Sunday, April 24, 2016

This is It, Folks! We've finally made it to the End!

Okay, maybe this week I'll finish off the series in one blow. If that's the case, you'll get my long ramble about what I have planned after all this, at the end of the post. If not, you'll get a "Sorry, guys," and the long ramble next week. That out of the way, let's get down to business.

First off, much as it pains me, I do have to give whatever poor ghostwriter, who worked on this series, credit: they did not use the phrase "steaming pile of produce." If you ever had any doubt that both Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have been so isolated within their particular subculture that they know nothing about what normal people sound like, remember the phrase "steaming pile of produce." Ellanjay probably considers vegetarianism for hippies and commies, much as they support "Jesus-peace, not hippie-peace," but you couldn't have done a five-minute Google search or hit a thesaurus or something to come up with better words to use? Like you could have said "vegetables sautéed in butter" which sounds a million times better than "steaming pile of produce." But oh yeah, that would require a miniscule amount of research and they are opposed to that. They also probably see cooking as "women's work" and don't feel a need to know anything about it. Though you do wonder how idiots who call cooking, "women's work," explain all those male chefs like Mario Bataly or Chef Morimoto or many others on the food network.

As you can probably guess, Ellanjay fail miserably at trying to capture the transcendent, bliss upon all bliss reality of Heaven on Earth. This is to be expected. It's the kind of task that even talented writers would fail at, because it involves trying to describe the indescribable, something beyond anything ever experienced, so it's not too surprising that Paradise might as well be a Wal-Mart supercenter in Iowa for all they care.

JUDD and Vicki took Lionel to Jamal and Lina’s apartment and were surprised to find them preparing a huge meal. The two had escaped the Unity Army and had hidden near the Siloam Pool. They had fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat from a nearby market.

When they prayed for the meal, thanking God, Jesus answered. In fact, each time Judd spoke with the Lord, he spoke to Judd personally.

Their talk over the meal centered on Jesus and how his presence had changed things. Wild animals seemed tame and walked through the streets without attacking other animals. And the fruits and vegetables were said to ripen on the vine right in front of those who picked it.

Given that later, they quote from Isaiah 11 (verse six if you're wondering), I think it's safe to say that Ellanjay know how miserably they've failed. Because read that passage and tell me that Isaiah doesn't do a helluva better job of describing the utopian vision of Heaven.

But it really is their own fault. Blinded by ego or avarice or both, they didn't recognize that "Hey this would be tough even for a great writer to pull off." They could have easily given themselves an out by going "TurboJesus falls; all the bad people die and all the good people live happily ever after," and been done with it. It would have been lazy, but it's the kind of laziness that pays off. Like when Stan Lee, tired of having to come up with reasons for his characters' powers, just threw up his hands and said, "They're mutants," when it came to the X-Men, a form of laziness that had unexpected metaphorical payoffs down the line.

There's a reason Tolkien just gave us a general description of Valinor, before packing Frodo off to it, and didn't even try to take on the task of describing it. Just said "Frodo went to the Undying lands," and was done with it. As great a world-builder he was, Tolkien knew he couldn't possible write a description of the Undying lands where Frodo and Bilbo spends their days, bathing in the lights of eternal bliss and having the physical/psychological wounds healed. I have my quibbles with Tolkien--great a world-building, not so much with characters--but he was smart to back off there.

But the RTC subculture probably considers Tolkien suspect because he :gasp: lived and died a faithful Catholic and while Christian themes are interwoven into his works, he was also a huge Norse mythology buff and :gasp: didn't feel the need to beat the readers over the head with his messages. He made the kneejerk assumption that they could figure things out for themselves! And while he laid out the heroes' general plan, Tolkien had his characters fail to execute it, rather than have it go completely as planned with no hiccups whatsoever! He had Frodo demonstrate weakness and, when the fate of Middle Earth was riding on his shoulders, Frodo succumbed to the temptation/lure of the ring and failed to destroy it! That monster filling children's heads with such crazy nonsense as "Heroes are human and have flaws like everyone else" and "Power corrupts everyone, good guy and bad guy alike!" Everyone knows that no one draws strength from seeing an ordinary human, with flaws and weaknesses like them, rise to the occasion and become a hero! Overcoming your flaws, rising to the occasion, and succeeding, just reeks too much of doing stuff, which is something Ellanjay are generally opposed to. That and don't you dare have a hero succeed because of his flaws, rather than in spite of them! Won't somebody please think of the Children?

So because Ellanjay probably consider Tolkien to be suspect, for all the reasons I've mentioned, we'll move onto his buddy, the guy Tolkien was disappointed when it turns out that he just zinged him and turned him into an Anglican, rather than a Catholic. I am speaking, of course, of C.S. Lewis. I'm bringing him up because I have a feeling, Lewis will be brought up in the comments. It's just something we can't escape from, comparing this series to The Last Battle. Again, I agree with all the critiques of The Last Battle, but for all its flaws, you can't deny that Lewis was honestly putting forth the effort and trying to tell a damn good story. The Problem of Susan and the many other problems aside, there is some damn beautiful prose in that book. Lewis may have failed to cross the bar he set for himself, but unlike Ellanjay, he at least tried. For that, Lewis has my respect, whereas Ellanjay have nothing but my scorn.

If you're anything like me, you have certain affection for Coulda Been Contenders. Coulda Been Contenders is a term I use for forms of entertainment (books, movies, TV, etc.) where the creator's ambitions far outstretched their talents and for all the story's promise, it fell short for one reason or another. Again, the defining trait needed to be classified as one, is ambition. Or in other words, it has to be a story that somebody believed in, somebody had big dreams and big hopes, so any "X is big right now. Let's throw something together to cash in" product is automatically disqualified. But however much a Coulda Been Contender failed, there's a certain nobility in that they tried. Always had the view that it's better to strive for greatness and fail miserably, than to strive for nothing and succeed. So I rag on Contenders, but I also have great affection for them. Like to study them and take them apart, see if I can spot where they succeeded and where they failed, and wonder what could have been. If they had gone left instead of right, could they have pulled it off, and all that.

Though I honestly wonder if in the RTC subculture, C.S. Lewis squeaks by mostly on seniority. Yeah, he died in 1963, so it's not like he's an ancient writer like St. Augustine (though to be fair, Augustine is suspect because of the whole "he was Catholic" thing), but it's far enough in the distant past that they have an easier time co-opting him. Because I feel a need to remind you that Lewis lived and died an Anglican, which is Catholicism wiped with a dirty sponge (or Catholicism without a pope, so the King of England can divorce his wife and marry his mistress) and he :gasp: had no problems with imbibing alcohol on occasion.

Oh all right, one last nitpick about that passage, then I'll shut the hell up and move on. I thought everybody was supposed to be a vegetarian so what's going on with all the mentions of meat and a few sentences down, Vicki is eating steak?

As Judd and Vicki hang out with Lina and Jamal, Vicki has to explain to them that it will be a while before they see their kids again.

Lina and Jamal said they couldn’t wait to see their children who had died, but they understood it might be some time before that happened.

“Why’s that?” Lionel said.

“You know how there was a gap between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation?” Vicki said, taking a bite of steak. “It’s the same with the Glorious Appearing and the beginning of the Millennium.”

“How do you figure that?” Judd said.

“It’s in Daniel’s prophecy,” Vicki said. “Something like seventy-five days. I can show you after dinner.” Jamal and Lina seemed impressed with Vicki’s knowledge and wanted to know more. Vicki explained what she knew of prophecies from Daniel 12 and Ezekiel 40.

“So you’re saying this seventy-five days is preparation time for Jesus?” Jamal said.

“Yes, at least that’s what Tsion Ben-Judah taught,” Vicki said.

I know Tim LaHaye has little to do with writing these books, but I wonder if whoever does the lion's share of it, fought the urge to type "Tim LaHaye" every time Token Jew's name came up.

That and regarding the whole gap between the Rapture and the beginning of the Tribulation, not only is Tim LaHaye like the only PMD who advocates that (most just have the Rapture happen then everything goes to Hell, no 18 mo. grace period whatsoever), but while I know I am bad at math (that stereotype about English majors breaking down in tears when asked to do anything beyond the basics without the aid of a calculator? Totally true), I'm fairly certain that 18 months consists of more than 75 days. In fact, 12 mo. alone is a minimum of 365 days. Yes, astronomy buffs, I know it's technically shorter, but let's not get into that level of nitpicking.

But okay, maybe in that scenario the gap between the Rapture and the Tribulation is measured in weeks. That has a degree of plausibility. One year equals roughly 52 weeks and half it is 26 weeks. But that raises the question: if it the grace period was measured in weeks, now why has it changed so its measured in days? Because there's a difference between 75 weeks and 75 days. Though I suppose maybe I should be grateful for this inconsistency: less story for me to hack through.

Oh and since Ellanjay are citing Daniel 12 and Ezekiel 40 as precedent, why don't we do what RTCs feel we shouldn't, no matter how much they say otherwise, and crack open our Bibles and take a look for ourselves?

We'll start with Daniel, because he's the first one listed. I apologize if I am not as scholarly as our dear Fred is, but even I can point out that Daniel changes the numbers within his own chapter. Spoiler alert: none of said numbers given are 75 days or 75 weeks. Here's Daniel 12:5-7 and Daniel 12:11-12 for your perusal:

Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”

The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

For the record, according to the footnote, "a time, times and half a time" is defined as a year, two years and half a year. And here's the second bit from Daniel that I promised:

“From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.

Again, clearly a longer period than 75 days or weeks and I don't see any instances in that passage of "Okay Jesus comes back and kills everyone bad and creates paradise on Earth, but somehow you have to wait 75 days more for things to get really good and then you have to go through a 1000 years before it really gets awesome. Because an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent being needs to really warm up before creating paradise apparently" in that passage. In all likelihood, Daniel was just doing what a lot of writers of the Bible did and being generic. Often even when a specific number is given, it's used as a shorthand for "a really long time" much as when hiking, when people ask how much further do we have to go, the general response is a shrug and something along the lines of "a mile, mile and a half." It often means much more than what they've said; they're just giving a generic response as a way of getting the other person to shut up and get back to the hike.

Who wants to be the one to tell them that while the Christian Bible lists Daniel among the prophets, the Tanakh has him listed under the generic section of writings? Pointing that out as a reminder that it's not quite as straightforward as Ellanjay seem to think it is.

As for Ezekiel...I read it and I see no mention of days or weeks in there, just a whole lot of measuring. That's one of the quibbles I have with the book of Ezekiel: after all the awesome trippy visuals and performance art, last eight chapters are pretty damn dull. If any of you have insomnia and don't have any warm milk or Nyquil handy, just read Ezekiel 40-48 and you'll be out like a light.

Then we cut to Conrad's section and immediately I slam on the brakes and am like, "Wait, what the hell?!"

Conrad was so curious about what had happened to Global Community workers that he drove to a GC police station a few miles from Enoch’s house. What he saw amazed him. All employees of Carpathia had died— presumably at the time Jesus spoke. Enoch taught that all unbelievers still alive would die soon.

I thought the whole point of their convoluted mythos was that when Jesus came back, he was going to be all "No more Mister Nice Guy!" and explode all his enemies, so they can burn in Hell and be exploded again for all eternity. What's all this about Unbelievers still being alive?! I thought TurboJesus had gone all Dr. Manhattan on everybody already?

Oh, okay, I know they have that whole Age of Innocence shtick they use as an excuse to weasel out of the consequences of their actions. Again, can't seem to define when exactly the cut-off age is, though it is probably centered around when they start to get hair around their pubes, but even if they're under the Age limit, I thought the whole point was that they couldn't be classified as believers or unbelievers until the invisible line had been crossed, after which they're tried as an adult. Even though the US Justice System, as draconian as it can be at times, recognizes that there's a big difference between a twelve-year-old and a twenty-two-year-old criminal and it's not just "one of them is a little on the short side." There are actually noticeable difference between kid brains and teenage brains and adult brains; science bears this out.

And then Enoch talks. If any of you had doubts that said character is Black, fear not. Ellanjay go out of their way to make sure you know his racial identity. I suppose we should be grateful he never at any point goes, "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies."

“I know you’ve heard Jesus’ voice just like I have,” Enoch began. “I’ve been asking him what we should do, especially since prophecy seems to ignore America. I thought we might try to rebuild this as a Christian nation, but the Lord made it clear he wants us with him.” “What did he say?” Darrion said. “He said, ‘Fear not, Enoch, for you have rightly deduced that you and your flock are to be with me.’ He said he would transport us, that we shouldn’t be worried.”

That line about how prophecy seems to ignore America...It amuses me. It's something Fred has pointed on his blog, something that remains a source of vexation to End Times enthusiasts of any stripes: the Bible says very little about America

This is especially a problem because Rightwing Christianity has an idolatrous worship of both the Bible and 'Murika. So the fact that 'Murika apparently wasn't mentioned by anyone in the Bible, not even Jesus, even though everyone knows it's the greatest, most important country on Earth, is really upsetting and forces them to try to resolve the conundrum in really convoluted fashions. Don't even try to point out that the people who wrote most of the Bible, likely didn't know the Earth was round and the North American continent didn't exist, unless you want to enjoy some spectacular head explosions/fireworks. I was going to quote something often attributed to Sinclair Lewis, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross," but according to Wikiquote, he didn't say it. Sinclair Lewis may have said a lot of cool things, but not that particular cool thing; sorry to disappoint y'all.

And all this about making America a Christian Nation? Again, I thought TurboJesus had exploded all the bad people, leaving only Christians alive! So how is it not a Christian nation?!

Though I suppose in all likelihood, if the RTCs got what they wanted, and let's face it, no matter how much they may protest what they want is the Republic of Gilead mixed in with a few drops of Taliban-era Afghanistan (like I say, the only objections they have to the Taliban/ISIS/Whoever We're At War With, is that they are oppressing people in the name of the wrong beliefs. If they were doing it in the name of Jesus, rather than Allah, they'd be more okay with it), they would soon turn on each other. Just look at all the bloodshed between Christian sects who practice infant baptism and sects who are opposed to it. Heck, the Anglicans and the Catholics have a long history of going at each other all tooth and nail even though Anglicanism, like I said, is Catholicism wiped with a dirty sponge. Once they've burned through their obvious bogeymen--the LGBT, the Muslims, the Atheists--they'd have to find new bogeymen to explain to their followers why paradise hasn't shown up yet, why in fact things have actually gotten worse, not better. But they won't have too much difficulty doing this. As the immortal Rod Sterling puts it: They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find. And it's themselves.

Seriously that episode, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" me goosepimples no matter how many times I've seen it. Rod Sterling knew a helluva lot more about human behavior than Ellanjay ever will.

Though I thought now that it's, y'know, literally paradise, travel wouldn't be a problem anymore. That if you want to go anymore, just close your eyes, think about the place, and bamf, you're there. Granted this will be somewhat more difficult because there aren't any more mountains or valleys, so if you always dreamed of riding a donkey into the Grand Canyon or climbing Mount Denali, I hate to break it to you, but...

We then cut to Conrad and Shelly.

Shelly held Phoenix on her lap, scratching under his collar. The dog’s eyes closed with contentment, and Shelly leaned over to Conrad. “He’s asleep now. You can kiss me if you’d like.”

Conrad smiled. Since Jesus had come, everyone had worked together, and no one argued or squabbled over petty things. He and Shelly had discussed their problems and worked things out, but now there seemed to be a new depth to their love.

Once again, just as before, they don't bother to explain how Conrad and Shelly patched things up. They just do a "They patched things up BECAUSE JESUS! That's why!" And again, I'll continue to take a dim view of Conrad and Shelly's relationship because of it.

The next paragraph is slightly racy because it has Conrad :gasp: kiss Shelly! I bet some RTCs were up in arms about this because they probably feel you shouldn't kiss anyone you're not related to by blood or marriage, even if you're giving them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They probably were relieved when studies proved you just have to do chest compressions, not put your mouth over their mouth. Though not too relieved, because they still have to touch a stranger's dirty pillows in order to save their life.

Like I said, because of my general pessimism regarding their relationship, I'll assume this change of heart came about because Shelly realized that as a manly man, Conrad can and will take whatever he wants from her. If she didn't want him to, she shouldn't have tempted him by being all female and alive. Shelly figures if Conrad doesn't take from her, some other guy will and given her limited options, she's decided it'd be better to take her chances with Conrad than possibly run into someone even worse. I mean, doesn't she know that a man can't be expected to demonstrate an ounce of self-control? Seeing men as being something more than walking penises is something those awful, horrible feminists do and we can't have that!

Then TurboJesus just bamfs her and Conrad into Israel, making all Enoch's talk about "how we're going to get to Israel" completely pointless. Meaningless padding in an Ellanjay novel?! Surely, you jest!

So everyone's gathered around TurboJesus and we're about to get to the part where they have TurboJesus do the sheep and goats bit without the full meaning (that you're judged by what you do, not just what you say) sinking in.

Though first a brief cameo:

A commotion rose from Jesus’ left, and the group fell down and wailed, “Jesus Christ is Lord! Jesus Christ is Lord!” A man dressed in black with long hair tried to stand. Z-Van!

It's a brief little bit with Z-Van, but I still like it. I leap like a starving dog on a bone whenever someone calls the Tribbles on their BS, and while Z-Van will never be as awesome as Taylor or Hasina, I still have a certain affection for him. Z-Van provides much needed, albeit much neutered snark to this series. Enough that I'm wondering if he deserves to be promoted into the League of Awesome, though again, don't know what skills he has, beyond being a rock star. Just know that no matter what, I will totally continue to picture him as Madonna Dahmer in the Truth for Youth comics because it amuses me.

Though I do wonder if Z-Van exists as a Take That against Tyndale's rival publishing company, Zondervan.

And of course, like I said, here's the part we've all waited for. Though this post is long as it is, I'm quoting in full, because sometimes you need the full dose to appreciate the stupidity in its undistilled form.

Calmly, the Lord spoke. “Lionel, come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”

“Lord, when did I see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink?” Lionel said. “Or see you as a stranger or see you in prison?”

“I assure you, Lionel,” Jesus said, “when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

Lionel nodded. “Thank you.”

Jesus walked to the edge of the platform. With emotion in his voice he said, “Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons! For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me no clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.”

Millions protested. “When did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked … ?” The noise of their pleadings reached a crescendo.

Then Jesus said, “I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me. And you will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

Really the only response you can give to any of this is "WHEN?!" WHEN HAVE THE TRIBBLES HELPED OUT ANYONE IN NEED, GIVEN ANYONE FOOD OR WATER OR ANYTHING?! In fact, during the horrific disasters, Nicky has been the one feeding and keeping people alive after all these horrific disasters, WHILE THE TRIBBLES SMILE SMUGLY ABOUT HOW THEY HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT!


For the record, the passage they're cribbing from is Matthew 25:31-46. While Matthew isn't as blunt or as short as James, I think most of the writers of the New Testament would agree with the central thesis of "Faith is good, but even Satan believes in God, so you still have to actually do stuff in order to be a good person."

Anyway, bad people are punted into Hell and now we get to what makes up the bulk of the book's ending: the Tribbles stand around and watch heroes of the faith and martyred characters get honored. And though it sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry, Ellanjay assure us that they are thrilled to hear all the stories.

Noah, Samuel, Ruth, Gideon, and many more approached Jesus. The ceremony must have gone on for days, Vicki realized, but Jesus had given everyone his strength and patience.

Me, being the smart aleck, I am, I'm going like, "Uh, someone want to fill them in on some of the less appropriate for all ages parts of their stories?" Like the whole thing where after Noah and God make the covenant, Noah gets drunk and passes out naked in his vineyard. Could also point out that that passage was used to justify slavery and Jim Crow. Ham saw his father's pecker and therefore, his children are damned to work for white people forever Because Reasons! that are totally godly and therefore totally make sense and don't just exist to justify our laziness/hatred of anyone who can't pass a paper bag test!

Samuel does better than Noah, but I feel a need to point out how he was the one who took David to task for sleeping with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, Uriah. The passage in question makes it very clear that it's the prophet's job to speak the truth to power and say, "You're effed up!" even though Power seldom likes being called on their BS. But they probably consider it all the fault of that foul temptress, Bathsheba, for following the Jewish law by purifying herself after her menstrual cycle, even though the law doesn't say anything about making sure that there aren't any prying eyes within a 300 mile radius of her. Because again, we can't expect a man, aka someone the RTCs consider a woman's superior, to demonstrate any self-control. And of course, Bathsheba most certainly wasn't in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario. Implying that if she refused, David would have taken what he wanted by force, because he's King and Kings generally don't take No for an answer...that's unpossible!

As for Ruth...someone want to tell them that whole thing about uncovering Boaz's feet and lying next to all likelihood, it wasn't his feet Ruth was uncovering. That and I wonder how many of them quote Ruth 1:16-18 at weddings without realizing that said passage is being said by a woman to another woman: Ruth to Naomi for those of you wondering.

But I suppose they wanted to put in a woman's name in there and couldn't do Mary, because that reeks of Catholicism, and they sure as heck weren't going to bring up Jael, because of the lessons the young women might take from that.

As for Gideon...Gideon really sucked at his job. Won one battle but it was all downhill from there.

After the honoring of the Old Testament saints, the next chapter gets to honoring all those killed during the tribulation. And some ghostwriter tacitly acknowledges that no matter how much the book says, "They never got bored or tired," it really does sound like a never-ending altar call/circle-jerk.

This ceremony didn’t happen like the Old Testament saints. Somehow the Lord arranged it so that only people who knew a Tribulation saint saw that person getting their reward. One of the first Judd noticed was Bruce Barnes, the pastor who had helped him, Vicki, and Lionel understand the truth.

I often wonder about the ghostwriters for his series. I know I sure as hell wouldn't have been hired to ghostwrite in the first place, but I wonder how they manage to resist the temptation to insert lines of erotica at random into this stuff? Because do you really believe that Ellanjay or any editor at Tyndale read these books before sending them to print? Does Tyndale even have editors?

But anyway, since there really isn't much to talk about in this very last chapter, I get to bore you all my philosophy on life.

Heaven, for me, is a puzzle I've been trying to work out all the ins and outs. It's probably one of those things where there's really no way you'll ever know until you cross into that undiscovered country, and sometimes mysteries are better when they stay mysteries. It's okay to have questions, spend the rest of your life rolling them around in your head and never come up with one answer that wraps it all up. It's the reason I've more or less come to dread Trinity Sunday, because great people have put forth a lot of strenuous effort, but no one has or ever will successfully explain the Trinity. You kind of wonder how they came up with such an obtuse doctrine in the first place.

Anyway, so many picture Heaven as like the ultimate five-star hotel where you get what you want, whenever you want. But I am more with Rod Sterling in that while no one enjoys pain and suffering, getting what you want all the time without ever having to struggle or face any kind of loss, would be incredibly boring. Plus, while I won't name any names, if you look over the lives of monarchs or the elite upper-crust of society, luxury has a tendency to stunt the soul, rather than improve it.

I have an easier time picture Heaven for animals than I do for humans. Yeah, I know many sects say that animals don't have souls and therefore, don't go to Heaven or Hell, but fuck them! They clearly don't have souls!

Anyway, when it comes to animals, I picture Heaven for them as being more or less what they knew and loved on Earth. Therefore, Heaven, for an African Elephant, would look like the African Savannah because that's what they knew and loved in life. If you were to drop them anywhere else, like in Yellowstone or something, they would be utterly baffled and wouldn't have a clue as to what to do. But while it looks like what they knew and loved in life, it's also better. Predators still chase after prey, but more for the love of the hunt/thrill of the chase, rather than life and death. Cat enjoys a good run, trying to catch a mouse, and the mouse enjoys trying to outwit the cat, but again, it's done in fun, rather than life and death.

I have a much more difficult time trying to work out Heaven when it comes to people, but I more or less see it as similar to Animal Heaven in that it resembles what a person knew and loved in life. So for an obsessive bookworm, such as myself, it's the ultimate library, where you can read every work of literature, published or unpublished, in any language for all eternity. Finally know all the answers you've always wanted to know and all that. Heck, I might just spend eternity asking God nothing but questions, like "What existed before the Big Bang? Are there really multiple realities? So punctuated equilibrium or slow evolution over millions of years or what?"

I suppose y'all can point out holes in my theory and I don't deny that they exist. Like I've said many times throughout this post, great writers have fallen flat on their faces when trying to describe the indescribable. Hell is easy, because hey we've all felt pain and there's so many ways it can be described, but what do you do with such elevated concepts as eternal joy or eternal bliss? What can really be said about good things except that they are good? So I admit, I probably haven't covered all my bases, but I wasn't really trying to. Don't think I ever will be able to.

Again, fast-forwarding because nothing really happens. Though Lionel's occasionally mentioned beloved Uncle Andre is in Heaven. Apparently he made a last minute conversion, which may undermine all those Hypothetical Bus talks RTCs love to deliver. Oh and Tom and Luke got into Heaven, even though while they were RTCs, they rejected the central tenet of "Do Nothing" and actually went out and did stuff. Died while doing so. Oh and Cheryl is given a one line mention where Vicki sees her with her son, Ryan Victor.

Again, I keep trying to come up with some means, via discontinuity, of giving Cheryl a happier ending, like I did for Dr. Rose and all the members of the League of Awesome. Because she really got treated like shit and deserves better. My head canon for Cheryl is that she meets up with Taylor and Hasina, undergoes a massive amount of training, and basically becomes Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. Shows up on the Tribbles' doorsteps and is like, "You took my son. I want him back." But I can't think of an out via discontinuity so I can make this happen.

The story ends with Judd and Vicki walking around. They see some kids and decide to take them in. Minus the part where they quote from Isaiah 11, this is how the series ends:

Vicki stopped, noticing several children standing alone. A light caught her eye and she glanced at Jesus.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t stop them. For the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

“Am I supposed to—?”

“I have already put this desire in your heart, Vicki,” Jesus said.

Vicki walked up to a redheaded girl who was moving a finger through the sand. She couldn’t have been older than seven.

“What’s your name?” Vicki asked.

“Anne,” the girl said.

“Where’s your family?”

“I don’t have any. They’re gone.”

Vicki looked at Judd and extended a hand to the girl. The three walked toward a boy sitting on a rock, and Vicki smiled at Anne.

“You have a family now,” Vicki said.

Aside from the "Well of course, she's not more than seven. The tribulation's only seven years long," complaint, I'll just use my powers of Discontinuity and assume that Anne winds up joining in the quest as depicted in ako's awesome fixfic "Children of the Goats." Yeah, I know, ako has probably died in a freak gardening/vomit-choking/spontaneous combustion accident, so we'll never see a conclusion to said story, but it's still awesome and worthy of being promoted. I will never stop being a believer in Discontinuity, dammit! It's a beautiful thing! If canon doesn't work, jettison the stuff that doesn't work, keep the stuff you like, and mentally compose your own continuation of the series!

So we have at long last reached the end. Victory music. I feel remiss in that I only posted the last movement from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Really that whole symphony is awesome from beginning to end and I advise all my readers to seek it out and listen. Beethoven's 9th is on my list of stuff where, well, if aliens ever show up, beam me aboard their spaceships and ask me to prove that humans aren't just a festering boil on the face of this planet, I'll play them Beethoven's 9th. Because yeah, while we do produce a lot of bad shit like wars and reality TV shows, every now and then we produce truly transcendent beautiful things like Beethoven's 9th or the moon landing and they deserve to be celebrated. Maybe it'll be enough to save us.

As for my final assessment for Left Behind: the Kids? Well, really I can sum it up with the metaphor I've used throughout my snarkings: it's better than the adult books, but it's better the way getting kicked in the gut by steel-toed boots is better than getting kicked in the teeth by steel-toed boots. While it cannot match the adult series in terms of awful, it is still a very, very poorly written, awful series.

And as someone who's a big fan of Young Adult literature in general, I can say that there are writers in the field who have created stuff that's way more worth your time and money than this series. I will only name a few, but Susan Beth Pfeffer's Moon Crash series is awesome, even if I have mixed feelings regarding the fourth book (how do you explain how you both love and hate a book?), Tommy Wallach's We All Looked Up is pretty good--think of it as like if John Hughes wrote a combination End of the World/Coming-of-Age story for teens--and Shaun David Hutchinson's We Are the Ants, is amazing, though RTCs would lose their collective shit over its depiction of the gays as being, y'know, people who aren't too different from everyone else.

I'll wrap up the list of recommendations, but again, I do them, because like I've whined about in many posts, even though I feel most of the truly innovative, great story telling is being done in the field of YA lit, the literati will always look down on it, see it as rubbish for the hoi polloi. Because if common people enjoy and understand it, it does not qualify as True Art. True Art is Angsty and Depressing as Hell; True Art is Incomprehensible to the Layman. If it isn't any of those things, it is not True Art.

So again, we're done for now. I haven't entirely decided what I'll do with this blog yet. I want a few weeks to rest on my laurels and celebrate for a bit, especially since I'll be moving in June and no matter how many times you go through that (my Dad's a preacher, so we move a lot), it'll never stop being stressful as hell. You'll curse and swear as you pack up your life in boxes, load up the trucks, and go to the new place, then you'll curse and swear as you move and unpack everything, but eventually you settle in and make a new life for yourself. That's how these things go. tl;dr, the blog will be on an indefinite hiatus.

Though I have been kicking around a few ideas for future stuff. Maybe it's masochism or something, but I'd actually come to enjoy snarking and don't want to just end it, even if things might be a little less frequent. I would like to do a takedown of the proposed film assuming it ever comes out. Been debating how I'd manage that without somehow putting more money into the pockets of people who don't deserve it, aka Ellanjay, but the Left Behind wiki says limited theatrical release, which is code for "There's no way in Hell it will ever hit OKC or Tulsa, never mind a middle of nowhere town in Oklahoma." So maybe I can more easily justify pirating the hell out of it. Because while I have no objections to ripping off the RIAA, because seriously, eff the RIAA! I have some scruples when it comes to movies and such. But like I said, since it's not likely to hit OK and Ellanjay are disgustingly rich enough, maybe that'll be enough to justify it.

I stand by my prediction that the movie will in all likelihood, suck. It will be better than the books, because the nature of film forces them to make changes to the material in order to adapt it for the screen, but it will suck because usually a shitty source material leads to a shitty movie. And we all know how shitty the source material for the series is.

In the rare instances where shitty source material didn't lead to a shitty final product, it's because someone involved realized, "Hey this sucks," and from there, jettisoned what didn't work, and just did their own thing. Again, the perfect example of this phenomenon is Marvel's series, ROM: Space Knight. Hasbro just told Marvel Comics, "Here's a new toy. Make a comic to promote it." And that's pretty much what Marvel told the people involved with the series. The writers didn't have anything but a toy to work with and unlike Transformers, it wasn't even a very good toy. So the writers just went all out and in doing so, managed to create an incredibly epic story that's also very emotionally involving for something that was created as a toy tie-in. So much so that you wish Marvel would get the rights back to the character, so the original comics can be reprinted and people don't have to hunt for used titles.

But given that Tim LaHaye's grandson has been cast as Nicky, it's safe to say that the people involved with the movie probably don't have a lot of creative leeway. Again, from the trailer, I can tell they've made some decisions I agree with like rather than waste time with a "subversive" school paper, the kids have the sense to GTFO to the countryside and set up a farm, but given that they're still straitjacketed by shitty source material, again, it will probably still suck.

Other ideas I've been kicking around are doing reviews of every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or as Spiritplumber has suggested, taking on Kingdom Come. As for Kingdom Come, let me rest and recover my strength for a bit, provide me with a copy (I still feel a little dirty that I purchased most of the For Kids! books legitimately, thus making Ellanjay more money), and we'll see.

As for the Marvel Cinematic Universe suggestion, I don't know. As you can imagine, I'd enjoy the hell out of it, being able to endlessly fangirl and lecture others about the awesomeness of the MCU, talk about how it works and nothing done by Zack Snyder does, but part of me is hesitant, because like I said, it's more enjoyable to read and rip on bad art. I'm totally with Dave Barry: One of life's little pleasures is seeing a good critic go to town on a really bad movie. So I'm kind of wondering if anybody would enjoy reading endless fangirling, endless "OMG! I love it, want to marry it, and have it's children!" Because I admit that I am often relentlessly self-indulgent on this blog, but I do try to make my posts have some value to my readers and not just be an endless "Mouse Monologues about Stuff."

So that's it, folks. Read and discuss in the comments. I'll still read the comments, because I'm an obsessive geek that way, but in the meantime, again, indefinite hiatus.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat it Too! Stop Trying!

Okay, here I am. Let's get this show on the road. Again, greatest hits-style snark because not much really happens.

Right, out of the gate, Ellanjay mention something that makes me headdesk.

JUDD was proud of Vicki for having the idea of finding their new friend Ehud and releasing him. They crept through the narrow street, avoiding the surviving Unity Army soldiers, and found several dozen Jewish believers chained together in a basement of a two-story building.

I headdesk because I'm like, "When did Vicki mention anything about this Ehud guy like at all?" I even skimmed over last week's chapter to be sure and found nothing. Ran "Ehud" through the "search inside this book" feature and found mentions of him before, but didn't find any conversations where Vicki's like, "Let's go rescue Ehud." If anyone had any doubts that Tyndale just immediately started binding and printing the manuscript with little if any editing whatsoever...Yeah, just as Calculon believes that only amateurs do second takes, Ellanjay or whatever sad ghostwriter involved, believe that only amateurs reread and rewrite.

Anyway, Judd and Vicki bust out the prisoners with no trouble whatsoever and none of this matters in any way, except that the word count is expanded.

Conrad and Shelly helped Enoch move his furniture from the basement to the first floor of his house. Enoch said there would be no more hiding now that the Lord had returned. Shelly called for them from upstairs, where they found Nicolae Carpathia and Leon Fortunato on television, surrounded by advisors, generals, and a swarm of reporters.

Yeah, because when the literal actual Jesus has returned to battle Satan for the dominion of Earth in a great cosmic all-out Battle Royale, most peoples' thoughts would be, "Y'know I should really move that ping pong table."

Though, okay, I suppose after so many Acts of God, the RTCs would be kind of jaded by it all. At first, it's mildly amusing, watching nonbelievers explode and die in screaming agony, after which they go to Hell to be tortured forever, but it just gets irritating after a while. If they must scream so loudly, can't they at least be in key? That and do they have to keep getting blood and gore all over Vicki's Jimmy Choos? Show some basic compassion, people! Those unbelievers are so inconsiderate.

Yeah, pretty much all the protagonists in the LB-verse are the narrator in Weird Al's "Why Does This Always Happen to Me?" except with less work ethic. While an LB-verse protagonist would totally complain about the knife getting stuck in their boss's face after they stabbed him and how now they won't be able to use it again, because the boss's bones bent the tip, at the same time, stabbing someone in the face is a way more active role than an LB-verse protagonist would take. It reeks of doing stuff which we all know is a violation of the Tribbles' ethos. No matter what, according to Ellanjay, you must not do stuff. Because they've so embraced Martin Luther's ethos that now they go to the other extreme and are generally opposed to good works, because doing good works distracts you from the all-important mission of saving your own ass from Hell. I mean, it's not like James, the brother of Jesus, said anything about Faith without Works being dead? Oh wait.

And of course, no matter how Ellanjay try to frame it, they can't change the fact that Nicky is the hero in this scenario. Fighting to save the world from forces trying to destroy it, makes you the hero. That's how this works.

Carpathia waved his arms and barked orders at troops. Conrad turned up the volume in time to hear Nicolae say, “This city shall become my throne. The temple will be flattened and the way made for my palace, the most magnificent structure ever erected. We have captured half the enemy here, and we will dispose of the other half in due time.

“The final stage of our conquest is nearly ready to be executed, and we will soon be rid of this nuisance from above.”

Okay, Nicky's speech is pretty colorless, though it was probably too much to expect something like the President's speech in Independence Day, which cliché though it may be, it's actually pretty affective. It's cornball and cheesy but it is so in a way that actually works. Though I don't have high hopes for the sequel they're making. They didn't get Will Smith for it and if you're not going to have Will Smith punches out aliens and say, "Welcome to Earth," why are you even making an Independence Day movie?

We cut to Lionel. TurboJesus is hovering over everybody. Since I'm a dirty-minded pervert (I used to write fanfiction and I've been on the Internet for years; the outcome was sadly inevitable), I find myself wondering if TurboJesus is wearing underwear or if he's going into all this commando-style? I know, I know, shouldn't be thinking those kinds of things, but gotta keep myself awake, because, y'know, nothing happens. TurboJesus walks around killing everyone and clothing his villainy in odd old ends stol'n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

Though now that I think about it, it does seem unfair to compare TurboJesus to Richard III. Richard III is one of the juiciest parts in Shakespeare's canon and while I have yet to read the entire play, from what I can tell, he had some charisma and cunning. Whereas, TurboJesus...yeah, I don't need to say anymore.

Anyway, Vicki, Judd, and Lionel are all reunited, even though I thought Lionel was at Petra and Vicki and Judd were in Jerusalem, which is 162 km away. But okay, I'm splitting far too many hairs already. Besides, previous chapters revealed that among the many superpowers RTCs possess, including a complete lack of empathy, apparently they are also the Flash. Sadly, none of their superpowers are anywhere near as cool as any of Mr. T's many powers, but it may be too much to expect anyone to be as cool as Mr. T.

[Slight Tangent] In the great Mr. T. vs. Chuck Norris Internet debate, gotta go with Mr. T. Got to love a guy who became famous simply by being himself and by being himself, I mean, being legally insane by any definition of the word. Plus, Mr. T's brand of crazy is more the loveable kind, rather than the rancid bigoted variety that Chuck Norris's is. [/Slight Tangent]

Lionel shows Vicki and Judd his new arm. I suppose I could make some crack, asking whether Lionel has had a chance to break it in, but y'all probably would appreciate it if I didn't make masturbation jokes about any of the Tribbles.

Nothing really notable about TurboJesus's quotes. I looked up the line “You will flee through this valley, for it will reach across to Azal. Yes, you will flee as you did from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord your God will come, and all his holy ones with me," just to see what would come up. It's from Zechariah, chapter 14. You kind of understand why RTCs would love Zechariah, what with all the trippy imagery that they can abuse the living hell out of and warp to fit their beliefs. Again, there's a reason they tend to side-step the plain-spoken types like Amos; Amos flat-out says what he believes, making it very difficult for them to co-opt him.

Anyway, according to Wikipedia (yes, I know, but it's a good starting place), Zechariah was written during the reign of Darius I during the post-exilic period, during the years 520–518 BC. Cyrus the Great had allowed the Jews to return to their homeland, but they were dealing with the painful realization that, "Hey, turns out going home won't solve all of our problems forever."

So while Zechariah is fun for the RTCs to quotemine, there is a reason that when Zechariah is talking about evil leaders, the leader seems to bear a striking resemblance to Darius I. Plus, I looked up Azal on Wikipedia and long story short, scholars believe it was an actual place, but they aren't entirely sure where it actually was. So again, this whole thing about TurboJesus, again, makes about as much sense as if he proclaimed that he was bringing judgment on Tenochtitlan. It's almost as though Ellanjay spent most of their term searching inside the Bible for words to put in TurboJesus's mouth as he exterminates all the Brutes! and couldn't be arsed to have any of it make sense. But that can't be the case!

Well, okay, they do have TurboJesus say something that his biblical counterpart actually did say. If you guess that they have him say said words, without thinking through the contrast between said words and actions, like at all, you win a No-Prize!

Jesus had dismounted and stretched out his arms. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” the Lord cried, “the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now look, your house is left to you empty. And you will never see me again until you say, ‘Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

Said verses are the last few ones of Matthew 23. It's probably a good thing that RTCs ignore pretty much all the rest of that chapter. Think of the chaos that would ensue if they actually did listen to their pastors and read their Bibles!

Again, were it not for the fact that Atlas Shrugged isn't in the public domain, I think I might have the basis for a great business venture if I printed up Bibles that look and feel like them, with the thin pages and leather covers and everything, only instead of the actual text, I'd put Atlas Shrugged in between. I mean, we all know they'd probably relate more to an atheist, pro-Choice, Russian woman than some dirty hippie who said they should sell all they possess and give it to the poor.

So maybe I should go with the other get-rich quick scheme I've been kicking around: a syrupy, inspiration poster that contains the prayer in red from Mark Twain's "The War Prayer." But the trouble is, while that's in the public domain, I don't think the RTCs would get the point and we'd wind up with a massive case of Misaimed Fandom.

Though I do have to quibble with the last part where TurboJesus says "And you will never see me again until you say, 'Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!'" I'm like, "Uh, they're seeing you right now, TurboJesus."

Anyway, the chapter ends with both Judd and Vicki receiving their blessings. And of course, we get plenty of the obsequious bowing-and-scraping, going all "We're not worthy!" that we've come to expect from the Tribbles.

Judd kept moving, wanting to run into the arms of Jesus like a child, but he couldn’t stop thinking about his sin. He had been so selfish and felt dirty, as if Jesus might reject him.

But the Lord reached out with his scarred hands. “Come,” he said softly.

Judd looked into Jesus’ eyes—burning like fire and so loving. He ran into the arms of Christ and was gathered in.

“Judd, Judd, how I have looked forward to and longed for this day. I knew your name before the foundation of the world. I have prepared a place for you, and if it were not so, I would have told you.”

Judd tried to speak but couldn’t.

Jesus gently pushed Judd back and looked him full in the face. Judd was only inches away from the King of kings. “I was there when you were born. I was there the night at the youth group when you decided you would go your own way.”

“Forgive me …,” Judd choked.

Insert obligatory joke about how everyone's tears are gin-scented.

Though again, yeah, Judd was a real hell-raiser before he found TurboJesus. Would do things like be unenthusiastic in church and grumble about his parents' rules and restrictions, which is so unlike any teenager ever. One time, he trampled Mr. Wilson's flower bed! That was a two-part episode!

Well, okay, he did commit credit card fraud and sip champagne, but I just have issues with dumping on teenagers for being a teenager.

[Embarrassingly Self-Indulgent Rant About My Own Experiences] While I haven't decided whether or not I'll ever have kids--the prospect kind of terrifies me--I have already vowed that while I will make mistakes, that's a given, I will never ever say anything about "how these are the best years of your life." Because I spent my teenage years, depressed, angry, and bullied relentlessly, and believe it or not, having popular culture and the adults shriek about how these are the best years of your life, doesn't help. Being a teenager fucking sucks! However much it often sucks being an adult, at least, for the most part, people take your opinions and concerns seriously and don't just go "Whatevs, you're a kid. You're too young to know anything or to have experienced actual suffering."

That's one of the reasons I am so grateful to Young Adult Literature. Because YA literature listened, YA Lit was like, "You're right. This really does suck. The adults are full of shit when they say it doesn't. Here's how to cope."

So yeah, find it kind of quaint every time some new whiny editorial comes out, talking about how some YA books delve into some dark issues and the writer is all "Is YA too dark?" First of all, Young Adult is an age category and encompasses a wide variety of literary genres. About the only requirement of the genre is that the protagonist has to be around 11-18. Second of all, there still is light and frothy romances out there for those interested. And of course, my biggest quibble is that it's not like Misery has ever respected a "You Must Be This Tall to Experience This" line. Plenty of kids and teenagers find themselves dealing with some horrible shit before they're old enough to drive and I don't think banning fictionalized portrayals of it, makes it go away.

But yeah, I've seldom read any editorials on Young Adult lit that's worth reading. It's obvious that most of the research consisted of the editorialist taking a glance at the Young Adult section at Barnes & Noble, rather than reading anything published in the field in the last ten years, or talking to anybody currently reading or writing YA lit. They haven't got time for such petty issues as research or learning more about a subject; they've got bland generalities to churn out.

Just know that Young Adult fans can't win, no matter what. If they read stuff dealing with dark issues like rape or violence, the reviewer will whinge and wonder what it means for fans growing up with such a grim view of the world and why can't they publish more frothy romances like when I was a kid? If YA fans read frothy romances, that's proof of the genre's (and by extension, the fans)inherent shallowness. There's a reason YA fans have come up with bingos like these.

Just remember, when the editorialist was a teenager, he or she regularly buried themselves in unreadable classics like Moby Dick. They never went for this bizarre insistence on reading about characters and situations they can relate to. They also ate vegetables like Lay's Potato Chips, never looked at, never mind imbibed alcohol when they were underaged, and never once broke curfew. Yet somehow these saints among men, produced the whiny, entitled Millennials who will undo their great Shangri-La through their infernal simultaneous laziness/activism on behalf of the less fortunate.

Okay, sorry for all the rants. Just again, every time I see one of those whiny editorials about millennials, I'm like, "Baby Boomers dismantle the societal safety net put in place by those who came before them, wind up twice as conservative as their parents' generation, and proceed to look down on the next generation and be all, 'C'mon, why haven't you solved all our problems for us.'" There are times I honestly wonder if the reason the Baby Boomers refer to their parents as "The Greatest Generation" isn't so much because they took on Hitler while in their teens and twenties, but because that generation produced them and everyone knows the Baby Boomers are the greatest generation ever. Again, I keep making the vow: when my generation is in the corridors of power, I will not blame the next generation for all of my problems. Instead, I'll do the sensible thing and blame the previous generation, which makes more sense than blaming those who will bear the brunt of your mistakes.

TurboJesus blesses Vicki. Not much to report, though props for basic continuity in remembering the whole thing about Vicki's uncle raping her. Though again doesn't cancel out all the cons given because, like I said, Vicki's parents sucked.

Well I think I'll throw on Chapter 46, because I want to. Just know that I am making so many "That's what she said," jokes regarding the opening of said chapter. Because I'm a dirty-minded pervert, that's why.

IT HAD happened so quickly, Vicki thought. And for everyone—a million people had experienced a personal encounter with Jesus.

C'mon you have to be made of stone to resist interpreting those lines in a dirty manner.

Anyway, the demon frog people named Ashtaroth, Baal, and Cankerworm are brought before TurboJesus to be judged. I ran their names through the search engine on my blog and it turns out, they were mentioned a grand total of once in this series. I'll be charitable and say that maybe they did more in the adult books, but in the kids series, they did nothing. So again, yet another weird callback thrown in that means nothing to the readers of this series.

The demon frog people are all "Jesus is Lord!" but TurboJesus sets them on fire and kills them. Though given that they were demons, what exactly happens to them? Unbelieving Humans are tortured for all eternity in Hell, but demons are fallen angels who do the torturing. So what exactly do they think happens to them?

Because as enthusiastic supporters of Team Hell, we know that Ellanjay would never subscribe to the view mentioned in Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

“Go back? I don’t know. I think hell’s something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go. They’re doing the same things they always did. They’re doing it to themselves. That’s hell.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

Team Hell tends to believe that once you're sent to Hell, it goes on for all eternity, yet TurboJesus according to their mythos, is supposed to triumph over Satan and make him suffer in Hellfire for all eternity, so they probably don't subscribe to the doctrine of Annihilationism never mind universal reconciliation. So how exactly is TurboJesus punishing the demons by going, "For causing people on Earth to fall into eternal torment for your own pleasure, I am sending you to Hell where you may torment people for all eternity?"

Leon is dragged before TurboJesus and is all whiny and pleading. But apparently he committed the greatest sin of all, according to TurboJesus.

“I tell you the truth, woe to you for not making that discovery while there was yet time. Rather, you rejected me and my Father’s plan for the world. You pitted your will against mine and became the False Prophet, committing the greatest sin known under heaven: rejecting me as the only way to God the Father and spending seven years deceiving the world.”

Yes, how dare Leon try to use his knowledge and skills to communicate his ideas?! How dare he suggest that a brutal cosmic horror that loves to torture and kill people for no real reason, is completely unworthy of worship, and try to convince people to stand up to said Cosmic Horror! The monster! Even Adolf Hitler seems like Santa Claus in comparison!

Then of course, we come to Nicky.

As Nicolae lowered his head, Jesus said, “You became a willing tool of the devil himself. You were a rebel against the things of God and his kingdom. You caused more suffering than anyone in the history of the world. God bestowed upon you gifts of intelligence, beauty, wisdom, and personality, and you had the opportunity to make the most of these in the face of the most pivotal events in the annals of creation.

“Yet you used every gift for personal gain. You led millions to worship you and your father, Satan. You were the cunning destroyer of my followers and accomplished more to damn the souls of men and women than anyone else in your time.

“Ultimately your plans and your regime have failed. And now, who do you say that I am?” Silence. Then a weak voice said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, who died for the sins of the world and rose again the third day as the Scriptures predicted.”

“And what does that say about you and what you made of your life?”

“I confess that my life was a waste,” Nicolae whispered. “Worthless. A mistake. I rebelled against the God of the universe, whom I now know loved me.”

With sadness Jesus said, “You are responsible for the fate of billions. You and your False Prophet, with whom you shed the blood of the innocents—my followers, the prophets, and my servants who believed in me—shall be cast alive into the lake of fire.”

Yeah, I really believe that TurboJesus is saddened by the prospect of pitching Nicky into Hell, not secretly masturbating feverishly because he gets off on the suffering of others, given how much he lovingly inflicts upon his people! [Primal Scream]

That and I am all confused by this speech. Didn't the prequels show that Nicky was created by two gay dudes (because only gay guys are sufficiently evil enough to produce the anti-Christ) to carry out their eeevil and no doubt, Secret and Gay agenda. Wasn't he raised solely within the confines of people who taught him the evils of peace and love and helped him in his rise to power?! So in short, STOP ACTING LIKE NICKY EVER HAD A CONSCIOUS CHOICE IN ALL THIS AND AT EVERY POINT, HE CHOSE TO DO THE WRONG THING! HE DIDN'T!

[deep breath] I'm guessing the incoherence of his character is born out of Ellanjay want simultaneously to make Nicky akin to Tony Soprano in that opportunities for him to be a better person arise, yet at every interval, he rejects these opportunities. But they can't go too far with that kind of thinking, because the Black-and-White morality of their subculture cannot allow for the existence of Anti-Heroes. Even if everything ends badly for Nicky as a result of straying from what is right and true, someone would object because in showing Nicky doing bad things and bad things happening to him as a result, Ellanjay are clearly advocating doing bad things! Won't Somebody please think of the children?!

But TurboJesus's words rule out a Damian interpretation, that Nicky is a being of pure malice/evil and is capable of doing nothing but evil. Maybe they realized that some readers, like me, might be like "Okay, Nicky was created to be the Anti-Christ and is unable to do anything but be the Anti-Christ in this cockamamie story, yet at the end, he's punished for doing what he was programmed to do?"

So they try to combine both and this may come as a real shock to you, but it doesn't work.

The chapter consists of more verse quoting as TurboJesus judges Lucifer even though I thought Nicky was now fully inhabited by Lucifer and not just serving him, after the whole death and resurrection deal. But whatever, Lucifer is punted into hell, and can you believe we still have two more chapters to go through? Two more chapters even though the story is basically over and TurboJesus has done everything short of tea-bagging his enemies! [whimpers]

That's it for this week. See you until next week.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Plot Bunnies for Sale and/or Adoption!

Hey, everybody!

[Off-topic rant] Yes, I freely admit that I am taking perverse delight in all the Batman v. Superman hate. Even if part of me feels like being all hipster and going, "Posers. I hated Zack Snyder before it was cool to hate him." After much thought, I'm starting to think if given a choice between an eternity with the oeuvre of Michael Bay or eternity with the oeuvre of Zack Snyder...well, first of all, I'd be like, "Seriously, Saint Peter?! Yeah, I know I swear too much and was an obsessive fangirl, but really, what did I do to deserve this?! It's not like I killed anybody!" After that, well, as much as it pains me to admit it, I'd choose Michael Bay in that scenario.

Admittedly a large reason is because I don't particularly care about Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the way I do about Superman, but another reason is that, let's face it, we all know Michael Bay doesn't give a shit about making a statement and creating good art. He's not making all these films in order to be all deep and insightful; he's making them because he can't get enough solid gold Humvees. I'd rather endure Michael Bay's mindless frat-boy stupidity than Zack Snyder's kind of stupidity, where he thinks he's being all deep and insightful about the human condition, but instead comes across as some petulant teenager, pouting his lip and saying, "I'm totally mature. I have blood and death in my works, which makes it deep and insightful." Open and honest idiocy is a lot more endurable than Snyder's kind. Plus for all his flaws, Michael Bay can do some decent pyrotechnics and who doesn't enjoy the visceral thrill of watching stuff get blown up? [/Off-topic rant]

We are on Chapter 44 of 48, so we're pretty much in the home stretch here. Again, apologies for the weakness of all the snark, but really, there's nothing that can be said beyond "Ellanjay suck," "TurboJesus is an eldritch horror," and "So much padding." So if it sounds like I'm doing more of a greatest hits kind of snark, rather than a thorough one, it's because really the last four chapters is just TurboJesus quoting Bible verses and doing everything short of tea-bagging his opponents.

Anyway, the chapter begins with bloody hailstones raining down on the GC. Oh and when I use the word, bloody, I'm not using it in the British sense.

THE TEMPERATURE dropped quickly around Lionel and the others, then returned to normal. News reached them of a great hailstorm—with chunks of ice weighing a hundred pounds or more—that had fallen on the massacred Unity Army. Water mingled with blood, creating a red, gooey liquid that was four feet deep in some places.

I'm fairly certain the bloody hailstones thing has happened before, but I'm too lazy to look it up, just as I'm too lazy to calculate how many times all the water, fresh or salt, turned to blood and became undrinkable. And again, those charts done by PMD enthusiasts don't help. Again, were it not for the fact that they were illustrating something many people actually believe, I'd assume they were slapped together by a schizophrenia patient with skills in graphic design and an obsession with the Bible. Though again, even someone deep in the grips of psychosis could probably come up with a more coherent worldview, so maybe I shouldn't slur people with schizophrenia.

TurboJesus quotes bits from 1 John, chapter four. And yes, he does quote verses 7-11, which basically go "Love each other because God loves you." And my head explodes, because really, they don't see the cognitive dissonance like at all? They genuinely believe that TurboJesus exploding peoples' heads is an expression of love.

I suppose I could rant endlessly about it, but I've already done so many rants about how they picture God as unshaven, dressed in a wife-beater and open bathrobe, shouting at his cowering spouse and/or children, "Now look at what you made me do!" So I'll just let the last few lines of 1 John 4 speak for me.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

I honestly wonder if the reason Jesus hasn't come back like everyone said he would, is because he's too busy face-palming over idiots, being like, "Seriously, how did you get that from that?!"

[Slightly Off-topic Plot Bunny] Fantasy fiction seems obsessed with the idea of chosen ones that after many centuries of waiting, the chosen one has finally appeared and will defeat the Dark Lord and institute a new reign of peace and prosperity and all that. My idea is, given how many different ways Christianity had been interpreted in its two-thousand-year history, rather than one ancient order of monks studying and keeping the prophecies alive and unchanged and them all being in agreement that Hero is indeed, the Chosen One, how about in the subsequent years since the prophecy was made, the ancient order has split into many different sects, each with their own idea as to who the chosen one is. So you wind up with many people claiming to be the chosen one, rather than one agreed-upon protagonist.

Some of these chosen ones do genuinely believe that they are the chosen one, and want to overthrow the Dark Lord and make the world a better place for noble reasons. Other chosen ones are in it more for mercenary motives rather than noble ones; want to overthrow the Dark Lord and take his place as the rightful king because hey, being King beats working your fingers to the bone and living in squalor until you die of whatever Plague-of-the-Month is going around.

Just know that regardless of whatever twists you come up with on my Plot Bunny, you cannot, at any moment, have it confirmed a hundred percent that Chosen One from Village X is the real Chosen One according to prophecies. While you can have pretenders, you're not allowed to definitively say, "This one is definitely the Chosen One." No divine beings stepping in and saying anything or anything like that. Whoever wins and winds up sitting on the throne, does so through ordinary virtues like courage and intelligence, not because he is the Chosen One and uses some special magic that only the Chosen One can use.

You could also throw in that the Dark Lord is well aware of all the Chosen One prophecies and has done his part to keep them in circulation, so the various sects would be too busy fighting each other to fight him. Or in other words, the various Chosen Ones win, because a few are like, "Hey, we share a common enemy," and work together. [/Plot Bunny]

I suppose I should apologize for that tangent, but again, lot more interesting than anything in this chapter. I don't think you need me to tell you that.

We cut to Judd, who is in Jerusalem. He hears a speech from Nicky and is shocked, shocked by the bland platitudes of his speech.

Carpathia continued, predicting a total takeover of Jerusalem. Judd couldn’t believe it when the man referred to Jesus as “this one who flits about in the air quoting ancient fairy-tale texts.” Nicolae predicted Jesus would die. “He is no match for the risen lord of this world and for the fighting force in place to face him. It does not even trouble me to make public our plan, as it has already succeeded. This city and these despicable people have long been his chosen ones, so we have forced him to show himself, to declare himself, to vainly try to defend them or be shown for the fraud and coward that he is. Either he attempts to come to their rescue or they will see him for who he really is and reject him as an impostor. Or he will foolishly come against my immovable force and me and prove once and for all who is the better man.”

We've talked many times about how incoherent Nicky's character is, how no matter what way you look at it, nothing about him makes any sense. We've can probably list several reasons for this, all of them equally true, as to why Nicky's character makes no damn sense. There's the obvious pitfalls associated with Christian Fiction™. Because it is a niche market and said niche consists primarily of people who are desperate for material, but afraid to go against their pastors and read outside the niche, you wind up with a whole lot of terrible, derivative fiction, because why put forth the effort when, no matter what you do, your works will sell?

I've said it in many conversations on Slacktiverse and probably on my own blog and I will say it many more times before I die, but the truly good Christian art was produced during an era when the Church was about the only game in town for artists. Because it was the only game in town, that meant a whole lot of competition, which strengthens the craft; if you didn't produce a quality piece to your employer's satisfaction, they'll say, "Tough," and move on to the next desperate artist standing in line. So you couldn't just slap a Jesus fish on a piece of crap and call it a day; you had to put forth actual effort.

There's also the matter of in this particular niche, you can't have anything that might offend a blue-haired schoolmarm, even if you clearly show it as being bad and the character is punished afterwards. My favorite example of this phenomenon among fundies, comes from the good people at Capalert, which criticized the Star Wars films because the Empire had "bad attitudes." Never mind that the Empire, aka the guys with the giant planet-killing moon, was continually depicted as being the bad guys. Put in any sort of conflict and some RTC will take offense at it. I'd say their ideal entertainment would be the Itchy and Scratchy Cartoons as done by Marge Simpson, but given that there have been fundies who objected to all the talking animals in the Chronicles of Narnia, because they felt it reeked of paganism, they would probably still object to those cartoons.

But even within the strict confines of the RTC subculture, it must be possible to create great art. Though given that I can't think of any examples of great RTC art off of the top of my head, the answer is probably not. The problems inherent in this series can probably be summed up in one word, laziness, or to use TV Tropes, They Just Didn't Care. Just as they're not interested in exploring the character of Jesus, because he's their cosmic Enola Gay and they feel that's reason enough to worship them Him, they aren't interested in exploring the character of the Anti-Christ and what it means. If you asked any of them, "Okay so why does Nicky do these things?" Ellanjay would say, "Because he's the Anti-Christ." And if you asked, "Okay, so why does the anti-Christ do these things?" they'll give the same answer, until you just say, "Screw it," and walk away. After which, Ellanjay will proclaim themselves the victors, because you just know that they are big believers in the Chewbacca Defense.

So we're never going to get a coherent response as to why Nicky's doing all this, following a plan to the letter even though said plan ends with him getting punted into Hellfire for all eternity. Some have suggested that maybe Nicky's just going along with this, so he can drag TurboJesus out of Heaven and kick his ass, but from there, you wonder what Ellanjay would say if you asked, "Okay, so why does the Anti-Christ want to kill TurboJesus." We of the Slacktiverse can think of several legitimate reasons, but since Ellanjay worship the Gospel of Might Makes Right (therefore, it's perfectly okay for TurboJesus to slaughter innocents because he is mightier than the anti-Christ, but it's wrong for the anti-Christ to do the same), probably the only response given is "Because he's the anti-Christ."

But Nicky must be doing this because he thinks he can win. He doesn't think the world has seven years left; he thinks that the next generation will grow up, get jobs, have kids, and eventually move into the corridors of power themselves. It's a beautiful future and he's willing to fight to preserve it. As Fred and I keep saying, Fighting to save the world from forces wanting to destroy it, makes you the hero. That's how this works.

Though is there any reason why they have to make Nicky sound so stilted that even Brent Spiner would say, "Dude, tone it down a little?" Though while my knowledge of Star Trek is lacking (was totally a Star Wars gal growing up and am intimidated by the amount of continuity I'd have to learn about Star Trek), I'm fairly certain that Data would probably be a helluva lot more intimidating anti-Christ than Nicky.

Then Nicky says this:

“My pledge to you, loyal citizens of the Global Community,” Carpathia said, “is that come the end of this battle, no opponent of my leadership and regime will remain standing, yea, not one will be left alive. The only living beings on planet Earth will be trustworthy citizens, lovers of peace and harmony and tranquility, which I offer with love for all from the depths of my being.

I could point out the obvious--that Nicky goes from being "Exterminate all the Brutes!" to Peacey McPeace-Peace within the span of a few sentences--but let's focus on something else as equally obvious: Nicky's plan is to kill all who oppose him in a massive genocide that will leave only those who support him standing. What's TurboJesus's plan? Oh yeah, it's THE EXACT SAME AS NICKY'S! Because again, they believe Might Makes Right, like I've said many times. It's only wrong for Nicky to brutally kill all those opposed to him, because he's not the mightiest guy around; TurboJesus is. Plus again, Nicky is killing in defense of his poorly defined beliefs, rather than the incoherent poorly defined beliefs of RTC-ianity, which makes his actions wrong.

Then we get this:

“I am but ten miles west of Jerusalem as we speak, and I will be dismissing my cabinet and generals so they may be about the business of waging this conflict under my command. The Most High Reverend of Carpathianism, Dr. Leon Fortunato himself, will serve as my chauffeur for my triumphal entry. Citizens are already lining the roadway to greet me, and I thank you for your support.”

A few minutes later, drums and trumpets sounded in the distance. Vicki, who had buried her head in Judd’s chest, looked up. “Carpathia has mocked everything God’s done. This is his version of the triumphal entry.”

Okay, given the strictures of Christian Fiction™ you can't have Nicky actually do any actual evil. Fine, but does he have to speak in so stilted a manner? Even Data would be like, "Seriously?!" if given a line like "I will be dismissing my cabinet and generals so they may be about the business of waging this conflict under my command." Because Nicky is the leader of the world; of course, the conflict is under his command! That and the line about all the people lining up to greet him, so reeks of "Here let me describe in detail this building about to collapse on us!" I suppose I could dive into TV Tropes and see if they have a name for that trope, but hell no! I spend enough time on that black hole of a website as is.

Though I thought Nicky already did his version of the triumphal entry back with the Epic!Pig!Ride aka the part that's so stupid, it crosses over and becomes awesome and is the only example of such a moment in this series.

Judd thinks about how Nicky's going to get what's coming to him and we cut briefly to Lionel and Sam, who are also just sitting and watching. The only notable part of Lionel's section is this bit:

Someone pulled out a handheld TV and caught GCNN’s coverage of Nicolae riding a stallion, his sword raised in the air. He swung it, and the troops around him whooped. “Follow me to the Western Wall and make way for the battering ram and missile launchers! Upon my command, open fire!”

Given that Nicky's already using horses for no real reason, suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that he's also using other medieval tech like battering rams, even though if the guys operating the ram (and you know it's a medieval style one, where it's basically a giant log cut from a tree) are in front of the missiles, congratulations, Nicky, you just killed several of your own dudes. Even though I'm fairly certain the strategy with missiles is to launch them from a bunker a safe distance away, then swoop in after they've bombed everything and everyone to smithereens.

I suppose I could rant some more about Nicky using medieval-level tech, but in all honesty, I'm just disappointed that they don't have him using something cooler like trebuchets or crossbows or long bows. Again, if you're going to be that stupid, commit to it!

Vicki's watching the GC storm Jerusalem and is all horrified, even though I'm fairly certain that even inbred medieval nobles could come up with a better strategy than what Nicky's cooked up. Because he's having them storm the wall on horses, even though the only way that would work is if the wall is so damn short that it can't in good conscience be called a wall, maybe a hedge, but not a wall. Either that or Nicky's horses are actually pegasi, an idea I have no difficulty accepting. Given the effed up stuff we've seen in this series, winged horses isn't too much of a leap.

Again, keep hoping somebody else in the Slacktiverse will adopt another plot bunny I have: an Office-style sitcom about the various number-crunchers and bureaucrats employed by Nicky's regime. Because again, Nicky has to have thousands upon thousands of people working below him; couldn't conquer the world with just ten employees.

And then there's this:

Quickly, the prisoners climbed over the downed wire, only to be met by three Unity Army soldiers holding guns. Vicki and Judd took a step back, still inside the prison.

“No!” Vicki screamed as the soldiers aimed their guns.

But before they could shoot, skin dripped from their arms and their eyes melted. The once-healthy soldiers were now simply uniforms full of bones. Seconds later the same thing happened to the horses. Their flesh and eyes and tongues dripped away like candle wax.

Vicki was too stunned to move. She had read verses in Revelation that said this was going to happen. She had even seen people die from the horsemen of terror and stung by the demon locusts, but she had never seen anything so gruesome. Without a shot fired or a missile launched, the Unity Army melted into the street.

Before anyone makes any Raiders of the Lost Ark references, I feel a need to reiterate a point I've made many times: AT LEAST IN THAT MOVIE, THE FACE-MELTING HAPPENED TO MOTHEREFFING NAZIS WHO HAD PRESUMABLY DONE SOMETHING TO DESERVE IT! That and like I've said, point out all you like that the entire thing would have been resolved if Indy had stayed home and graded papers, but at least Raiders had the decency to have some awesome fight scenes/stunts so the viewer doesn't feel like their time was entirely wasted. Though how anyone can consider watching Harrison Ford at his prime a waste of time, is beyond me. Even Straight Guys dig Harrison Ford.

The section ends with this:

Vicki glanced up when God’s temple opened and a flood of brilliant light surrounded her.

Judd pulled Vicki toward a nearby wall as lightning flashed, thunder roared, and the earth shifted.

In seconds the earth buckled and swayed. Carpathia’s soldiers were swallowed through great cracks in the earth.

I feel a need to reiterate that this is Chapter 44 of the 48 in this book. So even though the story is damn near over, SOMEHOW WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH FOUR MORE CHAPTERS OF THE TRIBBLES DANCING AROUND THE END ZONE SAYING, "WE'RE #1!" WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ACTING LIKE THE OUTCOME IS IN DOUBT!

We then cut to Conrad, who's groping Shelly. At least, that's my general assumption since y'all know I have a dim view of Conrad and Shelly's relationship.

Anyway not much really happens--they just watch TurboJesus spit out Bible Quotes and kill everyone--but I'll quote this part:

Somehow the Global Community News Network managed to stay on the air and showed satellite pictures of the earth bathed in a light that originated from Jesus. In North America, a huge dust cloud hovered over Arizona, and reports that the Grand Canyon had been filled in and was now level brought oohs and aahs from their friends. Even more incredible was the shot over Nepal showing that Mount Everest and the mountain ranges surrounding it had crumbled and were now as flat as every other place on earth. Islands disappeared into the sea. Everything had been leveled except for the city of Jerusalem.

Nice usage of what the Turkey City Lexicon calls Fuzz, with that somehow at the beginning. My head canon is that the GC's news channel has stayed on the air, because Nicky's government is made up of awesome people working as long and hard as possible to keep things running so more people don't die as a result of the destroyed infrastructure. Because television requires satellites and electricity and all those require a ton of infrastructure to maintain and run, no matter how much Ellanjay may like to believe that it all runs because Jesus! that's why.

With that in mind, given a choice between being under Nicky's rule or under an RTC's, I'd choose Nicky. Because we had an RTC administration in power and they couldn't come up with a plan for a disaster they had a week's notice on. Whereas matter how bad things get, the power stays on, the water keeps flowing, and people are still getting plenty to eat. That's pretty damn amazing.

I suppose I should remember, in all my fangirling of Nicky, that he is a ruthless dictator running roughshod over human rights, but I still feel a need to side with him, because again, the opposition is so much worse. I may be a pacifist who genuinely believes in human rights and therefore, would naturally be opposed to Nicky's regime, but when we're facing annihilation at the hands of a cosmic horror, I'll suck it up and do what I can to help. Sort of like how the US and the Soviet Union fought together in World War II, even though both sides hated each other, but both sides knew that they'd be screwed if Hitler won. So the thinking was "Work together, then once this is all said and done, we can resume hating each other." Though, really, what is in Russia that makes it worth invading in winter? Pro Tip for any aspiring dictators reading my blog: Never invade Russia in winter. No matter what's there, it's not worth invading a country that considers any weather not cold enough to summon a legion of White Walkers, shorts weather. That and remember, there are also a lot of Russians, because you have to do something to keep warm and get through all those winters that last, on average, nine months.

That out of the way, do Ellanjay honestly look at scenes like this or this and think "Yadda yadda, all those bright colors and soaring vistas are nice, but y'know what, it's just got too much height and depth for my liking. Can't build a decent Wal-Mart here." That and as I recall, the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest are both considered sacred religious sites, but they probably can't be arsed to care about Native American Tribes or the Nepalese or Tibetans, so let's move on.

I'm more curious about all the islands sinking. Do Ellanjay mention that all the Hawaiian RTCs managed to GTFO out of Hawaii before all this happened? Granted if there are Polynesian RTCs, they would immediately get bamfed into Heaven, while their heathen neighbors roasted on a spit, but you'd think they'd make some one-line mention or something.

That and I wonder about the people of North Sentinel Island. I've wondered about them many times in this series. For those too lazy to click on the link, the people of North Sentinel Island are believed to be among the last uncontacted peoples on Earth. By virtue of the massive coral reef surrounding the island that wrecked ships that tried to land there and that the island didn't have any resources that colonizing powers wanted, they've managed to live in isolation from the modern world. The Islanders also fiercely defend their land, making it so only a few have actually seen what the natives look like. Can't even use Google Earth to figure that out because North Sentinel Island is too thickly forested.

North Sentinel Island is currently under the administration of India. In the past, India did try to make contact with the natives, sending out boats with gifts to entice the Islanders, but after several attempts, which led to the deaths of the people trying to make contact and their gifts ignored and left on the beach, the Indian government has decided to just leave North Sentinel Island alone. The last time they checked on it, was after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. They flew over the island in a helicopter to check on the natives and were greeted with a flurry of spears and arrows making it quite clear: natives are saying, "We're doing fine on our own, so leave us alone." Which is fine; if they want to join the modern world, they can do so on their terms.

Anyway, my long rambling point is throughout this series, I kept wondering what Ellanjay would say if I brought up North Sentinel Island. Because maybe with other parts of the world, Ellanjay can just dismiss them, saying, "They heard of Christ and didn't immediately abandon their cherished beliefs and convert at the drop of a hat; therefore they are damned." But the people of North Sentinel Island are ignorant of Christ, as in never heard of him. So when Zod sank all the islands, did he sank an island full of innocent people for the crime of being isolated from the world?

And that's it for this week. Again, just sometimes you can only handle so much of Ellanjay at once, so forgive me for not throwing on another chapter. As for the post title, sorry, but couldn't think of anything else to call this post.