Of course, you could also make the same argument as to why the US hasn't implemented Universal Healthcare despite it being successfully used by Canada and pretty much all of Europe. You'd think that pointing out that countries that have Universal Healthcare pay less per citizen and in doing so, enjoy better overall health for everyone, but I highly suspect that not even cold arithmetic will sway people. Even though Universal Healthcare will save money and benefit everyone, since the poor are part of that everyone, people have decided that no price is too high, if it enables us to screw over the less fortunate.
All right, I'm done being all irritating and political for now. It's just that for a country that constantly prides itself on progress and innovation, the U.S. sure sucks at it. But it probably illustrates a rule I have about life and the world in general: if you have to loudly proclaim a virtue, like how tolerant you are of all those queers or that you are a Nice Guy, chances are pretty good that you suck at that virtue.
Sorry for all the talking but...there's just so much nothing this week. This whole thing feels like a Superbowl where one team has utterly slaughtered the other team, like 100-1, yet the victorious team keeps acting like there's still a game is going on, even though the other team has been hauled off the field in stretchers. No wait, that metaphor doesn't feel accurate: I freely admit that I hate most sports and I do suck at sports. I consider football* to be among the stupidest of sports, but I'm fairly certain that in order to win a football game, the players do actually have to get off the bench and make plays, not just sip Gatorade and occasionally think disdainful thoughts in the other team's direction, until God shows up and wins it for them.
Anyway, we're still with Vicki and Judd. Judging by the opening of the chapter, it's clear that whoever was writing it...I'll assume that they didn't have scary mind-reading powers and anticipate my blog/criticisms of this series for the same reason I assume that all the rumors about the movie Battlefield Earth secretly containing subliminal pro-Scientology messages to be a lie: if they were capable of that level of strategizing/genius, they would have produced a much better product.
VICKI huddled close to Judd in the back of the truck as they entered a gate at the Old City. Bodies lay strewn about the road, and the truck shimmied as it rolled over dead rebels. The rebels’ clothes lay torn and in some cases ripped apart, which made Vicki wonder if the GC hadn’t gone through their clothing for valuables. She closed her eyes at the horrific scene.
I'm just sayin' you can practically see the writer's internal struggle here: "Okay, I do have to somewhat show how horrible the End of the World would be, to lend credence to Tim LaHaye's claim that he created this series in hopes of reaching people and convincing them to accept Jesus so they won't be left behind. But if I actually show in explicit detail just how horrible it would be, described people dying with their guts hanging out and all the blood and the smell of burning flesh, I will offend the delicate sensibilities of the RTC subculture that actually buys these books. Said subculture is generally okay with humans undergoing horrific suffering, so long as it happens to people they don't care about and they don't have to see the consequences of their actions. But show them the consequences of it, show a mother clutching her dead baby and wailing, and you are worse than Hitler! Plus, we all know that no matter how much Tim LaHaye claims he wrote this to get people saved, this series exist as Revenge Porn for RTCs, where they can see all those sluts or those people who laughed at them, get humiliated and tortured! Only without actual porn, because you can murder scores and scores of people, many of them children, but heaven forbid any of their characters show their dirty pillows or have consensual intercourse. That's just a bridge too far!"
Yeah, I often wonder if there isn't a massive heroin epidemic among ghostwriters for Tim LaHaye. Can't fault the poor guys; I'd develop a drug habit too, if called upon to try to deal with all the massive cognitive dissonance.
In the past, I've mention that the book logo claims that series was written by LaHaye and Jenkins, but on the title page, another guy, Chris Fabry, is credited beneath said logo. Fabry has a lot of Christian Fiction titles to his name, so I wonder if how much he really had to do with the writing of this series or if there isn't a team of poor anonymous ghostwriters working beneath him. Maybe Fabry had enough clout that he could at least be listed on the title page, but as for the other ghostwriters...not so much.
Just that suffice to say, while Tim LaHaye had little to do with the nuts and bolts writing of the adult books (except provide his name on the cover and the checklist), I suspect he had even less to do with this series, like a percentage of a percent involvement. Jenkins probably couldn't be bothered to do much writing for this series (though RubyTea's snark of the Paul Stepola books proves that apparently Tim LaHaye was a moderating influence on Jenkins), so of the three credited, Fabry probably did the lion's share of the work.
Just know that given the slapdash effort that is the hallmark of Christian Fiction, combined with the fact that they probably think "Durr...Kids are Stupid. So writing a good children's series isn't hard. Just need to make hero a kid and put in a moral for the kid to learn**," nobody involved with this series gave a shit.
All right, back to story.
Judd is all, "Vicki, you can't do this!" But Vicki is like, "Don't worry, I won't give them anything." Those of you waiting with bated breath for a scene where an RTC employs some weaselly logic so they can save themselves and their friends from the evil dictatorship without stooping to such evils as :gasp: lying, hate to break it to you, but that's not what ends up happening. Besides, y'all should be ashamed of yourselves, talking delight in watching Logic be so brutally tortured. What did Logic ever do to you?
The truck grinds to a halt. Fulcire orders Vicki and Judd out. Because he read the script written for him by Ellanjay, Zod realizes it's his turn to enter and we finally get that whole thing people have been talking about, where everything goes dark and the moon disappears.
Vicki starts preaching, talking about how all this stuff was predicted, and they're getting what's coming to them and neener-neener-neener. The book does actually print some of the verses (though not the titles of the books or the chapter and verse numbers or anything that would make their target audience able to read and look up the verses in their Bible at home). Thought about snarking it bit by bit, but I've already talked about said passages and how Ellanjay get them wrong before.
So instead, I'll just spend endlessly amounts of time, rambling about a paragraph that was three sentences long, because that's what my readers have become accustomed to and I hate to disappoint.
Scores of verses from the Old and New Testaments flooded Vicki’s mind. All spoke of the wrath of God poured out on the earth. She wanted to spill the verses out one after another.
I'm going to assume that Vicki, like all good RTCs, only reads the part about all the horrific tortures and punishments poured out on the Earth and doesn't read any of the verses where the prophet or whoever says, "This is why you will be punished." I'm aware that my blog readers tend to have a wide variety of religious views. Some are liberal Christians, some are proud atheists, and some are Jewish, and some don't fall into any of the previously mentioned categories. But whatever you believe about the Bible, whether you feel that it's the one-hundred percent word of God himself or just humans trying to make sense of a painful and confusing world, we can agree that if you were to actually read the passages containing verses about the wrath of God, the bulk of said passages basically say, "You haven't done what is right and what is right isn't attending church regularly and hating the people you're supposed to hate; what is right is taking care of the widows and orphans, caring for the least among you. Instead you lived quite comfortably, while they suffered in appalling poverty and in many cases, you did what you could to make their suffering worse, so they couldn't find any relief. That's why I'm smiting you." And from there, the writer goes into the punishments awaiting them.
So it's closer to the scene in Batman: Year One where the title character bursts in on a gathering of Gotham's elite and basically says, "I'm coming for you," rather than, "Nuh-uh, Simon didn't say. Now you're going to burn in Hell!" the way RTCs see it.
I know, I'm talking entirely too much, but that's the theme that keeps coming up in the New Testament and among the prophets, both Major and Minor, whose works make up the bulk of the Old Testament. The only way Ellanjay and those of their ilk could miss said passages is if they did what they often accused their critics of doing: stuck their fingers in their ears and went "La-la-la, can't hear you," whenever someone quoted Amos 5:12-27 or the many other passages similar to Amos. Again, can't say it's merely ignorance that afflicts them. If it was just ignorance, then all you had to do, was pull a Bible off the shelf and turn to the passage in question to show them that it is much more nuanced than they thought. But this level of ignorance requires an act of will on their part, to keep your eyes and ears closed and not let reality interfere with your cherished beliefs. But to be fair, Reality does have a well-known liberal bias.
As you can probably guessed, Fulcire isn't swayed by Vicki suddenly quoting a whole bunch of verses willy-nilly from various books of the Bible, written at very different times in history over periods of several millennia, without any context:
“Yes, Jesus will show up by and by, pie in the sky, and then we’ll all die,” Fulcire mocked. “But you won’t be around to see him, will you, Judah-ite?” He pulled a pistol from a holster around his waist and aimed it at Judd’s head. “Now point the way to one of the tunnels, or I’ll send your precious husband to be with Jesus where he can ride all the white horsies.”
Vicki looked at Judd, his face lit by the truck’s lights. It struck her as strange that it would end this way. They had survived seven years of disasters, only to be killed a few hours—maybe a few minutes—before the return of Christ.
“I love you,” Judd whispered. There didn’t seem to be a hint of fear in his voice. “I’ll always love you.”
“Your choice,” Fulcire said, cocking the pistol.
Can you even call it spoiling if I said that this cliff-hanger is a cocktease and Judd doesn't wind up with a massive hole in his head? In all honesty, I'm wondering if I can just call it prophecy and maybe add the title of prophet to my resume and go into business. I probably have a better track record than most people who label themselves as "prophets." I mean, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsay, and John Hagee have been predicting the Rapture for how many years now?
Oh and somebody must have pointed them towards the infamous Joe Hill song that uses the "pie in the sky" metaphor. And of course, Ellanjay took this information in and put it in the mouth of their villain, without any idea about what it meant. For those too lazy to browse the Wikipedia link, said song is a succinct putdown of how religion is used as a cudgel, used to get people to stop complaining about appalling misery and suffering, and just suck it up and keep quiet about it in order to receive a distant award in the afterlife. Oh and when I say it's used as a cudgel, that can be both a literal and metaphorical sense, because if you still insisted on agitating for fair wages, insist that maybe Rockefeller or Vanderbilt or J.P. Morgan or whatever tycoon shouldn't live in unimaginable luxury, while I often can't feed my kids, despite working like a dog six days a week, they will happily send the military to kill you for the crime of demanding basic fair treatment/dignity. Ever hear of the Ludlow Massacre and the many other such occurrences?
After that cliffhanger, the section cuts to Conrad. I'm wondering if he's managed to escape the MCC and achieve Main Character status because lately, he's had more screen time than Lionel, who is supposed to be a Main Character. I wonder if it's because Conrad is White (if he was meant to be ethnic, Ellanjay would have been about as subtle as a freight train about it, making sure to give him a name so insultingly ethnic that I'd feel just a little racist if I typed up suggestions for names they would have given Conrad if he was Black) whereas Lionel is Black.
I know, I know, shouldn't toot my own horn, but in a comment on a previous post, I theorized how the hierarchy that governs the LB-verse works, so I'm going to copy and paste it for your perusal:
Rayford and Buck outrank everybody, including God and TurboJesus, and as for everybody else...If a character's white, they outrank any character with a brown hue to their skin. If they are male, they outrank female (Chloe probably is only higher up on the chain because of her relations to Rayford and Buck who, like I said, outrank everybody in this universe). Americans outrank foreigners of any background and of course, with a few exceptions thrown in so Ellanjay may desperately assert that they are totally not anti-Semitic, RTC outranks a converted Jew. Jewish characters, in this series, are generally screwed. Hold onto the faith of your fathers and you're damned. Accept the patronizing logic of RTCs (that you're cute but wrong) and convert, and unless you're Token Jew or Chaim, you'll still occupy a fairly low rank on the hierarchy.
I feel fairly confident that I described the hierarchy accurately, but if I didn't, feel free to tell me. Because learning is good!
But anyway, not really much I can say about this passage. Shit starts happening, everybody freaks out, until an RTC character (Enoch, in this case) is all "The prophecies predicted all this," and then they smugly watch and fantasize about all those horrible people dying horribly, and I'm a little thankful that given how squeamish Ellanjay are about sex, we don't have read about the characters masturbating at the thought of all those people dying in agonizing pain, only to wake up in Hell where they will suffer even more agonizing pain for all eternity.
Yeah, I know, I should stop with those kinds of visuals, but given the RTC subculture's hang-ups about sex, how whenever a scandal happens, it's always about sex, I just can't resist. Constantly label natural physical urges as evil and berate people for having them or enjoying them and of course, horrible shit is going to happen.
[TANGENT] So when the Duggar Family Scandal became public, I honestly wasn't surprised. I kind of figured at some point, a scandal would befall that family and it would be about sex. The only surprising part for me was that it involved Josh Duggar. I kind of figured it would involve Jim Bob, the proud patriach. Figured with Michelle hitting menopause and him being a famous patriarch in a subculture where men are praised for the number of children they sire, we'd wind up with a Papa Pilgrim scandal on our hands. No points for guessing that Jim Bob would play the part of Papa Pilgrim in this scenario.
I also worried for Michelle's mental state as she hit menopause. She's part of a subculture where her value is tied up in the number of kids she produces, so what's it going to be like when she can no longer produce kids? Granted, she can rest on her laurels for a while, but y'know eventually some maternal specimen will break her record, and Michelle Duggar will no longer be the shining star of the Quiverfull/Gothardite/whatever the hell they call themselves subculture.
But y'know how it is. No matter how much they smile and talk about how happy they are, it can't mask the fear in their eyes. Eventually one of the J-slaves will escape the compound and write one helluva tell-all memoir airing their dirty laundry for all the world to see. They have gotten lucky so far, but eventually their luck is going to run out, because trying to keep a lid on all 19 kids...yeah, you'd definitely have an easier time keeping lightening in a bottle. [/TANGENT]
Like I said, not a lot to talk about in this section, but I will quote a few lines that made me compose screaming rants inside my head for several minutes.
Tom and Josey Fogarty darted across the street, heading for safety with their little boy, Ryan.
If you read this series the way the RTCs read the Bible, by picking it up and turning willy-nilly to whatever passage you want, without any regard to the larger context or what happens before or after, this line seems pretty innocuous: some parents running around trying to protect their son.
But since I actually did read what came before all this...like I'm saying, I'm fighting the urge to keep all my ragedumps in text form rather than screaming them out loud. Because I'm not at the point in life where I can afford to alienate everyone in my day to day life yet. I'm angry because once again, THOSE WORTHLESS FUCKERS FORGOT ABOUT CHERYL AKA BABY RYAN'S BIOLOGICAL MOTHER! AKA THE WOMEN WHO GESTATED HIM AND WAS FORCED TO GIVE HIM UP BECAUSE EVERYONE AROUND HER FELT THAT SHE WOULD BE A BAD MOTHER AND DECIDED WHO WOULD ADOPT HER BABY, WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM HER! AND WHEN CHERYL HAD THE NERVE TO DECIDE THAT MAYBE, JUST MAYBE AS RYAN'S MOTHER, SHE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE A BIGGER PART OF HIS LIFE AND IN A MOMENT OF DESPERATION, SHE TOOK HER KID AND RAN OFF! ONLY TO BE FORCED TO (probably in an off-screen patronizing lecture where they went for her raw emotional wounds and brought Zod in on air support to drive the point home) MEEKLY GIVE BACK HER CHILD AND ACCEPT THAT SHE WAS SILLY AND FOOLISH FOR THINKING THAT AS HIS MOTHER, MAYBE SHE HAD SOME RIGHTS TO HER CHILD!
:deep breath: I'm sorry, but the Cheryl subplot just never stops pissing me off. I should probably clarify that I am not opposed to adoption. I know that sometimes it's the best option available. What I am opposed to his the way people romanticize it, the way RTCs act like it's a cure-all for all unwanted pregnancies.
Because even under the best of circumstances, even when the woman made the choice to relinquish her kid of her own free will and no one tricked her or used God to shame her into it (because as many of the links in my Cheryl posts will tell, Christian-run adoption agencies generally have a bad record of preying on poor and desperate people), the idea that RTCs have, that a woman can go through nine months of pregnancy culminating in a God-only-knows how long labor, pop out the kid, and skip merrily out the door and spend the rest of her life believing that this period of her life didn't happen, isn't true. There's the obvious problem that even under the best of circumstances, pregnancy takes a physical toll on a woman (yeah, it's a natural process but so is death and we don't pretend that it doesn't matter), and even again, if she chose to give up her child willingly and wasn't shamed or tricked into doing so, it's not a matter of picking up where she left off. The woman in question will have to forever accept this part of her life happened, accept that even if she does settle down and start a family of her own, she has a kid out there that may come looking for her. No matter what paperwork she signed, it doesn't change the fact that she had a child. When she signed the documents, that kid may have legally become the other couple's child, but it will still always be hers from a biological standpoint and the adoptive parents will have to accept that.
Anyway, Cheryl gets such a raw deal from the characters of this series that I am contemplating making her part of the League of Awesome. Once she joins the League, I see her basically being Sarah Connor. After experiencing horrific trauma, at the hands of her loving RTC friends, she trains and takes a level in badass, in order to get her child back and protect him from evil forces trying to destroy him. Eventually she'll show on the Tribbles' doorsteps and be like "You took my son. I want him back," and cut a swathe of destruction through any RTCs dumb enough to stand in her way.
But to back up my assertion that no one bothers to remember Cheryl's existence, I used the "Search Inside this Book" feature. Apparently she's mentioned once, at the very end, when the RTCs are romping around in paradise, now that God's killed everybody they hate. So I don know what this means for her potential league membership. Maybe if I think long enough, I can explain this away through the power of Discontinuity. Because it is a beautiful thing.
Oh and for the record, as far as I'm concerned, there were only two Terminator movies. Because James Cameron realized that the first two movies did such a good job telling a compelling story that there was no need to run the franchise into the ground by creating sequels that completely undermine the original good films in the series. So in other words, Sarah Connor remains a badass played by Linda Hamilton.
Goddangit! I rambled on so long that y'all are contemplating showing up on my porch step with a brick. Okay one last line from the section, then I swear I'll move on.
“I believe we’re protected!” Enoch yelled behind them. “None of the judgments from heaven harmed God’s people! We bear his mark, his seal! He will protect us!”
I feel a need to remind Ellanjay that since you couldn't be arsed to have God make everyone sterile during this horrible seven year period, while God's people may be protected, WHAT ABOUT ALL THE BABIES AND SMALL CHILDREN BORN TO HEATHEN PARENTS DURING ALL THIS! WHAT DO THEY THINK WILL HAPPEN WHEN THEIR PARENTS ARE KILLED AND THE POOR KID DIES SLOWLY (FROM INJURIES OR EXPOSURE OR THIRST OR STARVATION) WHILE WAITING RESCUE! BECAUSE IT MAY BE WRONG FOR A HUMAN DOCTOR TO SURGICALLY ABORT THE UNBORN, IT IS PERFECTLY MORAL AND RIGHT FOR GOD TO KILL THEM HORRIBLY THROUGH HORRIFIC NATURAL DISASTERS!
But I imagine if I were to show them this clip from Barefoot Gen, make them sit through it from beginning to end, then afterwards asked, "Okay so what did all the Children of the Goats do to deserve to something that's basically Hiroshima X 10 in your books?" I can't imagine an answer they would give that wouldn't be either weaselly or sociopathic as hell. In fact, they'd probably be offended that I should them that clip in the first place. Yeah, the US dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing many people whose only crime was being in the wrong country at the wrong time in a very horrible manner, but did you have to show them all the blood and guts and suffering? It's just so unseemly and it offends their delicate sensibilities so very much.
I suppose I should have done trigger warnings or something regarding that link to Barefoot Gen, but I've linked to it in the past and I don't really think all the trigger warnings in the world would do much to soften the Holy Shit?! High-Octane Nightmare Fuel! nature of that clip. Besides in all honesty, I think more people should see it. Keep thinking maybe I should stop fighting my nature tendencies towards supervillainy, kidnap every idiot who rants about how we should bomb 'em all and let God sort 'em out, tie them down, force their eyes open, and make them watch that clip like something about A Clockwork Orange. Because it would be nice if people would remember that more than just that one guy you hate lives in whatever Country they're clamoring to convert to nuclear vapor. Given that research dating back to 2010 says that there are some 1.6 Billion Muslims worldwide, comprising about 23% of the total population of the human race as a whole, maybe you should consider that before you start saying things like "Now the only question is how many more dead bodies will have to pile up at home and abroad before we crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus name?"
And if you're wondering, I found that previous link much more disturbing than the clip from Barefoot Gen, especially since he and his supporters can't see why slaughtering some 1.6 Billion people for the crime of believing something different from you, qualifies as genocide. But it's probably one of those things, where it's only genocide if it's the wrong people being killed for the wrong reasons. So ISIS killing people in the name of Allah is wrong, but if some a-hole took that editorialist at his word and slaughtered Muslims in the name of Christianity, it would be okay.
:deep breath: Damn, I keep going into such damn dark territory this week. Sorry guys. I'll post a Simpsons clip to soften the emotional blow.
After Conrad's bit, we get a brief part with Lionel. He just watches meteors rain down and smash up the GC tech and, befitting his lower rank on the hierarchy, worries about Judd and Vicki. His section is shorter than Conrad's again making me wonder whether Conrad has ascended to a higher rank in the LB-verse.
The chapter ends with Judd and Vicki. Again meteors are hitting and Fulcire and his group of soldiers are all going "Holy shit!" while Judd and Vicki smile smugly. Judd and Vicki hide under the truck and talk about how this was all predicted. Vicki claims that it was predicted in Isaiah, but not only does she not give chapter and verse numbers so anyone reading the book can verify, she doesn't mention a single word of the verse that's supposed to predict all this. Just basically says, "Isaiah predicted it," and moves on. So if any of my readers doubted my assertion that for all their blather about how everyone should read their Bible and it's so important to read the Bible, RTCs don't really mean it, this should prove it once and for all.
Anyway, Judd and Vicki escape in the darkness and aren't particularly bothered by Fulcire and his goons dying horribly and that's it for this week. Sorry about the thread title. I know it's a blatant steal from Fred, but I couldn't think of anything this week and it seemed to work.
*I honestly wonder if at some point, given what has been revealed about the sport of Football (turns out taking repeated blows to the head is actually a bad thing), if Football will lose the command it has on American culture. Because it wasn't always the most important sport ever! For a while, Boxing was the sport that everyone followed and talked about in America. So I can see something similar happening with Football, where it doesn't cease to exist, but given the misgivings people now have about the sport, it no longer commands the attention it used to.
**As someone who writes and reads Young Adult Literature, I am very familiar with this attitude. Seems like every week there's an article published about what's wrong with Young Adult lit written by someone who hasn't read any Young Adult titles published in the past ten years, and the extent of their research involved making a cursory glance at the Young Adult section at Barnes & Noble. From there, they make sweeping generalizations about the trends of Young Adult lit. Because a Very Serious Person such as themselves feels no need to bother themselves with something silly like talking to the people currently reading and writing Young Adult literature; what could they possibly know about the subject? It's something they just can't be bothered with, just like they apparently can't grasp such esoteric concepts as inflation, change, and the inexorable passage of time, making it so that the current crop of young peoples' experiences aren't one hundred percent identical to yours. Because we all know that this current crop young people are the worst, so unlike how you were when you were a kid. When you were a kid, you ate vegetables like Lay's Potato Chips, always obeyed authority figures and never did anything that upsetted them in the slightest. You never imbibed a drop of alcohol before you were of legal age, were always home before curfew, and buried yourself in unreadable tomes like Moby Dick. Kids these days, what with their crazy insistence on not obsequiously worshipping authority figures and wanting to read books about characters whose thoughts and experiences they can relate to, rather than unreadable classics dating back to the 19th century at the latest.