NRA: Bible-prophecy and phlebotinum

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 141-143

We’re still in the middle of a long re-hash and review of Buck Williams’ relationship with the Israeli botanist Chaim Rosenzweig.

I’m happy to give the authors a pass on Rosenzweig’s miracle formula. They never really bother to describe it, and the explanations of its purpose and its effect are only ever presented in the sketchiest terms, but we can generously allow that bit to fall under the generally accepted rules for applied phlebotinum.

That’s the generic term for “the versatile substance that may be rubbed on almost anything to cause an effect needed by a plot.” Tim LaHaye’s “prophecies” and Jerry Jenkins “plot” require a miraculous formula that will make the desert bloom. Storytellers are entitled to be allowed such plot devices without being required to actually invent a working prototype. That’s part of the deal.

I’m not sure that deal applies to LaHaye as well as to Jenkins, though. It’s one thing to say, “I’m telling a story, and in this story there are wizards, or warp drives, or Kryptonian supermen, so please just accept those as part of the terms required for enjoying this story.” But it’s quite another thing to say, “The Word of God, as interpreted by me, declares that certain actual events are about to happen, here in reality, very soon, and these will in fact involve miraculous fertility formulas.” The willing suspension of disbelief is something we readers should grant to storytellers, but if the “Bible prophecies” of a “Bible prophet” require the suspension of disbelief, we should not be quite so willing.

It also would have been helpful if Jenkins had bothered to do a better job selling the phlebotinum of Rosenzweig’s miracle formula. Readers don’t ask for much in that regard — the judicious application of scientific-sounding terms like “ionized” or “molecular bonding” or some such would have been enough. (The “science” of phlebotinum doesn’t have to make perfect sense, it just has to sound sufficiently authoritative.)

Unfortunately for the authors, though, the rules of applied phlebotinum don’t apply to fundamental human nature. A storyteller can bend the laws of physics to allow humans to travel faster than light if the plot requires it, or she can invent whole new rules to allow humans to wield magic if that’s what the story needs. But those humans flying at warp-speed or practicing their wand-craft at Hogwarts still need to be recognizably human.

And that’s the problem with the Rosenzweig subplot. It doesn’t matter to readers that there’s not really any such thing as a magic formula to make the desert bloom. But it does matter, a great deal, that there has never been any such thing as humans who would respond to the existence of such a formula the way the alleged humans in these books do.

It had been Chaim Rosenzweig who had first mentioned the name Nicolae Carpathia to Buck. Buck had asked the old man if any of those who had been sent to court him about the formula had impressed him. Only one, Rosenzweig had told him; a young midlevel politician from the little country of Romania. Chaim had been taken with Carpathia’s pacifist views, his selfless demeanor, and his insistence that the formula had the potential to change the world and save lives.

So leaders from all over the world came to talk to Rosenzweig about the potential use of his miraculous agricultural formula, yet only one mentioned that it might be used to help feed the hungry.

No. That’s not possible. That’s less believable than warp-drives or wormholes or wizardry.

It also suggests so many missed opportunities. Nicolae could have persuaded Rosenzweig with a speech about turning stones into loaves of bread — echoing the words of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness and exploring a nice contrast between Christ and Antichrist. Or Nicolae could have made the case that employing Rosenzweig’s formula all over the world instead of just in the tiny state of Israel would be an effective way to recapture carbon in the atmosphere — thus saving the world from the worst potential effects of climate change. (The authors don’t believe in climate change, of course, but that’s all the more a reason to make fighting it a part of the Antichrist’s agenda.)

Buck could hardly remember when he had not been aware of Nicolae Carpathia, though his first exposure even to the name had been in that interview with Rosenzweig. Within days after the vanishings, the man who had seemingly overnight become president of Romania was a guest speaker at the United Nations. His brief address was so powerful, so magnetic, so impressive, that he had drawn a standing ovation even from the press — even from Buck. Of course, the world was in shock, terrified by the disappearances, and the time had been perfect for someone to step to the fore and offer a new international agenda for peace, harmony, and brotherhood.

Carpathia was thrust, ostensibly against his will, into power. He displaced the former secretary-general of the United Nations …

Again, there are impossibilities and implausibilities here that no amount of applied phlebotinum can fix. We read Carpathia’s speech at the U.N. and it was awful — an alphabetical listing of the nations of the world, in nine languages. Even that is fixable, I suppose, with an appeal to another bit of phlebotinum in these stories — Nicolae’s supernatural powers of spellbinding charisma and mind-control. But even if we grant that, there’s still the problem of the authors’ complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what the United Nations is and how it works.

In these books, the U.N. is not an international forum for diplomacy, but a federation of nations. The secretary-general of the U.N. is thus not a toothless diplomat impotently pleading for co-operation, but the most powerful person in the entire world. He is king over kings, president over presidents, prime minister over prime ministers. The U.N. secretary-general rules over and can over-rule any national leader, by fiat apparently. His word is law.

That’s so far removed from anything like reality that this plot development simply cannot be salvaged. And since this plot development is central to the plot of the series, it’s a fatal, un-fixable flaw that sinks the entire story.

If he were simply given free-rein as a storyteller, Jenkins might have been able to fix this. He could have explained that in the alternate universe in which this story is set, the United Nations isn’t like the U.N. we have, but that it instead works like the planetary hierarchy described here. Readers could have gone along with that.

But the rules of this series don’t allow for that. This story is, and must be, set in our world — in this world and in no other, with the same nations, institutions, economics, politics, physics, chemistry and human race we see all around us and read about in the newspaper. Jenkins can make minor cosmetic changes — turning Newsweek into Global Weekly, or turning United into Pan-Continental airlines — but he cannot change anything substantive, transforming the world of his story into a different place unrecognizable to residents of the real world and irreconcilable with the real world we know.

That’s non-negotiable, again, because these books are supposed to be a depiction of the fulfillment of LaHaye’s “Bible prophecies,” and those prophecies, if they are to mean anything, have to unfold in this world and not in some alternate universe with an alternate U.N.

What it really means, then, when we read that “Carpathia was thrust … into power [as] secretary-general of the United Nations” is that Jenkins story can be allowed to stagger along, but LaHaye’s prophecies are henceforth proved to be nonsense. They cannot be fulfilled in this world, only in the alternate universe of Jenkins’ story. And since we do not live in that alternate universe, we do not live in a world in which Tim LaHaye’s interpretation of the Bible is possible.

It’s also not obvious to me that a world “in shock,” from the instantaneous disintegration of every single child would be ripe “for someone to step to the fore and offer a new international agenda for peace, harmony, and brotherhood” as much as it would be ripe for an authoritarian tyrant who promised to avenge their loss and protect them from future harm. Nicolae’s kumbaya message might have persuaded some to trust him, but I think just after the vanishings he could have gained more popular support by standing up and saying, “Christ took your children. I am the Antichrist. I will make him pay. Who’s with me?”

Carpathia was thrust, ostensibly against his will, into power. He displaced the former secretary-general of the United Nations, reorganized it to include ten international mega-territories, renamed it the Global Community, moved it to Babylon (which was rebuilt and renamed New Babylon), and then set about disarming the entire globe.

There are seven verbs in that last sentence. Some of them are merely absurdities while the others are impossibilities. Several are both absurd and impossible.

And none of that can be fixed with an appeal to our willing suspension of disbelief. Poor Jenkins has been given an arbitrary list of “prophecies” that must be fulfilled, whether or not they make any sense. Why would Nicolae want or need to do any of that? Why would anyone else watch him do it without assuming he’d lost his mind? Jenkins’ only answer is the answer LaHaye supplies him: It’s what has been prophesied. And there’s no way to make any of that seem acceptable by reversing the polarity or reconfabulating the tachyon pulse or reassembling all the pieces of the lost amulet of power.

Jenkins half-heartedly tries to wave Rosenzweig’s formula like a magic wand that can transform all this nonsense into sense, but he winds up digging a deeper hole:

It had taken more than Carpathia’s charismatic personality to effect all this. He had a trump card. He had gotten to Rosenzweig. He had convinced the old man and his government that the key to the new world was Carpathia’s and the Global Community’s ability to broker Rosenzweig’s formula in exchange for compliance with international rules for disarmament. In exchange for a Carpathia-signed guarantee of at least seven years of protection from her enemies,* Israel licensed to him the formula that allowed him to extract any promise he needed from any country in the world. With the formula, Russia could grow grain in the frozen tundra of Siberia. Destitute African nations became hothouses of domestic food sources and agricultural exports.

And there, at the end of that paragraph, we get a tiny hint of the one way I can imagine that we could still salvage Jerry Jenkins’ plot.

The formula, Jenkins says, made it possible for every nation on earth to grow rich through “agricultural exports.” Now, we could just take that as further confirmation that Jenkins doesn’t have the first clue about real-world economics. “Export to who?” we could ask, and then laugh at the absurdity of the authors’ ignorance and incuriosity.

Or we could assume that the authors have thought this through and really mean what they’re suggesting. If every nation on Earth is now exporting agricultural products, that can only mean one thing: Extra-terrestrial markets for Earth produce.

And what would we Earthlings get in exchange for the “flowers and grains” that Rosenzweig’s miracle formula would allow us to sell to our new interplanetary trading partners? Unobtainium. Huge, vast amounts of unobtainium — more than any desperately plot-patching storyteller could ever dream of.

With that inexhaustible supply of pure unobtainium, the people of Earth would be able to fuel a planetary phlebotinumizer — a machine so powerful and so incomprehensible that it might even be used to make Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecies” slightly less absurd.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* It’s not clear why a “guarantee of at least seven years of protection from her enemies” would mean anything to the state of Israel described in these books.

We were told — way back on page 8 of the first book — that:

The prosperity brought about by the miracle formula changed the course of history for Israel. Flush with cash and resources, Israel made peace with her neighbors.

So what’s the incentive to sign a treaty promising short-term protection from “enemies” that we’ve already been told don’t exist?

The only remaining “enemies” Israel had were Russia and Ethiopia, and those nations have already taken their best shot — exhausting their entire national arsenals and sacrificing their entire militaries in an all-out assault on Israel that failed to produce a single injury due to the explicit, miraculous intervention by the hand of God.

So here comes Nicolae Carpathia, asking Israel to trade him the miracle formula in exchange for a “guarantee of at least seven years of protection from her enemies.” But Israel has no remaining enemies. And the last enemy they did have was destroyed by the very hand of the Almighty. With God personally intervening to swat down any attack against them, what’s the appeal of a short-term non-aggression pledge from the president of Romania?

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  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    First?

  • Lori

    Is there anything in these books that actually makes sense? How can one writer be so very wrong about so many things? Does Jenkins not know any actual human beings? Did he experience a head injury that destroyed his ability to follow a line of reasoning to its logical conclusion? I just don’t get it.

  • reynard61

    Remember, Jenkins is following a checklist laid out by Tim LaHaye. He’s just trying to write a “real life” scenario that fits LaHaye’s “interpretation” of Biblical prophecy. Unfortunately, neither of them seems to realize that not only has technology changed in the past 60+ years (i.e. Jenkins’ description of the nuking of Chicago sounding more like the Allied bombing of Berlin in WWII); but also that storytelling conventions have changed — radically — in the past 2000+ years. (i.e. Some of their modern audience might not be quite as willing to accept their Deus ex Machina/It-Is-What-It-Is approach to the narrative as, say, a 1st Century audience may have.) Thus; the whole thing comes across as very stilted, unwieldy and, yes, inhumanly senseless.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I’m currently under the same roof as a person who believes that the UN is capable of conquering the United States purely by waving a flag and having its subjugate members attack, which of course they would without a moment’s notice, and that’s why it’s so important to have lots and lots of guns.

    He’s also not incredibly pleased about the bullet shortage, which he’s convinced is part of a sinister government plot and certainly has nothing to do with the many militias he’s advocated rise up and attack the government.

  • P J Evans

    And of course noting to do with the police and the military, who also have to buy bullets from somewhere.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I’m assuming that’s part of the sinister government plot. He’s already decided that the background checks bill was actually about registering all existing weapons and confiscating any of which the global alliance of liberals doesn’t approve. I gather from his attitude toward me that he’s decided that I’m not a real liberal, just some poor shmuck stupid enough to have believed the liberal lies, so if I tell him anything about the so-called liberal agenda, he doesn’t believe it coming from me.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It is much more fun to let him think that you are in on the conspiracy. When he is about, read something on Huffington Post and then touch your fingertips together in front of your nose and laugh manically.

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

    The unfortunate problem is that some right-wingers ingesting the apocalyptic Flavor-Aide, as it were, have this unfortunate lack of anything resembling a reasonable person’s sense of humor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Some? I’m unaware of any right-wing sense of humour other than the ‘bullying/satisfyingly cruel’ variety.

  • reynard61

    And here I thought that *you* were the diagnosed sociopath…

  • SkyknightXi

    Just as there’s an autism spectrum, perhaps there’s a sociopathy spectrum? I get the feeling that AS is mostly lacking in REFLEXIVE empathy.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    This could be true, if one considers the considerate habits I’ve taught myself to be a form of empathy. They didn’t develop naturally, but the longer I live with them, the more I’m discovering that they’re superior to the kind a lot of other people have.

    Maybe this is like the difference between building a computer from scratch and buying one from Best Buy. ¬¬

  • http://www.facebook.com/dpolicar David Policar

    I frequently discovered, while recovering from brain injury, that skills I used to perform intuitively and subsequently I had to learn to do deliberately I ended up being better at than I used to be. There’s something to be said for doing things the hard way.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You kind of remind me of the BBC’s Sherlock, “I’m not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high functioning sociopath. Do your research.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9sUVrVS4co

  • JustoneK

    I maintain that empathy is a survival trait. It’s harder for some of us than others. It’s a lot harder if the culture downplays its role entirely.

  • Lori

    Wow, that is a whole lotta wrong in just a couple sentences.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’d be even worse if I quoted him verbatim with the racial slurs every other sentence.

  • Lori

    Lovely.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yeah… many reasons why I never want to have to move back here. At the best of times, his company is atrocious. At the worst of times… well, I did have to battle a fire that, I discovered today, came closer to claiming the entire house than I had thought. While we were on one side of the house, the fire had crept around to the other and was on the verge of burning its way into the room behind us, which could even have trapped us in a burning room.

    I just want a safe, relatively calm, positive place to write my book!

  • Lori

    Holy crap. I full on hate living with my family, but it’s nowhere near that bad. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Thank you, sincerely. Just hoping if I can get this giant doorstop finished, the income will be enough to make things a bit easier at home. I can’t not write, so if I can get some money out of it…

    (I’m currently at a computer which doesn’t have Word, so I have no idea what my progress is in terms of pages/word count, but I’d say I’m about… a fourth to a third of the way done. Now in the process of introducing the Big Bad and the last of the protagonists. Is bloody hard writing proper angels…)

  • Jamoche

    It just hit me while I was editing some fic I’m writing – TextEdit doesn’t count words but it *does* count search results. So I searched for spaces and voila – a rough word count.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Unfortunately, thanks to this limited data plan, I can’t download anything. I’ll have an accurate word count soon though. I’ll post it up on my blog maybe. :p

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Oh hey, found a thing online that does it. I’m at nearly 50K words.

  • phoenix_feather

    That sucks, I’m sorry. I hope your situation improves and that you find a nice, safe space to write your book!

  • Trixie_Belden

    I’m sorry, that sounds pretty hard to bear. I hope things get better for you from now on and you can write!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Have you tried filling pages and pages with:
    “All Work and No Play Makes Anonymous Sam a VERY angry boy”?
    I’ve heard that keeps people from annoying you while writing or even worse, asking what you’re writing.

    More seriously, if you’re not using Word or anything, maybe consider a cloud service like Evernote. That way you could, if you wish, work on stuff out of the house if that makes things easier. I’m using it for RPG ideas, which for me are basically the same thing as fiction writing notes.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Why I can’t recreate one of the best scenes from The Shining:

    Halp, my keyboard lacks the characters necessary to write my gender! Qu should be somewhere between M and N, and pl’nar’tzie isn’t in the number pad at all!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Oh, yeah. That’s the other right-wing form of humour: the kind with racial slurs replacing any actual punch line.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    I think the way that the Bush administration dealt with the UN in the runup to the Iraq War gets to heart of the anti-UN nonsense. Our right wing sees it as competing with the US for the “AHHHHHHH Isthesavioroftheuniverse!” pedestal.

    “which he’s convinced is part of a sinister government plot and certainly has nothing to do with the many militias he’s advocated rise up and attack the government.”
    What skin color and religion would this person happen to be? The authorities need to know if we’re dealing with a terrorist threat here.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    He’s a white southern-leaning atheist libertarian, but probably in no condition to actually cause any damage, aside from at the domestic level.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Mmm. Atheist you say? That’s a kind of Muslim you know.
    (Seriously though, best of luck with; everything. Stay safe.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    “southern-leaning’? Is that a new term for ‘white supremacist’ or something more innocuous like ‘country music fan’?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It means he was born in Louisiana and gets a certain portion of his attitudes and outlook (including racism) from growing up there, despite considering Michigan his home.

  • Mark Z.

    It means his north leg is about two inches longer than his south leg.

  • Jamoche

    Aha, he’s a wild haggis.

  • The_L1985

    Yes.

  • hidden_urchin

    I maintain Buck was actually mind-whammied. That’s the only explanation for how he can think that speech was good and, oh yeah, how he can work for the AntiChrist.

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

    Every time I think all the levels of absurdity have been thoroughly plumbed by this series, Fred exposes yet another, this time having to do with the completely wrong-headed and bizarre portrayal of our own world in ways that don’t make a lick of sense.

    Even people don’t behave as average people; they behave like cardboard cutouts, doing the author’s bidding as sheer plot service for fans.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Yeah, if the global food supply does rise to the point where it becomes impossible for anyone to lack food, it certainly would change things very dramatically. Especially if the population problem is suddenly “taken care of” at the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/MuseofIre MuseofIre

    The notion of all countries getting rich by exporting food reminds me of the old joke of the village where all the people supported themselves by taking in each other’s washing.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Ah, the Troping is strong in this one.

    All this talk about alternate universes, combined with a certain game released last month, has got me thinking. In all the myriad quantum possibilities, is there an alternate universe out there in which Tim LaHay did not become the prophetic leader of an organization of religious zealots who shuffle money and influence to him? Is that Alternate!LaHay actually a good guy who is trying (and sometimes failing) to atone for the sins of his past? Will all this start making sense around the baptismal fount?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Alt-LaHaye would be the co-author of a very successful series of atheist fiction and a financial supporter of various atheist/left-wing causes. His wife would also be an influential feminist activist of some note. In spite of being a popular genre writer, other writers across the literary spectrum would have utmost respect for his style and writing ability.

    Best match I could think of offhand might be Stephen King.

  • Kirala

    Stephen King is atheist? I mean, I don’t know what King’s religious views are, but I would think that Alt!LaHaye would be noted for atheism to the point where atheism, not genre, would be the first trait one would think of when he is mentioned.

    Would Philip Pullman do, or no?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Pullman was the next on my list, but isn’t so stylistically respected and King just threw a ton of money at some liberal pet cause. You are right about the outspoken atheism. Maybe if Dawkins ever tried his hand at fiction.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Dawkins is a good stylist, but he’s been a bit of a sexist arse recently. (See kerfuffle on Twitter, as annotated at Shakesville and at Ana Mardoll’s.)

    TRiG.

  • Mark Z.

    Terry Pratchett?

  • GeniusLemur

    Why would Israel trade this super-duper-amazing trump card for seven years of peace? With all the significance and power the authors have attributed to the formula, it ends up being something like this:

    Bob: In exchange for your million-dollar stock holdings, I’ll pay off the last $50,000 on your mortgage.
    Fred: Sure! That sounds fair!

  • Fusina

    Completely off topic, but I finally figured out my resistance to organized religions (all of them, and I do mean all of them). They are all exclusionary.

    This, for some reason, annoys the hell out of me. Can’t imagine why. /sarcasm

  • reynard61

    Have you tried Ponytheism? It has:

    No Doctrine.
    No Writings. (Unless you count fanfic.)
    No Clergy.
    A very simple mythology. (Though that could change next season.)
    Two Goddesses. (Which could also change next season.)
    No record of persecuting others.

    You could also look into Shinto. It’s a *very* inclusive religion.

  • Chuckfinley

    Gotta disagree on the whole ‘no persecution’ thing, or at least ‘no discrimination.’ Ponyville seems racist as hell.

    Zecora was shunned by the entire town until Twilight arrived. Ponies say things like ‘stubborn as a mule’ when there are donkeys standing right next to them, kinda like saying ‘lazy as a Mexican’ in front of a Tijuana native. When Iron Will, the friendly and eminently honorable minotaur motivator comes to town, Pinkie and Rarity can’t stop calling him a monster like some kind of racist tourettes.

  • reynard61

    You misunderstand. I wasn’t talking about the Ponies themselves. I’m talking about my own adopted religion.

  • Worthless Beast

    I was at an anime convention recently and watched a comedian talk about the unity of fandom/geekdom, and how geeks tend to be laid back about other geeks and how we defy politics and tribes by coming together for cons and the Internet despite our devotion to many different things…
    Then, he talked about the only agressive fandom he encountered: Young male friends of his and “My Little Pony.” He got down toward the audience and was (in imitation) “Have you accepted Princess Celstia as your personal LORD and SAVIOR?!!”
    It was funny.

  • reynard61

    I’m not exactly “aggressive” about my fandoms, hobbies or my adopted religion. If someone were to ask me if I’m a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, I’d answer “Yes.” and let *them* continue the conversation. if someone actually *did* ask me “Have you accepted Princess Celestia as your personal LORD and SAVIOR?!!”, I would have to answer “I see both Celestia *and* Luna as representations of various ideals like Nobility, Patience, Humor, Redemption, etc. that, hopefully, I’ll attain someday”; but I don’t necessarily “worship” them in the sense that a Christian goes to church and worships God.

  • Worthless Beast

    It was a joke.
    I think every geek has one or more friends who tries to get them into something they just aren’t that into. (My best online friend has been like that to me with several fandoms). The comedian was joking on that.

    If a character gives you ideals to shoot for, go ahead.
    As for me, don’t mention the word “Hyrule” to me unless you want to get me talking endlessly about Timelines and plot-MacGuffins… But I’m not currently recruiting for the Church of the Holy Triforce. I do strive some day to live with Power, Wisdom and Courage balanced in my heart.

  • reynard61

    Okay, just making sure that it’s understood that I’m not going to go around proselytizing everyone I meet to join the Church of Celestia and Luna. (Though, as above, I’m not necessarily going to pass up an opportunity to let it be known that there’s [yet] another alternative to all of the other religions/spiritualities/philosophies out there…)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    Universal Unitarians are almost aggressively non-exclusionary; most versions of Buddhism aren’t either.
    (Reynard61 below: Shinto? It’s not exclusionary if you don’t mind acknowledging Japanese people are descended directly from Gods…that doesn’t quite count in my opinion).

  • Fusina

    I actually investigated the UU but unfortunately, there are no congregations in this area. Regarding Buddhism, I’ve been describing myself as a Zen Christian for ages. I recently read “Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff” by Christopher Moore. I highly recc. it for people who are open to humor and joy. Also total silliness, but then, this is the guy who wrote a book titled “The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove” and “Island of the Sequined Love Nun” both of which were intriguing enough titles to purchase and put in my TBR pile.

    Regarding Shinto, I don’t know enough about it to comment.

  • connorboone

    Sadly, then Christopher Moore wrote Sacre Bleu, which ended up pretty much being Rape Culture, the novel. I was really very disappointed.

  • Fusina

    Haven’t seen that one. I have his “Coyote Blue” though.

  • connorboone

    Sacre Bleu is brand new – I checked it out from my local library. Most of the female characters are prostitutes, and do things like ‘distracting the poor men-folk with their boobies.’ Repeatedly. And, of course, the poor men-folk can’t help but be distracted by boobies, every. Single. Time.

    It’s sad, because I loved A Dirty Job and The Stupidest Angel, among others.

  • Fusina

    I agree–men are not that shallow. I hate lazy authors…but I love people taking them to task…this explains why I read this particular entry.

  • Tehanu

    “Island of the Sequined Love Nun” is terrific, you should read it as soon as you finish whatever you’re reading now. I agree that “Sacre Blue” was kind of a misfire though.

  • Fusina

    Thanks. I have had two friends have crises last week, and my subconscious recently informed me that I can stuff my worries over my daughter going away to college down ever so far but they will still bubble up in dreams, so I could use something fun about now.

  • aunursa

    His brief address was so powerful, so magnetic, so impressive…

    .

    Brief? According to Book #1 it took him half an hour to display his encyclopedic knowledge of the United Nations. And that was after he recited the name of each country in alphabetical order. Reviewing the videos of President Obama and other world leaders, I find that ~ 30 minutes is the typical length of a talk by a head of state to the UN General Assembly. Nicky’s speech would have been almost Clintonesque by comparison.

  • http://kadhsempire.yuku.com/ Matt

    Just for the fun of it, I decided to memorize the names of all the countries and see if I could say them from memory. list source: http://www.un.org/en/members/
    Because I don’t have tons of time, it took me about ten days before I could do it. Since I don’t speak most of the languages, I only did it in English.

    Can I be the secretary-general of the UN and get the senate to pass gun control now?

  • phoenix_feather

    With a speech that stunning, why haven’t we elected you already?! Let me know if you need a GIRAT to oversee your media empire! I may not be anything resembling a reporter, but I can guarantee I do more reporting than Buck Williams. :D

  • Hth

    You have to do it with *passionate conviction.*

  • Rowen

    United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama. . .

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Indeed. Following up the reference, this is an easiest way to memorize all those countries.

  • glendanowakowsk

    Animaniacs is the easiest way to learn nearly anything. Except the elements – Tom Lehrer has that sewn up.

  • Fusina

    Hee! I got the CD with most of the Animaniac teaching songs on it. I lent it to my kids elementary school teachers a couple of times–awesome way to learn some of these things. Tom Lehrer also wrote the definitive song on learning math,

  • reynard61

    Heck, President Lincoln at least had the decency to keep his most memorable speech down to only about 267 words! Windbags, the lot of ’em!

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 205 pages

    I have a new post, too!

    http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/tsoa-chapter-46-the-triumphant-return-of-obi-wan/

    /shameless plug

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    And it’s funny, too
    /shameless gushing

  • aunursa

    With the formula, Russia could grow grain
    in the frozen tundra of Siberia. Destitute African nations became hothouses of
    domestic food sources and agricultural exports.

    That new nitrate use they demonstrated in Argentina this
    morning. That soil had more vitamins in it six hours later than a drugstore
    chain. I know that country. That’s as barren and fruitless as any place on
    earth… [W]hen this earth gets enough to
    eat and there are no more wars or diseases or famines, this is going to be a
    garden of Eden.

    Michael Chambers, from the Twilight Zone
    episode “<a href=" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5NWCD7D5n8 To
    Serve Man“

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    The Other Leaders’ collective response to Chaim’s formula reminds me of this exchange from Top Secret!

    Doctor Flamond: You see, a year ago, I was close to perfecting the first magnetic desalinization process so revolutionary, it was capable of removing the salt from over five hundred million gallons of seawater a day. Do you realize what that could mean to the starving nations of the earth?

    Nick Rivers: Wow. They’d have enough salt to last forever.

    The difference being that Nick was supposed to be a parody of a clueless American hero.

  • Lori

    Do you realize what that could mean to the starving nations of the earth?

    Total destruction, since at that rate it wouldn’t take them all that long to upset the salt/fresh water balance and total screw the pooch on the hydrological cycle?

  • P J Evans

    A whole lot of salt they they’re going to have to do *something* with? (Most salt gets used in industry, but still….)

  • Rae

    Like the flowers, you could export the salt to alien races!

  • SisterCoyote

    *looks at post*

    *looks at clock*

    *looks at article*

    …deadlines schmeadlines, I missed this series for the one week it was gone.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    This would all make a hell of a lot more sense if Carpathia had developed the super-growth formula, and now after all the nations of the world have been consuming Carpathized grains and fruits for a couple years they all suddenly decide to make him king, because everyone who eats a Carpathized food item becomes a little more suggestible – if you know the keys to use the slightly altered biochemistry of their brains…

  • hidden_urchin

    That would also parallel the feeding of the five thousand nicely. Is there any place L&J did not make the wrong choice?

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    Still trying to think of one. Still failing. :o(

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    I love these NRA posts so hard.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    But those humans flying at warp-speed or practicing their wand-craft at Hogwarts still need to be recognizably human.

    Or be interestingly alien or post-human, but yes; we call shenanigans when characters lack verisimilitude in a way we don’t when the MacGuffin MacGuffins. This is why making fun of, say, the Empire for building a second, dumber Death Star to blow up, or Ewoks killing Stormtroopers is a bigger issue than, say, the sound of weapons in a vacuum or how hyperspace works.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    I think just after the vanishings he could have gained more popular support by standing up and saying, “Christ took your children. I am the Antichrist. I will make him pay. Who’s with me?”

    Also yeah, that would probably work. I mean, the same way that any god with a hell is one you should oppose tooth & nail.

  • WalterC

    With Hell though, you have the ability to rationalize it. “Oh, it won’t affect me, it will only affect the truly evil people, the Hitlers, the Stalins, the serial killers and other people like that. The normal people, the people that I know and care about, will all make it into a better place.”

    But in this story, God killed everyone’s children and even if you don’t have children or have any children that you care about, chances are you lost SOMEONE in the Rapture chaos. Even if they weren’t lost to the Rapture itself, they might have been killed by the cars suddenly careening out of control, planes falling out of the sky, explosions, etc. It’s personal now, for everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Who was it that said that when dealing with fiction, we are ready to believe the impossible, but not the improbable?

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I usually see that quote attributed to Alfred Hitchcock. He said it about movies, specifically, but I extrapolate it to all forms of fiction.

    Though I believe it was a comparison between the impossible and the implausible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Implausible does fit better than improbable.

  • Donalbain
  • aunursa

    he could have gained more popular support by standing up and saying, “Christ took your children. I am the Antichrist. I will make him pay. Who’s with me?”

    Nicolae: Hey, what’s all this lyin’ around shit?
    United North American King: Well what’re we s’posed to do, you moron?
    United Indian States King: War’s over, man Jesus dropped the big one.
    Nicolae: Over? Did someone say over? Was it over when the Prussians … bombed Tel Aviv?
    United Pacific States King: Prussians?
    Fortunato: Forget it, he’s rolling.
    Nicolae: Hell no! And it ain’t over now! Who’s with me?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Leon Fortunato, Jim Hickman, and Loren Hut. My trio of woobies.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    “No spiritual war was ever won by being raptured for your religion, but by making the other guy get raptured for his!”

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I keep circling back to the missing children. If LeHay’s “prophecy” didn’t have all the children vanishing, the notion of “insta-food formula + charisma = OWG” might be more plausible, but the theft of every child on the planet would cause a cry such as never had been heard before, and the deafening silence from LeJenkins is simply boggling.

    Had the vanishings been limited to RTCs, and excluded children, then the rest might work. The vanishings become a small story with a trivial number of adults missing. Plane crashes get the most attention, but for most of the world (and a lot of the U.S.) it’s simply a mystery that affected a tiny number of folks, and an even smaller group of people know the truth. The average person doesn’t care about the disappearances or doesn’t see them as part of a larger pattern.

    The plot goes something like this:

    Israel has miracle formula. Iran suggests hostilities, but suffers a nuclear meltdown in one of their reactors; it’s revealed to be the result of a virus/botnet designed by the Israelis called “Gog”. When ace reporter Cameron Williams breaks the story, allies of Iran (Ethiopia and Russia) launch an attack Israel, but nukes “miraculously” detonate in the air while planes crash mid-flight. This rumored to be the work of a similar complex Israeli virus/botnet code-named “MaGog”. Fallout from the nukes hits the fertile crescent and the American breadbasket, causing food shortages. Carpathia uses leverage with Chaim to ascend to the U.N., brokers deal for the formula, giving special notice to Israel as the birthplace of the formula.

    BUT then you have to throw over the whole “age of accountability/children get Rapture-d” business, and LeHay probably wouldn’t allow that.

  • Fusina

    Your story sounds more plausible… also readable. When ya gonna write it?

  • banancat

    Yeah, there’s really just no way to get past that all children disappearing thing. Even starvation isn’t quite as tragic when kids aren’t involved. I mean, every charity tugs at the heartstrings with pictures of starving children. The most tragic scenario imaginable is of a parent watching their child starve and feeling helpless to fix it. It’s portrayed as heroic when adults give up their own food rations to the hungry children in their lives. Heck, even a big part of the plot in the Hunger Games is that children are starving so badly that most of them have to take more risks of being in the death game so they can get enough food to eat, and many of them actually look forward to the year that they’ll be able to do so. And that’s one of the not-so-subtle ways of showing how evil the Capital really is. It’s not just about killing children for entertainment; it’s about forcing them into that situation by starving them.

    So without kids, universal food supply just doesn’t have such an impact. Yeah, sure, it’s nice and everything, but it’s just adults. You can’t imagine a feelgood scene of a child who used to go hungry now sitting down to a full dinner. It just doesn’t have the same impact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.mcirvin Matt McIrvin

    Children basically wreck any ideology completely based on individual reward and punishment, since they’re an enormous class of people who we consider not fully accountable for their actions, and they’re also completely lacking in power.

    A similar problem occurs with libertarian/conservative ideas that people ought to suffer for not being industrious enough to make money: even if you buy that poverty is a sign of moral deficiency in an adult, you need some way to justify that children suffer for the actions of their parents. People try to get out of this by treating children morally as extensions of their parents, or arguing that it’s worthwhile to have kids at risk of starving to death because it makes their parents’ work meaningful, but these arguments come across as callous (to me, at least).

  • Worthless Beast

    “Wow! I never got to have a whole leg before!” __ Rue
    A line that upped her cuteness factor in interacting with Katniss, yet was so, so sad.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That sounds way more believable. Fits all the prophecy points (minus the kids,) seems like a reaction nation-states might actually have (after all, Israel’s use of a computer virus to trigger a nuclear meltdown in another country could ambiguously be considered an act of nuclear aggression thus justifying nuclear retaliation,) and it leaves the divine intervention more vague and plausibly-deniable.

    Of course, LaHay and Jenkins do not seem to favor subtly so much as batting the readers over the head with the THIS IS EXPLICITLY MIRACULOUS stick (thereby screwing over the reactions of everyone else on the planet who does not already agree with them and making the story more unbelievable.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Mielke/100001114326969 Marc Mielke

    The age of accountability is obviously something akin to Purgatory: a quick patchover to make your religion not completely monstrous. If you pressed him, LeHaye probably wouldn’t mind dumping it and privately believes unbeliever kids go to hell but doesn’t want to say it out loud. It’s also there because very few people would notice the sudden disappearance of a tiny subset of Evangelical Christian. (Realistically, remove all the closeted gays and pre-marital fornicators from Right Wing Evangelicalism and who’s left?)

    Better: The kids all vanish, and Chaim invents the insta-food super-soil soon after? IT’S CHILDREN! IT’S CHILDREN!

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    One challenge LeJenkins face is delayed gratification. if you’re really planning a multi-book series, you can’t give up all the good stuff in the 1st book. If I were to write this, I’d pace it a little differently:

    Book 1: “Gog” is backstory, as is the attack on Isreal. “MaGog” looks to be a developing story. Buck’s contact in Mossad tells him that the “MaGog” explanation of how Israel was saved is impossible, that bot-net/virus shouldn’t have been able to do the things it did. But Steve Plank sends Buck to look into a handful of mysterious disappearances instead, suspecting a larger story. Buck agrees, but only if he can do more research into the Rosenweig Process that’s the source Israel’s power and influence, currently being wielded by Carpathia. Buck figures out that all the vanished persons were RTC’s and that someone has been orchestrating something of a cover-up. (ex-pastor Bruce Barnes tells Buck about the “cleaning service” that came after the disappearances and removed the pastor’s empty clothes from the church, etc.) The conclusion to Book 1 is that the Rapture has actually occurred, but almost no one realizes it, or what it means.

    Book 2: Buck is converted to RTC-ism because of the evidence of the rapture, and the reality behind the myth of “MaGog”. He tries to get his story published, but his editor Steve Plank tells him that a handful of missing persons and a denial by Mossad isn’t enough to make a story. Plank quits his job to become Carpathia’s publicist, but before going, makes offhand remarks to Buck that at least Youth Crime is down. Buck investigates, and discovers that youth crime has dropped to zero. Children under a certain age who were missing for any reason before the Rapture are never found, not even in situations where they should be. Buck discovers “cleaning services” swept through schools, daycares, and hospitals shortly after the Rapture. There’s a one-day spike in miscarriages on the Rapture. Buck visits a school, sees the teacher instructing a class of young children, and happens to see, on his way out, a video monitor displaying the class… empty except for the teacher. The conclusion to Book 2 is to reveal that the world has been brainwashed or hypnotised into thinking the children are still there, when they’re not. Buck takes the evidence to his new editor, Verna Zee, and they agree to bump the leading news story (a 7-year global treaty to alleviate starvation) with the story.

    Book 3: Buck’s on-again, off-again research into the Rosenweig Process finally yields fruit. (pun semi-intended) The process was developed by wealthy bankers who may also be exerting influence on Carpathia. They are also heavily invested in “cleaning services”. Worst of all is the source that Buck uncovers who finds the terrible secret of the Rosenweig Process: seeds treated will grow anywhere, but will only survive four generations before becoming infertile. Only persons with a supply of “survival seeds”, harvested before the process came into global use will be able to grow food. Now, at the end of Book 3, you can reveal that the AntiChrist is behind it all, and who the AntiChrist is.

    But no, L&J are way too into the death/destruction pr0n with the judgments and the disasters and the suffering, and they just jump ahea.

  • David S.

    The problem is, even if you’re writing a multi-book series, you’ve got to sell the first book. Most firsts in a series stand alone; even if they’re a planned series, Willow, Star Wars, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone all stand alone. The seven book in a series can drag a little, because you’ve hooked the audience, but not the first. If L&J hadn’t told enough story in the first book, there never would have been a second.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    If L&J hadn’t told enough story in the first book, there never would have been a second.

    …did you not notice how little story L&J managed to tell in the first book? Oh, there was a fair amount of data-dumping in the first book (Rapture! Evil Bankers! U.N.!) but precious little story-telling.

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

    Pleasepleasepleasewritethis.

  • The_L1985

    Not to mention, if all of the children are gone, that automatically makes significantly fewer people on Earth to feed, thus rendering Rosenweig’s awesome food-growing formula completely unnecessary.

  • Worthless Beast

    I can *sorta* see how agricultural exports work in a world with actual miracle-gro if the countries/regions are growing different things, say Russia is growing wheat, Sudan is growing fruit and Alaska is growing tea or something and they’re all trading different produce with each other. If the miracle-gro is making everything grow everywhere, though, it doesn’t make sense. Also, if it’s a global government, any export/import business would be more rightly treated like “regions within a country” rather than the gist that is being used. How often do you use the term “American beef imported from Texas?”
    I also suppose a seven year peace treaty with people who aren’t your nation’s enemies anymore would be the path of the paranoid…
    Gah, reading these excerpts… been years since I read the book… forgot/had no idea how mind-numbingly dull the prose is. Almost like reading C-Span as a book… or possibly something written by a foggy-mind at 4 am while watching C-Span.

  • Lori

    There books are actually significantly worse than C-Span. C-SPAN is legitimately interesting at least part of the time, mostly on weekends when they run hours of Book TV.

  • WalterC

    Fun factoid — in 2005, the CIA briefly considered using excerpts from the “Left Behind” books as a form of enhanced interrogation / torture for high-value detainees, but Vice-President Cheney put a stop to it because he considered it too inhumane and brutal for even him to condone.

  • Rae

    Well, to a degree – no matter what the soil is like, you aren’t going to be growing citrus fruit in Siberia, and you’re not going to be growing rice in the Sahara.

    But, there are a few exceptions – Ever gotten bored waiting for your Starbucks drink and started looking at the bags of coffee they have for sale? There’s Sumatran coffee and Colombian coffee and Kenyan coffee and whatever. And there’s a similar thing with wine, where there’s Napa Valley wines and so on, and occasionally you hear people say things like “Alaskan salmon” or whatever.

    So I suppose there could be a gourmet import/export market, geared towards the people who think that certain climate conditions or soil composition (just because anything will grow doesn’t mean the soil is the same) in one region or another produce just the most *perfect* variety of fruit or vegetable or whatever.

  • Worthless Beast

    Growing up in Arizona… When my family planted the Spring garden, many things were off-limits for our region in the Burpee catalogue. Some of it was dry/soil conditions, some of it, I learned, was probably “fear of invasive species” issue. Contratry to popular belief, deserts have native plants besides cacti… and the ecosystem is delicate. There’s even just the temperateure conditions and light-dark cycles to think about.
    I read that there was a company that started up to raise *shrimp* in the desert out there. It was done with artificial pools and they claimed that the weather/sun conditons made shrimp sweeter. I’m not sure they’d have the same success with say, cold-water salmon or Maine lobster…
    Even with a desert-bloom, there’d be other factors limiting crops and the quality thereof. I still like the idea of intergallactic exporting, though.

  • P J Evans

    I heard of a shrimp outfit in west Texas, around a place named Imperial. Never heard any more about them, though, and that was several years ago.

  • Katie

    Arizona is also a perfect illustration of how taking advantage of a niche created by seasons can be profitable, which is the only way that agricultural trade could possibly work in the L&J world. Lettuce can grow almost everywhere, but in December, Arizona is one of the few places that has a lettuce crop.

  • Jessica_R

    Too good to pass up.

    New Leaves

    Chloe watched in fascination as the woman traced her slender fingers over the stem of the plant and gently traced the petals. The bloom was a buttery yellow, and it made a striking contrast with the mottled silver and plum of her skin. The solid obsidian of her eyes seems to take every molecule of the flower in.

    “A tulip?”

    “Yes ma’am,” the woman looked unsettled and Chloe cursed her careless mistake, “…forgive me, Altan, that is a tulip and as you see we have quite the selection, from bulbs to cut bouquets.”

    Altan’s people has quickly gotten the reputation of being obsessed with that particular species, scorning the orchids the Jadash bought by the pallets as “weeds”. A wine brewed from the petals had quickly become a must on their banquet tables. And as a result there was said to be no price they would not pay for a bulb.

    Chloe felt again like Altan could read her thoughts. Or maybe she’d guessed enough to be amused by the petty squabbles of a race that had yet to master intergalactic flight. Rosenzweig’s formula had ended world hunger at the cost of cementing Carpathia’s bid for power. The arrival of The Katist had been taken as another sign of Carpathia’s divine blessing in being “chosen” to lead. Chloe had to wonder how they reconciled God forgetting to include mention of extraterrestrial life when he was setting down this divine plan. The Katist were canny diplomats, they sent ships to buy from different markets all over the world so as not to be seen favoring one nation over another. Their leaders had dined with Carpathia, and with other heads of state, and they had given token examples of their technology to labs across the globe. They did not extend their efforts much beyond that however, and one got the sense from watching them that they were waiting.

    Chloe busied herself with pretending to dust a counter top, she wondered if she should take the guns and weapons Altan would offer in payment. That if they were waiting for Carpathia to take over why were they arming the rebels one by one. And that even if they wished to see Carpathia out of power, would they not swoop in and crush the rebellion just as easily.

    “Don’t be afraid.”

    Chloe nearly jumped out her skin, Altan had to be able to read her thoughts, didn’t she? Altan gave no outward sign, “I didn’t mean to startle you, you just kept wiping that counter and looking more and more worried.”

    Chloe smiled and played it off, “Yeah, it’s been a long day. Have you find what you’re looking for?”

    “Very much so, a dozen of these, and two dozen of the black. Payment on delivery?”

    “Of course, thank you for choosing us, we’re grateful for the business.”

    “You look like you could use it, I don’t care much to see people suffer, I don’t like the…”underdog?”…to keep getting kicked. It’s so completely unnecessary and…” Altan trailed off looking like she said much more than she intended too. She smiled and touched her left hand to her throat, a sign of goodbye, Chloe returned the gesture and Altan turned to leave.

    Chloe watched her walk gracefully down the street, and turned over the last thing she’d said. She knew there were other races besides The Katist, their Jadash guards among them. And yet they had not come. She felt more secure in Altan’s trust which only raised more questions. Why would a highly advanced species want to help one so blighted as this one? Chloe picked up the watering can and began to walk up and down the rows, at the very least, she wished she could look at flowers like Altan did. Somewhere she heard a clock chime five.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Thanks Jessica, I enjoyed that!

  • Magic_Cracker

    The only mind whammy in these books is the one Nicolae pulled on his authors.

  • general_apathy

    “Protection from her enemies” sounds like the world’s worst protection racket.

    “Nice country. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it…”

  • Launcifer

    I imagine it would look something like this. The relevant bit kicks in around 1.50 and, no, there’s no full frontal nudity involved.

  • Lorehead

    This would go over especially well from a former ally of Nazi Germany.

  • Lunch Meat

    He displaced the former secretary-general of the United Nations, reorganized it to include ten international mega-territories, renamed it the Global Community, moved it to Babylon (which was rebuilt and renamed New Babylon), and then set about disarming the entire globe.

    Do L&J know that not all the countries in the world are members of the UN? I have $5 on “no.”

  • aunursa

    An expanded Israel is living in perfect harmony with her neighbors. You think a little thing like non-member states is going to interfere with L&J’s vision of the Tribulation?

  • WalterC

    L&J cannot be said to “know” anything. It’s just nonsensical in terms, like talking about a piece of plastic “loving” something or a can of orange juice “thinking” about something.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I would argue that L&J have fallen into the trap of thinking that they already know all that they need to know. It is a position which carries great comfort of certainty… and prevents them from getting any wiser.

  • Dogfacedboy

    So leaders from all over the world came to talk to Rosenzweig about the potential use of his miraculous agricultural formula, yet only one mentioned that it might be used to help feed the hungry.

    Rosenzweig: Why do you wish to have the formula?
    Prime Minister #1: As an anniversary gift for my wife. I caught holy hell when I forgot her birthday.

    Rosenzweig: Why do you wish to have the formula?
    Prime Minister #2: I’ll be straight with you. I owe some pretty dangerous people a lot of money.

    Rosenzweig: Why do you wish to have the formula?
    Prime Minister #3: Well, you see, we have all these goats.

    Rosenzweig: Why do you wish to have the formula?
    Prime Minister #4: I don’t know if you ever get cravings, Doctor, but I just can’t get enough okra.

  • Carstonio

    “He is king over kings, president over presidents, prime minister over prime ministers. The U.N. secretary-general rules over and can over-rule any national leader, by fiat apparently. His word is law.” Àpparently Ellanjay see the UN as like the medieval
    Catholic Church when popes apparently had that level of power.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Space Marine Becka

    It was far from that simple. The Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor (and other European monarchs) spent centuries squabbling over whom had that level of power. http://www.authorama.com/story-of-mankind-34.html

  • Carstonio

    Yes. That’s why I included “apparently” as a caveat. Ellanjay come from the same religious tradition as the authors of the anti-Catholic work “The Bible Handbook.” This decried the Middle Ages as when popes spoke and kings trembled, and showered praise on Martln Luther as allegedly ranking just below Paul and Jesus as the greatest man of the ages.

  • ngotts

    Some European Protestants (Ian Paisley is one IIRC) think the EU is just a stalking horse for the Roman Catholic Church. Its founding document is the Treaty of Rome, you see.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Re: UN Agenda 21 and other assorted conspiracies … Why does the UN need the US adopt this law or that treaty before sending in the Blue Helmets? If it were hell-bent on conquering the US of A by hook or by crook, wouldn’t they just do it?

  • Tehanu

    Power of projection. Passing a law to make it all LOOK legal, then bulling in and doing whatever they really want (“bwa-ha-ha!”), is what EllnJay would do if they were in power over anything. My guess is they never saw the famous scene with the Mexican bandits in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

  • Pearl

    Ugh, why do they have to always call Israel “her”! It’s creepy!

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

    That’s how countries in general used to be termed. People would often speak of “Imperial Britain and her dominions” or such things.

  • Mark Z.

    Right, but now it’s pretty much just Israel, because it’s advantageous to portray Israel as perpetually threatened and in need of a strong manly protector to defend her womanly virtue against the dirty leering Arab nations hiding in the bushes.

  • banancat

    It used to be one of the one the few vestiges of the gendered noun system that no longer exists in English, unlike most other Germanic languages. It is rarely used anymore except in stylized or formal writings. When Ellenjay do it, it just serves to make them sound even more old-fashioned and stuck in the past.

  • Chris Young

    And, for the same reason, ships: “I name this ship Titanic! May god bless her and all who sail in her.” was (and may still be for all I know) the standard for of words at launching ceremonies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christina-Archer/628092790 Christina Archer

    Well. Buck doesn’t know a thing, doesn’t he? No. not one blanking thing. Since TimandJerry seem to assume that we are all spiritual and scriptural illiterates, what more can be noticed? Or stated?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    I like “TimandJerry” as a name of our authors. Puts me in mind of Tim And Eric, which is about their intellectual level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alden.utter Alden Utter

    This make sense, actually. Since the aliens abducted more than a billion people, they’re going to need a lot of food to keep their captives alive.
    Assuming they don’t have replicators, at least.

  • AK

    “Now, we could just take that as further confirmation that Jenkins doesn’t have the first clue about real-world economics. “Export to who?””

    To be fair, maybe these nations are specializing only in certain types of food? It’s possible to have both a large food export and a large food import – the USA is one of the countries that has both.

  • daniel

    The bad science of the formula also raises the question “why do the Russians want to sow seed in Siberia?” for one thing, Siberia is bloody huge and there is already quite a lot of agriculture there, so no one needs to go to the trouble of planting in the tundra- which, regardless of fertility- is still so bloody cold that many plants wouldn’t survive even if they could grow there. And anyway, Russia’s just freed up a huge amount of land by removing all the icbms that were taking up so much space. The formula doesn’t change the environment- which is a point that’s also ignored- so stuff that won’t grow in the freezing arctic still won’t grow in the freezing arctic. I think, so obviously I’m not the target readership for these books, that this represents again the horrible solipsism of the End Timers. Despite massive support for Israel they know next to nothing about it- Israelis are not enduring some sort of famine because they are a desert nation, Russia is not some massive froze wasteland, and “African countries” is so vague a term that there could be any number of reasons why Ethiopia, for instance, would be going through a famine that are different to why Sudan or Eritrea might be. I could and probably am reading too much into this, but it does seem to suggest the authors imagine the rest of the world outside the U.S. to be a mix of semi-feudal fiefdoms where land=crops=wealth and strange accumulations of skeletal hoverers-on-the-brink-of-death who can’t feed themselves because the soil is just barren. There’s a theory put forward by a Harvard (I think Harvard, I read the book a couple of years ago) professor of Genocide Studies that it’s cultures where agriculture is regarded as the be all and end all of human endeavour that commit genocide, and genocidal dictatorships always employ imagery taken from agriculture and “back to the land” rhetoric in representing the “true” members of their race. I’m not saying these books endorse genocide… oh wait, actually I am.

  • Lunch Meat

    Isn’t that what the end of the world is? Genocide of humanity?

  • Mark Z.

    The bad science of the formula also raises the question “why do the Russians want to sow seed in Siberia?” for one thing, Siberia is bloody huge and there is already quite a lot of agriculture there, so no one needs to go to the trouble of planting in the tundra- which, regardless of fertility- is still so bloody cold that many plants wouldn’t survive even if they could grow there.

    On that, I’m sure L&J think Siberia is just a giant freezer full of political prisoners and nuclear weapons, since that’s all most Americans heard about Siberia for about seventy years. I kind of want to send them there, not just because they deserve it, but to hear Jenkins squawk “Wow! It’s like Nebraska! Except much bigger! Like, as big as the the Great Wall of China is long!”

    it’s cultures where agriculture is regarded as the be all and end all of human endeavour that commit genocide, and genocidal dictatorships always employ imagery taken from agriculture and “back to the land” rhetoric

    I admit I haven’t read the book, but I’m skeptical of that theory. It sounds horribly overgeneralized from Chairman Mao and his followers (who, yes, killed a lot of people). The Nazis, for example, glorified heavy industry and used rhetoric taken from modern science and Norse mythology. Where does that fit?

    (I’m also suspicious of “genocidal dictatorship” as a category, since conflating “genocide” with “dictatorship” makes it harder to talk about genocide committed by democracies.)

  • Daniel

    “like as big as the Great Wall of China is long!” – right up there with “Oh! The humanity!”

    As to the thesis of the book, the Nazis were very anti-industry and capital until it became obvious that they needed it for money. Most Nazi propaganda was based on “blood and soil” and the stated aims for taking the lebensraum was to turn eastern europe (Ukraine particularly) into a bread basket for Germany, by using Slavs as serfs. If you see the posters from the ’33 election the Nazis employed extensive bucolic imagery- blond, blue eyed farm workers with forearms like girders, pointing at vast fields of corn etc. They also endorsed numerous folksy “back to the earth” fads- if I can recommend this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jagoBzZT1q8

    documentary by Jonathan Meads? Similarly the Jews were represented as archetypal city dwellers, all the businesses they were supposed to control were the apotheosis of non-rural life- banking, the media, the arts- all things that were not associated with good honest rural folk. Obviously the Nazis did cultivate business leaders and corporations (IG Farben, Krupps and IBM spring to mind) but one of their lesser crimes was ideological inconsistency.

    The Norse mythology business was also not actually based on the real “religion” of pre-Christian Germanic tribes, as this was never codified and formalized enough to be a religion as the modern world understands. Instead they sprung largely from Romantic nationalism, particularly in Wagner’s rewrites and reedits of the myths. Romantic nationalism, and Romanticism in general, was a reaction to the Enlightenment and an attempt once again to return to an imagined bucolic peasanty past.

    I used “genocidal dictatorship” off hand, maybe I should have said “governments”. The book does talk about genocidal democracies- in particular the only nation to have ever carried out a complete genocide, eradicating an entire race from existence. That nation was the one that prides itself on having “the mother of parliaments” and which also defines itself by having stood alone against Hitler in 1939-41, Great Britain. The justification for the British destruction of the Tasmanian natives was that they didn’t use the land, but merely lived on it. They were no better than animals, and it was ok therefore to kill them, which settlers happily and barbarically did. This tends not to be mentioned in our history lessons about the Empire. Perhaps if there had been any survivors we would have to acknowledge that we did it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_War

    in case you’re interested.

    Personally, I did not agree with everything the book said, and I wish I could remember its title or the author’s name- I think it was called something forgettably bland like “the history of genocide” or something. I borrowed it from a library in a city and a country where I no longer live, so I’m unable to check now. But the point, in its broadest terms, I think is valid- to create conditions where persecution and mass murder can occur with government sanction, it is necessary to divide people into separate groups, and one of the easiest and most frequently occurring is to divide between those who live on the land and represent the “good wholesome stock” with a connection to the earth and those “primitive” and “animalistic” ones that do not. When you define people too knackered at the end of a hard day’s work tilling the soil to do anything besides sleep as the good guys, you have a framework for vilifying those with leisure time to think or to study. You also allow for those who do neither to be vilified as beasts and savages- less insidious than the thinkers, less hard working and morally upright than the doers. Agriculture necessitates routine, working the land requires
    understanding seasons. These are desirable qualities if
    you have designs on controlling people.Obviously there are other factors, and also these societies tend to also treat the opposite, the city dweller, the supposed decadent intellectual as equally hateful, but as I think the point still stands. Incidentally, I am not criticising people who do live and work in agriculture- I just want to make that point clear, here, buried midway through a preposterously long screed.

    In relation to LB I think- and I am an outsider- that the use of agriculture (as well as being a badly, Cinderella’s Sister shoehorning of a biblical prophecy into modern life where it seems at best incongruous, at worst just bullshit) as the means to bring about peace in the middle east is a validation of the stereotyped middle state Christian readership. The Grant Wood portrait stereotype from the agricultural heartland that supposedly constitutes “real America” in right wing discourse- these are the good people, the honest God fearing people, being told that it is what they do that will lead to God’s return and mankind’s salvation, rather than the nebulous, meaningless “science” that we’d relied on til then. Yes the scientist makes a discovery, but it’s one with direct, readilly comprehensible ramifications, not some abstract weirdness like “quantum physics” or “evolution”. And in the end the discovery confirms that what man needs is bread. It is patronizing to the readers of these books, it is as stereotypical as suggesting that all city dwellers and scientists are godless evil doers, but it’s somehow a wish fulfillment on the part of the writers (as it is with a lot of the right wing) to suppose that the agricultural belt where they find a lot of support is actually made up of the people with the skills to save the world. Their people are the right people. Or they damn it to seven years of torment from Satan, but the writer’s don’t seem to be too bothered about consistency either. Oh dear. I don’t know if there’s one or two “n”s in “Godwinned”…

  • ngotts

    On the Nazis and agriculture, I recommend Adam Tooze The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, particularly Ch.6 “Saving the Peasants”, and for what was planned for eastern Europe, Ch.14 “The Grand Strategy of Racial War”.

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

    Didn’t Pol Pot adhere to a kind of bizarre agrarian-utopia version of Communism? Also, the Nazis did propound a kind of odd agrarian-utopia mythos of the Reich, but IIRC once in power they tended to talk it up more than actually do anything about it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Pol Pot is certainly who I thought of at the mention of genocidal agrarian dictators, though I take it he limited his attempts at genocide to his own people.

  • Mark Z.

    Pol Pot was mainly who I was thinking of under “Mao and his followers” (along with Che Guevara, who wasn’t nearly as successful). “Bizarre agrarian-utopia version of Communism” was Mao’s big idea, and Pol Pot’s genocide was pretty much the Cultural Revolution with more axe-murder.

  • banancat

    Ellenjay are far too racist to consider that Africa is made up of many different countries, each with their own cultures and struggles and innovations. It’s certainly not limited to Evangelicals, but this attitude of Africa as some monolithic entity of poor starving people in need of charity and missionary trips is certainly rampant in Evangelical circles.

  • Daniel

    Less racist I think than solipsistic- it’s not us, so who cares? Africa- It sounds like a country! And it’s only function in these books is to validate a prophecy- so essentially Africa and “Africans” are tools. If you’re suggesting that using a mass of interchangeable “African” people as tools to benefit a white American is somehow racist… oh wait…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    It had been Chaim Rosenzweig who had first mentioned the name Nicolae Carpathia to Buck. Buck had asked the old man if any of those who had been sent to court him about the formula had impressed him.

    As usual, telling the story in flashback.

    Why would Buck ask a question like that anyway? You can just hear the author nudging him and whispering in his ear: “Hey Buck, one of those guys is Very Important to the plot.”

  • Pops

    “The little country of Romania”

    Excuse me? And this line is coming from an Israeli?

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    Something just occurred to me. Does Israel right now have a problem with famine? I mean, it’s always described as the “land of milk and honey” and such. From what I’ve read of history, that areas problem is that everyone wants a piece of it, precisely because it’s so rich.

  • Tehanu

    Well, being as it’s on the Mediterranean coast, it’s lots more fertile than the gigantic deserts behind it. My Western Civ. professor in college (um, some decades back) taught that the real reason everybody wanted it was that it’s a crossroads area between the wealth of the Nile Valley and the highlands of Anatolia.

  • Jenora Feuer

    There’s also the fact that Israel is tapping a significant amount of the Jordan River along its eastern border to handle its current agriculture needs. The eastern sides tend to be more desert-like, and there’s a fair bit of irrigation from the Jordan going on there. As a result of this, Israel is pretty rich agriculturally.

    When you get right down to it, a lot of the disagreements between Isreal and the surrounding nations have been over the water rights to the Jordan. All the way back to the 1967 ‘Six Day War’, which started in large part because Syria and Jordan were starting their own Jordan diversion project which Israel feared would greatly reduce the Israeli water supply.

  • Carstonio

    Wow. I’ve never heard of water politics having anything to do with the regional tensions, although it obviously makes sense. I had always assumed that the surrounding nations had religious objections to a non-Muslim nation on land sacred to Muslims, or that the leaders of those nations were using wars against Israel as a diversion to quell dissent at home.

  • DavidCheatham

    I like the ‘for seven years’ clause, which I’m sure is supposed to remind us that’s all the world has, but is _extremely_ silly. ‘For seven years’ is basically ‘infinity’ in this universe, and it makes no sense for the bad guys to limit themselves like that. Why not make it for 10 years, or 99 years? (99 year leases are fairly common.)

    Heck, _patents_ last 17 years in most countries. An specific international treaty over a specific formula doesn’t have to follow general patent law, of course, but it seems rather surreal that Israel would negotiate a _shorter_ contract than they give them own citizens, and a shorter time than they’d get if they’d just create a subsidiary in each country and have them patent and license the formula under that country’s laws. (Which, granted, means any country could seize the patent under eminent domain and use the formula without license, but, uh, it appears they can do that anyway, considering the Israel has no way to _enforce_ this treaty.)

    This is the entirely wrong way for Israel to trade the formula for peace. They should not be ‘licensing’ the formula, they should be is restricting the formula production to a single, very well defended location, and handing it out to anyone who wants it. Anyone attempts to steal it, they blow up the facility. (This is assuming no one can reverse engineer it. If so, this makes things much more complicated, but we can pretend it can’t be. As this article points out, there is nonsense we _will_ accept in fiction.)

    Not that I’m am sure that the writers actually know what it means to ‘license’ a formula, which would be _giving the ability to create it to others_. Countries ‘licensing’ things to _other countries_ (Who are not obligated to follow any sort of law or contract you’ve made with them) is fairly idiotic behavior.

    Incidentally, forget the fact that Israel has no enemies…the real interesting fact arises when you realize that _all countries in the world exist under the UN_, because that’s how the UN works in this world. (Except Israel for some reason. The UN: Able to dissolve every other government in the world, unable to violate a single patent of Israel.) That means the only ‘enemies’ Israel needed protection from…is the UN. Someone else made a protection racket joke, but this actually _is_ a protection racket.

  • Jamoche

    You could pull it off, if you did it Douglas Adams style:

    “You’ve said this contract is good until the end of the Earth, but here it says seven years.”
    “Lawyers, what can you do? Always being literal. I’ll get someone right on that.”

    “Myself I’d trust him to the end of the Earth,” said Ford.
    “Oh yes,” said Arthur, “and how far’s that?”
    “About twelve minutes away,” said Ford, “come on, I need a drink.”

  • Jamoche

    You could pull it off, if you did it Douglas Adams style:

    “You’ve said this contract is good until the end of the Earth, but here it says seven years.”
    “Lawyers, what can you do? Always being literal. I’ll get someone right on that.”

    “Myself I’d trust him to the end of the Earth,” said Ford.
    “Oh yes,” said Arthur, “and how far’s that?”
    “About twelve minutes away,” said Ford, “come on, I need a drink.”

  • flat

    Sigh I had to miss this NRA post because my sister got married yesterday, not that I find this more important than my sister, it is just a shame I am being late for the show.

    ps I found it funny that Fred made a link to a page that used one of his own quotes.

    Blah blah blah, this is what we have to do next because horcrux, Hellmouth, tachyon pulse.”
    Fred Clark

  • M

    You can get away with having psychologically implausible events happening in your story, if it’s the right kind of story. Consider _How The Grinch Stole Christmas_. The final scene where the Whos discover their presents have been stolen and respond by banding together and singing works fine in the original telling of the story, because it’s a fable. But if you retell it in a realistic mode–as the movie tried to do a few years back–you discover that if the Whos are even vaguely human, it doesn’t work. That’s just not the way a whole human community reacts to discovering it’s been burgled in the middle of the night–no matter how sweet and nice and non-materialistic people are, they’re going to be scared and angry and that’s going to distract them from singing.

    One thing that Fred has repeatedly noted about Biblical literalists is that they don’t understand the difference between different kinds of stories, and maybe this is part of why LB is so bad: there are things you can do in a fable that you can’t do in a novel (or vice versa). LB is an attempt to retell a highly stylized non-realistic story (_Revelation_) using the conventions of a fairly realistic novel, and surprise, it doesn’t work.

  • bekabot

    “And what would we Earthlings get in exchange for the “flowers and grains” that Rosenzweig’s miracle formula would allow us to sell to our new interplanetary trading partners? Unobtainium. Huge, vast amounts of unobtainium — more than any desperately plot-patching storyteller could ever dream of.”

    That assumes that the space people eat what we eat; but, otherwise, sterling.

    (“I’m a husband and a father!! Don’t eat me!! Eat my Magic Mangoes instead!!”)

    (Also: I hope the Earthlings of this timeline muster the brains to plump for the technical assistance they’ll need in order to use their unobtainium and not just possess it — the way a gold bug sits on his cache of overpriced coins or the way Smaug snoozes on his hoard.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/spiritplumber mk b

    “Christ took your children. I am the Antichrist. I will make him pay. Who’s with me?” There’s a heck of a story in there… I guess in a sense Armageddon/Pantheocide already covered some of it?

    On that note, there’s ~800 years between the penultimate and last chapter of Kingdom Come in which a lot of stuff seems to happen, but is barely poked at.


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