Sunday, January 3, 2016

It Just Raises Too Many Questions...

Well, after much procrastination, I'm finally here and ready to snark. So how did everybody spend Christmas/New Year's Eve? I got some awesome gifts, which almost makes up for the fact that this holiday is less a joyous occasion and more an endurance march. Plus, it requires more interaction with people than an isolated weirdo such as myself enjoys. Maybe some humans are social animals but not me. As for New Year's Eve, well, didn't really do much. In addiction to being isolated and weird, I also don't enjoy alcohol, so yeah, kind of miss the point of New Year's celebrations. Everyone keeps saying, whenever I mention that so far every time I've imbibed alcohol, I thought it was terrible and wondered what the fuss was about, that I should try X and I would like it, but I still think I just lack the gene needed to appreciate alcohol and if that's the case, probably isn't any point in trying to change things.

But on New Year's Day, I did finally scratch something off my bucket list by seeing a live screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was pretty awesome, though you can see why this movie flopped when it initially premiered. Probably just too weird for a mainstream audience, even by the standards of the seventies. Oh and Tim Curry is disturbingly attractive as Frank-n-Furter. There, I said it. I wonder what this says about my sexuality, but given in a previous post, I revealed that I long for a Gay man's tender touch (Neil Patrick Harris, if you're wondering), maybe this revelation isn't too disturbing for my blog readers to handle.

Well, after last time's which consisted of Nicky's speech, which despite all the villainous "Bwaah-Bwaah" stuff, it actually made some good points. So now we're back with the Heroes Who Don't Do Anything.

As you can probably guess, of course, there's a lot of telling rather than showing. Telling requires less work and like I've said, if you really showed just how horrific all this would be, both psychologically and physically, it would really cut down on the fun of gloating. And they wouldn't be good RTCs if they didn't gloat over the misfortune of others.

OVER the next several weeks, Judd noticed a flurry of activity in Petra. Nicolae’s war plans were in full effect, and his persecution increased. There were more beheadings and more torture of prisoners, and the hunt for Judah-ites continued. News had come of a GC raid in France. A chateau filled with suspected Judah-ites had been discovered, and all the occupants had been beheaded.

Okay, so I imagine they can't really delve too far into what it's like to suffer under a massive dictatorship. Unlike so many who actually went through this kind of shit in real life, the Tribbles have what they don't. They have absolute confirmation that they are in the right and most importantly, they have an actual end date. They know this will come to an end after seven years and afterwards, they'll get to enjoy a sexless paradise on Earth where they can feast on steaming piles of produce for all eternity. So okay, no matter how much they may circle-jerk about how RTCs will have it worse during those seven years than the Jews did under the Hitler* and Cambodia did under Pol Pot and indeed, they will suffer, we know there's some key differences.

Fair enough. But y'know, I imagine even under those circumstances, even when you know how this is all going to end and that So-and-So's in Heaven, you'd think it would still actually hurt to lose someone you care about.

I'm assuming the reference to the Chateau in France exists to serve as a callback for anyone foolish enough to have endured these books and actually held onto some of the characters' names. :raises hand: Said callback is probably referring to Jacques Madeleine aka the guy I dubbed Foreign McForeign because even that name has more dignity than being a Frenchman named Jacques Madeleine. Though again, I remained shocked that they actually had a French character and presented him in a positive light in this series. Given that the Right, both the political and religious version (though there's really very little distinction), really hate the French, even though America wouldn't have won its independence without France's help, again I'm a little surprised. Though if nothing else, it gives me an excuse to post a comic page which proves once and for all, that Captain America secretly hates America.

I know, I made a cultural reference that's only tangentially related to the material at hand, what else is new? But like I said, I look for any excuse to post that page.

Anyway, the first section is spent with Judd talking on the phone with Darrion. We couldn't have had this told from Darrion's perspective and actually witness the events mentioned firsthand, WHY EXACTLY?! Then again, that would flesh out Darrion's character and all we really need to know is that she's one of the female members of the Minor Character Cloud (MCC). It's like I keep saying: once you know basic details about a character (Name, age, gender, etc.) you can more or less chart out their trajectory in this series, see if they'll bow and accept TurboJesus or serve as a cautionary tale and get a Bridge Dropped on them.

Darrion says that they are staying at a place run by a guy named Enoch Dumas. I took the liberty of googling his name to find out his ethnicity/nationality, because with a name like that, he had to be either some ethnicity besides White or from some other country besides America. Turns out he's American, but he's :gasp: Black. Even though Lionel Washington manages to have a fairly ordinary name despite being Black. Yeah, I'm going to do what I usually do in situations like this: provide a link in hopes of educating the Ignorant and move on.

“His name is Enoch Dumas,” Darrion said over a scratchy phone line. “He was head of a group living in downtown Chicago. That’s where Chloe found them and then brought them into the Strong Building.”

“Where are they now?” Judd said.

“They split up after they left the Strong Building. Now Enoch and a bunch of his friends are here in Palos Hills. It’s a pretty rough group. Lots of former prostitutes and druggies. Sweet people, actually. They know what it means to be forgiven.”

Judd explained the persecution they had seen over the past few weeks. “Is it safe there?”

“We’re in the basement of an abandoned house. Others are scattered through the neighborhood. There are more than seventy, and Enoch says we’ll probably reach a hundred before Jesus comes back.”

I have to mention I spend much of this passage being like "Wasn't Chicago nuked recently? In fact, as I recall, it was the second time Chicago had been nuked and there was this hullabaloo over how it was a good thing that Chloe and everyone that mattered, got out before it happened."

Yeah, you really wonder what Ellanjay would say if you asked either of them, Jerry Jenkins or Tim LaHaye, point-blank "How do Nuclear Weapons work?" That and sometimes you fight the tendency to beat them and anyone who advocates "Nuke 'em all and let God sort 'em out" to death with a book called Sadako and the Paper Cranes. Spoiler alert, for those who have the sense to not click on a depressing link: turns out the nuclear weapons aren't exactly precision weapons and have a tendency to rack up more innocent civilians than the Super-Bad people who totally deserve a horrific death. But then again, who knew that more than one person lived in Japan, Iraq, Iran, or whatever country the Right's chomping at the bit to go to war with? Also, many of the people living in said countries are in fact ordinary people who live their lives, pay their taxes, work hard at their jobs, and :gasp: love their friends and relatives much like Americans do. Again, I'm just going to post another link and get on with the snark.

And Darrion gives us this story, which again, would have been nice to witness firsthand. Don't worry, I'll soon get to pointing out all the many, many holes in said "touching" story. I've leave out the "How does Chicago still exist?" one because I've already tackled it, but that still leaves plenty to point out.

Darrion chuckled. “Yeah, and they’re nothing like the Young Trib Force meetings. People come in here, sing, and tell their stories. One man yesterday told how he had kept from taking Carpathia’s mark. Not because he was a believer—he was just scared of getting a disease through the tattoo. His name is Adrian, and a GC Peacekeeper found him one day in a stairwell of some old apartment building. Before the Peacekeeper could react, Adrian hit him over the head with a pipe. Knocked him out cold.”

“What did Adrian do then?”

“He went through the Peacekeeper’s pockets looking for Nicks or food. You have to understand what it’s like on the streets now. There’s so much crime, but the GC only seems to be interested in getting people without Carpathia’s mark.”

“They don’t report it on GCNN, but we’ve heard how bad it’s getting.”

“Well, guess what Adrian finds in the Peacekeeper’s pocket? A pamphlet explaining the gospel. We think the Peacekeeper found it in some church or on a believer. Anyway, this Carpathia follower was actually a missionary because Adrian took the pamphlet, read it, and gave his heart to God.”

“Incredible.”

“He was so glad to find our group, not just because we have food and can give him protection, but to be near other believers. He didn’t know he had the mark of the believer until he got here.”

Yeah, there's never any singing or story-telling at a Tribbles' meetings.
That never occurs!

Seriously, unless these Chicago believers conduct all their singing and story-telling with Semaphore, there's nothing different about their services. One final question, before I move onto my next point in this snark: out of curiosity, if you express too much brutal sarcasm within a short period, will you eventually lose the ability to express any other emotion? Just curious, because I have enough social difficulties without having to add that to the list.

Also, regarding Adrian...given that a large portion of the homeless population suffers from some form of mental illness that raises some disturbing questions. I really hope that Ellanjay would be merciful towards those who suffer from some form of mental retardation yet were above the "Too Tall to Be Raptured" line (though I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it never occurred to them that people like that exist), but how would they feel about someone so addled as a result of psychosis that it's a miracle they know what the color the sky is on any given day? Again, they believe that the evidence of God is plainly visible and that the only reason everyone hasn't bent the knee and said The Prayer is because they stick their fingers in their ears and go "La-la-la Can't hear you!" but thing about psychosis is that the people afflicted with it, aren't receiving accurate input from their senses in the first place.

So if someone in the grips of full-blown psychosis got The Mark either because they were hungry and didn't know what they were agreeing to (see previous remarks about their senses), or because it was done to them while they were spending a few nights in a jail or hospital before being turfed, would they still be damned, even if they immediately regretted it after they cycled out of their mental illness? Because for those ignorant, most mental illnesses come in cycles, even the scary ones that really freak people out, like Schizophrenia and the like. Or in other words, there are periods where they aren't experiencing any symptoms and can more or less function normally. Also, for the ignorant, even when they are deep in the depths of whatever mental illness they suffer from, most are more a threat to themselves than they are to others. In fact, the mentally ill are statistically more likely to be victims (bold put in for emphasis) than the perpetrators of crimes.

Of course, I am assuming that the GC automatically gives everyone who turns up in a Hospital or a Jail, The Mark. Maybe I'm wrong and they don't pretty much operate like Jim Jones at Jonestown, going after anyone not smart enough to emulate Hyacinth Thrash.

Oh and given that RTCs have proven that they see all crimes as being equal, whether it's stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family or preying on underaged girls or nuking a city with over 8.5 million people living there, yeah, I'm really skeptical of Darrion's statement about how crime has really gone up. In fact for my own amusement, I picture her saying things like "They didn't even arrest that person who had the nerve to give someone a hug, and not a Christian Side Hug! Their dirty-pillows and sin zones actually made contact with one another!" "And just yesterday, I saw two adults of the opposite sex without rings on their fingers, walking around together unchaperoned! Won't somebody please think of the children?!"


Again, there's a reason whenever a scandal brings down an icon on the Religious Right, it always seems to come down to sex. Even if there were plenty of other skeevy stuff involved, the Right's willing to let it slide, but not if sex is involved.

We get a one line summary that essentially says "Darrion told him some other stories." I know I should object that kind of laziness, but hey, again it's less work for me to do. I know, I know, but the laziness is a welcome break from all the So Bad It's Horrible.

The section closes out and we cut to Vicki, but not before getting this interesting paragraph:

“I know the feeling,” Judd said. “But we’ll see him again. You know that.”

“I can’t wait to see my mom and dad and Ryan Daley too.”

The mention of Ryan took Judd’s breath away. When he hung up with Darrion he went outside and watched people gather their evening meal. It had been years since Ryan had been with them. He had missed so much of the Tribulation. What would Ryan be like when they saw him again? Would they really be able to recognize him? Would he be the same age as when he died, or would God somehow change his body to be older but still recognizable?

No matter what Ryan looked like—or Mark or Pete or John or the others who had died—Judd knew there was a great reunion ahead.

Again, I still kick myself for not starting the Butt Monkey Project immediately after Ryan died back in the single digits. If I wasn't lazy, if I hadn't already devoted more time and neuron space to this series than I care to admit, I'd reread the series and do a count of how many times Ryan is mentioned at all after his death. Though I will wonder, regarding passages like the above, if I was doing that count, should I just count this as one mention or should I count each individual mention of his name? Though given that Darrion was converted after Ryan witnessed to her, props for continuity, there.

Oh and I'd dust off the "Ho Yay" tag in response to "the mention of Ryan took Judd's breath away" line, but given that the oldest Ryan could have been when he was killed, was around thirteen or fourteen...yeah, it feels kind of wrong.

Out of curiosity, for those of you (like me) who are anal retentive, like to split hairs, and spend too much time on TV Tropes, does Ryan's death fall under Stuffed into the Fridge or Dropped a Bridge on Him? I suppose Fridged doesn't really fit, given that his death doesn't serve as the impetus for other plot events, but then again, nothing serves as an impetus for plot events in this series because NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS SERIES! But Ryan did actually get an onscreen death scene, which makes me wonder whether Bridged fits. But there is very little mention or concern given to him after he dies and you know he only did die because he's the Butt Monkey of this series, so maybe Bridged fits.

All right, I'll get back to snarking. I like to think all these digressions are at least entertaining, though.

As for what Vicki's been up to...the opening paragraph of her section gives us the generic details:

Vicki stayed busy over the weeks becoming an Internet counselor for young people. After intense sessions with the elders, Chang Wong, and Naomi Tiberius, Vicki took her place beside people of all nationalities who answered questions from around the world. She was excited that some of those she counseled were actually airlifted into Petra by Trib Force pilots.

You can practically see the cogs turning in whoever was suckered to write this. "Okay, gotta convey the passage of time, but readers are going to want to know what Vicki has been doing during all this. Yet because Vicki is a girl with girl parts, can't actually get into specifics, because traditional gender roles must be upheld, even at the End of the World. I'll say she was counseling people, because that's an appropriate girly thing for her to be doing. I'll even specify that it was young people she was counseling so I won't offend anyone who believes in following 1 Timothy 2:12 to the letter."

Someone want to fill in whoever wrote this that some nuts would be offended by Vicki teaching even young people, because chances are, some of those young people have Y chromosomes and the Bible clearly says a woman cannot teach or assume authority over a man" even if said man still attends the movie on a child's ticket and has just mastered tying his shoes. For once, I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but dig around and you really will find people who think that way.

Oh and sweet Lord, they don't even try to dispute all my many, many rants about how RTCs are basically Toadies, kissing up to the Bully so they won't become victims and so they can point the Bully towards people they feel "deserve" to be killed horribly and burninated forever afterwards.

Vicki knew the suffering and persecution would end, but as she heard the stories of hurting and wounded people, she longed for the return of Jesus even more. She couldn’t wait to see him and hear his voice. She knew from reading the Scriptures that there were more prophecies concerning Jesus’ seconding than his first. And this time he wouldn’t come as the lowly, humble servant but as the mighty, conquering king ready to defeat his enemies.

...

I've said it in other posts, but clearly on some level they recognize the contrast between the Jesus depicted in the Gospels (who said things like "Forgive them, father, for they know what not they do" as the titular they were nailing him to the cross) and their version who brutally slaughters all who stand against him before pitching them to burn in hellfire forever. You just know they're the types who deal with the discrepancies in the four gospels (said gospels can't even agree on Jesus's last words), by mushing them into one large text, but that's not my point here.

My point, is the question one I've brought up before and will no doubt do again: how do they resolve the contrast between their TurboJesus and the Jesus of the Bible? Do they think he took the lowly servant role first time around as a means of attracting followers but since it's now the End of the World and he no longer has to worry about bodies in the pews, he's saying, "Fuck this shit," and getting down to exterminating the brutes.

I suppose maybe they could use the justification that Jesus went insane from the torture and abuse he suffered on the cross; therefore, when he returns, he won't be in the mood to save anyone. But they also believe, judging by what we've seen in these books, that torture is ineffective against brave RTCs, so having Jesus be broken and insane as a result of what he went through, would bring up conundrums along the lines of the old "Could God build a rock so heavy He couldn't lift it?" issues and y'know how they feel about those kinds of issues. Plus, if that were true, then it would mean that Torture is wrong and a horrible thing to do to someone, even when those doing the torturing, passionately and sincerely believe that the scary Brown person has or will do something bad. Yeah, who wants to tell them the story of Patrick Chamusso? For bonus points, point out that Apartheid-Era South Africa was predominately run by White Christians and sit back and enjoy the fireworks before they find a logical fallacy that comforts them.

I will say that whichever justification they use for TurboJesus, whether he was the lowly servant on his first trip around in order to rope in the peanut gallery (because apparently people suffering massively at the hands of an Empire really flock to somebody who says "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" and to love and pray for your enemies, rather than to the guy who rallies them to take up arms against the oppressors) or if he's gone insane from torture, it doesn't speak well of their version of Jesus. In fact, the second option is actually more tolerable: you feel more sympathy for someone who has lost their mind, than you do for a charlatan looking to rack up as many converts and get as much out of them as possible.

Of course, the most likely answer is that like I've said before, they've internalized the mindset of Might makes Right and therefore, the only way they (and by extension, Jesus) can win, is by exterminating those who stand in their way. In other words, their beliefs aren't so much "Bullying is Wrong" as "Bullying me, specifically, is wrong." Therefore, they probably won't relate much to a guy who forgives those who sinned against him and says things about how the peacemakers and the meek, along with prostitutes and other sinful sinners, are going to get into Heaven, but not the religious authorities, who scrupulously follow the law. Therefore, they had but no choice but to create God in their own image.

Oh all right, I'll stop all the philosophical discourse and get back to the books.

We get even more examples of the RTC brand of Willful Ignorance:

Vicki was amazed to see the questions that came into the Web site. She even received one from a woman who was clearly not interested in knowing God but in finding out when the plague of darkness would be lifted from New Babylon.

“How could she believe that we have answers from the Bible but not believe the truth about God?” Vicki asked Judd as they ate one night.

“She’s blind,” Judd said. “These people know there’s something to the claims of the Bible, but they follow Carpathia anyway. Those troops know how many soldiers God wiped out, but they still follow orders.”

I should probably clarify what I mean by Willful Ignorance. Just know that it is far more insidious and irritating than just plain ignorance. Willful Ignorance means not only are they ignorant, they're proud of it and flat-out refuse to learn any more because they believe that their ignorance makes their opinions all the more purer, because they haven't sullied themselves with facts. There are so many examples of this kind of ignorance we can point to, especially on the Right where it's practically a job requirement, whether you want to be elected or just eke out an existence on Wingnut Welfare.

Anyway, my point is, the answer to Vicki's question is screamingly obvious, but both her and Judd are doing what Ellanjay believe their opponents do: stick their fingers in their ears and go "La-la-la...I can't hear you." Like I keep saying many times, the question the people in these books wouldn't struggle with isn't "Does God exist?" It would be more related to the nature of said God, whether a God, who gleefully slaughters even those whose only crime was, y'know, being born during this seven-year timeframe, is deserving of worship. Short answer: No. He's deserving of armed resistance.

Sometimes I wonder how many fireworks would be produced if you pointed this out to them, pointed out that during the seven-year period which God goes all "Exterminate the Brutes!" on everyone, why they find it okay for God to slaughter many innocents, already-born children and unborn children alike, but if a woman has her child surgically aborted, she is a horrible harlot who deserves to die! Even if the horrible harlot in question is a nine-year-old girl.

But again, it's Might Makes Right all over again. God is the most powerful being in the universe, therefore anything He does is automatically right. But if a weak, lowly human, does something remotely similar, even if it's, at best, one-tenth in terms of scale, then it is wrong and eeeevil!

Vicki and Judd are interrupted by a knock on the door. Sam shows up and talks about how Lev wants to meet up with a member of the Jewish Resistance in Jerusalem named Shivte. Lev is positive that Shivte wouldn't accept Nicky's Mark and has heard that Shivte's wife has become a good RTC, so yeah, brace yourselves for the inevitable goysplainning scene. Just know that according to Ellanjay, all Jews have sidelocks and all the other accoutrements associated with Orthodox Judaism, even the women. So like I keep saying, when they find Shivte, he'll be sporting sidelocks, eating a bagel, and shouting "Oy Vey!" at various intervals. We should just consider ourselves lucky that they don't have all the Jewish characters begin all their sentences with "You want." Like, have Shivte go, "You want to explain how my people have been interpreting their own scriptures wrong for countless millennia and that unless we accept the patronizing wisdom of the gentiles, we will burn along with all the heroes of our faith and the beloved relatives who came before us? Oy vey!"

Oh and Token Jew is planning on taking up arms in battle, because as a good RTC, he knows that Christian Pacifism is code for Satan Satanism. Because the only way he qualifies as a good soldier for Christ is by wielding a gun, rather than doing everything he can to reach the lost (even those who :gasp: don't have Internet due to poverty/multiple Acts of God back-to-back) or giving his life to protect the weak, so, of course, Token Jew is taking up arms.

[TANGENT] Y'know, go to any Christian bookstore and you find shelves devoted to fiction about the Amish, showing them in their buggies and white prayer caps. Beverly Lewis is the most popular of the Amish Lit genre, but there are many other writers. But if you know anything about the Amish, even if the sum of your knowledge comes from the movie Witness, you'd know that the Amish are kind of all about Christian Pacifism. So yeah, how do RTCs resolve their love of Amish lit with their belief that "Peace is Wrong and anyone who advocates it, is wrong!" It's just one of those things you can't help but shake your head at. [/TANGENT]

There's mention of Captain Steele's military people. Again, you more or less accept that everyone in this series calls him Captain Steele, even though he was an airline pilot, not someone who deserves fawning obsequious worship, like that one Captain I totally fangirl. But I find myself thinking, "Really, you put Ray-Ray in charge of military operations? Does he have any qualifications besides being Rayford Steele, aka the greatest human ever in the LB-verse?" As I recall from my knowledge of Rayford's background, he was in the Air Force before he became an airline pilot, but a few years in the Air Force doesn't give you the military genius of Dwight Eisenhower. So I wonder why they would put Rayford in charge of military operations. But the answer is probably "Because Rayford is the greatest human to have ever existed. Even if you combined the presidents on Mount Rushmore to form some kind of Presidential Voltron, they still wouldn't be as great as Rayford."

Token Jew also believes that a third of those inscrutable Christ-killers Jews will stop being all inscrutable and Jewish, based on his interpretation of Zechariah 13:8-9. Zechariah can be summed up as "One of those Old Testament Prophets that the Jews keep interpreting wrong for some reason" and in true Ellanjay fashion, they focus only on the last two verses of that chapter and pay no attention to the other ones. Even though the first six verses kind of make it clear that God was more about punishing false prophets leading people astray with false teachings than about punishing people who fail to say the "Jesus is Lord" with the precise amount of sincerity demanded. But if you point that out, plus point out that Deuteronomy, chapter eighteen, specifically the last two verses say that if a prophet predicts something and it doesn't come to pass, then they are a false prophet...given that Ellanjay and others of the PMD ilk has been predicting the Rapture/End of the World for years, yet everyone's still here...let's just say chaos would ensue and leave it at that.

Next section, shock of all shocks, is told from Lionel's perspective. Really there's nothing to snark. Lionel just talks to Zeke, who in true Ellanjay fashion, manage to make something as exciting as the End of the World sound even more boring than just reading the phone book from cover to cover.

“I’m still confused about what’s going to happen when,” Lionel said.

“Tsion says there are going to be something like eight things happening after the Euphrates River goes dry.”

“What’s so important about that?”

“Well, you ever see an army try to get across a river that’s running? When it dries up, the kings and armies east of here will have a clear shot at us. They can come into this valley—it’s called Megiddo—and be ready for the trap.”

“What trap?”

“Well, Tsion says this is exactly what God wants. It’ll look like there’s no way anyone can stand up to the strength of all those tanks and missiles and troops, but God’s gonna zap ’em.”

“What else happens?”

“Once the river goes dry and the armies get together, Babylon will be destroyed. God’s gonna do that real quick, and then comes the fall of Jerusalem. I’m kinda hazy about how that happens, but finally Jesus will appear on a white horse with a big army of his own. He’ll be mad at old Nicolae, and there’s gonna be a lot of blood, you can bet on that. There’s gonna be a battle close to here, though Petra will be safe. And then Jesus will show up at the Mount of Olives.”

“Wish I could be there,” Lionel said.

“You and me both. But there’s plenty to do here. As a matter of fact, I’m looking for some volunteers.”

“Is this the getting myself dirty part?”

Zeke smiled. “You got it. I need people to go out and pick up weapons, uniforms, ammo—just about anything you think we could use.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“Could be. But my guess is the GC won’t have any power over believers who are living here in Petra. God’s gonna protect us.”

“You don’t know that for sure.”

“Right. Not 100 percent, but I’m willing to chance it. How about you?”

Yeah, lot of focus on tanks and missiles and troops. Someone want to tell them about some amazing technology invented in 1903 by some guys referred to as The Wright Brothers? I'm sure you've heard of it; it's called an airplane. As WWI makes it clear, it also didn't take long for people to realize the wartime applications of aircraft. In other words, Nicky could just easily have his planes drop bombs overhead and skip the rigmarole of sending troops across the Euphrates.

I'm too lazy to look up when this book was published. Suffice to say, I think it's safe to assume, given their failure to predict cell phones and the Internet, Ellanjay also didn't foresee the rise of Military Drones, thus making it so you can program coordinates and scratch off enemies from a fortified bunker, without the hazards of flying men into a warzones. So chances are Nicky probably won't have those available to them. Plus, Nicky using drones to unilaterally kill anyone he deems deserving of death without such niceties as a trial or even an excuse, even if said target is sixteen-years-old and an American Citizen who hadn't been charged with anything...yeah, depict Nicky using drones and the readers might ask uncomfortable questions.

Oh and Ellanjay really have their finger on the pulse of today's youth. They know kids hate suspense of any kind, so they make it clear exactly what will happen and no doubt, it will happen exactly as they explained with no hiccups whatsoever.

Admittedly if you're writing some kind of fiction where there's some big battle, you do want to make sure the readers know the stakes, know why the sides are fighting and what will happen if Side X wins. I freely admit to being a Lord of the Rings fangirl, but at the same time, will admit that it has its flaws. Tolkien is a great world-builder in that Middle Earth is one of those few fantasy worlds that feels palpably real. He does this not just through the descriptions of the scenery, but also in the songs and poetry and other mentions of past figures, which serves to convey that Middle Earth has a history: it existed before the plucky heroes came onscreen. It did not just spring into being to fill a particular plot point and the reader will feel, even after they've closed the book, that Middle Earth will continue to exist afterwards.

Tolkien falls down when it comes to creating characters, though. Despite his best efforts, both Gimli and Legolas still come across more as archetypes than as characters. Gimli fares better in the books in that even though he displays the traits people have come to associate with Dwarves in fantasy fiction, we also see the Warrior Poet side of him.

But my point is, Tolkien made sure when it came time for the Battle of Pelennor Fields or Helm's Deep, the readers knew what was at stake, just as they knew what would happen if Sam and Frodo failed to destroy the Ring and it fell into Sauron's hands. That's basic writing 101: if you have a story where it's heroes vs. villains, we should be able to tell the difference between the two and have some idea what will happen if the Villains win.

Thing is, if you're going to have a plan and lay it all out for the readers, something should happen when it comes time to put the plan into motion. Not "rocks fall, everyone dies," but something that throws everything slightly askew and forces the heroes to do some quick thinking, "Should we adjust and go through with the plan? Or are things too FUBARed to be saved?" Like if part of the team's plan involves having Hero A be at this place when it comes time to confront Villain X, have something happen that keeps Hero A from being at that spot at that exact moment. It's basic plotting 101. Readers would be bored if they get to the climax and everything goes as scheduled and there are no hiccups whatsoever. When people read fiction, they generally want some suspense over the outcome, otherwise they would just read recipes and How-To instructions. For all Tolkien's flaws, even he knew that and utilized it by having Frodo commit a rare act for a hero in fantasy fiction: Frodo fails to destroy the Ring and succumbs to its influence. It's only through the fortuitous intervention of Gollum that Sauron is finally vanquished.

Anyway to finally wrap this chapter up, Judd gives Vicki a ring as they celebrate Christmas in Petra. Because I'm a drooling pervert, I'll assume that gesture was thrown in because the writers' realized that Judd has had much more meaningful interaction with male characters than he has with the woman he supposed to be married to. I suppose I could dust off the Ho Yay tag now, but I try not to abuse said tags, even though there's very little stopping me.

And that's it for this week. Sorry about all the dark stuff we found ourselves delving into. Probably should have gone easy on everyone, given that we're coming back after a break, but buttons were pushed. It just seems to keep happening whenever I read this stuff; I just start making associations. You can tell a lot about a subculture by the art produced and given how terrible, in both message and craft, the art is in this subculture...please don't make me finish the obvious line I've set up.

*Anyone want to remind people who throw around Nazi analogies that in addition to killing Jews, Hitler also went after Gypsies, Homosexuals, and Communists and like so many on the Right, he had a very loose definition of the word communist? But my objection to Hitler analogies is that they are so overused. I keep wanting to say, "Y'know there are other genocidal assholes you can compare people to? Heck, even if you limit yourself to the 20th century, that still leaves you with plenty to choose from." Just for once, I want someone to compare their opponent to Pol Pot. I'd suggest Idi Amin or Augusto Pinochet, but given the US's long history of backing those guys...yeah, you kind of understand why people are hesitant to use them in analogies. Again, it might lead to uncomfortable questions like I keep saying in my post.

7 comments:

Firedrake said...

Spent the holiday quietly at home with my wife, mostly; had some mates over for boardgames on Boxing Day, went to some museums between Christmas and the New Year, and turned up at the local pub's New Year's Eve party ten minutes before midnight and left five minutes after it, which suits this antisocial Firedrake very nicely: say hi to people, join the celebration, but not the endurance battle before or afterwards.

(I have another two weeks off work.)

L&J: making a story of resistance against dictatorship boring.

It was never clear to me what the nuking of Chicago (and those other, lesser cities) was expected to achieve. What's the tactical or strategic goal here? Imitate LB!God because the only thing these humans understand is massive death?

I seem to remember that it's been established that the Mark is in itself a QR-Code reading Destination Hell, unless you have a Special Plot Immunity card.

Yeah, stealing the collection money and spending it on bling is just dandy, but sex is Right Out. I suspect if a preacher got caught murdering prostitutes rather than having sex with them they'd probably feel relieved.

Carpathia himself "knows there's something in the claims of the Bible". There are no unbelievers in this world: there are just the ones who go along with the divine plan and the ones who make waves.

I think RTCs would claim that what's moral for God is not necessarily moral for us, and vice versa, so we can't use his actions as an example.

The Amish may be advocating peace, but they aren't going out on demonstrations to stop America killing brown people so they aren't a political force worth worrying about.

Maybe most of the military got itself raptured so Ray's the best they have left? Nah.

If you're going to interpret Zech13:9 literally, you'd better lay in some asbestos underwear.

aunursa said...

Oh and Token Jew is planning on taking up arms in battle, because

Because Jenkins realized that Tsion was protected in Petra. And Jenkins needed to get Tsion into harm's way in order to kill him off one day before Jesus returns to bring him back to life.

Mouse said...

Seriously?! Okay, I'm wondering how this makes sense. Is there a reason Token Jew had to die and does this affect his standing in the LB hierarchy? We all know that Buck and Rayford outrank everybody in the hierarchy including God and TurboJesus, but where does Token Jew fall in all this? He probably outranks Bruce Barnes, given that no one seems to particularly care once Bruce has a bridge dropped on him, and generally people seem to listen to him more than they ever did with Bruce Barnes. But Token Jew is all foreign and Jewish, I wonder if this affects his standing. Because it's been established, just as Male outranks Female, American outranks Foreign. But I do wonder, given that Token Jew is clearly established to serve as a self-insert for Tim LaHaye (or at least, as his version of a Rabbi), does that make up for his foreign status and give him a boost in the hierarchy?

Though you also have to remember that since Jerry Jenkins does the bulk of the writing, there's probably a reason we get little digs at Rayford's (aka Tim LaHaye's self-insert) more than we do Buck (Jerry's self-insert). I do wonder if making Rayford be the one who survives the series and thus has to keep his ancient decrepit body for all eternity as centuries pass, while Buck gets a Super Special Awesome Upgraded Forever Young One, was Jerry's dig.

But again, like I tell people, once you know a character's place in the Great Hierarchy that rules the LB-verse, you can kind of plot out their story arc from there.

aunursa said...

Is there a reason Token Jew had to die and does this affect his standing in the LB hierarchy?

Tsion has to die because three-fourths of all people left behind at the time of the Rapture will die before Jesus returns. This was established at the beginning of Book #2. "Bruce Barnes knows from his study of Scripture that dark days lie ahead. The odds are, only one of the four members of the Tribulation Force will survive the next seven years."

So Jerry got to Book #11 and realized that too many of his main and supporting characters were still alive. During a live chat following Book #9, a fan had asked, "Why couldn't Rayford, Buck, and Chloe all survive to the end?" Jenkins had replied that if he had written it that way, it wouldn't be realistic. He quipped, ironically fiction has to be believably. If you don't believe that he wrote that, here's the proof. (Scroll to the question by kgreen20.)

So Jenkins had put off killing Chloe, and as he approached the end, he still had to kill off either Rayford or Buck. And Tsion was now expendable, as Chaim could stand in for him in Book #12 and explain to Rayford, I mean the readers, each scene before it happens and as it happens.

No, seriously. That's the reason why Tsion left the protection of Petra one day before the end.

Mouse said...

:shakes head: The few times I've read articles where Jenkins gives advice on writing, I spend the entire time shouting, "Physician, heal thyself!" because he clearly never takes any of his own advice. One of these days, I'll stop being amazed by how some people go through life with no sense of self-awareness whatsoever; I just don't know when.

I keep trying to find an accurate simile to describe what taking writing advice from Jerry Jenkins is like. Right now, all I can think of is "Taking writing advice from Jerry Jenkins is like taking medical advice from Dr. Kevorkian or parenting advice from Woody Allen" but both similes feel too extreme, even for someone like me who loves to exaggerate for comedic effect. Someone want to help me out?

Blank Ron said...

RTCs and mental illness:
I wonder if Lumpy&Jerkface's inability to write characters with mental illnesses, and their apparent invisibility in the LBverse, has anything to do with the still-prevalent notion that such people are Cursed By God. When you're Cursed By God, about your only option is to hide away somewhere out of sight of RTCs so they don't have to feel uncomfortable about your existence. No thought need be expended upon them and TurboJesus will sweep them up without a thought - leaving a world filled with people whose serious personality disorders (funny* how many Tribbles come across as affectless or narcissistic or even sociopathic) are more socially acceptable.
* Okay, not funny.

Firedrake said...

Post-rapture, lots of people will be having various extreme stress reactions. I don't know whether it's still possible to be Cursed By God at that point but I can't see the RTCs leaving out an opportunity for their deity to do something nasty.