Well, first of all, sorry but we have another week of creepy sex stuff to look forward to. I know, I know, as a drooling pervert who cut her writing teeth on fanfiction, I'm more than capable of reading innuendo where there isn't any, but I still feel like all this is on Ellanjay. :shakes head: Again, it keeps being about sex with them.
Second of all, I know I've linked to ako's fixfic"Children of the Goats" many times. I will probably do so again in the future and I can't say I feel too ashamed of myself for doing so. Because in this week's selection, we get our first talk about The Other Light rebellion (henceforth referred to as TOL). I'm a firm believer in "Compare and Contrast" when it comes to art, where you talk about good art and bad art, by comparing two different stories, both of whom had similar goals, only one succeeded, while the other failed miserably. It's an often interesting tactic, enabling you to point out how and why something succeeded or failed.
Heck, I have to admit: it often makes it easier for me to talk about good art. Because the trouble with good art is that you really can't say anything except that it's good. When something's bad, there are so many ways it can be bad, so many ways of going to town on that sucker, but when something's good, it just works. Even the parts that are a little cliché are somehow endearing, lovable in a weird way.
Superman I and Superman II are good movies, but I freely admit that they have their flaws. Be nice if we could get a decent, threatening version of Lex Luthor, have him be as magnificent a bastard as he is in the DC Animated Universe, and don't get me started on the damn Amnesia kiss! Such a cop-out!
But for all its flaws, Christopher Reeves does do a damn good job of playing Superman. Because for all his alien powers, deep down, Superman really is the aw-shucks All-American farmboy. All this stuff about Truth, Justice, and the American Way is admittedly corny and cheesy as hell, but the thing is, Superman really believes in that stuff and on the whole, they're not entirely bad things to believe in. Christopher Reeves pulled it off, managing to embody both Superman the nigh-invulnerable alien from another world, while also being Clark Kent, the nebbish reporter from Kansas. Plus the people involved knew if you make the tagline of your movie "You'll believe a man can fly," you'd better deliver, and by God, they did.
In other words, I'm giving my readers homework: at some point, read ako's "Children of the Goats" and note the many ways it succeeds, while Ellanjay's stuff is pure fail.
All right, I'll get to the actual content and I'll try to keep the pervy laughter and "That's what she saids" down to a minimum, but I make no guarantees.
This half of the chapter is told from the perspective of Raymie Steele. Yeah, I like everyone else, continue to wonder why he is nicknamed Raymie. Wasn't he named after Rayford, thus making his full name, Rayford, Jr.? Yeah, we can talk about how much it would suck, how being Rayford, Jr., would be even worse than being just plain Rayford, but I'm still like, you couldn't have called him "Rafe" or "Rafie" or something that would make a little more sense from a linguistics perspective than Raymie? Yeah, I'm just going to assume that the Raymie nickname, was a passive-aggressive insult from Saintly Irene. Because again, the culture Irene's in, divides women into Madonnas or Whores and she lacks the backbone needed to overtly express her opinion of that kind of thinking, so...let's just say poor Raymie and leave it at that.
Raymie Steele knew that had it not been for the Rapture, he would have been long since dead. He had been twelve years old when Jesus shouted from the clouds and the trumpet sounded and he and his mother disappeared from their beds in the twinkling of an eye. He would have been nineteen at the Glorious Appearing, but his glorified body made him look more like a man in his midtwenties, and there he had stayed despite having now lived for 112 years.
So yeah, that ought to help make everything as clear as mud for everyone. Though once again, I suffer hemorrhages trying to figure out how all this is supposed to work. Because the whole point of the MK is that even though they see and talk with Zod and TurboJesus on a daily basis, the COT still have to develop the ability to believe in Zod and TurboJesus then say The Prayer some time before their 100th birthday.
But I wonder if the same is true of the kids who were under the "You Must Be This Tall to Burn" line at the time of the Rapture. Yeah, they get the glorified bodies of the Raptured types, but do they still have to at some point, say The Prayer? Can they fall away and lose their Super Special Awesome Salvation? I know, there are so many plot holes with that, but given what we're reading, like I said last week, the word, plot holes, feels somewhat inaccurate. Because probably all good stories will have at least one niggling detail that just doesn't add up. Like in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, apparently when they built that bathroom, no one noticed a gigantic death snake.
But most of the time, the rest of the stuff in the story works well enough that you're willing to overlook the stuff that doesn't. To borrow from an earlier example, we can point out so many issues with Superman flying around the world to reverse time and save Lois in Superman I, but there's still enough cinematic magic that I'm willing to let it slide. But there is nothing in these books that works. These books aren't a badly done patchwork quilt where the fabric's ugly and you can see all the seams; this is a patchwork quilt that's basically nothing but gigantic moth holes with a few bits and pieces of fabric that itch and smell like moldy cheese spaced in at random intervals.
Raymie reflects on his childhood.
He retained a crisp memory of his childhood despite the intervening aeon. Simple, believing, trusting, naïve— that’s how he would have described his prepubescent self. He loved his family, adored his mother, and worried about and prayed for his father and sister. How he rejoiced with the angels when Rayford and Chloe Steele became believers.
Yeah, Raymie's generic childhood with no discernible details sounds idyllic. You couldn't do something like have Raymie reflect on how he loved watching cartoons with superheroes and would run around the playground, pretending his sweater was a cape, as he played with his friends? Talk about riding his bike until the streetlights came on and he stumbled home with fresh scrapes, bruises, and grass stains? Yeah, I know you can make a case that the stuff I suggested is generic, but come on, I was still putting forth some effort!
Though I suppose it's too much to expect specific details given that in the previous selection, Cam-Cam's eulogy will either be "SHE'S A SINFUL SINFUL HARLOT GETTING A HOT POKER SHOVED UP HER ASS AS WE SPEAK!" or "She was an upright primate, who regularly inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide, and and performed services in exchange for currency" or probably an incoherent combination of the two, with added weaseliness.
Oh and here's more world-building details for Ellanjay to state than promptly ignore, and me to go insane trying to make sense of them.
People aged slowly and time seemed to pass quickly. Things he hadn’t given much thought to as a child— war, pestilence, disease, violence, crime— were virtually nonexistent, and he realized that this largely accounted for the longevity of the population. He had to chuckle. That and the promise of almighty God.
Of course when Raymie says "People aged slowly," I'm assuming he really means "All those lucky enough to get martyred or raptured," because need I remind you about what his pappy's going to go through? Pro Tip: if you're going to ask for immortality, make sure to get eternal youth as well. In fact, before making any deals with a spirit or genie or monkey's paw or whatever, get a lawyer to hammer things out so you don't get screwed. Though really, why would you make deals with a monkey's paw in the first place? From what I can tell, things didn't work out so well for the monkey.
Though all that stuff about how Raymie never gave any thought to war, pestilence, disease, violence, or crime...yeah, I'm laughing and laughing bitterly. I realize that as an anxious child who blossomed to become an anxiety-ridden adult, I'm probably not the default, but I have a general suspicion of anybody who remembers childhood as an idyllic time. Just as if you remember the sixties, you weren't really there, if you remember childhood as an idyllic time, you were never really a child.
Because Internet didn't really come along until I was around the 4th or 5th grade and social media didn't take off until I was in college, but here's a shocker, we did have other ways of getting the news. Being a kid didn't mean we were incapable of overhearing something on the news that frightened us, or hearing something from someone else's parents or a kid down the block. And hearing about that stuff was, at times, pretty damn frightening. You're completely at the mercy of the adults in your life and it can be absolutely terrifying, when you find out that they don't know anymore than you do about what the heck is going on.
I will say that as much as it sucks being an adult, there are some perks. Don't have to get up everyday and be surrounded by sociopaths who hate me. If I go back to school and I don't like it or get a job that I hate, no one can actually make me go. I can quit and walk away. I may face unpleasant consequences for doing so, but knowing I can walk away, is a helluva lot better than, again, being completely at the mercy of people who may not have your best interests at heart.
So yeah, I really like people like Mr. Rogers. He was smart enough to know that kids often have to deal with stuff scares that crap out of adults, never mind those in single digits. Around the time of the first Gulf War, he made a point of, during one of his shows, reassuring kids that in spite of all the scary stories they were hearing, no matter how bad things got, people will be there to look after them and protect them. He died in 2003, but lived long enough to do a 9/11 message as well. Why am I doing all the links? BECAUSE IF I'M GOING TO SPEND THE REST OF THE DAY, BEING A SOBBING EMOTIONAL WRECK, SO WILL ALL OF YOU!
Though seriously, I've devoted many hours to trying to work out the afterlife. About the one thing I've settled on, is that any Heaven that won't let in Mr. Rogers, isn't a Heaven worth going to. So much about growing up is discovering that the stuff you loved as a kid, was freaking terrible or that your heroes weren't who they said they were. Except for Mr. Rogers, who was exactly as he presented himself, a class act all the way. :sobs some more:
All right, I'll get back to being all hateful and sarcastic.
When I brought up the whole "Children and zygotes being rapidly aged into adulthood without going through any of the stuff in between," Firedrake suggested the possibility of Zod using his powers over time and space so they can go through all that stuff and gain the experiences of growing up. It would make sense, seeing as Zod is supposed to be all-powerful, so he could probably do some wibbly-wobbly time stuff and it would be much less creepier than him stamping on a basic personality template onto a fertilized egg that never implanted on the Uterine wall. But that would involve actual imagination, so of course, they went with the creepy option.
How bizarre it had been to enjoy long, rambling, interesting conversations with his parents. He had gone from an obedient, sometimes challenging— especially to his irresponsible, promise-breaking father— youngster to an adult overnight, and most striking was that he suddenly enjoyed an adult’s intellect as well. It had been new to him to realize that practically every subject of discussion had intricate layers of meaning, things that had to be examined and ferreted out in order to understand.
Yeah, because there's nothing more enjoyable than hearing Rayford talk about how he was wearing an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time.
Nice passive-aggressive slam at your father in there, Raymie. Though since the RTC subculture prizes obedience above all virtues, you'd think that Rayford would be okay with having an obedient kid. Though this motif of disappointing father-son relationships keeps coming up in Jerry Jenkins's work. Because Shitstain Stepola also had daddy issues. To be fair, Papa Stepola was a horrible person, probably every bit as horrible as his kid, but he was mercifully dead at the beginning of the Shitstain Trilogy, so we didn't have to deal with him.
But between all this and the Right's general obsession with domination and manliness, how many problems could we solve if we bought Jerry Jenkins and every rightwing pundit/politician a gigolo, so they can finally be dominated by the big, studly male they've always dreamed of, and the rest of us can get a government that does something besides fellate rich people and kill brown people.
I know, I'm being mean and creepy. But given how much contempt they express for women, can you really say I'm not being honest? Just remember, no matter how much contempt they express for women, no matter how desperate they are to assert that they are the most manliest men around and are totally manly, they most definitely aren't Gay, even if they do express way more of an interest/attraction to guys than they ever do to women. They only watch all those gladiator movies to get a look at life in Ancient Rome and all that gay porn is just to remind them that they are 100% heterosexual and definitely not Gay. I don't know why you'd think otherwise.
Raymie's been helping out at Cam-Cam and Chloe's Daycare. And we get more proof that Ellanjay haven't been around children for any longer than a photo op.
Because these kids showed up as blank slates and the only convert prospects in the world, Raymie considered his work as important as any in the kingdom. Nothing gave him greater joy than explaining to children old enough to understand that despite being born and raised in homes of believers and in a society where every adult was a follower of Christ, still they had to come to faith in Jesus on their own and for themselves.
Yeah, the blank slates bit...not so much. We're still debating the Nature/Nurture issue when it comes to shaping human behavior. At this point, the response is mostly a shrug, after which we say, "A little from Column A and a little from Column B?" Because there are studies that do prove the power of genes, studies where identical twins separated at birth and raised in different families, still display freaky similarities. Oscar Stohr and Jack Yufe were born and separated in 1930s Europe. Stohr grew up in Germany and joined Hitler's Youth, but Yufe was raised Jewish and eventually moved to Israel. Yet despite very different environments, when they met in their fifties, they discovered they had similar speech/thought patterns, liked most of the same foods, and had some of the same peculiarities like flushing the toilet before using it.
But at the same time, can't overlook the power of environment as well. There's a reason, when you hear about criminals that a lot of times, when you hear about what their upbringing was like, you're not too surprised they wound up where they did in life. There will probably be a few surprises, here and there, but the type who repeatedly run into trouble with the law, tend not to have been raised by June and Ward Cleaver. About the best way I can sum up the controversy is an analogy I heard somewhere: if you put a germ in a specific culture, it will grow. Or if someone comes into the world under bad circumstances, if they are raised in a caring, supportive environment, their poor traits won't affect them as much. They will have adults to help give them the tools to deal with whatever limitations they have.
In fact for all the racist, classist wargle-bargle over the Crack Epidemic of the 80s, most of the problems facing babies born to crack-addicted mothers stemmed more from poverty than they do from their mothers' use of Crack. No one's saying, "Crack should be part of every pregnant woman's diet," but most of the problems are more a result of lack of decent healthcare/nutrition than the drugs. Most of these kids, when placed in a proper environment and given proper therapy/treatments to address whatever issues they may have, don't turn out that appreciably different from other kids. And of course, treating children as irrevocably damaged because of who their parents were or because they're not acting like "college material" at age five, tends to make matters worse, not better.
Plus, while there's been a 93-year time jump, I feel a need to remind everyone that the oldest these children were, at the Glorious Appearing, was around seven and if you don't think seven and under children display personalities...again, I'm laughing and laughing bitterly.
Those of you who feel I haven't made enough comments about creepy sex stuff, don't worry: Ellanjay as always, deliver on that front.
In his dwelling, not far from where his parents frequently returned from their efforts in Indonesia, Raymie portrayed on his walls photos of the hundreds of children he had prayed with as they trusted Christ for salvation over the years. He thought about also pinning up his prime targets, but he needn’t be reminded of them. God kept them at the forefront of his mind daily.
While Raymie wondered what a normal life might have been like, with dating and love and marriage and parenthood, he found it convenient to not be distracted by such things while immersed in a life of service to Christ. As he prayed for the children under his charge, the Lord gave him the assurance that his efforts would nearly always be successful.
Given that they're talking about kids under seven (at least they were before the 93 year jump, and even after, they're still considered children), which is way too young to even qualify as statutory, I'm just going to taze myself repeatedly before I say anything else.
I could provide so many very uncomfortable, depressing links, about all the horrible stuff that happens when you get the toxic mixture of Religion and Power, combined with a loathing for desires of the flesh. But I'm feeling merciful and I won't. Just that it does seem to happen more among authoritarian denominations, where the priest or preacher or whatever, is regarded as God's representative on Earth, so the obvious message is that it's your fault for being such a seductive eleven-year-old!
And dammit! I swore I wouldn't provide depressing as hell links. In my defense, it's to a Slacktivist post, not an actual news article. Does that count in my favor a little? Oh, all right, I'll provide a Simpsons clip as a breather for everyone.
But really, Ellanjay aren't helping the creepiness factor, especially with the next paragraph:
While Raymie wondered what a normal life might have been like, with dating and love and marriage and parenthood, he found it convenient to not be distracted by such things while immersed in a life of service to Christ. As he prayed for the children under his charge, the Lord gave him the assurance that his efforts would nearly always be successful.
Bad Mouse! No posting links to the short story "The Screwfly Solution" by James Tiptree, Jr! You've posted enough depressing links, even if it's true that Ellanjay probably would be enthusiastic Sons of Adam, should that plague in the story come to pass. Yeah, I'm going to post Hulk smashing the crap out of Loki to take the edge off. I'll totally understand if y'all are envisioning me as Loki in this scenario, even if someone as neurotic as me could never deliver a line about, "how I am burdened with glorious purpose." and pull it off.
But Raymie is sad after the death of Cendrillon. The book is kind of enough to state this upfront, because Ellanjay believe that their audience consists of total morons who wouldn't figure it out otherwise.
Raymie was sad. He was shaken. He had been duped by a girl not much younger than he. And he knew the reason all too well. Nothing was automatic; nothing was guaranteed. While Satan was bound and thus could not tempt people to sin, could not fill their hearts with doubt and fear and questions, clearly the other two legs of the three-legged stool of evil— the world, the flesh, and the devil— were enough to lead one astray.
I admit that at first, the two legs of the three-legged stool of evil line confused me, especially when they proceeded to list three things--the world, the flesh, and the devil--even after saying that Satan was locked up and couldn't tempt people to sin. I was an English major who broke down in hysterical tears when faced with any math beyond the basics, but I'm fairly certain that "the world, the flesh, and the devil," is a list consisting of three things, not two.
But my view of the devil more lines up with Hobbes in this Calvin and Hobbes strip, so I probably can't be trusted. Just that a lot of people, myself included, manage to do a good enough job screwing up our own lives, without adding guys with horns and hooves to the mix.
Raymie meets up with Bahira and tell me he's not (off-page, of course) secretly copping a feel.
He embraced her, and she wept on his shoulder. Raymie had not seen tears since before the Rapture. It felt strange to console a vibrant woman whose usual countenance was one of sheer joy. Bahira had a chiseled face, gleaming teeth, and huge dark eyes normally full of wonder and humor. Raymie led her to a rock, where they sat.
Wait in all the some 93-years you guys have wandered around the MK, he hasn't crossed paths with someone he considered a childhood friend. In addition to being a creepy perv, Raymie also is a terrible friend.
Though that last bit...oh they are trying so hard to give a description, one that can't possibly be construed into any kind of sexual light by perverts such as myself. But by talking about her chiseled face, her teeth, and dark eyes...somehow it winds up being creepier than if had Raymie rhapsodize about Bahira's huge tracts of land.
Bahira and Raymie talk about how sad they are, though how it probably wasn't shocking to God, culminating in this paragraph, which in light of all my talk earlier about how religion winds up making abuse all the more worse, because it brings God in on air support to provide the killing blow...
She shrugged. “But still it must grieve Him. You know, I have only distant memories of fear and sadness from when my father turned hateful toward my mother because of her faith. Zaki and I worried and hid and cried and prayed. It was way too much for people our age. And then, like you and your mother, we were all suddenly in heaven and soon rejoicing at our father’s conversion. Our reunion with him at the Glorious Appearing remains one of my favorite memories. I tell you all that to say how foreign are the emotions I suffer now.”
There aren't really any words to say except, "Holy Fuck." I'm reminded of an anecdote I read in a book years ago, where someone talked about how an abused wife who sought counsel from her pastor, was told to kneel like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as her husband beat her, in order to shame him with her humility. Now, we've got confirmation that Ellanjay feel the same way.
Because if Bahira's mother had decided to leave in order to protect herself and her children (even if they're not being abused, physically or verbally, they're still being damaged, growing up in a household with an abusive a-hole), her actions would be an affront to the sanctity of marriage and to God. She needs to stay and suffer her husband's abuses and in doing so, allow her children to be suffer and be martyrs as well. Yeah, I'm going to post a link I've previously posted on my blog: Abusers aren't out of control; they know exactly what they're doing. A good thing to remember: bad cop's not out of control and the good cop's not your friend.
So they talk more about Cendrillon.
Bahira nodded and moved to the brook, where she knelt and cupped her hands to capture a drink. “She had always been mischievous and a kidder, but she was so involved in all our ministries that I thought I knew her heart. She sang; she told stories; she was wonderful with the little ones, playing with them, looking after them. I had no reason to believe she was not one of us.”
We've been through this before and we're going to keep going through this, again and again, but if it is that easy to fake being good, enough that the so-called good people won't be able to figure you out, then what does it even mean to be good in Ellanjay's world? Oh yeah, they said The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded. You can be a thoroughly evil bastard who kicks puppies, steals crutches from crippled war heroes, and pushes old ladies down flights of stairs, so long as you've said The Prayer. If you have, you're free and clear. If not...Screw it, I'm going to add Cendrillon to my League of Awesome head canon, just because I can. She took some herb that makes her appear dead, but as soon as it wears off, she's running off to join the League. Again, she had to fake her death because the Tribbles would never leave her alone unless they thought she was safely damned. Maybe there are tons of plot holes in this head canon, but screw it. It's my head canon and I'm sticking with it!
Bahira talks about some of the shocking things Cendrillon had said, like wishing, for one night, she had pagan parents, and wanting to go to France and Turkey to see the nightlife there. A young person squabbling with their parents and wanting to have fun! Such a thing has never existed in all the years of human history. Truly, Cendrillon really was a hardened reprobate!
Raymie talks about The Other Light.
“They are true, Bahira. My dad checked it out. It basically consists of kids in their eighties and nineties who crow about having not yet become followers of Christ. They call themselves the Other Light and say their study of the ancient Scriptures makes them fans of Lucifer and not Jesus.”
“But they’re just doing this for attention, aren’t they? Jesus lives beyond the Scriptures. He’s the Living Word. Surely they can’t claim not to believe in a God who has again limited Himself to human form and lives and reigns among us.”
“Dad says they seem for real. Yes, it may be for attention, and perhaps they know better and are planning to change their minds and their courses in time to avoid death at one hundred. I’m surprised the Lord doesn’t squash them like bugs.”
When even your own characters are pointing out how this makes no goddanged sense, YOU'VE FAILED, ELLANJAY! Because like I've said before, when the rebellion starts, the weaksauce strawman arguments are like this book is set in our world, unlike the world of the characters where they see and talk to TurboJesus, Zod, and all the other great biblical characters on a daily basis (though not Jael. Never Jael). Like I keep harping, over and over, it's not the existence of God that the heathens would question. They saw locusts with people faces and so many freaky supernatural events that would give Richard Dawkins pause. What they would question, is the nature of said God.
Because most of us are compassionate humans who don't believe that Might Makes Right and that those on top, don't have the right to treat those below however they want, by virtue of their "higher" status. In fact, as a general rule, we tend to feel that those who have power, should also use it responsibly and heck, sometimes we find it heroic, when they don't utilize their full power to their advantage.
Because, to keep using the Superman example, the Man of Steel is well-aware of his powers, well-aware that he could snap Lex's neck like a twig and establish peace and prosperity by being humanity's super-powered dictator, and that there would be very little anyone could do to stop him. But he doesn't, because for all his alien powers, Superman doesn't see himself as better than or above humans. Superman gets his DNA and the powers that come with it from his alien parents, but his moral code and all the stuff we love about him, comes from a pair of Kansas Farmers. From what I heard, John Byrne is a horse's ass personality-wise, but in his landmark rewrite of Superman, called Man of Steel, he knew what he was doing.
Though if you're wondering, of all the stuff in that movie I hate so much, Pa Kent the Sociopath pisses me off more than the Break-Neck Ending. Seriously, DC, get the guys involved with the DCAU to do your movies. They know how to write heroes, while at the same time, talking intelligently about issues most kids' cartoons won't even handle. The Cadmus Arc in Justice League Unlimited alone, proves it. This moment alone proves it. Even if you don't know the full context, it's still emotionally involving and even if you do, no matter how many times I've seen it, it's still an emotional sucker-punch.
“His mercy is everlasting,” Bahira said quietly. “I know that sounds like a cliché, but He promised longevity, and Jehovah will not judge them as accursed until they reach that age. What did your dad say? Did he see them? hear them?”
“Oh yes. He says they have left the homes of their parents— who grieve them noisily and cry out in pain for others to pray for their children— and have begun enterprises that must be a stench in the Lord’s nostrils. Brothels, nightclubs, black markets.”
And of course, they had to say something that's got me taking about the world-building, trying to figure out how this whole death thing is supposed to work. Because Cam-Cam's words seemed to imply that accidental death was still a problem, yet Bahira's dialogue seems to imply, again, like I keep saying that a COT can't die until they're one hundred years old, so they could live a life of sin and debauchery, and be in the clear, so long as they say The Prayer the night before their 100th birthday. I'm going to go to jabbering madness trying to work this out, aren't I?
Though all the stuff Raymie lists? Yeah, if I was a character in this series, I'd ask him to define those words, just for my own amusement.
Because I freely admit that I'm not crazy about the sex trade, but at the same time, if we're talking Nevada-style legalized brothels, I don't see too much of a problem, if everyone involved consents to all of it. In fact, many have made a convincing case that making prostitution illegal, only serves to worsen the problems of the sex trade--abuse, trafficked children, etc.--by driving everybody into the shadows, rather than legalizing and regulating the hell out of it, so the government has a better idea of what's going on and if people are being abused, it's easier to get them to come forward and surprise, surprise, it's easier to prosecute someone for abuse when you've clearly defined what is and isn't abuse, rather than sticking your head in the sand and pretending that there's no such thing as abuse. Crime will still occur, because we're not yet living in a Shangri-La, but not at the rate it used to, because it turns out that pretending a problem doesn't exist and not talking about it, is actually a very bad problem-solving strategy.
And nightclubs? Of course, Ellanjay would be like, "Dim lighting? Music and dancing! And people having fun! The level of Orthodox is most definitely at Un!"
Though black markets...I suppose it would be worrying if they were talking about Black Markets in our world, which often involve drugs, guns, and sex (and Ellanjay are opposed to two of those things. No points for guessing which ones), this would be worrying. But given that Ellanjay are basically a mixture of the Church Lady from SNL*, Mandy Moore's character from Saved!, and John Lithgow from Footloose, I'm really wondering what would be at these black markets. "Oh my god, they're buying Rock and/or Roll, and not Christian™ Rock and Roll! And I just saw someone pick up paperbacks where the characters go through very real suffering, which causes them to act out in bad ways, and they are not immediately punished! In fact, several of these books/DVDs are basically saying that life is often filled with pain and suffering and sometimes, there are no easy answers! The heresy!" :cue sounds of them fainting at the thought of people reading or watching stuff that while teaching many good morals about bravery and friendship, they don't have TurboJesus and Zod on every page:
Bahira's like "What penalties have the judges passed?"
“Penalties have been handed down. Both France and Turkey have had to reestablish law enforcement agencies and even jails and prisons. But all this has seemed to accomplish is to make these infidels more attractive to other young people. Even with the evil one neutralized for now, the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
So it turns out that driving human impulses like sex and drugs underground and refusing to acknowledge their existence and punishing those who slip up and get caught, does not, in fact solve the problems associated with said vices.
Yeah, RTCs, rape, abuse, and homosexuality all existed before Roe v. Wade. The difference was, people didn't talk about it, because if they did, they could kiss any hope of living a normal, comfortable life, goodbye. So they suffered in silence, lashing out in ways society considered more acceptable, like heavy drinking or smoking, or abusing their kids. Or they pursued anonymous hookups on the side, which we all know is so much safer than a committed relationship with someone you love and care about. There certainly wasn't any strain that would cause someone to snap and kill themselves over, because they couldn't take it anymore.
Bahira and Raymie do some more whining about how can anyone love fun, more than God, for a while. In my head canon, this is the part where Jael shows up to start driving tent spikes into their heads.
Those of you who think I'm joking? Welcome to the blog and I cite the closing conversation to back up my point.
“Again, Raymie, I hoped she was teasing, but I soon realized she was not. She pleaded with me to go with her to check it out. It would be our secret, and her cousins wouldn’t tell. We wouldn’t have to do anything, she said. Just watch and imagine, pretend our parents weren’t followers of Christ. I reminded her, ‘Cendrillon, I was raptured. I came from heaven. I am more than a follower of Christ. I have been redeemed and sealed. I don’t even have the desire to dabble in this.’
“That’s when she turned on me, Raymie. She accused me of being superior, holier-than-thou. I actually apologized. I certainly didn’t want to lord anything over her. I hadn’t been bragging, just explaining why the temporary pleasures of sin had no hold on me. She said, ‘They don’t have a hold on me either. I just want to see what I’m missing.’ Well, I guess she knows now.”
“Excuse me,” Raymie said, turning away to get a message from his father. When he turned back, he told Bahira of the plan for the three men to visit Cendrillon’s parents. “Should I tell my father what you told me?”
Bahira nodded. “Never fear the truth. The Jospins may not want to hear it, but they must be told. Her funeral can be a warning that saves countless lives.”
As they walked back to their dwellings, Raymie said, “I don’t envy the men this task. How would you like to have to tell parents such truth about their child?”
Again, if you have to emphasize that you weren't doing something, ESPECIALLY if that something is bragging, THEN YOU TOTALLY WERE!
And frankly, I would rather more people sin like Cendrillon, sin because they were desperately reaching and trying to experience something greater than themselves, rather than sin like Bahira and Raymie, where they stay out of trouble, only because they have defined being good not as something you actually do, but as what you don't do. Cendrillon may have chased after a false idol, but she didn't take bits and pieces of a real idol, carve away all the important stuff that actually matters, and replace its innards with her own moral priggishness. It's like Susan B. Anthony said, "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires." Or as Anne Lamott's friend put it, "You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."
Or in short: HELL YEAH! I'M REVIVING MY "STRAWMAN ALWAYS HAS A POINT" TAG!
That's it for this week. Sorry about all this dark stuff, regarding sex and abuse. I wish I could promise that we'll eventually get off the subject, but I doubt we will. Pick your poison of choice as comfort.
*Didn't find a good Church Lady clip. Sorry. I know I failed.