish they had the power and might of the medieval church, wish there was a magisterium that explicitly stated "This is what you will believe and if you don't, we'll send our armies to brutally crush your heresy." So yeah, don't know if they would see how wonderful it is that the US has never enshrined any religion above all others. Remember, like I said, they follow the faith of Animal Farm: We are all equal, but some are more equal than others.

Sorry for all the damn tangents, but this week isn't too much more interesting than last week. Just action scenes that aren't at all compelling because bad things only happen to NPCs and Butt Monkeys in the LB-verse, so we know the heroes aren't in danger, even if you haven't peeked at the Wiki page for this series. Though there is some nice, patronizing goysplainning, but other than that, nothing really interesting. But like I said, in case some of y'all are offended, I've taken to bracketing tangents, so scroll past if you're not interested.

Anyway, Nicky is, of course, doing an open assault, thus allowing the writers to put in lots of chest-thumping and action verbs and, like, I said, is boring as shit to read about. So I admit, I'm mostly going to fast-forward through this. If any of y'all really want to read it for yourself, get your own copy of the series.

Though there is this weird mention in Lionel's part.

He found Zeke holding a strange-looking weapon and listening for radio contact from their leader.

“What’s with the horses?” Lionel said. “All those tanks and advanced weapons and they put cavalry in front?”

“Doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but I’m glad they did it,” Zeke said. “We’re gonna try to spook some of the horses and riders with these babies—” he patted his weapon—“and see if we can’t stir things up.”

“What is that?”

“It’s called a DEW, short for directed energy weapon. Sends out a beam of energy that burns like fire.”

Lionel winced. “I’ve seen one, but not that big. Can it reach the troops from here?”

“You bet,” Zeke said. “We’ve also got fifty-calibers along the perimeter. Those will cause more damage, but they’re still nothing compared to what the GC has.”

Firedrake has stated that the existence of energy weapons is where his suspension of disbelief just collapses. My response to that has always been: "Really?! This series firmly believes that the Leader of the World will ride a giant pig at some point and it's laser weapons, you find too hard to believe?!" Of course, given that the response to all the children disappearing is a collective shrug, with life going on mostly as normal, rather than turning into something out of Children of Men, one could easily make a case in that Suspension of Disbelief has long been crumbled to dust and is broken down even at the subatomic level somehow.

But okay, so the Tribbles and Nicky both have laser cannons. Because any discussion we have will make more sense and be more interesting than anything in the books, I'm placing the call out to my readers with any knowledge of strategy: how would you incorporate those weapons into the fight, if you were playing as Nicky or as Our Heroes?

Though when even the book is admitting that Nicky using horse-drawn cavalry makes no sense (again, there's a reason, horse-drawn cavalries mostly went out with WWI), classic example of what Turkey City Lexicon calls a Signal from Fred. Though even if there's some law or something requiring Nicky to use a horse-drawn cavalry, he still could have stuck them in back, behind all the heavy tanks and bulldozers and other big-ass armored vehicles. But Good has to triumph in this series and since coming up with a way for them to triumph in a way that makes sense and isn't just "Rocks fall; everyone who doesn't matter dies!" would require Ellanjay to do research...yeah. Time spent doing research is time not spent admiring their hundred thousand dollar ornamental fish tanks or Jacuzzi tubs, which God totally wants them to have!

Though clicking through that link, gotta say I might be on to something with my assertion, as well as Fred's, that the Right's history of being virulently anti-Catholic is born out of jealousy. Again, they just wish they could hold inquisitions, give themselves high-falutin' titles like "Grand something of something," and wear the robes and mitres and other accoutrements of royalty like the Catholics (the traditional mitres and such were modeled after the attire of monarchs, meant to serve as a visual assertion of the church's power). But the problem is the Protestant tradition has long had a mistrust of an authority on high, vested with the power of kings, able to open and shut the Kingdom of God at their leisure. Again, Martin Luther was virulently anti-Semitic, but the guiding principle behind the reformation he led, was that Joe Blow could read and interpret the Bible for himself and didn't need a middle man to mediate between them and God.

So yeah, the Right is torn between their knee-jerk love of fascism (remember tyranny is only wrong if the wrong person with the wrong beliefs is exercising power over people) and the Protestant mistrust of religious authority. They try to reconcile this the way they do their other conflicting beliefs, by mashing them together, but that leads to a nasty, spoiled mess that even they have a difficult time stomaching.

Lionel's section ends with somebody talking about how a GC missile is headed straight for Rayford. I shake my head and am like, "Ellanjay don't even try to prove my assertions about their love of hierarchy wrong, like at all." Again, despite both the Protestant tradition and the American tradition of Democracy, they still find the idea of there not being a hierarchy that governs all things, to be suspect. I'd repeat the Animal Farm reference from earlier, but I think y'all are getting tired of it.

Anyway, Vicki and Judd are still in Jerusalem, being all heroic and shaking their heads at those silly Jews for being willing to die in defense of their sacred religious sites and their sacred beliefs. Because there is nothing heroic about that at all!

But I do admit that I did like this rare bit of genre savvy. The setup is Judd sees everybody rushing around, is like, "Where are you going?" The NPCs say that they're going to Herod's Gate, and we get this line from Vicki.

“Judd, those men don’t have the mark of the believer,” Vicki said. “If they’re gunned down, that’s the end for them.”

“I know,” Judd said, “but there’s no way they’ll stop to listen now.”

Hundreds of rebels moved toward Herod’s Gate. Judd was out of breath when Vicki caught his arm. “I have an idea,” she said, sprinting to the side as gunfire erupted.

No points for guessing what Vicki's astounding idea is.

Though again, Ellanjay have the characters tiptoe around the issue. Rather than just say some variation on "If they're gunned down, they'll burn in hell like the evil Christ-killers that they are" or say "They'll roast like the stupid pigs they are, for refusing to forsake the beliefs that have sustained them over several millennia of persecution," which is what they really think, they just wuss out and talk about how it's the End for Them.

Which is a common tactic among fascist dictatorships: rebels are disappeared, not tortured over a period of several days before finally dying. Prisoners are liquidated, rather than taken out back and shot en masse. Or they use the phrase "collateral damage" rather than something unpleasant like civilian casualties.

And yes, I find this wussiness far more aggravating and anger-provoking, than the naked racism and anti-Semitism of such far-right works of fiction as The Turner Diaries. If anyone is browsing at work, previous link just takes you to Wikipedia if you're wondering. But in short, I'd rather deal with naked, blatant hatred, rather than the the tyranny of the moral busybodies, who smile and tell you that the knife they're driving into your back, is for your own benefit.

Or in order to fulfill the obligatory eighties cheese requirement of my posts, I'll quote Jaga from ThunderCats: Better an honest enemy than a false friend.

I probably should stop taking so much moral advice from children's cartoons. Especially if said cartoon is from the eighties aka the era where children's cartoons were basically twenty-two minute toy commercials. But hey, take wisdom where you find it, I guess.

Anyway, Vicki's next section begins with this:

Vicki knelt by a wounded soldier who had been shot in the leg. Judd dropped his ammo and tied a tourniquet above the wound.

I know it's a little thing, but given how much is wrong in this series, you leap like a starving dog onto a bone when they do something right. In fact, I actually cheer whenever a work of fiction of any kind (book, movie, etc.) acknowledges that a gunshot wound is serious business, even if it's not to an obviously fatal place like the chest or head. Because I'm anal retentive and this series, like I said, gives me nothing else to think about, I do wonder where NPC's wound is. If it's in the thigh area, props for acknowledging that getting shot there is as bad as the chest, because ever hear of something called the femoral artery? It's in your thigh and spoiler alert, injuries to any artery tend to be serious as shit, because arteries have the full power of the heart behind them. Or in other words, hit an artery and you will bleed out pretty damn fast.

Though the lower leg probably has spots where its equally as serious to take a hit. Plus again, while Nameless Soldier's adrenaline would really be running high, at the same time, most soldiers, like most civilians, when they get shot, they're generally down for the count. It's probably a smart strategy on the body's part, even if the poor schmo doesn't appreciate it too much at the time; moving around too much would make blood flow faster, thus enabling him to bleed out faster, or further aggravate the injury, again leading to the same result.

I am assuming that Judd, still following the sacred Tribbles' Ethos of Doing Nothing, was just doing the usual shtick of carrying ammo to the guys, willing to fight and make a stand against tyranny. Again, in other series, we'd call people willing to fight and die in hopes of defeating a corrupt authority, heroes, but in this I said, apparently, it is wrong to fight and die for your beliefs! Someone should have really tipped off all those Christian Martyrs that you don't really have to make a stand for your beliefs in hopes of inspiring others to do the same and overthrow a tyrannical government; instead, the truly Christian thing to do is live in comfort and enjoy the perks of being employed by said dictator, while occasionally thinking disdainful thoughts in his direction, until at some indeterminate point, Jesus comes back and kills everyone you hate for you.

As you probably guessed, while the soldier is racked with pain and Judd's trying to keep the dude from bleeding out, Vicki decides to chalk up another convert on her fuselage.

“Take my weapon,” the man groaned. “They need more fighters.”

“We want to help you,” Vicki said. “The Global Community is going to be defeated by God’s power—”

“Leave me alone!” the man screamed, using his gun to help him stand. “I have to get back to my brothers!”

Vicki and Judd tried to stop him, but the man limped off with the crowd. Her heart ached for him and the others fighting against the overwhelming army.

If you're wondering, after said NPC runs off, my head canon totally has Vicki and Judd shaking their heads, thinking about that poor foolish man, being more concerned about his fellow comrades-in-arms, rather than doing the honorable thing of saving his own ass and leaving his buddies to die. Because it's like Fred has said: Ellanjay are the anti-Huck. Their forebears of the past would have been horrified by Huck tearing up the letter and not ratting out Jim. I mean, sure ratting out Jim would doom him to a short life on earth, one full of misery, but that's nothing when compared to the state of Huck's eternal soul.

And probably, like in all things, if I were to point-blank bring this up, RTCs would get all pissy. Because they love to cast themselves on the Right side, once the battle's been safely decided and won for decades. If I pointed out how the Bible was used to justified slavery, they'd talk about how they'd be all noble and instinctively know that slavery was wrong and blah-blah-blah. Probably feel they deserve a trophy for their brave stance against human rights violations of the past, aka struggles they can conveniently do nothing about because they took place in the past. I mean, what are they supposed to do? Learn from the past and apply lessons from there to struggles that are currently raging? That would be a risk to possibly both physical safety and societal standing, if they actually spoke out against actual human rights abuses that are still going on.

Token Jew shows up, there's some blather, but it's boring as heck, so let's just move onto Judd's section.

Basically he and Vicki run into :gasp: a Jewish woman in her twenties, dressed in fatigues and black boots. I suppose I could quibble for a bit, wonder how Judd and Vicki knew that she was Jewish, just by looking at her. If it was a guy, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe the dude was wearing a kippah, but while some sects allow women to wear them, it is still a predominantly male fashion, for Jews to wear the kippah.

But we all know that only RTCs and Jewish people would at all object to a global dictatorship forbidding free practice of religion, so we should probably move on. I mean, humans displaying altruistic behavior and compassion towards others, caring about neighbors, even if they believe slightly different things then they do? That's unpossible. Next, you'll tell me that, during the Tahir Square uprising in Egypt of 2011, Christians turned out to protect Muslim believers, serving as human shields while the Muslims prayed and in turn, the Muslims turned out to protect the Christians, serving as human shields while the Christians conducted Mass.

Though given that the Christians in question were Coptic Christians, Ellanjay probably feel they don't fall into the category of RTCs. So again, I should stop talking and move on.

Though I'm sure they take Jewish Woman wearing fatigues and boots and fighting :gasp: like a man as further proof that she is a hardened reprobate.

Anyway, Vicki tries to rack up a convert, but Jewish Woman stubbornly insists on remaining Jewish.

“It’s no fairy tale,” Vicki said, “any more than the disappearances and the earthquake and everything else that’s happened during the past seven years. Jesus is coming back—at any moment—and you need to be ready.”

“I’m ready to die for my country. I want to rid the earth of Nicolae Carpathia, but I won’t turn my back on my religion. Get away from me.”

“Please, just listen to—”


Judd felt bad for Vicki and even worse for the woman who seemed closed to the truth.

I probably overuse the "Strawman Always Has A Point" tag. No, wait, I don't. Because like I said, in most fiction, most people would see the unnamed woman as heroic in her refusal to renounce her faith, no matter what happens to her, and her belief that her faith is worth dying for and even that there are things worth dying for, to be heroic as well. And most would consider a fight against a Global Dictator, to be a thing worth dying for. But since Ellanjay are the anti-Huck and know that saving your ass matters above all else...yeah...

For that reason, I've promoted both her and the unnamed injured Jewish soldier from earlier, into the League of Awesome. Yeah, I know, the passages quoted are the sum of their participation in the story, but given that they outclassed the heroes in every way in only a few lines, I'm willing to give it to them. So they're in the League of Awesome and are off with Hasina, Taylor, Dr. Rose, and Joel doing awesome stuff. But as part of their membership, I would like for them to be given names; it just feels appropriate. Bonus points if you manage to resist Ellanjays' failings and give them names that aren't basically Jewy Jewensteinberg or something.

But just so that Judd and Vicki and the readers don't get too bummed out, thinking about how those Christ-Killers will burn forever, Unnamed Jewish Guy shows up, along with a cloud of NPCs, so Judd and Vicki have another shot at goysplainning.

Another rebel nearby waved a hand, so Vicki and Judd walked over. “I heard what you said,” the young man said. “And I heard Dr. Ben-Judah last night. I almost prayed, but I was with my father and he cursed the man.”

“We can help you,” Judd said. “What do you need to know?”

The man looked around the darkened hallway. Several people listened. “I always thought the talk about Jesus was blasphemy. A story made up to make people hate Jews. Now I think I might have been wrong. I’ve been wondering if he could be the Messiah.”

If you're wondering, my response to the last bit by Unnamed Convert (sorry to spoil the twist for you), was to laugh heartily. That was followed up by my usual response which is to go, "Oh wait, they're serious."

Because they seriously believe that people, Jewish or Gentile, actually do talk like that. That Jewish Guy could have gone his entire life and never heard that, y'know, Christians feel that Jesus is the Messiah. Though that bit about "A story made up to make people hate Jews..." Nice job, barely camouflaging your anti-Semitism the way you basically IMPLIED THAT ALL THE COUNTLESS MILLENNIA OF PERSECUTIONS, POGROMS, AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF, THE HOLOCAUST, IS ALL THEIR FAULT FOR BEING ALL INSCRUTABLE AND JEWISH! THEY SHOULD HAVE REALIZED THE WISDOM OF THE SWORD AND IMMEDIATELY BOWED TO THE WISHES OF THEIR CHRISTIAN PERSECUTORS AND STOPPED BEING JEWISH!

:deep breath: Yeah, I know this late on, I should stop being so damn surprised by all this, but there are still moments where I'm like, "Seriously?! They have no idea how this idea might come off to people like, at all." But then again, that is assuming they're being honest in that they did write said series to rack up converts for Jesus, as opposed to providing a fictional world where RTCs are always right and "we'll be laughing our heads off while they burn in Hell, you'll see!"

Anyway, of course, Vicki and Judd can't resist so obvious an opening, so they get to it, explaining in narration about Old Testament prophecies that can, if you squint a little and change definitions somewhat, point to Jesus.***

And then they drag Paul into this.

“Paul was a famous Jewish person from the first century,” Judd said. “He studied under the best teachers and even persecuted followers of Jesus. Then something happened and this is what he wrote.”

Judd held out a small Bible for the man. He read aloud, “ ‘I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—Jews first and also Gentiles.’ ”

I, like a lot of liberal Christians, freely admit to having my issues with Paul. In some passages, Paul really seems to get it, the radical, life-changing message of Jesus, but in others, he remains stubbornly a man of his time. So I can understand why so many dislike him.

I do say, in his defense, that most of the really misogynistic passages that RTCs like to cite, probably weren't written by him. Also, little offhand messages, like infamous Junia passage or his bit in 1 Corinthians 1:11, where he talks about contentions in Chloe's household, prove that Paul, while he was still prejudiced against women, probably wasn't as misogynistic as RTCs in that he didn't see a female-headed household as being too worthy of note.

Also, since Paul's letters are the oldest parts of the New Testament, older than :gasp: even the Gospels, he provides fascinating insight into the practices of the early church. Note that in all his letters, whether written by the actual Paul or not, for all his strenuous striving to convince people that "Jesus is the Messiah," he never mentions a Virgin Birth, indicating that the Virgin Birth hadn't become a part of the Christian mythos yet. Also, his word choice seems to indicate that he feels that God raised Jesus from the grave and only when he did so, did Jesus become the divine messiah, unlike some of the Gospels which imply that Jesus was divine and holy at birth and raised himself from the grave.

But whether you agree with my above arguments or not, can we at least agree that Paul, having been raised Jewish and well-schooled in their scriptures, WAS A HELLUVA LOT LESS PATRONIZING TOWARDS JEWISH PEOPLE THAN ANY OF THE CHARACTERS IN THIS SERIES!

That and part of me wonders if citing Paul would have any cachet among the Jews they're trying to convert. Given that most Jewish sects probably don't consider the New Testament to be relevant to their faith, wouldn't it be equivalent to quoting from the Bhagavad Gita? But I suppose maybe they thought they should change it up, instead of having a character clumsily explain an Old Testament passage.

Judd flipped a few pages and read from Romans chapter 15. “ ‘Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors.’ Jesus came and fulfilled everything predicted about him—that he would suffer and die a cruel death, that he would save his people, that he would—”

“But what about the verses that say Messiah will be a king,” the young rebel said, “a ruler of the people who will establish righteousness?”

Vicki smiled. “Jesus is a descendant of King David. He is going to sit on David’s throne, just like the prophecies said. And he’s going to do it when he returns to conquer Satan and those who serve him.”

If you're wondering, of course, they won't try to explain that traditional Jewish teaching on the Messiah holds that said Messiah will do so on his first time at bat, not at some indeterminate return point that could be tomorrow or thousands of years in the future. Like it or not, but the fact that Jesus died an ignoble death on the cross, rather than reestablishing the Jewish monarchy or gathering up all those scattered, proves to many Jews that Jesus wasn't the Messiah. He may have been an awesome guy, but he wasn't the Messiah. Plus, Jewish teachings hold that if someone claims to be a holy man, yet his actions go against the sacred teachings of the Torah, then he's not a holy man. Whether you agree or not, you can point to many passages where Jesus flagrantly disobeys Mosaic law.

Just thought I'd pause for a moment and say that I do hope I'm doing okay, as a Gentile trying to talk about Jewish teachings. I like to think I haven't gotten stuff wrong or come across as patronizing, but if I have, I extend the invitation for aunursa or any Jewish commenters to lay into me. I read a lot, but there's a difference in reading a lot about Judaism and theology and actually growing up in the Jewish faith. So if I erred, I apologize.

Vicki then says this:

“There’s a verse in Corinthians that says we can’t find God through human wisdom,” Vicki said. “That God used the cross and the foolishness of preaching to draw people to himself. And that’s what we’re saying to you, as foolish as it might sound. Jesus died so your sins could be forgiven. He gave his life and paid the penalty so you could be a true child of God. And he offers you the chance to believe in him right now.”

In passages like this, they clumsily tiptoe around a point I keep bringing up: that their vision of Jesus seems to have very little to do with the guy depicted in gospels, who prayed for his enemies as they drove nails into him, or said stuff like, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." Their TurboJesus is a lot closer to the Elder Gods than any of the four gospels, so I'll ask the questions I keep asking:

Do they ever come up with an explanation as to why he was all lowly servant on his first trip? Was this lowly servant thing a pose he took on in order to attract followers? Because people living under the oppressive rule of a massive uncaring empire, would totally flock to some guy, who says, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" rather than one of the firebrand zealots trying to get people to take up arms against the oppressor. In that case, maybe the reason he's dropping the lowly servant pose and saying, "Time to exterminate the brutes!" is because it's the End of the World and he no longer has to worry about attracting followers and can give into his nature desire to burn them all.

Yeah, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to point out if the above is true, it doesn't speak well of Jesus. Heck, another theory, that maybe Jesus suffered so much on the cross that he went out of his mind from the pain and will be in no mood to save anyone when he returns, actually speaks better to him. You tend to have more sympathy towards someone who has gone mad, than you do towards a charlatan. But like I keep saying, over and over again, while Ellanjay pay lip service to the whole "Last will be first, first will be last" message of Jesus, at the same time, they can't impossibly envision everyone being on equal footing with God and they're not the Biggest Cheeses above all. Dammit! They keep making me fight the temptation to quote that Animal Farm line! Though it really does sum up their beliefs. I'll just link to one of Jesus's parables and move on.

Anyway, Unnamed Jewish People are like, "Oy vey! So what do we have to do to make with the mass conversions already?" giving Vicki and Judd a chance to walk them through The Prayer. They say it and the chapter ends with them feeling all smug and proud because if they hadn't, they would have no choice but to cackle at those bagel-munchers as they get spikes shoved into them while burning in Hell.

*I love Captain America, easily my favorite of the Avengers, and Captain America 2 is my favorite of the solo Marvel films, but I admit that I did spend a lot of that movie being like, "Okay, just what are his powers?" I was under the impression that the whole Super Soldier Serum thing just meant Steve was at the peak of human everything (endurance, healing, etc.), thus making it so he never has to go to the gym, but so many times I was like, "Unless said serum also gave him a Wolverine-style healing factor, there's no way Steve would walk away from that." Great movie, but still...

**Again, the most tiresome thing of the Kim Davis or the nutbags in Oregon self-martyrdom scandals, is that said participants always are so shocked, shocked that the evil corrupt government that they are loudly protesting against, may actually go through with the martyrdom part! I mean, whoever heard of martyrs actually suffering for their faith. I mean, really?

***Yes, I know that most of the Gospels were written decades after Jesus had lived and died, so you could easily point out that maybe, in order to bolster Jesus's credentials, said writers dug into Jewish scriptures or heard it from a friend of a friend, sort of thing. It probably wouldn't help you in the debate.


spiritplumber said...

Thanks for the plug!

Bringing in personal laser weapons Just Because, at the end of the final book, does tell me that either in-universe physics have started to break down in a way that allows such a technology, or the authors have decided to make this whole thing look a bit more futuristic in the cheapest possible way.

On that note, I point out that handheld burning lasers exist and that the one I make and sell is, appropriately, called the L-Cheapo. However, it is a precision cutting and engraving tool, not a weapon... unless you happen to be the size of a cell phone.

Since I've already done side fics for the last LBTK book, here's a bit of introspection on the Foreman's part:

I would be curious to see how LBGod would deal with the unconventional tactics noted by Firedrake and me... or for that matter, with Carpathia simply leaving the Petrans alone as you suggest.

aunursa said...

“Paul was a famous Jewish person from the first century,” Judd said.

Many Gentiles seem deathly afraid to use "Jew" in a sentence, even when it's appropriate. So instead of saying "Paul was a famous Jew from the first century," L&J make it more awkward.

"Jew" as a verb or adjective is always offensive and inappropriate.
"Jew" as a noun is usually appropriate. The only time that it wouldn't be appropriate is if you're identifying someone as a Jew and there's no reason for you to point out his religion in the first place.

Given that most Jewish sects probably don't consider the New Testament to be relevant to their faith, wouldn't it be equivalent to quoting from the Bhagavad Gita?

Yes. Yes, it would.

Just thought I'd pause for a moment and say that I do hope I'm doing okay, as a Gentile trying to talk about Jewish teachings.

You're doing fine.

spiritplumber said...

I know little about actual military strategy save from fiction, and would like to keep it that way (I do however have some first hand knowledge of naval logistics). But, I work with lasers, so that I can talk about a little.

First off, lasers are not that great a weapon. They are large, fragile (except diode types, which are very limited in output power), require lots of electricity, and are made useless as weapons by fog or rain. Lasers are only now starting to be deployed as anti-missile systems because they have the important advantage of moving at the speed of light; if you can see a target, you can hit it, no aim leading required. This makes them great for taking out small fast targets like missiles or drones.

In a situation like the siege of Petra lasers could be used as permanently blinding weapons (severely forbidden by the Geneva Convention, so I can't say I am surprised that it's the Godists rather than the Carpathianists who deploy them first) or, if defocused and throttled appropriately, as dazzlers - at that point you effectively have an extremely bright flashlight that is more energy efficient than a traditional or even a LED light bulb, or, tactically speaking, a reusable flash grenade. So, other than the whole "You've just violated the Geneva Convention" part, the Young Tribbles' plan to spook the horses makes some sense.

Incidentally, bringing in some mounted troops makes some sense! If Carpathia were to drop the Idiot Ball, he would realize that the whole Petra situation is best handled as a standoff or a riot than an actual war. In that case, bringing mounted troops would be an excellent idea - the reason why riot police are sometimes seen mounted is that a horse can maneuver in spaces where an vehicle cannot, such as the narrow alleys of an ancient Middle Eastern city. This would allow for a controlled charge and the ability for mounted troops to pursue rioters ducking out in the alleys.

Of course, mixing mounted riot troops with conventional mechanized infantry is just stupid - you'd spook the horses and bog down the Humvees. Once more, Carpathia would've done well to bring in riot police ahead of regular soldiers.

What could Carpathia do with laser cannons?

spiritplumber said...

Given that we've entered the end game, not a whole lot; they could have been deployed earlier as dazzlers, either to harass the population -- build some spotlight towers around the city and shine lights and lasers at random at night for a few nights, and you've turned your rebels into the walking dead, as far as reaction times are concerned. Couple that with massive speakers and you have... well, a rave party, I suppose. While those can be a lot of fun, throwing a mandatory, unavoidable rave party for the Petrans every night would be an excellent way to eat away at their resolve, coffee supplies, and sanity.

Another thing that a laser weapon would allow a hypothetical Sane Global Community Field Commander is to very precisely, to the millimeter, test the limit of whatever Godly protection Petra has. Would a laser not burn through fabric inside the "safe zone"? Easy and fast to find out; if it does, now the GC has an effective - if inefficient - weapon, that can be used to set fires; if it does not, the beam can be scanned back and forth to determine exactly what the "force field"'s borders are, at which point it becomes trivial to surround the safe zone in Claymore mines, stake in warning signs, and go do something else with the rest of your life.

For both sides, a handheld directed energy weapon can be theoretically used to neutralize a sniper by taking away their ability to see (remember, a laser is infinitely easier to aim than a projectile weapon), but since you are essentially painting a giant bright light on yourself, this only works if you are facing only one sniper. Except, again, there's the whole Geneva Convention business.

Note: If you buy a solid state laser cutter, remember to wear safety goggles! "Do not look into laser with remaining good eye".

Anonymous said...

As begrudging as it is to admit, L&J actually got technology somewhat right on this one. It's called an active denial system. Since LB is supposed to be sometime in the future it's not too far out to foresee that a smaller hand-held or portable unit could be designed.

spiritplumber said...

If you're making handheld or even rifle sized laser guns, why name them Directed Energy Weapons?

Go the final step and name them Personal Energy Weapons.

Mouse said...

It'd be nice to believe that Ellanjay actually did some plausible worldbuilding, Anonymous, but they also failed to foresee the ubiquity of cell phones and the Internet, so I really doubt that the laser weapon thing was intentional.

Firedrake said...

Yeah, I should have said "high-energy weapons" or something, your laser cannon that actually does direct damage at a distance rather than lightly toasting people. Counstermeasures against the blinders are pretty easy: metal foil in your clothing, including hoods. They're basically a riot control weapon: anyone who has time and resources to prepare for them won't be affected.

Major lower leg injuries aren't as immediately fatal, because the blood vessels are smaller and therefore better able to constrict - even if you get the entire calf transected, it's not as bad as having your thigh transected.

"Hey! Here are two clean-cut young Americans to tell you everything you know is wrong! What do you mean, you're not convinced?"

It's like Wal*mart: first you drive the other prophets out of business by being all "let's not give up our lives in futile attacks on the Romans", then once they're all gone you have a private army. OK, not entirely like Wal*mart.

Truly the last will be first: the humble greatest investigative reporter of all time, the pilot who so lowered himself to fly for the Antichrist…

A side note on the Massive Rave Party: "What are you going to play back at us? CCM?"

For what it's worth, I would love to have a CNC laser cutter, but so far they're all way too expensive for me (and I'm in the UK where there's less of an industry).

spiritplumber said...

You're looking at 300-400 dollars for a basic model. My laser is designed to mount on top of a 3D printer to let you both print and laser (not at the same time obviously), so you may want to look into that... my primary competitor is JTech Photonics, so in fairness, look at theirs too. Best might be to buy a 3D printer there, and then get the laser shipped.

PEW PEW jokes aside... what would I put on the playlist? Ordinarily you want loud, fast-beat and somewhat discordant things, so just lots of random noise, the Dramatic Chipmunk clip, recordings of stuff crashing or breaking, that sort of thing.

But we're playing as the Antichrist here, so, probably the soundtrack to Titanic. Over and over and over and over for moths on end 24/7.

Firedrake said...

Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia?

Too Many Cooks?

spiritplumber said...

Mouse, if you want to see L&J do worldbuilding, I hope you will also go over "Kingdom Come" after you finish this book. Let me know if you want a copy.

Anonymous said...

We're on the same page. Something tells me they saw a news story about the ADS being used somewhere in Afghanistan and decided to throw that it into the story.

Blank Ron said...

The Petra-niks seem to have a lot of electrical power to throw around. I know it's a huge site (and I'm betting Lando&Jar-Jar don't know that - kinda tricky to protect 100 square miles from a besieging army) but exactly where would they put a generator big enough? Maybe they salvaged reactors from decommissioned nuclear subs - they're compact, especially if you leave off all that pesky shielding, and I'm quite sure God would be happy to deal with all that waste heat. Somehow. Maybe use it to bake the manna?

The whole sequence illustrates, I think, what happens when you have your plot written out for you already (in excruciating detail) and you don't realise that it's STUPID. Any half-competent second-leftenant could take out the Tribbles and be home for the weekend, if he weren't constrained by two old men fitting his actions to a 2000-year-old drugged-out diatribe against a man whose name they probably have never heard before.
Or, as Cut and Wrong Jews would say, oy vey.