Sunday, February 26, 2017

X Gon' Give It To Ya

Hey everybody!

If you're wondering about the post title, I couldn't think of anything, so I decided to go with an earworm. You're welcome.

I don't know if you guys were hoping and praying for it, but there will probably be no creepy sex stuff. I suppose I could try to read something into "The Lord's anger was aroused," but I don't think I will.

No, this week, we're getting Copy-and-Paste from Caleb and Joshua. Were it not for the fact that I'm lazy, I'd do an experiment, see how high the word count is for this book if you cut out all the copy-and-paste stuff from the Bible and the mothereffin' front matter. Would this book even be long enough to qualify as a novella after that? But you better believe I will turn my inner Smart-Aleck Sunday School Kid loose. It pays to know the weird parts of the Bible.

Anyway, Cam-Cam decides to get the kids ready by having them recite the Bible verse they had learned:

Cameron cued the kids, and from thousands of young voices came: “ ’ The Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, “Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.”’  ”

Those verses are from Numbers 32:10-12 for those of you wondering. And I'm like, "Seriously you chose that verse for them to recite?" Because how many kids would be able to easily pronounce words like Jephunneh and Kenizzite, without tripping over them. It also is a rather large, unwieldy verse you're asking them to learn. It would have made more sense to go with the tail end of Joshua 24:15 and have the kids say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Shorter and easier to learn and it has fewer confusing words for them to stumble over.

Don't tell me that Ellanjay hasn't heard of this verse; it's one of the most popular ones that gets plastered on numerous Christian knick-knacks. That and Ellanjay have proven again and again that they would much rather deal in sweeping clich├ęs regarding the Bible, rather than any of the stuff that makes you think, so that verse would be right done their alley.

I could also point out that we have a hard time getting three or four adults to sing Happy Birthday in key (and at a reasonable tempo, rather than a dirge-like one), so yeah, all the thousands of kids reciting it all in perfect unison? That sound you hear is me pointing and laughing. Ellanjay haven't been around kids like at all.

I suppose I could, if I wanted to be super anal-retentive, draw up some specks to map out how big a room would have to be to seat thousands of kids and however many adults who came to this thing, but it is Heaven, where there are no limitations on materials, labor, and time, so I'll let Ellanjay off the hook here. I feel dirty about it, but I must be fair.

Though the idea with that many kids and so few supervisors, the daycare hasn't morphed into a cross between Thunderdome and Springfield Elementary as run by Ned Flanders...I can only suspend my disbelief for so long, people.

Joshua and Caleb start talking and Smart Aleck Sunday School Kid (henceforth referred to as SASS because) would be like, "Okay, you're just reciting copy-and-paste from the Bible as opposed to anything that would provide actually personal insight into the events. Can't we just stay home and read our Bibles, rather than be elbow-to-elbow with a bunch of freaks?"

“Well, yes, amen and amen!” Joshua said, again miraculously able to be heard by all. “Thank you, children! Caleb and I thank you. You are right that the Lord’s anger was aroused. He made Israel wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in His sight was gone. You know, many people believe the wilderness journey simply took that long, but from the Scriptures you know that the forty years were a punishment for their lack of faith. If you trace our journey on a map, you’ll see that we simply wandered around, getting nowhere.

"But if the Israelites literally wandered around the Sinai Desert for forty years, wouldn't there be tons of archaeological proof of their presence? Yeah, time wears away and decays a lot of stuff, but this is the desert. The dry, arid nature of such a place, tends to preserve things very well," said SASS.

Of course, I'm one of those weirdoes who believes that when they give a number like forty years in the Bible, they're using a form of shorthand to say, "A really long time." Given that the Gregorian calendar wasn't a thing like at all, how exactly would the Israelites keep track of the days? I'm picturing a Monty Python-esque scenario: "Forty Years or 14,600 days, is the time we shall wander around the desert, not 14,601 days or 14,599 days. 14,602 days would be way out. No, the number of days we shall wander is 14,600."

And yes, I freely admit I forgot to calculate leap years. Dammit! Cut me some slack! Math is one of those things I generally run like hell away from. I think I might actually fear math more than bears. Bears will just eat you and there's some consolation in that they may survive a winter because of you. Math, on the other hand, reduces your sanity to a pile of mush, leaves you forever going, "The horror, the horror," at the sight of Xs and Ys. Sine and Cosine are like tactical nukes to the psyche.

Caleb stepped forward. His voice was reedier than Joshua’s but just as loud and understandable. “Joshua and I were born in Egypt, while our parents and all the children of Israel were slaves. Even the adults, our parents and aunts and uncles, were called children, because they were the children of God, His chosen people. Joshua and I experienced everything the rest of our tribes went through in the wilderness after escaping. Joshua proved to be a mighty man of valor, serving as a commander in the great war against the Amalekites. He also ministered to our leader, Moses, when he went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from the Lord.

To get the penny-ante stuff out of the way before I turn SASS loose, what exactly is a reedy voice and what would it sound like? I hear reedy and I think reed, which leads me to woodwinds, but I think most people would be a little freaked out if someone sounded like a clarinet when they talked. Have nothing against clarinets as an instrument, but wouldn't you be a little freaked out if someone opened their mouth and out came the clarinet part from Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue?

It's like all those commercials for toilet paper and menstrual products that demonstrate how good they are, by absorbing blue fluid, even though if something blue was coming out of someone's sin zone, the last thing we'd worry about is how absorbent their pad is. Before anyone chimes in and says that they couldn't get away with using the actual color, I am well aware of this; I was just poking fun at advertising shorthand.

Anyway, now to turn SASS loose. "When is this enslavement supposed to have taken place? And before you start talking about how you guys built the pyramids, archeological evidence has shown that the workers involved with the construction of the pyramids, were skilled craftsmen who were compensated and paid very well for their labors. And you guys only became slaves because Joseph, the one of technicolor dream coat fame, conspired with Pharaoh to enslave every last one of you for filthy, filthy lucre."

Joshua or Caleb (I'm too lazy to keep track of which) talk about how Moses sent them to scope out the Holy Land. They came back and told everybody about how it was flowing with milk and honey, though I'll assume not literally like it is in the MK. But everybody is all "I want to go back to Egypt, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb do some clothes-tearing, and God is like, "I will smite the living hell out of you guys," and only backs down when, Moses is like, “ ’ Now if You kill these people, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, “Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.” ’

And God changes his mind, though it really isn't a testament of his loving nature in that He decides not to smite people for being whiny, because Moses said, "If you do, who will worship you." At least the Ninevites were up to some actual evil in the Book of Jonah.

The next paragraph talks about how it proves that God can change His mind. Of course, the obvious question--"If God can change his mind, couldn't He very easily be like, 'Nah, they've had enough and put a stop to all these Tribulation plagues and whatnot?"--goes unasked. It's kind of how the Right is, how they manage to believe two contradictory things at once. So Immigrants somehow manage to be both a bunch of lazy, shiftless moochers who are simultaneously stealing jobs from hard-working Americans.*

And then they start quoting verse by verse the whole thing about how the fought the battle of Jericho and DAMMIT! I CAN'T DO IT!

All the copy-and-paste has snapped my mind like a twig. Damn you, YouTube! I scoured and scoured, but you don't have the clip I was looking for, where Sideshow Bob is watching That '30s Show and is like," Tom Shails gave this show a good review. And I'm the one in prison!" Because that's really what comes close to what I'm feeling right now. All this time and money spent publishing and marketing this book, while damn good authors struggle to get their foot in the door...It fills me with rage which some might say is of the Brooklyn variety.

And yes, I am including myself in the "Damn Good Authors" category, both because I'm egotistical and because no matter how bad anyone is as a writer, they're still better that Ellanjay. The only exception to this rule is the guy who wrote "Chibi-Usa's Seventh Birthday Party," which I won't link to because I don't want to find myself on a government list AND because when not even going all MST3K softens the blow of a bad fanfic, you know it's bad.

:pauses to drink brain bleach:

I did enjoy some minor amusement as they talk about how Rahab the harlot helped them out. I picture a kid, not necessarily SASS, raising their hand and being like, "What's a harlot?" Because they keep using that word like everyone knows what it means, but given what children are like...I'm assuming I don't need to go any further.

Then again, I am talking about actual children, not the creepy Village of the Damned type that makes up this novel. No wait, Village of the Damned would be kind of cool because then there might be hope that they would use their scary mind-powers to make head asplode. So I'm going to do a variation on the fanon I created for Nicolae: Rise of the Anti-Christ** where I posited that the congregation listening to Rayford's never-ending eulogy for Bruce, were actually cardboard cut-outs and the sobbing noises were supplied via tape recorders hidden in the pews. And all this was done, because Loretta and the actual congregation were out getting stuff done, but they needed to keep the Tribbles busy, because they would only slow them down. Given the Tribbles' general obliviousness, can you deny that it wouldn't work, that Rayford and co. would never at any point notice how suspiciously flat and cardboard-like the congregation is?

Anyway, where I'm going with this, is I've talked many times about how poorly run this daycare is and how if these were actually kids, conditions would have degenerated to a level that would make Lord of the Flies*** look like a Disney movie in comparison, but now I wonder if any of these kids actually exist? Maybe they are all cardboard cut-outs or elaborate mannequins, created to keep by the TOL so the Tribbles will leave them alone? Or it could be possible that the RTCs have had a mass psychotic break and are hallucinating all these kids. Maybe it's something wrong in the wine that flows in rivers in the MK. The reason the TOL isn't having problems is because of Lothair's distillation removes whatever causes the psychotic symptoms, thus enabling them to enjoy the wine without any freakouts. And all the while, the TOL is trying desperately to help the RTCs, but they're so ensnared by delusions that they don't have much luck.

Though the next section does have Kenny-boy leading a kid through The Prayer, so maybe that head canon is jossed. Nah, I'll just assume there are a few actual kids thrown in the keep the Tribbles from figuring everything out.

We cut to Abdullah who is still working on his Asshole for Christ campaign. He sings a hymn to himself and strikes up a conversation with Sarsour. Sarsour is all "Yeah, my parents raised me to believe all this stuff, but as soon as he started reading other stuff and talking to other people, he walked away from it." Oh I am fighting the urge to post so many links about the secretive nature of the RTC subculture and how it leads to horrific abuse. To be fair, though, a secretive "We mustn't let the outsiders know!" attitude would lead to abuses within any subculture, but with religious ones, it's arguably worse because the abusers bring in God to provide air support.

Abdullah is all "But what about all the prophecies you've witnessed?" And again, we're getting so much "Strawman has a point."

Sarsour shrugged. “It’s like He’s head of the occupying army. We’re the resistance, that’s all. The rebels.”

“And you don’t feel destined to lose in the end?”

“We’re outnumbered. We’re the outcasts, the rejects, the dregs. But we won’t give up hope until it’s all over. And then we’ll see who wins.”

Like I keep saying, nearly every form of entertainment knows the guy or gal who stands up to an almighty, all-powerful force and saying, "No!" even if they don't stand a chance in hell of winning, is the hero. The Avengers knew this. Bulk and Skull on Power Rangers knew this. The Comedic Relief character from SPD knew it. The people involved with the DCAU knew it.

I could probably go on posting links until the end of time, because most generally believe that standing up and choosing your own way to burn, makes you damn heroic. If I showed all those clips to just about anyone, regardless of whether they're a fan of the franchise or not, they would probably consider the ordinary folk standing up and saying, "NO!" to be the good guys, rather than side with the godlike alien zapping people with his omega beam.

And I suppose I could have posted examples from franchises that don't have heroes in spandex battling to save the world, but I'm kind of obsessed with those and it's my blog, so there!

Ellanjay are basically Goliath wondering why no one will take their side in the battle against that David-asshole. And for the record, when I talk about David and Goliath, I'm not referring to the ones from this awesome animated series. It was probably obvious, but hey, I look for any excuse to indulge in rampant fangirlism.

The Strawman Has A Point is even more obvious further on in the conversation. Abdullah points out that all Sarsour's friends keep dying at the age of a hundred.

“And that doesn’t tell you anything?”

“It just proves God isn’t who He says He is.”

“How do you figure?”

“He’s mean and unloving and unforgiving, violent and judgmental. Disagree and you get killed.”

Like I said, Strawman has a point. Because that's exactly what God's doing: killing anyone who disagrees with him.

I suppose it is too much to hope for one of the characters to give anything close to either of these speeches from the sadly short-lived show, Jeremiah:

What did any of us ever do to you? What did the whole fucking world do to you that we deserve all of this? I mean, come on, the locusts and the death of the first-born wasn't good enough for you anymore so now it's the death of the eldest? The death of heroes? You know what? Fuck you. Because we're not just gonna lay down and die down here. You want to finish off the job? Come down here! Do it yourself. You send the Angel of Death, you better give him one hell of a big sword, because I tell you what, we are gonna kick his ass all the way back to the great white fucking throne. And then we're coming for you. We're coming for you.

Interrogator: Would you like something to drink?
Markus: Yeah.
Interrogator: In return, will you give us the names of the other individuals involved in your attempt to overthrow the United States government?
Markus: There is no United States government. There hasn't been one in fifteen years.
Interrogator: This place is the government. The lawfully established seat of power...
Markus: This place is a bad memory. This place is a testament to everything that was wrong with the old world. A triumph of brute force over basic humanity.
Interrogator: Does it make it easier for you to think of us in that way?
Markus: Easier? No. More honest? F**k, yeah.

Ellanjay would probably object the most to the foul language in those quotes, rather than the actual content/context of said quotes. Again, God can slay people by the billions, but heaven forbid, anyone says "Oh shit," or drops the F-bomb.

Abdullah is like "He's not willing that anyone should perish." And my kneejerk response is "Which is why He's killing all of you so He can torture you for all eternity!"

And Abdullah starts blabbing out his story, despite Sarsour being like, "I'm not interested," because RTCs refuse to believe in respecting the boundaries and needs of others. Abdullah talks about how he was raised in another faith entirely and I'm kind of amazed the links they go to, to avoid actually saying Islam.

Here's how Abdullah describes his old faith:

“Yes. I was what some would call a star. I taught. And I was given the best assignments. I considered myself religious because I followed all the tenets of my faith. Keeping away from impure things. Trying to do right. Praying at prescribed times every day."

First of all, the stuff Abdullah mentioned is pretty much generic to any faith. Most religions can be summed up as "Don't do bad things, don't be an asshole, and give thanks to deity of choice."

Secondly, well, I'm kind of raising an eyebrow about how Ellanjay go to such links to avoid saying, "Abdullah was a Muslim" or anything close. Given the rampant Islamophobia on the Right, I find it hard to believe that they are bending over backwards to avoid offending Muslims. :goes to Wikipedia to look up book's publishing date: This was published in 2007, so they can't claim that they didn't know Islamophobia was around. They may have failed to foresee the rise of cell phones and Internet porn, but Islamophobia was very much a thing going on around them.

Since I have only a surface knowledge of the Islamic faith, I will bow out and not try to explain Muslim theology, because I'd know I'd majorly screw up. In lieu of that, I'll provide a list of facts.

Fact: The Islamic faith consists of 1.6 billion followers or 23% of the world population of 7 billion. The country with the largest Muslim population isn't any of those scary places in the Middle East; it's Indonesia. Yet the problems facing Indonesia are pretty much the stuff facing any first-world nation: growing population, lack of resources. Again, if the problem was Islam, wouldn't Indonesia make Syria look like Switzerland in comparison?

And even if they weren't such a large demographic, it's still wrong to kill them for being Muslim. I just thought I ought to give some numbers to all those idiots who pant with desire for a genocide.

That's it for this week. Maybe next week there will be some actual story content. :peeks ahead: Nope, more fake report box action and Abdullah being filled with Christ's love. But then again, y'all probably weren't expecting anything different.

*The argument I often hear in favor of immigration is "They do the jobs that Americans won't do," which is technically true, but it's more accurate when it's rendered as "They do the jobs that Americans used to do, until Big Business was like, 'Y'know I could hire an American worker, pay them wages and benefits and follow pesky labor laws, or I can prey on the poverty and desperation of foreigners who will be too scared to go to the authorities about anything I do.'" Don't get me wrong: I am totally in favor of overhauling immigration law, am opposed to Trump's wall, and thoroughly support punching Nazis in the face. But I strive for accuracy in discourse. John Oliver's summation of Trump's Wall can easily apply to Trump himself: big, dumb idea that gets more expensive with time.

And yes, when I talk about punching Nazis, I am referring to both Captain America's debut issue
and the Richard Spencer incident. Fascists are so obsessed with presenting an image of hypermasculinity; we should all do our part to point out what bullshit said pose is. Sometimes the best way to do that, is to turn them into jokes.

**I understand why Fred's snark of this is in hiatus, but it still won't stop me from longing for more installments. Though if he's reading this, take care.

***I admit Lord of the Flies was one of the Required Reading books I didn't completely hate, but I feel like digging up William Golding and shouting, "The idea that kids are every bit as capable of evil as adults, is only shocking to bullies and toadies!" That and he does love to belabor the point, make sure we get that the scar on the island, represents man introducing evil into an edenic paradise.


Firedrake said...

Thousands of voices in perfect unison? Sounds like video out of North Korea to me. We started with twenty thousand, and the ones who didn't learn were shot, but if they get it right their families get to eat for a week. Actually and more seriously, these children have been raised by religious nutters their entire lives, and denied contact with anyone outside the cult. It's not surprising that they behave a bit strangely.

Speaking as a 14,609-day heretic, I'd just like to say…

spiritplumber said...

It's not Heaven, it's the Millennial Kingdom... this is all still happening on what's left on Earth after TurboJesus razed all the mountains and blotted out the night sky.

Also, that does look like an indoctrination session. I'm at this point 50/50 on whether Kingdom Come is a parody of the preceding books.

spiritplumber said...

Probably the last time I spam about Left Beyond since the story/game is now over, but the Angel of Death does get theirs, in chapter 7.

When the Omega takes Osaze (Not by force: instead, they manage to influence the parliament, exactly like The Other Light does in +93) and renames it Misrayim, which is the proper Hebrew name for Egypt to start with anyway, the country is subject to a drought, again exactly like in Kingdom Come.

However, the Omega turn this into an advantage: they build desalinators to make sure that after the first two-three years the people of the country suffer no hardship, and while they allow missionaries to drive around and preach if they want, they also allow the country's original desertic ecosystem to reestablish itself. This gives people somewhere to go that looks at least a little different than the rest of the Earth. Since buying food isn't a problem given that every other territory wants to have an export market, Misrayim becomes a tourist destination once again, and the dry Nile delta is excavated and turned into a port.

The cities turn towards building an industrial infrastructure, the various places like the Sphynx and Pyramids are once again a tourist attraction, and the outer desert becomes the home of people who choose to live as their ancestors did, or that simply want to live in a hard environment in order to challenge themselves.

In addition, new varieties of plants can be developed that can handle a mixture between the standard Millennial Earth ecosystem and the newly reintroduced desert ecosystem: a good way to generate new flavors... so while Misrayim imports food, it also exports spices, which as a rare commodity can be sold at a premium.

Within four years, thanks to careful management, the drought has actually brought Misrayim extra prosperity, rather than damaging it. The government is secular but allows full freedom of religion: Christians from abroad can continue to practice missionary activity (which the government likes because it means that they come in and spend money in the country!) and a few people go back to worshiping the traditional Egyptian deities.

spiritplumber said...

Clearly, this will not do, so Tsion prays for the Ten Plagues to once again strike what was called Egypt!

One of the early chapters in the story is all about how the Ten Plagues strike and how the Omega assists the government in dealing with them by deploying civil servants, various technologies, and the nascent Legion of Light (although it won't be called that for many years!) to handle the issues that the plagues cause.

This works fairly well for the first nine plagues, of course - most of them are about insects, and so Cairo becomes the city of a thousand Tesla Coil bugzappers - but the tenth and last plague involves Azrael, the Angel of Death, personally slaying all the firstborns of nonbelievers... Azrael moves at almost the speed of sound, and has a scythe made of the longest-lasting isotope in the universe, that never needs sharpening...

And this is the first major challenge that the Omega have to face. How do you even stop an Angel? The technology just isn't there yet!

Well, Omega are an amoral not-quite-AI, so they saw it coming and decided to use the power of narrative causality against the Angel of Death.

It was able to kill about three quarters of the firstborns of Misrayim.

But after that, the Omega had set up a trap of sorts for Azrael, by building a bunker in which to try to protect the country's most precious treasures, its newborns.

It was heavily armored and armed with LRADs and radiation emitters. Not much of that worked against the Angel of Death.

Then, it came face to face with a new mother and all her love and fury.

There were few survivors. Rachelle and her child were among them. Azrael was not.

Of course, the situation had been engineered, the new mothers given martial arts training and fire support, and so on. On the odds, one would succeed.

And the Ten Plagues never again visited the land, thanks to a mother's courage, as far as the people know.

And so, the good (and not-so-good) people of Misrayim got their national holiday, the Day of Perseverance, a day of both mourning and pride.

And the Omega got precious data to be used the next time they would have to fight an Angel.

Basically, I wanted to keep the Awesomeness By Analysis that is the hallmark of "The Salvation War", but while sticking closely to premillennial dispensationalist canon. As to who wins, you'll have to read it :)