Though I'd warn you that this post gets into some dark discussions about abuse, especially towards the end. Those of you with issues, feel free to bow out.
Our opening bit...I know you get tired of me reiterating the point that every character, no matter what their rank in the hierarchy or whether are Good or Evil, recognizes the inherent superiority of Buck and Rayford, but dammit, they keep forcing me to do so.
WITHOUT SO MUCH as a call or an official invitation, Rayford Steele’s small band entered the Egyptian parliament building that had been rebuilt in Cairo during the first year of the millennial kingdom. Whatever had been going on, the entire place fell mute, and all heads turned to watch the men approach the dais.
The man presiding immediately said, “We’ve been expecting you,” and several members of the government stood to applaud. Others glared at them until the ovation petered out.
I'm seriously starting to wonder if RTCianity should be referred as Rayfordianity and its followers called Rayfordites. Because people suffering massively because Zod took away all the water, know to recognize the greatness of Rayford. After all, he is known worldwide for bravely flying Nicky around the world and occasionally thinking disdainful, but not too disdainful, thoughts in Nicky's general direction.
Yeah, Firedrake's fan theory about the LB-verse all being a dream created by Rayford...Normally I object to "It was all a dream" endings because so often, they are complete and total copouts, but in this case, it would actually explain so much. All the inconsistencies would be easily explained and can you honestly admit that you don't find the idea that this is a the dream of a Misogynistic RTC Pilot dozing while on the job to make so much sense? In this dream world, he is the single most greatest human being there ever was, as opposed to the real world where he is a greying sky bus driver facing continuous mockery from his kids who stubbornly refuse to be like he was, perfect in every way.
Though to be fair, some of them do recognize Chaim, hailing him as Micah. But Token Jew isn't happy.
Rayford had seen Tsion Ben-Judah in countless situations, but never had he seen him carry himself with such authority and— clearly— anger. “On your knees!” he shouted, and immediately the assembled slid from their chairs to the floor.
I know everyone's getting tired of me posting that one clip from The Avengers but dang it! They keep giving me reasons to!
Because like Cap says, there is time to plant yourself like a tree and say, "No. You move," and I'd say when a demiurge dictator with superpowers is killing people for the heinous crimes of believing something slightly different, that's the time to do so. Because as I recall, this all stems from a few Egyptian government officials disagreeing with Zod. Yet Zod decides the best response is a massive disaster that will kill not only a handful of dissidents, but also a bunch of men, women, and children guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Though then again, that is fully in character with the RTCs' beliefs. Saddam Hussein being a moral sewer of a human being, totally justifies throwing more matches onto a regional powder keg, which will explode and kill a bunch of ordinary people trying to live their lives. And of course, you shouldn't ask unpleasant questions like, "If you're invading Iraq because Saddam is bad, why not go after North Korea, given that the regime there is every bit as awful?" and you most certainly shouldn't suggest things like, "Maybe you're not invading North Korea because you can't power cars with Kimchi," and definitely do not point out that the USA sold Saddam the weapons he used to gas his own people, because during the 80s, we were scared of the Ayatollah in Iran. So we funded Saddam, who was at war with Iran, basically turning a blind eye to the horrific crimes he was committing. Even after our own State Department was basically saying, "Dude, this is not a nice guy you're doing business with," we still kept selling him weapons, believing that "Yeah, he's a little unruly, but if we give him weapons, and say, 'Bad Saddam! Very bad Saddam!' when he commits horrific atrocities, he will eventually fall into line." If Saddam hadn't decided to bite the hand that feeds him by invading Kuwait, we would probably still be propping him up.
Sorry guys. You're probably getting all tired of the damn politics, but I can't help myself; it's like a spigot gets opened. You also probably getting tired of my constant girl boner for Captain America and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I will post a pertinent clip from the DCAU* and move on.
Token Jew starts ranting about how they worship Ptah and they eeevilly build structures and idols to Ptah. Me, I duck into Wikipedia to see what it says about the religious makeup of Egypt. I realize, of course, that Wikipedia isn't the bestest, most scholarly source around, but I find it a good starting point. From what I can tell, the cult of Ptah ended with the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. For those of you not up on your ancient history (though it's probably difficult to be any good at ancient history when you believe that the world is only 6000 years old), the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt began in 1070 BCE and ended in 664 BCE.
So yeah, Ptah probably doesn't play that huge a role in the religious makeup of modern Egypt. Modern Egypt is primarily Sunni Muslims, who make up 88% of the population. We all know that Ellanjay have a dim view of Islam, but you want to know what the next largest religious group in Egypt is? It's Coptic Christians, aka one of the oldest Christian sects still around. Its followers believe that their church was established by Saint Mark himself in 42 CE. Proof for that is probably sketchy, because records from the first century are generally spotty at best, but I felt a need to point that out, because as Fred Clark has said many times, while Ellanjay act like their interpretation of the Bible is totally ancient, totally how all the great Christians throughout history interpreted it, really it is a very modern interpretation, dating back to the 19th century at the earliest.
And I know I'm belaboring the point, because that's what I do, but I feel a need to post a link to this graphic about the Egyptian Revolution. Because no matter how much the RTCs insist otherwise, things are rarely as Black and White as they think they are and for the most part, people are basically good. We may believe different things, but push comes to shove, most of us try to do the right thing, help out those in need. We may not always succeed, but we try.
Plus, as I keep pointing out, the country with the largest Muslim population isn't in the Middle East; it's Indonesia. Yet the problems facing Indonesia are, for the most part, problems facing any First World Nation: growing population, shrinking resources. If the problem really is Islam, as so many bigots proclaim, wouldn't Indonesia make the Middle East look like Switzerland in comparison?
All right, moving on...
Token Jew continues to foam at the mouth.
A man looking not much younger than Kenny stood. “Sir, if I may argue our side of the issue—”
“Your side? You are accursed! Or are you a believer, confident you shall live past your hundredth birthday?”
“It merely happens that I respectfully disagree—”
“Respectfully? You are fortunate you remain on this earth, for God willed that your young compatriots become examples for the rest of this nation.”
“But, sir, that is precisely our point. What kind of a loving God is so capricious that He would—”
“Demolish this building!” Tsion roared. “Rebuild it as a temple to the Lord. Delight in His ways. Seek His face. Follow His statutes. Never again disobey His commands. And henceforth this land shall be known as Osaze, ‘loved by God.’ Lest you fear that His wrath evidences something other than His love, imagine what He could have done in the face of this ultimate insult.
Oh, so much "Strawman Always Has a Point..." it's actually quite painful. Though of course, Token Jew would be from the Bill O'Reilly school of debate where not letting the other guy argue his case, is totally proof that you are completely one hundred percent in the right. But if the other guy shuts you out of the debate, because you cannot, at all, be respectful of the rights and needs of others, that is "OMG!!!!!11 PERSECUTION!" that makes the Holocaust seem piddling in comparison.
Yeah, I'm thinking of Acts 17:16 to the end. For all you lazy readers out there, I'll post the passage in question. Though admittedly, I had already planned on doing so.
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”
Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.
19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
Addressing the Areopagus
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Paul often gets a lot of flack from Liberal Christians. Some of it, is admittedly deserved. Sometimes in his letters, Paul really seems to get it, the life-changing message of Jesus, how the last will be first and the first will be last, all the prisoners will be set free, and all those sick and hurt, will be healed, but other times, he remains stubbornly a man of his time.
In his defense, most of the really misogynistic passages RTCs love to cite, weren't likely written by Paul. It was a standard practice in the ancient world, putting someone else's names to your works in order to get them more widely spread. The actual Paul's letters reveal that while he probably wasn't a hundred percent in line with Third Wave Feminism, his views regarding women were much more nuanced than RTCs like to believe.
But the point about the quoted passage is, well, look at Paul's approach. He could have stood there, ranting and flailing about how they're all sinners destined to burn forever, like Token Jew. And the people in the area would have either ignored him or mocked him.
But instead, Paul showed respect towards them and their beliefs, meeting the people of Athens where they were. Paul, after all, was a Roman Citizen, in addition to being a Jew, so he knew the beliefs interwoven into Roman society as well as the Jewish beliefs. He actually knew his opponents' arguments and wasn't afraid to address them, because he had learned and studied them himself. It's a basic rule of debate--Know your opponent's arguments before you knock them to the ground--but it's a rule that seems sadly lacking in the RTC subculture.
And for the record, for all of Paul's sweating and striving to prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah, none of this letters make any mention of a Virgin Birth. Given that Paul's letters are the oldest part of the New Testament, that indicates the Virgin Birth part of the mythos was a more recent addition to the Jesus story.
I know the part about the Virgin Mythos probably wasn't necessary, but I put it in there, because I find it interesting, and this is my soapbox.
Rayford's section ends with this line:
As Rayford followed Tsion and the others out, the entire auditorium was filled with weeping and men and women pleading for forgiveness and mercy.
Given the severe drought, the weeping men and women soon keeled over because, y'know, crying is kind of a bad thing when you're already severely dehydrated. Though since Ellanjay foolishly decide not to mention the Egyptians' prayers, I'll write a translation for them: 'Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!'
In the next section, Creepy Raymie is our POV character. And no, I will never stop calling him that. I know I should probably call all the RTCs in this series, Creepy, but with Raymie, it feels even more apropos. Qasim, still trying to cozy up to the bullies, so they'd stop with the emotional cruelty, has brought a copy of the TOL manifesto. The rest of the section is taken up entirely with this text, without us even hearing the Millies (what I'm calling the Millennium Force until one of you gives me a better name) get the vapors or their monocles shatter at the impropriety of it all. And I know I've already done so many bigass quotes and I somewhat apologize for them, but I'll post the manifesto, just so you can see how eeeevil the TOL's beliefs are:
To the thinking members of the global society: Use your brains! You are capable of rational thought. We of the Other Light acknowledge that everyone who entered this period of history was a believer in God, either surviving the last seven years on earth as they knew it or returning from heaven with Him.
We do not deny that God was the Creator and that Jesus is His Son. We deny that He ever came to earth in the flesh or that He died and was resurrected. We aver that He unfairly treated one of His own creations, an angel, and summarily cast him out of His presence, forever besmirching his name and reputation.
Worse, He has left men and women no choice but to believe in Him and serve Him, denying our free will. We have no quarrel with those who believe and follow Him and consider themselves devout. We simply insist on the right to decide for ourselves.
And now we come to the crux of our manifesto: If it’s true that we, as His opponents, are not allowed to live past the age of one hundred, this merely proves our point: He will not countenance an alternate point of view. Critics and even some of our most loyal members have suggested that if it’s true, we should have abandoned our ill-fated cause when the first wave of deaths hit.
We, however, insist on our right to rebel, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Because of the new world, the population is exploding as never before. Literally billions more souls will be born with every generation, and therein lies our hope. Even if it’s true, our progeny, properly informed and coached, will— by the end of the Millennium— amass an innumerable force. God’s own prophecies indicate this.
Even if it’s true that we will continue to die out every hundred years, if we remain committed to our cause against the vengeful, bloodthirsty God of the Old Testament, we have hope. If we can equip the eventual mega-army of dissidents to where they can actually emerge victorious in the end, perhaps the new ruler will resurrect us and allow us to reign with him.
The biggest mistake God makes will be to loose our leader for a season at the end of this Millennium, for that shall truly signal the end of His kingdom. Let us not be deterred by intermittent defeats. Watch our ranks grow with every generation, and we will in the end prove that God is anything but gracious and loving and forgiving.
Our hope and wish and instruction to the future torchbearers of the Other Light is that they continue to add to and refine this manifesto until— by the last generation— it becomes the most motivational and strategic call to arms the world has ever known.
And be encouraged. Even if it’s true that we die out every generation, it stands to reason that our progeny will become more numerous each time. And if that’s true, it should be exponentially encouraging to each new wave that carries on our message.
So, what if it’s true? Add to this document. Refine it. Improve it. Pass it on. And we’ll see you on the victory stand in the end.
The Other Light
So much 'Strawman Always Has a Point,' that even the phrase 'Strawman Always Has a Point,' feels entirely too inadequate. Because if this was written by anyone with half a brain, this would be a Big Damn Heroes moment. Because nearly every form of entertainment, like that clip from the DCAU I posted earlier to freakin' Power Rangers know that standing up to the Villains and basically saying, "No!" regardless of if you have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, is pretty damn heroic. There's a reason we celebrate organizations like the White Rose or the Free France movement; in the wake of so much misery and societal pressure, they stood against the tide and did whatever they could to stop an evil organization's advance and save lives.
Okay, Ellanjay would probably respond by being all, "B-but they're standing against God and He isn't evil!" To which I'm like, "Subsitute out God's name for Satan or say, Saddam Hussein, and see if you still find their actions acceptable." Because there should be a fundamental difference between the forces of Good and Evil and said difference shouldn't just be, "One side does horrible things and wins, but the other side fails."
I know Ellanjay were probably writing this series as Revenge Porn for RTCs and therefore, just didn't care about their opponents' arguments (again, unlike Paul), but maybe some nagging voice deep inside kept saying, "You know the other guys are making some good points," so they attempted an Author's Saving Throw in the next scene to try to prove that the TOL really are like super-evil.
The next passage, Abdullah is the POV character. A Nameless Neighbor talks about how the TOL is spreading, but one of them was recently smited by Zod. Apparently one of them tried to rape a woman with a glorified body, in hopes of creating a mongrel race of partially glorified people who may be able to overcome the "Death at 100" rule. But Zod smited said TOL, reducing him to ashes.
And I have to roll my eyes at all this. Because like I said, it feels like a transparent attempt to be all, "See they really are evil!" in response to all the observations about how they are coming across as pretty heroic. So they're putting in a Kick the Dog moment because one bad guy tangentially associated with a movement, doing bad things in the name of said movement, is proof of the movement's inherent evil. Though said rule seems to only apply to those who can't pass a paper bag test. So a supporter of Black Lives Matter murdering Cops proves that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization and a Muslim doing something horrible, regardless of whether it is in the name of their faith or not, is proof that those groups are inherently evil. But Dylann Roof or the many other white dudes who have shot up schools, churches, and other public places, are merely isolated nutbars and in no way, prove that Racism is still a problem warranting being addressed or that White Males often have a sense of entitlement and react badly when they aren't immediately given something they feel is "due" to them.
Though given that most violence against White People is committed by other White People, you really do wish they would address this scourge of White-On-White violence that plagues their communities.
Abdullah tells his wife he's thinking about infiltrating the TOL and we cut to Kenny-boy. And maybe I belabor the "Kenny wants desperately to get laid" point a little too much, but I dare my readers to read the first few lines of his section and try not interpret it in a way that isn't creepy as hell.
Kenny visited Ekaterina that evening, hoping to muster the courage to tell her how affectionate he had become toward her. He could never quite seem to find the words, and she kept changing the subject.
Uh, guys when people use the word, affectionate, that usually means some actions are involved, gestures that go beyond looking a pretty girl and pining at her from afar? And again, I know I may be reading too much into this, but given the Author's Saving Throw attempted in the previous section, I'm finding it very difficult not to.
Because you know that Saving Throw was put in because they're like, "Okay, the TOL is making some good points," so they had to do something to prove how truly eeeevil they are. Since RTCs consider Sex to be the most egregious of sins, they had a member of the TOL try and fail to rape someone. Though I would be remiss in my duties as a snarker if I didn't point out that for all their wargle-bargle over how eeeevil the TOL is, when it comes to Sexual Abuse in their own communities, RTCs have an even more appalling record. For the sake of brevity, I only posted one link to our dear Fred's blog, because I very easily could have kept posting links until the end of time. Because when you divide Sex into two categories, one being "Good" and the other being "Evil," and Good is defined as "Within the bounds of holy matrimony between two heterosexual individuals," while Evil is anything that doesn't fall into the Good category regardless of if the actions are "Two people deciding to express their mutual love for each other by having sex, even though they don't have rings on their left fingers," or "Preying on the underaged," then yeah, horrible crimes will result.
Again, Consent, mothereffers! It's the basic principle that governs whether it qualifies as abuse or not. And no matter how much Dudebros** like to break blood vessels and pretend that it's such an arcane, difficult concept that no guy could be expected to fully grasp, it's not. In fact, here's a handy cheat sheet.
If she or he says, "Yes," via spoken dialogue or otherwise conveys enthusiasm or consent via body language, go ahead and have fun. There may be possible consequences like STDs or pregnancy, but there are possible bad consequences to everything. But the point is, under those circumstances, it does not qualify as Rape.
If the other person does or says anything that gives you doubt as to their consent, STOP. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Because maybe you were misreading things, but it's better to err on the side of caution than to continue. If he or she isn't giving clear signals that they are interested, STOP. Maybe you'll get to have sex another time if you're lucky.
If someone is falling down, black-out drunk or passed-out all together due to his or her alcohol consumption, keep an eye on him or her and maybe call an ambulance, but at no point, do you need to do anything with your genitals or his or her genitals.
In fact, even if they are drunk but still conscious, unless you two have been in a committed relationship for a while and have had sex before, again, err on the side of caution and don't do it. Maybe at some other time, when both parties are sober, you can get it on, but until then...well, you have hands for a reason.
Kenny and Kat talk for a bit. And the chapter ends with Kenny wondering if Kat would make the perfect infiltrator of the TOL, unlike Qasim who is "Too Immature" to be a good spy.
And that's it. Sorry for all the danged footnotes, but hey, there was some more stuff I wanted to say, but I wasn't sure how well they fit into the conversation and like I said, I know I tend to ramble. So I place "Stuff I want to talk about, but am not sure if it fits" towards the end, using asterisks to indicate that there is more for those interested. And if you're not interested, you can roll your eyes and just ignore said asterisks.
*I am an absolute sucker for moments like these in Superhero movies or shows, where the civilians do more than just scream, flail, and die off-screen. Hence why I keep posting that Avengers clip and why I love that bit from Power Rangers so much. And it's one of the reasons that no matter how many times I've seen that moment in the DCAU, even though I know what's coming, I still get chills when it happens. Though for me, it's the line Superman says at the end, that really drives the emotional gutpunch home. Seriously DC Comics, get the guys involved with the DCAU to make your movies! They have proven, over and over, that they can deliver, tell damn good stories that appeal to both children and adults alike, without being so dark and gritty that they cross the line to Outright Unpleasant to Watch.
The Ordinary Heroes bit is one of the reasons I love Lord of the Rings so very much. For all the talk about how Aragorn is the One True King and Gandalf's talent for sorcery, ultimately Middle Earth is saved by ordinary hobbits displaying ordinary virtues such as friendship and courage. I first read LOTR after the first movie came out and I started reading it because I thought Legolas was hot and wanted to see more of him. So I picked up the series, only to fall head over heels in love with Samwise. And said love hasn't ended. Between my love of Samwise and Captain America, I think my standards are too high for any real-world guy to have any shot at satisfying.
**Dudebros and MRAs are always going, "Dur...Feminists don't care about male rape victims or male victims of domestic violence." Even though there's a reason the phrase "The Patriarchy Hurts Men, too" shows up in many different variations in our lit. Because it turns out that providing a narrow definition of what is considered appropriate masculine behavior, hurts everyone, especially guys who fall outside said narrow definition.
People have long noticed that women are more likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses as Depression and speculated as to whether our body chemistry makes us more prone to mental illness. But lately it's been theorized that mental illness affects both genders at roughly the same rate and the reason for the higher number of diagnoses in women, is because women are more likely to seek help for their condition. There's less stigma attached to a woman having a mental illness than there is for a guy. Women have greater access to the full spectrum of human emotions, whereas for Men, the only emotion they're allowed to express, outside of Stoicism, is Anger. Any other emotion is seen as weak and feminine. Even though Beowulf and the Norse mythos have their heroes breaking down in tears over the deaths of comrades and the text doesn't condemn them for doing so. In fact, said breakdown is shown as proof as to how much the hero cared, how dedicated he is to his task. The "Boys Don't Cry" attitude is a very recent invention.
Plus again, for all their rantings and ravings, it's the feminists who uphold and support male victims of rape and abuse, the feminists who say, "You were a victim and you have every right to be angry and hurt about it," whereas the MRAs and dudebros, for all their talk, use male victims as fodder for jokes. It's almost as though they don't really care about the suffering of male victims and just use the existence of said victims to prop up their toxic belief systems, but that can't be the case!
Anti-Feminists see men as walking dicks, incapable of any higher thought. Feminists see men as thinking, feeling humans capable of basic self-control, yet somehow it's the Feminists are stereotyped as having a negative view of men.