Saturday, January 30, 2016

Every RTC Adores a Fascist

Hello and happy Saturday, everybody!

Well, Spiritplumber got into an interesting discussion going on military tactics and whatnot. I admit to having only an amateur knowledge of military strategy (though even with that, I can point out how Ellanjay fail), so I appreciate hearing from others who actually know more. In the interest of keeping the discussion going, I'll link to Spiritplumber's wiki. Though I admit that I am with Firedrake in that I'm like, "Why not tear-gas the mothereffers?" I suppose if I suggest any strategy, Ellanjay will say, "Because God!" because like I've said before, whenever I read these books and how neither good nor bad have any knowledge of strategy, yet Good always wins, I feel like I'm playing superheroes with that one kid who, no matter what, every time you get him is like, "Nuh-uh...My character's immune to that." This goes on a bit until you get bored as hell and are like, "Screw it, I'm playing with someone else."

Some advice for writers: making your heroes completely lacking in flaws and vulnerabilities does not make us like them more; it makes them boring as hell to read about!

[TANGENT Where I Rant about Superman] And before anyone chimes in with "But Superman..." I'll freely admit that writers have fallen into traps with his character. John Byrne, from what I hear, may be a horse's ass personality-wise, but I do feel that he did a damn good job rewriting Superman's character during the eighties. He toned down the powers--Superman is still nigh invulnerable and inhumanly strong, but not "juggling planets strong"--but probably the greatest strength of the John Byrne rewrite, was that he switched the whole man and the mask conundrum around. For years, Superman had been written like Batman, with writers treating Superman as the core personality (Click here for obligatory link to Superdickery) and Clark Kent as the Mask, but John Byrne changed that, making it so he's fundamentally Clark Kent, the aw-shucks all-American farmboy from Kansas, and Superman is just a mask he wears in battle.

Which I really like. I hear so many complaints about how Superman's boring either because he's so powerful (which I admit makes writing him tricky) or because he's good. As you can imagine, that last one irritates me. Not every hero has to be an asshole, dripping with angst, to be worth reading about! Heck, I thought that was one of the strengths of the second Captain America 2 movie*. The titular hero of that movie is basically a good guy with a strong moral code and while he does have some angst, it's not the core of his personality. Yeah, it sucks that most of the people who knew him in the forties, either have one foot in the grave or are actually in the grave. But the Captain just deals with it and keeps going. But what made the movie so compelling is that they basically took a good guy and dropped him into a morally sticky situation, where said good guy has to figure out, which of the moral rules he follows, apply in this situation, which rules can be bent, and which can be jettisoned, and if he does outright break said rules, is he crossing a line he can't come back from? And of course, it also has a classic "Who can I trust?" vibe going.

So do that with Superman! The DCAU (which is pure awesome) managed to do great things with his character by doing so, putting him in situations where he has to debate which lines he's willing to cross and how far is too far, and all that. Besides, whenever stories come out that have him being all angsty about how he's an alien and whatnot, I admit to being like, "Really?" Because he came to Earth as a baby! I am in full agreement with this panel from John Byrne's rewrite; while being an alien among humans would be a little rough, at the same time, Earth is the only home he's ever known. Superman gets his powers and DNA from his Kryptonian parents, but ultimately his personality and moral code (aka the stuff that makes him who he really is) come from a pair of Kansas farmers. Though I do admit that some of the best Superman stories and one of my favorite comic book two-parters, are less about Superman punching out evil and more about how he inspires others and the effect he has on Average Joe Blow Human.
[/TANGENT]

Goddangit! I did it again! But I put it inside tangent tags so anyone not interested, can just scroll past. Point is, you can tell stories with more straightforward heroic types and still make them interesting!

Though if I were in Nicky's thigh-high stiletto boots (a must for every supervillain!) I'd tell my armies, "Eh, just surround the place, shoot anyone who tries to get out or make trouble, but other than that, just let 'em rot." I understand why he'd want to come down on a terrorist organization advocating a violent overthrow of his government** but if the majority of them are contained within Petra, why not just keep them there? Given what I know about RTCs in the real world, I find myself wondering how long Petra would remain a peaceful haven, if they were no longer able to unite themselves in their hatred of Nicky. Think about it: at first they'd be all "OMG!" at the massive army surrounding them, but what if said army just sat there and didn't do much of anything?

Again, given the motives behind so many acts of violence between Christian sects can be summed up as "They believe slightly different things about our Magical Sky Daddy! Let's kill them!" and since, like I've said, Token Jew's government is about as free and democratic as North Korea's, my guess is after being shut up inside Petra for awhile, eventually they'll turn on each other. Get sick of eating Quail and Manna (and I'm really wondering how they're not suffering from nutritional deficiencies) and someone will disagree with someone on something, saying something crazy like, "I believe that it is wrong to baptize infants" or espouse some heresy like :gasp: Christian Pacifism or that church services should be held on the Sabbath, rather than Sunday. From there, tempers will boil over, sparks will fly, and the stones won't be the only thing that's red in Petra.

So again, my suggestion: surround the place and while the terrorists are all pinned in, Nicky can take advantage to get shit done, feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless, which we all know is something only the eeevil anti-Christ would do, unlike the actual Christ.

But an open assault by Nicky, would give them something to unite them and focus their hatred towards, similar to how RTCs and Catholics, since Roe v. Wade made them realize they have a common enemy, have formed an uneasy alliance. Both sides still mistrust and hate each other and periodically, slippage of lips reveal how they really feel towards each other, but right now, they need each other's numbers/organization in order to win. So they'll hold off on stomping out heresies until later.

[Tangent About Religious Freedom]Though they will inevitably try to stomp out heresies; history bears this out. While the history of America is nowhere near as lengthy as any of the countries of Europe (Old Joke: the difference between America and Britain is America thinks a hundred years is a long time, and Britain thinks a hundred miles is a long distance), but I think the First Amendment serves to protect us as well. If someone disagrees with the practices of their church, they're free to break off and start their own sect and don't have to fear the government taking up arms to quash their heresy. Worst thing that will happen is that if they're from a church, like the Catholics, that practices excommunication, they might get excommunicated. But that will be the extent of it. They will still be able to live freely and practice their believes freely, so long as they aren't damaging people or property in the process. That whole thing about Separation of Church and State works both ways. Just as the Church can't enshrine their beliefs in law, the State also can't step in and write the Church's doctrine. Many Orthodox Jewish sects believe that it is wrong to marry a Jew and a non-Jew. Under current law, they're free to refuse. Non-Jew and Jew can go seek out another church or synagogue or a justice of the peace if they want someone to marry them.

But even though the Right has long nursed a mistrust of the Catholic Church, I think they secretly envy them. They wish they had the power and might of the medieval church, wish there was a magisterium that explicitly stated "This is what you will believe and if you don't, we'll send our armies to brutally crush your heresy." So yeah, don't know if they would see how wonderful it is that the US has never enshrined any religion above all others. Remember, like I said, they follow the faith of Animal Farm: We are all equal, but some are more equal than others.
[/Tangent]

Sorry for all the damn tangents, but this week isn't too much more interesting than last week. Just action scenes that aren't at all compelling because bad things only happen to NPCs and Butt Monkeys in the LB-verse, so we know the heroes aren't in danger, even if you haven't peeked at the Wiki page for this series. Though there is some nice, patronizing goysplainning, but other than that, nothing really interesting. But like I said, in case some of y'all are offended, I've taken to bracketing tangents, so scroll past if you're not interested.

Anyway, Nicky is, of course, doing an open assault, thus allowing the writers to put in lots of chest-thumping and action verbs and, like, I said, is boring as shit to read about. So I admit, I'm mostly going to fast-forward through this. If any of y'all really want to read it for yourself, get your own copy of the series.

Though there is this weird mention in Lionel's part.

He found Zeke holding a strange-looking weapon and listening for radio contact from their leader.

“What’s with the horses?” Lionel said. “All those tanks and advanced weapons and they put cavalry in front?”

“Doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but I’m glad they did it,” Zeke said. “We’re gonna try to spook some of the horses and riders with these babies—” he patted his weapon—“and see if we can’t stir things up.”

“What is that?”

“It’s called a DEW, short for directed energy weapon. Sends out a beam of energy that burns like fire.”

Lionel winced. “I’ve seen one, but not that big. Can it reach the troops from here?”

“You bet,” Zeke said. “We’ve also got fifty-calibers along the perimeter. Those will cause more damage, but they’re still nothing compared to what the GC has.”

Firedrake has stated that the existence of energy weapons is where his suspension of disbelief just collapses. My response to that has always been: "Really?! This series firmly believes that the Leader of the World will ride a giant pig at some point and it's laser weapons, you find too hard to believe?!" Of course, given that the response to all the children disappearing is a collective shrug, with life going on mostly as normal, rather than turning into something out of Children of Men, one could easily make a case in that Suspension of Disbelief has long been crumbled to dust and is broken down even at the subatomic level somehow.

But okay, so the Tribbles and Nicky both have laser cannons. Because any discussion we have will make more sense and be more interesting than anything in the books, I'm placing the call out to my readers with any knowledge of strategy: how would you incorporate those weapons into the fight, if you were playing as Nicky or as Our Heroes?

Though when even the book is admitting that Nicky using horse-drawn cavalry makes no sense (again, there's a reason, horse-drawn cavalries mostly went out with WWI), classic example of what Turkey City Lexicon calls a Signal from Fred. Though even if there's some law or something requiring Nicky to use a horse-drawn cavalry, he still could have stuck them in back, behind all the heavy tanks and bulldozers and other big-ass armored vehicles. But Good has to triumph in this series and since coming up with a way for them to triumph in a way that makes sense and isn't just "Rocks fall; everyone who doesn't matter dies!" would require Ellanjay to do research...yeah. Time spent doing research is time not spent admiring their hundred thousand dollar ornamental fish tanks or Jacuzzi tubs, which God totally wants them to have!

Though clicking through that link, gotta say I might be on to something with my assertion, as well as Fred's, that the Right's history of being virulently anti-Catholic is born out of jealousy. Again, they just wish they could hold inquisitions, give themselves high-falutin' titles like "Grand something of something," and wear the robes and mitres and other accoutrements of royalty like the Catholics (the traditional mitres and such were modeled after the attire of monarchs, meant to serve as a visual assertion of the church's power). But the problem is the Protestant tradition has long had a mistrust of an authority on high, vested with the power of kings, able to open and shut the Kingdom of God at their leisure. Again, Martin Luther was virulently anti-Semitic, but the guiding principle behind the reformation he led, was that Joe Blow could read and interpret the Bible for himself and didn't need a middle man to mediate between them and God.

So yeah, the Right is torn between their knee-jerk love of fascism (remember tyranny is only wrong if the wrong person with the wrong beliefs is exercising power over people) and the Protestant mistrust of religious authority. They try to reconcile this the way they do their other conflicting beliefs, by mashing them together, but that leads to a nasty, spoiled mess that even they have a difficult time stomaching.

Lionel's section ends with somebody talking about how a GC missile is headed straight for Rayford. I shake my head and am like, "Ellanjay don't even try to prove my assertions about their love of hierarchy wrong, like at all." Again, despite both the Protestant tradition and the American tradition of Democracy, they still find the idea of there not being a hierarchy that governs all things, to be suspect. I'd repeat the Animal Farm reference from earlier, but I think y'all are getting tired of it.

Anyway, Vicki and Judd are still in Jerusalem, being all heroic and shaking their heads at those silly Jews for being willing to die in defense of their sacred religious sites and their sacred beliefs. Because there is nothing heroic about that at all!

But I do admit that I did like this rare bit of genre savvy. The setup is Judd sees everybody rushing around, is like, "Where are you going?" The NPCs say that they're going to Herod's Gate, and we get this line from Vicki.

“Judd, those men don’t have the mark of the believer,” Vicki said. “If they’re gunned down, that’s the end for them.”

“I know,” Judd said, “but there’s no way they’ll stop to listen now.”

Hundreds of rebels moved toward Herod’s Gate. Judd was out of breath when Vicki caught his arm. “I have an idea,” she said, sprinting to the side as gunfire erupted.

No points for guessing what Vicki's astounding idea is.

Though again, Ellanjay have the characters tiptoe around the issue. Rather than just say some variation on "If they're gunned down, they'll burn in hell like the evil Christ-killers that they are" or say "They'll roast like the stupid pigs they are, for refusing to forsake the beliefs that have sustained them over several millennia of persecution," which is what they really think, they just wuss out and talk about how it's the End for Them.

Which is a common tactic among fascist dictatorships: rebels are disappeared, not tortured over a period of several days before finally dying. Prisoners are liquidated, rather than taken out back and shot en masse. Or they use the phrase "collateral damage" rather than something unpleasant like civilian casualties.

And yes, I find this wussiness far more aggravating and anger-provoking, than the naked racism and anti-Semitism of such far-right works of fiction as The Turner Diaries. If anyone is browsing at work, previous link just takes you to Wikipedia if you're wondering. But in short, I'd rather deal with naked, blatant hatred, rather than the the tyranny of the moral busybodies, who smile and tell you that the knife they're driving into your back, is for your own benefit.

Or in order to fulfill the obligatory eighties cheese requirement of my posts, I'll quote Jaga from ThunderCats: Better an honest enemy than a false friend.

I probably should stop taking so much moral advice from children's cartoons. Especially if said cartoon is from the eighties aka the era where children's cartoons were basically twenty-two minute toy commercials. But hey, take wisdom where you find it, I guess.

Anyway, Vicki's next section begins with this:

Vicki knelt by a wounded soldier who had been shot in the leg. Judd dropped his ammo and tied a tourniquet above the wound.

I know it's a little thing, but given how much is wrong in this series, you leap like a starving dog onto a bone when they do something right. In fact, I actually cheer whenever a work of fiction of any kind (book, movie, etc.) acknowledges that a gunshot wound is serious business, even if it's not to an obviously fatal place like the chest or head. Because I'm anal retentive and this series, like I said, gives me nothing else to think about, I do wonder where NPC's wound is. If it's in the thigh area, props for acknowledging that getting shot there is as bad as the chest, because ever hear of something called the femoral artery? It's in your thigh and spoiler alert, injuries to any artery tend to be serious as shit, because arteries have the full power of the heart behind them. Or in other words, hit an artery and you will bleed out pretty damn fast.

Though the lower leg probably has spots where its equally as serious to take a hit. Plus again, while Nameless Soldier's adrenaline would really be running high, at the same time, most soldiers, like most civilians, when they get shot, they're generally down for the count. It's probably a smart strategy on the body's part, even if the poor schmo doesn't appreciate it too much at the time; moving around too much would make blood flow faster, thus enabling him to bleed out faster, or further aggravate the injury, again leading to the same result.

I am assuming that Judd, still following the sacred Tribbles' Ethos of Doing Nothing, was just doing the usual shtick of carrying ammo to the guys, willing to fight and make a stand against tyranny. Again, in other series, we'd call people willing to fight and die in hopes of defeating a corrupt authority, heroes, but in this story...like I said, apparently, it is wrong to fight and die for your beliefs! Someone should have really tipped off all those Christian Martyrs that you don't really have to make a stand for your beliefs in hopes of inspiring others to do the same and overthrow a tyrannical government; instead, the truly Christian thing to do is live in comfort and enjoy the perks of being employed by said dictator, while occasionally thinking disdainful thoughts in his direction, until at some indeterminate point, Jesus comes back and kills everyone you hate for you.

As you probably guessed, while the soldier is racked with pain and Judd's trying to keep the dude from bleeding out, Vicki decides to chalk up another convert on her fuselage.

“Take my weapon,” the man groaned. “They need more fighters.”

“We want to help you,” Vicki said. “The Global Community is going to be defeated by God’s power—”

“Leave me alone!” the man screamed, using his gun to help him stand. “I have to get back to my brothers!”

Vicki and Judd tried to stop him, but the man limped off with the crowd. Her heart ached for him and the others fighting against the overwhelming army.

If you're wondering, after said NPC runs off, my head canon totally has Vicki and Judd shaking their heads, thinking about that poor foolish man, being more concerned about his fellow comrades-in-arms, rather than doing the honorable thing of saving his own ass and leaving his buddies to die. Because it's like Fred has said: Ellanjay are the anti-Huck. Their forebears of the past would have been horrified by Huck tearing up the letter and not ratting out Jim. I mean, sure ratting out Jim would doom him to a short life on earth, one full of misery, but that's nothing when compared to the state of Huck's eternal soul.

And probably, like in all things, if I were to point-blank bring this up, RTCs would get all pissy. Because they love to cast themselves on the Right side, once the battle's been safely decided and won for decades. If I pointed out how the Bible was used to justified slavery, they'd talk about how they'd be all noble and instinctively know that slavery was wrong and blah-blah-blah. Probably feel they deserve a trophy for their brave stance against human rights violations of the past, aka struggles they can conveniently do nothing about because they took place in the past. I mean, what are they supposed to do? Learn from the past and apply lessons from there to struggles that are currently raging? That would be a risk to possibly both physical safety and societal standing, if they actually spoke out against actual human rights abuses that are still going on.

Token Jew shows up, there's some blather, but it's boring as heck, so let's just move onto Judd's section.

Basically he and Vicki run into :gasp: a Jewish woman in her twenties, dressed in fatigues and black boots. I suppose I could quibble for a bit, wonder how Judd and Vicki knew that she was Jewish, just by looking at her. If it was a guy, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe the dude was wearing a kippah, but while some sects allow women to wear them, it is still a predominantly male fashion, for Jews to wear the kippah.

But we all know that only RTCs and Jewish people would at all object to a global dictatorship forbidding free practice of religion, so we should probably move on. I mean, humans displaying altruistic behavior and compassion towards others, caring about neighbors, even if they believe slightly different things then they do? That's unpossible. Next, you'll tell me that, during the Tahir Square uprising in Egypt of 2011, Christians turned out to protect Muslim believers, serving as human shields while the Muslims prayed and in turn, the Muslims turned out to protect the Christians, serving as human shields while the Christians conducted Mass.

Though given that the Christians in question were Coptic Christians, Ellanjay probably feel they don't fall into the category of RTCs. So again, I should stop talking and move on.

Though I'm sure they take Jewish Woman wearing fatigues and boots and fighting :gasp: like a man as further proof that she is a hardened reprobate.

Anyway, Vicki tries to rack up a convert, but Jewish Woman stubbornly insists on remaining Jewish.

“It’s no fairy tale,” Vicki said, “any more than the disappearances and the earthquake and everything else that’s happened during the past seven years. Jesus is coming back—at any moment—and you need to be ready.”

“I’m ready to die for my country. I want to rid the earth of Nicolae Carpathia, but I won’t turn my back on my religion. Get away from me.”

“Please, just listen to—”

“Go!”

Judd felt bad for Vicki and even worse for the woman who seemed closed to the truth.

I probably overuse the "Strawman Always Has A Point" tag. No, wait, I don't. Because like I said, in most fiction, most people would see the unnamed woman as heroic in her refusal to renounce her faith, no matter what happens to her, and her belief that her faith is worth dying for and even that there are things worth dying for, to be heroic as well. And most would consider a fight against a Global Dictator, to be a thing worth dying for. But since Ellanjay are the anti-Huck and know that saving your ass matters above all else...yeah...

For that reason, I've promoted both her and the unnamed injured Jewish soldier from earlier, into the League of Awesome. Yeah, I know, the passages quoted are the sum of their participation in the story, but given that they outclassed the heroes in every way in only a few lines, I'm willing to give it to them. So they're in the League of Awesome and are off with Hasina, Taylor, Dr. Rose, and Joel doing awesome stuff. But as part of their membership, I would like for them to be given names; it just feels appropriate. Bonus points if you manage to resist Ellanjays' failings and give them names that aren't basically Jewy Jewensteinberg or something.

But just so that Judd and Vicki and the readers don't get too bummed out, thinking about how those Christ-Killers will burn forever, Unnamed Jewish Guy shows up, along with a cloud of NPCs, so Judd and Vicki have another shot at goysplainning.

Another rebel nearby waved a hand, so Vicki and Judd walked over. “I heard what you said,” the young man said. “And I heard Dr. Ben-Judah last night. I almost prayed, but I was with my father and he cursed the man.”

“We can help you,” Judd said. “What do you need to know?”

The man looked around the darkened hallway. Several people listened. “I always thought the talk about Jesus was blasphemy. A story made up to make people hate Jews. Now I think I might have been wrong. I’ve been wondering if he could be the Messiah.”

If you're wondering, my response to the last bit by Unnamed Convert (sorry to spoil the twist for you), was to laugh heartily. That was followed up by my usual response which is to go, "Oh wait, they're serious."

Because they seriously believe that people, Jewish or Gentile, actually do talk like that. That Jewish Guy could have gone his entire life and never heard that, y'know, Christians feel that Jesus is the Messiah. Though that bit about "A story made up to make people hate Jews..." Nice job, barely camouflaging your anti-Semitism the way you basically IMPLIED THAT ALL THE COUNTLESS MILLENNIA OF PERSECUTIONS, POGROMS, AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF, THE HOLOCAUST, IS ALL THEIR FAULT FOR BEING ALL INSCRUTABLE AND JEWISH! THEY SHOULD HAVE REALIZED THE WISDOM OF THE SWORD AND IMMEDIATELY BOWED TO THE WISHES OF THEIR CHRISTIAN PERSECUTORS AND STOPPED BEING JEWISH!

:deep breath: Yeah, I know this late on, I should stop being so damn surprised by all this, but there are still moments where I'm like, "Seriously?! They have no idea how this idea might come off to people like, at all." But then again, that is assuming they're being honest in that they did write said series to rack up converts for Jesus, as opposed to providing a fictional world where RTCs are always right and "we'll be laughing our heads off while they burn in Hell, you'll see!"

Anyway, of course, Vicki and Judd can't resist so obvious an opening, so they get to it, explaining in narration about Old Testament prophecies that can, if you squint a little and change definitions somewhat, point to Jesus.***

And then they drag Paul into this.

“Paul was a famous Jewish person from the first century,” Judd said. “He studied under the best teachers and even persecuted followers of Jesus. Then something happened and this is what he wrote.”

Judd held out a small Bible for the man. He read aloud, “ ‘I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—Jews first and also Gentiles.’ ”

I, like a lot of liberal Christians, freely admit to having my issues with Paul. In some passages, Paul really seems to get it, the radical, life-changing message of Jesus, but in others, he remains stubbornly a man of his time. So I can understand why so many dislike him.

I do say, in his defense, that most of the really misogynistic passages that RTCs like to cite, probably weren't written by him. Also, little offhand messages, like infamous Junia passage or his bit in 1 Corinthians 1:11, where he talks about contentions in Chloe's household, prove that Paul, while he was still prejudiced against women, probably wasn't as misogynistic as RTCs in that he didn't see a female-headed household as being too worthy of note.

Also, since Paul's letters are the oldest parts of the New Testament, older than :gasp: even the Gospels, he provides fascinating insight into the practices of the early church. Note that in all his letters, whether written by the actual Paul or not, for all his strenuous striving to convince people that "Jesus is the Messiah," he never mentions a Virgin Birth, indicating that the Virgin Birth hadn't become a part of the Christian mythos yet. Also, his word choice seems to indicate that he feels that God raised Jesus from the grave and only when he did so, did Jesus become the divine messiah, unlike some of the Gospels which imply that Jesus was divine and holy at birth and raised himself from the grave.

But whether you agree with my above arguments or not, can we at least agree that Paul, having been raised Jewish and well-schooled in their scriptures, WAS A HELLUVA LOT LESS PATRONIZING TOWARDS JEWISH PEOPLE THAN ANY OF THE CHARACTERS IN THIS SERIES!

That and part of me wonders if citing Paul would have any cachet among the Jews they're trying to convert. Given that most Jewish sects probably don't consider the New Testament to be relevant to their faith, wouldn't it be equivalent to quoting from the Bhagavad Gita? But I suppose maybe they thought they should change it up, instead of having a character clumsily explain an Old Testament passage.

Judd flipped a few pages and read from Romans chapter 15. “ ‘Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors.’ Jesus came and fulfilled everything predicted about him—that he would suffer and die a cruel death, that he would save his people, that he would—”

“But what about the verses that say Messiah will be a king,” the young rebel said, “a ruler of the people who will establish righteousness?”

Vicki smiled. “Jesus is a descendant of King David. He is going to sit on David’s throne, just like the prophecies said. And he’s going to do it when he returns to conquer Satan and those who serve him.”


If you're wondering, of course, they won't try to explain that traditional Jewish teaching on the Messiah holds that said Messiah will do so on his first time at bat, not at some indeterminate return point that could be tomorrow or thousands of years in the future. Like it or not, but the fact that Jesus died an ignoble death on the cross, rather than reestablishing the Jewish monarchy or gathering up all those scattered, proves to many Jews that Jesus wasn't the Messiah. He may have been an awesome guy, but he wasn't the Messiah. Plus, Jewish teachings hold that if someone claims to be a holy man, yet his actions go against the sacred teachings of the Torah, then he's not a holy man. Whether you agree or not, you can point to many passages where Jesus flagrantly disobeys Mosaic law.

Just thought I'd pause for a moment and say that I do hope I'm doing okay, as a Gentile trying to talk about Jewish teachings. I like to think I haven't gotten stuff wrong or come across as patronizing, but if I have, I extend the invitation for aunursa or any Jewish commenters to lay into me. I read a lot, but there's a difference in reading a lot about Judaism and theology and actually growing up in the Jewish faith. So if I erred, I apologize.

Vicki then says this:

“There’s a verse in Corinthians that says we can’t find God through human wisdom,” Vicki said. “That God used the cross and the foolishness of preaching to draw people to himself. And that’s what we’re saying to you, as foolish as it might sound. Jesus died so your sins could be forgiven. He gave his life and paid the penalty so you could be a true child of God. And he offers you the chance to believe in him right now.”

In passages like this, they clumsily tiptoe around a point I keep bringing up: that their vision of Jesus seems to have very little to do with the guy depicted in gospels, who prayed for his enemies as they drove nails into him, or said stuff like, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." Their TurboJesus is a lot closer to the Elder Gods than any of the four gospels, so I'll ask the questions I keep asking:

Do they ever come up with an explanation as to why he was all lowly servant on his first trip? Was this lowly servant thing a pose he took on in order to attract followers? Because people living under the oppressive rule of a massive uncaring empire, would totally flock to some guy, who says, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" rather than one of the firebrand zealots trying to get people to take up arms against the oppressor. In that case, maybe the reason he's dropping the lowly servant pose and saying, "Time to exterminate the brutes!" is because it's the End of the World and he no longer has to worry about attracting followers and can give into his nature desire to burn them all.

Yeah, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to point out if the above is true, it doesn't speak well of Jesus. Heck, another theory, that maybe Jesus suffered so much on the cross that he went out of his mind from the pain and will be in no mood to save anyone when he returns, actually speaks better to him. You tend to have more sympathy towards someone who has gone mad, than you do towards a charlatan. But like I keep saying, over and over again, while Ellanjay pay lip service to the whole "Last will be first, first will be last" message of Jesus, at the same time, they can't impossibly envision everyone being on equal footing with God and they're not the Biggest Cheeses above all. Dammit! They keep making me fight the temptation to quote that Animal Farm line! Though it really does sum up their beliefs. I'll just link to one of Jesus's parables and move on.

Anyway, Unnamed Jewish People are like, "Oy vey! So what do we have to do to make with the mass conversions already?" giving Vicki and Judd a chance to walk them through The Prayer. They say it and the chapter ends with them feeling all smug and proud because if they hadn't, they would have no choice but to cackle at those bagel-munchers as they get spikes shoved into them while burning in Hell.

*I love Captain America, easily my favorite of the Avengers, and Captain America 2 is my favorite of the solo Marvel films, but I admit that I did spend a lot of that movie being like, "Okay, just what are his powers?" I was under the impression that the whole Super Soldier Serum thing just meant Steve was at the peak of human everything (endurance, healing, etc.), thus making it so he never has to go to the gym, but so many times I was like, "Unless said serum also gave him a Wolverine-style healing factor, there's no way Steve would walk away from that." Great movie, but still...

**Again, the most tiresome thing of the Kim Davis or the nutbags in Oregon self-martyrdom scandals, is that said participants always are so shocked, shocked that the evil corrupt government that they are loudly protesting against, may actually go through with the martyrdom part! I mean, whoever heard of martyrs actually suffering for their faith. I mean, really?

***Yes, I know that most of the Gospels were written decades after Jesus had lived and died, so you could easily point out that maybe, in order to bolster Jesus's credentials, said writers dug into Jewish scriptures or heard it from a friend of a friend, sort of thing. It probably wouldn't help you in the debate.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Stop Acting Like the Outcome Is Actually In Doubt!

Well, I'm here and ready to snark. Really don't have much more to say then that.

For those of you wondering whether there will be any epic, profanity-laded ragedumps, I hate to break it to you, but it's probably not going to happen. Ellanjay's writing comes in two flavors: infuriatingly sociopathic levels of wrong or punishingly dull. This week, they're in punishingly dull mode, and I am in despair. Yeah, the first one is rough on the sanity but at least, there are so many colorful ways of screaming, "This is so very wrong," and I can probably find some good clips on YouTube to liven things up. But this week...

We all know Ellanjay hate suspense, because it ran over their dog when they were kids or something. I could make a crack that they hate suspense because their target audience is made up of elderly dowagers with bad hearts, so naturally they don't want to put undue stress on them, but even by that standard, it's still painfully, punishingly dull.

The big problem I keep running into is because Ellanjay hate suspense, they've already explained, over and over again, exactly what will happen in these books. We also know that unlike most writers, who lay out a plan, only to have things go slightly off-kilter when it comes time to implement said plan, forcing the heroes to have to think on their feet, Ellanjay's plan will go exactly the way they'd laid it out.

They probably consider J.R.R. Tolkien to be a lesser writer for having Frodo, in the big, climatic moment the series has been building to, with so much at stake, have Frodo succumb to the Ring's influence. A hero with weaknesses and moral failings? What is at all compelling about that? Of course, they'd probably consider Tolkien to be suspect in the first place, because he lived and died a devout Catholic and, despite the uneasy alliance they've forged, the Christian Right still has inherent mistrust of those papists.

But we know exactly what will happen, because both the readers and the book characters have had everything laid out for them. That's shitty writing, but fine. You want to know what really makes this week's snark irritating? Despite all this, the characters are still going all "Oh noes! What will happen?" and acting like they have no freaking clue, again, demonstrating the irritating blend of Too Dumb to Live and Genre Savvy, we've all come to expect from these characters.

:deep breath:

For those going "tl;dr" I am despairing because most of my critiques regarding this week's snark is just me screaming, "STOP ACTING ALL WORRIED! YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN! STOP PRETENDING LIKE THIS IS THE KIND OF SERIES WHERE IT'S POSSIBLE FOR SOMETHING TO THROW EVERYTHING OFF KILTER!" and there is nothing really entertaining at all about that.

Judging by the tone of the opening lines of this chapter, I'm wondering this was originally supposed to be the beginning for another book. Y'see, Left Behind: the Kids was originally published as forty incredibly thin books, thus allowing Ellanjay to milk more money from this cash cow. For all the complaints their subculture would have about JK Rowling (you just know Ellanjay probably have friends who passed along this article, not realizing that The Onion is a satirical newspaper), if you were to decide to buy the Harry Potter series, even if you only bought paperback editions and stayed away from used, Amazon sets the price for each individual book in a seven book series at about six or seven dollars. Even an English major, who is shitty at math, can tell you'd pay a lot less for the entire Harry Potter series than you would for a forty book series, averaging about five dollars per book.

Plus, as a fan of Harry Potter, I can tell you that you'd get a lot more from reading Harry Potter than you would from Left Behind. JK Rowling actually cares about telling a damn good story and her series is just magical and wonderful from beginning to end. Even if I am still a bit disappointed that Harry and Luna didn't wind up together. I thought they were just cute in their interactions with each other.

Anyway, eventually, someone involved with Left Behind: the kids had a brainstorm and thought, "Y'know we could just shove four of these little books into one volume, so they don't have to track down each individual book." But even the shoved together series comes out to twelve books. Even if we assume average eBook price of about 9.99 per volume, again readers are still getting screwed. Heck, even if you purchase the individual eBooks, at 1.99 (which looks to be what Amazon is charging) for each of the forty books, yeah, readers are really getting hosed by Ellanjay.

Y'know, I didn't expect to be doing so much math this week. As an English Major, I can tell you the stereotype people have about English Majors, about how we're utterly horrible at math, is totally true. It's one of the few stereotypes that are. Me and most of the people I studied with, along with the professors I studied under, would probably break down in hysterical tears if you asked us to do any math beyond the basics, without the aid of a calculator.

Anyway, Vicki is all "Oh noes" about the approaching GC army, even while she's thinking about how TurboJesus will show up and kill everyone. I suppose I could spend hours on TV Tropes to pinpoint the exact term for this kind of shitty writing trope, but that website is enough of a time suck as is. There's a reason they have a page called TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life. Especially when this can be easily summed up with They Just Didn't Care and we can move onto the next plot point. Because I think it's been made abundantly clear that Ellanjay don't care and I can safely say that I've put more thought into one blog post than they did into their entire series.

A few good, brave-hearted RTCs try to get these heathen, Christ-killing Jews to abandon their faith and accept TurboJesus. They respond by saying, "We don't want your blasphemy! Stay away from us!" I'm surprised Ellanjay were able to resist the temptation to have said unnamed character scream, "The truth...It burns usss!" like a stereotypical exorcism patient, or at least be more stereotypically Jewish in their writing of said dialogue. Like say, "Oy vey, again, with the Jesus-talk. Driving me meshuggah you are with all this talk about Jesus. You'd think that Schmo parted the Red Sea for Israel, the way you go on and on about him. You want to learn a new tune?" After which, they'd go around doing something Jewish, like circumcising baby boys or eating matzo or challah, while they control all the world's finances or something.

Yes, I am well aware that Jewish does not mean Yiddish, but again, I was trying to make a point about how they view Jewish people. I'd say I was exaggerating for comedic effect, but I really wonder if what I typed is an exaggeration, like at all. They probably do see the Jewish people like that.

Judd and Vicki talk about how Chang says that Jerusalem will fall. They heroically managed to resist talking about how those killed, trying to defend their sacred city, will burn in hell forever, and we don't even get a passage where they shake their heads about how those Jews insist on remaining all inscrutable and Jewish.

Vicki nodded and closed the curtain. “Chang said in his last e-mail that Tsion was coming here to help bring his fellow Jews into the kingdom before it was too late. Tsion believes the Unity Army will capture many rebels and conquer Jerusalem.”

“Are you scared?”

Vicki hugged Judd. “I keep remembering what you said about sticking together no matter what. And if we’re attacked by the GC, at least we’ll die together.”

“I’d rather be alive to see Jesus when he comes back, but you’re right. From here on out, we stick close.”

Because I'm a drooling pervert (cut my writing teeth on fanfiction, what does that tell you?) who loves to read innuendo into the most innocuous passages, especially in Christian Fiction because they are the best unintentional creators of Ho Yay around, let's just say I'm fighting the urge to tell Vicki that given that Judd has demonstrated more affection/tension when he interacted with male characters than he ever does when he interacts with her, to quote the Immortal Randy Hickey, I think you're trying to sell a cat to a man who fancies dogs.

I often wonder what my life was like before I became a drooling pervert, capable of reading innuendo into everything. Maybe I had more friends, willing to hang out and watch movies with me, but can I really say that life was more interesting? I'm just sayin'.

We then cut to Black Guy, I mean, Lionel. Because in addition to being a drooling pervert, I also am a firm believer "Misery loves company." So I'm going to post the opening paragraphs to his section, just so we can all headdesk together. Because if I have to go through life with a freakishly flattened forehead, so should the rest of you!

Lionel Washington sat on his bed in Petra, scanning the list of names in his prayer diary. Many of them were highlighted in yellow and had the word home written after their name. Ryan Daley. Pete Davidson. Mark Eisman. Chloe Williams. It won’t be long until I see all of these people, he thought.

He wasn’t as sure about his other friends on the list. Rayford Steele. Buck Williams. Tsion Ben-Judah. Lionel knew from Chang Wong that Buck and Tsion were in Jerusalem. And Rayford Steele had returned to Petra in a chopper and was probably spending time with his grandson, Kenny. But what would happen in the morning? Would Jesus come back before the GC attacked? Already the Unity Army had Petra surrounded.

Again, the only criticism I can give to this passage involves screaming over and over again, "STOP ACTING LIKE YOU'RE A CHARACTER IN A WELL-WRITTEN SERIES WHERE THERE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE SOME DOUBT! YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN! EVERYTHING WILL GO THE EXACT WAY YOUR SUBCULTURE'S INCREDIBLY CONVOLUTED PROPHECY SAYS IT WILL!"

As if they feel I haven't headdesked enough, they feel a need to drive it home, by having Lionel think this in the next paragraph: What if Tsion is wrong about Petra? What if Jerusalem stands and Petra falls?


If you're wondering about that whumping sound, again, it's me, because there really is no other response to give except to headdesk or headwall, if you prefer, over and over again.

Though this does allow for me to spout philosophy about writing and the rules of good entertainment in general. If y'all object, want me to "STFU!" and get back to the book, I'll put it inside brackets, so those inclined can scroll past it.

[TANGENT] You hear a lot of idiots say about Romantic Comedies that they're stupid because, "Well, duh, it's obvious that Julia Roberts will wind up with Richard Gere." I admit that I am not a fan of that genre, but my complaints more run the course of "Female character winds up a weaker character at the end than she was at the beginning, because apparently a woman can't be all strong and independent and care about her career and :gasp: have a man in her life."

But that complaint aside, idiots, who complain about how you totes know that the two MCs will become a couple, are missing the point. Every genre has its conventions and the people who pay money to see Romantic Comedies, are well aware of the conventions of said genre. They know the two MCs will wind up together. The question that separates good Romantic Comedies from bad is, "Do you care that they wind up together?"

Plus, the idiots, who complain about the conventions of entertainment marketed towards ladies (I can do a whole long rant about that, but I'll spare you for now), overlook the fact that all genres, even the Big Boy action films marketed towards manly men, have conventions as well. It's a basic rule of plotting that a story has to have structure with each event unfolding logically from the one that proceeded it. Or in other words, the principle known as Chekov's Gun.

So people who go to James Bond movies, generally have a template about the movie they're about to watch. Bad Guy stirs up Trouble, James Bond is called to deal with it. James Bond gets some gadgets, sexes up a few ladies, has some epic car chases and fight scenes, but ultimately defeats the Bad Guy and all is well until the next movie that is. Again, the question with James Bond and other action movies isn't "Will the Hero win?" as it is "Will the audience care if the Hero wins?"

You can make a case that the movies in the MCU are equally predictable, but again, the people involve know the conventions and know their audience. They know that a billionaire battling evil in robotic armor that he built himself is inherently ridiculous, but it is also inherently awesome. Part of why people love superheroes, either in comic or cinematic form, is the ridiculous awesome spectacle of it all. We know that there are all kinds of physics issues related to Superman's ability to fly, but at the same time, we really do want to believe a man can fly.

Superhero movies are at their best when they manage to pull off the hat trick: they make little nods at the silliness, but for the most part, the concept is played straight, which makes sense. When Hero goes off to face Villain, there should be some tension, so no having both sides unleashing constant puns at each other.

But playing it straight doesn't mean "So Over the Top, Dark And Gritty that Your Movie Actually becomes Outright Unpleasant to Watch.

Your heroes also don't have to be complete goody-goods. Heck, one of the reasons everyone loves Han Solo* (including me) is that from the start, we are shown that he's much more morally grey than Luke, who falls more into the traditional hero mode. Han Solo is initially in it for the money. He probably knows about the Rebellion and the Empire, but he's more concerned about getting the Old Guy and the Kid to Alderaan and collecting enough to pay off the debts he's acquired.

Heck, I think that's why everyone ate up The Guardians of the Galaxy** with a silver spoon. For those who haven't seen that movie (and why haven't you seen it, you Un-American Islamo-Commie-Fascist Bastard?!) the titular characters are initially in it for selfish reasons. "Work together so we can collect the bounty on this weird-ass artifact, then we'll split the money and go our separate ways," is their initial plan, but when it becomes clearer that bigger shit is at work here and lives are at stake, they, like Han Solo, rise to occasion and become heroes. [/TANGENT]

All right, I'm done for now.

Lionel doesn't really do anything of note in his section. Just spends it navel-gazing and thinking about everyone he's met, as a service to educate the stupider readers in the audience. We do get this line, which you really wish Ellanjay took five minutes to think through the implications of:

Kids, Lionel thought. We haven’t been kids since this whole thing started. The disappearances had forced them to grow up fast.

Again, as me and pretty much everyone who comments on this blog will point out, childhood would pretty much cease to be a thing once the Rapture happened. In fact, as Fred has noted many, many times, pretty much none of the stuff on Tim LaHaye's prophecy list can happen, because people will be like, "Holy Fuck! All children under some arbitrarily determined cut-off age, are gone!" Or to put it in YouTube form, the world of Left Behind will resemble Children of Men a helluva lot more than it would "Buck buys a range rover." Seriously, the power of that scene in Children of Men, where two warring parties are motivated to declare a temporary ceasefire, in order to protect the first baby born in years...Alfonso Cuaron understood the power that the mere sight of a newborn would evoke in a world without children. Pity, that Ellanjay don't have a tenth of his story-telling abilities.

[Slight Tangent] I am morbidly curious about a movie adaptation proposed for the For!Kids version of Left Behind. Again, I doubt it will be good. Shitty source material usually leads to a shitty movie. In the cases where shitty source material led to an adaptation that's actually worth your time, it's because someone involved recognized that "Shitty source material is shitty," took what worked, jettisoned what didn't, and used it as a launching pad for their own story.

Like as Linkara points out in his retrospective on ROM Space Knight, part of what makes the series so remarkable is that the creators were given little to nothing to work with. Toy company wanted a comic series to promote a new toy, so they sought out Marvel. Marvel Comics basically gave the writers a toy and told them, "Tell a story about this toy." The writers were given almost no backstory or details to work with and the toy itself wasn't that impressive (its features are basically, it lights up and makes noise), yet with so little, they were able to create a damn good series out of something that got its start as a cheap tie-in product. So much so that you really wish that MARVEL COMICS WOULD GET THE RIGHTS BACK TO THE CHARACTER SO THE COMICS CAN BE REPRINTED AND READERS ARE NO LONGER FORCED TO SCROUNGE AROUND FOR USED COPIES!

But given that Tim LaHaye's grandson has been cast as Nicky (though you really wish you could get a total ham like Tim Curry or Nicholas Cage)***, I doubt the poor people involved with the production of that film will have much creative leeway. But given that book and film are different mediums, they will be forced to make creative changes (because even an epic like Lord of the Rings can only get away with being so long) in order to make the story flow better. Heck, I'm willing to give it points in that rather than spend entirely too much time dicking around producing a "subversive newspaper," the kids actually show some brain cells and GTFO to the countryside to start setting up a farm, so as to be ready when God kills off all plant and animal life. For that reason alone, I'm already willing to say that the movie will be better than the books. It will still be a terrible movie, but it won't be as terrible as the books. [/Slight Tangent]

Next section, surprisingly, is told from Conrad's perspective rather than Judd, Vicki, or Lionel's. Granted it is entirely tell, because Ellanjay use Tell when they should use Show and Show, when they should Tell, as anyone who has snarked any Ellanjay series will tell you.

Conrad Graham watched the sun move toward the horizon from a basement window of an abandoned house in Palos Hills, Illinois. He and the other members of the Wisconsin group had finally settled into several homes near Enoch Dumas, the shepherd of a growing group of Christ followers from many different backgrounds. Enoch spoke with a Spanish accent, which Conrad loved. One night a Latino woman who had lived in an abandoned laser-tag park told her story. The next night it was an African-American man who admitted to everything from grave robbing to murder. Kids from the street and drug addicts all had stories of how God had reached out to them.

Conrad had been able to stay with Enoch himself and considered it as big a privilege as being in Petra. They had the chance to bring people to God every day. Though many had cautioned them to be more careful, Enoch and his followers wouldn’t pass up a chance to help people receive Christ.

Again, you really wish that this part was being told by the people mentioned in the paragraphs, rather than an outsider like Conrad. Because from the sounds of it, they have experienced actual suffering, known real misery, which, no matter how many times Ellanjay say otherwise, Conrad hasn't. Since converting, Conrad has been safely cossetted and protected. He's observed the physical and psychological suffering, but only at arms' length. So he comes across as a one of those idiots who think that because they went on a tour of a slum, without talking to a single resident that they paid to gawk at like an animal in a zoo, they know all about poverty and its effects.

So yeah, Conrad's talking about how these stories affected him, is much less compelling and interesting than it would be to actually hear these people tell their stories firsthand. It's one of the reasons why, whether you agree with Johnny Cash's religious views or not, you can still enjoy his music. Johnny Cash may have never been a hardened convict, but he is a man who has known pain and suffering, so when he sings songs with Christian themes, you can believe that he knows what it's like to desperately crave love and redemption. Unlike too many artists who indulge in adolescent puerile romanticism about how life is painful because they're not happy, Johnny Cash knows his shit. And again, serves as a nice reminder that Christian Art Doesn't Always Suck, so forgive me for indulging in that little tangent.

I will say that I do raise an eyebrow at some of the details. Like rather than live in an abandoned laser-tag park (is Laser-Tag even still a thing?), why didn't Unnamed Latino Woman move into one of the many abandoned homes that would have, y'know, beds and kitchens, and be much more livable than a Laser-Tag Park?

Granted this is supposed to be near Chicago, which has been nuked twice by my reckoning, but we've already established that Ellanjay are all "Nukes? How do they work?" when it comes to that stuff. In fact, sometimes I dream of, out of morbid curiosity, asking Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye during one of those scenes where they chat with fans of their works, "How do nukes work and what are the aftereffects of nuclear warfare?" I know the answer would be disappointing and I'd headdesk in response, but I think I've developed Stockholm Syndrome thanks to this series. I'm like a male praying mantis: I can't be content unless they bite my head completely off.

As for the guy who confessed to grave-robbing, my head canon was it was done in the wake of the Rapture. With everything in disarray, he decided to help himself to the jewelry left behind in the coffins of the dead people who were bamfed into Heaven. The murder part can be explained as "It's the End of the World as We Know It and No One Feels fine!" Of course, in all likelihood, Unnamed Confessor is guilty of this stuff the way the guy mentioned in this post claims to have broken all ten commandments before the age of fifteen. Desperate times leading to desperate measures, causing otherwise good people to commit horrible acts, because they're stressed and can't see any other alternatives? That's Unpossible! Almost as unpossible as the majority of the perpetrators of horrific atrocities, for the most part, believing themselves to be good people with genuine love for friends and family and believe that the ends will ultimately justify the means.

As you guessed, not really much happens, because nothing ever happens in these books, but we do get this moment that I found humorous.

Enoch nodded. “I know what you mean. But I don’t think it’ll happen until morning.”

“Why is that? Doesn’t the Bible say no one knows when Christ will return?”

“True. But eight in the morning our time will be the seven-year anniversary of the signing of the treaty between Carpathia and Israel. To the minute.”

I'm forced to conclude, like Firedrake, that Nicky instituted One-World Time, along with One-World-Government and One-World-Religion. It's the only way, I'll stop laughing long enough to finish this snark. Because of course, the writers of the Bible knew about the modern AM/PM measuring of time, just like they knew about hours, though as any scholar would tell you, the hour is a relatively new measurement when it comes to time. Heck, most time-related measurements are new. We didn't really become obsessed with making sure X happened at precisely X hours and minutes, until the invention of the railroad forced us to basically map and measure all this out, because trains run on stuff called fuel; therefore, it's important that they not breakdown in the middle of nowhere, because they ran out of fuel, due to differences in time zones leading to miscalculations.

I know I've quoted this bit from Roger Ebert's delightfully scathing review of End of Days (aka the movie where Arnold fights Satan), but I'm going to do it again, because it just sums up the hilarity so much.

Movies like this are particularly vulnerable to logic, and "End of Days'' even has a little fun trying to sort out the reasoning behind the satanic timetable. When Jericho has the Millennium Eve timetable explained to him, including the requirement that the Prince of Darkness do his dirty deed precisely between 11 p.m. and midnight, he asks the very question I was asking myself: "Eastern Standard Time?'' The answer, Jericho is told, is that the exact timing was meticulously worked out centuries ago by the Gregorian monks, and indeed their work on this project included, as a bonus spinoff, the invention of the Gregorian calendar.

Let's see. Rome is seven hours ahead of New York. In other words, those clever monks said, "The baby will be conceived between 6 and 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, Rome time, but that will be between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. in a city that does not yet exist, on a continent we have no knowledge of, assuming the world is round, and there are different times in different places as it revolves around the sun, which of course it would be a heresy to suggest.'' With headaches like this, no wonder they invented Gregorian chants to take the load off.

The chapter ends with Judd. He can't sleep and talks with Lina. You'll be happy to know that Shivte and his sons have embraced RTC-ianity and abandoned the faith of their fathers. Woo...S-Wife isn't mentioned and since from what I can tell, she isn't ever given a name, I'm going to always call her S-Wife. Because Shivte's RTC Wife is too long to type and I'm lazy.

Jamal wants Judd to go with him to the Damascus Gate For Reasons! I wish I could say I knew or cared about what these reasons where, but hey. Judd wants to take Vicki with him, but Jamal's all "It's too dangerous!" But Judd is like "I can't leave her behind" and Lina and Vicki enter and are all "We're coming with you!"

And that's it for this week. Hope I managed to make some good snark out of the poor material I was given and I hope all the tangents weren't too long or too boring to handle. :) Take care until next week, folks, when we get more goysplainning and an Obligatory Conversion Scene. Because Ellanjay feel we will embrace Satanism if we aren't given an Obligatory Conversion Scene at various intervals, regardless of whether it has any relevance to the plot or if it slows down action that would actually be worth reading, instead of just having the characters tell us what happened.

*If you asked me, point-blank who were my first childhood crushes, I would have to say, "Either Tommy Oliver or Han Solo." And I've never gotten over either one because you very rarely get over childhood crushes. And yes, I am totally a supporter of "Han Shot First."It was just so perfect a scene. It clearly demonstrated that Han is much more morally gray than Luke in that he doesn't hesitate to shoot Greedo nor is he too shaken up by it afterwards, yet at the same time, it sows the seeds for Han's future heroic turn in that he's not completely ruthless in that he waits until Greedo makes his intentions known, before shooting him.

**I never foresaw that movie being as insanely successful as it was. I figured, "It's an August release about a team that few people, aside from rabid comic book fans, would have heard of. Best bet: it'll be a sleeper." Instead, it wound up being the highest-grossing movie of 2014, thus proving (just as the popularity of Justin Bieber and Dancing with the Stars) I shouldn't go into stock market analysis.

***Admittedly Nicholas Cage was boringly terrible as Rayford Steele, but admit it, if they had casted him as Nicky and Cage was in full-on gonzo bear suit-wearing punching-random-people-mode, you'd totally see that movie. Again, never try to cast Nicholas Cage as a voice of reason character: no one who named their kid, Kal-El, could ever be believable as a Voice of Reason. Oh and for those of you have only seen clips from his take on Wicker Man, let me assure you: they are just as hilarious in context as they are out of it.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Might Does Not Make Right

Hello and happy Sunday, everybody!

For those of you wondering, while we got a small sampling of goysplainning last week, this week we're in for a heaping helping of the stuff. I often wonder if aunursa or any of the other readers of the Left Behind books who are of Jewish descent, how many times do you guys find yourself saying, "Countless millennia of persecution and pogroms and to top it all off, the Holocaust, and somehow I find this the most irritating." Because even an ignorant Gentile such as myself, spends most of the parts where an RTC character patiently explains to Cute but Wrong Jew why they're Cute but Wrong, cringing.

Though in all honesty, while the goysplainning was bad this week, it actually didn't irritate as much as this one line on the first page of the chapter. Maybe it's the Stockholm Syndrome talking or maybe I'm just feeling right as rain after my stay in Room 101. Suffice to say when we get to it, and it won't take us long to get there, I'll explain.

We start with Vicki and Judd. Since Ellanjay suddenly believe that Christian Pacifism isn't code for Satanic Satanism, Vicki and Judd are continuing to refuse to take up guns and join the fight. Instead, they run around the tunnels placing ammo boxes for those who are fighting. Based on their actions, I do wonder if my assertions about them suddenly being pacifists is correct. Because generally most Christian Pacifist sects would probably take a dim view of even just placing ammo around. They would feel that even if you don't directly pick up a gun and fire it, by supplying those who do with ammo, you're still indirectly participating in violence.

Again, I'll use a clip from Witness to make a point, because RTCs have a collective hard-on for the Amish* subculture despite one of the tenets of the Amish is Christian Pacifism. The basic plot of Witness is that Harrison Ford is a cop forced to hide out among the Amish. It's one of Ford's decent non-Star Wars or Indian Jones films even if it is kind of predictable. But it's still worth watching.

Anyway, the set-up to the scene is that the young Amish boy Ford is protecting, came across his gun and started picking it up and studying it out of curiosity. Ford sees this and is like, "What the hell are you doing? You don't play with a loaded gun." He removes the bullets from the gun then gives it back to the kid.

But as the clip makes it clear, the kid's grandfather has different objections to the gun. Because he is Amish, he believes that the taking of human life is something that belongs only to God. So while Ford's objection to the kid handling the gun is one about physical safety, Grandfather believes that because said gun is designed solely for the taking of human life (and no matter how much the gun nuts may protest otherwise, it pretty much is), then it is an unclean instrument that his grandson shouldn't be handling, regardless of whether or not there are bullets in the chambers.

So my point is I'm fairly certain that most pacifistic sects would still object to Vicki and Judd's actions, even though they aren't directly firing weapons. Granted though, most of the sects that practice Christian Pacifism (yes, there are other religious groups that believe in Pacifism, but Ellanjay are probably only concerned with Christians, so we'll leave them out), probably wouldn't subscribe to Ellanjay's rancid "Might makes Right" gospel in the first place, so they wouldn't be reading these books.

Though I will say that even if Vicki and Judd suddenly believe that the taking of human life should only be done by God, even though I would rant and ragedump about how it is entirely inconsistent with what has happened in this and how said revelation came way the hell out of nowhere, they still have the characters work in the infirmary as stretcher-bearers or something. But having them work in the infirmary, having the characters come face to face with the horrific physical and psychological suffering brought about by war and violence, would cut down on this series' primary purpose, which is allowing the RTCs to gloat. Kind of hard to gloat about how "I was right and you were wrong!" after a scene of a young soldier bawling for his mother, following an amputation performed in order to save his life.

The director Fran├žois Truffaut believed that it was impossible to make a film about the horrors of war, because battlefield scenes, with stuff blowing up and bullets flying, are inherently exciting on a visceral level to the audience, but it is impossible to romanticize the aftermath, with bodies being hauled off and wounded soldiers howling in pain. But the battlefield scenes last longer and stay with the audience longer than a few scenes in an infirmary.

It seems the only way to really depict the horrors of war in film, animated or otherwise, is to have one of the sides be innocent, like the bombing of Hiroshima scene in Barefoot Gen or the bombing in the British film, trying to depict the aftermath of all-out nuclear war, Threads. If you have it like with most battles, with both sides shooting at the other, maybe there's just something inherently viscerally exciting about it.

I will warn everyone reading my blog, if you are sensitive and weak-stomached, do not click on any of the above links . Just know that every time some politician or pundit or just some asshole starts blustering about "how we should nuke 'em all and let God sort 'em out" regarding whatever country they want to pick a fight with, I fight the urge to beat them upside the head with those clips. Because more people than just that one guy you hate, live in those countries, you asshole!

[TANGENT] Given that this weekend, Michael Bay made another play at respectability, with 13 Hours, I kind of find myself thinking of his previous attempt at respectability, Pearl Harbor. After Pearl Harbor was justifiably raked over the coals by critics, I thought Michael Bay had made it clear that he didn't give a fuck, but apparently part of him does. Haven't seen 13 Hours because unless someone can point to clear and convincing evidence that the movie was made by his Mirror!verse counterpart (who unlike our version, actually cares about telling a decent story and doesn't just create two hour films where shit blows up and he gets to wave his dick around as an American flag unfurls in the background), I'm not seeing anything that was made by him.

But I will concede that the Attack sequence in Pearl Harbor was well-done; Michael Bay is great at orchestrating pyrotechnics, though he sucks at everything else. But all this is undercut by the fact that even in a movie about a horrific tragedy where many people died and there wasn't really anything awe-inspiring about it, Bay can't be compelled to allow anything that could possibly show America in a bad light. Bay is one of those idiots who doesn't realize that the Team America theme song is supposed to be satirical, so during the bombing scenes, he focuses more on the shit blowing up and less on, y'know, people dying. The infirmary scenes are shot with a lens covered in Vaseline with a camera that's constantly shaking, so you can't see much by way of blood and guts. Because showing mangled, bleeding bodies would cut down on the film's marketability, might make it :gasp: get an R Rating rather than a PG-13, and make the audience feel all, "OMG!", rather than fist-pump as manly American men unleash hell on Japan! You don't want them to walk away from a screening, shaking their heads sadly at all the gruesome deaths and thinking that War is Hell! [/TANGENT]

Oh hell, I did it again: took a minor point and went on for so long about it that my readers are probably screaming, "Get back to the damn book already!" that is if they aren't also plotting to bash my head in with a lead pipe so I'll shut the hell up.

For those going "tl;dr", I'll finish by saying that if Ellanjay didn't want to have Vicki and Judd actually fighting, that doesn't mean they still can't be badasses. They could like the people in these articles on Cracked** (click here and here for details), who managed to be legitimately heroic and awesome, while resisting the "Violence solves everything!" meme. But while they're willing to pay lip service to the idea of civil disobedience, given that the RTC subculture prizes obedience above all other virtues, you know Ellanjay can't really delve into the philosophies surrounding nonviolent resistance. Just know that when a website, with a reputation as a humor website that uses profane or raunchy metaphors as a means of making a point, shows more insight into spirituality than most Christian Fiction out there, something is wrong here.

Anyway, the moment where I'm like, "The hell?" occurs fairly early on in this conversation between Judd and Vicki.

“They keep talking about a guerrilla war,” Vicki said. “What’s that mean?”

“Lots of little wars throughout the city,” Judd said. “Basically the rebels know they have no chance of beating this army head-on, so they’re going to spread out and try to make it as difficult as possible for the GC.”

I'm like "The Hell?!" because if there's anything that Ellanjay have repeatedly demonstrated, it is that they have no idea what guerilla warfare is and what it means. Though it is a sadly common mindset in this country. Even though the American Revolution that gave us our independence from Britain, was achieved primarily through the use of guerilla or asymmetric warfare, in nearly every conflict, we're shocked, shocked when our enemy uses that strategy. Because apparently the Vietnamese/Afghanis/Iraqis/whatever scary country full of brown people we're at war with, are supposed to face us in open battle, standing side-by-side like plates in a shooting gallery in order to be slaughtered en masse by our brave boys in uniform. We're always shocked, shocked that the enemy realized, "Y'know open battle against a well-trained, better equipped opponent, would be pretty damn stupid/suicidal. Why don't we utilize our knowledge of the environment and levy what strengths we do have, by virtue of being the home team, to our advantage."

Of course, Ellanjay, like so many on the Right, probably subscribes to the Rambo theory that we totally would have won Vietnam, were it not for the hippies harshing everyone's mellow by pointing out all the massive civilian casualties and whatnot. And technically we did win every battle we fought in that country. Technically, they're right, in that the Tet Offensive was a major defeat for the Viet Cong. But they're so hung up on technical aspects that they overlook the broader meaning of that battle. The Tet Offensive wasn't about victory; it was about sending a message to the Americans back home. For a long time, said Americans were being told by their generals that the war was drawing to a close and the enemy was losing the will to fight. The Tet Offensive provided visual proof that said generals were lying through their teeth.

From there, it didn't take much for said citizens to realize, "Okay, so we quickly rousted them from our bases, but all they have to do, is lay low for awhile and try again." They realized, even though the generals might not have, that we were trapped in a never-ending morass of "Go to village, drive out Viet Cong and maim and kill any innocent civilians unlucky enough to get caught in the crossfire, hold village for awhile then leave, only for the Viet Cong to immediately move back in, forcing us to repeat previous steps." That and in doing so, the innocent civilians may decide "Y'know what: I'm really pissed at those Yankee a-holes for blowing up my village and killing people I care about. I'm going to join those resisting."

In short, I really doubt that Ellanjay know Jack about guerilla warfare or really any kind of military strategy at all. People who subscribe to the ideology of Might makes Right, and we all know that Ellanjay clearly do, tend to have a difficult time grasping the idea that you can win every battle, have the best weapons and be the mightiest guys around, but still lose the war. Also, most people, in response to outsiders killing their loved ones for the crime of being citizens of a country that America hates, aren't immediately going to say, "Okay, you horribly killing my family has totally changed my mind. I will roll over and allow you to install a puppet dictatorship and not resist at all." Unless, Ellanjay really do believe that when the terrorists demonstrated the superiority of their beliefs in the 9/11 attacks, America responded by converting to Islam*** in droves and now, all women wear burqas and you can't walk down the street without seeing someone getting stoned for adultery.

Anyway, Judd and Vicki talk about the brave defense being mounted and go to the Western Wall (refered to in true Ellanjay fashion, as the Wailing Wall) and the Temple Mount to see Token Jew show up.

Suddenly there was a commotion when a man with a gun at his side pushed his way through the crowd at the Wailing Wall. He wore loose-fitting canvas-type clothing and a jacket. On his head was the traditional covering of the Jews, a yarmulke. “Men of Israel, hear me!” he bellowed. “I am one of you! I come with news!”

Great job with the descriptions, Ellanjay. I imagine the mention of the yarmulke was thrown in, because Ellanjay felt it would bolster Token Jew's credentials as a spokesman for all Jews everywhere, albeit as a good Jew, one who enthusiastically embrace the teachings of RTCianity and forsakes the faith of their fathers, because that's what they believe all good Jews should do.

I was wondering if the "loose-fitting canvas-type clothing" was Ellanjay clumsily trying to reference the clothing worn by some Orthodox Jewish sects (because heaven forbid, they spend five minutes cracking open an encyclopedia or doing a Google search to learn about the clothing worn by that sect), but since Token Jew has decided to get a gun and join the fight for poorly defined reasons, I'm assuming they're trying to depict Token Jew as wearing an uniform. If that's the case, join me in headdesking because while I may lean towards Christian Pacifism and can't say I know a lot about the military, even I know that soldiers' uniforms generally can't be described as "loose-fitting canvas-type." Canvas-type makes a modicum of sense in that being a soldier is a dangerous line of work, so you need fabric that's tough and can take a beating, because there aren't a lot of tailors or laundromats at the front, but loose-fitting?! Any idiot who has even seen a fight knows that wearing something loose-fitting, gives your opponent something they can grab onto and use to their advantage in kicking your ass.

Though those of you who wondered whether aunursa's summation of Token Jew's message really is, "Hello, my name is Tsion Ben-Judah. You killed my family. These are the 108 prophecies that point to Jesus as the Messiah," this next paragraph proves that aunursa's summation is entirely accurate.

Finally, Tsion said, “What you need is Messiah!”

Some cheered, many laughed, and even more grumbled. Judd caught sight of Buck Williams.

“Many of you know me! I am Tsion Ben-Judah. I became persona non grata when I broadcast my findings after being commissioned to study the prophecies concerning Messiah. My family was slaughtered. I was exiled. A bounty remains on my head.”

That's the problem with this series. Y'all know how much I love to exaggerate for comedic effect, but I keep running into passages like these, where I'm like, "Holy shit...it turns out I wasn't exaggerating, like at all. They actually do believe in my exaggeration." No matter how often it happens, I'm still blindsided when it does. What does that say about me?

Anyway, Token Jew decides to use the Jewish scriptures in order to make his case. In true RTC fashion, he only cites a few verses and ignores the larger context.

He starts by citing Zechariah 12:8-10. His audience responds by saying, "Oy vey! You want to tell us what those verses mean?" I am exaggerating, but not by much.

Token Jew's interpretation also follows the classic RTC tradition, where they cite scriptures without any consideration of the time during which said scripture was written or the audience said writer was writing for. Because clearly every bit of the Bible was written explicitly for people living thousands of years from the time of the prophet's writing, on a continent that they have no idea exists at all, again, assuming that they even know that the Earth is round.

“God is saying he will make the weakest among us as strong as David,” Tsion said. “And he will destroy the nations that come against us. My dear friends, that is all the other nations of the earth!”

“We know. Carpathia has made it no secret!”

Again, I freely admit to being an amateur when it comes to Christian theology (I have a fascination with theology, but haven't done formal scholarship of it, just read stuff on my own) and I freely admit that I don't really know what the Jewish interpretation of that passage is, but reading the larger context of that chapter, it sounds like Zechariah is making the same statement made by a lot of the Jewish prophets: if you hold onto the Faith as given to you by Moses and follow the law, God will save and protect you. It's a basic theme that keeps coming up in the Prophetic Works: follow the law, hold onto the Faith, do what's right even when Evil seems to be winning, because this suffering won't last forever. Evil will eventually be defeated and overthrown and those who held on and did the right thing, will be rewarded for their efforts.

Heck, you could make a case that John was saying the same thing when he wrote the Book of Revolution: Yeah, Nero is winning now, but he, like all the other assholes of the past, will ultimately lose. As Fred Clark has put in so many posts, so much of scripture can be summed up by the song "Downpressor Man" which basically says that those who make fortunes and live well off of other peoples' misery, are going to eventually get what's coming to them. Dives will eventually be judged for ignoring the suffering of the beggar Lazarus. Or, for those not so into reggae, to use the words of The Man in Black: Sooner or later, God'll cut you down.

I've said before that Ellanjay have an identity crisis where they simultaneously want to be the brave plucky Christian martyrs, willing to stand up to Rome for what they believe, but at the same time, they long to be Imperial Rome, able to crush those who dissent against them. Because rather than coming to the belief that Bullying is Wrong, the lesson they've taken is "Bullying Me, specifically, is Wrong."

But there's also the problem in that whether anyone wants to admit it or not, modern American Christians...we're a lot closer to Imperial Rome than we are to the underground churches that launched our faith. Like it or not, your average American citizen lives in wealth and luxury that a good percentage of the world can only dream of. I know somebody's going to respond to the previous statement by being all, "Nuh-uh, I grew up in a one room shack that leaked whenever it rained and had to walk barefoot twenty miles to school, uphill both ways on unpaved roads," to which I say, "Nice job, being disingenuous and dodging the point, a-hole." Because while it's true that most Americans aren't as insanely rich as Donald Trump, at the same time, most of us don't have to live with the very real possibility of burying our children before they turn five (unless the anti-Vaxxers get what they want), nor do we lack access to clean water (unless you live in a place like Flint, where the GOP has done everything it could to erode environmental regulations), and of course, our kids spend their days in school, not toiling in a sweatshop or in a field because if they don't, their families will starve.

Granted that doesn't mean that poverty in America isn't something to worry about and we shouldn't try to alleviate it, but in the eyes of many in the Third World, most Americans are unimaginably rich. Like Rome, we dominate the world with our military might and like Rome, while we talk a good game about Democracy and human rights, we have no problem using our military might to throw our weight around. As Operation Ajax and the many other subsequent CIA-orchestrated coups prove, America is in favor of democracy, so long as your country does exactly what we say.

So if we look at the relation between America and the world, it does sound entirely too much like the relations between Imperial Rome and the nations it conquered, with the conquered (or in other words, the majority) sweating, toiling, and suffering on behalf of a wealthy elite. No one (and to be fair, this trait is common among all humans, not just the Christian Right) likes to cast themselves as the bad guy, admit that people might have a justifiable reason for disliking us, so you can't blame Ellanjay for twisting and perverting what was meant to serve as a balm to those suffering. They don't want the cannon to point at them, but at the same time, they lack the courage needed to admit, "I was wrong. I did horrible things, caused suffering to people who did nothing to deserve it." Because to take that first step, to admit that those people have a justifiable reason for hating you, would require them to change their ways, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do. History bores this observation out that too many people, when placed in a situation where either they have to admit that their ways are wrong and change said ways or they can change their beliefs about said ways, will choose to change their beliefs. Because changing your ways is difficult; changing your beliefs is much easier.

Token Jew then talks about the One that Was Pierced mentioned at the tail end of that chapter of Zechariah. Shock of all shocks, he believes that that part is referring to Jesus.

“But God says we will finally look upon ‘Me whom they pierced,’ and that we will mourn him as we would mourn the loss of a firstborn son. Messiah was pierced! And God refers to the pierced one as ‘Me’! Messiah is also God.

“Beloved, my exhaustive study of the hundreds of prophecies concerning Messiah brought me to the only logical conclusion. Messiah was born of a virgin in Bethlehem. He lived without sin. He was falsely accused. He was slain without cause. He died and was buried and was raised after three days. Those prophecies alone point to Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah. He is the one who is coming to fight for Israel. He will avenge all the wrongs that have been perpetrated upon us over the centuries.

Again, I don't know Jewish theology so I can't say how their tradition interprets the passage Token Jew is bringing up, but even I find Token Jew's leap to be dubious. For those of you wanting to take a crack at this, here's the verses Token Jew is trying to explain:

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Yeah, because there's no other way that line "the one they have pierced" could refer to anybody but Jesus. Nobody, from in between the time period Zechariah was preaching and the birth of Jesus, was pierced by anything. Battles went on for days, because no matter how many times you tried to stab someone with a sword or spear, it never went through, forcing the warring parties to have to resort to bludgeoning their opponents to death.

Oh and that piercing definitely isn't a metaphor, referring to how God weeps and suffers whenever his people suffer; clearly, Zechariah meant this to refer to a Jewish carpenter some thousands of years in the future.

Nor is it delivering a message similar to Langston Hughes's "I, Too" where those who wronged Israel will eventually be made to look at what they've done and realize "Holy hell, I'm a horrible person."

The rest of Token Jew's message is summarized as "he cited lots of other scriptures," before Token Jew bows his head and, like all good RTCs, defers to one half of the most powerful couple in the LB-verse. Or in other words, I get to dust off my "That's Our Buck" tag.

“If you want to know how to be prepared for him,” Tsion yelled, “gather here to my left and my associate will tell you. Please! Come now! Don’t delay! Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation.”

Vicki looked at Judd. “Does he mean Buck?”

Judd nodded in amazement. Buck wasn’t Jewish and was a reporter, not a preacher. But to Judd’s astonishment, Buck began speaking after a short pause. “When Jewish people such as yourselves come to see that Jesus is your long-sought Messiah, you are not converting from one religion to another, no matter what anyone tells you. You have found your Messiah, that is all. Some would say you have been completed, fulfilled. Everything you have studied and been told all your life is the foundation for your acceptance of Messiah and what he has done for you.”

Tsion bowed his head in prayer as Buck told the men how to accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. “He comes not only to avenge Jerusalem but to save your soul, to forgive your sins, to grant you eternal life with God.”

Ugh...it's like they conscientiously planned this, thought, "Okay, we've been pretty damn patronizing in all our scenes were our sockpuppet patronizingly explains to a Jewish person that they are Cute but Wrong, but I don't think we've been patronizing enough. So let's have a scene where a non-Jew with no background in the Jewish faith or any scholarship in Jewish scriptures whatsoever, come out and do some goysplainning."

Though to be fair, given that Buck, like Rayford, is the most powerful being in the LB-verse, even more powerful than Zod or TurboJesus, you can't blame Token Jew for, in a rare show of genre savvy, deciding to defer to him. Because we all know that Buck, like Elsie Dinsmore, is the Rhadamanthus, whose verdicts cannot be appealed. He knows all things and sees all things. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all things. Or, to use a modern reference, he is the one who knocks.

As for Buck's assertion that converting to Christianity from Judaism doesn't mean abandoning the faith of their fathers, though I know it's a simplification, I'm going to post something aunursa mentioned in the comments of another post where that claim was made. Yeah, I know it is a simplification that can't properly illuminate all the teachings of Christianity or Judaism, but I do feel that it serves as a good starting point, and nicely refutes the point Buck is trying to make that "Christianity= Judaism + Jesus!"

CHRISTIANITY
* God is a compound unity.
* Jesus is God and Messiah.
* The Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and Son.
* Sin is a condition.
* Angels have free will.
* Satan is the adversary of God.
* The Mosaic Covenant was superseded by the New Covenant.
* Each "Old Testament" book is equally authoritative.
* The New Testament is divine revelation.

JUDAISM
* God is an absolute unity.
* Jesus is irrelevant.
* The Spirit of God is not a separate "Person."
* Sin is an event.
* Angels don't have free will.
* Satan is a loyal servant of God.
* The Mosaic Covenant is eternal.
* The Torah is the most authoritative section of the Hebrew Bible.
* The New Testament is irrelevant.

As you probably guessed, the good Jews immediately realize that Tim LaHaye Token Jew is right and stops with the "Oy veying" and starts with the "Amening."

Token Jew then makes this prediction:

Tsion continued his message, telling the throng that the armies gathered nearby would face another terror from God, a mighty earthquake. He said hail weighing as much as one hundred pounds would fall to the earth, crushing people.

“Do you know what will happen here, right here in Jerusalem?” Tsion said. “It will be the only city in the world spared the devastating destruction of the greatest earthquake ever known to man. The Bible says, ‘Now the great city’—that’s Jerusalem—‘was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.’

“That, my brothers, is good news. Jerusalem will be made more beautiful, more efficient. It will be prepared for its role as the new capital in Messiah’s thousand-year kingdom.”

We're going to ignore the obvious "If a hundred pound blocks of Ice fell from the sky, life on Earth will be rendered moot" astronomy/physics flaws. Because they've made this flaw so many damn times that it's really hard to say anything funny or new about it. I could post actual science pointing out that the Asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was only about 3-10 miles (or 5 to 15 kilometers for those into the metric system) across, so a bit of space debris need not be the size of Texas to end all life. Heck, a space rock the size of my bedroom would probably be enough to cause massive suffering.

But like I've said, we've already pointed out that Ellanjay Know Nothing About Anything, least of all astronomy or physics. Plus, unlike all the mentions about space rocks, in this scenario, Ellanjay have explicitly said hail, so rather than dealing with something from outer space, this disaster will originate within our atmosphere. Ignoring the impossibilities of hail that massive (because Ellanjay also fail at meteorology) just try to imagine what hundred-pound hail would look like and of course, when a whole bunch of it rains down on Earth, IT WILL CRUSH A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN JUST PEOPLE, YOU IDIOTS!

Or in other words, I find Token Jews assertion of "Good News, Everyone! The Earth will be bombarded with massive blocks of Ice that will wipe out most cities on Earth and probably all the sacred religious sites in Jerusalem, held dear by many faiths, will be destroyed but somehow, It'll get better!" to be just a little bit dubious. Unless, Token Jew feels that Hiroshima and Nagasaki looked much better after America dropped atomic bombs on them, reducing many buildings to rubble and clearing out so many pesky people just trying to live their day-to-day lives. :steps outside to scream for a bit:

Okay, now that's done, at least most people, whether you believe Truman was justified in making the decision to drop A-Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or not, will acknowledge that doing so caused a massive amount of human suffering to many who didn't deserve it and that whether you agree with Truman's call or not, most will generally say it's a decision/action we hope to never have to do again. Token Jew on the other hand...Yeah, I'm going to scream for a while longer, if it's okay with you.

I admit that there was an interlude with Lionel that I skipped over because nothing really happened, but there's another interlude. Basically after so much twiddling of thumbs, Zod finally destroys New Babylon with missiles. There isn't really much to snark; the only interesting part was this exchange between Steffi (the contest to common up with the most tone-deaf, stereotypical German surname for her is still open) and Lionel.

Lionel explained what he knew about the rescue effort and told Steffi that Mac McCullum would fly there. “Where are you now?”

“Outside of our hiding place on the—” Steffi stopped, then gasped.

“What is it?” Lionel said.

“Something so bright that the darkness is gone!” she said. “It’s big. Very big.”

If you can read through the last bit without generating a single dirty joke, not even a "That's what she said!" then congratulations, you clearly are not mortal. You are of some other greater substance and will soon conquer and subjugate us all with your scary mind-powers. I'll just hope that you'll be a semi-benevolent dictator like Oprah, where, yeah you'll rule over all of us with help from your massive armies of brainwashed followers, but you'll give us free cars at random intervals. The only downside, aside from the, y'know, lack of democracy and freedom, is that we'd have to read and pretend to like literary fiction and literary is generally code for "pretentious and depressing as hell." Because True Art is Angsty. If a piece of art has an uplifting ending and you actually enjoy watching it, it is shallow and therefore, not true art.

For that reason, if we must be under the rule of a corporate conglomerate, I'd prefer Disney. In addition to their animation studio, Disney also owns Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. So at least we'll get exciting, awesome art that won't make us feel like slitting our wrists afterwards.

The sun is setting in Jerusalem. Vicki hears about the destruction of New Babylon and gets off on the thought of all the massive suffering that has happened and will soon happen. Yeah, I'm exaggerating, but again...just read:

“If Babylon has fallen,” Vicki said, “that means there are only two prophetic events left.”

“The seventh Bowl Judgment and the Glorious Appearing,” Judd said.

I'm going to assume that Ellanjay cut out the part where after this exchange, Judd and Vicki proceed to make passionate love as footage of emergency crews desperately trying to dig people out of rubble and treat those sick with radiation poison or injured by massive concrete debris, played in the background. Because it'd be nice to believe that there was an editor involved in all this, that someone stepped in and said, "Y'know your heroes are coming across as much more sociopathic than a guy who is literally Satan." But y'know, if there was such a passage, the only objection RTC readers would have to it, is the part where Vicki and Judd :gasp: have intercourse. Even though, Vicki and Judd are married at this point and they do allow the heinous act of intercourse, so long as the participants do it solely for the purpose of reproduction. So scratch that, they'd object to the passionate part. They may all for married couples to have intercourse, again, because there'd be a precipitous drop in the number of bodies in the pews otherwise, but the couples aren't supposed to enjoy it.

Anyway, Vicki asks Judd whether they should stay in Jerusalem and fetch ammo or if they should GTFO and try to reach those without Nicky's Mark. The chapter ends with them hearing a rumble as Nicky's army approaches.

And that's it. Sorry for all these long philosophical discourses. While I like to think they're not boring, that they do add to the snark and are proof that my skills have grown since when I started this takedown (I admit to being somewhat embarrassed by the opportunities I overlooked in early snarks. That and the stupid typos), but I worry that said discourses are drawing too much away from the primary purpose of this blog: to snark. To point out with appropriate knowledge/humor why Ellanjay suck and that the PMD-brand of prophecy could never actually happen, because too much hinges on people not behaving like humans.

If y'all feel that's the case, I'll try to cut down on all the long philosophical discourses, make my blog focus a little more on the actual books and use it less as a personal soapbox. If not, then I'll keep up with said discourses, though I will try to make them semi-relevant to the material at hand. Like Dr. Seuss said about his book, The Lorax, "I wasn't afraid of being preachy, but I was afraid of being dull." In that spirit, I won't shy away from being preachy, but I'll try not to be dull.

As a balm to my readers, and as an excuse for me to be a MCU fangirl (though do I really need any excuse?), I'll close this out by providing a clip. Because the people involved with the MCU understand the basic concept that the viewers should be able to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys, and not just by their body count. Plus, watching the Hulk smack the shit out of villains in the middle of their monologues never gets old. Anyone who says otherwise is clearly a pod person or a member of the Borg collective or a member of some other alien race. Either way, it's safe to say that said member of said race, doesn't have good intentions for humanity.

*Again, while you may have quibbles with the Amish and their beliefs, whether you just like having Internet and a car, are opposed to women just being there to produce babies, or feel that the closed-off nature of their communities, leds itself perfectly to abuse, I do respect them in that unlike so many on the Right, they're content to just do their own thing. They don't try to lobby and pass laws requiring us all to use buggies and wear white kapps. Plus, they do believe in good craftsmenship. That in itself, is worth respecting.

**I know Cracked is labeled as a humor website, but given the articles they've written, the kind of subject matter they've taken on, I do feel they deserve some mad respect, even if, again, they have no problem using profanity and colorful metaphors to drive a point home.

***I am well aware that the radical Muslims stirring up shit around the world, only make up a small percentage of the population, that the majority of Muslims are :gasp: not all that different from us. They obey state and national laws, care about friends and family, go to work everyday, and sweat every month trying to pay the bills. In fact, Islam is probably similar to many other religions, promising a saner, happier world to those who practice the faith and basically saying, "Seriously, don't be an Asshole." I was trying to put myself in Ellanjay's mindset as a means of pointing out the holes in their logic.