Sunday, September 25, 2016

Greater to Have the Power, But Not Use It (Chapter Five, Part II)

As promised, here's the second half of the chapter. I don't know if this will become a thing, splitting chapters, but hey, it's my blog; I can do what I want, including make nothing but frothing rants about that one movie I hate so very much, even though I've made so many (complete with colorful threats about what I want to do to its director), that I'm probably already on some kind of watchlist as is.

Well, first of all, sorry but we have another week of creepy sex stuff to look forward to. I know, I know, as a drooling pervert who cut her writing teeth on fanfiction, I'm more than capable of reading innuendo where there isn't any, but I still feel like all this is on Ellanjay. :shakes head: Again, it keeps being about sex with them.

Second of all, I know I've linked to ako's fixfic"Children of the Goats" many times. I will probably do so again in the future and I can't say I feel too ashamed of myself for doing so. Because in this week's selection, we get our first talk about The Other Light rebellion (henceforth referred to as TOL). I'm a firm believer in "Compare and Contrast" when it comes to art, where you talk about good art and bad art, by comparing two different stories, both of whom had similar goals, only one succeeded, while the other failed miserably. It's an often interesting tactic, enabling you to point out how and why something succeeded or failed.

Heck, I have to admit: it often makes it easier for me to talk about good art. Because the trouble with good art is that you really can't say anything except that it's good. When something's bad, there are so many ways it can be bad, so many ways of going to town on that sucker, but when something's good, it just works. Even the parts that are a little cliché are somehow endearing, lovable in a weird way.

Superman I and Superman II are good movies, but I freely admit that they have their flaws. Be nice if we could get a decent, threatening version of Lex Luthor, have him be as magnificent a bastard as he is in the DC Animated Universe, and don't get me started on the damn Amnesia kiss! Such a cop-out!

But for all its flaws, Christopher Reeves does do a damn good job of playing Superman. Because for all his alien powers, deep down, Superman really is the aw-shucks All-American farmboy. All this stuff about Truth, Justice, and the American Way is admittedly corny and cheesy as hell, but the thing is, Superman really believes in that stuff and on the whole, they're not entirely bad things to believe in. Christopher Reeves pulled it off, managing to embody both Superman the nigh-invulnerable alien from another world, while also being Clark Kent, the nebbish reporter from Kansas. Plus the people involved knew if you make the tagline of your movie "You'll believe a man can fly," you'd better deliver, and by God, they did.

In other words, I'm giving my readers homework: at some point, read ako's "Children of the Goats" and note the many ways it succeeds, while Ellanjay's stuff is pure fail.

All right, I'll get to the actual content and I'll try to keep the pervy laughter and "That's what she saids" down to a minimum, but I make no guarantees.

This half of the chapter is told from the perspective of Raymie Steele. Yeah, I like everyone else, continue to wonder why he is nicknamed Raymie. Wasn't he named after Rayford, thus making his full name, Rayford, Jr.? Yeah, we can talk about how much it would suck, how being Rayford, Jr., would be even worse than being just plain Rayford, but I'm still like, you couldn't have called him "Rafe" or "Rafie" or something that would make a little more sense from a linguistics perspective than Raymie? Yeah, I'm just going to assume that the Raymie nickname, was a passive-aggressive insult from Saintly Irene. Because again, the culture Irene's in, divides women into Madonnas or Whores and she lacks the backbone needed to overtly express her opinion of that kind of thinking, so...let's just say poor Raymie and leave it at that.

Raymie Steele knew that had it not been for the Rapture, he would have been long since dead. He had been twelve years old when Jesus shouted from the clouds and the trumpet sounded and he and his mother disappeared from their beds in the twinkling of an eye. He would have been nineteen at the Glorious Appearing, but his glorified body made him look more like a man in his midtwenties, and there he had stayed despite having now lived for 112 years.

So yeah, that ought to help make everything as clear as mud for everyone. Though once again, I suffer hemorrhages trying to figure out how all this is supposed to work. Because the whole point of the MK is that even though they see and talk with Zod and TurboJesus on a daily basis, the COT still have to develop the ability to believe in Zod and TurboJesus then say The Prayer some time before their 100th birthday.

But I wonder if the same is true of the kids who were under the "You Must Be This Tall to Burn" line at the time of the Rapture. Yeah, they get the glorified bodies of the Raptured types, but do they still have to at some point, say The Prayer? Can they fall away and lose their Super Special Awesome Salvation? I know, there are so many plot holes with that, but given what we're reading, like I said last week, the word, plot holes, feels somewhat inaccurate. Because probably all good stories will have at least one niggling detail that just doesn't add up. Like in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, apparently when they built that bathroom, no one noticed a gigantic death snake.

But most of the time, the rest of the stuff in the story works well enough that you're willing to overlook the stuff that doesn't. To borrow from an earlier example, we can point out so many issues with Superman flying around the world to reverse time and save Lois in Superman I, but there's still enough cinematic magic that I'm willing to let it slide. But there is nothing in these books that works. These books aren't a badly done patchwork quilt where the fabric's ugly and you can see all the seams; this is a patchwork quilt that's basically nothing but gigantic moth holes with a few bits and pieces of fabric that itch and smell like moldy cheese spaced in at random intervals.

Raymie reflects on his childhood.

He retained a crisp memory of his childhood despite the intervening aeon. Simple, believing, trusting, naïve— that’s how he would have described his prepubescent self. He loved his family, adored his mother, and worried about and prayed for his father and sister. How he rejoiced with the angels when Rayford and Chloe Steele became believers.

Yeah, Raymie's generic childhood with no discernible details sounds idyllic. You couldn't do something like have Raymie reflect on how he loved watching cartoons with superheroes and would run around the playground, pretending his sweater was a cape, as he played with his friends? Talk about riding his bike until the streetlights came on and he stumbled home with fresh scrapes, bruises, and grass stains? Yeah, I know you can make a case that the stuff I suggested is generic, but come on, I was still putting forth some effort!

Though I suppose it's too much to expect specific details given that in the previous selection, Cam-Cam's eulogy will either be "SHE'S A SINFUL SINFUL HARLOT GETTING A HOT POKER SHOVED UP HER ASS AS WE SPEAK!" or "She was an upright primate, who regularly inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide, and and performed services in exchange for currency" or probably an incoherent combination of the two, with added weaseliness.

Oh and here's more world-building details for Ellanjay to state than promptly ignore, and me to go insane trying to make sense of them.

People aged slowly and time seemed to pass quickly. Things he hadn’t given much thought to as a child— war, pestilence, disease, violence, crime— were virtually nonexistent, and he realized that this largely accounted for the longevity of the population. He had to chuckle. That and the promise of almighty God.

Of course when Raymie says "People aged slowly," I'm assuming he really means "All those lucky enough to get martyred or raptured," because need I remind you about what his pappy's going to go through? Pro Tip: if you're going to ask for immortality, make sure to get eternal youth as well. In fact, before making any deals with a spirit or genie or monkey's paw or whatever, get a lawyer to hammer things out so you don't get screwed. Though really, why would you make deals with a monkey's paw in the first place? From what I can tell, things didn't work out so well for the monkey.

Though all that stuff about how Raymie never gave any thought to war, pestilence, disease, violence, or crime...yeah, I'm laughing and laughing bitterly. I realize that as an anxious child who blossomed to become an anxiety-ridden adult, I'm probably not the default, but I have a general suspicion of anybody who remembers childhood as an idyllic time. Just as if you remember the sixties, you weren't really there, if you remember childhood as an idyllic time, you were never really a child.

Because Internet didn't really come along until I was around the 4th or 5th grade and social media didn't take off until I was in college, but here's a shocker, we did have other ways of getting the news. Being a kid didn't mean we were incapable of overhearing something on the news that frightened us, or hearing something from someone else's parents or a kid down the block. And hearing about that stuff was, at times, pretty damn frightening. You're completely at the mercy of the adults in your life and it can be absolutely terrifying, when you find out that they don't know anymore than you do about what the heck is going on.

I will say that as much as it sucks being an adult, there are some perks. Don't have to get up everyday and be surrounded by sociopaths who hate me. If I go back to school and I don't like it or get a job that I hate, no one can actually make me go. I can quit and walk away. I may face unpleasant consequences for doing so, but knowing I can walk away, is a helluva lot better than, again, being completely at the mercy of people who may not have your best interests at heart.

So yeah, I really like people like Mr. Rogers. He was smart enough to know that kids often have to deal with stuff scares that crap out of adults, never mind those in single digits. Around the time of the first Gulf War, he made a point of, during one of his shows, reassuring kids that in spite of all the scary stories they were hearing, no matter how bad things got, people will be there to look after them and protect them. He died in 2003, but lived long enough to do a 9/11 message as well. Why am I doing all the links? BECAUSE IF I'M GOING TO SPEND THE REST OF THE DAY, BEING A SOBBING EMOTIONAL WRECK, SO WILL ALL OF YOU!

Though seriously, I've devoted many hours to trying to work out the afterlife. About the one thing I've settled on, is that any Heaven that won't let in Mr. Rogers, isn't a Heaven worth going to. So much about growing up is discovering that the stuff you loved as a kid, was freaking terrible or that your heroes weren't who they said they were. Except for Mr. Rogers, who was exactly as he presented himself, a class act all the way. :sobs some more:

All right, I'll get back to being all hateful and sarcastic.

When I brought up the whole "Children and zygotes being rapidly aged into adulthood without going through any of the stuff in between," Firedrake suggested the possibility of Zod using his powers over time and space so they can go through all that stuff and gain the experiences of growing up. It would make sense, seeing as Zod is supposed to be all-powerful, so he could probably do some wibbly-wobbly time stuff and it would be much less creepier than him stamping on a basic personality template onto a fertilized egg that never implanted on the Uterine wall. But that would involve actual imagination, so of course, they went with the creepy option.

How bizarre it had been to enjoy long, rambling, interesting conversations with his parents. He had gone from an obedient, sometimes challenging— especially to his irresponsible, promise-breaking father— youngster to an adult overnight, and most striking was that he suddenly enjoyed an adult’s intellect as well. It had been new to him to realize that practically every subject of discussion had intricate layers of meaning, things that had to be examined and ferreted out in order to understand.

Yeah, because there's nothing more enjoyable than hearing Rayford talk about how he was wearing an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time.

Nice passive-aggressive slam at your father in there, Raymie. Though since the RTC subculture prizes obedience above all virtues, you'd think that Rayford would be okay with having an obedient kid. Though this motif of disappointing father-son relationships keeps coming up in Jerry Jenkins's work. Because Shitstain Stepola also had daddy issues. To be fair, Papa Stepola was a horrible person, probably every bit as horrible as his kid, but he was mercifully dead at the beginning of the Shitstain Trilogy, so we didn't have to deal with him.

But between all this and the Right's general obsession with domination and manliness, how many problems could we solve if we bought Jerry Jenkins and every rightwing pundit/politician a gigolo, so they can finally be dominated by the big, studly male they've always dreamed of, and the rest of us can get a government that does something besides fellate rich people and kill brown people.

I know, I'm being mean and creepy. But given how much contempt they express for women, can you really say I'm not being honest? Just remember, no matter how much contempt they express for women, no matter how desperate they are to assert that they are the most manliest men around and are totally manly, they most definitely aren't Gay, even if they do express way more of an interest/attraction to guys than they ever do to women. They only watch all those gladiator movies to get a look at life in Ancient Rome and all that gay porn is just to remind them that they are 100% heterosexual and definitely not Gay. I don't know why you'd think otherwise.

Raymie's been helping out at Cam-Cam and Chloe's Daycare. And we get more proof that Ellanjay haven't been around children for any longer than a photo op.

Because these kids showed up as blank slates and the only convert prospects in the world, Raymie considered his work as important as any in the kingdom. Nothing gave him greater joy than explaining to children old enough to understand that despite being born and raised in homes of believers and in a society where every adult was a follower of Christ, still they had to come to faith in Jesus on their own and for themselves.

Yeah, the blank slates bit...not so much. We're still debating the Nature/Nurture issue when it comes to shaping human behavior. At this point, the response is mostly a shrug, after which we say, "A little from Column A and a little from Column B?" Because there are studies that do prove the power of genes, studies where identical twins separated at birth and raised in different families, still display freaky similarities. Oscar Stohr and Jack Yufe were born and separated in 1930s Europe. Stohr grew up in Germany and joined Hitler's Youth, but Yufe was raised Jewish and eventually moved to Israel. Yet despite very different environments, when they met in their fifties, they discovered they had similar speech/thought patterns, liked most of the same foods, and had some of the same peculiarities like flushing the toilet before using it.

But at the same time, can't overlook the power of environment as well. There's a reason, when you hear about criminals that a lot of times, when you hear about what their upbringing was like, you're not too surprised they wound up where they did in life. There will probably be a few surprises, here and there, but the type who repeatedly run into trouble with the law, tend not to have been raised by June and Ward Cleaver. About the best way I can sum up the controversy is an analogy I heard somewhere: if you put a germ in a specific culture, it will grow. Or if someone comes into the world under bad circumstances, if they are raised in a caring, supportive environment, their poor traits won't affect them as much. They will have adults to help give them the tools to deal with whatever limitations they have.

In fact for all the racist, classist wargle-bargle over the Crack Epidemic of the 80s, most of the problems facing babies born to crack-addicted mothers stemmed more from poverty than they do from their mothers' use of Crack. No one's saying, "Crack should be part of every pregnant woman's diet," but most of the problems are more a result of lack of decent healthcare/nutrition than the drugs. Most of these kids, when placed in a proper environment and given proper therapy/treatments to address whatever issues they may have, don't turn out that appreciably different from other kids. And of course, treating children as irrevocably damaged because of who their parents were or because they're not acting like "college material" at age five, tends to make matters worse, not better.

Plus, while there's been a 93-year time jump, I feel a need to remind everyone that the oldest these children were, at the Glorious Appearing, was around seven and if you don't think seven and under children display personalities...again, I'm laughing and laughing bitterly.

Those of you who feel I haven't made enough comments about creepy sex stuff, don't worry: Ellanjay as always, deliver on that front.

In his dwelling, not far from where his parents frequently returned from their efforts in Indonesia, Raymie portrayed on his walls photos of the hundreds of children he had prayed with as they trusted Christ for salvation over the years. He thought about also pinning up his prime targets, but he needn’t be reminded of them. God kept them at the forefront of his mind daily.

While Raymie wondered what a normal life might have been like, with dating and love and marriage and parenthood, he found it convenient to not be distracted by such things while immersed in a life of service to Christ. As he prayed for the children under his charge, the Lord gave him the assurance that his efforts would nearly always be successful.

Given that they're talking about kids under seven (at least they were before the 93 year jump, and even after, they're still considered children), which is way too young to even qualify as statutory, I'm just going to taze myself repeatedly before I say anything else.

I could provide so many very uncomfortable, depressing links, about all the horrible stuff that happens when you get the toxic mixture of Religion and Power, combined with a loathing for desires of the flesh. But I'm feeling merciful and I won't. Just that it does seem to happen more among authoritarian denominations, where the priest or preacher or whatever, is regarded as God's representative on Earth, so the obvious message is that it's your fault for being such a seductive eleven-year-old!

And dammit! I swore I wouldn't provide depressing as hell links. In my defense, it's to a Slacktivist post, not an actual news article. Does that count in my favor a little? Oh, all right, I'll provide a Simpsons clip as a breather for everyone.

But really, Ellanjay aren't helping the creepiness factor, especially with the next paragraph:

While Raymie wondered what a normal life might have been like, with dating and love and marriage and parenthood, he found it convenient to not be distracted by such things while immersed in a life of service to Christ. As he prayed for the children under his charge, the Lord gave him the assurance that his efforts would nearly always be successful.

Bad Mouse! No posting links to the short story "The Screwfly Solution" by James Tiptree, Jr! You've posted enough depressing links, even if it's true that Ellanjay probably would be enthusiastic Sons of Adam, should that plague in the story come to pass. Yeah, I'm going to post Hulk smashing the crap out of Loki to take the edge off. I'll totally understand if y'all are envisioning me as Loki in this scenario, even if someone as neurotic as me could never deliver a line about, "how I am burdened with glorious purpose." and pull it off.

But Raymie is sad after the death of Cendrillon. The book is kind of enough to state this upfront, because Ellanjay believe that their audience consists of total morons who wouldn't figure it out otherwise.

Raymie was sad. He was shaken. He had been duped by a girl not much younger than he. And he knew the reason all too well. Nothing was automatic; nothing was guaranteed. While Satan was bound and thus could not tempt people to sin, could not fill their hearts with doubt and fear and questions, clearly the other two legs of the three-legged stool of evil— the world, the flesh, and the devil— were enough to lead one astray.

I admit that at first, the two legs of the three-legged stool of evil line confused me, especially when they proceeded to list three things--the world, the flesh, and the devil--even after saying that Satan was locked up and couldn't tempt people to sin. I was an English major who broke down in hysterical tears when faced with any math beyond the basics, but I'm fairly certain that "the world, the flesh, and the devil," is a list consisting of three things, not two.

But my view of the devil more lines up with Hobbes in this Calvin and Hobbes strip, so I probably can't be trusted. Just that a lot of people, myself included, manage to do a good enough job screwing up our own lives, without adding guys with horns and hooves to the mix.

Raymie meets up with Bahira and tell me he's not (off-page, of course) secretly copping a feel.

He embraced her, and she wept on his shoulder. Raymie had not seen tears since before the Rapture. It felt strange to console a vibrant woman whose usual countenance was one of sheer joy. Bahira had a chiseled face, gleaming teeth, and huge dark eyes normally full of wonder and humor. Raymie led her to a rock, where they sat.

Wait in all the some 93-years you guys have wandered around the MK, he hasn't crossed paths with someone he considered a childhood friend. In addition to being a creepy perv, Raymie also is a terrible friend.

Though that last bit...oh they are trying so hard to give a description, one that can't possibly be construed into any kind of sexual light by perverts such as myself. But by talking about her chiseled face, her teeth, and dark eyes...somehow it winds up being creepier than if had Raymie rhapsodize about Bahira's huge tracts of land.

Bahira and Raymie talk about how sad they are, though how it probably wasn't shocking to God, culminating in this paragraph, which in light of all my talk earlier about how religion winds up making abuse all the more worse, because it brings God in on air support to provide the killing blow...

She shrugged. “But still it must grieve Him. You know, I have only distant memories of fear and sadness from when my father turned hateful toward my mother because of her faith. Zaki and I worried and hid and cried and prayed. It was way too much for people our age. And then, like you and your mother, we were all suddenly in heaven and soon rejoicing at our father’s conversion. Our reunion with him at the Glorious Appearing remains one of my favorite memories. I tell you all that to say how foreign are the emotions I suffer now.”

There aren't really any words to say except, "Holy Fuck." I'm reminded of an anecdote I read in a book years ago, where someone talked about how an abused wife who sought counsel from her pastor, was told to kneel like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as her husband beat her, in order to shame him with her humility. Now, we've got confirmation that Ellanjay feel the same way.

Because if Bahira's mother had decided to leave in order to protect herself and her children (even if they're not being abused, physically or verbally, they're still being damaged, growing up in a household with an abusive a-hole), her actions would be an affront to the sanctity of marriage and to God. She needs to stay and suffer her husband's abuses and in doing so, allow her children to be suffer and be martyrs as well. Yeah, I'm going to post a link I've previously posted on my blog: Abusers aren't out of control; they know exactly what they're doing. A good thing to remember: bad cop's not out of control and the good cop's not your friend.

So they talk more about Cendrillon.

Bahira nodded and moved to the brook, where she knelt and cupped her hands to capture a drink. “She had always been mischievous and a kidder, but she was so involved in all our ministries that I thought I knew her heart. She sang; she told stories; she was wonderful with the little ones, playing with them, looking after them. I had no reason to believe she was not one of us.”

We've been through this before and we're going to keep going through this, again and again, but if it is that easy to fake being good, enough that the so-called good people won't be able to figure you out, then what does it even mean to be good in Ellanjay's world? Oh yeah, they said The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded. You can be a thoroughly evil bastard who kicks puppies, steals crutches from crippled war heroes, and pushes old ladies down flights of stairs, so long as you've said The Prayer. If you have, you're free and clear. If not...Screw it, I'm going to add Cendrillon to my League of Awesome head canon, just because I can. She took some herb that makes her appear dead, but as soon as it wears off, she's running off to join the League. Again, she had to fake her death because the Tribbles would never leave her alone unless they thought she was safely damned. Maybe there are tons of plot holes in this head canon, but screw it. It's my head canon and I'm sticking with it!

Bahira talks about some of the shocking things Cendrillon had said, like wishing, for one night, she had pagan parents, and wanting to go to France and Turkey to see the nightlife there. A young person squabbling with their parents and wanting to have fun! Such a thing has never existed in all the years of human history. Truly, Cendrillon really was a hardened reprobate!

Raymie talks about The Other Light.

“They are true, Bahira. My dad checked it out. It basically consists of kids in their eighties and nineties who crow about having not yet become followers of Christ. They call themselves the Other Light and say their study of the ancient Scriptures makes them fans of Lucifer and not Jesus.”

“But they’re just doing this for attention, aren’t they? Jesus lives beyond the Scriptures. He’s the Living Word. Surely they can’t claim not to believe in a God who has again limited Himself to human form and lives and reigns among us.”

“Dad says they seem for real. Yes, it may be for attention, and perhaps they know better and are planning to change their minds and their courses in time to avoid death at one hundred. I’m surprised the Lord doesn’t squash them like bugs.”

When even your own characters are pointing out how this makes no goddanged sense, YOU'VE FAILED, ELLANJAY! Because like I've said before, when the rebellion starts, the weaksauce strawman arguments are like this book is set in our world, unlike the world of the characters where they see and talk to TurboJesus, Zod, and all the other great biblical characters on a daily basis (though not Jael. Never Jael). Like I keep harping, over and over, it's not the existence of God that the heathens would question. They saw locusts with people faces and so many freaky supernatural events that would give Richard Dawkins pause. What they would question, is the nature of said God.

Because most of us are compassionate humans who don't believe that Might Makes Right and that those on top, don't have the right to treat those below however they want, by virtue of their "higher" status. In fact, as a general rule, we tend to feel that those who have power, should also use it responsibly and heck, sometimes we find it heroic, when they don't utilize their full power to their advantage.

Because, to keep using the Superman example, the Man of Steel is well-aware of his powers, well-aware that he could snap Lex's neck like a twig and establish peace and prosperity by being humanity's super-powered dictator, and that there would be very little anyone could do to stop him. But he doesn't, because for all his alien powers, Superman doesn't see himself as better than or above humans. Superman gets his DNA and the powers that come with it from his alien parents, but his moral code and all the stuff we love about him, comes from a pair of Kansas Farmers. From what I heard, John Byrne is a horse's ass personality-wise, but in his landmark rewrite of Superman, called Man of Steel, he knew what he was doing.

Though if you're wondering, of all the stuff in that movie I hate so much, Pa Kent the Sociopath pisses me off more than the Break-Neck Ending. Seriously, DC, get the guys involved with the DCAU to do your movies. They know how to write heroes, while at the same time, talking intelligently about issues most kids' cartoons won't even handle. The Cadmus Arc in Justice League Unlimited alone, proves it. This moment alone proves it. Even if you don't know the full context, it's still emotionally involving and even if you do, no matter how many times I've seen it, it's still an emotional sucker-punch.

“His mercy is everlasting,” Bahira said quietly. “I know that sounds like a cliché, but He promised longevity, and Jehovah will not judge them as accursed until they reach that age. What did your dad say? Did he see them? hear them?”

“Oh yes. He says they have left the homes of their parents— who grieve them noisily and cry out in pain for others to pray for their children— and have begun enterprises that must be a stench in the Lord’s nostrils. Brothels, nightclubs, black markets.”

And of course, they had to say something that's got me taking about the world-building, trying to figure out how this whole death thing is supposed to work. Because Cam-Cam's words seemed to imply that accidental death was still a problem, yet Bahira's dialogue seems to imply, again, like I keep saying that a COT can't die until they're one hundred years old, so they could live a life of sin and debauchery, and be in the clear, so long as they say The Prayer the night before their 100th birthday. I'm going to go to jabbering madness trying to work this out, aren't I?

Though all the stuff Raymie lists? Yeah, if I was a character in this series, I'd ask him to define those words, just for my own amusement.

Because I freely admit that I'm not crazy about the sex trade, but at the same time, if we're talking Nevada-style legalized brothels, I don't see too much of a problem, if everyone involved consents to all of it. In fact, many have made a convincing case that making prostitution illegal, only serves to worsen the problems of the sex trade--abuse, trafficked children, etc.--by driving everybody into the shadows, rather than legalizing and regulating the hell out of it, so the government has a better idea of what's going on and if people are being abused, it's easier to get them to come forward and surprise, surprise, it's easier to prosecute someone for abuse when you've clearly defined what is and isn't abuse, rather than sticking your head in the sand and pretending that there's no such thing as abuse. Crime will still occur, because we're not yet living in a Shangri-La, but not at the rate it used to, because it turns out that pretending a problem doesn't exist and not talking about it, is actually a very bad problem-solving strategy.

And nightclubs? Of course, Ellanjay would be like, "Dim lighting? Music and dancing! And people having fun! The level of Orthodox is most definitely at Un!"

Though black markets...I suppose it would be worrying if they were talking about Black Markets in our world, which often involve drugs, guns, and sex (and Ellanjay are opposed to two of those things. No points for guessing which ones), this would be worrying. But given that Ellanjay are basically a mixture of the Church Lady from SNL*, Mandy Moore's character from Saved!, and John Lithgow from Footloose, I'm really wondering what would be at these black markets. "Oh my god, they're buying Rock and/or Roll, and not Christian™ Rock and Roll! And I just saw someone pick up paperbacks where the characters go through very real suffering, which causes them to act out in bad ways, and they are not immediately punished! In fact, several of these books/DVDs are basically saying that life is often filled with pain and suffering and sometimes, there are no easy answers! The heresy!" :cue sounds of them fainting at the thought of people reading or watching stuff that while teaching many good morals about bravery and friendship, they don't have TurboJesus and Zod on every page:

Bahira's like "What penalties have the judges passed?"

“Penalties have been handed down. Both France and Turkey have had to reestablish law enforcement agencies and even jails and prisons. But all this has seemed to accomplish is to make these infidels more attractive to other young people. Even with the evil one neutralized for now, the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

So it turns out that driving human impulses like sex and drugs underground and refusing to acknowledge their existence and punishing those who slip up and get caught, does not, in fact solve the problems associated with said vices.

Yeah, RTCs, rape, abuse, and homosexuality all existed before Roe v. Wade. The difference was, people didn't talk about it, because if they did, they could kiss any hope of living a normal, comfortable life, goodbye. So they suffered in silence, lashing out in ways society considered more acceptable, like heavy drinking or smoking, or abusing their kids. Or they pursued anonymous hookups on the side, which we all know is so much safer than a committed relationship with someone you love and care about. There certainly wasn't any strain that would cause someone to snap and kill themselves over, because they couldn't take it anymore.

Bahira and Raymie do some more whining about how can anyone love fun, more than God, for a while. In my head canon, this is the part where Jael shows up to start driving tent spikes into their heads.

Those of you who think I'm joking? Welcome to the blog and I cite the closing conversation to back up my point.

“Again, Raymie, I hoped she was teasing, but I soon realized she was not. She pleaded with me to go with her to check it out. It would be our secret, and her cousins wouldn’t tell. We wouldn’t have to do anything, she said. Just watch and imagine, pretend our parents weren’t followers of Christ. I reminded her, ‘Cendrillon, I was raptured. I came from heaven. I am more than a follower of Christ. I have been redeemed and sealed. I don’t even have the desire to dabble in this.’

“That’s when she turned on me, Raymie. She accused me of being superior, holier-than-thou. I actually apologized. I certainly didn’t want to lord anything over her. I hadn’t been bragging, just explaining why the temporary pleasures of sin had no hold on me. She said, ‘They don’t have a hold on me either. I just want to see what I’m missing.’ Well, I guess she knows now.”

“Excuse me,” Raymie said, turning away to get a message from his father. When he turned back, he told Bahira of the plan for the three men to visit Cendrillon’s parents. “Should I tell my father what you told me?”

Bahira nodded. “Never fear the truth. The Jospins may not want to hear it, but they must be told. Her funeral can be a warning that saves countless lives.”

As they walked back to their dwellings, Raymie said, “I don’t envy the men this task. How would you like to have to tell parents such truth about their child?”

Again, if you have to emphasize that you weren't doing something, ESPECIALLY if that something is bragging, THEN YOU TOTALLY WERE!

And frankly, I would rather more people sin like Cendrillon, sin because they were desperately reaching and trying to experience something greater than themselves, rather than sin like Bahira and Raymie, where they stay out of trouble, only because they have defined being good not as something you actually do, but as what you don't do. Cendrillon may have chased after a false idol, but she didn't take bits and pieces of a real idol, carve away all the important stuff that actually matters, and replace its innards with her own moral priggishness. It's like Susan B. Anthony said, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires." Or as Anne Lamott's friend put it, "You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."


:deep breath:

That's it for this week. Sorry about all this dark stuff, regarding sex and abuse. I wish I could promise that we'll eventually get off the subject, but I doubt we will. Pick your poison of choice as comfort.

*Didn't find a good Church Lady clip. Sorry. I know I failed.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why Can't I Stop Talking About Creepy Sex Stuff?! (Chapter Five, Part I)

All right, I'm here. I suppose I should have done something last week, but like I said, you need to rest after a good snark. Anyway, I'm here now. Let's get this show on the road.

Well, we begin with, like I said, a 93-year time jump.

BACK FROM Indonesia for a week, Rayford sat in a rocking chair on the rear deck of Tsion Ben-Judah’s tidy estate in northern Israel. “I had always wondered what that prophecy meant, about God’s people moving about with walking sticks by the end of the millennial kingdom. But I’m over 140 years old now, and I’m beginning to feel it.”

The back from Indonesia bit threw me at first. I suppose though, it's possible that Ray-Ray could have spent 93 years, doing whatever vague thing he'd planned to do in Indonesia. We should really think God or somebody that given Ellanjay's avarice and love of padding, they decided to do a timeskip and not spend God-only-knows-how many chapters with Ray-Ray doing stuff in Indonesia. It's a small favor, but experience has taught me to be grateful for those.

Though again, the bit about how Rayford will continue to age while the Raptured and Martyred get to enjoy brand, spankin' new awesome bodies for all many images of body horror going through my mind right now. I'm like, "Hey Rayford, ever read up on Tithonus? Oh yeah, you probably find it torturous enough to read an article in TV Guide. Well, then this will all be new to you."

For the record, I totally believe that in Ellanjay's world, TV Guide magazine is still a thing. Given how badly they do at predicting the future, I have little if any doubts that they didn't foresee TVs with built-in channel guides.

Token Jew, well aware that his primary duties in the LB-verse is to kiss Ray-Ray and Cam-Cam's asses, immediately lays on the flattery.

“Oh, go on!” Tsion said. “A man is still a child at one hundred here, so you’re just a young teen.”

“I’m telling you, I’m not the man I once was. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like for me hundreds of years from now.”

“Look at Dr. Rosenzweig, Rayford. He’s twenty-five years older than you.”

“And you, Tsion, with your glorified body. You look younger than ever. Irene looks like she’s stuck at thirty-five and Raymie at twenty-five.”

“Well, we had our chances at glorified bodies, didn’t we?”

This exchange would be funny and charming if Ellanjay were, indeed, trying to poke fun at Ray-Ray's clownish vanity, but the problem we keep running into is, as Fred points out in one of my all-time favorite Nicolae posts, "What Would Rayford Do? (Do the Opposite)" But the problem is, like Fred said, we can't read all these scenes as some kind of deconstruction or satire of Rayford's pomposity, because the writers' themselves, are as wrapped in delusion as their protagonist. If they weren't, it might actually work. Seinfeld was a show about horrible people, yet everyone involved knew these characters were horrible people, and went with it, so it worked. Whereas Everybody Loves Raymond is a cast made up of horrible people, but the people involved with the show seem to genuinely believe that their characters are good, charming people, making it so I can't spend five minutes watching it without thinking, "Y'know, maybe people underestimate the value of a nuclear holocaust. Yeah, we may be struggling to survive in a hellish landscape and have a greater likelihood of dying of cancer or all kinds of preventable illnesses afterwards, but at least, we won't have to put up with this show anymore."

Though I'm raising an eyebrow here. I thought the magical age for Raptured and Martyred people was thirty-two and that they would look that age for all eternity. How exactly does it work out that Raymie looks twenty-five, but his mother looks thirty-five? Though while Raymie is a kid and thus is lower on the RTC hierarchy, he does possess the all-important penis, which may place him above his own mother. So Raymie gets to look more youthful. But again, everyone's beneath Ray-Ray and Cam-Cam. That's the one constant.

Token Jew asks Ray-Ray about how is work is going.

“We’re almost finished, Tsion. The Lord put us together with some of the brightest minds I’ve ever worked with, and because we’re in charge, we haven’t had to do much but equip them, encourage them, and let them go.”

“I hear wonderful reports out of Indonesia. Their technology rivals that of any nation, and you must take credit for that.”

Ever hear of Jakarta, as in the capitol city of Indonesia? Well, I feel a need to provide a link, showing that Jakarta looks like this. Indonesia isn't some backwater hole-in-the-mud nation; it's the fourth most populous nation on Earth. I also feel a need to reiterate a point I made last week: Indonesia, not any of those scary places in the Middle East, has the largest population of Muslims of any nation on Earth. If the problem really was Islam, wouldn't whatever was happening in Indonesia make the Middle East look like Switzerland in comparison? Yet the problems Indonesia is having, have more to do with the kinds of problems facing any first-world nation (population growth, lack of resources, etc.) than they do with terrorism.

Yeah, I like to bring up those facts every time some idiot rants about how all Muslims are terrorists. It's my hobby horse and I do like to ride it. That and Muslims make up 23% the world's population or roughly 1.6 billion out of a total population of 7 billion, so maybe you should really think long and hard, before calling for a genocide. Granted you probably shouldn't long for genocide even if a population doesn't have those numbers, but still.

Oh and given that this is literally Heaven on Earth, I've gotta wonder why only Indonesia has this vague, amazing technology that Ray-Ray's invented? Yeah, I know--Ray-Ray is the greatest, even greater than Zod and TurboJesus--but still. Again, it's supposed to be paradise, where you have an infinite amount of time and resources. So surely someone will have come up with something that would make Starfleet seem cute and quaint by comparison?

Because all those third-world nations...the reason they are underdeveloped isn't because they lack a wise white dude to show them the way; it comes down to resources. And before you look down on them, if you were to switch any third-world adult around with a first-world adult and have them live the others' lives, the first-worlder will struggle a lot more than the third-worlder. Once the third-worlder got over his/her culture shock and got a walkthrough on some stuff, they'd more or less be able to figure things out from there and after a while, their blundering would decrease dramatically. But the first-worlder would find him or herself sorely outmatched by any third-world child, unable to do the basic everyday tasks that the rest of the citizens barely think about. By the end of the month, the third-worlder would have more or less figured stuff out, but the first-worlder would still be pretty hopeless.

And before I get any outraged wails, I'm including myself in the hopeless category as well. As a first-worlder, I know my way around the Internet and how to find anything with a Google search, but physically my upper body strength is terrible, I seldom have to walk more than a few blocks at a time and usually on concrete, and I know little of the basics involved with growing crops and raising livestock. So yeah, I'm not being all sanctimonious; I sure as heck know I would struggle. Though on the technology front, how many first-worlders really have any idea how computers work or the infrastructure involved? If I were to take off the outer covering of a laptop, revealing all the inner parts, then said, "Okay, which part gets you on the Internet," how many would be able to answer that question? Yeah, I know there are a few nerd commenters on this blog, but still. We're talking about average people. I use the Internet every day and only have the vaguest of notions as to how it all works.

Nice, though, how they just say "Technology!" when asked what Ray-Ray's doing in Indonesia, and they don't even bother to try to explain what technology he's developing. Again, it's an impressive show of laziness. Though I have to wonder why Ellanjay chose Indonesia of all countries. Are they really into Komodo Dragons? Or did they get Indonesia mixed up with Thailand and Ray-Ray's technology is actually code for...y'know what, given that a large portion of the prostitutes in Thailand were coerced into the sex trade when they were barely teens, I'm just going to stop, go outside, and flog myself with bricks, and save everyone the trouble. Maybe pour some salt into my wounds for good measure.

All right, I'm done rambling and will move on.

Token Jew and Ray-Ray talk some more, with Rayford displaying the trademark humility he's become known for, by making a big, lavish show of talking about how it's all totally because of Zod. Then Ray-Ray talks about how he's been thinking about Matthew 28:18-20 (okay, he actually says that the Lord had been impressing it on his heart, but it means about the same thing), and from there, he and Token Jew go into a long discussion about evangelism. :whimpers: Yeah that scene in The Princess Bride where Westley gets a year sucked off of his life and all he can do is whimper afterwards? It's a lot like that.

Because really it's just all this back-and-forth blather of "Well should I?" "Yes, you should" "But I don't know. Should I?" "Yes, you should." To keep up with the gratuitous pop culture, it really is a lot like this bit from Linkara's review of Countdown. No points for guessing that my response is pretty much identical to Linkara's bit at the very end.

Though for those of you eagerly awaiting Ho Yay, so far I haven't found any in this week's snark. But there is this line, which just as hilarious out of context as in and makes me feel a little better about my Thailand joke earlier:

“But I don’t feel led to children in other countries.”

“Do you feel led at all? Or is He just bringing that verse to mind for no reason?”

“Surely not. But if I feel a nudge, it’s toward adults.”



Oh, so many responses that can be made, none of them at all appropriate. Though it probably is a good thing to know that Ray-Ray isn't at all led towards children. If he's in Southeast Asia for any reason, it's because he loves the cuisine. :proceeds to laugh uproariously, while simultaneously cringing: Ah, hate-laughing is the best kind of laughing. Somehow the pain just adds a new flavor to it.

Though this is why every writer of Christian Fiction™ could stand to put forth a few pennies to hire an atheist smart aleck or just a juvenile smart aleck like me, to read over their stuff before publication and point out the many different ways certain phrases can be taken out of context. Pro Tip: Never talk about how much time a character spends on their knees and remember that there's something else that's shaped similar to a banana and is angled to fit perfectly in someone's mouth, but it isn't a banana.

God, I wonder what my life was like, before I became a drooling pervert. I'm sure I did a lot less giggling over stupid shit, but could I really say it was more enjoyable?

After all this boring back-and-forth between Token Jew and Ray-Ray, Ray-Ray receives a call from his skull phone. I'm not kidding. Here's how the book describes it.

“Excuse me, Tsion.” Rayford stood and moved away as the cellular implant in his inner ear sounded and Chloe spoke.

Yeah, I'm calling it a skull phone. Though I'm remembering something spiritplumber told me. He somehow managed to get involved in a chat with Jerry Jenkins and ol' Jenkins told him that he considered Left Behind and his shitty trilogy with shitstain Paul Stepola* to be set in the same universe, with the Left Behind series actually being a sequel to The Shitty Trilogy, even though in doing so, he creates so many massive plot holes that...well, in all honesty, it actually feels wrong to call them plot holes. Plot holes imply that the rest of the story makes some kind of coherent sense and isn't just Jerry Jenkins's surrogate character tea-bagging anyone he doesn't like. Yeah, I know it can be more easily summed up as They Just Didn't Care, but I like my frothing rants, dammit! And I'm still bitter that someone told the Tea Party idiots what Tea-Bagging meant. Yeah, they were still bigoted a-holes, but why did you have to take away the unintentional hilarity of White RTCs proudly proclaiming that they're tea-bagging for America?! C'mon, let us have some humor to distract from, y'know, our country's slide into a dystopian hellscape!

Anyway, Chloe is all sad, so Ray-Ray goes to talk to her and we get the shocking reveal of this chapter: a French girl named Cendrillon Jospin has died. Since you only die at 100 because you didn't say The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, that means Cendrillon :gasp: wasn't actually an RTC.

First of all, while I freely admit that the website I got this information from is a little dodgy, it did have a link to a more reputable source, which was written entirely in French, so it could be the entire text of Celebrian for all I know. Anyway, here's the top ten names for baby girls born in France in 2010.

1. Emma
2. Léa
3. Chloé
4. Manon
5. Inès
6. Lola
7. Jade
8. Camille
9. Sarah
10. Louise

Note how none of these names are Cendrillon. In fact, with the exception of Manon or Inès, none are really obviously ethnic. Well, okay, Lola is a little iffy on that front, though I thought Inès was more a Spanish name than a French one. But hey, Europe is a small continent with a lot of countries mushed together. There's the old joke: the difference between a Brit and an American, is that Americans think a hundred years is a long time and Brits think a hundred miles is a long distance.

In fact, another interesting observation is that Emma is listed as the number one name for baby girls in France. And guess what name is currently the It name for baby girls in the US? It's Emma, for those of you who don't know.

But then again, Ellanjay feel that all characters who aren't White, Christian, or American, will have obvious Ethnic McEthnic names. Remember the interlude with the French dude named Jacques Madeleine who I dubbed Foreign McForeign, because there's more honesty and dignity in being called Foreign McForeign? Though maybe it's part of Ellanjay's worldbuilding. Maybe even though they failed to foresee cell phones and Internet and by extension, Internet Porn, they foresee a future where any group that isn't White, Christian, or American, will choose the most obvious ethnic names as a means of asserting their identities, a sort of hopeful future where everyone's all "Say it loud and say it proud! I'm [Insert Identity] here and I'm proud!" Yeah, there's a reason I'm laughing and laughing bitterly at that.

Especially since when Ray-Ray goes to Chloe's house to comfort her, he, Irene, Chloe, Cam-Cam, and Kenny are also there, along with Abdullah and Yasmine Ababneh. Try to guess which ethnicities Abdullah and Yasmine are. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Chloe is all shocked, because she's weak and female, talking about how Cendrillon had led others to the faith. Luckily, Cam-Cam is there to bestow wisdom with his mighty white penis.

“I’m not sure about that anymore, Chloe,” Cameron said. “She taught, yes, and she counseled. And it seemed she was an enthusiastic saint. But as I think back, I can’t say I ever knew of someone coming to Christ specifically through her leading. Can you?”

Okay, so maybe we've been given a few parameters on what makes someone an RTC. It's not just saying The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, like I had so hurtfully stated; it's about how many numbers you rack up for TurboJesus. Which means if you're an introvert with crippling social anxiety like me or just a normal, everyday good person who doesn't like being an Asshole for Christ to random strangers on the street, start tricking out your handbasket because you're most certainly going to Hell. Even though has anyone outside of a Jack Chick tract, actually picked up a tract and decided to become a Christian right on the spot? Maybe we should take a harder look at Jack Chick and his claims.

Though I do feel sorry for the awkward, anxious, phobic kids growing up in this subculture. Because I was an awkward, anxious, phobic kid, but I was fortunate enough not to be raised in the toxic RTC subculture, so I can laugh about it as an adult. I'm thinking of the documentary, Jesus Camp. There's a scene in it where a girl goes up to a stranger at a bowling alley and tries to evangelize and you'd think it'd be cute or funny, but the whole scene ends up being damn unsettling for the same reason the rest of the documentary is so damn unsettling. You've got all these kids being forced to be soldiers and spokesmen for an ideology they barely understand. And for some of you who think I'm being excessively hyperbolic by using the word "soldiers," the camp's founder explicitly talks about Islamic suicide bombers and how she wishes she could get the kids willing to die for their faith.

Though I read a five-years-later article about the kids in the documentary. Nice to know that they seem to have matured into healthy, young adults who are probably a lot more fun to be around. Though all the parts of the documentary with Ted Haggard take on whole new subtexts, after it was found out that Ted enjoys the company of meth-addicted gigolos. Like I keep saying, when it comes to scandals on the Christian Right, it's always about sex.

Cam-Cam chest-beats about how the Jospins want him to speak at their daughter's funeral. Yeah, because it's all about you, Cam-Cam! No need to consider her parents who are dealing with the loss of their child. Think I'm being hyperbolic? First of all, why would you think that, and second of all, here's Cam-Cam's words so you can see for yourself.

“The Jospins want me to speak at her funeral, Rayford,” Cameron said. “They know the truth, and yet still that’s what they want. Whatever would I say? She seemed a wonderful girl, and had her death been the result of an accident back in previous years, I’d have been able to rhapsodize about her. She was a dear friend, a valued coworker.”

Just look at how heart-broken Cam-Cam really is about the loss of Cendrillon, so heart-broken he can't be bothered to give any specifics as to what she was like, except to say something like, "She was a female human who did things and had relationships with other humans. And she was probably a carbon-based lifeform that walked upright and couldn't survive without oxygen. I better mention that as well."

Though that bit in there about "had her death been the result of an accident," has now thrown me further into a confusion spiral as I try to make sense of Ellanjay's worldbuilding. Yeah, I know it can be all summed up with that MST3K link posted earlier, but I like to try and put forth some effort, see if I can make my excessive anal retentativeness a force for good, rather than evil.

Because I thought the MK operated like that one episode of Family Guy where Death is laid up, forcing Peter to have to do his job. Naturally since Peter doesn't want to kill people, the number of deaths drop precipitously, causing people to believe that the laws of life and death no longer apply and people start doing whatever reckless stuff they want, now that they can't die.

But now apparently there's is death, so I might have to retract all the advice I'd given to the COT in previous posts. Though wait, no I don't. COT, if you do something bad, just immediately pray for forgiveness afterwards. That way you get to have all the fun, but still be free and in the clear with Zod. Because what's the fun of having forgiveness if you never even get a chance to use it? It's like having a laptop and never actually going online to do Google searches for stuff that would mortify your parents; it's just pointless. For the record, given that I'm a writer, I've had to do some questionable Google searches and I'm really hoping, if the NSA surveillance is as widespread as my paranoid brain claims, that "I'm a writer doing research! I swear I'm not a terrorist or a pervert or both!" is still a valid defense.

Yeah, all these posts I've made...I've pretty much guaranteed that none of my readers will ever ask me to babysit. Life's good.

Cam-Cam continues to nail himself on that cross.

“They just want a simple eulogy,” Cameron said. “But a funeral is no place for me to tell the awful truth. Cendrillon is in hell, no longer with us because she never trusted Christ for salvation. Is that what I tell people? And would her parents forgive me? Perhaps they’re in denial, desperate to find some loophole, some reason why a believer might die at one hundred.”

“Ask them, Cam,” Rayford said. “Because if they don’t permit you to be honest, there’s no point in doing anything but declining their request. The only benefit I see coming from this is if they allow you to warn other young people of the consequences of putting off the transaction with Jesus. I could go with you to see them and—”

But you just said a bit ago that it is still possible for people to die as a result of accidents in the MK, Cam-Cam. So isn't it conceivable that maybe Cendrillon died at 100 because she loved getting sky-diving massages or something like that?

And oy vey...I suppose we're supposed to see Cam-Cam as admirable in that he doesn't want to loudly proclaim that Cendrillon's in Hell for all eternity, like the hateful nests of shitstains that make up the Westboro Baptist Church, but if given a choice between Cam-Cam's weaseliness or Fred feels so dirty to say this, but I'm going to have to go with Fred Phelps. Phelps is at least a lot more honest.

Oh and that link takes you to an expose done on Fred Phelps and let me tell you, if you haven't read every single page of it, you can't really claim to hate Fred Phelps. Because all the clips of him and his bunch on're seeing the rotting yellow toenail of a monster, not the monster in its entirety and the monster in its entirety...Yeah, I'm not going to go any further.

About the only good thing I'll say is that sometimes I wonder if Fred Phelps wasn't some kind of stealth supporter of Gay Rights. By being so hateful and going to such extremes, he forced the Christian Right to soften and tone down their own rhetoric in a futile attempt to avoid being tarred with the same brush. And for those who may have been on the fence on Gay issues, Phelps forced them to be like "I can either choose to be on the side of the debate that protests the funerals of soldiers or I can side with the Gays."

Yeah, I know the truth is that some people really are hateful ass scunge on the face of humanity, but you almost got to thank Fred Phelps. Because in going to such extremes, in showing what the Anti-Gay movement actually wants, again, it led to people being like, "Y'know maybe society won't fall if we treat GLBT people like people and give them the rights due to them as citizens." The fight still goes on and it probably always will, but we're moving forward, pushing back against a-holes, and now, we've got Gay Marriage across the land. Though I still can't find anyone willing to marry me to my box turtle, even though the Anti-Gays said that if we let dudes marry dudes, people can marry their box turtles, because a turtle has legal standing and can sign a marriage certificate.

Though of course, when some members of his congregation turned on him towards the end, Phelps is suddenly all "What's so funny bout peace, love, and understanding?" There's something satisfying about seeing a-holes get caught in their own traps.

All right, I'm done talking about Fred Phelps.

Though of course, you gotta love Ray-Ray's use of the word "transaction" when it comes to Jesus. It makes you wonder how they view all their day-to-day relationships. Because y'know Ellanjay are Nice Guys who firmly believe that if you put enough kindness coins into a woman, sex will pop out. That probably have that view towards all their other relationships. Maybe they don't want sex, but of course, they'd approach any relationship as a transaction: I say the appropriate words that cast the right spell on this person and this person will do what I want. It's a horrible way to go through life, having such a dim view of relationships. It's even more horrible for the people who have to live in the world with them.

Then Abdullah tells them something his daughter had said.

“Well, it is most troubling. Our daughter— you all know Bahira— when she heard the news she was most distraught, as we all were. But she perhaps a bit more. Not that they were all that close. Cendrillon had wanted to be her friend, but our daughter rebuffed her.”


“Because of what we are talking about now. In front of Cameron and Chloe and the others, Cendrillon was a model leader. Behind their backs she was critical, a scoffer, a doubter at best.”

So there you have it: Cendrillon kept her mouth shut around the adults, who would likely tell her she's a hellbeast destined for hell, but talked about her doubts and concerns with her friends. That's why she's going to burn in Hell for all eternity, kids! And that kind of message will, like I've said previously, not induce anxiety and phobia in someone raised in the RTC subculture. Only good things can come of filling a kid with anxieties about sin, making sure to tell them, "One mistake and you're damned forever!"

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit excessive, but I had a feeling if I asked Ellanjay to define "being critical, a scoffer, a doubter at best," I wouldn't be. Out of curiosity, if you use the same dialogue as a Strawman villain in a Jack Chick, but leave off the "Haw Haw!" at the end, are you still damned? Is the "Haw Haw!" the magical words that forever damn you? Well, in that case, all of us fans of The Simpsons are doomed. You should have thought about that before you did all those Nelson Muntz impersonations. Since my soul is forever damned, in addition to tricking out my handbasket, I might as well get to doing other evils like having sex as an expression of love, rather than strictly for reproductive purposes, imbibing some alcohol, and listening to Rock and/or Roll! I mean, if I'm damned no matter what I do, I might as well at least enjoy my long slide into Satan's fiery pit.

I know, I exaggerate for comedic effect, but it's something both me and Fred Clark, not Phelps, have talked about: How the RTC subculture divides things into sin and not-sin and from there, proceeds to treat all sinful things as being equal in severity. So in their view, a man and a woman deciding to have consensual intercourse, even though they :gasp: don't have rings on their left ring fingers, is, in their view, the same as a teenage boy preying on his underaged sisters. Looking at Playboy is the same as being a modern-day Jack the Ripper.

And I know you guys get tired of me harping on the same points over and over, but I have to! Because like I said, it's always sex that ends up getting an RTC in the end. When you're raised in a culture of hierarchy, where you're always interacting with someone either higher-up than you or lower-down, there's no way sex can be treated as a mutual expression of love between consenting, caring individuals.

Ray-Ray says that they should visit the Jospins and talk to them about arrangements. Saintly Irene talks about how Cendrillon will be the first of many deaths to come. Okay, I admit that I paraphrasing a little, but I still can't help but picture Irene ducking into a restroom to touch herself afterwards, given how sex and violence seemed to be so interwoven in the RTC subculture.


Y'know I try to, as a service to my readers, finish out a chapter in one go, but I previewed my post and this one's hella long. Given that I've gotten into some pretty dark subjects here, is it okay if I make Chapter Five, a two-part snark? Because after all this talk between Cam-Cam and the others, we cut to Raymie and I want to be at full snarking strength to take him on. So accept a two-part snark, while I replenish my strength. I'll try to bang out the other part next week, I swear.

*I tell everyone in the Slacktiverse that no matter how much you hate Ray-Ray and Cam-Cam, Paul Stepola surpasses them all in sheer awfulness. Paul Stepola is so awful that there really doesn't seem to be an appropriate profanity that accurately describes him, at least not in English. Asshole is too mild. I define an asshole as "Someone who keys your car because he/she can't stand the fact that you drive a nicer car than them," but that doesn't accurately illustrate Paul Stepola. If you had the nerve to drive a nicer car than Paul Stepola, he would drop a tactical nuke on it, then laugh with glee as you and everyone around you, is either vaporized or dies an agonizing death from radiation poisoning. Though that's still somewhat inaccurate: Paul Stepola wouldn't have the work ethic to actually drop a nuke on you; he'd just pray and let Zod do it all for him.

I also reject the profane phrases, Son of Bitch, and Motherfucker, because both of those, are more slurs against Paul Stepola's mother. Given that Mama Stepola raised him alone after her husband died and eventually died unsaved (and of course, Paul, being the good soon he is, gives no thought to his mommy's fate), I'm inclined to cut her some slack. If Jenkins writes any future books where it's revealed that Mama Stepola is every bit as awful as her son, I'll retract my statements. Until then, I'll assume that Papa Stepola (who was no prize pig himself, as the books illustrate) purchased a baby from down the hall after their child died and Mama Stepola never noticed the 666 tattooed on Paul's scalp.

Though dammit, Jenkins, I never thought I'd have to say this, but apparently Tim LaHaye was a moderating influence on you. Now that he's dead, I'm a little scared as to what you're going to do now.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Disturbing Lack of Imagination (Trigger Warning for Abortion-related links!)

Geez, guys, I'm sorry. I really don't have any excuse for the lateness of this post except that Life's a real bitch sometimes. Things just piled on me. That said, let's get to it.

Seriously, so much of this chapter, well if I was really honest, my snark would be just me typing "Fuck you, Ellanjay!" over and over again. Because the's actually punishingly bad in its boringness. The kids' books were like rice cakes in their boringness, bland and unadorned. This kind of boring is the equivalent of getting hit in the face with a board over and over again. It just wears on you. But I feel I should try to give a more substantial snark.

Anyway, Ellanjay get going right with the first sentence.

“I’M NOT gloating, Rayford,” Tsion said. “I am just smiling.”

Ugh...guys, this is one of those moments where if you have to specify that you're not doing something, you are totally doing something. If you have to say, "You're not gloating," you are totally gloating. It's one of my rules of life: if you have to explain how something technically isn't something, it's totally something. So if you have to use the phrase "Technically it's not pedophilia" or "Technically it's not prostitution," you need a punch in the face and to take a good hard look at what you've just said.

It kind of goes with that rule I have about countries: any country that has to advertise how great it is in its name, is a country you want to stay far, far away from. I cite as examples the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Peoples' Republic of China, and perhaps the uber example, the Democratic Peoples' Republic of North Korea. America may be on the verge of electing a guy* who has the some of the same ideas as Hitler, only minus the work ethic, but we're still just calling ourselves the United States of America and letting that speak for itself, rather than putting something in our name about how democratic and free we are.

Anyway, Ray-Ray and Token Jew talk.

“So you like that we Gentiles are low on the totem pole now, huh?”

“It amuses me. But it is simply another fulfillment of prophecy. The government now starts with the Christ and extends through His prince and king of Israel, David; the apostles, who are now judges over the twelve tribes; their princes; local judges under them; counselors; and finally you foreigners. Oh, don’t look that way, friend. You know we will not make you suffer. Think of how different is this society, this whole world, compared to what we came from.”

Try and tell me this passage wasn't put in as an Authors' Saving Throw, Ellanjay trying desperately to convince us that they are totally not Anti-Semitic, even though their deepest, most fondest desire for the Jewish people is that they cease to exist or burn forever.

And of course, all this talk about who oversees I said in my previous post, Ellanjay remain horribly stunted in their imaginations, unable to imagine a world without hierarchies, no matter how much they may talk about us all being brothers and sisters in Christ.

Though that part where Token Jew says "You know we will not make you suffer..." I feel a need to refer back to my previous rant. Because if someone has to go out of their way to say "We will not make you suffer," that's code for "Brace yourselves for some water-boarding, mothereffers!"

Rayford could only shake his head. He always found Tsion engaging and interesting, but now he could barely take his eyes from the beauty of the new creation. The landscaping that lined the causeway was breathtaking.

Tsion must have noticed. “You rightly admire this handiwork,” he said, “because this road— if I may be so pedestrian as to call it that— is yet another reflection of the sinless beginning to the kingdom. I dare say it will be many years before we suffer the blights of war, abortion, murder, robbery, drugs, pornography— you name it.”


:deep breath:

Now that I did my rage therapy, let's talk about the stuff Token Jew lists as sins: war, abortion, murder, robbery, drugs, pornography. We'll start backwards and work our way in.

Pornography...of course, Token Jew would consider seeing a woman's dirty pillows to be a great sin. I freely admit that I find pornography to be a grotesque parody of sex and I shake my head whenever a porn starlet describes her work as a form of feminism. It just seems a strange form of feminism, turning yourself into an object for the pleasure of men. It's sort of like locking yourself in a cage and bragging about how free you are. Don't get me wrong, if everyone involved is of legal age and totally consents, I'm okay with it. I can see why someone might decide to take off their clothes to entertain strangers for cash; it's probably less degrading and more lucrative than working retail. It's just a strange argument to make, calling it feminism. You don't hear male porn stars calling their work a feminist statement.

But the idea that pornography and drugs would be a problem in the MK, speaks to how stunted Ellanjay's imaginations are. Because this is supposed to be Heaven on Earth, as in a place where there is no pain or disease, no death until you are a hundred years old. Given that, like I said, wouldn't sneaking a peek at Playboy or buying a six-pack with a fake ID, be kind of quaint? Heck, a few chapters ago, the hills are flowing with wine, so why would characters drink to excess since they no longer have to worry about Alcohol Poisoning or Liver Disease or even hangovers for that matter? Now that you can enjoy all the perks of drugs, with none of the consequences, go nuts!

Same probably goes for sex. If you really like someone and they really like you, and everyone involved wants it, why not just get it on? Again, there aren't any STDs to worry about anymore. As I recall, while sex has been completely taken off the table for the Tribbles, it's still an option for the COT. But I don't know if pregnancy is still in the cards or not. Ellanjay have been kind of vague and unclear on that.

But if you get pregnant in the MK, it'll probably be a whole lot easier than in the real world. No worries about complications (because pregnancy takes a physical toll even under the best of circumstances) leading to death in childbirth and you don't have to figure out how to feed the kid, and balance work and family, because there's no need to work. You have infinite resources so you don't have to face the financial crunch that comes with having a baby.

Either way, with plenty of free love and drugs and everyone looking attractive as hell, you'd think that the idea of, again, sneaking a peek at Playboy (I use this example to point out how bad a job Ellanjay did at predicting the future, because they didn't foresee the rise of internet porn)...well, I keep trying to think of metaphors or similes, but they all involve food and that feels kind of tacky, saying things like "It would be like going to a massive banquet and choosing to nibble on a saltine" or "Having a dab of frosting when there's a several-layer cake inches away." I apologize and will let my readers come up with better comparisons.

Since there's everything you could ever want or need in the MK, why would burglary still be a thing? Because in the real world, a good percentage of theft is born out of economic desperation, like they desperately need money to pay the rent or to support a drug habit. Granted we could talk about how if economic circumstances/desperation lead you steal one guy's car, you'll likely face more severe consequences, than a wealthy CEO who loots a whole lot of peoples' 401Ks and life savings, leaving them broke, but still.

Since the MK is supposed to be literally Heaven on Earth and no one can die before their 100th birthday, HOW THE FROCK CAN MURDER ACTUALLY HAPPEN IN THE MK!

Though I suppose a more pertinent question, if murder is still a thing, what happens to the victim? Is there still a question as to whether they go to Heaven or Hell? If so, what are the parameters? If someone's over the "You Must Be This Short to Escape Burning Forever" line, but the murder happens before they turn one hundred, do they still go to Hell?

And abortion...oh boy...There's so much wrong here, if we were to try to take this on, we'd be here all night, and I'd use the F-Bomb so much, the word would lose all meaning. Just know that Ellanjay feel that abortion is always wrong, even for a nine-year-old rape victim** who'd likely die from pregnancy or if it's nonviable ectopic pregnancy that will kill the mother or, at best, render her sterile the longer you delay in performing an abortion. It's also wrong even if the baby has no hope of surviving and carrying it to term, would only lead to a few more months of pain, followed by an agonizing death, possibly for the mother as well. But hey, that whore should have thought of it before she had her fun, right?

Okay...I'm done now, dumping depressing links. Just that we do have confirmation that sex and pregnancy is a thing in the MK. I will say though, since in the MK, there wouldn't be any of physical dangers or financial drawbacks of having a kid, you do kind of wonder why Abortion would still be a thing? When Zod rewrote everyone's personalities, wouldn't he have made it so that all women, regardless of how they felt about children on Earth, would be all about babies in the MK? Even if he hadn't, if a girl wasn't ready to be a mom, well, it's the MK; couldn't she turn over her baby to one of the Tribbles to raise? Chloe and Cam-Cam are already raising two hundred, so they could manage one more.

Even in spite of all that, how exactly would you go about getting an abortion in the MK? Do you really think that Ellanjay would let Planned Parenthood make it to Heaven? I could point out that most abortions are performed not at Planned Parenthood, by other practices, but I doubt Ellanjay would care. So if there are eeeevil COT who want to abort the babies, they'd have to...GODDANG IT! I SWORE I WOULD STOP WITH ALL THE DEPRESSING LINK-DUMPS! Now I have to fight the urge to link to the Wikipedia thing on coat hanger abortions. Though at the same time, since no one can die in the MK until they're a hundred, a coat hanger abortion wouldn't end as badly there as...y'know what, I'm going to stop and start tricking out my handbasket. Because I am certainly going to go to Hell for all this. Out of curiosity, can I put flame decals on my handbasket or would that be too apropos and make the demons poke me harder with their pitchforks?

Oh and Token Jew lists war as a sin. Even though we've gotten book after book of Ellanjay basically saying, "Peace is sick and wrong and those who long for it, are in league with Satan!" Or is this one of those things where if I bring it up, they'd do a variation on Hank Hill's "It's Jesus-peace, not hippie-peace."

Then Token Jew quotes Isaiah 35, specifically verses seven to the end, which is somehow supposed to explain how this causeway that Ray-Ray is gawking at, reflects the beginning of the kingdom, but REALLY IT DOESN'T EXPLAIN A DAMN THING AND WOULD YOU BELIEVE I'VE DONE THIS MUCH RANTING JUST ABOUT THE FIRST PAGE OF THE CHAPTER ALONE!

Yeah, I'm wondering if I have done something horrible to deserve this, or will do something horrible in the future to warrant this punishment. Thankfully though, the next section with Cam-Cam is much more enjoyable, especially if you're a dirty-minded pervert like me.

The next morning, as Cameron Williams lay on his back in his bedchamber, hands behind his head, he eagerly anticipated another day of service to his King. Beyond the heavy draperies that had been fashioned to keep out the glare of the sunlike moon through the night, not to mention the irrepressible morning sun, lay a delightful day to serve the Lord.

You have no idea how long and hard I laughed at this paragraph. Because the writers of Christian Fiction™ are, like I keep saying, the best unintentional creators of Ho Yay around. Though I wonder if this can be called Ho Yay, given that Cam-Cam is servicing (and yes I used that word on purpose) a god. But while Ellanjay will say that all those references to God as Father are totally metaphorical and it doesn't necessarily mean that God has a actual penis, for some reason, if we suggest we refer to God as Mother out of respect for female believers, even though God doesn't have an actual vagina, they'll collectively lose their shit. With that in mind and because we all know Ellanjay can't envision a God who doesn't look like them, which means He definitely has a penis, so I'm going to assume TurboJesus and Zod have penises and totally count this as Ho Yay.

Though Ellanjay are kind of asking for all the Ho Yay jokes, what with mentioning Cam-Cam as lying on his back with his hands behind his head (we should be grateful that some editor stepped in and said, "You might want to edit out that part with him smoking a cigarette while lying in bed.")combined with the mentions of "serve the Lord." Yeah, I know I'm a dirty-minded pervert, but I'm trying to think of a way that passage can't be twisted and interpreted in a sick way.

Cam-Cam showers and dresses and joins his wife and child on the Highway to Holiness. Apparently, the big event is a celebration in honor of the wedding of the lamb. I scream, "Haven't we already done this part?" and tear out chunks of my hair while crying in anguish. Pro Tip to My Readers: If any of you all have been planning on embarking on years of hair shirt wearing-penance for whatever you may have done (don't worry; I'm in no position to judge any of you), you can get the same psychological effects merely by reading this chapter and you don't have to invest in a hair shirt.

As for who is the bride to TurboJesus's bridegroom? Don't worry; Ellanjay make it as clear as mud for you.

Millions were on their way as part of the bride of Christ. The rest were companions of the bride or friends of the Bridegroom. The bride, of course, consisted of all born-again believers from the time of Pentecost until the Rapture. Tsion had explained that John the Baptist, for instance, was not part of the bride, for he died before the church was founded.

Gotta feel sorry for John the Baptist. He doesn't get counted as part of all this, even though unlike most RTCs, he actually suffered and died for his faith. I'll giggle a little more at the idea of TurboJesus being married off to a bunch of dudes. But maybe if he doesn't cuddle afterwards, it doesn't qualify as Gay.

Though another paragraph, yeah, I'm really feeling sorry for John the Baptist.

Jesus Himself had said, speaking of His forerunner, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Finally that confusing verse made sense to Cameron. For the Kingdom of Heaven was finally at hand, and even the least here was a member of the bride of Christ, while John the Baptist himself was merely invited to the celebratory supper as a friend of the Bridegroom.

Because the fact John the Baptist literally lost his head because of his faith, doesn't matter to TurboJesus. Nor the fact that John the Baptist was his cousin. What the Hell, TurboJesus?! Do I even want to know how you treat your brother, James? Now, I'm creating yet another elaborate head-canon where John the Baptist gives TurboJesus the finger, meets up with Jael (because y'know Ellanjay would have a dim view of Jael), and they meet up with the League of Awesome and work on a plan to rescue the hostages in the MK. Yeah, there are probably loads of plot-holes with this head canon, but admit it, it would be damn cool and there are probably fewer holes in my head-canon than there are in the actual canon.

Anyway, the No Meat Rule has been lifted for this feast. Why? Because otherwise Ellanjay wouldn't be able to copy-paste Isaiah 25:6 otherwise.

And for those of you who still think I'm reading too many perverted overtones where there are none, here's the ending sentence to Cam-Cam's section.

Cameron ate his fill and closed his eyes, knowing that even without seeing he was always aware of the ever-present Savior, the Bridegroom, who had wooed him to Himself and loved him with an everlasting love.

And now you know why I may never stop doing a Beavis and Butthead laugh.

Then we cut back to Ray-Ray. Don't worry; there won't be a long list of depressing link dumps.

Already friends and acquaintances expert in the knowledge of technology had begun trying to find the resources necessary to rebuild infrastructures. And from all over the world came reports that citizens were determined to rebuild mass communications methods, airplanes, and computers, restoring all the modern conveniences.

As for Rayford, he wondered how he was to build his own dwelling. Was he to hew newly created trees? It seemed a desecration. But when the day dawned that he felt compelled to begin his work, everything he needed was there, including the strength and knowledge to work with dispatch. Within days, toiling with dozens of like-minded men and women, he helped create lodging for hundreds of thousands of people in their lush valley alone, assembling the beautiful dwellings from raw materials.

Yeah, I'm going to have to look up synonyms for "Depressingly Unimaginative" because I have a feeling I'm going to have to keep using that phrase, a lot. But it is true. Because the thing I keep coming back to, is that this is supposed to be Heaven, as in eternal bliss and paradise and all that. Surely in Heaven, you wouldn't need such things as infrastructure? Like if you wanted to go somewhere, you could just close your eyes and teleport yourselves there, without going through any of the headaches associated with traveling by any form of transportation. And if you wanted to talk to someone about something and they weren't in the room, wouldn't there be some kind of telepathic network where you just think of a person and they connect you? Heck, given that the curse of Babel probably is removed in Heaven, think of what a boon in communication this would all be. Not only could you understand any language currently in use on Earth, but you could read and decipher ancient manuscripts that modern-day anthropologists still haven't figured out. And if Rayford wanted to create a dwelling place, couldn't he just bend the trees to his will, make the completed palace emerge from the Earth like Elsa's Ice Palace in Frozen?

I could go on and on about this point, and I'll probably end up rehashing it, over and over, but Ellanjay's imaginations are disturbingly stunted. I'd say this is comparable to Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty using his God powers to give his girlfriend bigger tits and win back his anchor job, but probably even he was more imaginative than Ellanjay ever were. But I suppose it's one of those things where if you live in a subculture that outright forbids free-thinking and asking questions, then of course you're going to come out of it with a stunted, blighted imagination.

Meanwhile Rayford believed that one day his abilities as a leader and organizer would again be employed. For now he was to aid Chloe and Cameron in their ministry to children. At first this took the form of more building, constructing huge recreation and teaching centers to accommodate the hundreds upon hundreds that began showing up every day. There was no telling how large this number would swell to, as it seemed word of mouth brought more each day, and there appeared to be no competition. Rayford was delighted with the endless sea of young faces of all colors.

They clearly loved Chloe and Cameron, and naturally Rayford had never seen his daughter and son-in-law happier. Daily, it seemed, children on the older end of the age range— around seven— were putting their faith in Christ. Irene shared Rayford’s wonder at how any child born during the Tribulation or the kingdom could make any other choice.

Passages like that, will continue to cause me to laugh and laugh bitterly. Because my cousins have started having kids, making it so that now we have some little ones at family get-togethers. The youngest will soon be three in October and let me tell you, it usually doesn't take more than a few hours with her before I want to slam my head in a car door to make it all stop. Every time I'm around small children, I'm like "How did we ever get to the top of the food chain, given how stupid, helpless, and irritating we are when we start out?" For a baby giraffe, childbirth involves surviving a six foot drop, yet they're walking around hours afterwards. A giraffe isn't considered an adult until it is four years old, but I imagine at one year old, it has some survival instincts, knows to be careful at the waterhole and stay away from a herd of lions.

Humans take a year to figure out how to walk and even after they do, they're still ignorant and helpless, would probably stick their little heads in a lion's mouth if someone wasn't around to stop them. I don't really start to find kids tolerable until they're around fiveish or so. At five, they're more or less toilet-trained and they can speak coherently, which is a plus. Maybe it's proof that I'm a sinful harlot (despite never having sex), but I find it difficult to impossible to understand most small children when they talk. I mostly just smile and nod. Also, babies just look like babies to me. Never got all these people who talk about how they look so much like their mom or dad or something. That and they're cuter once they get around six months of age and they're at the cooing baby stage. Newborns, with the perpetual raw meat color and W.C. Fields expression on their faces, just aren't that visually appealing. Though it does amuse me that a newborn is either asleep and when it is awake, has a perpetual "WTF?!" look on their face. That I understand completely; I'm thirty-one and I still am like, "WTF?!" all the time.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make with this long ramble (that will probably convince my readers to never have me babysit their children) is children are a lot of hard, unpleasant work. All this energy and noise, not a lick of sense to go with it. Especially since, like I've said before, the age range of Chloe and Cam-Cam's bunch is from 0-7 years. We all know that one small child has the destructive power of a tank commanded by the IQ of a Labrador. That's a given.

But I find myself thinking of the kids on the older end of the scale. Because years matter a lot more when you're a kid, than they do as an adult. Seven years may not mean much when one person is forty-seven and the other is forty; there isn't really an appreciable difference in functioning between the two. But when someone is a newborn and the other is seven, yeah, there's a helluva difference in functioning. One may be able to read and write a little, do basic math, while the other hasn't mastered bladder control and communicates mostly by screaming. So I find myself thinking that the older kids would probably be all irritated by the younger ones, who can't sit still, won't be quiet, scream at the slightest provocation, and can't stop soiling themselves. Yeah, we know that's par the course for small children, but here's a real shocker, kids are often immature and maybe a seven-year-old might not have the life experience/patience to understand all this.

So as far as I'm concerned, the noise level at Cam-Cam and Chloe's can only be described as supersonic and the household has quickly devolved into a mixture of Thunderdome, Lord of the Flies***, and Springfield Elementary as run by Ned Flanders. Your call what the kids have decided is the conch and who dies first, one of the kids, Chloe, Cam-Cam, or Ray-Ray. Though in all likelihood, my response would be, "You kids ever see The Shining? Then this will all be new to you." No points for guessing who'd be Scatman Cothers in this scenario.

That and Ray-Ray has leadership and organizational skills? When has he ever demonstrated that? Heck, I'd say Chloe probably has him beat on both fronts, given that she was running the Magical Co-Op that supplied the RTCs with food, water, and everything they need to survive, while Bucky and Ray-Ray were bravely working for the anti-Christ, but it was okay, because occasionally they thought disdainful thoughts in the anti-Christ's general direction.

The chapter ends with Ray-Ray thinking about how he's been called to work on a project in Indonesia. Yes, Indonesia, as in land where Komodo Dragons can be found, and A COUNTRY THAT IS MADE UP OF A SERIES OF ISLANDS AND THEREFORE, SHOULD HAVE CEASED TO EXIST BECAUSE TURBOJESUS SANK ALL THE ISLANDS WHEN HE CAME BACK!

:deep breath:

I also wonder how many head explosions would ensue if I were to point out that Indonesia, not any of those scary places in the Middle East, has the largest Muslim population on Earth. And yet, Indonesia doing fairly well for itself. It has its problems, I'm sure (I freely admit that I'm not an expert on the country), but on the whole, their problems they're dealing with are probably the same problems facing any first-world nation, population density, resource issues, etc. I'm pointing this out because if the problem really was Islam, like so many asshole bigots claim, then shouldn't whatever is going on in Indonesia make the Middle East look like Switzerland in comparison? Yet, like I said, the problems that Indonesia is dealing with, are probably nowhere near the scale as Syria or any part of the Middle East.

All right, I'm done. Don't know when the next post will be. Like I said, stuff just piled on me. Hence the lateness of this post. Next chapter has a 93 year time-jump, so brace yourselves.

*Normally I am totally on board with holding back on Hitler comparisons, but in Donald Trump's case...yeah, any time someone complains about making Hitler comparisons to Donald Trump, I'm like, "Donald Trump is only advocating that members of a specific ethnic or religious group, should have their rights taken from them, simply for being part of a specific ethnic or religious group. There's nothing remotely Hitler-ish about that at all." Though at the same time, comparing Trump to Hitler...Hitler had some work ethic. Hitler legitimately started on the low rung of society and worked his way up. Donald Trump started with a million-dollar loan from his rich daddy. And every time I think that, I have to go scour myself with battery acid and steel wool. Like I keep saying, modern conservatives have all the prejudices of their forefathers, but none of the work ethic, and if I'm going to live in a dystopian hellscape, can't it at least be a well-written one, with complex characters and with well-thought-out, carefully crafted villainous schemes? It really is like Cracked said, "Our parents were promised a sleek Star Trek future, but their kids are getting Battletruck."

**Whenever I bring up this article, people point out that the guy who excommunicated the girl's mother and the doctors and nurses who treated her, was eventually smacked down and reprimanded by other authorities within the church, but I'm still not entirely convinced. The guy who passed it, probably didn't get his ideas in a vacuum. He probably was genuinely shocked that people got so angry at him, for excommunicating the people who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old rape victim. That and of course, part of me wonders if others hadn't gotten so outraged and angry about it, would the church still have stepped in? Is this a case of "Okay, a lot of people are really mad about something one of our guys did, so in order to save face, we make a big show out of coming down hard on that one guy, offering him up as our sacrificial lamb."

Because it's not like this strategy is totally unprecedented within the history of the Catholic Church. Though to be fair, it shows up in really any church with an authoritarian mindset, not just the Catholics. The Anti-Choice crowd just stubbornly refuses to admit that life is often painful and complicated and sometimes, it comes down to the least-bad solution to a bad problem, rather than Right or Wrong.

***I'll admit that Lord of the Flies is one of the few Required Reading books that I didn't completely detest with every fiber of my being, but at the same time, the idea that people found William Golding's message about how children are every bit as capable of cruelty as adults are, to be shocking...I'm like, "Yeah, it's only shocking to anyone who wasn't a bully or a toady." To people like me, aka the pariah class, we had no great difficulty believing that if there weren't teachers around to provide the thinnest veneer of authority, things would turn even uglier than they already were.