I've said before that if Ellanjay had any sense, they would have faded to white, let the characters go to Heaven and not even try to take on the task of describing it. Greater writers than them have tried and failed and most writers wisely decide not to take it on. Because the concept of Heaven, a place of eternal bliss and joy, where there's no pain or suffering, is so far beyond the human experience that it's pretty much impossible to say anymore about it than "it's a place of eternal bliss and joy and there's no pain or suffering." Though I always think of it as being a place where you could spend eternity doing whatever you want without the limitations of Earth. So for readers, you get a neverending library on anything you want and you can read in any language you like, even ones that current anthropologists haven't yet deciphered. Though I also see it as like Dream's library from The Sandman comics where you can also read books that exist only in the creator's heads.
Regardless of how you find my depiction of Heaven (and there probably are faults in it), I know better than to try to tell a story about it. I'll state my theories, but however much fun I may have in, reading books in Heaven, it wouldn't have much value as a story. Can't really tell a story that goes "She read books and it was good." The whole concept of Heaven makes it impossible for story-telling; all stories have to have some form of conflict, internal or external, and in a place where it's nothing but bliss and joy and none of the pain or deprivations of Earth, there is no conflict.
So yeah, another part of my rant is that they've basically managed to stretch two pages of story into a novel. Ellanjay are coming across as the kid who, realizing they can't reach the teacher's required essay length, starts playing around with font size and margins, abuses the heck out of the thesaurus to find new vocabulary to misuse, and sees how many times they can say the same thing, only with slightly different wording via Thesaurus Abuse. Though however much that may be irritating to a teacher*, at least in that scenario, they are not paying the student just to read their crappy essay.
Anyway, we start with Abdullah. Apparently after much thought and prayer, he's figured out what Zod wants him to do, regarding the TOL. Meanwhile I wonder how many times I can headdesk before it starts to have egregious effects on the functioning of my brain.
Abdullah has decided that Zod wants him to be a chaplain to the TOL.
Even Yasmine is like "Uh, hello, we see and talk with the Lord on a daily basis? How exactly is this supposed to work?"
There's some back and forth stuff about how Zod promised to give him the wisdom needed and then Abdullah explains what Zod wants him to do with the TOL and proves that he has no idea what a chaplain does.
“I am to find out where TOL meets here in Amman. Frankly, I am not even sure they actually meet here yet. Perhaps the Lord led me here in advance of them simply because He knew they were coming. But once they are here, I am to find them and confront them, but not in a negative way.”
Guys? A chaplain's job is more to minister to followers of a particular faith and counsel them. They are associated with the military, but they also work in other capacities. For example, Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain to the New York Fire Department, died in the September 11th attacks. After administering the last rites to a wounded firefighter, he went back into the south tower to help, only to be killed by falling debris from the north tower.
That's basically what a chaplain does: provides counsel and conducts services for members of a particular faith, giving them the comfort needed to keep going.
What Abdullah is talking about, where he goes to the TOL's hangout area and confronts them, that sounds more like being a missionary. A missionary is someone sent by a church to work in a particular area, preaching and carrying on evangelistic activities, while also performing educational and medical work. Though wait, that's not entirely accurate: a missionary does do more than just yell at people and y'know how Ellanjay are opposed to good works, because they believe they distract from saving your own ass. Abdullah probably intends to be an evangelist, but Crazy Man Ranting on a Street Corner is probably the most accurate descriptor of Abdullah's intended job.
Though how exactly do you confront someone in an non-negative way? Even if you don't use the F-bomb or punch them in the face or anything like that, confrontation is still a form of aggression, which is inherently negative. Sometimes it is needed, but even the most gentle confrontation isn't a lot of fun for someone on the receiving end. Though may be when they say "not in a negative way," they mean like the how the Conservatives see Martin Luther King, Jr. and how he apparently only said that one quote. Apparently the Civil Rights Marchers were in no way confrontational. They didn't take to the streets to :gasp: disrupt the lives of White People and they said, "If it's not too much trouble, could you see to it that we get the rights due to us as citizens," rather than loudly demand those rights. And MLK** wasn't shot and killed by a racist a-hole, despite practicing nonviolent resistance and wearing a suit and tie to all his marches.
I'll quote Frederick Douglass and move on: "Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has and it never will."
I've joked about all the headdesking I'm doing in this chapter, but for this quote, a desk feels too mild. So if you hear a loud headwalling coming somewhere from the middle of flyover country in the US, that's me. Sorry guys.
“The Lord has assured me that He holds their destiny in His hands. They know whom they are opposing, and any criticism or warning will be no surprise to them; neither will it have any impact on their thinking. His new plan is at once both revolutionary and as old as the New Testament. I am to love them and treat them the way I would want to be treated.”
Okay, so you freely admit that none of your evangelizing will have any impact on the TOL. SO WHY THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN BOTHERING! JUST STAY HOME, SING HYMNS, AND LAUGH YOUR HEAD OFF BECAUSE THEY'LL BE BURNING IN HELL!
Though it's probably safe to assume that by "loving them and treating them in the way I would want to be treated," Abdullah doesn't mean, "I'll recognize and respect their right to walk away and live their lives as they see fit, so long as it damages neither persons nor property." Because like I keep saying, for all the argle-bargle about the TOL and how eeeevil they are, the TOL aren't interfering with the Millies' lives in any way. The TOL aren't sending infiltrators to collect information and bring them down from the inside. The TOL doesn't sic the cops on them whenever they try to exercise their right to free assembly when they have talks with Biblical figures or sing hymns. In fact, from the looks of it, the TOL only recently started to become more radicalized because a certain group :cough: the Millies :cough: refuses to recognize their rights and allow them to live their lives as they see fit.
Though given that the most eeeevil thing the TOL has done, is distribute a a manifesto dripping with Strawman Has A Point, "radicalized" feels entirely too strong a word. But then again, the Right, both Christian and non, do seem to believe that while the first amendment of the US constitution grants citizens freedom of speech, the Founding Fathers only intended for some people to use it and you should only say nice things, not means ones. And apparently loudly proclaiming LGBT people to be an abomination unto the Lord, deserving of hellfire for all eternity, and saying that certain ethnic/religious groups are inherently evil and undeserving of basic human rights, isn't being mean, but if you say to them "You're being horrible," than you're the one being mean.
If you bothered to click on that link and read the TOL manifesto, well, the actions of the Zod and the Millies kind of wind up proving their point. Zod is unwilling to tolerate an alternate point of view, so he stamps out all who dissent against him. That's what the manifesto says and that's actually what Zod does. It is always about Projection with the Right, isn't it? Memo to the Right: while it may be comforting to believe that everyone else is just as awful as you are, it sucks for everyone else who has to share a planet with you.
Though to harken back to the MLK example I used earlier, ever hear of COINTELPRO? I'll give you a hint: those in power didn't immediately go "Okay, MLK, the politeness of your arguments and your suit-wearing has convinced us of your cause. We'll give you voting rights, which will most definitely not be overturned and lead to Blacks being disenfranchised in droves." And of course, don't forget the Frederick Douglass quote, because it's damn true.
Anyway after that quote, for some reason, they cut to Chloe talking to Kat. I don't know why they couldn't put the two Chloe parts together and the two Abdullah parts together, because the interruptions make no damn sense. My theory: Ellanjay so worship their self-inserts that they were afraid the readers would shrivel up and die if they didn't cut to Rayford or Buck. Maybe they felt they had to compromise and settle on Chloe. Granted, she is of Rayford's bloodline and has a connection to Buck's via marriage, but you know this was a hard decision for them to make.
Anyway, Chloe is talking to Kat. Apparently Mattie Cleveland, her supervisor at the daycare, sent a bad report about Kat. Here's the horrors contained in that report. I pray that none of my readers have heart conditions that wouldn't be able to handle this information.
“Now, Ekaterina. These are summaries of your discussions. About your being tardy, taking too long of breaks, leaving early, being hard to find when team chores are scheduled, sitting with Kenny at the Noah appearance without permission, disagreeing with her in front of the staff.”
All this stuff about being lazy or having a half-assed approach to the job, feels really rich, given Ellanjay's continual laziness and how they can't be bothered with the most basic aspects of storytelling. It will never stop being about Projection with them, will it?
Though regarding Kat's list of crimes, apparently sitting by someone of the opposite sex at a crowded gathering is an offense even though...Okay, supposedly in the MK, you become an adult when you turn one hundred. Until then, you are considered a child and I'll assume that physically and mentally, you are one. A previous chapter said that Kat talked about how her mother was pregnant when TurboJesus showed up, so Kat is only in her nineties, but looks like she's sixteen. Kenny is probably only a bit older, so...Okay, to be fair, this is kind of within the RTCs' line of thinking that you simply can't ask two people of the opposite sex to be together, without immediately jumping each others bones. But even still, we are talking about two nearly grown adults at a crowded event where they are surrounded by people on all sides. Even the most shameless exhibitionist would find it hard to perform under circumstances like that. And the MK cops would probably show up and arrest them both on the spot, so in short, WTF?!
Though this trope is often seen in bad fanfiction. Apparently when Person A proclaims their love for Person B, they have to have sex right there on the spot and they can't just check into a hotel room or something. Even if they are on the bridge of the USS Enterprise and they're struggling to survive a surprise ambush by the Romulans.
Kat asks to speak to Mattie and we cut back to Abdullah who continues to not understand what a chaplain does.
Abdullah is all "I'm to speak to them on Jesus's behalf." Yasmine is all "Uh, Bible says that TurboJesus will throw people into hellfire after a thousand years, so why exactly do you need to do this?"
Though a bigger question is, why would TurboJesus need Abdullah to speak on his behalf, given that this is Heaven and everyone sees and hears TurboJesus on a daily basis? Couldn't TurboJesus just say something like, "I created the world, I rose from the dead, and if you don't believe as
Abdullah opened his hands. “All I know is what He is telling me. I go to them, tell them that I am a chaplain available to them on behalf of the Ruler of this world. I am to tell them not to fear me, that I mean them no harm. I am to speak on behalf of Jesus, and I am to make myself available to them for their spiritual needs— any questions, counseling, teaching, or whatever else they want.”
Credit where credit is due: the description in the quote is closer to what a chaplain does. I'm going to assume that if a TOL goes to Abdullah and he converts them, said TOL probably couldn't continue to party, enjoy music and wine, afterwards. Because when God gave us the ability to dance and listen to and enjoy music, He didn't mean for us to use them. Also, even though fruit naturally ferments on its own, He didn't mean for us to enjoy it, either. Even though as previous chapters have established, there are literal rivers of wine flowing in the MK, so how exactly is it wrong for the TOL to drink alcohol? Maybe it's like sex, where it's wrong because the TOL enjoy it, rather than grit their teeth and do what has to be done.
Though before you start giving Abdullah too much credit, here's what he says just a few lines down:
“Oh, that is another thing. I am free to warn them about that. I am to say that because I come under the authority of the Son of God, woe to those who would oppose me.”
So many YouTube clips I could post in response to that line, but since we don't have until the end of time, I'll go with "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" from Caberet because given that the TOL enjoys :gasp: music with actual rhythm, it feels apropos.
I wonder if I'll ever stop referencing the Swing Kids rebellion of Nazi Germany? Probably never, because as I keep pointing out, I can't think of any examples of hedonistic dictatorships, where Dear Leader was like, "You will burn all your Pat Boone CDs and enjoy sex or die!" There seems to be a lot more religiously inspired dictatorships than hedonistic ones. And while there are plenty of examples of dictatorships where Dear Leader and the elite lived quite comfortably while the masses starved, again, their activities were done or justified in the name of a religious or political ideology, not just hedonistic pleasure.
For the record, though Epicurus, the philosopher most associated with hedonism, from whom the adjective "Epicurean" comes from, told people to seek a life of pleasure, Epicurus did divide and rank various pleasures, with some being considered higher and others lower. Epicurus said that you should strive for higher pleasures such as justice and virtue, rather than lower ones, like sex or intoxicants. Higher pleasures last longer and are more fulfilling, whereas lower ones are only good for a couple of hours.
I suppose all this talk about Epicurus is only tangentially related to the material, but I thought it added more fodder to my point that for all the constant disdain towards people who enjoy life and its pleasures, Epicureans or Hedonists don't have as bad a track record as people think. They're content to live their lives as they see fit and leave everyone else alone, whereas RTCs feel like they can't be holy, as long as there are other people out there, showing off their ankles and dirty pillows.
Abdullah talks about how he plans on asking them for an office. And if they don't grant him one, he'll set up a table and some chairs outside their entrance and work from there. So yeah, Crazy Man Ranting on a Street Corner really is the most accurate way to describe his job.
I haven't done pictures for a long time, but in this case, I feel I should give y'all a visual representation of Abdullah:
Anyway, now we cut back to Chloe. Mattie has shown up and well it turns out she didn't write said report. Someone forged it, but who? :Cue Dramatic Prairie Dog:
Though for those of you who are like, "Yeah, we've heard from someone of Rayford's bloodline, but not Rayford himself," fear not, the last section is told from his perspective. Basically
In true Ellanjay fashion, Token Jew and the other preachers volley between emotional blackmail and love-bombing. Okay, technically the book says,"They warned that God would again strike their land if they chose to ignore him. But they also thrilled the masses with the promises of the Lord," but I am anal retentive as heck and totally a believer in Mark Twain's aphorism "The difference between the right word and the almost right word, is like the difference between lightning and a lighting bug." Always strive for accuracy and clarity in your writing, people.
Token Jew quotes a lot of Bible verses, which I'm not going to look up because I'm lazy and this snark's hella long as is, but I'm going to call attention to only one. Because Token Jew, like so many others, decides to quote Jeremiah 29:11-13. That verse is so often misused on merchandise meant to be given to someone going through a life change like a graduation or the loss of a job, but the larger context of Jeremiah 29 shows the lunacy of using that verse as a casual "Hey, hang in there, bro," aphorism.
At the time Jeremiah was composing this, the Jews were being sent into exile aka the Babylonian Captivity. They had been brutally and mercilessly defeated in war and now, they were being driven from their homes, having to face the fact that they may never go back ever again. So it was a lot less "Sorry you didn't get that promotion at work, but it will all work for the best," and more like the Hebrew version of the Trail of Tears. The Babylonian Captivity was a massive event in the history of the Jewish people and much of the Old Testament is dedicated to people trying to explain why it happened, how were they supposed to cope and stay Jewish when everyone is doing their damnedest to make them stop. Which of course, I'm assuming is something the Jews only experienced once, people doing everything to force them to either convert or die, and they never had to go through it again.
Yeah, I think I've just got another bout of hate-laughing to do.
Token Jew talks about his amazing escape through the desert as depicted in Nicolae: Rise of the Anti-Christ. Not even going to bother to snark, because it's just in there to pad out the word count. Though I will cross my fingers and pray that some day, Fred gets back to doing snarks of Nicolae. I understand if he's not feeling up to it; it'd be hard to think of anything worse than Rayford mansplaining about abortion, but we know Ellanjay are up to the task. It'd just be nice is all.
And that's it for this week. Feel free to comment and tell me what I've overlooked and how I am way off-base or whatever.
*Aside from crippling anxiety and piss-poor social skills, a major reason why I would be a terrible teacher is that all those examples where smart-alecky students either make stuff up or just give smart-alecky answers in general, I would just laugh my head off and be inclined to give them more points, than the kids who just rewrote what they read on Wikipedia. Yeah, the smart-aleck's answer is wrong, but they are showing more creativity and ingenuity than the Wikipedia rewriters. I know, I'm a terrible influence on the next generation. Hence why I didn't go into teaching.
**I often wonder what they'd think if I told them about Bayard Rustin. For those who don't know, Rustin is the guy who basically schooled King on nonviolent resistence and taught him what it meant. He also organized the March on Washington where King said that one quote that Conservatives have heard of. If you're wondering why Bayard Rustin is only starting to be known to the culture at large, it's because in addition to being Black and a Quaker, Rustin was also Gay. He knew, as well as everyone else involved with King's movement, that White People would look for any excuse to dismiss and attack their movement and having a Gay man front and center at said movement would provide the perfect excuse. So though he didn't like it, Rustin had to work behind the scenes and couldn't receive the credit due to him. He later did advocate for Gay Rights, but again, only recently is Bayard Rustin being acknowledged for his work in the Civil Rights movement.