Monday, October 17, 2016

Purple Vein Dick Joke

Hey guys, sorry for the delay, but we had kids over on Saturday and I spent Sunday recovering from it. How exactly humans got to the top of the food chain, when everything a small child does, seems contrary to the basic rules of survival, I don't know. But the kids are gone and I'm here now, so let's get to it.

As for the post title, let's just say it will become more apparent as you read my post. And yes, I have heard of Bill Hicks. Hence the title of this week's post. Though honestly you wonder what it would have been like, if Hicks had stayed around to see the conservatism of Bush II and the modern GOP, both of which has us fondly nostalgic for the conservatism of Bush I.

Again, we begin with the arrival of a priest. Here's how he's (of course, it's a he) described:

THE SHORT and stocky priest wore a linen garment and trousers. When he bowed and introduced himself as Yerik from the line of Zadok, neatly trimmed hair showed from beneath his turban.

Like I said, given Ellanjay's views, I don't think there are any more rabbis, so all of you dusting off your "A priest, a pastor, and a rabbi" jokes, I'm sorry.

I was going to make some crack about the name "Yerik" because I thought it was proof of Ellanjay's laziness, that they just made up a Biblical-sounding name because of, y'know, laziness, but according to Google, it is an actual name. So I'll be respectful and stay away. Because there are probably people who find names like Steve and Joe to be hilarious.

But I have to admit that I raise an eyebrow at the description of the priest's attire given that in the real world, Ellanjay and those of their ilk seem to be in favor of profiling the hell out of people who wear turbans. But maybe they would stop if real-world turban-wearers would pin a G on their turbans, G for Good, thus indicating that they are one of the good ones, not one of the scary brown people.

Ray-Ray offers the priest some fried vegetables and fresh fruit. I have to admit, because I'm the kind of anal-retentive type seldom scene outside questionably-run state asylums, that I do wonder what the vegetables were fried in. I suppose it could be vegetable oil or canola oil, but fryer oil can be made up from animal fats. I know, I know, I'm thinking too much, but again, the whole "No Meat" thing continues to baffle me.

Yerik says that King David wants to talk with them, because of course, the central tenet of the LB-verse is "Everyone, good or evil, recognizes the inherent greatness of Rayford Steele and Buck Williams." Like I said, were it not for the fact that Ellanjay were too chicken to have God and Jesus speak in anything but Bible quotes, there probably would have been a seen where one of them would break down sobbing and blubber about how they wish they could be as tall or manly as Buck or Rayford. And like I keep saying, yes, I'm exaggerating, but can you really say I'm exaggerating by much.

But Yerik says David also wants to meet with Mac and Chaim.

And now we cut to Raymie, who is meeting with Qasim, aka the guy mentioned in the previous chapter.

Qasim had a long, pointy face with a scraggly black beard, and while he was thin and of only average height, his robe was too short. It hung just above his knees, and the sleeves barely reached his elbows. He spoke quickly and explained that he liked it that way because it allowed him to move easier. “Especially when I have to run, which is often.” This was followed by a rollicking laugh. “So, how can I help you fellas?”

Yeah, I should be grateful Ellanjay didn't try to turn this into a graphic novel, because right now Qasim sounds like one of the racist caricatures of Muslims created by shitty political cartoonists, which are basically darkened versions of caricatures Anti-Semites did of Jewish people. Yeah, I don't need to go any further with the unfortunate implications, do I?

Though is that a thing now, in addition to being vegetarians, everyone wears robes. I suppose I could ask what Ellanjay think these robes look like, but given how disturbingly unimaginative they are, I can't think of any answer that wouldn't be as depressing as hell. Just I feel a need to point out that if you use Google, you can easily find Islamic attire and Jewish attire that manages to be both modest and stylish, but if you look up "modest Christian clothing," call it an unfair generalization if you must, but so many of the results are of attire so dowdy that even a character from Little House on the Prairie would be disgusted by it.

So Raymie and Qasim talk, and just as before, I can read so many unpleasant innuedos into their conversation. I know, some of it can be chalked up to Me being a drooling pervert, but at the same I keep saying, writers of Christian Fiction could benefit from spending a few pennies to have a smart aleck read over their stuff and point out other ways certain phrases can be interpreted. I could post some examples, interspaced with Beavis and Butthead-type laughter, but given that the children being talked about, are too young for it to qualify as statutory, I can't in good conscience do so. Sorry guys, I may have only a few principles, but I stick by them, dammit!

Zaki already trusts his buddy, Qasim, but Raymie has his doubts and starts grilling him. I'll just post a gratuitous Monty Python link because it's my blog and I can do what I want.

“A long time, right. I got that. Let’s let Qasim speak for himself, shall we? Have you led children to Christ?”

“Have I led them?”

“Surely you know what I mean. Often we debrief late in the afternoon, and workers tell of children who saw their need for the Lord.”

“Well, I’ve sure told them about Jesus. I mean, that’s what we do. Whether any have actually prayed with me or in front of me, I couldn’t say. Some people are better at that than others, you know.”

“I know.”

“But a lot of the kids I’ve worked with became believers, and a whole bunch of ’em are fellow workers now.”

That's not all he led them too! :eyebrow waggle:

I know, I know, I ought to be ashamed of myself. But there's a reason I named my Raymie tag "Creepy Raymie" and I stand by it. Though I keep wondering how much hate-laughing I'm going to do while reading this book. Hate-laughing being my term for when you laugh at something you really shouldn't, laugh then you're like, "Oh I am such a horrible person for laughing at this" but you can't help yourself. Somehow the pain adds extra flavor to the laughter.

Raymie Steel de Torquemada is all "Tell me about your faith." And brace yourself for all the cringing awkwardness.

Qasim shrugged and pursed his lips. “I hardly remember; it’s been so long. I mean, I don’t recall my life at all before I was a believer. You know, with Jesus being here and in charge and all that since I was a baby, that made it easy.”

“But at some point you had to have—”

“Seen my need, as my dad calls it? Sure. Born in sin. Separated from God. Needed a bridge. Prayed the prayer. Got saved.”

That sure seemed to Raymie a passionless recitation of the steps to reconciliation with almighty God. “I’m going to have to pray about this, Qasim,” he said. “And the rest of us will discuss it. We’ll get back to you.”

“Great! Because I’d love to become part of your little band and find out what those French guys are up to.”

Oh, Qasim, I know you're only fictional but I sympathy-cringe for you nonetheless. Because your reasoning is perfectly sound: I see and talk with Jesus on a daily basis; therefore, me believing in his existence is about as self-explanatory as believing in the existence of carbon-based lifeforms that can't survive without oxygen. But apparently you haven't sufficiently believed in the right way, failed to say The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded. Though I always wondered, regarding The Prayer, while we get numerous examples of how The Prayer doesn't work if you don't say it with enough sincerity, what happens if you pray it with too much sincerity? Though I suppose I should ask how Ellanjay would define an appropriate amount of sincerity in the first place.

Though yeah, I'm sure the kinds of messages interwoven into this passage won't in any way cause anxiety for withdrawn, introverted kids with piss-poor social skills. Because apparently if you have terrible social skills and have a difficult time communicating when put on the spot, especially when the subject of the conversation is something as emotionally-loaded as religion, congratulations, you're going to Hell!

I suppose this means as if all the stuff I've written on this blog hasn't already damned me, since I've been recently diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum, so I'm damned regardless of what I do, because apparently having piss-poor social skills damns you. Out of curiosity, guys, can I take the Highway? Because it sounds a lot more comfortable than the handbasket, I'm just saying. Though if I have to ride in a handbasket, is it okay if I put flame decals on the side or is that the kind of thing that's so on the nose, it'll make the demons poke me harder with pitchforks.

Though I have to agree with both Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and Bart Simpson that all the fire and brimstone and pitchforks would suck, but wouldn't you eventually get used to it? The Dante-esque version of Hell is so unimaginative, especially to someone who spent years 11-18 being bullied relentlessly. Now if you said in Hell, I'd have to both go through puberty again AND sit in the High School Cafeteria, that would be a pants-wetter. But fire and brimstone? That's nothing...

We get a brief bit with Cam-Cam that I'm quoting in its entirety. It's short and like I said, serves as another reminder of how disturbingly unimaginative Ellanjay are.

At COT later in the morning, Chloe told Cameron what her mother had told her of the royal invitation. Cameron sought out his mother-in-law.

“So I guess there is sin in the kingdom,” he said, “even among us glorified ones. I have to confess, I’m feeling left out. Jealousy? Almost. I mean, I’m thrilled for Rayford and the others, especially Chaim and Tsion. But I’d give anything to be there.”

“Now I need to confess,” Irene said. “I just realized why the priest told Rayford not to tell anyone else. Clearly that had to go for me, too. But listen, Cam, this has to have something to do with the Lord putting some mission on your father-in-law’s heart the last several days. And you already have your calling. You’re not losing your enthusiasm for COT, are you?”

“Never. But one of these days I’m going to take a day off and talk to some of my Old Testament heroes.”

Again, even though this is supposed to be Heaven where all the laws of time and space that constrain people on Earth, have been done away with, Ellanjay can't envision any world where there isn't a hierarchy or a bureaucracy or a 9 to 5.

Even though given that all your physical needs are provided for and you don't have to worry about anything, wouldn't work in Heaven be more or less just an individual pursuing whatever craft or knowledge they wanted, with none of the limitations of Earth? So if you like to build things, then Heaven would be one of those Sim games where you can just build whatever you want, wherever you want, and you don't have to worry about funds or resources. Or you can finally chase down and study whatever topic, regardless of how obscure or esoteric it may be, and again, no worries about resources. Don't have to figure out how to pay the rent or pay for food or what you're going to do if you get sick, just pursue whatever interests you for the sake of the pursuit. And if one day, you feel like just chilling out and not accomplishing much, you can just rest and enjoy a day off with none of the consequences of our world.

Because while I realize this may be something of an oversimplification, even those who have had jobs they didn't hate (I'm told it's possible, but I have yet to see it), will admit that there are parts of it they don't much care for. And most of the stuff of a job that people don't care for, are the aspects put in to appease the bureaucratic elements of society.

Again, told to create paradise, and Ellanjay find themselves unable to envision anything except a more amped up version of now. As a result, of course, we have a bureaucracy, complete with the hierarchy that goes with it. So you have all this district managers (Old Testament characters) who have people below them, and they answer to King David, who is above them, and he, in turn, takes orders from TurboJesus.

Yeah, someone want to tell Ellanjay that people seldom if ever use the word "bureaucracy" in a positive sense? They probably subscribe to Thomas Hobbes's view of the life of primitive man: that it was brutish and short. But as said before, evidence uncovered by anthropologist doesn't bear that view out. From what they can tell, hunter-gatherer societies actually enjoyed a more comfortable way of life with more leisure and less warfare before the advent of agriculture and "civilization*." In fact, most of the ills associated with living with humans, didn't really emerge until agriculture.

This can be seen among the few remaining hunter-gatherer groups, like the !Kung. As said in a previous post, that even though the !Kung live in one of the harshest environments on Earth, they actually devote fewer hours to work than so-called "civilized" man.

Anyway, Ray-Ray, Mac, Yerik, Chaim, and Token Jew are all walking together, talking about how excited they are, in hopes of convincing the readers that if they say something enough, it will become true.

Ellanjay show their passionate love of the copy-paste function, but having Yerik pause and read Ezekiel 44.

It's boring as heck and of course, I had to copy and paste into Google to figure out where the passage originated in the first place. It's only notable for this part, which makes me cackle with delight.

“Now, whoever enters by way of this north gate shall go out by way of the south gate, just as whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. No one shall return by way of the gate through which he came. ‘Thus says the Lord God: “No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel.”’ You brethren, of course, are either children of Israel or circumcised in heart.

I'm cackling because afterwards, I picture Yerik turning to all of them and being like, "So do your dicks still have their turtlenecks? Then sorry, can't go in until I go over you with a scalpel." I'd honestly want to see the reactions among the bunch. Because Chaim and Token Jew are safe, seeing as they were raised Jewish, but what about Ray-Ray and Mac? How do you think they're going to react to this? I'm picturing so many cries of "You want to do what to my what?!"

And for the record, until the Internet came along, I never knew that circumcision was an issue people were that passionate about. The two guaranteed thread-derailers in any online discussion seem to be abortion and circumcision. The abortion part I already knew about--see and hear about all the protestors on TV--but the circumcision part surprised me. Maybe it's because I'm a chick, but I didn't think someone would be that obsessed with a flap of skin on someone's dick. I know the stereotype is that guys think with their dicks, but I didn't think it was literally true. I imagine it must suck at the time--one moment, you're a happy baby boy lying in your bed, then snip, and you're introduced to the fact that powerful people can fill your life with pain for no real reason, a lesson life seems to repeatedly want to drive home--but again, I didn't believe people dwelled on it that much. I generally don't obsess over stuff that happened when I was too little to remember much of anything.

Okay, I think I've talked about circumcision enough. Like I said in the previous post, I'm wondering if I should start a counter for all this Creepy Sex Stuff. I'll just end this by quoting Galatians 5:12 from a passage where Paul chewed out people for being obsessed with circumcision. Because that's the kind of person I am. Can't remember chapter and verse numbers for anything but the weird verses in the Bible. Say something like John 3:16, and I'll be like, "Okay, that's the one that goes 'God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son, so we won't die and we'll have eternal life' or something like that. And I think there may have been some other good stuff in there as well." Say to me, "Okay, which verse does Paul tell his enemies to castrate themselves?" and I will, without hesitation, say "Galatians 5:12."

Yerik leads them in and we cut to Kenny.

Kenny, along with Zaki, Qasim, and Raymie, are working at a daycare for the COT. And as if we didn't have enough proof that Ellanjay haven't been around kids, outside of a photo op, here's more.

Kenny wondered whether COT had a capacity limit. Even now as additional buildings were being finished, more were in the works.

This day Kenny and six subordinates had charge of just under two hundred kids. They would play games, then hear a story, then sing before napping. He was making assignments and trying to keep the children corralled when an aide nudged him and pointed.

As a courtesy to my readers, I did some googling in hopes of finding out the regulations governing daycares, like how many aides you must have for each group of kids. Unfortunately it's one of those things that vary by state, so there isn't one answer. So we'll just use the facts at this website as our starting point.

Aide means an adult (18 years of age) who has not completed education or experience requirements for a teacher. An aide may be less than 18 if he/she is a high school graduate or is enrolled in an occupational education program at a high school or college (R.O.P.). An aide must be continuously supervised by a teacher and cannot supervise a group of children alone. (101216.3 a-e), except for supervision during nap time and for children going to the bathroom.

Teacher means an adult (over 18), who has completed at least 6 semester (9 quarter) units of Early Childhood Education and is enrolled in coursework as required by Regulation to complete the 6 additional units. Infant Center teachers also need 3 units in infant care. The holder of an R.O.P. certificate of completion may also be employed as a teacher according to conditions in statute, which include being 18 years of age and making satisfactory progress towards completing 12 semester units in E.C.E. as required. Teachers and Directors in School-Age Child Care Centers only may substitute 20 hours of specific kinds of approved training for each semester unit (New Section 1597.21, Health and Safety Code).

Fully Qualified Teacher means an adult who has completed at least 12 semester (18 quarter) units of Early Childhood Education in the areas specified in Title 22 at an accredited or approved institution and has 6 months experience. Holders of a Children’s Center Permit or Child Development Associate (CDA) credential are also fully qualified.

Staffing Ratios

0-2 years: 1 Teacher to 4 infants. Aides may be substituted if supervised by a Fully Qualified Teacher so there is a 1:4 adult to child ratio and there is one Fully Qualified Teacher for every 12 infants. There may be one staff person supervising up to 12 sleeping infants ONLY if remaining staff to meet the 1:4 ratio are at the Infant Center.

18-30 months: Toddler Option for Pre-schools. Requires prior submission of license application for change. Other conditions apply. 1 Teacher to 6 toddlers, or one Fully Qualified Teacher and an Aide to 12 toddlers. (Maximum group size = 12) (101216.6)

2-Kindergarten: 1 Teacher to 12 children, or 1 Teacher and Aide to 15 children. Naptime: 1 Teacher directly supervising 24 children IF staff necessary to make up 1 to 12 ratio are immediately available at center.
1 Fully Qualified Teacher and Aide to 18 children (aide must enroll in or have 6 semester units in ECE).

School-Age: 1 Teacher to 14 children or 1 Teacher and Aide to 28 children.

So yeah, the COT daycare is probably in violation of all those regulations. I'll be charitable and say that maybe Kenny is working as an aide, rather than a teacher, because do you really think Ellanjay would be so gauche as have one of the "good" characters pursue higher learning?

I don't know the age range so I can't really be too solid on the numbers. I almost wanted to say something about how all the kids would be under seven and go from there, but then I remember the time-skip, so that may not be true.

So when they say 200 kids, I'm not sure whether the range is from baby to teenager or what. But in service to my readers, I'll run through the numbers given to me by the website and see how the COT daycare fares.

If the 200 kids are all babies, then someone shut this daycare down, because when I divided 200 by 7 (Kenny said he had six people helping him, so I'm using seven as my divisor), I wound up with a number (ignoring the remainder) that suggests that we have 7 adults looking after 28 infants each.

For the record, Romania tried that approach with their orphanages. To say it didn't end well, would be the understatement of the year. Because it turns out that babies do have needs being the physical ones of having their bellies full and their butts wiped. So many of these babies withered away and died, due to not being held and cuddled and given the attention they deserve. People who adopted infants from Romania would talk about how the babies don't cry: not when they're hungry, not when they're wet, or when they get stuck with a pin. That's because after so much time and energy spent crying, only for no one to come, the babies simply stopped. They didn't cry and they never properly bonded with a caregiver, leaving them emotionally-stunted. And emotionally-stunted babies tend to become emotionally-stunted toddlers, and eventually, emotionally-stunted adults.

Though regarding that link I mentioned about Romania...again, who would have thought the Christian Right would so admire Nicolae Ceaușescu? Spoiler alert, Nicolae Ceaușescu was an asshole whose policies wound up causing a massive amount of suffering to his people, who thanked him by overthrowing and eventually killing him.

I have a feeling if I were to run the numbers for toddlers and school-age kids, it wouldn't be much better. Again, my head canon is that the situation at the daycare has turned into a mixture of Lord of the Flies, Thunderdome, and that episode of the Simpsons where Ned Flanders was running Springfield Elementary. Because children may be the future, but they're also small, hyperactive, loud as hell, and incredibly stupid. Most of the time I'm around them, I'm like, "How did humans get to the top of the food chain?"

Because childbirth for a giraffe involves having to survive a six-foot drop, yet they're walking around within hours. And while a giraffe isn't full-grown until it is four-years-old, I'm fairly certain at one year of age, they have some survival skills, know to be careful around the waterhole and stay away from lions.

Whereas it takes a human, on average, a year to master walking, and once we do, we're still stupid and helpless, displaying the survival skills of a drunk sheep in a trash compactor. Though, a drunk sheep would probably still be smarter than a human baby who would probably stick their head right in a lion's mouth if given half the chance.

:deepbreath: Yep, I think I've made it so no one will ever ask me to babysit. Life is good.

Saintly Irene shows up, bringing a Greek girl named Ekaterina Risto with her. I suppose I could do a Google search and check on that name, but given what we've seen with Ellanjay's tin ear for foreign names, Ekaterina Risto is pretty tame. I could quibble and point out that I thought Ekaterina was more of a Russian name than a Greek one, but I'm too busy celebrating the fact that they didn't name her Athena Acropolis. It's a small victory, but I'll take what I can get.

This made Ekaterina smile and wink at Kenny, and for the first time in his life, something fluttered inside. Perhaps it was that he had never been winked at by anyone but his parents. And he had to face it: like most young people, he hadn’t yet become interested in the opposite sex. Well, this one seemed interesting, and he didn’t know the first thing about her.

Yeah, Kenny, that "something fluttering inside you?" We call that an erection.

I know, I should apologize for making you think about the genitals of a Left Behind character, but I'm a firm believer in "Misery Loves Company." Besides, try to explain that passage in a way that doesn't convey Kenny is a perv who has a stiffie at the thought of seeing what's underneath Ekaterina's clothes, I dare you.

And that's it for this week. While I plead guilty to being a drooling pervert (because lying makes the Baby Jesus cry), I swear when I set out to write this snark, I didn't plan on making so many dick jokes. It's just one of those things that's out of my hands and in Ellanjay's apparently...:laughs than cringes for a bit: Keep wondering if the problem is that I'm a smart-alecky pervert or is this more a case of Ellanjay stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the needs and desires of the flesh and, in fact, hate said needs and desires, but they're still there, but they refuse to acknowledge it, leading to them manifesting themselves in disturbing ways.

*Civilization is in quotes because definition of it, seems to be slippery, depending on the speaker's bias. If we're defining civilization as having massive cities with huge buildings and a hierarchy between classes, leading to massive inequalities of wealth, then the !Kung and many others don't qualify. If we mean Civilization as in a group of people with shared beliefs regarding religion and the raising of children, and have an agreed-upon code of conduct, then just about every group qualifies, a fact that scares the crap out of those of the Authoritarian mindset that governs the Right.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The TOLjugend

Happy Sunday, everybody!

Let's put on some music to get us pumped up and get to it! I will agree with xkcd
that's it's very rarely worth it to read YouTube comments (in fact, don't ever read the comments at all), but I thought this one was charming:

I looked up good AC/DC songs and every single AC/DC song came up...the most accurate I have ever seen google

Thought I'd give you a bit of levity, because this I've said before, some a-holes do some build up first. Ellanjay are the type who come right out of the gate with it.

IN MANY ways, Rayford decided, what had become known as the Cendrillon Jospin tragedy became a catalyst for good.

I know not everybody's as nuts about profanity as I am about profanity (you have no idea how happy I was, when for once, science backed a vice, rather than spoiled it for me) but really the only response I could give to this line alone was, "Fuck you, Rayford."

Because he is such an asshole, probably the kind of guy for whom the word asshole was invented. As such, I have no difficulty picturing Rayford doing any and all of the things mentioned in the Denis Leary song. Rayford parks like the guy in the red car and uses the Dickhead lane on the highway, patting himself on the back all the while for being so much smarter than the hoi polloi. Good luck trying to get him to tip more than ten percent, even though he sent the poor waiter in and out of the kitchen who-knows-how-many times, because something was slightly off about the placement of tomatoes on his burger. In fact, you should be grateful if Rayford managed to put out actual money, as opposed one of those tracts that look like money but aren't.*

Like I've said before, you can write stories with an asshole protagonist. Again, I cite as example, Seinfeld. But Seinfeld worked because everyone involved, knew these characters were assholes. They knew while Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer may see themselves as the mistreated heroes of their own stories (and really, everyone sees themselves as the hero of their story), the truth is nope, they're assholes.

Again, asshole protagonists don't work when the writers are just as wrapped in delusion as the characters, and don't realize they've written an asshole. And if you're going to write an asshole, remember, fiction has to be more realistic than reality. Like I keep saying, if you make them an asshole, at least make them a larger-than-life one, rather than the boring everyday kind you go to entertainment to escape. Tony Stark is an ass, but at the same time, he's charming enough that you understand why people would want to hang around this guy. Heck, the whole plan behind Tony Stark was to create a character the readers wouldn't like, then make the readers like this character, which is pretty awesome. Not quite as cool as Captain America's origin**, which has him punching out Hitler right on the front cover and from there on, is nothing but page after page of Nazi-punching action, all this months before America actually entered WWII, but still pretty cool.

That's one of the things I love so very much about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because Tony Stark is the kind of character who could have easily wound up being insufferable. Arrogant as all-get-out, classic womanizer, major ego problem, but while I'm totally on Team For The Love Of God, Why Hasn't Someone Gotten Tony Into Therapy, I still have no problems following this character. Though seriously, Tony probably should have gone to therapy after Avengers I. Certainly after Iron Man 3 and the fact that no one suggested it to him after Age of Ultron...yeah, I'm really looking all side-eyed at all his friends.

tl;dr, it all comes down to awareness. Since Ellanjay are part of a subculture that rewards you for having a complete lack of it, everything about them is painful, ESPECIALLY the writing.

As if the first line wasn't painful enough, here's the rest of the paragraph that goes with it.

Good that most in the kingdom did not even know was needed. Somehow, over the first century of the Millennium, the citizenry had taken for granted that what they were experiencing was merely a picture of heaven. Every adult was part of the fold, and the precious children who weren’t soon would be, largely due to the ministry of COT. People had begun sending their offspring there daily.

:Sideshow Bob shudder: Oh, so many jokes that I could make, none of them at all appropriate. Though dammit, I can't seem to escape all the creepy sex stuff. Since I already talked a few weeks ago a little about how the intersection of religion and power, leads to children being horribly abused, I request permission to bow out and shudder for a while. Maybe while scouring my flesh with steel wool.

Outside Israel, no similar ministries had sprung up— at least ones of that magnitude. So to learn that Cendrillon was only the first of many to die at age one hundred— and such deaths began the day after her funeral— spread alarm through Eden. If in the very capital of the world, where Jesus Himself ruled from the throne through David and where the greatest outreach to children was headquartered, there could be hundreds— yea, thousands— dying lost, what did that say about the rest of the world?

I'd make some quip about the number of bumper stickers on the back of Rayford's (and by extension, Ellanjay's car), but it's probably safest to say that Rayford's car is entirely bumper stickers. And of course, he would have a Calvin peeing sticker, because it's like a requirement for a-holes to either have a Calvin peeing sticker or a Confederate Flag Sticker on their cars. If someone has both, it's totally okay to run in the opposite direction. Times in life, forget honor, forget dignity, just GTFO. Honor and dignity won't help you much if you stay.

Though again, the characters themselves keep admitting that this story makes no goddanged sense, again, making me wonder, why the hell this book exists. Can't think of a single excuse except "Filthy filthy lucre." Because Janitor not believing in the moon makes more sense, than the TOL rebellion. There's some twisted logic in saying that the moon is just the back of the sun, but the TOL see and talk with TurboJesus and Zod on a daily basis.

Not believing in them would be like if I were to say, "I don't believe in chairs." Then the other person would be like, "What are you sitting in?" And if I were to say, "I'm not sitting in anything," while my feet are resting on the floor and my butt is touching the cushion of a chair and my back rests against it...I'd say something about psychosis or dementia, but probably even people suffering from either of those conditions would have a greater grip on reality.

Like I keep saying, A Children of the Goats or something like "I believe in you. I'm just not afraid of you," from Rise of the Guardians kind of rebellion would work. But it would force Ellanjay to actually hear the other side's argument and maybe concede that the Strawman Has A Point on some stuff, which we all know they can't do.

So instead, we have a sliver of the population's children being so grotesquely delusional, they can't in anyway be receiving adequate input from their senses, who will be punted into Hell for having some horrific psychological condition, even though if Zod and TurboJesus wanted to, they could easily repair whatever function in the brain has gone wrong, with none of the unpleasant side effects associated with antipsychotic meds in our world. Yet they don't, because, well, just see the Denis Leary song.

Ray-Ray is being all manly, talking about how it certainly adds to his call. Saintly Irene is mentioned, but I was more curious about another issue, so I took advantage of the "Search Inside This Book" feature.

I was wondering if Amanda would make any future appearances after TurboJesus showed up and Chaim read Ray-Ray that verse about how no one will be married in Heaven. Turns out she isn't mentioned again until about 96% of the way through the book. Even though you'd think as Ray-Ray's second wife, she mattered a little. Heck, I'm wondering why Ellanjay bothered to have Ray-Ray remarry, given that Amanda gets killed not too later on. Me, being the kind of person that I am, can only assume Ho Yay. Wanted to assert that despite Ray-Ray's obsession with masculinity and doing everything he can to assert what a manly man he is, Ray-Ray is most definitely not Gay. He barely cringes when he performs his husbandly duties. :laughs than cringes: Give up, guys. I'll repeat what I say about A Separate Peace: there is probably Gay Porn out there that is less homoerotic than the interactions between your characters.

Then we get this weird bit with Token Jew.

“No, I daresay it will not. I am intrigued, however, Rayford, as you do not qualify as a ‘son of Israel.’ You see, Isaiah writes of you as a stranger and the sons of Israel as priests and ministers of God.” Tsion opened his Bible. “The prophet is writing to Israel, not to Gentiles, when he says, ‘Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you—‘ emphasis mine—’ shall be named the priests of the Lord, they shall call you the servants of our God.’  ”

I have no idea why they have this bit in there. From the looks of it, it will Go Nowhere and Do Nothing, just like everything else in this series. I have no idea which part of the convoluted PMD mythos this goes with. Best guess, maybe it's another attempt to desperately assert that they are totally not Anti-Semitic.

Thanks to Google (because while Ellanjay mention it's from Isaiah, they left out chapter and verse numbers), my best guess as to which bit Token Jew is citing (because Isaiah is hella long with some 66 chapters) is Isaiah 61, verse five, and good lord, that's some impressive quote-mining/point-dodging going on there.

Because read any of the material actually surrounding their bit and you're given a completely different impression from what Ellanjay seem to imply. Ellanjay envision all this as merely a new kind of hierarchy, where everyone is assigned a new position in the chain of being. Everyone has people below them, who must answer to them, and they, in turn, must answer to the people above them and so on and so forth. They can't envision Heaven as anything other than a luxurious corporate team-building exercise.

Whereas Isaiah speaks of it almost as a form of Jubilee, where everyone will have what they need and there will no longer be masters and slaves or any need for prisons or prisoners. Heck, the Gospel of Luke has Jesus himself quoting the opening of Isaiah 61, so it's not like these are rare, obscure verses no one has ever heard of. It's not quite John 3:16, but it's fairly well-known.

Token Jew, remembering that his position in the hierarchy means that he is, at all times, subordinate to Ray-Ray, immediately sets about mollifying Ray-Ray's wounded ego.

“Well, I don’t know, especially if it is God putting this on your heart. As you know, as a Gentile you are an adopted child of God. I don’t suppose the Lord would preclude your doing missionary work, especially now. Zechariah prophesied that missionaries of the kingdom would find eager ears among the nations. He wrote: ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Peoples shall yet come, inhabitants of many cities; the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of hosts. I myself will go also.’ Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’  ”  ’  ”

“Well, again, Tsion, I am not a Jewish man. Perhaps I’ve intercepted a call that was intended for you.”

“You know better than that. Seek the Lord with all your heart, and I know you will do what He asks.”

If you can find a way to interpret this passage so Token Jew isn't basically giving Ray-Ray a verbal handjob, reminding him once again that he is the single greatest human and no one has as great a...knowledge of the Bible as he, I'd like to hear it.

Though because I'm an anal-retentive English Major, let's use Google and try to find that passage Token Jew is citing from Zechariah, shall we? Again, have to use Google, because Ellanjay can seldom be bothered to cite chapter and verse numbers, making it clear that for all their talk about how you should read your Bible, they really don't mean it.

Near as I can tell, Token Jew is quoting the tail end of Zechariah 8. You can read through the rest of that chapter and see how well Ellanjay's version lines up with the original text. Me, I'm just going to take Ellanjay's approach to scripture, pick and choose a few I like, ignore the other verses in the chapter or historical context, and use it to cover my ass and justify everything I do. The verse I've decided to use? Galatians 5:12 all the way! Because I'm that kind of person.

Next we cut to Raymie, Bahira, Zaki, and Kenny. They're hanging out, chest-beating about how it's so sad that Cendrillon and everyone else will burn in Hell. Then Raymie notes how their little group matches the original gender makeup of the Tribbles (three dudes and one lady) and decide to start something called (and I kid you not) the Millennium Force.

:massages temples: Oh lordy...Now I got to think of a stupid nickname for them. Can't go around calling them something as awesome as Millennium Force, because that would imply that they'd actually do stuff and be G.I. Joes for Jesus, which we all know isn't true. Instead, they'll bravely do nothing, except occasionally think disdainful thoughts in the enemies' direction. If you're going to give yourself such an awesome testosterone-packed name, you have to live up to it. Since we know they aren't going to, let's come up with a new name for the Millennium Force, something like Tribbles. Right now, the best I got is MILF, but that feels unfair to MILFs everywhere; can you honestly say that any of the characters in the LB-verse have it going on?

So there's the new homework assignment for my readers: come up with a better, more accurate name for the Millennium Force. Oh and no using the obvious profane words that can be shortened to MF; again it would be an insult to mothereffers everywhere! Because Ellanjay really do believe that saying something, makes it so. Therefore, Brave Sir Robin really is brave, because the song mentions the word Brave by his name so often.

Since Kenny is the only one with a non-glorified body, he gets to be all Undercover and infiltrate the TOL. I ask my readers with heart conditions to brace themselves, as he reveals the horrors he's uncovered so far.

“Ignace and Lothair Jospin are deep into the Other Light,” he reported, “but the underground nightclubs in Paris and elsewhere are merely a front. They are frequently raided and revelers arrested and imprisoned. Those who commit actual crimes have been known to be put to death by lightning, God dealing with them immediately as He did to Ananias and Sapphira of old.”

So you hear it right straight from the word/pen/whatever the hell Ellanjay use to write: it's okay to go to clubs, to dance, and enjoy alcohol. Because they just explicitly mentioned that the people who go to these clubs, while they're arrested, it's not considered enough of an offense that warrants an immediate smiting.

Yeah, no matter how hard Ellanjay desperately try, the TOL rebellion sounds suspiciously similar to the Swing Kids of Nazi-Era Germany. No points for guessing which side is which or which side you should be on.

Though when they mentioned Ananias and Sapphira...that's when I started cackling with glee. Because Big Mistake, Ellanjay, bringing that up. Y'see I've actually read my Bible and I know that the bit with Ananias and Sapphira is in Acts 5. And I know that providing a link is sufficient, but I like to really drive a point home, so I'm going to quote the bit with Ananias and Sapphira as part of my post.

5 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Yeah, it should be clear that Ananias and Sapphira weren't smacked down, because they failed to say The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, or enjoyed that devil music. They were smacked down because they basically stole from the poor, withholding money that would have been used to care for the needy in their midst. The closing verses of Acts 4 make it even clearer:

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Yeah, variations on this passage keep appearing in Acts, talking about how everything was held in common and shared, and money from the sales of land and possessions was put into the common pot and distributed to those in need. It seems to be kind of important that it keeps getting brought up. And I picture a lot of RTCs tugging on their collars, trying desperately to find a way to weasel out of those verses, by going, "Well that's different because..." Because it turns out you only need to consider historical context when it comes to verses about taking care of the poor. All the other times, a straightforward reading will do, but verses on caring for the poor and needy? Not so much.

And given that a certain Oompa-Loompa running for president has bragged out not paying his taxes, thereby leeching off of the money and work of others, while with-holding resources that could have been used to care for the poor and needy...Y'know what, I'd better just stop there. Because I know there are legal cases that have established that making a threat against the life of the president, even in jest, is illegal, I'm not sure if the same standard applies to presidential candidates. I'm just going to hum Downpressor Man and walk away.

But if that isn't horrific enough, there's more.

“The Other Light is, in essence, a secret society within our own. It is spreading worldwide, largely through computer technology and encrypted messages. The bushy-haired one, Ignace, and the redhead, Lothair, are slowly bringing me into their confidences. I feared at first they would make me prove myself by coming to Paris and engaging in some debauchery, but that— so they claim— is beneath them. Their current deal is a missive called ‘If It’s True . .  . ,’ which they send to carefully selected dissidents. The gist of it is that if it’s true that the opponents of Jesus die at age one hundred, the efforts of all must be redoubled before they die off, in effect martyring themselves for the sake of the final effort at the end of the Millennium.”

Yeah, it's so secret that they do things like operate businesses easily accessible and known to the public. Oh and "computer technology and encrypted messages?" Yeah, I'm almost masochistic or sadistic (I'm not sure what) enough to ask Ellanjay to define what exactly those two things are and how the eeeevil TOL are using them for their own benefit.

Oh and Kenny's bit about how "I feared at first they would make me prove myself by coming to Paris and engaging in debauchery?" Yeah, you can't mask, like at all, how disappointed Kenny is that he didn't get to engage in debauchery. It's the problem you keep running into with fundamentalists of any stripe: it's not enough for them to merely practice their faith, or just wear their burqas or whatever their equivalent is, in peace. Fundamentalists just feel that it's not enough to be holy; in fact, they simply can't be holy, so long as there are other people out there, having fun and flashing their oh-so seductive ankles.

Though again, if it bothers you that much, Kenny, your subculture firmly believes that no sin, however serious, permanently separates you from God, so long as you ask for forgiveness afterwards. So you can have your debauchery, so long as you make sure to pray for forgiveness for it as soon as it's done. If anyone judges you, produce crocodile tears about how you're not perfect, just forgiven, and the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Or you could just tell yourself that you're committing debauchery for Jesus. You're only having all this sex (because of course, it would be sex, if we asked Ellanjay to define their terms), in order to gain information about the enemy and reach lost souls for Christ. Sometimes it's easier to reach lost souls, by giving them a reach-around, rather than a Jack Chick tract. :slaps shelf: Dammit! Maybe I should have started a tag/counter for all the times this creepy sex stuff kept coming up. I'm not too far in the books that I can't and I've always been kicking myself for not doing a Butt Monkey counter after Ryan died in Left Behind: For Kids.

Oh and that bit about how they're sending out their missive to carefully selected dissidents? Uh, if they're already dissidents, then wouldn't sending them the pamphlet be kind of redundant? Say what you will about Jack Chick, how probably no one has ever been converted by picking up one of his comics, but Jack Chick does have the right idea in suggesting that you leave them out in public places for anyone to see and read. Plus, Jack Chick has that gonzo insanity that almost makes me want to declare him as some kind of Outsider Artist. But that would feel like an insult to guys like the Salvation Mountain Dude aka the only part of the navel-gazing adaptation of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild*** that was interesting. From what I heard, none of the stuff in that scene was scripted. Crew just set up the cameras and let Leonard Knight speak for himself, which is pretty cool. It is the only part of that movie that feels natural, not like some teen/twenty-something's puerile romanticism about how life is painful because they're not happy.

Bahira does another Signal from Fred, being like this doesn't make any sense. Luckily Raymie is here to mansplain for everyone.

“I know what you’re saying, Bahira,” Raymie said. “But like my brother-in-law said at Cendrillon’s funeral, these people already know who Jesus is. They don’t doubt His deity. They don’t like it. They oppose it. That their comrades are dying at one hundred only convinces them of the rightness of their cause. So, Kenny, how do they plan to overcome the ultimate prophecy, the final reward for their leader at the end of the Millennium?”

Yeah, they're really opposing TurboJesus and Zod by...uh, Ellanjay, it only counts as opposition or resistance, IF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED ARE ACTUALLY SLOWING DOWN OR HINDERING SOMEONE FROM DOING SOMETHING!

If it was like ako's Children of the Goats, where the kids start digging holes, trying to rescue their parents, friends, and family from Hell, that would be resistance. If they stood up in the temple and said to TurboJesus "You're wrong and what you're doing is wrong," that would be resistance. And of course, if, like in Spiritplumber's bit, dissidents got together and used their technological resources to defeat the eldritch horrors holding everyone captive, that would be resistance.

Say what you will about the TOL, but they aren't burning down churches, forcing RTCs to, regardless of their personal beliefs, go dance at nightclubs or imbibe alcohol. TOL are just like, "You guys can sit around and sing about Jesus. We want to actually enjoy paradise." Because again, with the TOL, as long as all the participants consent, nothing they do is harmful. In fact, it's probably healthier from a psychological point, to admit that you like grooving to some music with some actual rhythm to it, enjoy the heady feeling alcohol gives you, and the aesthetic pleasures to be had from looking at or touching someone you're attracted to, rather than Ellanjay's brand of dour puritanism, where you spend all your time, sitting and seething over all the fun you're not having.

But like I said, Fundamentalists can't just wear their burqas and shut up about it, because they can't be truly holy as long as other people out there, are flashing their ankles.

Raymie says some more word salads that confuse the crap out of me.

“Naturally, their biggest fear is losing all their forces at the end of every century. Eight more of their generations will die out before the final one, and that one will not even be born until nine hundred years into the millennial kingdom. They’re the only ones who will be alive to join Satan in waging his war against Christ. These people aren’t stupid, though. They recognize that each succeeding generation is way more populous. They expect billions of potential adherents to their cause by the end of the Millennium.”

So what's the TOL's angle here? They plan on defeating Zod by having as much raucous sex as they can, produce as many children as they can, raise them to be hardened atheists, and in turn, have them produce even more kids, in order to keep up the population numbers?

Given that the passage afterwards, where even God demonstrates that he is subordinate to Rayford, by giving him a special message, says something about the population is expanding exponentially, color me confused. The creepy first chapter had the characters bragging about how they're no longer capable of sexual attraction for the person they love, so who exactly is having all this sex and producing all these kids?

I'll assume the "No Sex" rule only applies to RTCs. So again, Ellanjay undermine their case. RTCs spend their time in paradise, preaching and singing hymns. TOL rock out, dance, drink alcohol, and enjoy lots of raucous, screaming sex and since this is paradise, there's all the fun, none of the drawbacks of our world. And I freely admit that I haven't been a horny teenager in a while, but which one sounds more appealing? Again, like I keep telling the COT, just do what you want and pray for forgiveness afterwards. That way you can have your cake and eat it too.

Here's the TOL's eeeevil scheme as summed up by Kenny:

“Their plan,” Kenny said, “is to keep passing down their doctrines and arguments and plans and hopes so that the newborns become well versed and ready by the time of the final conflict. It’s lunacy, I know, and it’s destined to end as the prophets have foretold. I mean, we wouldn’t have to do anything. We could sit on our hands and watch, and the result would be the same. But what about those who might otherwise have chosen Christ and are instead influenced by these monsters? That has to be the reason we still have work to do, even in the kingdom.”

"They are using the intellect and skill with language given to them by God Almighty in order to express their opinions in order to make themselves better understood. Those monsters!"

Sad part is, I did actually find myself making that kind of argument with an idiot in one of Fred's threads.

Gene Roddenberry, you sad naïve fool. You believed better technology would lead to an increase the ability to communicate and being able to communicate more, would make it so that religious and ethnic strife would be a thing of the past. Sometimes I want to invent time travel, just so I can print off some online comments on a news article where race is a tangential factor and read them to you, while pointing and laughing until I dry-heave.

Yeah, I have no difficulty accepting that the instant Ultron gained access to the Internet, he was like "You people are monsters" and "All of you must die!" I find myself thinking the same thing at times.

Kenny talks about how they need another person with a non-glorified body to go undercover. One of them suggests a friend, Qasim Marid. No points for guessing his ethnicity. Bahira has doubts about him and later on, they'll be confirmed to be totally true.

The last section, Ray-Ray and the other tribbles are celebrating the Feast of the Tabernacles. It's all going good, but everyone's concerned because Egypt didn't send any representatives.

Oh and yeah, more and more proof that paradise sounds about as exciting as being stranded in an airport after a flight delay:

Bruce, who had been the first martyr from the Tribulation Force, told of his experiences in heaven, many of which naturally coincided with Irene’s and Raymie’s, though from his unique perspective. And since he and Rayford had briefly greeted each other after the sheep-and-goats judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat nearly a hundred years before? “I was immediately assigned to Africa, serving on a development team. It’s as rewarding a task as I’ve ever enjoyed. I worked myself to a state of refreshed exhaustion every day, if you know what I mean. The Lord gave me gifts I never would have expected, and He helped me exercise them to the fullest from day one. I built roads, helped construct buildings, even worked on power grids and helped neutralize and dismantle weapons. I can’t wait to see where He assigns me next.”

“Me either,” Mac said. “I’ve been toiling away in my area of expertise all these years, living in what used to be Russia. We’re working on building airliners for the whole world.”

The lack of imagination is actually painful. A five-year-old's version where there's lollipop trees everywhere, would actually be better than this.

But Saintly Irene interrupts the menfolk, by saying there's a priest at the door. Everybody get the obligatory jokes ready, even though there's probably no longer any rabbis to throw into the mix. Still pastors though.

And that's it for this week. Need to regroup.

*If I was God and this rapture had to go forward, I would totally make sure to rapture everyone, except the people who leave tracts that look like money as tips or have a car with the bumper sticker that says "In Case of Rapture, This Car Will Be Unmanned" just to mess with some people who deserve it.

**Wasn't sure how to fit in even more cool facts. Like the Captain's creators, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, were both Jewish and would do their part fighting in WWII. Also, that first issue sold an amazing amount of copies, even by the standards of the time (when a lot more people read comic books). Kirby and Simon received death threats and bomb threats (because the Nazis had quite a few American sympathizers), but the mayor of New York was like "The NYPD's got your backs. Keep up the good work." Coolest origin story ever!

***Whatever the flaws of Jon Krakauer's book, at least it admitted that this kid died young and horribly and tore an irreparable swathe of harm in the lives of those dumb enough to know and care about him. The movie is nothing but preening, puerile romanticism from beginning to end.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Why Does This Always Happen to Me?

Happy Sunday! If my readers have stayed away because of all the creepy sex stuff, then you'll be happy to know that this week, well, at least there isn't any creepy sex stuff. Plenty of instances of Tribbles nailing themselves to crosses and acting like such martyrs about it, but no creepy sex stuff at least.

The two paragraph opening is a damn good example of it.

RAYFORD HOPED never again to have to face an ordeal like talking with Cendrillon Jospin’s parents. It might have been easier if they had become defensive and moved into denial mode. But these were devout believers who knew the truth. “She’s gone because she was lost,” her father managed, shoulders heaving.

Rayford asked carefully whether they would allow Cameron to make clear at the funeral that there was a way for all Cendrillon’s friends and acquaintances to avoid her fate. The Jospins nodded miserably. “We will have relatives here,” her mother said, “our siblings and Cendrillon’s cousins. I would have assumed they were all believers, but I’m not sure of anything anymore. Oh, it’s all such a hardship on our family. They were here not so long ago. Maybe six weeks. We had an early birthday party for Cendrillon.”

Yeah, Ray-Ray, it's so hard for you. I mean the Jospins did just lose a child who will burn in Hell for all eternity, but what matters is how upsetting this is to you. All those tears and sobs? They're just so unmelodic. When you wail with anguish, can't you have the common courtesy to do it on key?

Like I keep saying, Ellanjay's protagonists are totally the narrator of this Weird Al song: "Why does this always happen to me?" Can you honestly say that if Ray-Ray had stabbed Nicky in the face, he wouldn't proceed to whine about how the bones in Nicky's face bent the blade and left the knife unusable? Though at the same time, stabbing Nicky in the face would actually be doing something and the Tribbles remain steadfast in their opposition to doing stuff. Even the narrator of a comedic Weird Al song has better work ethic than any individual member of the Tribbles.

I will continue to try to work out this whole death at 100 thing. I will probably finally cross the line from near-madness into madness, but somehow I'll figure this out. Besides, maybe all those padded rooms get a bad rep. They always looked kind of fun to me, get to bounce all over the walls.

But I wonder how accurate the whole thing is. Like does it apply right down to hour and minute? So if you were born on X day at 12:01:01 p.m., does that mean, you have until then to say The Prayer on your birthday? Though I'd suggest starting it at noon, just to be on the safe side. Say The Prayer, save your ass, and enjoy the afterlife. Though given what I read later on in this chapter, the afterlife sounds about as enjoyable as high school algebra.

We cut to Raymie who is sitting with his friends, waiting for Cam-Cam to step up and begin the funeral. And of course, he displays the trademark tact and sensitivity we've all come to know and expect from RTCs.

Strange, Raymie thought, but this would spur the return of an entire industry. As children began reaching the age of one hundred all over the world, many would die. Cendrillon’s body had had to be kept in a wine cellar at her parents’ home until the service. And because cemeteries were nonexistent, she would also be buried on their land.

Like I said, I've more or less decided to induct Cendrillon into my League of Awesome head canon. My head canon, she was something of an amateur herbalist, took a concoction that made her appear dead, then once she woke up in her parents' wine cellar, she climbed out during the night, and is meeting up with the rest of the league. She filled the coffin with bricks to throw everyone off. Don't say this wouldn't work! Given the general obliviousness of Tribbles, can you honestly say that they would notice if the deceased was suspiciously red and brick-like in appearance?

In true "Why does this always happen to me?" fashion, Cendrillon's father steps up to say a few words, before we get to the bulk of the chapter: Cam-Cam preaching.

Cendrillon’s extended family filed into the front rows just before the service began, and her father was the first to take the podium. “We praise Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” he began, laboring. “But this is neither the memorial of a life nor the celebration of a home going, for as you all know, there is only one place for the dead now, and it is not heaven. Cendrillon’s mother and I covet your prayers for our healing. We loved our daughter as much as parents could love a child, and we are in pain— deep,inexplicable pain. We have asked her friend and ministry supervisor, Cameron Williams, to say a few words.”

Uh, Papa Jospin, you know who else is in pain? YOUR DAUGHTER AS SHE GETS PITCHFORKED BY DEMONS AND ROASTED!

And if you guys really loved your daughter and you were staunch believers like you claim, what does it say about you and the missus, how you did as parents?

It's one of the many issues I have with all the whiny editorials about how the millennials will ruin everything for everyone. Speaking as millennial (born 1985), if we are as spoiled and screwed up as they claim, doesn't that reflect badly on the Baby Boomers that raised us? Though in my more cynical moments, I wonder if the reason the Baby Boomers call the generation before them, The Greatest Generation, isn't so much because they took on Hitler while in their twenties, but because that generation produced them and it's going to be all downhill from there. Because when the Whiny Editorialist was young, he/she always respected his elders, gobbled up vegetables like potato chips, regularly buried him/herself in unreadable classics like Moby Dick, never looked at or imbibed alcohol before he/she was of legal age, and was never whiny or immature in the slightest. Yet somehow these Saints among men, produced my generation who will ruin everything, just out of spite.

And now we get to Cam-Cam.

Cameron felt the presence of the grieving Lord with him and believed He gave him utterance. All he could do was present the unvarnished truth: that Cendrillon had seemed a wonderful person and had accomplished many good deeds. “But the sad fact is that either she never saw her personal need for a Savior, or she chose to ignore that need.”

If I were to start a drinking game for this book and I know I really shouldn't, because the only adequate response to this book is to just flat-out drink until your liver explodes, I'd wonder how many sips I should assign for what the Turkey City Lexicon calls "Signal from Fred." For those of you wondering or just too lazy to click on a link, here's how Turkey City Lexicon defines "Signal from Fred"

A comic form of the “Dischism” in which the author’s subconscious, alarmed by the poor quality of the work, makes unwitting critical comments: “This doesn’t make sense.” “This is really boring.” “This sounds like a bad movie.” (Attr. Damon Knight)

Because throughout this chapter and the previous ones and probably the subsequent ones, you have the characters saying stuff like that, talking how it doesn't make sense that anyone would decide against TurboJesus. As said before, Ellanjay keep setting this up like the characters are in our world, where faith is often the assurance of things hoped for, evidence of things not yet seen, as the apostle Paul would put it, but Cam-Cam and everyone else in this series SEE AND TALK WITH TURBOJESUS AND ZOD ON A DAILY BASIS! THEIR EXISTENCE IS A PROVEN FACT, NOT A MATTER OF DEBATE!

Like I keep saying and probably will, until I finish this book, it's not the existence of God that would be up for debate; it's the nature of said god, whether a being who does such monstrous things, is worthy of our thanks and praise. To those who passed Basic Ethics 101 and know that Might Does Not Make Right, the answer is obvious: just because someone has a lot of money or power, doesn't give them the right to, in true Ubermensch fashion, run roughshod over everyone else.

But Ellanjay, like so many on the Right, probably subscribe to a toxic version of Anarchism where it's not so much that they are opposed to law and order or any institutionalized -isms; they're totally in favor of all those things, so long as none of it applies to them.

Though another thing I've said before and will keep saying again: if it's that easy to fake being good, so easy that you can fool everyone with only a modicum of effort, what does it even mean to be good?

For the record, this paragraph contains The Prayer. Take care not to read it out loud, unless you want to spend eternity with people like Ellanjay.

“This is without question the most important decision you will ever make. I ask you directly: have you personally received Jesus the Christ and acknowledged Him as your only Lord and Savior? If you have not, I urge you to do so right now by telling God, ‘Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins. I confess I am a sinner and ask Your forgiveness. I receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior and surrender my life and future to Him.’

I know the rule is you have to utter The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, but I do wonder if you have to utter it? What if some poor schmoe is a deaf-mute? Does this mean Helen Keller is roasting on a spit? Though given that Helen Keller eventually became a radical socialist, joined the Wobblies, and helped fund the ACLU, I doubt they would find room for Helen Keller, even if she wasn't deaf and blind.

[Slightly OT} All those years ago, when Alabama chose Helen Keller for its state quarter as opposed to, say, Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom had way more of an impact on Alabama and national affairs, I often wonder if they knew Helen Keller was a socialist or if they just knew her as, "That deaf and blind lady who done learned to talk." It's probably the latter, but it does amuse me. [/OT]

The next paragraph is nothing but a neverending Signal from Fred as Cam-Cam basically says, "We see TurboJesus on a daily basis, so there's no reason not to believe." I had originally intended to mostly summarize and move on, but I think I'll put Cam-Cam's paragraph up, so we can all enjoy it. Because I'm that kind of person.

“Now let me close by saying, your choice in this matter is easier than it has ever been. There may have been times in eras past when it took a great deal of faith to believe that Jesus was the sinless Son of God. But after all that has transpired, all the prophecy that has been fulfilled, all the attention-getting events that have occurred— including the Rapture of the church, the twenty-one judgments from heaven over the following seven years, and now this, the millennial kingdom with Jesus Himself presiding as King— you would be lying to say that the Christ is anything or anyone else than who He says He is. If you have hardened your heart against Him, it is not because you don’t believe. It is not because you don’t know. It is because you choose to go your own way rather than His, to indulge in a life centered on your own pleasures and wishes rather than dedicated to the One you know is creator of the universe.

“Should you leave here today without acknowledging Jesus, do not say you haven’t been warned that you will not survive your hundredth birthday and that you will suffer needlessly for eternity.”

I'm going to post a clip from Rise of the Guardians. If you don't know why, don't worry, I'll soon explain it all to you.

The point can be safely summed up in the part where the kid, Jamie, says to Pitch, "I believe in you. I'm just not afraid of you," a statement that sure as hell applies to the monstrosity in the LB-verse. Because again, the kids see and talk with TurboJesus and Zod on a daily basis. The idea that they would question the existence of either, makes no sense. We can argue about all the fallacies in C.S. Lewis's Liar-Lunatic-Lord Trilemma, but in the MK, not believing in God would, to borrow from Lewis, make about as much sense as saying, "I am a poached egg."

The only way any of this would work would be if everyone in the MK was massive psychotic, unable to receive accurate input from their senses and...dang it, you know there really is no avoiding all the Lovecraftian parallels. I'll just assume that what has happened is the Elder Gods have shown up, devoured most of humanity, and caused the survivors to snap from the insanity of it all. The Elder Gods are taking their sweet time with devouring everyone else, because they like to play and toy with their food, and if they do polish us all off, then the fun's over. But the Tribbles can't handle knowing that they are only puny beings, playthings for monstrous horrors to devour whenever they get bored, so they dive into insanity to cope with the horror of it all, create an alternate reality where Godthulhu really does love them; it's just those other people He can't stand. He'll totally spare us if we praise Him in the proper manner.

[OT Fangirling] Still love how in Rise of the Guardians, the key to defeating Pitch turned out to be, turning him into a joke. Jack rallies the kids to stand up and fight him, by hitting Pitch with snowballs, while he's in the middle of his standard "You've lost" villain lecture. Sometimes when dealing with bullies or hate groups, that's the best approach: make them into goddanged jokes. Of course, you should keep pushing back at them, but sometimes, the best approach is to make them laughable, make them into such ridiculous baboons no one can take them seriously. Another good example of this phenomenon: when Superman took on the KKK. Always considered that to be such a cool story about how the Superman radio show managed to cause real damage to the KKK.

I suppose I should stop drawing strength and taking morals from animated movies and superheroes, but I don't think I ever will. Take your strength and comfort where you find it, even if it comes from a humanoid alien in the funny books battling evil in an outfit his adopted mother sewed for him.

Or to borrow from Neil Gaiman's paraphrase of G.K. Chesterton: Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten. [/OT]

We cut back to Raymie. I admit it, I did spend some time, trying to twist his passage into something perverted, because that's how I roll, but for once, I have to admit it feels like something of a reach, even for me.

He's just sitting at the funeral, admiring Cam-Cam's boldness and passion (interpret that how you will), and decides to put his arm around Kenny.

Kenny was the only one of the four young people who sat there without a glorified body and memories of seven years in heaven with Jesus. He had come into the Millennium as an almost-five-year-old and even now still looked like a teenager, aging ever so slowly in this idyllic utopia, but Raymie prided himself on being able to tell who had glorified bodies and who didn’t. Those who did appeared, of course, to not age an iota. The slow effects of time had an impact on the others.

I am really trying not to add creepy sex stuff to all this, but Raymie did just admit that he spent a lot of time, checking out the bodies of young people and...y'know what I think I'll just stop there. If aunursa was still hanging around this blog, I'd ask if Raymie came across as this creepy in the other adult books. I know, he's bamfed in the Rapture and doesn't make any appearances until TurboJesus kills everyone, but I thought maybe aunursa, with his scary encyclopedic knowledge of the Left Behind-verse, would know something.

Though all this detail about how people like Kenny still age, but very slowly...again, if I didn't know that PMD was a belief system shared and practiced by many people all around the world (at least since Scofeld and Darby of the 19th century), this belief system is so incoherent that I would swear anyone trying to explain it, would sound like a schizophrenia patient explaining a really incoherent dream. Though that seems unfair to people with Schizophrenia; even someone deep in the grips of psychosis could come up with a more coherent belief system.

Raymie badgers Kenny about getting saved, saying he doesn't want to see his nephew in a box in a few years. Kenny hangs out and watches as, to use the book's words, hundreds of people knelt before Cam-Cam, weeping.

Zaki, a character I know and care little about, points out some guys in back, who are looking distracted and bored. He talks to Kenny about how if he didn't have a glorified body, he would totally infiltrate the TOL. They're like, "Oh you should totally do infiltrate those guys, Kenny."

Kenny had been ten and living in the kingdom a few years when his mother led him to Christ and prayed with him while putting him to bed one night.

“I don’t feel like a sinner,” he had told her. “I hardly remember doing anything wrong.”

“Sin isn’t necessarily just things we do,” she had said. “It’s what we are and who we are. We’re all born in sin and need forgiveness.”

It hadn’t taken much persuasion. Kenny had seen Jesus. If He wasn’t God, nobody was. To Kenny, the decision seemed easy. And while he had heard all the stories of his parents’ and his grandfather’s exploits during the Tribulation, he found living “the life,” as his parents called it, easy during the millennial kingdom. When he was younger, Kenny had actually wished there were more opposition so he’d have something exciting to do. But once he had become a believer himself, working with COT had been all the excitement he needed. Almost every day he had either led a child to Christ or known of someone who had.

Again, Ellanjay, when your own characters keep pointing out how this makes no damn sense, most would see this as a sign you need to take a long hard look at your story.

Though yeah, we all remember Cam-Cam and Ray-Ray's exciting exploits against the GC, how they occasionally thought disdainful thoughts in Nicky's general direction. One time they even trampled the flowers in his flower-bed. That was a two-parter episode.

As for the rest, oh, how many times am I going to have to cite Fred's post "Martyr Envy?" This part always seemed so very accurate where Ellanjay was concerned:

And here we come to the vicarious appeal of these books for American evangelicals. The perilous Tribulation that Bruce Barnes describes is frightening, yes, but at least it’s not as dull as the uninspiring sit-around-and-wait, do-nothing existence they’ve come to believe is their lot in life here in history.

Here in Left Behind they can reimagine the Christian life as an exciting adventure. It’s similar to the speakers we had on youth group retreats back in high school. They would tell these thrilling stories of Christians who were persecuted for their faith — first century believers or 20th-century Christians in China or behind the Iron Curtain. The stories would reach a crescendo where the persecuted faithful were forced to choose between denying their faith and certain death. “What would you do?” the speakers would ask. And then, with every head bowed and every eye closed, we were given the opportunity to come forward yet again to re-re-dedicate our lives to Christ.

I don’t know whether those speakers realized the secret envy we had when listening to those stories. The lives of those martyrs seemed so much more exciting and meaningful than our own did. Plus there was something weirdly appealing about a one-time, one-question, pass-fail test in place of the tedious day-after-day. In our imaginations, at least, the martyr’s egress sounded almost easier than the pilgrim’s progress (as somebody once said, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.) We imagined that, like the grandmother in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” we could’ve been good kids if it had been somebody there to shoot us every minute of our lives.

Though again, what does it say about Ellanjay's depiction of paradise when even one of its dwellers openly longs for a life of pain and misery? Like I keep saying, Ellanjay, you should have had the sense to fade to white and move on. But nope, you wanted another solid gold Humvee and decided to take on a task that would stymie even a great writer, never mind a lazy-ass SOB like you.

Kenny meets up with some cousins of Cendrillon's, Lothair and Ignace. Wikipedia's disambiguation page doesn't list anyone past the 14th century as having the name Lothair. Geez, I wonder why.

Well, because I'm that kind of person, I'll just picture Lothair as Lothor, the Big Bad from Power Rangers Ninja Storm. Ninja Storm was an odd season of Power Rangers, one that had its tongue firmly in its cheek, and had no problem making sly self-aware quips about the nature of their universe. Plus gotta respect any villain that tries to use the scariest, most inexhaustible resource known to man, in order to conquer the world; I am speaking, of course, of fangirls. Watch the episode "I Love Lothor" if you don't believe me. Plus, having Lothor in this story gives me hope that there will be giant robot battles at some point and who doesn't dig giant robots? No really, who doesn't? Because I will fight them, all of them, because clearly they are some kind of pod person Cylon who hates all that is cool and awesome.

Unfortunately, when I looked for Ignace, wasn't able to find any cool pop culture references. Sorry. Though I could take advantage of my soapbox and use this to talk more about Megas XLR aka a smart, funny cartoon that had limitless possibilities and I'll never forgive Cartoon Network for canceling it after two meager seasons! :shakes fist:

Anyway, Kenny is talking with Lothair and Ignace and is shocked, shocked by the appalling language they use. Here's the appalling language they use, for my readers' perusal:

Lothair, a redhead, was the thinner and taller of the two. He snorted. “That crackpot sure made her sound like a loser. Don’t know who he thinks he is.”

Kenny flinched and hoped it didn’t show. He had never heard people this age talk that way. Little kids, sure, roughhousing, fighting, squabbling over toys, not sharing— that was common. But for almost-adults to be so negative, to talk so mean? That was new to Kenny.

Yeah, I imagine even the most tightly-wound schoolmarm wouldn't faint at that language. Though really, being negative and mean is a sin? Well, you might want to tell it to the Christian Right who breaks blood vessels ranting and raving about how GLBT people will burn in Hell. I'm fairly certain most would define seeing a group of people as, at best, a disease, at worst, an abomination unto the Lord, and doing everything in their power to drive up the hate crime/suicide rate, which is already much higher for GLBT people than just about any other minority group, to be the very definition of negative and mean.

Of course, I would also consider using a funeral to guilt-trip people into saying The Prayer or their eternal soul gets it, to be negative and mean, but still.

Lothair makes what I would consider, a damn good example of "Strawman Has a Point," remarks.

“Then you know she wasn’t some big sinner. She hadn’t even been outside Israel since she was a little kid. We couldn’t even talk her into having a little fun.”


“Yeah, you know. Fun. Something other than singing songs to Jesus to make sure you live past a hundred.”

Ellanjay created the LB-verse as revenge porn for RTCs, but with every line they write, they undermine their own case. Because they keep admitting, again and again, that their version of paradise is actually really boring. You wonder if all this hatred isn't born of seething jealousy. They spend all their time sitting around, doing nothing bad, and being miserable, while those sinful sinners enjoy life.

Or to quote from one of my favorite Slacktivist posts:

What's striking here — and all the more striking because the authors themselves seem not to notice it — is how color-less Barnes' life as a sinner was. It would be wrong even to say he had lived the life of a sinner — he hadn't lived life at all.

This, I would argue, was Bruce Barnes' real sin. And it's far more dangerous, far more soul-killing, than the full-blooded pursuit of pleasure by a Brother Jim, or a Faust, or a Qoholeth. Sin boldly. Better to be a crack addict chasing a counterfeit of the pearl of great price than to be chasing nothing at all.

In my favorite prayer of confession from The Book of Common Prayer, we say, "Too often we carry on our lives as if You did not exist." Bruce Barnes is certainly guilty of that, but he also carried on his life as if he did not exist. He confesses to a litany of petty sins, but not to the sin of pettiness itself — of living a small, numb, meaningless life. That's the kind of sin that breaks God's heart.

Barnes wasn't "left behind" — he stayed behind on his own.

Lothair continues to make smart-alecky remarks, making me wonder if I need to draft him into my League of Awesome head canon. Haven't yet, but his little dig about how all the people with glorified bodies look like porcelain dolls makes me wonder if I should. Because y'know that in Ellanjay's depiction of Heaven, given that Zod had no problem giving personalities to people who were never actually born, the glorified probably all look like Precious Moments figurines. Because ethnicity or uniqueness has no place in the afterlife!

And here's where they tell us about the unspeakable crimes they are committing in the eyes of God and man:

Ignace laughed. “No dances at the temple, eh? No shows? No strong drink? Lothair here makes his own. Takes it right out of the foothills. Speeds up the fermentation process. Gives it a real kick.”

“You don’t worry about messing with God’s wine?”

“Lothair only makes it better, friend.”

But if it's already wine, how exactly are they speeding up the fermenting process? I don't claim to be any expert on alcohol but wine is already fermented, isn't it. Don't know what exactly Lothair could do to make it more alcoholic.

Though is this confirmation of something I'd asked in a previous chapter. When they talked about the hills flowing with wine, I wondered how well that would play with Ellanjay's target audience, which is made up of the bluest of bluehairs who firmly believed that Jesus turned water into non-alcoholic grape juice at the wedding of Cana. So is this confirmation that it's actually grape juice, but Lothair is being all evil and setting it aside so it would :gasp: ferment?

Yeah, if I'm not already mad from all this, I soon will be.

The chapter ends with Kenny looking at their stylish pinstripe shirts and wondering if the TOL design on them, refers to "The Other Light." Oh, Kenny. Let me guess, you have degrees in murderology and murderonomy. You'd be like, "Now I know Schmadolf Schmitler is loudly proclaiming and crying for the extinction of the Jews, but that in no way proves that he's actually Adolf Hitler wearing a fake Yosemite Sam mustache to hide his toothbrush one. It doesn't make any sense why he would do this. The fact that said mustache fell off, revealing a toothbrush one underneath, doesn't prove anything either. Adolf Hitler was named Adolf Hitler, not Schmadolf Schmitler. Why would a universally reviled dictator feel a need to hide his identity?" Kenny is so definitely Elmer Fudd in the "Duck Season, Rabbit Season" cartoons, minus the comedic timing.

And that's it. Read and comment if you're out there. I know I sound excessively whiny, but if someone hasn't commented in a while, I get a little concerned. Start thinking things like, "Anything could have happened. Could have konked their head, walking around in the favorite high heels, or suffocated in a freak wig closet accident. And let us never forget the dangers inherent in gardening, vomit-choking, or spontaneous combustion.