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.