This week's snark is mostly taken up with Abdullah trying to convert Sarsour. And lordy...my personal head canon is that Mudawar or Sarsour or somebody has called the TOL Panthers to deal with Abdullah. In said head canon, they are tasering him and being like, "You have been told repeatedly to leave, yet you wouldn't listen," because like I said in previous posts, given that the police force for the Millies pretty much exist to harass the TOL for exercising their right to free assembly and probably doesn't do jack to serve and protect them from criminals, the TOL created their own police force out of sheer necessity, a force that I'm referring to as the TOL Panthers.
And before any of you are like, "But Mouse, why would they even have crime and criminals in Heaven?" need I remind you that the book has repeated shown that Heaven has all the petty annoyances of Earth, so it's not too far-fetched to think that they would still have crime?
My head canon: while the RTCs have no problem being Brownshirts and crushing dissenters, when it comes to investigating actual crimes committed against members of the TOL, they don't do a damn thing about them. Think of it as being like the central thesis of the book, Ghettoside, where it basically says that the inner-city ghettos suffer simultaneously from Too Much Law Enforcement and Not Enough Law Enforcement. Law Enforcement in that area has no problem coming down on its citizens like a ton of bricks over penny-ante stuff like drug and theft charges, but when one of them is murdered, they don't really do a lot when it comes to investigating and tracking down the murderer.
So like I said, my theory is that the TOL are in a similar approach and they realize that they can't count on the RTCs for jack. Hence the TOL Panthers who serve as a visual warning to the RTC cops (the way the Black Panthers did with their open-carry stuff) and they act as cops, arresting those who pose a threat to their citizens/communities. And there are more checks on their power, because the TOL government is better-run than the RTCs. RTCs are okay with oppression and human rights violations, so long as they are done by the right people for the right reasons. But the TOL acknowledges the reality of abuse and how power lends itself to abuse and therefore, again, they have this thing called checks and balances.
Oh, okay, I'll stop with the headcanons and get to work. Though since I can smell the Conversion story coming right off the port-valve, probably ought to not let Mudawar and Sarsour into the League of Awesome. For the record, current League membership (off the top of my head) is: Taylor, Hasina, Cendrillion, Joel, Aron, Dr. Rose, Verna,the unnamed Jewish soldiers willing to give their lives for their faith Loretta, Jael, and Deborah. And I admit I did include those last two, because like I said, I often wonder how the RTCs explain those two away. Deborah clearly had no problem having authority over men, bossing around Baruch like crazy, and Jael? She drove a tent spike through a man's head. It's safe to say that she's okay with having authority over men.
Abdullah decides to talk with Sarsour. Sarsour is all "Yeah, yeah, you tell a good story, but don't get the idea that you're getting to me." Abdullah is like, "It's not your mind that I care so much about. It's your heart. That is what God is after too." And yes, I only posted that bit so I can link to Mola Ram from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Sarsour talks about how his parents know he is not a believer, but don't know the full details of his work, because, to use his words, “It would be cruel to tell them. They know I am not a believer, that I have a lot of questions and accusations against God. That hurts them enough. I don’t need to nail the final lid in their coffin.”
Uh, I believe the idiom is "to be the final nail in their coffin," not "nail the final lid in their coffin." I know, nobody but me is anal-retentive enough to care, but I like to start with penny-ante complaints before going to the main course.
As you can probably guess, what follows is Abdullah doing Ray Comfort-style evangelizing. He's all patronizing, going on about how they don't stand a chance, and of course, completely missing the point of their rebellion. Again, standing up for what you believe in, whether you have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, is something most people refer to as being heroic. Again, choosing your own way to burn rather than betray the ideals you hold dear, is considered brave.
Oh and when I talk about standing up for what you believe in, I hope you realize I am not referring to that Kim Davis shitstorm. First of all, no matter how much she and the others pretended otherwise, she wasn't likely to die for refusing to do her job. She might get fired, but that's different from, y'know, dying. Also, wouldn't it have been more martyrrific to quit your job in protest and send out some editorial or something talking about how it's all the Gays' fault? But the truth is Kim Davis wanted to have her cake and eat it too, to not do her frigging job yet somehow be able keep her job with all the benefits it entails.
One of the most tiring aspects of these types of Kim Davis self-martyrdom-type stories has to be how even though they blather on how they aren't afraid to stand for Christian principles, whenever the authorities are like, "You want to martyr yourself over something completely stupid? Be my guest," they are all shocked, shocked by this. Say what you will about Christian Martyrs or Catholic Saints, but they at least understood the basic idea that the authorities might actually shrug their shoulders and be like, "Okay, if they want to die, take 'em out to the chemical sheds and shoot them." The RTCs are basically perpetually four-years-old and while holding your breath or screaming until you pass out, might get you that Barbie or Batman figure, it's not likely to convince the authorities to violate the rights and dignities of a minority group, no matter how much you hate them.
Though one of Abdullah's quotes does confirm that a key step of the TOL's plans, involves sex, lots and lots of mind-blowing, headboard-banging, sex. The TOL is probably eeeevil enough that not only do they have sex and enjoy it, they also have oral and anal sex and enjoy it, even though there's no possibility of reproduction with those. Worst of all, they also enjoy sex with someone of the same sex! I would have Toccata and Fugue in D Minor as the TOL's theme music, but since Bach was a Christian and at one point, served as a Cantor, composing music for church services, I probably need to come up with some other theme music. Though Bach was a Lutheran and the churches he composed music for, were also Lutheran. Anybody know where the Lutheran Church fits in the RTC subculture? Because we know they grudgingly tolerate Catholics, despite centuries of hatred and mistrust on both sides, because now they share a common enemy in Roe v. Wade, but the hatred still remains and they still have a general distaste for anything that reeks too much of popery or Catholicism. But I don't know enough about the Lutherans to know if they fall into the "Not Evil But Suspect Due to the Catholic Nature of their Faith" or if they are Real True Christians.
Anyway, here's Abdullah's quote:
“Listen, let’s say you’re right. Let’s say that despite all you TOLers dying off at the end of your hundred years you are somehow able to keep this torch burning down through the centuries as the population expands. By the last century of the Millennium, you have amassed this great army, and all right, let’s say that against all odds and logic and prophecy and the very Word of God, your side prevails. Let me postulate that those of you who thought this up and schemed and strategized are still dead and still in hell and that your leader does not have the power to resurrect you. Convince me I am wrong.”
Like I keep saying, the RTCS keep undermining their own case. Because if given a choice between eating steaming piles of fresh produce and singing hymns or enjoying alcohol and having lots and lots of sex, most would choose the latter.
As you can probably guess, the whole discussion has that tone with Sarsour saying something and Abdullah being like, "Are you sure?" and I think it's safe to say that he drags out the syllables when he says it, this making it sound like the nattering whine of a mosquito. Though now that I think about it, I thought Abdullah planned on witnessing to the TOL, yet all he's done is harass Sarsour and Mudawar. Yeah, they're TOL, but Abdullah could :gasp: leave his office and go talk to other TOL members. Again, what does it say about your character when they're too lazy to rant and rave on a street corner like so many other religious nuts?
And of course, Abdullah's bit would be nothing but variations on Pascal's Wager. Even though the obvious flaw with Pascal's Wager is that given the various deities around and the potential consequences of not worshipping them, wouldn't it make sense to worship all of them, be like Homer and go "Jesus, Buddha, Allah, I love you all!", just to cover your bases?
Also, like I keep saying, the problem isn't that the TOL or all the other rebels don't believe in God. Ignoring the fact the whole MK factor, where they see and talk with Zod and TurboJesus and other biblical figures on a daily basis, in the previous books, they've received incontrovertible proof of the supernatural again and again. The problem is the nature of this god they've mentioned, a petty tyrant who decides to reach the lost by killing them horribly so He can torture them forever, who ties your salvation to specific words in a specific order and if you haven't said them with the precise amount of sincerity demanded, welcome to Hell, mothereffer! if he was a human dictator, say Saddam Hussein, he would be considered monstrous, but the thing is, however bad Saddam was, there was a natural end to his villainy, unlike with Zod.
Though again, maybe I should retract that last bit. Like I keep saying and will keep saying, the Right's fanboyish love of Vladimir Putin proves something I've long suspected about the Right: they're not opposed to tyranny and human rights abuses, so long as they are being done by the right people for the right reasons. The Soviet Dictators ran roughshod over the rights and lives of their others in the name of Communism, which makes their actions wrong. Putin does it in the name of unfettered free market capitalism and cronyism, which makes his actions right.
And for all their wargle-bargle about Saddam Hussein or various other tinpot dictators in the Middle East, they are oddly silent when it comes to Saudi Arabia, aka a country which is every bit as repressive and fundamentalist Islamic as many of the countries we're at war with, and possessing ties to terrorist organizations. And the unpleasant truth regarding Saddam and quite a few of the tinpot dictators is that initially the US funded and backed them. The only reason we turned on Saddam, was because he bit the hand that fed him when he invaded Kuwait. But the Saudis know their place, know better than to outwardly rebel against the US, so the US backs them and turns a blind eye to their atrocities.
Point is, like I keep saying, traditionally the people who stood up to tyranny, said "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise." or "Nuts!" are seen as the Good Guys. Standing up and saying "No!" to the all-powerful tyrant, regardless of your chances of winning, is pretty heroic. It is an implicit understanding that there are things in life more important than personal safety, values worth fighting and dying for. And I managed to make this rant without linking to clips from The Avengers or Power Rangers. You're welcome!
Abdullah is all "What if I had died in the Rapture? I would have been lost forever!" tacitly ignoring the fact that if he did die in the Rapture, it would be God's fault, because he can create the world in seven days, make it look billions of years old, even though its only six thousand years old, and violate all known manner of natural laws, but he can't apply the brakes.
Sarsour returned to his seat and seemed to study Abdullah. “Why does this trouble you so? Why don’t you just leave me to my hopelessness, my wrongness, my— as you call it— foolishness. What am I to you?”
“You’re my friend.”
“Ya Bek, I am your enemy. I disagree with everything you say. I mock your God. I accuse Him. I hold Him accountable.”
“And I am instructed to love my enemy and to pray for those who spitefully use me.”
That sound you hear is me pointing and laughing until I injure myself.
And because I can't go one post without indulging my Captain America fangirlism, it's probably safe to assume when Abdullah is all "You're my friend," he doesn't mean it the way the Captain does. Because we all know, again, Abdullah is just doing the RTC version of The Requirement. If he doesn't be an Asshole for Christ and try to unload some product on Sarsour, then they will both burn in Hell. But if Abdullah does The Requirement and Sarsour doesn't take the bait, then Sarsour still burns in Hell but Abdullah is off the hook because he gave the heathen a chance to save himself.
[TANGENT Regarding Captain America fangirlism] Even before Civil War came out, I felt the final fight scene between Cap and Bucky did illustrate some basic facts about his character. For all his optimism and high ideals, Cap was willing to push them aside and be pragmatic, do whatever he has to, to stop the helicarriers from killing a whole lot of people, even if it means beating the snot out of someone who is the closest thing he has to family*. Heck at the beginning, he did offer Bucky a chance to walk away from all this and only got down to business when Bucky made it clear he wasn't going to.
But after the world was saved, the helicarriers are going down in flames, then the Cap starts trying to reach his buddy again, even though part of him probably knew full well that Bucky might very well kill him.
Though like I keep saying, we must never forget that Captain America secretly hates America.[/TANGENT]
Abdullah reads the letter his wife left, before getting bamfed into Heaven. As you probably already gathered, it is further proof that Abdullah and his family were, at one point, SOOPER SCARRY MOOSLEMS!!!!111 I already knew it as did my readers, but I felt like pointing it out. It relates to one of the questions I have regarding this series. We know Ellanjay didn't envision cell phones, Internet porn, even the Internet in general. Hence why Left Behind (published in 1994 when those tech were still on the horizon) doesn't have them. Granted no sci-fi writer can bat a thousand when it comes to predicting trends of the future, be it far-off or not-so distant**, but they usually put forth some effort.
My point is, I'm kind of wondering when the first few Left Behind books were published, how much Islam-bashing there was in them? Yeah, the Muslims had always been considered suspect (much in the way they considered Jews and Catholics suspect at best, until they found a way to co-opt them), but until Sept. 11, it wasn't a major tenet of their subculture. So long as you hated the Gays and Abortion, said, "Jesus!" a lot, and always voted Republican, they were willing to consider you an RTC. Then September 11th happened and now hating the Muslims became another sacred tenet, making it so that people pant with desire for the genocide of 1.6 billion humans and still be considered RTCs. So aunursa or somebody with scary encyclopedic knowledge of this series wanna help me out? Tell me how heavy the early books were on the Muslim-bashing.
I could do my rants about how the largest Muslim population is in Indonesia and the they only object to Al-Qaeda or ISIS or [Insert whatever group of radical Islamic terrorists here] because they're killing and oppressing people in the name of Islam, not Christianity, but I won't.
I'll ignore much of his wife's letter, save for this one part:
As I have said over and over, the difference between what you call “our religions” is that mine is not religion. I have come to believe that religion is man’s effort to please God. I had always been bound by rules, acts of service, good deeds. I was trying as hard as I could to win the favor of Allah so that in the end I would find heaven on earth.
Ah yes, the old RTC argument about how their religion is not religion...that variation of the No True Scotsman fallacy never gets old.
Oh and for the record, do you know what Arab Christians call God? They call him Allah, because Allah is the Arabic word for God, you morons! I can dust off another rant about "Racial and Religious terms" but again, I make some effort at not repeating myself.
The section with Abdullah ends with this exchange:
“That’s it then, Sarsour? The end of our discussion?”
“It hasn’t been a discussion, sir. It has been a sermon. Why waste your time here with just the two of us? Why are you not out preaching to the masses? There are a lot more undecided young people out there than in here, and they have to be more open-minded than we of the Other Light. We ought to know. They are our audience, our prospects.”
“You are my prospects,” Abdullah said. “I am here in obedience to my Lord Christ, who knows best.”
Again, even the Good Guy character is tacitly admitting to being lazy. Because Abdullah said God had called him to witness to the TOL, yet all he had done, was exactly what Sarsour said: hang around him and his cousin and boss them around. Again, the old "stand of a street corner and rant" method may be irritating as hell, but it would be more consistent with what Abdullah believes and hey, standing and ranting would require some stamina, unlike sitting in a basement office and being an asshole towards a couple of people, who again, have been awful generous in allowing you to hang around and talk endlessly about how they're going to burn in Hell.
Like I keep saying, in my head canon, Sarsour and Mudawar have been polite for as long as they could, trying to basically say, "Hey, we don't want you on our property!" which they have every right to, because again, it is their private property, but since Abdullah keeps steam-rolling over their objections, one of them has signaled the TOL Panthers, who are preparing to move in.
There's an interlude with Kat and Kenny. Kat is all weepy and womanly, concerned about how Kenny is going to infiltrate the TOL meetings. Kenny is all manly and is like, "Hey don't worry." For those of you wondering, here are the brave blows against tyranny that Brave Kenny has bravely made thus far:
“I gave Ignace and Lothair some very innocuous information about COT. I merely told them where it was, how many children we hosted, how large the staff was, and that the big deal now had been the visits from biblical heroes. They were not impressed. Ignace fired back a message that said, ‘Tell us something we don’t know. Tell us something that not everybody in the world knows. And tell us in person.’ I think he was really surprised when I told him I would be there tomorrow. I believe they were really starting to suspect me.”
Again, a quote I made in a previous post about how the Millies Brave Stand against Tyranny would involve lying which they would define as "Saying the Church Bake Sale has been canceled, when :gasp: it has not," isn't too far off the mark. For all my exaggerations, I'm rarely, if ever, too far off the mark.
Though of course, the TOL will still keep Kenny around, even if he has no useful information to give him. Again, while he isn't the highest people on the RTC Hierarchy (Rayford and Buck are), he does have the blood of the two highest-ranking members running through his veins, which puts him ahead of a lot of people. Maybe even ahead of Creepy Raymie, seeing as Raymie only has the blood of Rayford running through his veins and is only related to Buck via his older sister's marriage.
The chapter ends with a conversation between Bruce "Useless" Barnes and St. Rayford.
“You know what I miss?” Bruce said late one night in the Negev as he and Rayford sat outside by a small fire. “Darkness.”
The rest of the team slept in the massive trailer, heavy shades pulled against the daylight-like beaming of the moon.
Rayford chuckled. “You know what the Bible says about that. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.”
“Yeah, I think I was the one who taught you that, Ray. And yep, that’s me. Evil.”
“I know what you mean, though, Bruce. I’d love a starlit night to aid my sleep. But you’ve been to heaven, where there is no night, not even shadow. Were you tired of it there?”
Bruce shook his head. “Heaven is different. And I can’t wait till the books are opened and all the believers go. As fascinating as this world and this kingdom are, I can’t think they hold a candle to the next.”
They chatted long into the night, plotting the coming weeks of their mission. Bruce told Rayford of Kenny’s call. “Think of it, man. Who’d have ever thought I’d officiate your second wedding, your daughter’s, and her son’s?”
Conversation put in as a reminder that Ellanjay are like, "Sweeping vistas of the night sky that attest to the beauty of the cosmos are all fine and good, but dammit! I need something to disrupt my natural circadian rhythms! Life's just not good unless there isn't always the possibility that I can stare at something and go blind as a result!"
And that's it. I'll try to get the next post out at its usual time, but I make no guarantees.
*For the record, even before Civil War really cemented it, I was always more Team Steve/Bucky rather than Steve/Tony. It always seemed kind of one-sided between Steve and Tony; Steve doesn't seem to be as obsessed with Tony, the way Tony is obsessed with him. Seems more lingering Daddy issues than anything else. Again, someone get Tony Stark into therapy!
Whereas Steve and Bucky have so many years of shared history with one another. Bucky is now officially the last person around who knew Steve back when he was a 95 lb. asthmatic. Even if he didn't want Steve going to war, Bucky still probably thought he was a great person, the kind that the world needs more of.
But Civil War really drove the point home. Both of them, Steve and Bucky, are willing to take their knocks. They won't enjoy it, but they'll take 'em and deal with it. But the surest way to get either of them into "Oh fuck you!" mode is to go after the other guy.
And for the record, I will refer to my ship as Steve/Bucky because pairing names are freakin' stupid! I may have only a few principles, but I stand by them, dammit!
**I am a bit disappointed that since suicide booths were supposed to have come into being in 2008, we're not going to get Futurama's vision of the Future. Yeah, it would suck being ruled by the insane head of Richard Nixon, but it would have sweet guys like Fry in it. Plus, Futurama's version of Richard Nixon is actually more toned down, when compared to the actual Richard Nixon. Again, closest thing we'll ever have to having a Bond Villain as president.
We're also not likely to get the Power Rangers SPD version, which is set in the year 2020 and has humans and rubber-suited aliens generally living and working together in peace. Given that people with a higher melanin count still have to say, "Black Lives Matter!" and that "Killing one race at a disproportionate rate than others, is bad," it's probably not going to happen.
On the plus side, Skynet is supposed to have come online by now, so we lucked out there. Before anyone says anything, as far as I'm concerned, the Terminator franchise ended with Terminator 2. The people involved had the sense and realized, "Y'know we've told two good, self-contained stories with this concept. There's no need to run this franchise into the ground with unnecessary sequels that retcon all the good films!"