TF: We defy augury

Tribulation Force, pp. 362-366

I wish I could be of more help,” Buck said, suddenly realizing what an understatement that was. What he wouldn’t give to expose Nicolae Carpathia as a lying murderer, the hypnotic Antichrist! And though Buck would oppose him, anyone without Christ would never understand or agree. Besides, Scripture didn’t seem to indicate that even Christ’s followers would be able to do more than simply bear up against him. The Antichrist was on a course foretold centuries before, and the drama would be played out to the end.

Nicolae Carpathia was going to swallow up the president of the United States and everyone else in his path. He would gain ultimate power, and then the true battle would begin, the war between heaven and hell. The ultimate cold war would become a battle to the death. Buck took comfort in the assurance that the end had been known from the beginning.

This is what is going to happen and there’s nothing Buck can do. Nothing Buck even should do. He has no role to play in this “war between heaven and hell.” He can’t stop Nicolae from oppressing and slaughtering millions and he can’t stop God from oppressing and slaughtering billions. He won’t even try. He believes it would be wrong to try.

Which means the story is pretty much finished. There are 14 more books in this series, but whatever it is they contain it can’t be called a story. That story has been dealt a fatal blow by the fatalism of our heroes and of the authors.

That fatalism creates at least two insurmountable problems. First, it means that our heroes cannot be heroes. And second, it means that good and evil — or God and evil — are interchangeable and indistinguishable. It means that it doesn’t matter what anyone does and that it doesn’t matter what happens. If Nicolae wins, everyone suffers and dies and then suffers endlessly. If LaHaye’s God wins, everyone suffers and dies and then suffers endlessly.

There is nothing that can be done and there is no one to do it. That’s not a story.

“There is nothing we can do,” would not, in itself, preclude the possibility of a story or of heroism. Heroes — real heroes, not feckless bystanders like Buck Williams and Rayford Steele — hear that all the time. There’s nothing you can do. It’s hopeless. It’s too late. It’s fate, destiny, a foregone conclusion. The prophecy has been written. You cannot change anything. You cannot win. You cannot save them. You’ll get yourself killed. Resistance is futile.

But real heroes ignore all that. They may suspect it’s true. They may even know it’s true. But that doesn’t matter, they’ll still jump into the fray and, at least, try to go down swinging because … well, because they’re heroes and that’s what that word means.

Think of Norse mythology. At Ragnarok, the gods and heroes are doomed. What has been prophesied will come to pass and nothing they do can change the outcome. But they never give up. That’s why their story matters. It’s why their story is a story, even if nothing they do can change how it ends.

And let’s face it, all our stories ultimately end the same way and nothing we do can change that. Our end, to borrow Jerry Jenkins’ phrase, has “been known from the beginning.”

… If it be now,
’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come.

The readiness is all.

“What if I told you it doesn’t help?” the man asks as the woman packs up a truck with supplies for her shelter for at-risk youth. “What would you do if you found out that none of it matters? That it’s all controlled by forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive and they will never let it get better down here? What would you do?”

“I’d get this truck packed before the new stuff gets here,” she says. “Wanna give me a hand?”

That scene comes at the end of a very long story. The woman has heard all this before. She’s said all this before. She knows firsthand about “forces more powerful and uncaring than we can conceive” who will “never let it get better down here.” But she’d also met a real hero who’d showed her different and so she changed her name and became a hero herself.

This is what heroes do. They pack the truck despite all the forces that tell them it will never get better down here. They act like it matters even when they’re told it doesn’t matter. They help even when they’re told it doesn’t help — even when, as Dr. Rieux puts it in another story, it means being involved in a “never ending defeat.”

Our stories need heroes because we need heroes. The heroes don’t have to win. They don’t have to succeed in changing anything or saving anyone. But they have to try. They “have to go forward, groping their way through the darkness, stumbling perhaps at times,” and try to do what good lay in their power.

When Buck here announces and demonstrates his unwillingness even to try he surrenders any claim he might have had to being a hero in this story.

This story has no heroes.

And these heroes, such as they are, have no story. Because it doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do. It doesn’t matter whether Nicolae wins or God wins. Either way, everyone and everything is screwed. “There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow,” but if every sparrow and every other living thing is wiped out mercilessly no matter what, then providence doesn’t seem any different than … whatever the opposite of providence is (despair? disregard? wrath?*).

“The Antichrist was on a course foretold centuries before,” the authors tell us. And not even the real, true Christians of the Tribulation Force “would be able to do more than simply bear up against him.”

Nicolae’s rise to power and his cruel reign are part of God’s plan. Buck can’t try to oppose the Antichrist’s plans because to do so, he believes, would be to oppose God’s plans.

I don’t know how to make sense of that in any way that does not make the Antichrist out to be God’s servant — that does not require us to regard God as the author, and driver, of evil.

The scenario that LaHaye and Jenkins present is much like the one C.S. Lewis described with great dread in A Grief Observed:

The conclusion I dread is not “So there is not God after all,” but, “So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.” … No, my real fear is not materialism. If it were true, we … could get out, get from under the harrow. An overdose of sleeping pills would do it. I am more afraid that we are really rats in a trap. Or, worse still, rats in a laboratory. Someone said, I believe, “God always geometrizes.” Supposing the truth were “God always vivisects?”

Lewis ultimately rejects this idea, but his description of such a “Cosmic Sadist” and the theology behind such an idea seems to capture exactly what’s going on here in Tribulation Force. Lewis’ description is more hostile, but also more precise and more honest than Buck’s manifesto of inaction against God’s servant Nicolae. In clearer language than L&J are able to express, Lewis captures exactly what Buck is saying above about God, prophecy, fate, good and evil. And he argues that ultimately what Buck and the authors are saying is nonsense:

Or could one seriously introduce the idea of a bad God, as it were by the back door, through a sort of extreme Calvinism? You could say we are fallen and depraved. We are so depraved that our ideas of goodness count for nothing; or worse than nothing — the very fact that we think something good is presumptive evidence that it is really bad. Now God has in fact — our worst fears are true — all the characteristics we regard as bad: unreasonableness, vanity, vindictiveness, injustice, cruelty. But all these [negatives] (as they seem to us) are really [positives]. It’s only our depravity makes them look [negative] to us.

And so what? This, for all practical (and speculative) purposes sponges God off the slate. The word good, applied to [God], becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying [God]. Not even fear. It is true we have [God's] threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from [God's] point of view “good,” telling lies may be “good” too. Even if they are true, what then? If [God's] ideas of good are so very different from ours, what [God] calls “Heaven” might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa. Finally, if reality at its very root is so meaningless to us — or, putting it the other way round, if we are such total imbeciles — what is the point of trying to think either about God or about anything else? This knot comes undone when you try to pull it tight.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* The list of Seven Deadly Sins isn’t from the Bible, but that traditional list is an expression of biblical ideas and that makes the biblical phrase “the wrath of God” potentially misleading.

The other deadly sins aren’t usually attributed to God. We’re told that God is “jealous,” in a sense, but we never speak of “the lust of God” or “the sloth of God” or “the gluttony of God.”

Yet the Bible does speak, frequently, about “the wrath of God.” This word “wrath” seems to have two meanings — one of which is a deadly sin and one of which is an expression of something righteous. “Be angry but do not sin,” the book of Ephesians says, addressing this distinction.

We encounter a similar ambiguity with the deadly sin of pride. That word, too, refers both to one thing that is necessary and virtuous and also to another thing that is vicious and evil. Such linguistic ambiguity opens the door to confusion on our part. We are prone to think of the wrong definition or the wrong set of connotations when encountering or employing these words. We are susceptible to condemning the duty as if it were the sin or to excusing the sin as though it were the duty.

“The wrath of God” clearly doesn’t refer to what we mean by the deadly sin of wrath, yet having just the one word for both ideas we tend to confuse the two and thus, consciously or unconsciously, we wind up attributing to God the sort of wrathful motives and behavior that we otherwise would usually rightly condemn as sinful. That confusion, I think, is at the heart of Left Behind. It is the basis for much of Tim LaHaye’s theology on which these books are based.

And as a result of that confusion, LaHaye further confuses himself and his readers about the object of God’s wrath. The book of Revelation is, unmistakably, largely about the pouring out of God’s wrath, but if we are confused about the type of wrath that it describes — righteous or deadly sinful — then we will also be confused about the cause and the target of that wrath. We will end up mistakenly imagining that it is being directed at the very people on whose behalf John’s apocalypse portrays that wrath being exercised. And thus we wind up, as LaHaye does, imagining that God is guilty of deadly sin.

“Hope has two beautiful daughters,” St. Augustine said, “their names are anger and courage.” The wrath of God, I think, is that kind of anger — the beautiful daughter of hope.

If you’re imagining the wrath of God as something other than an expression of the love of God, then you have taken a wrong turn, for God is love.

Ah, but isn’t God also perfectly holy? And thus wouldn’t it be possible to say that God’s wrath is an expression of God’s perfect holiness? That’s a slightly different, albeit very popular, wrong turn — imagining the holiness of God as something distinct from the love of God.

Very bad idea, going that route. Jesus had a great deal to say about the idea that holiness could ever mean anything apart from love. His response to that idea tended to be, well, rather wrathful.

  • Mackrimin

    So Chick tracts look unrealistic because people convert to easily, LB because they refuse to convert despite everything going on in front of their eyes.

    Of course they’re unrealistic: they’re both the respective author’s fantasies. They’re unrealistic for the same reason most porn stories are unrealistic: they’re not real. And indeed they are “evangelical porn”.

    The difference – or my impression, at least – is that LB is a story about a maniac torturing someone to death and then doing nasty things with her corpse, while Chick Tracks are about everyone sleeping with everyone and having a great time – and everyone who doesn’t is a prude who gets converted in the end. They’re both fantasies, but one is a nightmare while the other is merely ridiculous.

  • JD

    Because you posted a snarky comment apropos of nothing except “Crystal Skull sucks”?

  • JD

    Because you posted a snarky comment apropos of nothing except “Crystal Skull sucks”?

  • Anonymous

    By all means, Mackrimin.

    I quoted your line (in response to an earlier post which said that anti-abortion legislation denied women the right to do what they liked with their own bodies):

    We have already made that decision, for using drugs is illegal.

    Neither you nor I have said at any point that we think anti-abortion legislation and anti-drug legislation are actually identical, but what you said here set up an implied, rhetorical equivalence.

    That is, you compared anti-abortion legislation to anti-drug legislation in a way which suggested that they were fundamentally similar on this point: the restriction of what people can do with their own bodies. You said ‘we have already made that decision’ as though the decision to restrict drug use was the same as the decision to restrict abortion in terms of consequences for individuals’ bodily choice.

    You’ve elaborated here that you were thinking in terms of a threshold that both sets of legislation have passed, but in the original context that was not clear, and what you actually said had unfortunate implications. It gave the impression that you regarded both sets of legislation as being in a similar position relative to the threshold, and that impression could cause distress to someone reading it.

    I therefore drew out explicitly the key contrast between the two things you were comparing, and went on to say that the equivalence itself was trivialising (because it reduced something drastic to the level of something far less serious), patronising (because it chimes in to the long history of people belittling and ignoring women in pain, particularly pain connected to reproduction) and discourteous (because it could be distressing for someone to read).

    The rest of your post was on a slightly different subject (one that I happen to agree with you on and was glad you expressed). I guessed that you probably didn’t mean to draw that equivalence, but had no way to be sure. Besides, intent isn’t magic: whether or not you meant to draw the equivalence makes no difference to the potential hurt caused, hence my reply.

  • Lori

    Yes, it does, and no, there isn’t. So perhaps people should start using _that_ as an argument in abortion flamewars rather than just assuming that others are arguing in bad faith? Go and make the suggestion; watch how they react, and if they indeed _are_ arguing in bad faith, you now have _proof_ of that.

    Are you actually laboring under the assumption that people haven’t done this and that the so-called pro-life movement hasn’t brushed it off? If so, please allow me to correct this misunderstanding.

    It has been suggested and the suggestion has been roundly rejected. The reasoning for the rejection has generally been that mandatory kidney donation would be a form of theft, but a fetus has such a special place vis a vie the womb that a women is obviously morally obligated to play host to it, even at the expense of her own life.

    So, by your standards we now have proof that anti-choicers are arguing in bad faith.

  • Jason

    I also happen to like Crystal Skull. In fact, its the only movie with Shia LaBouf in it where I don’t want to punch him in the face.

    People mostly seem to hate the sci-fi elements in it. The other movies were tribute to the adventures serials of the 30′s. Some 25 to 30 years later, it seems only appropriate that we include elements of 50′s and 60′s B-movies. I think that was a rather clever idea myself.

    The other complaint I hear is that it was too over the top. It’s an INDIANA JONES MOVIE. What the hell do you expect???? Yes, the refrigerator scene was silly and ridiculous but it was also delightfully so. It was fun.

    While it was one of the weakest of the series, I contend that it is a better film than “Temple of Doom.” The whiny love interest and the excrutiatingly irritating Short Round made that one hard to watch (but I still like that one as well).

    I rank them:
    1. Last Crusade (Sean Connery is what gives that one the edge)
    2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    3. Crystal Skull
    4. Temple of Doom

    I like all 4 of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Cross-posting:

    Just a drive-by to mention that today is the birthday of everyone’s favorite (“favorite”) creator of hateful, Christian fundamentalist sequential art-based propaganda, the one and only Jack T. Chick!
    Jack turns 87 today, which is a long, long time to have to wait for The Rapture…
    Also of note is that Jack’s birthday is shared by Ron “Hellboy” Perlman, which means that I’ve got representation from both Heaven and Hell on what is also my birthday.
    (Sharing a birthday with Chick is amusing; sharing a birthday with Perlman is awesome.)

  • Lori

    Happy birthday Jon! I hope that both today and the coming year are wonderful for you.

    Also, Jack Chick’s advanced years are clearly further proof that only the good die young.

  • Mackrimin

    Are you actually laboring under the assumption that people haven’t done this and that the so-called pro-life movement hasn’t brushed it off? If so, please allow me to correct this misunderstanding.

    Well, yes, as a matter of fact I _was_ under such an impression. It simply seemed obvious to me that raising such a point would either force people to take this position or be exposed as hypocrites, the latter of which would implode the whole debate and the former move it from abortion into a more general question about ethics.

    My apologies for overestimating my fellow men.

  • Lori

    My apologies for overestimating my fellow men.

    I hate to say it because it makes me sound nasty, but I’ve found that when it comes to anti-choicers you’ll rarely go wrong by assuming the worst.

  • Anonymous

    In which case I submit that your conclusion is unjustified. My comment could indicate disappointment, amusement, or a number of other reactions none of which are as strong as or even approach hate. I could similarly refer to Peter Farelly “subjecting audiences to Dumb & Dumber“, even though my reaction to that film is closer to amusement than hate, and my rating of the film is certainly not that “it sucks.”

    Moreover, even if my reaction to Crystal Skull were in fact “hate”, you did not explain how you determined that my reaction is either knee-jerk or irrational. You apparently did not consider the possibility that my reaction was based on logical analysis or deep consideration of the feasibility of the plot, acting, premises, congruity/incongruity with the precedessors, or other aspects of the film. It would be a mistake for you to conclude based on the fact that my comment did not include such an analysis or consideration that I did not perform one for myself in the first place. Perhaps you’ve grown weary of defending the film from other viewers whose reaction was in fact hatred. I’m just guessing, there. My point is that if you make assumptions based on evidence for which there are multiple reasonable explanations, you decrease your chances of assuming correctly.

  • Anonymous

    People mostly seem to hate the sci-fi elements in it. The other movies were tribute to the adventures serials of the 30′s. Some 25 to 30 years later, it seems only appropriate that we include elements of 50′s and 60′s B-movies. I think that was a rather clever idea myself.

    Yes, I noticed this myself. My brother doesn’t like the von Daniken aspects of “the visitors taught us agriculture!” but I don’t think that’s a reason to reject the whole thing.

    I thought the fight choreographer did an excellent job of recreating the fist-fights of the first three movies, seeing as the original choreographer has passed away.

  • Anonymous

    I still want to see a tract in which Jack Chick dies and goes to face judgment. The Almighty condemns him for deceiving billions of people with his false teaches and for causing them unnecessary panic. And then God sadly tosses Jack Chick into hell — where the Devil has been eagerly waiting.

  • Anonymous

    I hate to say it because it makes me sound nasty, but I’ve found that when it comes to anti-choicers you’ll rarely go wrong by assuming the worst.

    I think it helps to understand that many anti-choicers have already decided that pro-choice arguments are not worth considering because their end result is that all abortions become killing a term fetus just before it’s delivered. Therefore Your Argument Is Invalid even before you’ve articulated it.

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t argue the point, because the anti-choicers have a humongous cultural inertia and our elected Democrats believe that their constituents want moar compromise and therefore the Republicans will push for twice as much as they want knowing that the Democrats will give them half of that, or just as much as they want.

  • Anonymous

    Healthy full-term fetus. Don’t forget ‘healthy’. Because there’s clearly no such thing as a fetus that will die before or shortly after birth in any event, nor as a fetus that’s already dead and thus endangering its living twin.

  • Mackrimin

    I also happen to like Crystal Skull. In fact, its the only movie with Shia LaBouf in it where I don’t want to punch him in the face.

    People mostly seem to hate the sci-fi elements in it. The other movies were tribute to the adventures serials of the 30′s. Some 25 to 30 years later, it seems only appropriate that we include elements of 50′s and 60′s B-movies. I think that was a rather clever idea myself.

    Crystal Skull was an okay movie, but could had been far better. Once they enter the valley things get rushed and start “falling into place” too neatly, and let’s face it: Soviets do not have the same “dark glow” as Nazis do. For good or ill, Nazis are right there within our mythos as the architypical (stereotypical, really) evil overlords, and Hitler is treated closer to a God of Evil than a crazy, hateful man who managed to get power. World War 2 fits too well to a pattern of “good and evil fighting” for it to remain mere history.

    So, it’s not the sci-fi elements that are the problem. Rather, the mythical elements simply aren’t as fundamental as in the previous movies, and while the alien takes the role that (other) God(s) did previously, and actually handles it quite well, the road there isn’t as laden with “signs and portents” as the previous movies did. Furthermore, modern CGI simply isn’t very good for these types of movies: the climax just plain isn’t as impressive as the pillar of fire in Raiders.

    Kingdom of Crystall Skull doesn’t feel as epic as Raiders of Lost Ark, as fairytale-like as Temple of Doom, or as desperate a race as Last Crusade. It’s simply… too modern, not set in the “mythological age” of Nazi Germany anymore. Cold War is a whole another mythological imagery, one that fits James Bond but not really Indiana Jones. Change Jones’s imagery and you get a different Indy, and of course that’s going to piss people off.

    Besides, imagine if someone tried to continue, say, Wheel of Time after the Third Age has ended and the Dark One has been imprisoned? Sure, you could do that, just use the Seanchan as villains; but don’t be amazed if a mere conquering bunch of slavers with an absolute dictator in helm seems a bit anti-climatic compared to the Shadow.

    WoT, BTW, is another series that does this whole “prophesized Last Battle and horrible suffering before that” thing a lot better. It even does the “morally ambiguous/bad creator” better, not to mention a hero slipping closer and closer to outright evil behaviour – possibly because it acknowledges that these things are not, in fact, very nice.

    My, didn’t I ramble a lot. I’ve spent too much time on Tvtropes and now feel the need to overanalyze everything :(.

  • Lori

    I think, as least as far as the anti-choice leadership goes, the issue really does come down to controlling women and a worldview based on gender essentialism and maintaining “god-given” roles for the sexes.

    As Ellie points out, even looking at it as if every fetus was the same as a full-term fetus just doesn’t get you to the positions that anti-choicers take. It certainly doesn’t get you there in any logical way. If however you start from the assumption that it’s about controlling women by denying them full personhood then IME one’s successful prediction rate goes way up and the whole anti-choice agenda hangs together in a logical way. Monstrous and wrong, but logical.

  • Anonymous

    Healthy full-term fetus. Don’t forget ‘healthy’.

    Yes, of course.

  • Anonymous

    I still want to see a tract in which Jack Chick dies and goes to face judgment. The Almighty condemns him for deceiving billions of people with his false teaches and for causing them unnecessary panic. And then God sadly tosses Jack Chick into hell — where the Devil has been eagerly waiting.

    I would also accept a scenario where Chick goes to heaven, only to discover that everyone he damned in his comics is also there. (“Black Leaf! You too?!”) Surely no lake of fire could be more agonizing to Jack Chick than the disappointment of finding a (gasp!) loving, forgiving God, one so merciful that He doesn’t even allow Himself a well-earned HAW-HAW! at Chick’s expense.

  • Anonymous

    I think, as least as far as the anti-choice leadership goes, the issue really does come down to controlling women and a worldview based on gender essentialism and maintaining “god-given” roles for the sexes.

    I’ve been on board with this school of thought since I read it on Pandagon.

    Mayhap this short-form, five-minutes-of-thought-per-post format is not my strong suit.

  • Anonymous

    And then God sadly tosses Jack Chick into hell — where the Devil has been eagerly waiting.

    Right idea, wrong moral.

    Jack sees the suffering he’s caused to millions of people and repents of his sins. And God forgives him. Because that’s the point, after all.

    (On my back burner for years — together with a Dubya post-Event press conference, which tells you how old this idea is — has been the idea of a proud and judgmental Rayford at the Last Judgement, glorying in how few people are on Jesus’ right-hand side. At the end, there is a gasp from the crowd, and Jesus has turned around.)

  • Anonymous

    Because there’s clearly no such thing as a fetus that will die before or shortly after birth in any event, nor as a fetus that’s already dead and thus endangering its living twin.

    We’ve currently got a group of anti-choicers (from out of state!) on campus. I argued with them a bit yesterday. The part that I found utterly amazing is that none of them even seemed to recognize that their policies would result in millions of dead women from illegal abortions.

  • Anonymous

    I think ‘millions’ overstates it, but I have no idea where to go to find better numbers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-Kunkle/536930634 Isabel Kunkle

    Well, yeah.

    I would describe myself as pro-abortion, in that, were I to get pregnant, I would unhesitatingly terminate the pregnancy–and that I’d advise a friend who was unwantedly pregnant to do the same, *if* she asked me my opinion on the subject.

    I’m far more about prevention, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-Kunkle/536930634 Isabel Kunkle

    I get that, but on the other hand…I really really hate the “magic turns out to be aliens/technology” plot. I find it cheap and overdone and kind of Scooby-Doo like: oh hey this supernatural thing turns out to be a totally not supernatural thing ha ha we fooled you about the fundamental premise. Yay, very clever. Go away now.

    That said, I’m inclined to agree, if only because Temple of Doom was a giant cocktail of fail: racist plot, irritating child character, OH MY GOD DIE NOW love interest…yeah, no. Although I do give it credit for giving me a somewhat-snappy comeback to drippy lines about winning/stealing someone’s heart.

  • Anonymous

    Jack sees the suffering he’s caused to millions of people and repents of his sins. And God forgives him. Because that’s the point, after all.

    I suggest a compromise. In the new tract, Jack Chick gets judged for his sins and gets sent to hell. Then it turns out it was all just a divinely-inspired dream in order to get Chick to repent of his sins.

  • Anonymous

    Jack sees the suffering he’s caused to millions of people and repents of his sins. And God forgives him. Because that’s the point, after all.

    I suggest a compromise. In the new tract, Jack Chick gets judged for his sins and gets sent to hell. Then it turns out it was all just a divinely-inspired dream in order to get Chick to repent of his sins.

    I’d like to see him get the tour of Heaven, the penultimate stop being God’s throne-room where he is truly humbled, awed, and at total peace as he gazes upon the face of God. Then St. Peter leads him out, back to the Pearly Gates. “Where are you taking me? No! No! Not to… *GASP* HELL!?!?!?!” to which St. Peter says, “Oh, don’t be silly. There is no Hell, but you can’t stay here with God. You’re free to go anywhere else you want.”

    “But that is Hell! THAT IS HELL!”

    The final panel shows him standing on a gloomy rain cloud, dejected, trying to thumb a ride from a bunch of Astral Devas.

  • Anonymous

    Back at the article, I am reminded of why I find the Jenkins/LaHaye view of prophecy so cowardly: They do not know god.

    Abraham knew god. When God told him he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he started haggling. He demanded that if he could find a dozen good men, the city would be saved, and tried to work his way down. Eventually, all he saved was the family of Lot, the one righteous man between the two cities.

    Why do they not pray for concessions? Pray for the strength to start saving people, not in the “say the magic words” way, but in the “prevent them from being killed by an earthquake” way? A righteous god would listen. If you pray for god to save you from mind control so you can watch Stonegal get shot in the head, why not also pray for the gun to jam?

    Don’t just dismiss it with “God works in mysterious ways.” Pray for god to make you understand them, and that it can be something you can accept.

    He argued with Abraham. He argued with Moses. He argued with Jonah. You aren’t a martyr for watching god’s plan unfold and not doing anything. You are a martyr for knowing that ultimately a cause is hopeless and trying anyway. But maybe only Catholics and Orthodox care about Kenosis.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    But maybe only Catholics and Orthodox care about Kenosis.

    I’m not particularly thrilled here about the implication that “This one set of people who are Protestant don’t care about something – clearly ALL Protestants don’t care about it!”
    I’m a Protestant, but I’d guess that my priorities are rather different from LaJenkins’.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    Not only do they feature a god better suited to the Cthulhu mythos or Warhammer 40k (the chaos gods thereof, that is)

    Hell, the supposedly “good” god of Warhammer 40K (the God-Emperor) isn’t much better. I mean, his church murders a thousand children a *day* in order to keep their fucking space beacon running, and lobotomizes people to turn them into cyborg zombies.

    (I really didn’t have more than a casual familiarity with Warhammer until last week, when I finished reading Rogue Trader. I’m sure it would be even worse if I’d read the game that deals with the Inquisition).

  • JD

    So, people hate it because….it’s different. That’s pretty sad.

    Y’know, I remember seeing it at a beautiful old Art Deco movie palace with an audience mostly 50 and over, some in their 80s. It was a movie about getting old and how life taketh, yet it it giveth back too. And all the 1950s period details went over wonderfully. Y’know, Lucas, Spielberg, Ford, Karen Allen, John Williams, Dennis Muren, Ben Burtt–none of them are young anymore. They haven’t been for some time. If they’re gonna make an honest movie, an artful movie, it’s going to be coming from where they are now, not where they were in 1979-1982.

    And I always tell people, if they didn’t like Crystal Skull, they should read some of the rejected scripts for a fourth Indiana Jones movie and see what bad really is. There was this unreadable one by Chris Columbus that was set in Africa and had a scene with a gorilla driving a tank.

    (I like the description of Temple Of Doom as “fairytale”….That’s spot on.)

  • JD

    Debate club joke, amateur lawyer joke, or just joke?

    Whatever. Defensiveness of those dimensions is rather astonishing, isn’t it?

    “In which case I submit your conclusion is unjustified…” I can’t even make a wiseass remark. It’s just too easy.

  • Lori

    And I always tell people, if they didn’t like Crystal Skull, they should read some of the rejected scripts for a fourth Indiana Jones movie and see what bad really is. There was this unreadable one by Chris Columbus that was set in Africa and had a scene with a gorilla driving a tank.

    I have no dog in this fight since I never even got around to seeing Crystal Skull. However, I feel like I have to point out the glaring problem with this statement. The fact that there were worse scripts doesn’t say anything meaningful about the quality of Crystal Skull because it’s not as if a 4th movie was actually mandatory. “It’s better than the alternative” really only works if the thing/situation isn’t avoidable.

  • Anonymous

    a fair cop, Dierd. Apologies. It was a rhetorical flourish (which, being one of those dangerous commie-atheist-jews, I would not be included in either) which was unnecessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Why do they not pray for concessions? Pray for the strength to start saving people, not in the “say the magic words” way, but in the “prevent them from being killed by an earthquake” way? A righteous god would listen. If you pray for god to save you from mind control so you can watch Stonegal get shot in the head, why not also pray for the gun to jam?

    I and most others here would argue that a righteous god wouldn’t send the earthquake in the first place, at least not as a punishment.

    As for Stonegal, well, he was kind of an evil douche anyway, and had previously tried to have Buck killed, and killed one of Buck’s friends, so I can completely understand him not particularly caring about Stonegal being killed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    I think with sufficient incentive (i.e. lots of bananas), a clever gorilla could be taught to drive a tank.

    Probably not safely, however.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    This was on the radio when I was driving to work this morning; it seems to define the anti-Buck pretty well:

    If we burn our wings
    Flying too close to the sun
    If the moment of glory
    Is over before it’s begun
    If the dream is won –
    Though everything is lost
    We will pay the price,
    But we will not count the cost

    When the dust has cleared
    And victory denied
    A summit too lofty
    River a little too wide
    If we keep our pride
    Though paradise is lost
    We will pay the price,
    But we will not count the cost

    And if the music stops
    There’s only the sound of the rain
    All the hope and glory,
    All the sacrifice in vain
    And if love remains
    Though everything is lost
    We will pay the price,
    But we will not count the cost

    - Rush, Bravado

  • JD

    You mean Crystal Skull? What? They never pretended it was anything supernatural….

    Temple Of Doom, to be fair, originally intended to make it clear that the Thuggee were a weird, violent cult very seperate from Hinduism in general, and they were a great choice for a villain. And their portrayal of the temple was not supposed to be realistic–it was trying to comment on the xenophobia in a lot of pulp fiction and b movies, while at the same time drawing on lurid stories of human sacrifice and dark gods by authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. (I’ve long suspected that Spielberg and Lucas were inspired by the cult of Thulsa Doom in their friend John Milius’ Conan The Barbarian.) Yet it completely drops the ball in delinating the Thuggee as not representative of India overall. It’s not racist, but I can understand when people think it is.

    Although, I am bewildered by somebody who finds Short Round irritating. Willie Scott, yes, annoying as HELL. (the character’s supposed to be shallow pain in the ass, but they took it way too far.) But Short Round?! C’mon! “He no nuts–he CRAZY!”

  • JD

    I’m just saying that as bad as some people think it is, it could have been SO much worse. It’s like, there’s spinach, which some people find inedible, and then there’s rotten spinach. You may not like the spinach, but at least you can eat it without getting sick. You may not like Crystal Skull, but at least it’s competent. Columbus’ Monkey King script (or Frank Darabont’s much-vaunted City Of The Gods draft, which I for one thought was terrible) read like they were written by hyper 14 year old Indiana Jones fans. It does say something about the quality of Crystal Skull that Lucas, no matter how much abuse everybody wants to scream at him nowadays, didn’t make either of those earlier versions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-Kunkle/536930634 Isabel Kunkle

    It’s more that the series in general has supernatural stuff, and throwing in aliens without an attempt to reconcile the science fiction elements with the fantasy ones…meh.

    I do not like the “cute kid” characters in fiction, by and large. Short Round is one of the less annoying of the type (oh my God Chibi-Usa HAAAAAAAATE) but the type is one that I loathe. Especially when introduced to a pre-existing franchise–at least in movies it’s not as bad as in TV shows, q.v. Cousin Oliver and Dawn fucking Summers, ugh. They come off as irritating “wacky comic relief” at best, and irritating attempts to tug my nonexistent heartstrings at worst.

    Also, why in the name of all that’s holy would someone purposefully write a character to fit the “shallow pain in the ass” description and then give them whole chunks of screen time? Do they actively hate the audience? What’s up with that?

    I get what you’re saying re: the racism being unintentional, and that’s something–given the creepy sexism I’ve seen elsewhere from Lucas, I would have no difficulty believing him more actively racist, too–but not everything. Intent is not magic, they should have tried harder, and there are ways that Conan makes it work* that just don’t fly with the real-world semi-contemporary setting. Spielberg and Lucas are pros, and they should have realized that.

    *Kiiiiiiiind of. I love Howard and Lovecraft’s writing, for the most part, but both men were a good country mile from egalitarian when it came to racial and sexual issues.

  • JD

    Well, the idea was that the 30s were a time of magic and miracles–a fantasy world; and the 50s were a time of atom bombs and flying saucers–a sci-fi world. A lot of people seem to have been unable to make that adjustment. Strange, to me, but then again, makes me grateful to have been trained by the Marvel and DC universes to cheerfully accept fantasy and science-fiction side by side. Dr. Strange can team up with Iron Man to fight the alien invaders who’ve kidnapped Thor ect.

    You don’t like Dawn!?!? I give up.

    Willie Scott: That’s my point, they screwed it up. She went from annoying Indy and Shortie to annoying the audience. That’s just bad filmmmaking. She’s sorta the Jar Jar of the Indiana Jones films.

    Sexism? Huh? And believe me, Lucas is not racist. Except according to the militant guy in Chasing Amy. “And JEDI is the most INSULTING installment!” “What’s a Nubian?” “Shut up!” : )
    But anyway, again, basically my point: Temple Of Doom is a really flawed movie. I love it nonetheless, but it’s fundamentally flawed. Right down to–it’s one of the most clumsily edited big-budget studio films of the 80s. Reading the script reveals entire subplots were hacked out seemingly almost at random, and even the editing within scenes is often awkward. Look at the moment when they’re trying to sacrifice Willie, for instance, and Indy wakes up from the sleep of Kali; there are gigantic continuity errors all over the place. Yeah–they coulda done much, much better. Yet, for all that, it’s still probably the best evil cult / scary temple ever in movie history: I mean, it lives up to the title. : )

    Lovecraft and Howard: Oh, those guys were hilarious racists! Rabid racists! However, I will give them both enormous credit: in their fiction, they managed to show an empathy and awareness that they seemingly often couldn’t in their personal lives (see “Shadow Over Innsmouth” or “Black Canaan”). And, furthermore, before their deaths, they had truly become far more enlightened in their racial attitudes. The sad thing is that they both just died so damn young: Howard killed himself at something like 34 and Lovecraft died of illness at, I think 37. Had they lived to their 50s, I think both men–being so intelligent, well-read, and ultimately, I think, genuinely good people at heart–would have renounced their earlier racism as shameful ignorance. Which they had begun to do anyway….

  • Anonymous

    I am reliably informed (by my boyfriend, who is Shinto) that the Star Wars films caricature the Japanese. I can’t remember which group of characters he was talking about, though, possibly people from the third prequel which I have never seen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    I can’t remember any asians in SW. Everyone had an American or a British accent, and aside from aliens were pretty much all white, except for Vader of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    I can’t remember any asians in SW. Everyone had an American or a British accent, and aside from aliens were pretty much all white, except for Vader of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabel-Kunkle/536930634 Isabel Kunkle

    I liked Dawn in S7 onward. In S5 and S6? Ugh, no. With the screeching and the whining and the being a goddamn Cousin Oliver in the first place (albeit with credit for a mystic origin that lampshades that) and the “acting out” in the most typical and slappable middle-class white-girl noooooobody-thinks-I’m-speshul way possible, and the screeching….okay, I have some feelings here. ;)

    As far as the Crystal Skull thing goes, I see where you’re going with that, and I’m cool with it in comics. The movie just didn’t sell it to me enough, I think: it came across as “everything is really aliens” rather than “fantasy plus aliens”.

    I see your point re: Temple of Doom. It’s one of the problems inherent with trying to create annoying-to-the-main-character characters and give them significant screentime, I think–what’s annoying to the main character is very likely to be annoying to the audience as well. And I like the movie, though guiltily so.

    Sexism: I’ve heard that Lucas fired one of the female Jedi in RotS and cut her character because she posed for Playboy. I’ve also seen a really rather creepy transcript between him, Spielberg, and someone else where he was arguing that Marion should’ve been, like, twelve when she and Indy hooked up. GUH.

    On Howard and Lovecraft, I really hope you’d be right there. It’s one of the reasons I can deal with dead racist/sexist/homophobic authors much better than living ones: there’s always “well, if he were around today, he’d clearly have wised up.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Temple Of Doom, to be fair, originally intended to make it clear that the Thuggee were a weird, violent cult very seperate from Hinduism in general, and they were a great choice for a villain. And their portrayal of the temple was not supposed to be realistic–it was trying to comment on the xenophobia in a lot of pulp fiction and b movies, while at the same time drawing on lurid stories of human sacrifice and dark gods by authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. (I’ve long suspected that Spielberg and Lucas were inspired by the cult of Thulsa Doom in their friend John Milius’ Conan The Barbarian.) Yet it completely drops the ball in delinating the Thuggee as not representative of India overall. It’s not racist, but I can understand when people think it is.

    If something has the effect of perpetuating racist stereotypes — it is racist. It may not have been intended to be racist, but intent only matters insofar as it changes the consequences. It doesn’t help Hindus confronting racists who stereotype them as being like the cult members shown in the movie.

  • We Must Dissent

    Um, Trade Federation?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    The sad thing is that they both just died so damn young: Howard killed himself at something like 34 and Lovecraft died of illness at, I think 37. Had they lived to their 50s, I think both men–being so intelligent, well-read, and ultimately, I think, genuinely good people at heart–would have renounced their earlier racism as shameful ignorance. Which they had begun to do anyway…

    Well, one can hope, but that doesn’t change the shocking hurtfulness of what they actually wrote.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Probably the two Trade Federation guys from Episode 1 – I’ve heard various people complain they were a bad generic-Asian caricature.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    The only “screeching” I can think of was
    1) having just learned that she didn’t exist at all – in which case I think freaking out is somewhat justified;
    2) in her “nobody loves me” episode – which was admittedly annoying, but I think characterising the whole person as “screeching and whining” based on that is kind of unfair.

    …but then, behold my icon. I take criticism of Dawn somewhat personally.


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