The opening section, Rayford, Chaim, Mac, and Bruce are all meeting with King David. And oh, God, it's such a circle-jerk. There really is no other way to describe it. It's just a never-ending ego-stroke for Rayford, reminding him and everyone else that he is the single greatest human in history. Surprisingly enough, we don't have a passage where King David breaks down in hysterical tears, because he can't be as tall or manly as Rayford. Comes close, but Ellanjay wuss out.
The priest, Yerik, is here as well. Don't ask me why. I have no idea. He just signals for Ray and Co. to rise when King David enters and that's the extent of his participation. It might actually be interesting to know what exactly his duties are in the Millennial Kingdom, since Yerik is supposed to be a priest, but Ellanjay know we'd much rather hear endless talks about bureaucracy and delegates instead. :whimpers:
Don't worry. Even though this is King David, aka the guy whose name scores the most mentions in the Bible, aka a guy of monumental importance to the Jewish mythos (and by extension, the Christian one), he is well aware of the great chain of being that governs the Ellanjay verse and proceeds to lay on the flattery, giving each of the assembled, a proper ego-stroking. Yeah, I was really tempted to put dick-stroking in there, but I resisted. You can think me for it in whatever manner you deem fit.
Anyway, here are the titles for those interested:
“Tsion, the celebrated scholar whose courage sacrificed his own family . . .
“Chaim, also known as Micah, leader of the remnant. Welcome.
“Montgomery Cleburn, also known as Mac, a loyal friend . . .
“Bruce, one of the first to wear a blood-washed robe. Welcome, welcome.”
Maybe it's because I'm a hopeless pop-culture addict, but all this is making me think of the cracktastic Superfriends cartoon, where Lex Luthor introduces each member of the Legion of Doom and somehow has to make them sound intimidating even though...yeah, the question isn't whether drugs was involved with the making of that show. That's been answered. The question is what kind and in what quantities?
I suppose I could point out that probably more people than just Bruce died when Nicky nuked 9 cities for Reasons! but y'know they're just NPCs. Ellanjay can't be bothered to care, so why should we.
If you're wondering what Rayford's super-special awesome nickname is “Rayford Steele,” David said, reaching for him, “he of the changed mind and heart.”
Yeah, Rayford has really changed. Before the Rapture, he was an egocentric narcissist who had sinful thoughts for a woman he :gasp: wasn't married to. Now...well he no longer has sinful thoughts about a woman he's not married to, so Ellanjay count that as enough of a change.
As I recall, supposedly Tim LaHaye was inspired to create the Left Behind series, by something he saw when he was on a flight (no surprise, there). He said he saw a male pilot, who had a wedding ring, flirting with a female flight attendant who :gasp: didn't have a wedding ring, and started wondering what would happen to them if the Rapture were to happen right then and there. Were it not for the fact that Tim LaHaye is dead and my Do-It-Yourself Séance Kit is missing, I'd ask him to define flirting. Because my natural pessimism says that Tim LaHaye would be like, "He was showing basic human compassion towards a female, actually acting genuinely interested in what she had to say. The horror!"
We do get a description of King David. It's rare that we get any descriptions in the LB-verse, so I feel a need to copy and paste.
Rayford had seen David only from afar but was struck again by how human and normal he seemed. After having admired the man and his exploits for so long, he wouldn’t have been surprised to discover him the size of Goliath. David too had apparently been restored to his ideal age, appearing perhaps in his late twenties with sinewy arm and leg muscles, large hands, bronzed skin, and a trim dark beard that set off prominent features. He wore a purple robe with gold fringe, but a simple gold crown with a small silver frontispiece bearing a diamond was pushed back on his head, almost as an afterthought.
Uh, I have a feeling Rayford especially admired David's exploits with Jonathan* if you catch my drift.
I know, I know, I'm a drooling pervert, but come on, I can't be the only one being like "So much Ho Yay...so very Ho Yay..." I realize as a girl, I can't claim to be an expert on dudes, but I really doubt a totally heterosexual straight-as-an-arrow guy would spend that much time admiring another guy's muscles. Wouldn't a dude be more likely to say, "He looks like he could arm-wrestle a gorilla" and move on from there?
Though the mention of David as having bronzed skin...I wonder if this is paying lip service to the fact that as a Middle Eastern Jew, David probably wasn't the perfect Aryan specimen. Though they'd probably define bronzed as "He has a nice tan from being out in the sun, making him one of the nice brown people, rather than the scary brown people."
I suppose it's a good thing David too has been de-aged like so many others. Because...:grins wickedly: Let's just say it pays to know some of the less cited passages of the Bible. Like this bit, from 1 Kings 1:1-4
1 Now King David was old, advanced in years; and they put covers on him, but he could not get warm. 2 Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman, a virgin, be sought for our lord the king, and let her stand before the king, and let her care for him; and let her lie in your bosom, that our lord the king may be warm.” 3 So they sought for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 The young woman was very lovely; and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her.
Or to translate to for modern readers, "King David had gotten pretty long in the tooth, causing his advisors to worry about whether he had the strength to be King. So they found a hot, young, nubile girl to see if he could still get it up. But though she was very hot, he couldn't, which proved he was most definitely too old and weak to be King."
Yeah, I love collecting the weird little passages like those, just so I can whip them out and make any discussion awkward and...oh God, the pun I just made. I'm going to flog myself for a while.
Yerik disappears, because he was so vital to the plot, and we get this exchange, which gives me even more of an excuse to cackle and make "That's what she said!" kind of remarks. I wonder what I was like, before I became a pervert, capable of reading overtones into just about everything. I suppose I didn't do as much Beavis and Butthead-type laughter, but could I really say my life was richer and more enjoyable?
“Forgive me, sir, but it doesn’t seem right to be looking down on you.”
“Well,” David said with a laugh, “it’s all right with me, provided your view of me is only physical.”
“I assure you it is.”
“I know. Your faithfulness to the Lord is well established, all of you.”
Rayford was amused that the others were still obeying the priest’s admonition of silence. They did not acknowledge even this compliment.
"It seems more appropriate for me to be going down on you."
Ow! Okay, okay, I'll lay off the constant "Rayford is So Very Gay" jokes. For this chapter at least...I know, I should try to stop completely, but I'm not made of stone, people!
Though that last bit...yeah, Rayford, you don't feel the least bit shaken to be in the presence of King David? You're not so awestruck you can barely speak? Oh yeah, Rayford is aware of the great chain of being that governs the LB-verse. Since he is at the top of it, even above Zod and TurboJesus, of course, he wouldn't feel that the priest's admonition would apply to him. But to be fair, it is hard for him to be humble, when he's perfect in every way.
And we get some world-building which, like I keep saying, it just keeps proving over and over how lacking Ellanjay are in imagination. Because when asked to imagine paradise, a land where there's no pain and suffering, no poverty or disease, none of the limitations of our world that prevent us from accomplishing whatever we want, and they basically recreate the same bureaucracy we get on world. So apparently, paradise for Ellanjay is basically the DMV.**
David spoke with an earnest passion and direct gaze. “Presiding over Israel has been simple during this era,” he said. “The counselors, judges, and I have adjudicated minor disputes, mostly over land or possessions. The Lord has given us His wisdom so that the opponents leave happy and usually friends. This is the result when the Lord is the King. Another benefit is that most nations have had the foresight to keep children out of places of authority. Unfortunately, Egypt failed to see the wisdom in that, and she elevated two to her elder council who had not even yet reached a majority. I imagine you have heard the result.”
Right...Someone want to explain to Ellanjay that most disputes over property or possessions occur because we live in a world of limited resources, which leads to desperation and desperation wears away at someone's sanity, causing them to lash out in violence or commit such gauche offenses as steal a loaf of bread to save your starving family? Or to put it in all caps, because that's how I roll: NONE OF THIS STUFF WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO A WORLD WHERE THERE ARE UNLIMITED RESOURCES AND EVERYONE HAS PLENTY TO EAT AND A PLACE TO LIVE AND DOESN'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING OLD AND SICK!
They talk more about how Egypt hasn't sent its ambassadors for the Feast of Tabernacles and how that's so horribly wicked of them.
King David has the same kind of bizarre Biblical Diarrhea of the mouth as the Gruesome Twosome and is unable to speak in anything but a mélange of Biblical-sounding gibberish and actual verses for a bit.
“That, gentlemen, is why it behooves all kings to be wise and be instructed. They should serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and they perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. They shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.’
"So when you say 'Kiss the Son,' do I have to give him the tongue and a thigh massage."
Ow! Okay, I'll stop. But like I said, I'm not made of stone. I just find myself screaming, while reading this "There are probably writers of Gay Porn, who would be like, 'Y'know, you could really stand to tone down the homoeroticism here. It's a little too obvious!'"
Thankfully, King David's condition isn't as bad as the Gruesome Twosome's and he finally cuts to the chase.
“Sir, I summoned you and your associates today because I need your help. I am but king of Israel, prince to Jehovah. Egypt is beyond my jurisdiction. He will deal with her as has been prophesied in His Word. However, the Lord has assigned me to see to the healing of that land after the accursed are slain and the land has suffered drought.”
That sound you hear is my brain doing a record scratch.
Because I thought the way this all worked was that there were a bunch of people appointed to various locations, but they all answered to King David, who in turn answers to TurboJesus. I could rant again about how Ellanjay can't envision a world without some kind of hierarchy designating who is more equal than others, but I'll spare you.
In fact, I did some binging through past posts and found a passage I quoted that totally confirms that while there are people who rule beneath David, David is above all, except TurboJesus. Because I'm that kind of anal-retentive person, the kind seldom seen outside questionably-run state asylums.
Jesus said, “The Lord is King over all the peoples of the earth. The Lord is one, and His name one.”
And yet it soon became clear that Jesus, while the ultimate sovereign, would not be ruling alone. He began calling out from the multitudes counselors from each tribe who would adjudicate all matters among the citizens. These would serve as judges who would report to the ultimate judge of each tribe, one of the twelve apostles. Cameron thrilled to see these heroes of his faith take their places with Jesus in the temple.
Then the Lord explained that the judges would report to the king of Israel— in this case, Jesus’ prince, David himself.
So yeah, King David, what's this crap you're spouting about how you do not have jurisdiction over Egypt?
If you're wondering, here's the post in question.
Rayford is like, "Slain?" in response to what King David said and I'm like "Oh stop pretending like Rayford is genuinely shocked about God choosing to Exterminate All the Brutes!"
“By their actions they have cursed themselves. Still viewed as children because of their youth, they have become an affront to the Almighty, and they shall surely die. The Lord shall mete out justice, but He also seeks to heal their land. Egypt will require rebuilding and growth and development. You and your men are His choices to carry that out. With your labor shall come the responsibility and the privilege of telling the good news of His salvation to the remainder of Egypt’s young unregenerate.”
Or in short, God decided to send a drought to kill most of the population of Egypt and King David is now asking Rayford and Co. to go to Egypt and tell them to worship the demiurge starving and killing them via drought.
I know I've used the Abusive Spouse or Parent analogy so many times, but there really isn't any better metaphor to use. Of course, I could dip into George Orwell, bring up Big Brother and Animal Farm, but I've also already overused those as well, dammit!
Though we all know Rayford and Co.'s mission to Egypt will have all the hallmarks of a White Gurl Goes to Africa bit. Rayford and Co. will get to give themselves a big pat on the back for being so noble and self-sacrificing as to live in slightly less luxurious conditions, hug Brown-skinned children, and maybe construct some shoddily-made structures on their behalf, then they'll leave and go back to their comfortable lives, feeling all proud of themselves for making a difference.
And there's no need to spoil their good buzz by being like, "Okay what did you accomplish, besides getting to fill your Facebook feed with photos of Brown people and feel good about yourself? Couldn't you have saved the money you were going to spend on this trip and donated it to the locals in the area, so people with actual know-how, actual knowledge of the land, its people, and its needs, can build whatever needs to be built?" That would hurt their feelings and heaven forbid, we ever allow anything to hurt a White First-Worlder's feelings by pointing out their impact was nil and may in fact, have made matters worse.
Yeah, I know, I'm getting preachy, but like I said, this is my soapbox, so deal with it.
My awesome powers of predicting what will happen in poorly written fiction (a superpower that's about as useful as bullet attraction) is that when the inevitable "Ray-Ray goes to Africa" scenes roll around, we'll get scene after scene of all those poor Africans recognizing the inherent knowledge bestowed upon him as a White Person, and I'll get through this by imaging someone going, "Uh, guys, I know Jesus is great and all, but you know what might actually help more? Having access to fresh water and decent food. Not to mention, it might really help to have some trained medical professionals address this Cholera epidemic."
Okay, now that we've gotten through Ray-Ray's part (for any of my readers who were concerned, Rayford did accept King David's offer), we can cut to Kenny.
Kenny, as we know, has a stirring in his undercarriage for a girl brought to help him at the daycare, someone from Greece named Ekaterina Risto. They talk for a bit and it's boring as heck, all the talk about how everyone ages slowly as in the days of Noah and such. I tried to amuse myself by letting my inner pervert out, but there really isn't a lot to mess with. Just know that no matter how much Ellanjay insist, I will assume Kenny just wants to get laid and now that he's found himself near a girl with girl parts...:grins wickedly: Let's just say he'll start reciting some poetry, maybe "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell.
And they talk about how they became Christians. Of course, Ekaterina is all star-struck about Raymie being his uncle, because again, Rayford outranks everyone in the LB-verse.
Kenny is all shocked that it took Ekaterina until she was 80 to decide for Christ. And if you ever had any doubt that Ellanjay Know Nothing About Humans, let me show you the weaksauce explanations she gives.
She nodded. “It might be more precise to say I was undecided. I could not doubt that Jesus was the Lord and the Son of God and God. I just didn’t know what I wanted do about it.”
“Surely your parents raised you to understand the faith.”
“And my need, yes. I felt terrible about my indecision. But there was a stubborn, selfish, prideful side of me that would not give in.”
Yeah, it's about as clear as mud. Because even though she believed in the existence of God and Jesus, somehow that didn't mean she was actually saved. Again, it's all about spell-casting: if you say The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, you will be Saved. You can be a thoroughly awful person until you die, but you will be Saved. If, however, you stumble over the words and fail to use enough sincerity, you will be Damned when you die, even if you're so saintly and marytrriffic that actual saints find you awe-inspiring.
Yeah, I'm considering dusting off James 2: 14-26. I thought about using them in my rant about Africa and maybe I should have, but they still definitely deserve to be quoted.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[d] works, and I will show you my faith by my[e] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[f] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[g] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Of course, the recent death of our dear Jack Chick, has me thinking something I mentioned in a previous post where I wondered if "Haw-Haw!" was the magical words that damned you for all eternity. If I uttered the same dialogue as one of Jack Chick's Strawmen, but left off the "Haw-Haw!" at the end, would I still be damned? Though since I'm a Simpsons fan, I'm probably screwed anyway for all those Nelson Muntz impressions.
I know our Fred Clark takes a very dim view of Jack Chick and I understand why, but at the same time, the gonzo insanity and cracktastic artwork/writing is almost enough to make me wonder if Jack Chick should be remembered as an Outsider Artist or something. Plus, like I've said before, Jack Chick is basically saying with the Christian Right actually believes; he just lacks the proper PR filter, which is why many of them try to distance themselves from him.
Ekaterina talks about how some of her friends joined TOL and like I said, it all sounds suspiciously similar to the Swing Kids rebellion of Nazi Germany.
And there's this headdesker of a conversation.
“Anyway, that’s just it. They have delusions of grandeur. They actually believe they can become so organized and widespread and strong that they can change the course of history.”
“Even if they die hundreds of years before the final conflict.”
“Imagine that,” she said. “But again, this is where they’ve become so idealistic. They want to be martyrs to their cause. They find that glamorous. One told me she believed that if they did their jobs and passed down through the generations their doctrines and their war plans, Satan would actually win and have the power to resurrect them so they could rule with him.”
Uh, guys, isn't that the RTCs' goals, except with TurboJesus substituted in place of Satan? Because I thought that was the whole point of this series to recruit people to become martyrs for Christ.
Though it is a reoccurring theme seen in these books and on the Right in general: they're not opposed to oppression or human rights abuses, just oppression or human rights abuses done by the wrong people for the wrong reasons. The Soviet-era dictators ran roughshod over the lives and rights of people in the name of Communism, which makes their actions wrong. Whereas Vladimir Putin runs roughshod over the rights and lives of people in the name of unfettered free market capitalism and cronyism, which makes his actions okay, and makes it so that the Right can't stop writing love letters about him.
And Ekaterina explains what made her finally change her mind:
Ekaterina nodded. “Eventually that’s what changed my mind. I found that the more of my friends who found the Other Light attractive, the more repulsed I was by it. My hesitation over Jesus was all about me, myself, my pride, my ego. I didn’t want to give up the reins of my life. For my friends, it was that they had actually become the Lord’s enemy. They read the same Scriptures I did, heard the same stories, and came to opposite conclusions. They came to believe that Lucifer got a raw deal, that he hadn’t really done anything bad enough to be treated the way God treated him. They actually started praying to him. None of them ever claimed to hear from him, but the very idea terrified me. To be casting your lot with and praying to the enemy of God, locked away somewhere in the bowels of the earth for a thousand years . . . like you say, it’s lunacy.”
Oh man...so much "Strawman Always Has a Point" it's actually a little painful. Because remember Nicky tries desperately to save the lives of his citizens from horrific disasters sent by God and goes after a terrorist group openly seeking to undermine his rule, but that's wrong. God kills billions of his own people and sends them to hell to suffer for all eternity, but that's right. Again, like Fred said, the difference between God and Satan in the LB-verse is Satan tries to subjugate the earth and kill all his enemies, but fails. God succeeds.
And anyway, that's it for this week. I'll try to be here next week.
*Oh come on, in the very least, David and Jonathan had an epic bromance going.
**Seriously, why was this series canceled?! Smart, funny as hell, and it has giant robots! Who doesn't dig giant robots? I'm wondering how high I should place "Megas XLR gets canceled and still doesn't have an official release" on my list of "Stuff that makes me question the existence of a loving God." It's definitely not as high up there as "Hateful Ass Scunge named Fred Phelps makes it to his eighties, but Jim Henson, a sweet, funny man, who gave us the Muppets and Labyrinth and just loved to entertain people, died in his fifties" but I feel it should still be on the list.