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 eternity...so 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.
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 Phelps...it 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 TV...you'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.
AND DAMMIT, WHY DOES EVERYTHING I TYPE IN THIS POST WIND UP BEING ABOUT CREEPY SEX STUFF?!
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.