NRA: Squeezing the stallion

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 8-10

Today we deal with three pages. They involve at least two warheads exploding in American cities, yet they remain primarily preoccupied with traffic.

A traffic jam is presented as the primary obstacle facing our protagonists near Chicago, and traffic conditions are the only details provided in the report they hear of the perhaps-nuclear bombing of New York City.

We’ll get to that, but first let’s deal with the misogyny, because these three pages offer a condensed version of the gender stereotypes that pervade this entire series. More than anything else, what we encounter here is a contrast between Buck and Chloe — between man and woman, husband and wife, male and female.

The contrast is not subtle. The male is presented as heroic, resolute, resourceful, brave and take-charge. The female is presented as dependent, dithering, distracted, fearful and passive.

Here is what we read about Chloe in these pages:

Chloe snuggled close to him. “What do you mean ‘when we were first married’? We’re still newlyweds!”

… “Buck,” Chloe said, “our home. Where will we live?”

… It was like Chloe to worry about her home. … She had made their ridiculously expensive Fifth Avenue penthouse flat her own.

… “What are we going to do, Buck?”

… Chloe shrieked and buried her head in Buck’s chest.

… Chloe gasped … “What are you doing, Buck?” Chloe said.

Buck is given much, much more to say and to do. He’s in charge. He’s focused on the problem at hand and takes action to address it because he’s a manly man and that’s what manly men do.

And lest you doubt his manliness, Jerry Jenkins falls back on one of his favorite devices — the piloting of a powerful engine as a symbol of male virility:

Buck had never had patience for traffic jams, but this was ridiculous. His jaw tightened and his neck stiffened as his palms squeezed the wheel. The late-model car was a smooth ride, but inching along in near gridlock made the huge automotive power plant feel like a stallion that wanted to run free.

That has all the subtlety of an Extenze commercial. But the Extenze commercial is intentional, and therefore not nearly as funny.

Except this isn’t really funny either. Yes, at one level it’s hilarious — just look at the verbs in that paragraph: tightened, stiffened, squeezed, inching. Or the adjectives. And I don’t think any of that is deliberate or conscious. That stiffening as palms squeeze the smooth, huge stallion is the authors exposing themselves. Or, rather, it is the authors exposing the insecurities that underlie their patriarchal ideas about gender.

That insecurity is revealed at every step in these pages, as each of those helpless, shrieking questions of Chloe’s is countered by an assertion of Buck’s resolute, masculine know-how:

It was like Chloe to worry about her home. Buck was less concerned about that. He could live anywhere and seemed to have lived everywhere.

… “What are we going to do, Buck?”

Buck wished he knew what to say. He usually had an answer. Resourcefulness had been the trademark of his career. Regardless of the obstacle, he had somehow made do in every imaginable situation or venue in the world at one time or another.

… Chloe shrieked and buried her head in Buck’s chest. Buck scanned the horizon for what might have caused the concussion.

It seems the authors don’t know how to make Buck look brave except by making Chloe look frightened — or to make him look smart except by making her look dumb, or to make him look strong by making her look weak, or to make him seem big by making her look small. (And if that last one seems like an implied cheap shot or a bit of too-easy armchair psychiatry, re-read that amazing paragraph about Buck’s “huge automotive power plant.”)

It’s impossible to reconcile the portrayal of Chloe here with the very first thing we learned about her back in the first book. I’m sure I read more into it than the authors intended me too, but in our first glimpse of Chloe, she seemed impressive.

In the immediate aftermath of the Event, when the entire world was paralyzed with shock, chaos and grief, Chloe Steele, 20, somehow made her way from Stanford University to Mount Prospect, Ill. That’s about 2,200 miles, and Google maps says it would take a day and a half to drive it under optimal, non-apocalyptic conditions. That’s about what it took Chloe — at a time when no planes were flying, the railroads were shut down, the highways clogged with horrific accidents and driverless cars.

The authors didn’t explain how Chloe managed this, which somehow made it more impressive. She’s Chloe Steele — that’s how she did it and that is all you need to know.

I miss that Chloe — the smart, independent, omnicompetent young woman we thought we were meeting when she first showed up in Book 1. It’s a long way down from that initial appearance to this scene portraying Chloe as a helpless, shrieking, submissive little wife.

“Resourcefulness had been the trademark of his career,” we’re told here about Buck Williams. That, too, is difficult to reconcile with what we saw of Buck back in that same point of the first book. While Chloe was mysteriously skipping from Palo Alto to Chicago, it took Buck forever to get from Chicago to New York — this despite his having a massive expense account and the ability to charter a pilot. That expense account seems to be Buck’s idea of “resourcefulness” in a crisis.

A trademark of Jerry Jenkins’ career as a storyteller is his preference for telling over showing. It’s not just that he tends to tell readers one thing about his characters while showing them the opposite, but also that he doesn’t seem to realize that it matters quite a bit who is doing the telling.

These three pages heaping praise on Buck and belittling Chloe are presented from Buck’s point of view. It’s Buck Williams here who is praising himself. And it’s Buck Williams here who is making Chloe out to be a pathetic, whimpering, dependent child. Jenkins seems not to be aware that by presenting these opinions from Buck’s perspective he is inviting us to distrust, discount and disregard them. Or, rather, to disregard their face-value meaning and to reinterpret them in a way that accounts for Buck’s self-interest.

In other words, what Jenkins thinks he’s telling us is that Buck is a resourceful action hero while Chloe is a helpless little girl. But what he’s unintentionally signaling to us, instead, is that Buck is a pompous jerk who doesn’t respect his wife.

Brief detour here back to Creative Writing 101. Let’s say you’re writing a story with a character named Jim and you want your readers to regard Jim as brave. You can go about this in several different ways:

1. Show Jim doing something that requires bravery.

2. Have another character in your story describe Jim as brave.

3. Have the omniscient narrator of your story tell the reader that Jim is brave.

4. Have Jim tell the reader that Jim is brave.

Those are listed in order. The first is the most effective approach; the last is the least effective. The last one, in fact, can be counter-productive.

In these novels, Jenkins often goes with No. 4. He’s also fond of No. 2, but even then it comes across more like No. 4 because what we get is either Buck’s glowing praise of Rayford or Rayford’s glowing praise of Buck. That mutual admiration society lacks credibility because one gets the sense that what each character admires most about the other is that character’s reciprocal admiration for him.

Once again let me remind you that Jenkins charges $3,500 for the “Craftsmen” level writing courses offered by his “Christian Writer’s Guild,” but that those courses are only available to those who have successfully completed the $1,000 “Apprentice” and $1,280 “Journeyman” level courses.

I believe there’s a lot we can learn about writing from Jerry Jenkins, but not through those courses.

We haven’t yet discussed what actually happens in these three pages of Nicolae, so we’ll revisit them next week.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Except that “Standing up for yourself can be a successful strategy and people should be allowed to do that” is NOT the same thing as “You must stand up for ourself, and if you can’t or that doesn’t work, it’s your fault”.  And there are quite a few people, many of them here, for whom “I am not physically able to respond forcefully” is less of a problem than “The establishment will not protect me, and if I stand up for myself, I will be the one treated as the aggressor.”

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    And there are quite a few people, many of them here, for whom “I am not physically able to respond forcefully” is less of a problem than “The establishment will not protect me, and if I stand up for myself, I will be the one treated as the aggressor.” 

    Amen to that, sadly.  :(

  • InvertIntrovert

    2)  In my experience (working in a Christian bookshop), people buying the book were in one of two categories:

    … 2) “Finally, there are Christian books with explosions and conspiracies! And they have intrigue! And cars! And no women meeting over cupcakes to cry over their inability to truly experience prayer! WOOOOOOO!!!!!”

    Yep. I don’t think people who grew up outside the bubble can quite appreciate just how dull Christian bookstore fiction is. LB may be evil incarnate, there’s a certain snappiness to the writing that makes it easy for your eyes to keep moving across the page, especially if you don’t stop to think about any of it, and Ellenjay aren’t stopping the story every few pages to quote Bible verses and list the morals in bullet point, so by the peculiar standards of Christian fiction, it’s actually pretty readable.

    The other thing that appealed to me (I was 13, and like most readers, only slogged through the first 2 books before losing interest) is that Left Behind offered me spiritual comfort on one very particular point. 

    Like a lot of Fundagelical kids, I was scared to death of missing the Rapture.  I had asked Jesus into my heart dozens of times, but it never really seemed to stick. I kept sinning, and I kept failing to feel Jesus in my heart like I was supposed to, and I worried constantly that if I wasn’t in a Real True State of Grace when the Rapture struck, I would be left behind. My education at Christian school, and all the other stories about the Rapture I was exposed to (including Thief in the Night, the film Fred compares favorably to Left Behind) suggested that if you missed the Rapture, it was game over for your soul. No matter what you did in the tribulation, you were damned, damned, damned. LB was the first book I ever read that promised a second shot for my soul. That was enough for my peculiarly sheltered mind to label it “liberal” and “compassionate” and cling to its take on the End Times desperately.

    It’s sort of like how secular readers read The Last Battle and see all the islamophobia and atheist-bashing and teen slut-shaming and think “WTF is this?”–whereas 10-year-old me only saw her first glimpse of a Christian author suggesting that God welcomes righteous non-Christians into heaven alongside the Christians. If you’re used to reading weird, bigoted, spiritually terrifying shit, that stuff starts to look like background noise in everything you read, and instead you zero in on the one thing that provides spiritual comfort and permission to see your faith in a more palatable light.

    Was that true for any other LB reader but me? No idea. But it can’t be overstated how conservative Evangelicals are not reading the same books you and I are.

  • Ursula L

    Lliira asked, “But what would you suggest a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy do? ”  I did not realize that the question was rhetorical. I tried to answer honestly and with the caveat that I might not be the best person to ask that of.  

    In this sort of situation, where you know that you are ignorant of the perspective you’re being asked to comment on, often the best thing to do is admit your ignorance.

    “I”m not a girl or a woman.  I don’t know all the crap that girls and women have to deal with that I, as an adult man, never encounter.  So I don’t know what to suggest.  And if my previous posts suggested that I knew what to suggest and was, in fact, suggesting, then I’m sorry, because I made the mistake of overstepping my area of expertise and applying my experience to a situation where I am, in fact, ignorant.”

    The question is not merely rhetorical.

    The question is intended to draw your attention to the fact that you are ignorant of the facts of the situation, but that you’re trying to give advice as if you are an expert.  

    If you answered the question with full honesty and awareness of the limitations of your personal life experiences, then you would not have run into a problem. 

    But you ran into  a problem because, in answering the question based on your own life and experiences, you ignored the fact that the question was about what you would suggest as a course of action for people who had very different life experiences and expectations as they moved through the world.  

    “This isn’t about me” is a very important thing to understand in any political discussion.  Assholes want solutions to be found that are ideal for them, without consideration of how it affects anyone else.  Decent folks want a solution that is optimal for society at large and that doesn’t leave them utterly destitute. Even if it means not having a solution that is optimal for them but hell-on-earth for the remaining billions of people on earth.  

    ***

    Now, I very much understand that it is difficult to advocate for policies that aren’t the best for you as an individual, but which are the best for the larger community, society, and planet that you live on and with.  

    But if you value what is best for you over what is best for your community, society, and planet, then you are asking to be judged as someone who cares for yourself, over the benefit of the community, society and planet that you have a share in.  

    ***

    I see a few questions that might be reasonable to think about before posting on a social issue.

    1.  What is my position in the social conflict that I am thinking about?

    2.  Is my position the position that I am actually commenting on?  

    3.  Is the point of view that I’m using in crafting solutions one that is valid to the people to whom I am suggesting the suggestions?

    4.  Can I separate my own interests from the interests of the people to whom I’m making suggestions enough so that I am sure that I am actually making suggestions that are meaningful to their circumstances, rather than suggesting ways for them to make decisions that are best for me without consideration of their interests?

    5.  Are my suggestions more helpful, practical and relevant to the people to whom I’m giving advice than my admission that I just don’t know enough about their situation to make useful suggestions?  

    ***

    Offering suggestions with a caveat that you haven’t fulling experienced or thought of the problems at hand isn’t helpful.

    Recognizing the limits of where and how you have the possibility of accurately sorting out the situation is useful.  

    Recognizing the limits of your own perspective, and making a point of emphasizing the limitations of your perspective and the corresponding moral obligation to prioritize the needs of people who have a less privileged experience is a moral good.   Because it is a step towards recognizing the experiences of less-privileged people as being a more important understanding of social problems than the experiences of people who are rich and powerful and very, very privileged.  

  • glendanowakowsk

    And there are quite a few people, many of them here, for whom “I am not physically able to respond forcefully” is less of a problem than “The establishment will not protect me, and if I stand up for myself, I will be the one treated as the aggressor.”

    That’s more what I meant – perhaps “cutting off at the knees” wasn’t the phrase to use.

    One time when I was a teenager, I got into a phone argument with my boyfriend.  I was talking in a place that was supposed to afford some privacy,* but I heard my grandmother out in the kitchen say to my mother, “She has a sharp tongue.”

    I wanted to say, “Damn right I do.  You’re always telling me to stand up for myself, but when I do, this is what I get.**  So do you really want me to or not?”  But I didn’t, because I guess deep down, I knew.

    *We would take private calls in the bathroom.  Unfortunately, it was only semi-private…

    **Because asking those bullies to stop real nice-like, accomplishes  jack shit (at best.)

  • Mau de Katt

     

    the tee-pee village concourse

    To me, especially during the many times I’ve driven to DIA, that tent design always looked like the underbelly of a very large nursing sow.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ellenjay aren’t stopping the story every few pages to quote Bible verses
    and list the morals in bullet point, so by the peculiar standards of
    Christian fiction, it’s actually pretty readable.

    In this respect, the series really jumps the shark when we hit Glorious Appearing. :P

    Half of it is juuuuuuuuust Bible quotes, it seems.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, I had a whole post typed out detailing my feelings, but in truth, my feelings do not matter.  At all.  I sincerely thank you for reminding me of that.  

    I will not relate them here.  

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     As UrsulaL says, the question was not rhetorical. But your answer was… problematic.

    It sort of went:
    - “Bullies should be dealt with by showing them you’re physically strong and willing to hurt them!”
    - “…what if we’re not as strong as they are?”
    - “Well, you need to understand that you actually are really strong. You’re just too naive to realise that.”

    The problem was that you pretty much dismissed all objections to your idea, and told us that we were only objecting because we were ignorant and didn’t know as much about the human body as you do.

    Your answer conveyed, very clearly, that you simply do not know what it is like to be physically weak – and that you really should not be giving advice on the subject until you understand much more just how much you don’t yet know.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    eww

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It’s worse than that. The “bed” of the LT is covered… and carpeted.

  • Trixie_Belden

    It sounds as if you are attempting to instruct Fearless Son to do something you believe he has failed to do.  I have read the comments, and I do not think any such instruction is warranted or justified.

    In his comment 11 hours ago in reply to Dave, FS says that in his experience,  trying to ignore the bully would lead to escalation of the bullying and that when he was bullied, he found that a show of physical force would stop  that escalation.

    In a comment 9 hours ago in direct response to FS, Lliira asks “But what would you suggest a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy do?“.  To my eyes, at least, it did not read as a rhetorical question, but a real one, directed at FS and seeking his reply.

    8 hours ago, FS replied to Lliira, and his first words were “Unfortunately, I do not have the same growing up experience as you do, and I hesitate to weigh-in on the issue knowing that, so please take everything I say with a grain of salt.

    So, I would say he admits he knows he is  ” ignorant of the perspective [he's] being asked to comment on” and he’s admitting his ignorance.  He then goes on to make his suggestions as to what a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy might do.  Now, FS’s suggestion was that a threat of harm to the bully might also be possible for a woman, and some readers seem to have taken issue with this.  It could be they saw it as a form of victim-blaming, or as wildly impracticable.  I did not read his comment in that light.  I took it as more an expansion of the range of the possible.  Even if a bully appears more powerful that you, it may, in some instances, be possible to discourage him from bothering you by showing you could hurt him.   Is FS’s suggestion realistic or practicable?  Well, that’s debatable.  If read generously, it is an offering in the spirit of optimism.

    FS was asked for a suggestion.  It is obviously not possible for him to “fully” experience the problem at hand, due to gender differences, and as I read his comment, it sounded as if he had certainly given thought to the problem.  Perhaps not dissertation-level thought, but this is a conversational comment section, after all, and caveats are acceptable in general conversation.  To me, your comment comes unpleasantly close to saying that FS shouldn’t be allowed to speak.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    “Well, you need to understand that you actually are really strong. You’re just too naive to realise that.”

    Contrarily, I felt that the bully was naively assuming that he was strong.  That is what bullies do, they think that they have power, and that power corrupts them, gets them to throw their weight around and belittle others as “proof” of their supposed power.  Disabusing them of that notion, that illusion that they have power over you, has the effect of disarming them.  

    Your answer conveyed, very clearly, that you simply do not know what it is like to be physically weak – and that you really should not be giving advice on the subject until you understand much more just how much you don’t yet know.

    Then I encourage you to demonstrate.  If you send a large person to my home with instructions to pummel me into the carpet, then I will accept and offer no resistance, dodge no blow, and offer no reprisal of my own.  I will not fear the pain or the injury.  The experience should be… edifying.  

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You miss my point by making this about how one should respond to schoolyard bullies.

    For over a year, you have regularly shared here violent acts you’d like to do, or imagine you’d do, to people and things that displease you. You appear to take pleasure in describing the violent details. And it’s not all firm responses to people who are hurting you to demonstrate that they are not more powerful than you. You have shared fantasies about inflicting violence against petty and serious criminals, people disrepecting women and minorities, people who symbolise various forms of oppression, and inanimate symbols of attitudes you don’t like.

    Plus you repeatedly express a desire for everyone to be “forcibly” made to adopt beliefs and mental attitudes you think are superior–what force means in this context is unclear but still, it makes me fervently hope you never have any power over other people.

    As someone who’s been in the position of the less powerful many times, I really don’t want some guy to frame himself as the righteous hero by wreaking violence on my oppressors–or, more likely, engaging in fantasies about how he would act all strong and forceful in the name of justice at the expense of actually doing anything useful.  It just means I have one more person to steer clear of.

    As I said, it makes me really uncomfortable. A tiny fraction of my brain wonders if we’ll hear about you on the news one day, badly, but mostly I think it’s just talk. I’ve been around men who equate violence with strength, and I’ve been on the receiving end of the consequence of that attitude. There’s nothing glorious or heroic about it.

  • BrokenBell

    [TW: Bullying, Harrassment]

    No. It would not be edifying. It would teach you nothing about the experiences being described to you, because it would be something you personally chose to undergo, of your own free will, with the understanding that it has a defined end, and will have no impact on the rest of your life.

    Moreover, bullying is about power, yes, but there’s much, much more to power than one person having more physical strength than another. Individual physical strength is meaningless when there’s one of you and a dozen of them. When they’ve convinced the rest of the group that acts of harrassment, theft, or gaslighting against you are funny, harmless pranks, but your clever retort was a mean-spirited and vicious insult deserving of punishment. When the authorities have been convinced that you’re a troublemaker, and they’ve got witnesses.

    Go back and read Liira’s comment where she asked what you’d suggest. She does not simply describe a situation where the bully was stronger than her, she describes a situation where the bully has enlisted a team of football players to actively participate in her harrassment. Your response centred on the idea that she might still find ways to strike back against a single person. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not; even in purely physical terms, it’s bad advice. In practical terms, it’s disasterous.

  • Matri

    In this respect, the series really jumps the shark when we hit Glorious Appearing. :P

    It barely has enough momentum to chase after flotsam, no way can it jump any shark. :P

  • Ima Pseudonym

    I thought very long and hard before I posted this, and I suppose I don’t need to add to the growing shitstorm here, but I finally decided to go ahead anyway.  So…trigger warning, ROT13 if you actually want to read it: 

    Jura V jnf va uvtu fpubby, n tebhc bs sha-ybivat lbhat zra qrpvqrq gb fbnx zr, zl unve naq zl pybguvat va n pbhcyr bs tnyybaf bs xrebfrar nsgre fpubby naq guerngra zr jvgu yvtugref, zngpurf naq gbepurf sbe n srj yrvfheryl ubhef nf n cranygl sbe ybbxvat va gur trareny qverpgvba bs n tvey gurve yrnqre jnf fbegn-xvaqn-znlor vagrerfgrq va.  Uvynevbhf, V xabj.  Gurl znqr ure yvsr uryy, gbb, nybat jvgu gur yvirf bs zbfg bs gur crbcyr V pbhagrq nf sevraqf, sbe zbfg bs zvqqyr fpubby naq uvtu fpubby.  Bqqyl, gur grnpuref naq nqzvavfgengbef crefvfgrq va npghnyyl guvaxvat gurfr crbcyr jrer npghnyyl sevraqf bs bhef, naq ab nzbhag bs ercbegvat gurfr crbcyr be orttvat sbe uryc (gnggyvat, gurl pnyyrq vg) rire nzbhagrq gb nalguvat zber guna n zvyq fync ba gur jevfg (juvpu jr pnhtug uryy sbe), be rira chavfuzrag sbe hf sbe ercbegvat vg.  Frevbhfyl.  Gurl glcvpnyyl rawblrq fhpu jubyrfbzr cnfggvzrf nf tnfyvtugvat ivpgvzf, frkhny unenffzrag, gursg, cebcregl qrfgehpgvba naq trareny unenffzrag, sbe juvpu nal erfvfgnapr be ergnyvngvba jbhyq oevat n frirer orngvat be–va yvrh bs gung–n “cranygl.”

    Lbh frr, gurl rira unq guvf rynobengr naq nznmvatyl betnavmrq qrzrevg flfgrz sbe “bssrafrf” fhpu nf ershfny gb cynl nybat naq fhozvg gb gurve yvggyr tnzrf yvxr n tbbq yvggyr ivpgvz (gung jnf n znwbe bar) be cnl “gnkrf,” juvpu enatrq sebz “svarf,” gb gjb bs gurz ubyqvat qbja lbhe unaqf ba n gnoyr juvyr gjb zber orng gurz enj jvgu fgvpxf gb na rira zber ntbavmvat naq uhzvyvngvat inevngvba ba gur pynffvp oynaxrg cnegl.  Ershfny gb cynl nybat jvgu *gung* tnzr naq dhvrgyl fhozvg gb lbhe gvzr naq cynpr bs chavfuzrag sbe “pbeerpgvba” yrq gb rira jbefr sbesrvgf orvat cnvq, gur jbefg bs juvpu pbhyq vapyhqr orvat qenttrq vagb gur jbbqf oruvaq gur fpubby naq orvat orngra hagvy lbh yvgrenyyl pbhyqa’g jnyx.  Juvyr gurl jbhyq trg va gebhoyr sbe gung fbeg bs guvat, gur chavfuzragf arire frrzrq gb nzbhag gb zber guna n pbhcyr bs qnlf fhfcrafvba ng zbfg, naq gurl nyjnlf frrzrq gb unir cyragl bs jvgarffrf gb pynvz gung gurve ivpgvz npghnyyl fgnegrq gur svtug.  Zl fpubby unq n cbyvpl gung va nal pbasyvpg, obgu cnegvrf vaibyirq jbhyq orne gur rknpg fnzr chavfuzrag, ohg fgenatryl rabhtu, va gurfr pnfrf, gurl graqrq gb pbzr qbja uneqrfg ba gur *ivpgvz*–gung vf gb fnl, gur “gebhoyrznxre” jub “fgnegrq gur svtug.”  Gur cevapvcyr’f fba jnf bar bs gurz, bhe sbbgonyy pbnpu’f jnf nabgure evatyrnqre, nabgure jnf gur fba bs gur ybpny furevss, rgp., rgp..  Lbh trg gur vqrn.

    Jr svtherq bhg snveyl dhvpxyl gung, ng orfg, gur fpubby nqzvavfgengvba qvqa’g jnag gb or obgurerq jvgu vg, naq, ng jbefg, jnf **npghnyyl gnxvat cneg va vg** ol perngvat na ngzbfcurer va juvpu ohyyvrf jrer rapbhentrq naq cebgrpgrq, naq ivpgvzf fynccrq qbja uneq jura gurl gevrq gb erfvfg. Ohg gurl jba n jubyr ybg bs sbbgonyy naq onfxrgonyy tnzrf, fb V thrff gurl sbhaq gur fvghngvba npprcgnoyr.

    Ab znggre ubj ovt be ubj fgebat lbh ner, vg qbrfa’g qb zhpu tbbq jura lbh’er bhgahzorerq rvtug gb bar–be zber–naq gurl’er npghnyyl nezrq, naq gur crbcyr fhccbfrqyl va punetr bs xrrcvat gur crnpr ng lbhe fpubby unir znqr vg rssrpgviryl vzcbffvoyr gb svtug onpx. Juvyr ergnyvngvba jnf n cyrnfnag snagnfl, unq V qbar fb ng gur xrebfrar vapvqrag–be gur bguref–vg zvtug jryy unir erfhygrq va zr abg yvivat gb fcraq n srj lrnef va gurencl yngre, naq juvyr gung jbhyq cebonoyl unir yrq gb fbzrguvat svanyyl orvat qbar, vg jbhyq unir orra fznyy pbzsbeg. 

  • http://www.iki.fi/wwwwolf/ Urpo Lankinen

    A helpful tip from a writer: You can learn a lot about the craft of writing by reading. Read all sorts of books with a critical eye. You’ll learn what works, and what doesn’t work. If you’re signing up for a writing course – an expensive writing course, in this case – reading the books written by the course teachers is a no-brainer; if they obviously can’t write, at least you’ve learned something cheap, as opposed to learning utter rubbish expensively.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Jesus Christ, Ima Pseudonym. Just…bloody hell. I’m so sorry.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    (O_O)

    I just….

    *throws hands up in the air*

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH SOME PEOPLE?!?!?

    I wish that hadn’t happened to you :(

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Maybe not, but after reading Ima Pseudonym’s ROT13d story, I can definitely say I can understand FS’s impulses, a little bit. Who doesn’t occasionally have the fervent desire to do back what was done to them by someone normally protected and succoured by the powerful in a society or group? Senaxyl, gung ohapu bs nffubyrf fubhyq unir orra pbyyrpgviryl tvira n snaal-junpxvat jvgu n 2k4, sbe nyy gur uryy gurl chg Vzn naq bguref guebhtu.

    The difference is, while I can sort of understand the impulse, I’m also not the kind of person who really wants to go around wreaking havoc like that in the first place. And on close second thought if there were any kind of generous statute of limitations, in today’s more modern anti-bullying environment there might be half a chance to get some of them at least humiliated by the media exposure of being arrested and put on trial for their actions.

    And that would really be the better end result. People like that often would shrug off a fistfight, but would be mortified at the idea that they were regarded as anything less than sterling by everybody around them.

  • Amaryllis

    Having given up on getting past the first page of this thread any time soon (drat that real world) all I can do is thank Fred and Ellenjay between them for an insidious Ivor Cutler earworm:

    What’s your favorite jam?
    Traffic jam, traffic jam.

    What’s wrong with raspberry? What’s wrong with plum?
    How’s about a blob of elderberry on a scone?

    What’s your favorite jam?
    Traffic jam.
    It’s the jam…for a man.

  • P J Evans

     I can kind of see carpet, if it’s indoor/outdoor, as being useful (dampens noise, stuff slides on and off better). Covering the bed is actually a good idea. Keeps stuff dry and out of sight, and limits the amount of stuff that falls in. (My father put vinyl covers over the beds of his trucks. We got really good at tightening the ropes that held them on. They didn’t have those fancy hard covers with lifters then.)

  • aunursa

    In this respect, the series really jumps the shark when we hit Glorious Appearing. :P Half of it is juuuuuuuuust Bible quotes, it seems.

    A sample…

    Even knowing that the same phenomenon had happened to others, Rayford longed to hear Jesus say his name again. It came with such love, compassion, and knowledge that it was as if no one had ever uttered it before or would again.
    “Rayford—” there it was again—”you know My grace, that though I was rich, yet for your sake I became poor, that you through My poverty might become rich.”
    “I know, Lord,” Rayford said, tears streaming. “I know. ”
    “I have delivered you from the power of darkness and conveyed you into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love, in whom you have redemption through My blood, the forgiveness of sins. I am the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
    “For by Me all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Me and for Me. And I am before all things, and in Me all things consist.
    “I am the head of the body, the church, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things I may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Me all the fullness should dwell, and by Me to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of My cross.”
    Again Rayford slid to the ground, raising his arms. “My Lord and my God, I am so unworthy. ”
    “And you, Rayford, who once were alienated and an enemy in your mind by wicked works, yet now I have reconciled in the body of My flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in God’s sight.”
    “Unworthy, unworthy!” Rayford cried.
    Justified by faith,” Jesus said. “Justified. “

  • aunursa

    Jerry Jenkins responds to readers’ questions…

    Carol: I am very disturbed by what I read when reading Glorious Appearing. I was to the part of the book when Jesus returned. I know the difference between fact and fiction, and I understand that this book is fiction based on fact … but even in fiction, the facts must be presented correctly.

    Jerry Jenkins: I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why I would never dare have something come from Jesus’ mouth about Himself and His character that was not straight from Scripture.

    LB: Some readers commented that Jesus’ words sounded too stilted at times, primarily because of the use of the formal language of the New King James translation instead of using a more contemporary translation, such as the New Living Translation or a paraphrase like the Living Bible or the Message. As Jerry Jenkins said, he and Dr. LaHaye chose not to put words in Jesus’ mouth, so they quoted extensively from Scripture. Those familiar with Dr. LaHaye’s writing and speaking know of his preference for the King James version.

    Karen: I just finished Glorious Appearing, and it was wonderful. I was moved to tears by the closeness of Jesus to everyone (even me). This was a very satisfying ending to a years-long, 12-book journey and adventure…

  • Trixie_Belden

    Good Lord!  What happened at your school was terrifying!  I’m sorry you had to go through that.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Go back and read Lliira’s comment where she asked what you’d suggest.

    While Lliira describes a situation where the bully enlisted a group of  minions to participate in her harassment, her actual question was

    “But what would you suggest a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy do?”.

      Her question references “boy” in the singular. We can say it was a case of tunnel vision for FS to respond to that question without taking into account her full story, but it was reasonable, under those circumstances, to give a response that “centred on the idea that she might still find ways to strike back against a single person.

  • veejayem

    Actually, it’s more of an “Oh poor man, another sad case of erectile disfunction,” sort of gesture.

  • P J Evans

     I’m sure that Jesus spoke King James-type English. Not.
    As for the rest – Fred has talked about fiction and Biblical inerrancy and literalism before.

  • Trixie_Belden

    It sort of went:- “Bullies should be dealt with by showing them you’re physically strong and willing to hurt them!”- “…what if we’re not as strong as they are?”- “Well, you need to understand that you actually are really strong. You’re just too naive to realise that.”
    I can’t find where your interpretation is supported by the comments.  Lliira asks “But what would you suggest a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy do?”  The bulk of FS’s reply was as follows:

    One of the things that I hold is that a person should never assume that they are weaker than their opponent, no matter the difference in physical size. We are all human, we all have the same joints, the same organs, the same toughness of skin. We share many more vulnerabilities in common than we have differences in strength. You have to believe that, should something ever go down, you can hurt him just as bad as he might hurt you. The size might be different, but the pain is equal. Obviously though, “picking your battles” is absolutely necessary. “He who knows when to fight and when not to fight will be victorious,” as Sun Tzu wrote. He further wrote, “When the hawk breaks the rabbit’s back, it is because of timing.” That, much more than strength, is a major factor in deciding a contact. Those who assume that their position is one of decisive strength are automatically disadvantaged by that assumption


    To me, that doesn’t come across as telling someone they’re “too naive to realize” they’re strong.  It just seems like a fair observation.  Is this an observation that would be be applicable for women in most real-life situations?  It’s not likely.  It’s also true that if FS’s suggestion works at all, it would not apply to the situation that Lliira then goes on to describe where her bully enlisted several minions to help him in his harassment campaign.  If you find FS’s reply problematic, it would be better to point out these objections rather than simply telling him to shut up. 

    The problem was that you pretty much dismissed all objections to your idea, and told us that we were only objecting because we were ignorant and didn’t know as much about the human body as you do.

    Where did FS do any of these things? Where did he respond to objections by dismissing them? Your reply to him 18 hours ago was

    FearlessSon, the amount that you clearly do not know about being female-bodied could fill several books. Please stop trying to give advice on something you are unfamiliar with.

     You’re not objecting here, you’re the one doing the dismissing- “you’re not a woman, so shut up”.

  • Beroli

     

    Disabusing them of that notion, that illusion that they have power over you, has the effect of disarming them. 

    What people have been trying to explain to you, is that it’s not an illusion. Ideology doesn’t tend to do well when it crashes into reality. Yes, if you can demonstrate to a bully that you have more power than they do in the ways they use to bully people, they’ll pass you over as a target, they’ll move on to someone else. Does that mean you won? Well, your personal school life will be easier for it. But does that mean the bully learned anything or will spend less time bullying people in the future? No. They still have plenty of targets. People they know they can hurt, and you can’t demonstrate to them that they’re wrong about that, because they aren’t wrong about it.

    “You have to believe that, should something ever go down, you can hurt him just as bad as he might hurt you.” This is a ridiculous proposal. Believing that would be as absurd as believing that you can flap your arms and fly to the moon if you want to. Someone who is stronger than you and wants to hurt you is someone who can hurt you more than you can hurt them. You cannot replace the illusion with reality, because they know reality, and what you’re pushing here is the illusion.

  • Beroli

    I can’t find where your interpretation is supported by the comments.

    Really?

    It sort of went:- “Bullies should be dealt with by showing them
    you’re physically strong and willing to hurt them!”- “…what if we’re
    not as strong as they are?”- “Well, you need to understand that you
    actually are really strong. You’re just too naive to realise that.”

    One of the things that I hold is that a person should never assume that they are weaker than their opponent, no matter the difference in physical size.

    I don’t even see how you justify calling that an “interpretation,” rather than a “very slight paraphrase.”

    While Lliira describes a situation where the bully enlisted a group of  minions to participate in her harassment, her actual question was

        “But what would you suggest a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy do?”.

      Her question references “boy” in the singular.

    It also included, “He was nearly six inches taller than me,” “My strength when I was a teenager was about average for a girl, maybe slightly above,” “There is no way I could have thrown that boy against the wall,” and, “If I’d tried anything physical, I would have gotten my ass kicked at the very least. More likely, if I’d started a physical confrontation, I would have been raped.”

    So…how on earth are you justifying this “delude yourself that you can hurt him as badly as he could hurt you” advice? Yes, FearlessSon should stop. Not because he’s not a woman–I’m not either–but because he doesn’t live on Earth, and his peddling “you can stop them, you just have to choose to” amounts to victim-blaming.

  • aunursa

    I’m sure that Jesus spoke King James-type English. Not.

    In Glorious Appearing, each character hear’s Jesus’ words in his or her native language.

    So Rayford hears Jesus in (NKJV-style) English, Chaim Rosenzweig hears Jesus in Hebrew, Lukas Miklos hears Jesus in Greek, Mac McCullum hears Jesus in Redneck, etc.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So, does that mean that when Nicolae Volcania gets told off and condemned to hell, he has to sit through it while Jesus tells him off in ever modern human language, in alphabetical order?

    Also, does Tsion Ben-Judah hear him in Hebrew, or in English with an overblown comical fake-Yiddish accent?

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

     Even if a bully appears more powerful that you, it may, in some instances, be possible to discourage him from bothering you by showing you could hurt him.

    That’s how I read it and in my bullying example I was a smaller girl going up against a bigger boy. I’m not sure what would have happened if he’d only been picking on me, but he was picking on my little brothers and I simply went berserk – the whole “scream, leap, I don’t care what happens to me” attitude. Ask any cop – people in that state are hard to handle no matter how small they are.

  • aunursa

    No, presumably Jesus speaks the same words in 6,500 languages simultaneously.

    Also, does Tsion Ben-Judah hear him in Hebrew, or in English with an overblown comical fake-Yiddish accent?

    I like to think Tsion hears the voice of Mel Brooks.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira


    One of the things that I hold is that a person should never assume that they are weaker than their opponent, no matter the difference in physical size

    *headdesks with Deird*

    Yeah, no. I wrestled playfully plenty with boys at that age. They were able to make it impossible for me to move — easily able to. They had to hold back a lot to make it any fun at all. I don’t think I could have incapacitated someone with my eyeballs. And as I said, I was average or above average strength for a girl. 

    Women are absolutely the equals of men in every way that matters, and humans have less size difference between sexes than most other primates. But that does not mean women have the same physical strength as men, cuz by and large, we don’t, unless we devote a large chunk of our lives to, say, weightlifting. 

    As Deird says, you do not know anything about this, so please stop acting like you do. You’re mansplaining to the nth power when you say junk like this.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I wrote a response as to why I asked the question, but Ursula L. said it better.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira


    she describes a situation where the bully has enlisted a team of football players to actively participate in her harrassment.

    Not that it really matters, but — wrestling team. The football players are the good guys in this scenario ;).

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Ursula L. and Deird are correct about what I was asking. You’re not. How we got on this topic of “well it was a lot of boys” I’m not sure.

    I could not have done anything physical to the boy who led the harassment of me. (By senior year, the wrestling team got bored.) The idea that if I had tried, things would have been sunshine and rainbows, and I wouldn’t have been badly hurt, is ludicrous. Even if I could have surprised him enough to hurt him once and walk away, and not gotten in trouble for it (which I would have), I was in 4/6 of my classes with him, people hung around school after the last bell rang, with no teachers around, I had after-school stuff that meant I walked in the parking lot completely alone often, it was a small enough town that I ran into him outside school, and he knew where I lived and that I was alone until my parents got home, because he used to be a friend. I would have had to be constantly vigilant about him striking back. It would have escalated the situation in every respect.

    And this is not about my particular situation in the first place. I’m using mine to illustrate the fact that telling women that they can just kick the asses of men who are harassing or attacking them is utterly ridiculous and completely ignorant. The answer to this is systemic change and people in authorities doing their jobs, not each individual woman carrying mace. 

    I’ve wrestled playfully with a lot of boys (when I was a girl) and men. Until I was 12 or so, it was at least an even match, with me usually winning. Then, suddenly, boys started having to hold back substantially for it to be any fun at all. If any of those boys had decided to rape me, they would have been able to, easily, though I’m less socialized to be nice than most girls and I know how to fight dirty. My fiancé isn’t a professional weightlifter or anything, but he could completely incapacitate me with ease (while playing, remember) without causing me pain, even before my back went out. He didn’t even have to use both hands. 

    Speaking of my back — I can’t even run now. There are a lot of physically disabled people in the world. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    First, you were in elementary school. Pre-puberty for most people.

    Second, you are describing one discrete incident, which is not what most people who are bullied and harassed experience. In my case, it was three years of harassment. And I’m lucky — the guy never actually touched me. 

    Because he was never punished or stopped or even glared at by anyone in authority, this guy got so confident that he could get away with doing whatever he wanted sexually to girls that eventually he did touch someone — in front of a bunch of her friends and a teacher whom he knew was watching. He got suspended for it and ended up having to take final exams his senior year because of it, but that doesn’t erase the assault and the pain it caused that girl.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    That entire quoted ‘interview’ positively reeks of mildewed sockpuppets . 

  • aunursa

    You would think so, but difficult as it is to accept — NO, they aren’t sockpuppets.  Those are actually real people who have read the books and absolutely love them.  I could direct you to dozens of websites where Christian faithful sing the praises of the LB series.  Here’s just one.

  • Trixie_Belden

    And this is not about my particular situation in the first place. I’m using mine to illustrate the fact that telling women that they can just kick the asses of men who are harassing or attacking them is utterly ridiculous and completely ignorant.

    Well, Fearless Son’s original comment to Dave simply stated that Fearless Son found HE could stop the bullies who targeted HIM with a threat of physical force.  YOU solicited his suggestion, as I recall, for what a girl could do under similar circumstances.  Fearless Son responded to YOUR request for a suggestion.  If you were simply stating a rhetorical question and didn’t really want to hear anything he had to say, it might have been helpful to state this since your  comment was not a general one, but a direct reply to Fearless Son.  

    Ursula L. and Deird are correct about what I was asking. You’re not

    You are fortunate indeed to have two fellow commenters who can read your mind.  Others cannot.  When you wrote  “But what you would suggest a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy do?”  I assumed you were asking for suggestions as to what a girl being bullied and harassed by a boy might do.  So, what was the question you were really asking?  

    FS’s response was a perfectly civil and sincere attempt to answer your request, although it was phrased in the rather, uh,  intense manner that is common to a great many of FS’s comments.  If you don’t like his commenting style, why solicit an opinion from someone whose suggestions are almost certain to be an annoyance to you?   He wouldn’t have “mansplained”, after all, if you hadn’t asked him to.   

    Was his response helpful?  Evidently not.  However, no one who initially responded to his comment made any substantial criticism of why his suggestion was problematic.  The responses were “shut up, because Gender” or ‘shut up, because Privilege”.  If those response to FS had been in reply to some general comment he tossed out where he was just giving his 2 cent’s worth, I would still have though them kinda rude, but to respond in such a way to someone  after (to all appearances) he has been directly asked for his input is extraordinarily rude, verging on petulance.

       The idea that if I had tried, things would have been sunshine and rainbows,  and I wouldn’t have been badly hurt, is ludicrous.

    I never claimed otherwise.  I’m sure his suggestions would be almost impossible to act upon, except in certain very rare, very fortunate circumstances. 

  • Beroli

    You are fortunate indeed to have two fellow commenters who can read your mind.

    I would, at the moment, say she’s quite unfortunate to have a fellow commenter (you) who is twisting her perfectly clear words.

    If you don’t like his commenting style, why solicit an opinion from
    someone whose suggestions are almost certain to be an annoyance to you?

    If you don’t like Lliira’s commenting style, why are you whining at her in this ridiculous, dishonest fashion? FearlessSon expressed (clearly, again, expressed) a deluded and dangerous belief. You apparently think he shouldn’t have been called on it, or you have something against Lliira, I don’t know which.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     If you already knew the answer, and you already knew that he wouldn’t, then why did you ask the question in the first place?

    I’m a bit neurotic, but if I’d found myself in FS’s position, I’d walk away feeling like I’d been set up.

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

    In Glorious Appearing, each character hears Jesus’ words in his or her native language.

    So Jesus is like Galactus?  Even though his true form is that of a giant white guy, any intelligent being who sees the  Devourer of Worlds perceives him as resembling a member of his, her, or its own species.  So Skrulls see a giant Skrull, Shi’ar see a giant Shi’ar, etc.

    Hmm…now I’m imagining a Marvel/LB crossover with all of the assorted pantheons and cosmic entities putting aside their differences to fight off TurboJesus.  The Eternals form the Uni-Mind, the Watchers finally decide to do more than watch, Galactus tries to consume Heaven, and it all comes down to Cap squaring off against God himself with the Ultimate Nullifier in his hand…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You have to admit, though, that FS has a habit of tending to a more extreme interpretation of the validity and viability of the use of force to solve problems, particularly those that tend to be initiated by the use of force, actual or implied, against people traditionally considered to be ‘underdogs’ as it were.

    Such an interpretation can (although not necessarily always does) be male-centric in the sense that men can more effectively wield raw physical power on average than women (sexual dimorphism being as it is, and in favor of the man in terms of height, body stature, etc).

    On top of that he admits certain issues regarding personal expression of feeling or emotion (he related the story once of him and his mother having fundamentally opposite understandings of his lack of concern for staying alive, IIRC) and it comes across – not that he necessarily intends it – as creepy.

    Now being as I’m a guy and grew up in a socialcultural milieu in which male identity is partly understood to also mean being able and willing to physically leap to the defence of whatever you consider important (usually, of course, ‘acceptable’ male protectees like the women who ‘belong’ to a man – one’s girlfriend, sister, etc, but in his case what the left traditionally regards as socially powerless) so for the most part I kinda grok why he says what he says, but even I’ve occasionally said, “y’know, might not be wise to do (thing X)” to him.

    tl;dr and I’ve really spoken a lot more than I should about someone else – FS’s goals and thoughts may be fine, but his methods stray into the not-usually-socially-considered-good realm.

  • Ursula L

    Does anyone actually think of their car as being a “late model”?  

    The phrase makes me think that Precious Ramotswe is telling us that that car is dead. 

    If you’re thinking about a car that you own, that was manufactured in the last few years, that you recently acquired, then it is your “new car. ” 

    Consider the difference between:

    “The late-model car was a smooth ride…”

    and

    “His new car was a smooth ride…”

    The latter phrase conveys the pride in ownership, the excitement over having something new, where you can test its quality and be pleased with what you find.  

    The former sounds like, at best, an advertisement for the car, and at worst, someone trying to impress another with how wonderful the car is, when the best they can figure out is that they didn’t buy it (used)  more than a decade ago and the shock absorbers still work.  

    The emphasis on the car being a Lincoln does, as has been pointed out, point to L&J writing from a specific US working-class perspective where being able to own a car that you have chosen for comfort rather than utility (either fuel-efficiency and economy or the potential for it having cargo capacity that you can use for your work to help improve your income) is a coveted thing.  And that is fine.  Wanting a life that is comfortable rather than entirely focused on necessity and survival is a profoundly human and humane thing.  

    And the perspective of working class people of a particular age is no more or less valid than any other perspective.  Provided that you don’t write that perspective as being universal.  Which, L&J being L&J, they naturally do.  

    But the bizarre choice of “late model” rather than “new” really emphasizes the lack of understanding that L&J have about how people think and talk about the important possessions in their lives.  

  • Trixie_Belden

    Really?

    Yes, really!

    If you recall, Fearless Son was simply replying to Dave when he explained how a show of physical force against a bully helped HIM (Fearless Son) stop the bully from escalating his attacks.  FS made no general pronouncements whatsoever as to how this strategy could work for  girls.

    Lliira asked Fearless Son what he would suggest “a girl” being bullied and harassed by “a boy” do.  She then went on to describe her own grim personal situation of harassment that she had faced as a teenager.  There is a conflation of the two situations – the generic one with “a girl” being bullied and harassed by a “boy”, and Lliira’s specific situation, which was very bleak.   

    Some of the ill-will expressed toward FS’s response appears to arise from the fact that he begins his suggestion with a general point that “boys” in general are not invulnerable and there might be things “a girl” could do to thwart a harasser without specifically excepting how this could not apply to Lliira’s situation, which was different and quite hopeless.  Being able to take your harassed by surprise one time will do no good in a situation where you are expected to be in constant contact with him.   

    However, I don’t have any quarrel with Fearless Son’s general point.  I don’t read it as anything approaching “you can stop them, you just have to choose to”.  As I have said, I see it more as “you might be lucky, there might be something you can do”.  Of course, sometimes you’re not lucky, and there’s nothing you can do but make your way through a bleak situation as best you can.  I don’t see this attitude as victim blaming anymore than I would say taking a self-defense class is somehow implicitly victim-blaming anyone who doesn’t take such a class.  I don’t agree that the possibility of hurting a harasser as badly as he could hurt you is always and everywhere a delusion or that there is no hope of self-defense, ever.      

      


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