Anyway, some writing advice for Ellanjay, but really it can apply to anyone who reads my blog: unless you are really, really talented, enough that you spend your days fondling your many Bookers or Pulitzer Prizes*, know when to fade to black or white, in this case. We all know that Ellanjay are...well, I'd call them hacks, but that feels like an insult to hacks like Dan Brown. Dan Brown, for all his faults, at least delivers on what he promises; he promises a decent pot-boiler with which to pass the time and that's what you get. But Ellanjay can't deliver on anything they promise.
I'm thinking of a part from the first book of the adult series. Bruce "Useless" Barnes said there would be a meeting for all the disenchanted and the skeptics to air their views. So both Fred and I, naïve fools that we were, looked forward to seeing the writers try to polish their turd-ish beliefs. Only for the meeting to take place entirely off-page, without us getting any opportunity to hear about what was said. Even though that kind of scene, it's the kind of low-hanging fruit that RTC fiction loves to handle. They can set up their strawmen, representing the people they don't like, and knock 'em down, easy as that. It's a nice bit of revenge porn for RTCs.
But Ellanjay are too lazy to even bother to emulate Jack Chick. And at least, Jack Chick has that kind of gonzo insanity you can't help but enjoy and I can't help but be like, "How come I didn't know about Jack Chick until the Internet came along?! This is vital information people need to know, dammit!"**
Anyway my incredibly rambling point is that Ellanjay, despite being the laziest mothereffers ever, decide to take on a task that has stymied even great writers: describing transcendent, earth-shattering joy beyond anything humans have ever experienced. Naturally, they fail miserably, because like I said, it would be a hard thing for even great writers to do. Pain is fairly easy to conceive and write about. Maybe George RR Martin hasn't ever actually had his hand looped off like Jaime Lannister, but he's probably experienced some other stuff that really sucked and using those experiences, combined with a little research, he can write about what it's like for Jaime. For the record, these two cartoons? Totally my headcanon as to why Martin is taking so damn long with the new books. To be fair, if my fanbase was as large and insane as his, I'd be unable to resist punking with them a little.
And of course, there are many different kinds of pain that can be described in so many ways: shooting pain, stabbing pain, aching pain, exhaustion, anguish, etc. But good stuff like happiness and joy...there really isn't much you can say about them, except that they're good. And maybe that's all fine and good for the fictional character, because they're having fun and being happy, but it's not so much for the reader who's bored out of their gourd. Because there's only so much fun you can have from watching someone else have fun and hearing them talk about how much fun they're having. It's even worse with these books, because Ellanjay steadfastly refuse to let the readers see anything. It's like seeing someone's vacations slides with some jerk standing in front of the projector so you can't even see the stuff the guy's going on and on about.
Anyway they're sitting around, eating their Steaming Piles of Fresh Produce (no, I will never let that go. Deal with it.). As always, Ellanjay do the classic Informed Attribute bit where they hope that if they merely say something enough times, it will magically make what they're saying true.
She was able to describe the very portals of the house of God, a great, cathedral-like expanse where the redeemed of the ages were arrayed in purest white, comprising all those born again between Pentecost and the Rapture, marshaling expectantly in a staging area.
“You’d have to have been there yourself to see the limits of this seemingly endless throng. The thrill, the anticipation, were palpable as this bride of Christ readied herself to be presented to the Bridegroom.
As always, criticisms go from minor to major.
First of all, "marshaling expectantly?!" What the heck does that even mean? Marshaling has military connotations, though it could also mean gathering people together. Expectantly is an adverb akin to expectant, like they are waiting. But even though, I know what these words mean, by putting them together, somehow Ellanjay have transcended language and created corporate buzzwords that sound important but really mean nothing.
And of course, rather than just say "Cathedral" they have to put "like" on the end. I wonder if it's a sign of Ellanjay's anti-Catholicism, which they, like a lot of people on the Right, try to camouflage now that Roe v. Wade has forced them into an uneasy alliance. Both sides still hate each other, but they know they need the other sides' numbers to win. So they bite their tongues and pretend like they don't.
But given what I've seen of Protestant Megachurches vs. Catholic Cathedrals...in terms of architecture, gotta give it to the Catholics. They knew that if you are going to call a place the house of God, not only should it be big and have plenty of seats, you should be able to tell, just by looking on the outside that this building is a sacred place. Whether you believe or not, those old medieval cathedrals are instantly recognizable as churches, whereas many Megachurches could pass as shopping malls, were it not for the cross outside.
Like I keep saying, most of the good Christian art was produced back when the Church was the only game in town for artists. And while I'm glad to have democracy and not live in a theocracy, when you compare Christian Art of Today to, say, the Sistine Chapel, the contrast is so wrong that all you can do is give anguished howls in protest.
Have to admit, the biggest amusement I got from this section where Irene keeps talking about the Wedding of the Bride and the Bridegroom is, of course, related to Ho Yay. I'm sure Ellanjay would be shocked and appalled, but I find myself wondering if they aren't unintentionally advocating for Gay Marriage. Because TurboJesus is supposed to be the Bridegroom in this scenario, while the Church is the bride that TurboJesus is marrying. But given that a good percentage of that crowd is made up of dudes, does that mean TurboJesus is indulging in Gay Marriage? If it's okay for TurboJesus to marry himself off to nearly every Christian Dude on the planet, why is it bad for a guy to marry a guy he's in love with?
Yeah, I know, the answer would be "Because Jesus!" It's the same justification they give for, "Okay, so God with his myriad of natural disasters has probably murdered countless unborn children in many horrible ways. But it's good, because the babies go straight to Heaven in spite of their suffering. Yet for some reason, it's wrong for a doctor to surgically abort a first-trimester embryo even though the baby will be spared pain and suffering on earth and go straight to Heaven?"
Though yeah, I'd heard the Jesus as the Bridegroom and the Church as the bride-metaphor used, through much torture of logic, to justify not allowing women to be ordained. Even though again, with their hatred of the gays, wouldn't it make more sense to only allow women to be ordained, so that Jesus isn't forced to be gay married to a dude? But in a fight between Misogyny and Homophobia, Misogyny wins out every time. Though it can be argued in large part that Homophobia simply is Misogyny with another mask. To the extent that Homophobes acknowledge the existence of Lesbians (they break blood vessels over Gay dudes but not as many over women who like women), they hate them because they are women who act too much like men. And a large reason they hate Gay dudes is because they're guys who act like women.
Yeah, I keep trying to explain to idiots on the Internet that the Patriarchy hurts men too, because like it does with women, it creates a narrow definition that says "This is what normal is and anything outside this norm, is sick and wrong." Though girls are given a little more flexibility within the patriarchy. A girl who likes traditionally male-oriented pursuits like sports or playing in the mud, is called a Tomboy. So long as some invisible fuzzy line between Acceptable and Too Far isn't crossed, it's considered cute. What do you call a boy who enjoys traditionally female-oriented pursuits like dolls or dresses? There's no male equivalent of a Tomboy; boys who like girl stuff, are called Sissies or even worse names that I'm not going to type up. Again, subtle proof that society still sees being female as undesirable and worthy of shame. Being a girl with some boyish traits is okay, but a boy with some feminine traits is an affront to all that is good and decent.
I know, too much time ranting, but this is my soapbox and I'm going to use it. Gotta problem? Get your own!
Okay, we're still technically in the 75 day run-up to the MK. Since I've already ranted about how the 75 run-up doesn't make any damn sense (like everything else in this series), I won't do it again.
Token Jew says to, and I'm using the book's words, expect something dramatic thirty days into the run-up. Irene is like "More dramatic than what we witnessed so far?" which is kind of what I was thinking, except I would have been like, "More dramatic than God swatting nukes out of the sky or bamfing people out of their clothes, or a worldwide quake, or locusts with people faces, or the lion-headed flying people-killers?!" and gone on and on like that for a while. Because, and I know this may come as a real shocker to my readers, when the dramatic stuff happens later on in this chapter, it's way more boring than any of the stuff I had mentioned in my list.
Token Jew says that he had expected to see the temple where Nicky did the abomination of the desolation or as I prefer to call it, the Epic!Pig!Ride followed by the Epic!Pig!Sacrifice, destroyed. He cites Daniel 12:11 as his justification. For those of you who clicked on the link and are like "Okay, what does that have to do with 30 days into a 75 day run-up?" you're not alone. I'm wondering the same thing. I'm honestly starting to think that Ellanjay just threw darts at random parts of the Bible, because my brain keeps crashing gears trying to work all this out. Once again, my mind went to Simpsons clips because that's how I roll. No points for guessing that in this scenario, Ellanjay are Homer.
Surprise, surprise, the temple is destroyed. Rayford then decides to visit Cam-Cam and Chloe and we get more proof that Ellanjay haven't been around actual children in their life.
By the time Rayford first visited what Cameron and Chloe had come to call COT, their temporary home was crawling with children— more than two hundred. And how they loved Cameron and Chloe!
“Some reward, eh, Dad?” Chloe said. “We were without Kenny for a little while, and now we have more loving children than we can handle. We need a structure for them.”
Speaking as someone who has been around children, if there really were over two hundred kids, all under the age of seven, hanging around, Cam-Cam and Chloe's house would no longer be standing. Since this is supposed to be paradise, I'm not going raise the obvious "200 kids!? Where the hell is everyone sleeping? What's the bathroom situation like?" objections, I'll just craft alternate scenarios where the kids are the ones from Village of the Damned and are using their scary mind-powers to subjugate the adults. I'm just saying: Children may be the future, but that doesn't mean they aren't weird as hell!
Ray-Ray spends the next forty-five days navel-gazing, wondering what the new temple will be like. Though given that the Temple was seen as God's home on Earth and they are literally seeing and talking to God and Jesus on a daily basis, why the hell would they need to build a temple?
Ray-Ray is confused about the whole sacrifices thing and how governing is supposed to work. Luckily Token Jew and Chaim, whom I'm wondering if I need to dub him Token Jew, Jr., since he exists to echo the words of Token Jew, are here to explain everything.
At another banquet of fresh fruit and steaming, buttery vegetables, he discussed this with Chaim and Tsion and Irene and several others. “Will Jesus explain it all?” Rayford said.
Chaim and Tsion nodded. “Think of Jesus Himself as the government, Rayford,” Tsion said. “He will put in place princes and governors under His authority, but obviously, everything and everybody will report to Him. Any munitions left over from anywhere on the earth will be dismantled and eliminated. The temple will be full of priests, and the nations will be called to worship and sacrifice there.”
Will give credit where credit is due: steaming, buttery vegetables sounds marginally better than Steaming Pile of Fresh Vegetables. Still think it would probably get boring as hell, eating vegetables sautéed in butter all the time and wish Ellanjay could be bothered to look up vegetarian recipes, but I'll take what progress I can get.
As for the second part where Token Jew is explaining stuff...yeah, there's really no way Ellanjay could have written that passage where it doesn't sound like God is running a theocratic dictatorship. But again, it is a reoccurring theme on the Right: they aren't opposed to oppression and persecution, so long as it is done by the right people for the right reasons and it only hurts people who "deserve it." Hence why even though the Right spent all their time railing against the Soviet Union, they have an odd love for Vladimir Putin. But that's because Putin oppresses people and runs roughshod over their rights in the name of unfettered Free Market Capitalism, unlike the Communist Dictators who did it in the name of Communism. Since Putin does it for the right cause, his actions are okay, but the Communists did it for the wrong reasons, which makes their actions wrong. Because remember the key difference between God and Satan in this book is that Satan tries to conquer the Earth and destroy all his enemies, but fails. TurboJesus, on the other hand, does the same thing, but succeeds.
Then they get called by TurboJesus. As they walk, they start noticing an odd smell and...well, I'm just going to have to share it with you.
“What is that glorious smell?” Rayford said.
Chaim pointed to the mountains and hills in the distance. “It smells like what it looks like,” he said.
“Do we have time for a detour?” Rayford said.
They left the route to the causeway, and many followed them to the foothills, where the streams had become pure white milk. Having only half finished his meal, Rayford knelt and cupped both hands in the white cascade, the icy flow hitting his taste buds like nectar.
Basically the hills are flowing with milk. I suppose I could spend so many paragraphs, trying make sense of it and figure out how this would affect plant and animal life, but I don't think I will.
[Current Politics Tangent]Instead, I'll wonder something else: Are we sure that Token Jew and Chaim are, in fact, two separate people? I have a similar question regarding Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Given that Boris looks just like Donald, only with his hair reversed, I question the notion that they are two separate people. Has anyone ever seen Donald Trump and Boris Johnson in the same place at the same time? When they did, did you check and make sure that one of them wasn't wearing an absurdly realistic rubber mask or was an incredibly advanced android? Because looking at those two, my guess is that Donald Trump wanted to bring down two countries from within and created Boris Johnson as an alternative persona with which to do so. Or you can argue that Donald Trump is Boris Johnson's alternate persona that he created for the same reason.
Though a more important question is "Why the hideous hair?" They both have enough money to get a decent haircut, instead of sporting that thing on their heads, so why don't they? Is a good haircut an affront to the White Race or something?
For the record with Trump's hair, in the great Toupee vs. Hideous Combover debate, I'm totally on Team Hideous Combover. I refuse to believe that any toupee, even the ones so cheap and obvious they might as well have a chin strap attached to them, could be that hideous. Combover is the most logical explanation as far as I'm concerned. [/CPT]
They walk down a bit and Ray-Ray is like, "But I also smell wine." And sure enough Wine is flowing from the mountains.
Again Chaim pointed, this time past the new foothills and to the rocky elevations that surrounded the city. There, gushing down the mountainsides were deep purple channels, collecting in great, beautiful pools below.
“Do you believe this, Chaim?” Rayford said.
The older man stood staring, then quietly quoted: “ ’ And it will come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water.’ ”
Given that Ellanjay's target audience is made up of people who sincerely believe that Jesus turned water into non-alcoholic grape juice at the Wedding at Cana, I'm wondering if this provoked a lot of outrage among them, a bunch of bluehairs being like, "You have good Christian characters imbibing and enjoying alcohol?! Such filth! Won't Somebody Please Think of the Children!"
The verse that Chaim is quoting is Joel 3:18. I have provided a link to the whole chapter because, like I've said before, as an English Major, I believe that context matters. Get an entirely different impression if you :gasp: actually read the verses listed before and after the 18th one.
Heck for those of you who haven't read any of the prophets because you're too intimidated to give it a shot, Joel might be a good starting place. I like Amos better myself, but Joel has his charms. The Book of Joel is only three chapters, so it's nowhere near as massive as Isaiah or any of the major prophets. I've read all the prophets books and frankly, I feel like everyone should read them. Best parts of the Bible and they inform so much of both the Jewish and the Christian Faith. Jews and Christians may interpret Isaiah differently, but we at least agree that Handel knew what he was doing when he used Isaiah's words as the libretto to The Messiah.
[Tangent Where I Shameless Self-Promote] Regarding Joel, I kind of use the closing verses of his second chapter as a source of inspiration for my currently unpublished Young Adult series. My series is Post-Apocalyptic, a genre I just have a weakness for, no matter how many bad versions proliferate. It provides some of the best places for writers to debate Morality, ask questions like "What does it mean to do the Right thing, when Society isn't around to affirm and reward my decision and heck, I may even get punished for it?" "Why should I do Good when all around me evil is winning?" Also known as the type of questions that religion has been trying to answer for ages. And of course, there are added wrinkles in that people don't behave rationally when they're hungry, sick, or scared, or all of the above.
And yeah, because my story is Post-Apocalyptic, it is pretty dark and grim, but at the same time, I like to think it is, like so many in the genre, oddly optimistic. Post-Apocalyptic fiction, despite its grim nature, holds a mostly optimistic view of human nature. The apocalypse will suck, people will die, and there will be those who become vicious gang-leaders, but there will be many more people, who will display the basic good traits that define humanity and oppose the gang-leaders. And push comes to shove, ultimately the good people will win. Yeah, I know there's Post-Apocalyptic stuff that isn't so optimistic, but overall, the genre is more optimistic than pessimistic.
Stephen King talked a little about this phenomenon in his book, On Writing, how he felt the future depicted in The Stand was strangely optimistic in spite of its horrors.
All this sounds terrible, is terrible, but to me the vision was also strangely optimistic. No more energy crisis, for one thing, no more famine, no more massacres in Uganda, no more acid rain or hole in the ozone layer. Finito as well to saber-rattling nuclear superpowers, and certainly no more overpopulation. Instead, there was a chance for humanity’s remaining shred to start over again in a God-centered world to which miracles, magic, and prophecy had returned.
I like to think I achieve something similar with my series, where there's suffering and death, no doubt about it, but at the same time, there's a very real hope that the survivors, while they won't completely rebuild within a generation, they can at least make a start for a better world. [/Self-Promotion Tangent]
TurboJesus calls everybody and is like, "Hey, check out my new digs, yo!" And yes, I did make his dialogue be the whitest white boy dialogue possible, because I'm bored and wanted to amuse myself. Because really all TurboJesus does, is lead everybody around being like, "Okay, so this is all the altars and where you offer up your offerings, bro!"
Okay, I think I'll stop with the White Boy TurboJesus before every minority in the world tries to kill me. I was a bit disappointed to Google and discover that apparently nobody has created some kind of translator where you type something and it immediately translates it into "White Boy Trying to Be Black" speak or something.
I'm assuming all this stuff about how long the Temple needs to be and the and what offerings are appropriate are from...well, I was going to say Deuteronomy because that book is frankly obsessed with measurements. And before my Jewish readers complain, I am well aware that Deuteronomy and Leviticus are very important to the Jewish faith, but to a gentile far removed from BCE-Era Israel, it's kind of dull and incomprehensible.
Though part of me, whenever I hear about bakers refusing to make wedding cakes for Gay Marriages, wish that there would be cases where a couple comes in to order a cake and the Baker asks the man, "Have you ever touched your wife during her period of menstrual uncleanness?" And of course, the couple would both be shocked and be like, "What?! What the Hell does that have to do with us ordering a cake?" after which, the baker can be like "Sorry, but I am a big believer in Leviticus 15:24-25 which forbids a husband to touch his wife while she's menstruating and states that he will be considered unclean if he does. So if I bake a cake for you, I would clearly be lending support to your sinful lifestyle. Sorry." Because if you're going to use Leviticus to justify being an a-hole, you should commit and use all of Leviticus, not just the verse against TEH GAYS! [/SRT]
Though I will say, in fairness, that while Old Testament laws seem excessively cruel to modern day citizens, they would have been considered progressive for their time. Because these were nomadic desert tribes we're talking about. They didn't have the means like we do, to shut criminals behind bars for a few years in hopes of reforming them; every day was a struggle to survive. Hence why death or mutilation is the penalty for most criminal offenses. But Old Testament Law is more fair than Hammurabi's Code, because the Law prescribed the same punishment for everyone, regardless of class. If a Poor Dude knocked out a Rich Guy's Tooth, he had to get his tooth knocked out, but the same was true if a Rich Guy knocked out a Poor Dude's tooth, unlike Hammurabi's code where often a Rich person could get off the hook by paying a fine, but a poor guy who committed the same offense was tortured or killed.
But the verses in question are from the last eight chapters of Ezekiel, aka the stuff that's punishingly dull after all the trippy visuals and performance art.
Though I do wonder if most of the MK citizens are mostly baffled by TurboJesus's speeches. Because he keeps mentioning stuff like Levites and sons of Zadok, aka references that had very specific meanings to the ancient Israelites, but have mostly fallen into the dustbin of history in the modern day. Yeah, it's the problem we've run into before in the sections where TurboJesus is talking about bringing justice to Bozrah, which was, at one point, an actual city in the ancient world, but in the modern world, modern historians have no idea where it actually was. Like I said, it would make as much sense if they had TurboJesus walk around, babbling about bringing justice to Tenochtitlan.
Of course, Ray-Ray is still thinking (he doesn't bother to say it out loud), "Okay, so why all this talk about sacrifices? I thought the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross, was that we no longer had to perform sacrifices to earn God's favor."
Luckily for Ray-Ray, TurboJesus has an explanation at the end of the chapter that explains everything and by explains everything, I really mean, "Is a bunch of Bible-sounding gibberish that sounds like it was crafted to make things as clear as mud."
The Lord said, “The sacrifices My Father required long ago were but a shadow of these good things to come. These same sacrifices, which My chosen ones are to offer continually year by year, cannot make those who approach perfect. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year, just as the celebration of My supper is in remembrance of the price paid of My body and of My blood. The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins. You have been sanctified through the offering of My body once for all. And every priest daily offering repeatedly the same sacrifices can never take away sins. But after I offered one sacrifice for sins forever, I sat down at the right hand of My Father, waiting till My enemies were made My footstool. For by one offering I perfected forever those who are sanctified. My chosen ones must continue to present memorial sacrifices to Me in remembrance of My sacrifice and because they rejected Me for so long.”
I'm trying to be charitable, but I really can't help but assume that when TurboJesus says "my Chosen ones," he's really saying, "those Jewishy Jews." Because Ellanjay's most deepest desire is for the Jews to either abandon their faith and heritage and convert to Christianity, thus ceasing to exist, or they can stubbornly refuse and get pitched into hellfire for all eternity. Yet for some reason, people call Ellanjay anti-Semitic.
Or in other words, I have no great difficulty believing that Ellanjay's version of Jesus would let everyone but the Jews off the hook with the sacrifices. Have no problem believing that Ellanjay would feel that the Jews deserve to have the lesson rubbed in and would feel the sacrifices bit would work. Again, I suppose we should be grateful that the Jews in Left Behind weren't even more stereotypically Jewish. Ellanjay could have had them begin all sentences with "Oy Vey!" or all questions with "You Want?" Like have a character be like, "You want to torture us some more? Oy vey, again with all the torturing."
But then again, ever since Arynne made this comment on one of my posts...Well maybe I should post the comment first, then my ramblings.
From what I can tell, LaJenkins get around the mixed message in the "sheep and goats" judgment by making "my sisters and brothers" specifically refer to the Jewish people. Hence why all the scenes of our protagonists rescuing Jewish prisoners from the Global Community--that fulfills their obligation, so they're golden and don't have to do anything else.
Ever since that comment, I find myself wondering if LB characters do a dick check before rescuing anyone. Be like, "Yep, this one was circumcised. Therefore, we have to rescue and proselytize him." Yeah, I know for a while circumcision was performed on all babies, regardless of the parents' religious beliefs, and people have had circumcisions for health reasons. I focused on the circumcision part because it amuses me (because I'm a drooling pervert), the idea that the Tribbles spend a lot of time looking at other guys' dicks, but also because they keep saying "Character X is Jewish," and I'm like, "How can you tell?" It's not like all Jews walk around with a Scarlet "J" painted on their foreheads. Though wait, given the way Ellanjay write Jewish characters, I just assume that said character is sporting sidelocks, eating a bagel (smeared with lox), wearing a kippah, and shouting, "Oy vey!" at various intervals.
Though I'm going to stick with my circumcision theory, because again, I'm a pervert, and because it amuses me, picturing conversations like this going down, off-page:
Heathen in Peril: Save Me!
Tribble: Do you still have your foreskin?
HiP: Why the hell does that matter?
Just remember, despite having more chemistry with each other than they ever do with their Designated Love Interests, Ray-Ray and Cam-Cam are most definitely not Gay. Even if they are oddly obsessed with looking at other dudes' dicks, they are not at all Gay. And they enjoy films with gladiators because it gives them a look at life in Ancient Rome.
And that's it. Yeah, I know, I talked way too much. But hey, like I said, this is my soapbox and I damn well am going to use it.
*With the exception of awards for Children and Young Adult fiction, I've learned that with adult fiction, "award-winning" is code for "never-ending, depressive slog of navel-gazing that goes nowhere, but sounds smart and pretty, so we gave it an award. Because sounding deep means something is deep."
**I still find Jack Chick to be a valuable source of information as to the ideas being discussed on the Christian Right. The Christian Right may try to distance themselves from him, because Chick is virulently anti-Catholic and, like I said, the Right has formed an uneasy alliance with the Catholics and they don't particularly like throwbacks like Chick reminding everyone of what they actually believe. Because the Christian Right clothes their bigotry and uses the proper dogwhistles, but Jack Chick doesn't understand the need for diplomacy and numbers, and just flat-out says what he believes, in his deluded mind, to be true.