Anyway, some time after doing last week's post, I realized there was something I forgot to mention. I thought about editing the post and adding it in, but decided, y'know what, it should totally be part of the new post. Anyway, for those of you wondering, what I wanted to mention is that last week, we wrapped up chapters 40 and 41. This week we'll take on 42 and probably 43 because well, how do I put it, less than nothing happens in this series! I say that a lot, I know, and I really need to think of new ways of saying it, to liven things up a little.
But back to the point I was going to make. For those of you wondering just how many chapters there are left, in all, this book contains 48. For some reason, Ellanjay felt this book needed forty freaking eight chapters and they couldn't have just wrapped it up by now, even though nothing happens except TurboJesus speaks Bible verses and slaughters people, while his followers talk about how amazing he is! Really, Ellanjay, I know you wrote this series as revenge porn, no matter how much you may insist otherwise, but how many chapters do you need for your characters to dance around the end zone going, "We're number one!"
I know, I know, it's their love of padding and money showing again, but I still felt it worth ranting about. Though if you're wondering about the weakness of this week's snark, that's because there really isn't much for me to do. I feel like I'm boxing the air in that no matter how impressive my moves may be, it doesn't make any noticeable difference at all and after a while I'm like, "Isn't there something more productive I could do with my time? I could talk to my houseplants right now, tell them how pretty they are, and how much I appreciate them?"
We all know that Ellanjay were too chickenshit to have TurboJesus speak in anything but Bible quotes. IT's probably for the best, because if they weren't, you just know there would have been a scene where TurboJesus or God talked about how they wished they could be as manly as St. Rayford or Our Buck and afterwards, started sobbing. Don't tell me it wouldn't have happened; we all know how much every character in this universe obsequiously worships Buck and Rayford.
I thought about running all of TurboJesus's quotes through Google so I could find the original context and talk about how Ellanjay screw it up, but while I'll do that for some, I'm too lazy to do it for every line he says. Suffice to say that there's a reason, given the subculture they were raised in, that Creationists/Creation Scientists/Intelligent Design Proponents/Whatever the Hell They're Calling Themselves Now since Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Torpedoed the Intelligent Design Trojan Horse, are so notorious for quote-mining. Given how they use the Bible where they take a handful of verses and pay no attention to the larger passages surrounding said verses or the historical context of what was going on whenever the particular writer wrote said passages, anyone who debates RTCs or fundamentalist Christians shouldn't be surprised that they quote-mine Charles Darwin or Margaret Sanger or whoever the hell they want. Approach scholarship with the slothful attitude of using it as an excuse to gather slings and arrows to use against the people I hate, rather than as a means of learning more about the world, and of course, they'll be lazy and quote-mine.
Okay, so y'all are probably going "I already know all this, Mouse. STFU, and get to the point already!" And I suppose I really should, but what really gets me in all these passages isn't so much the quote-mining and cherry-picking from the Bible, but really just how incredibly boring and bland TurboJesus comes across as. Yeah, I know my blog readers hold a wide variety of views about who Jesus was, but whether you believe he was the Son of God or not, you find yourself shaking your head at all these pages, being like, "Surely a man who inspired so many to abandon their families and give their lives while serving as his followers, was a helluva lot more charismatic than this?"
I had talked about something similar earlier, talked about how Ellanjay can't be arsed to put forth any effort in fleshing out the setting so characters respond and act the same no matter where they are, be it the Garden of Gethsemane or a gas station washroom, but I think I can make a similar complaint here with TurboJesus. Whatever you believe, even if you feel that Tim LaHaye was right about everything (in that case, what are you doing on my blog?), you would still think that the arrival of TurboJesus would be a momentous occasion, one that would stir the deepest emotions in everyone, with every knee bowing and tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord. Because we are talking about a powerful cosmic being even older than the universe, with greater power and wisdom than any earthly creature could ever aspire to, who has seen and heard everything that goes on. Surely you'd feel a sense of awe and majesty being in the presence of something like that?
But there is no sense of any majesty with TurboJesus. I'm told that Paradiso is considered the weakest part of Dante's Divine Comedy. I haven't read it, though I can kind of understand why it would fail in what it's trying to accomplish. It is so much easier to write about bad stuff and point out the many ways bad stuff is bad, but when it comes to good things, especially concepts as elevated as Heaven or Joy or Absolute Bliss, what can you say about them except, "They're good?" But even Dante probably did a better job in Paradiso than Ellanjay.
But for all their claims of how they worship TurboJesus, they really aren't that interested in exploring who He is or what it would mean to be in His Presence, so it's not too surprising. Jesus, for them, serves as their cosmic Enola Gay, something brought in as a means of further humiliating and torturing their enemy, after all else has failed.
Though the Enola Gay comparison may be inaccurate. Not going to get into a debate about whether Truman was right to drop the bombs on Japan. It's an interesting discussion, but at the same time, I'm not sure what purpose it really serves, because whether you feel it was right or wrong, it cannot be undone. No matter how good your arguments are, they will not resurrect the thousands of innocent civilians killed. Talk about the horrific effects of the bombs, how they caused massive amounts of suffering to people whose only crime was being citizens of the wrong country or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the implications of the new era of warfare it brought about, but debates about the morality of Truman's actions don't really seem to accomplish much, just leaves everyone going in circles, making the same points over and over again.
My point is, whatever your views regarding Truman's actions, comparing TurboJesus to Little Boy or Fat Man feels inaccurate in that however much their victims might have suffered, once they died, that was it. That's something I keep coming back to. People on Team Hell tend to be enthusiastic believers in that whatever happens to you after you die, it goes on for all eternity, as in without end. But think about it. Again, however horrific the abuses at Abu Ghraib (and I'm not even going to provide a link), there was a natural endpoint to them; can't torture and humiliate someone who is already dead. But whatever you feel about Abu Ghraib and Gitmo (for the record, it never stops depressing me that saying, "Torture is wrong," is now a radical statement), can you think of anyone who deserves to be tortured forever and ever until the end of time, with no possibility of parole or escape via death? Yeah, I know someone's going to bring up Adolf Hitler and for the record, I'll make the radical statement of saying that Adolf Hitler was a sick fuck, who deserves hatred and condemnation, but again, I feel a need to remind you that even though you may have no objections to him being tortured, when we talk about Hell, we're talking about forever. However sick a fuck he may be, again, you'd have to be an even sicker one to feel that Hitler should be flambéed and fileted for all eternity.
I know, I know, y'all want me to stop with the philosophical discourses and talk about the book, but I do these discourses, because like I said, there really isn't nothing to talk about. I can sum up the action in a sentence: TurboJesus quotes Bible verses; people die horribly. So I'm going to do a Greatest Hits-style snark, rather than an exhaustively researched one. Because it just isn't worth the exhaustive approach.
About all I can say about the first part, which is told from Vicki's perspective, is that thanks to the little bit at the end, I'm now wondering whether all my Borg jokes in reference to the RTCs are accurate.
Vicki had read that Jesus appeared with a sword from his mouth and assumed this sword would be the Word of God. Was Jesus killing his enemies at Petra? What was going on there?
Because I thought the way the RTC Hive-mind worked was the instant you said The Prayer (with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, natch) you ceased to be a separate individual and became part of a collective, possessing said knowledge of the collective. So Vicki should have instantly known that whole thing about how when the Bible says Jesus kills people with the sword from his mouth, for once they don't mean that literally. But she didn't, leaving me wondering the extent of the RTC Hive-mind. Though maybe it's negated by her second X chromosome, which makes Vicki all female and therefore, liable to error.
Next part is told from Lionel's perspective as he watches TurboJesus quote Bible verses and kill everyone. Just know that throughout all these passages, I'm totally picturing someone, probably sounding like the Old Jewish Man from The Simpsons, going "Yes, yes, we all know you're the great whatever. Must you make such a fuss about it?" But I will quote a larger part from Lionel's section because it needs quoting:
Lionel scanned the battlefield and was amazed at the amount of blood. Some soldiers saw their fallen comrades and were so upset they turned their guns on themselves. Others dug into the blood-soaked sand, trying to find a place to hide from the white light of God.
The army—at least those still alive—ran away from Jesus. But where were they going? Where could anyone go from the gaze of almighty God?
Lionel remembered comforting words from the Psalms: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!” Now that verse took on new meaning. Where could any enemy go to get away from God’s judgment?
As the rest of the living fled, Lionel scanned the perimeter of Petra. For miles he saw dead and dying soldiers, holes in the sand where trucks and tanks lay buried, dead horses, and a few skeleton-like people walking in a daze. Above this awful scene circled a huge flock of birds. They flew to the bodies and began eating.
That verse Lionel is remembering is from Psalm 139, verse seven to be specific. And we should really thank Ellanjay for explaining all this to us. For centuries, both Christian and Jewish believers saw Psalm 139 as a source of comfort, a reminder that "Hey, no matter how bad things get, God will comfort and save us," but apparently those scholars had been interpreting that psalm wrong for countless centuries/millennia on end. Just as the message of Dives and Lazarus is actually "You'll be able to watch your enemies suffer in agony for all eternity!" and not "Don't be an Asshole who ignores the appalling suffering of others," turns out when Mahalia Jackson and Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount sang "His Eye is on the Sparrow," they meant it less about how Jesus suffers and weeps with you and more along the lines of "He doesn't miss, so for the love of God, better get on his good side or else!"
:long passage of me screaming incoherently:
Sorry about that, but had to do a little primal therapy to get it all out of my system. I suppose I should see someone for this problem, I've been having lately where I can't communicate in anything but brutal sarcasm, but can't be bothered. It wouldn't be such a problem, but I keep getting dragged out of the house to associate with other people and they seem to find the constant brutal sarcasm off-putting. But that problem may resolve itself.
Anyway, hope I did a good enough job illustrating the sheer amount of wrong in Ellanjay's interpretation. It's so wrong that it crosses over into the realm of Fractal Wrongness, because while I sit here, repeatedly screaming, "How did you get that from that?!" over and over again, I know there are one of two explanations: either Ellanjay are unbelievably disingenuous to the point where you're like, "How did they let you graduate from the Fifth Grade despite being that dumb?" or they've settled on a mindset and have generally decided to close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears, and go, "La-La-La! Can't hear you!" when presented with any differing ideas.
RTCS being close-minded?! That's unpossible! Though it is a reoccurring theme among fascist dictatorships and wrongdoers of any stripe, where they accuse their enemies of crimes they themselves are committing and given the Christian Right's inherent love for Authoritarianism/Fascism/Totalitarianism...I know people will say I'm taking this line of thinking too far, but prove me wrong! Prove that the Christian Right doesn't secretly long for a brutal theocracy where their doctrine is law and they have the might needed to crush those who oppose them! Because like I keep saying, given their knee-jerk opposition to birth control or such democratic niceties as the Right to a Fair Trial or that basic human rights, such as not being tortured even if your torturer sincerely believes you know something, isn't a basic right, in all likelihood, probably the only objection they have to the Romanian Dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu , is that he ran roughshod over the rights and lives of others in the name of Communism, rather than Christianity.
Find the whole thing with Nicolae Ceaușescu interesting. Because we all know that in all likelihood, Nicky got his first name and his birth place from Ceaușescu. I know Ellanjay try to do a Roman-Romania kind of parallel, but try though they may, there's really nothing in the Bible that says that the anti-Christ will come from a small Eastern European nation bordering Bulgaria and the Ukraine, so chances are, when crafting their anti-Christ, Ellanjay thought of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Because about the only thing the PMDs can agree on is that the anti-Christ will most definitely not be from America. America is the land of all that is pure and good. The anti-Christ is neither pure nor good. Therefore, the Anti-Christ is not American.
My point is that while RTCs will never admit it, for all their chest-beating about democracy, their vision of a perfect government is probably closer to Romania under the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu, than, y'know, America. I could also point out that during the 50s, aka that mythical time the RTCs long to return to, the US was under the government of Dwight Eisenhower. During this time, when we built much of our infrastructure and developed the tech that beat the Commies to the moon, the tax rate was at 90% and most jobs were union ones, meaning that everyone, blue collar or not, could live a fairly comfortable Middle Class existence. And yes, during this era, we also had the very real threat of nuclear Armageddon dangling over everyone's heads like the proverbial sword of Damocles and it wasn't paradise to those who weren't White, Christian, and Male, but Eisenhower also did stuff the modern GOP* would consider unthinkable like dispatch the National Guard to force Southern schools to integrate and let Black kids attend. For all his faults, Eisenhower is the last GOP president who didn't leave his country in worse shape than it was when he took office, which really says something.
I suppose I should apologize for all the long rants that are only tangentially related to the discussion at hand, but I find them interesting at least. Plus, there's the part of me that's like, "This blog's my soapbox and I'll use it however I want, dammit!"
Next we cut to Conrad and this may come as a real shocker to you, but all that happens is TurboJesus kills people and quotes more Bible verses. In true fashion, he only quotes a bunch of the "I am this, which means everyone who doesn't believe, will burninate forever!" verses. Heck, even after I ran them through Google, I still couldn't find some of the original, actual verses, making me wonder if some of the words they're putting in Jesus's mouth, were actually in the Bible or if it's just a bunch of Biblical-sounding gibberish.
Because it's not the fact that they just have TurboJesus string together Bible verses, making him sound less divine and more like an imperfect AI with nothing but the Bible as reading material, that gets to me, so much as the verses they have him use. You could have him say something similar to what he says in Amos 5-6, where God constantly is like "Eff those who profit off of the misery of others and follow the word of the law, but not the spirit of it." Though if Amos is a little too radical, you could have used Micah 6:8, which many feel neatly sums up the dictates and law of religion:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
But okay, maybe Ellanjay want to stick solely with the New Testament and stay away from the Old. But there are still so many other verses you could put in Jesus's mouth that go beyond "I am tough" and actually reflect on the character of Jesus and God. I suppose it would be too much to hope for, to have TurboJesus spout the first six verses of James 5, but you could still use many other verses out of the New Testament if you wanted to illustrate the character of TurboJesus. Heck, with some paraphrasing, Matthew 23 would work well.
But again, Ellanjay have no interest in talking about the nature of good and evil. They have no interest in showing us the fundamental character of Jesus and by extension, God, because it's not about character with them, no matter how much they may claim otherwise.
Both Liberal and Conservative Christians, regardless of where they part ways on certain beliefs, have traditionally held that the Apocalypse or the End of Days or whatever you want to call it, is one in which everyone is called to task and those who have wronged others, will be made to pay for their crimes. Liberals and Conservatives may differ on what constitutes a crime against God and man, but they generally do agree that doing bad things is bad and you will eventually pay for the bad things you've done. Again, both sides argue and split a lot of theological hairs over what is and isn't a bad thing, but both sides generally agree on, "Don't do bad things."
But as Ellanjay make it very clear where they have their TurboJesus killing a lot of people while spouting Bible verses, they feel that TurboJesus is worthy of worship, not because of anything he'd actually said or done, but because he's the biggest, mightiest guy around with the biggest, mightiest stick in his hands! The only difference between him and Nicky is that TurboJesus successfully slaughters all who stand against him, whereas Nicky fails. As far as Ellanjay is concerned, "I am Tough!" is reason enough to follow TurboJesus and you should not need any other discernible reason! Why should you when everyone knows Might Makes Right!
And yes, it did take some will-power to type "stick" instead of "dick" in that one sentence. Though you do know Ellanjay's only objection, if I hadn't, would be the usage of the word "dick." It's just so unseemly.
Though anyway, more Bible verses, yadda yadda, everyone can know run super-fast for no real reason.
Sam had wandered ahead and now ran back. “Come on. Run with us.”
“What do you mean?” Lionel said, but Sam pulled at his arm, making Lionel go faster. Lionel glanced up at Jesus who looked back and smiled, seeming to urge him on.
Lionel broke into a jog, and soon he was sprinting along with Sam, jumping over GC bodies and weapons, his feet barely touching the ground. He was moving faster than a human was supposed to run.
Lionel had done a research project in middle school about how fast humans could run. He had come up with a maximum speed of 27 miles per hour for sprinters, and an average speed of between 15 to 20 mph for those running distances of any kind.
But there was no way he was going 15 miles per hour now. Or even 30. Objects on the ground were a blur! And it wasn’t only healthy young people going fast—it was all ages. Youngsters just out of diapers ran next to Lionel. And Mr. Stein was not far away, grinning and laughing. God was providing the speed. All Lionel had to do was work his legs.
Don't ask me what the hell Ellanjay use as the Biblical justification for all this! I don't know. Just that once again, I am looking longingly at Superhero comics. Because this announcement may come as a real shocker to my blog readers, but I love the hell out of Superheroes in comic, film, and animated series. I generally roll my eyes whenever anyone talks about making them more realistic, because I feel like they're missing the whole point. No matter how grimdark! you make everything, Superheroes** are not, nor will they ever be, realistic. There's just no way you can make it realistic without losing much of the fun/appeal. Again, I'm totally with Linkara in that Superheroes are the modern-day version of the Knight-errant. Basically the general template for all those Knight-Errant stories is Knight-Errant is traveling the land, when he runs into someone with a problem who seeks his help. The Knight-Errant solves said problem and everything works out for the best. The stories were never supposed to be realistic, but serve as a nice bit of fantasy, a way of expressing how we feel those with powers or abilities above others, should behave towards those who don't have said powers or abilities. Because you could easily point out that the romanticism surrounding knights of yore was only romantic to those not living in the same time period as said knights. During the heyday of knights, there were very few checks on their powers, so medieval knights were a lot closer to the sadist who'd beat you up in gym class and take your money, than they were to the romantic hero we picture them as.
The same is true about superheroes in that if we lived in a world where they existed, it would more closely resemble Watchmen than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And again, I don't object to dark and gritty superheroes; what I more object to, is the notion that making your story dark and gritty, automatically makes it deep and therefore, good. Because you can heap all the gruesome violence, all the sex and gore you want onto a stupid story, and it will still be an incredibly stupid story. It will just be a lot more unpleasant and harder to enjoy than the unrealistic WTFery of the Silver Age. And if given a choice between the two, I'd choose the Silver Age over the grimdark! At least then you get the enjoyment of being like, "Okay, just what the hell kind of drugs were people using back then?!" and again, the people knew they were writing fantasy and therefore, reality didn't need to enter into it. They knew their purpose, first and foremost, was to tell a story that people would enjoy reading, not make "deep" statements about what it would be like to live in a world with super-powered individuals.
My belabored point is that at least, a writer of Superhero Comics would be able to depict the wonder of being able to move faster than any human ever could. Plus, unlike Ellanjay, that know on some level they're writing a fantasy and that none of the stuff they're actually writing will ever actually happen.
Anyway, the chapter ends with this bit that makes me throw up my arms and be like, "Oh come on!"
Thirty minutes later, Lionel and his friends neared the town of Bozrah. The rest of the million inside Petra had arrived as well, drawn to the scene by Jesus himself.
Unity Army troops stood before them, looking haggard and tired. Huge sweat stains fouled their uniforms while the people from Petra looked like they had just returned from lunch at an air-conditioned restaurant.
“What happens now?” Lionel said.
Mr. Stein motioned to the depleted army. “I think they’re foolish enough to attack.”
The reason I'm screaming is because Really, WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT! The RTCs have effectively won the war, SO WHY THE HELL DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO DRAG THIS OUT ANYMORE THAN YOU ALREADY HAVE?! DO YOU NEED FIVE MORE CHAPTERS TO LOVINGLY DESCRIBE TURBOJESUS BRUTALLY MASSACRING THOSE WHO OPPOSE THEM?! WHAT THE HELL POINT WOULD ALL OF IT SERVE?!
Yeah, I know my objections could be easily summed up with one word "Padding!" but really how many different ways can they write about TurboJesus doing everything short of tea-bagging his defeated foes, before it gets boring? And for the record, I am disappointed that someone told the Tea Party Movement the alternate meaning of tea-bagging. Because when they first started out, they proudly proclaimed themselves the Tea-Baggers and talked about how they were Tea-bagging for America. You can't deny that they were still rancid bigots, but at least the unintentional double entendres did make hearing about their antics a little more entertaining. Who told them and took away a source of harmless merriment from everyone?
Anyway, thought I'd do two chapters again, but I got all ranty, so it's just one this week. I know I was preachy, but hopefully at least managed not to be dull.
*Every time a member of the GOP or a rightwing pundit expresses distaste about Donald Trump's antics, I whisper an old Shakespeare quote: Methinks the Lady doth protest too much. Because the Southern Strategy has been the cornerstone of the Republican platform since LBJ; it's their traditional margin of victory vote, so of course, they're going to cater to racist idiots. So anybody who claims to be shocked, shocked that a large portion of GOP voters are racist, is either unbelievably disingenuous or dumb. They're only real objection to Donald Trump is that he just flat-out says what they believe, rather than using coded dog whistles like a proper Republican.
**I have yet to see Batman v. Superman and I probably won't, because if what I've seen and heard from the trailers/reviews, it looks like it was directed by our version of Zack Snyder, rather than his Mirror!verse counterpart, who isn't allergic to tripods and knows that you can craft a compelling superhero film without making the hero a dripping pile of angst and having the film be so dour and unpleasant you can't enjoy the primary act of looking at said film. Family keeps trying to talk me into seeing it, but since Snyder's last superhero outing still provokes so passionate a response from me, I'm like, "Y'know eventually you're going to wind up the subject of an FBI investigation if you keep doing all these frothing rants about wanting to beat Zack Snyder to death with a tripod," I'm like, "Nope. Not going to do it," not only for my sake, but for the sake of everyone around me. Because I'm not in the position where I can afford to alienate everyone in my life and be the isolated hermit I know I am, deep down.