Well you'll be happy to know that there really isn't much by the way of Creepy Sex Stuff. Don't know if any of y'all were getting tired of it, but I was just a little bit. Seriously, is the problem that I'm a drooling pervert or that Ellanjay are closet ones?
Instead of Creepy Sex Stuff, we've mostly got oodles and oodles of Strawman Has A Point. Thought I'd post that link at the beginning and get it over with, even despite all the hazards associated with linking to TV Tropes. There is a reason they have a page called "TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life."
Though despite avoiding the Creepy Sex Stuff, I did find myself typing up a lot of rants about power and abuse, so I thought I'd give a heads up.
The bulk of the chapter is told from Abdullah's perspective as he, harasses some guys on private property for believing different things from him, I mean, bravely witnesses to some godless heathens.
A nameless woman tells him where to go, tells him that the two guys who run the place are named Mudawar and Sarsour. As you can probably guessed they are scary brown Mooslems111!!!!1
I took the liberty of running those two names through Google, just to see what came up. Surprise, surprise, they are actual names if by actual names, you mean surnames, bolding put in for emphasis. I know by now I shouldn't be shocked by Ellanjay's cultural insensitivity or their tin ear when it comes to naming characters, but I still can't stop shaking my head and going, "Really, guys?!" Though most of the matches for Sarsour were in reference to a Palestinian-American activist named Linda Sarsour. As you guessed, Linda Sarsour is both :gasp: a woman and a Muslim, making her super-scary to Ellanjay. Linda Sarsour is currently filing a sweeping lawsuit against Donald Trump called Sarsour v. Trump challenging his Muslim ban, but given that when we meet Mudawar and Sarsour, they are both dudes, natch, Ellanjay probably weren't doing a Take That against her.
Abdullah bangs on the door until Sarsour opens it and lordy, brace yourselves for all the cringing you will have to do, as Abdullah valiantly does battle with a pair of Strawman.
How to Win Debates According to Ellanjay and just about Everybody Else on the Right: Hector, bully, and do whatever you can to make sure your opponent isn't allowed to get in a word, edgewise. That proves the strength of your arguments in that you don't need to face potential criticism to know that you are right. Only wusses need their beliefs to stand up under scrutiny.
Oh and several times the text makes a point of talking about how short Mudawar and Sarsour are, which is a reoccurring meme in both LaHaye and Jenkins's works. Hero always has to be the manliest man around and therefore, has to be at least six feet tall, always taller than any of the men in the story. In terms of character height in their works, I think Rayford Steele is in the lead, being the tallest of all of LaHaye and Jenkins's protagonists, but I'm too lazy to dig around wikis and whatnot to confirm it. Maybe if I was laid up with massive spinal trauma I would, but that sounds like something that would increase my trauma, not alleviate it.
Now that I've said all this, let the debate, such as it is, ensue.
“What, you’re really here for theological classes? None are scheduled currently.”
“Another lie, this time of omission. You never teach theology, do you?”
“In a manner of speaking, sometimes we do, actually.”
“Antitheology would be more accurate.”
All this stuff about "Another lie by omission," is probably build-up to a Ray Comfort-style witnessing attempt. Let me just say for those of you who don't feel you did enough rage-cringing while watching the link, just look for "way of the master witnessing clips" on YouTube and try to remember that for some reason, if you punch out either Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron, the law will call that such unpleasant names as Assault or Battery, even though they were the ones being assholes on planes or getting in your face when you're trying to, y'know, enjoy yourself in a public place.
Though I don't know. Buzz Aldrin managed to punch Bart Siebrel and get away with it. Though if it had gone to court, all Aldrin's lawyer would have to do is say, "How many of you are thinking about punching him right now?" The crowd would be deafened by all the applause. But maybe this is a stunt you can only get away with if you're an elderly astronaut who actually walked on the friggin' moon. Though that clip is pretty satisfying to watch.
In Comfort and Cameron's case, maybe I can use my natural girliness to get away with it. Spray them with pepper spray and say in a tearful voice, "He wouldn't leave me alone, officers." Than and again, if it went to trial, have my attorney be like, "How many of you would do the same?" Because even their own mothers would raise their hands in agreement.
Oh all right, I'll get back to the book and stop talking about assaulting smug assholes.
Though yeah, Abdullah is already calling it "antitheology" even though he hasn't heard a word of their arguments and doesn't know what they actually believe. He probably aced "Debate According to the Rightwing." You ever find yourself in a situation like that, well, best thing to do is to shut them out of the conversation entirely, because they clearly aren't interested in open and honest discourse.
I keep wishing the Democratic Party, whenever the GOP brought up one of their asinine ideas, would just be like, "Shut up, the grownups are trying to a have discussion on a serious answer," and shut them out of the conversation entirely. Yeah, it's childish, but if they're going to act like overgrown toddlers, best thing to do, is treat them as such. Because often the trouble is if you do debate them, not only will they cheat (see Bill O'Reilly cutting off mikes), but merely debating them lends said asinine beliefs a note of credence, as though what the other guy is saying, makes actual sense.
But okay, maybe you're trapped and you can't get out for some reason. In that case, whatever you do, if they label you, don't play defense. Don't try to explain how you're totally not a godless heathen or an America-hater; ignore them and push on through. I suppose I shouldn't use combat rules to refer to debating, but given how much they've poisoned the discourse, it may be the best option. In any case, the rule I'm thinking of is, "Take the fight to them. Don't fight them; make them fight you."
It's one of the many things that irritates me about the Democratic Party, how they keep following the whole "Moderate and the other side will like you" scheme, no matter how many times the GOP has made it clear that they won't play fair and they will never like them, no matter what they do. In fact, the "Moderate and they will like you strategy" probably makes them hate them even more, because even bullies, deep down, despise toadies. So accept that they will hate you and be the goddanged opposition, you spineless mothereffers!
But Mudawar is onscreen. I pray that my readers are strong enough to handle the horrors to follow.
Mudawar appeared, also living up to his billing. He was fairer skinned that Sarsour, the same (limited) height, but heavy and oily. Abdullah had the urge to pull out a handkerchief and wipe the man’s face.
“This is getting old and boring,” Mudawar said. “We have been dragged before the judges before, even threatened to be deported to Israel for an audience with one of the apostles. We pled for the freedom to exercise our own free will and pledged to lie low. Have we not been lying low enough, or have your superiors not kept you up to date on our file?”
Oh course, Ellanjay would make sure to stress that, "Oh by the way, they're short, which means they're effeminate, weak, and therefore, evil." I'll envision a league of fictional Dwarfs, Tyrion and Gimli and the twelves guys from The Hobbit all coming together to curbstomp Ellanjay. Another rule of combat: it's not what you've got; it's how you use what you have. That and all the tall, manly characters might want to remember that while they are taller, the dwarf is eye-level with their...OW! Okay I'll stop.
Sorry if I offended any of my readers with the usage of the word, dwarf. In my defense, there will probably never be a proper terminology agreed upon by every part of a group. I have no problem with being referred to as Autistic, but some would rather be referred to as "person with Autism." Even if I don't agree, I will respect their wishes and try to do my best to obey them. Because it's called accepting that people have different experiences or views from you or in short, NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE!
In addition to being short, fat, and brown, all of which are proof of their inherent eeeevil, Mudawar also :gasp: suffers from oily skin. Yeah, Ellanjay are totally from the Conservapedia School of Debate: in order to win, all you need to do is say, "Oh yeah! Well, you're fat!" then do your well-deserved victory dance. Because fat or ugly or fat and ugly people never have anything wise or insightful to say.
Though you don't really have to dig too deep to find all the massive "Strawman Has A Point" in Mudawar's dialogue. Like I keep saying and probably will to the end of the book, all the TOL is doing, is living their lives in a manner they see fit and practicing their beliefs. They are not trying to infiltrate the Millies nor do they call the police to arrest them for exercising their right to assembly. In fact, they generally leave the Millies alone and to the extent they express any hostility, it's because the Millies keep butting in and refusing to let them do the same. The TOL is like, "Yeah, you guys can sit around, sing hymns, and listen to Biblical Figures doing copy and paste. We're going to enjoy Heaven," but the Millies feel, like all fundamentalists or fanatics, that they can't properly be holy as long as all those other sinners are out there, flashing their ankles and listening to music with an actual beat. Hence why they bully and persecute the TOL.
Though all this stuff about dragging them before an Apostle, here's to hoping that said apostle, is Thomas, of Doubting fame. Because if you read his part in the Gospel of John (the only gospel that has that story), even though Jesus praises those who believe without having seen, he is still respectful towards Thomas, willing to show his wounds to him, so he may feel it, rather than do a frothing rant about how Thomas is eeeevil and will burn in hell for all eternity. In other words, Jesus would have failed Conservative Debate Class.
And well the debate is, like all those clips from The Way of the Master, just endless smugging from Abdullah. Like in the rest of the LB-verse, Abdullah isn't the least-bit interested in actually converting anyone; if he was, he would probably pay attention to what they other guy is saying and if he isn't reaching them, reevaluate his approach. That's what people do when they are honestly interested in talking about something they care about, rather than just doing the RTC Equivalent of the Spanish Requirement of 1513. Even the Apostle Paul, for all his faults, was willing to honestly and openly address his opponents' arguments. As both a Jew and a Roman citizen, Paul knew his opponents' arguments and where they were coming from, so he had no problem listening to them, then explaining his position, so that both sides learn a little more about each other and can come to a new understanding.
Or think of it as being TOS Captain Kirk vs. nu!Trek Captain Kirk. I don't know if Stardust still hangs around this blog or what, but his/her words about the Old version vs. the New, are quite interesting and kind of go along with my general theme of "Good Debaters aren't afraid to hear the other guy's side and address it," theme.
Old Kirk actually had charisma. He was also campy, in the kind of way the old Batman was; you forgive a lot for that. Sensible leadership? Excuse me, I need to throw a Bat-paradox* at this AI to make it explode!
But old Kirk actually, although I could be misremembering, listened to McCoy and Spock and genuinely liked him /even when they disagreed/ without needing an excuse of 'his planet was destroyed' to feel sorry for him first. He debated him with the goal of changing his mind and coming to a better understanding, not proving himself right and beating old pointy ears! Old Kirk was an idealist. New Kirk... is much more dark and gritty (in an immature 'haha boobies' way; the old 'I have to seduce this woman for information or she'll destroy my ship!' type plot was much more mature even if it was hammy) and therefore really loses everything that made old campy Kirk shine.
*OK, no bat-paradoxes in Star Trek. It wasn't quite that campy.
I will say the latest nu!Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond, was actually kind of decent, in that they let the other characters be competent and do stuff, rather than have it all be about Captain Kirk and how he is the greatest man since Jesus.
“I am a chaplain. I minister the Word of God to people’s hearts. I teach. I counsel. I pray. I advise.”
“And you are offering your services to our Theological Training Institute?”
“No, sir. I am offering them to this cell chapter of the Other Light.”
“Aah. I see. So there is no pretense here. You aren’t pretending to not know who we are, and neither are you trying to represent yourself as someone other than who you are.”
Given that Abdullah is planning on ranting on a street corner whether he gets their permission or not, it seems weird that he would bother to ask for their permission or converse with them at all. Probably a combination of "Ellanjay need to pad out the word count" and The Requirement thing I mentioned earlier.
Though their attempts at making this sound all cloak-and-dagger espionage-level stuff...My personal headcanon is that Mudawar is using this lingo in order to make Abdullah feel all manly and important to buy time, while his buddy, Sarsour contacts the TOL's version of the police. Given that the TOL have been repeatedly harassed by the police acting on behalf of the Millies, my headcanon says that eventually, in order to protect themselves, the TOL form their own version of the police to provide protection, so their citizens don't have to be harassed for believing something different from the Status Quo.
Or in other words, the TOL has their equivalent of The Black Panthers. For the record, despite stereotypes people have about the Black Panthers, their beliefs were actually more nuanced than just, "Black is good; kill whitey!" In fact, the Ten-Point Program which was written by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and would serve as the Panthers' charter, while it's not as loaded with religion as Martin Luther King, Jr. (who, again, said more than just that one quote), it sounds suspiciously similar to what MLK was fighting for: an end to being killed or treated like crap just because they have a higher melanin count than some other people.
In addition to all the pictures of them packing heat, which they were allowed to do under Open-Carry Laws (not just for insecure White People) the Black Panthers also set up school lunch programs and other forms of outreach to the community. In fact, a large reason as to why they became more radicalized, is probably due in part to the harassment they received at the hands of law enforcement and the FBI via COINTELPRO. Constantly shove someone against a wall, refuse to let up at any moment, and they will lash out, because they feel they don't have any better options. Heck, the person shoving them against the wall, is refusing to allow for any other options.
Anyway, while Mudawar is distracting Abdullah, Sarsour is talking to the TOL Panthers, being like, "We've asked him several times to leave, but he won't. We've been polite long enough. Feel free to bring in the tear gas."
Because that is basically what is happening in this "debate." Mudawar is trying repeatedly to use soft refusals, to say as nicely as possible to Abdullah, "We are not interested." But Abdullah repeatedly steamrolls over these refusals, ignoring their objections no matter what they do, forcing Mudawar to have to become more and more rude in an attempt to get Abdullah to leave them alone. Despite all this, Mudawar and Sarsour are the real rude ones, what with their refusing to let Abdullah do whatever he wants on their property, even though it is private property and legally belongs to them, thus giving them the right to dictate who is allowed to use it.
For those of you wondering, yes, you will see numerous copy-and-pasted quotes proving my point.
Mudawar seemed to study him, squinting. He shook his head. “No, he couldn’t. Now tell me, uh . . . I didn’t catch your name.”
“Tell me, Khouri Ababneh, what value would your services be to us?”
“That would be up to you, and you may refer to me as Mr. Ababneh or even by my given name.”
“Oh! What an honor! I respectfully decline your offer, thank you for dropping in on us, and wish you a good day.”
Like I keep saying, it continues like this for the entire "debate." Mudawar keeps going "Sorry, we're not interested," and Abdullah continues to steam-roll over them, while talking about how they're horrible people, deserving of nothing but wrath.
For the record, I did run the word "Khouri" through Google to find out its meaning, because the text seems to imply that they are insulting Abdullah by calling him that. According to Wikipedia, Khouri is an Arabic surname unique mostly to Christians in the Middle East. It is most popular in Lebanon, but it is also commonly used in Christian communities in Syria, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. And yes, the bolding was done for emphasis.
A Repeated Fun Fact: You can be Middle Eastern or Arab without being of the Islamic faith, and you can be a Muslim, without being of a Middle Eastern or Arabic racial background. Like I keep telling people, Muslim is a religious term, but Arab is a racial term, which are two different things.
“You will not be providing me office space, then?”
“I beg your pardon.”
“I see that you are crowded, but I also understand that you do not hold religious classes here. Perhaps you could clear a little more clutter and find me a space to— how do we say it?— set up shop.”
“This has been an amusing interruption, sir, but playtime is over. You may leave now.”
“Oh, but I am not leaving. If I am not provided an office here, I shall be forced to bring a portable table from home and establish myself before your door. Do not, however, expect me to double as your receptionist and inform the curious of your comings and goings.”
NO HE WON'T, YOU WORTHLESS DIPSHIT! THIS IS HIS PROPERTY AND HE HAS EVERY RIGHT TO SAY NO ABOUT IT!
In my head canon, the TOL Panthers proceed to show up and kick Abdullah out on his lazy, disrespectful ass, but unfortunately, I'm not writing these books.
[slight tangent] Though my bit earlier where I mentioned that Sarsour was like, "Bring in the Tear Gas," now I'm thinking of some other hobby horse I like to talk about. Often in the past, we've seen Rightwing Protestors get treated with kid gloves, with everyone fretting about giving them so much as a bruise, while Leftists Ones, like, say, the Ferguson protestors, face tear gas and cops in military gear.
At first, I thought the factor was racism. Because for some reason, law enforcement believes that Black people have superpowers, though unfortunately, none of them involve being bullet-proof. But they can say the N-Word, which I suppose makes up for being killed and imprisoned at a greater rate and having less economic power than their white counterparts.
But I also thought about the treatment given to the Occupy Wall Street protests, especially in Occupy Oakland, so now I wonder if it's a matter of ideology. Take over a wildlife preserve for BS Rightwing reasons, brandish guns and talk about how you will kill anyone who stops you? Law Enforcement's response is like, "It would be nice if you would stop it, but no pressure." Protest and occupy land in the name of economic or racial inequality or because you don't want an oil pipeline going through land you consider sacred? Law enforcement's response is "Say hello to tanks and teargas, mothereffers!"
So I'm wondering if we should advise Standing Rock Protestors or #BlackLivesMatter or any leftwing cause, to practice open-carry, wear big-ass cross necklaces, and other Rightwing gear like NRA t-shirts or something.
Though the simplest and most concise answer is that Rightwing BS is contained within the pyramid, posing no threat to those on top. But with Leftist protests, the message is explicitly addressed to the top of the pyramid, threatening systems of power and control. Hence why the SWAT team and military gear come out to play. [/slight tangent]
“Well,” Mudawar said, standing and thrusting out his hand, “I have already clearly told you we are declining your offer.”
Abdullah ignored his hand. He pointed into the corner of the next room. “I would be perfectly comfortable right there, and I would be handy to you.”
“I am losing patience, friend.”
“Oh, I like that you call me friend, as you are the enemy of the One I serve. Would you not find it advantageous to have me in the next room the next time you send out a message to your adherents? You could ask whether you have accurately interpreted something you are criticizing from the Scriptures or even from tradition.”
"How dare he not let me hang around his private property so I can shout about how he and his friends are all horrible people deserving of nothing but an eternity of torture for believing differently from me! They're the real monsters!"
Though I don't know how many of y'all read my slight tangent, but between what I said there and this bit, I'm honestly thinking we ought to figure out how to sic the military cops on them. Maybe once the Right experiences actual persecution for their beliefs, they won't be such whiny pansies. Would secretly tie-dying all their clothing be enough to convince the authorities that they are eeeevil Leftwing hippie protestors, rather than peace-loving Rightwing protestors who only want to kill anyone who disagrees with them?
And here comes the culmination of so much, Strawman Has A Point:
Color began to rise from Mudawar’s neck to his moist face. “So the big boss has assigned you to torment us, eh?”
“No, actually to love you.”
“To love us. This from the same God who vaporized two earnest, sincere opponents in Egypt, just because they didn’t get in line with all the other sheep who trekked to Jerusalem for the—”
“Osaze, you mean.”
“You call it what you will. It will always be Egypt to me. And your so-called God of love— is He not the same one who obliterated one of ours who merely deigned to try to make love with one of His ‘glorifieds’? This is the same God who slew millions, if the stories of the Old Testament can be believed.”
I think I've made it abundantly clear where my sympathies lie. Spoiler Alert: It's with the one who isn't being an asshole. I'm wondering if I should add Mudawar and Sarsour to the League of Awesome, but I should probably have some standards for League membership and not just appoint anyone who is all pissy towards the Millies/Tribbles. Given that the last bit of the chapter has Mudawar giving in and handing over the space, thus setting up the potential for a Jack Chick-style Strawman debate between all that is good and righteous and the eeeevil satanic Satanist forces of eeeevil, I'm wondering if they should be disqualified for League membership.
I don't know if said Jack Chick-style confrontation will happen or if, like in Left Behind, they talk about it, but it never actually takes place on screen, but in preparation, have a Jack Chick parody tract: "Who's Your Daddy?" Though in not having the debate happen onscreen, Ellanjay proved just how lazy they really are. This is the kind of low-hanging fruit that RTCs love to go after; they love setting up Strawman, so they can knock it over and strut around about it.
But at the same time, Mudawar and Sarsour are making damn good points. The part about the Obliteration of Rapist TOL, I'm assuming that's an attempt at an Authors Saving Throw. One person doing something bad in the name of a Leftwing Ideology proves that said ideology is eeeevil, whereas White Dudes shooting up places on behalf of Rightwing causes in no way indicates that racism and sexism and other -isms are a problem that still warrants being addressed.
Or to use real world examples, a #BlackLivesMatter protestor killing cops in the name of said ideology, is proof that BLM is a terrorist organization, even though the sniper was apprehended due in part to aid from other protestors, who were as outraged by his actions as the police were.
But Robert Dear shooting up a Planned Parenthood, while reciting BS circulated among Anti-Choice websites, in no way conveys that the said subculture is a domestic terrorist organization that needs to be closely monitored by the feds.
Abdullah is all "Mudawar, let's sit down and discuss this," which is BS because we all know Abdullah isn't the least bit interested in an open discussion.
“Oh, but there is. My first duty as your chaplain is to correct your view of God, especially if you see Him as merciless and unloving.”
“Well, that’s the way I see Him!”
“Do you have another moment for me, friend, as I would like to make what I consider a most interesting point?” Mudawar sat heavily and sighed. “One more minute, but don’t call me friend.”
“Fair enough, though you may feel free to call me that. Here’s what I find intriguing: When I was a young man, younger than you, my problem was that I thought all the dire warnings of God’s judgment were wrong, because all I had heard about Jesus was that He was kind and loving and a pacifist, turning the other cheek, preaching the Golden Rule. Then came the end of His patience and mercy, His people were swept off to heaven, and He spent the next seven years trying to get man’s attention and persuade him that God was not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. And now, here you are, a hundred years later, unable to accept His love.”
I can't say this enough: Ellanjay's vision of God has him unshaven, wearing a wife-beater, and shouting, "Now look at what you made me do!" while his terrified spouse and children cower in the corner.
And of course, afterwards, there will be a whole lotta gaslighting and denial by both sides. Obviously, neither Zod nor TurboJesus could admit that their actions were wrong, because that would destroy their standing and the reputation they've built for themselves. Also, if they spoke about it honestly, they would not be able to keep doing it.
But the victims would also become amnesiacs, smile and tacitly refuse to acknowledge and look at what Zod and TurboJesus is doing to those other people, because it's safer if they don't. If Zod and TurboJesus are focused on the other guys, they won't come after them. And of course, in order to earn sympathy and further lessen the odds of their abuser turning on them, they will do whatever they can to make sure the Abuser is focused on the Bad Ones Who Deserve It, not them. Eventually, they will actually come to believe that the Other Guys Genuinely Do Deserve It, that if the Other Guys would stop being all stubborn and bad, Zod would leave them alone and everything would be okay.
Okay, that was damn creepy. I'm actually starting to long for Creepy Sex Stuff, so maybe I can have fun making, "That's what she said," remarks.
Anyway, here's the inevitable setup for the Jack Chick confrontation. Me, I continue to long for TOL Panthers to show up.
Mudawar slapped his palms on the table, making both Abdullah and Sarsour jump. “I should have my head examined,” he said. “Sarsour, clear the corner of that office.”
“You heard me! Just do it. This old fool won’t be in our way, and who knows? Maybe he’ll come in handy. I will ask him to defend his God when we have aught against Him. He’ll just prove that God is indefensible, that there is neither rhyme nor reason to the maddening two sides of His character.”
“Oh, but there is,” Abdullah said. “He is loving and full of grace, but he is also perfect and just.”
“Yeah, yeah, save it. If you’re camping out in here, you’ll get plenty of time to spew your platitudes. I’ve got a newsletter to get out, so you’re going to stay out of my hair for the rest of today. Got it?”
“Certainly, but know that I am willing to proofread that for you and make sure you’re on track. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be guilty of raging against straw men, would you?”
“Sarsour, get him set up in there, and then shut his door.”
“Thank you, friend,” Abdullah said, offering his hand.
Mudawar gripped it lightly. “Yeah, yeah.”
Oy vey, it will never stop being about Projection when it comes to the Right, Christian or otherwise. Maybe it's comforting, believing that everyone is just as horrible as you are, but it sucks for everyone else.
And that's it. Sorry for sounding more than just a wee bit didactic. It's kind of what I do.