NRA: Chaim is one of my Jewish characters

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 143-146

So far in this series we’ve encountered two named characters who are Jewish.

We know they’re Jewish because of the names the authors gave them: Chaim Rosenzweig and Tsion Ben-Judah. And because the authors have both men speak in what they say is a “charming Hebrew-accented dialect.” And because the authors keep mentioning their Jewishness so aggressively that I’m reminded of that old anti-prejudice PSA from the 1970s:

YouTube Preview Image

For those who can’t watch video or who are too young to recite this from memory, here’s a transcript:

BOY: Yesterday Jimmy said I was prejudiced.

GRANDPA: Do you know what prejudice is?

BOY: No.

GRANDPA: Well, prejudice is when you react to someone because of their religion or their culture.

BOY: But I don’t do that.

GRANDPA: Who is Jimmy?

BOY: Jimmy’s one of my Jewish friends.

GRANDPA: Then you are prejudiced, because you think of Jimmy as your Jewish friend and not your friend.

I think of that every time our story comes back to Chaim or Tsion in these pages, picturing Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins saying with that same earnest innocence, “Chaim Rosenzweig is one of my Jewish characters.”

We’ve met other characters in these books without being told anything about their religious or ethnic background. In another book, that might mean it was possible that those characters could be Jewish too, but in these pages it means we know they’re not. If Verna Zee were Jewish, she wouldn’t be named Verna Zee, she’d be Rachel Mount Sinai. If Spiky Alice were Jewish, she’d have a thick Yiddish accent and she’d be constantly identified as a “spiky-haired Jewess.”

And more to the point, if any of those other characters were Jewish, readers would know because the function of Jewish characters in these books is to walk around being Jewish. As with Chaim and Tsion, their ethnicity would be their character — or what they had in lieu of character.

Plus the authors only need two Jewish characters because they only need to illustrate the two possible outcomes for Jews in their End Times mythology. So we get Tsion Ben-Judah, the rabbi who repents of his Judaism and converts to fundamentalist Christianity, and Chaim Rosenzweig, the “nonreligious, nonpracticing Jew” who rejects Jesus and embraces the Antichrist. (Spoiler alert: Several books later, Rosenzweig also converts to Christianity.*)

LaHaye and Jenkins are vaguely aware that this dichotomy is problematic. It sounds like they’re suggesting that every Jewish person who doesn’t reject Judaism and convert to Christianity is in league with the Antichrist. And that is what they’re suggesting, but they take great pains to explain that many Jews, like Chaim, pledge their allegiance to Satan’s servant for “innocent” reasons:

The irony of all this was that the sweet-spirited and innocent Chaim Rosenzweig, who always seemed to have everyone else’s interests at heart, became an unabashed devotee of Nicolae Carpathia. The man whom Buck and his loved ones in the Tribulation Force had come to believe was the Antichrist himself played the gentle botanist like a violin. Carpathia included Rosenzweig in many visible diplomatic situations and even pretended Chaim was part of his elite inner circle. It was clear to everyone else that Rosenzweig was merely tolerated and humored. Carpathia did what he wanted. Still, Rosenzweig worshiped the man, once intimating to Buck that if anyone embodied the qualities of the long-sought Jewish Messiah, it was Nicolae himself.

See? The authors aren’t saying that Jews serve the devil because they’re evil. They’re saying that Jews serve the devil because they are befuddled and deceived. And surely the use of adjectives like “sweet-spirited and innocent” ought to shield the authors from any charges of anti-Semitism here.

That had been before one of Rosenzweig’s younger protégés, Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah, had broadcast to the world the finds of his government-sanctioned quest for what Israel should look for in the Messiah.

Rabbi Ben-Judah, who had conducted a thorough study of ancient manuscripts, including the Old and New Testaments, had come to the conclusion that only Jesus Christ had fulfilled all the prophecies necessary to qualify for the role. …

Though Ben-Judah had been a student, protégé, and eventually a colleague of Dr. Rosenzweig, the latter still considered himself a nonreligious, nonpracticing Jew. In short, he did not agree with Ben-Judah’s conclusion about Jesus, but mostly it was simply something he didn’t want to talk about.

This is the other reason we know that Verna Zee can’t be Jewish: She isn’t friends with Chaim and Tsion. In these books, all the Jews know each other. Thus a rabbinical scholar was a “student, protégé, and … colleague” of a botanist. It doesn’t matter that these two scholars are in disparate disciplines, they’re both Jewish, and so of course they studied together.

That seems a bit absurd, but it actually helps to explain Ben-Judah’s idea of scholarship. Unable to find anything in his university library except for texts on botany, he was forced to conduct his “thorough study of ancient manuscripts” using only those texts available in the nightstand of every room at the local Holiday Inn.

This whole rehearsal of the history of Chaim and Tsion’s characters was prompted by Buck’s arrival in Jerusalem. According to Tim LaHaye’s End Times itinerary, Jerusalem ought to be the safest place on earth. It’s protected by divine intervention and by a treaty with the rest of the world that “prophecy” insists will be respected for three and a half years. But Buck didn’t flee to Jerusalem for a respite from the war zones he left in Chicago and New York, the authors sent him here with the idea that Jerusalem was an exotic locale for danger and derring-do.

Why is Jerusalem so dangerous? Well, the authors seem to think that Jews are Christ-killers who must now be out to kill the Christ-followers. The anti-Semitism here is nearly that explicit and palpable. This next bit gets pretty ugly.

Tsion Ben-Judah, Jenkins writes:

… had shocked the world, and especially his own nation, when he withheld the conclusion of his three-year study until a live international television broadcast. Once he had clearly stated his belief, he became a marked man.

… When Ben-Judah, with the cncouragement and support of the two strange, otherworldly preachers at the Wailing Wall, began sharing his message, first at Teddy Kollek Stadium and then in other similar venues around the world, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before he would suffer for it.

Buck knew that one reason Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah was still alive was that any attempt on his life was treated by the two preachers, Moishe and Eli, as attempts on their own. Many had died mysterious and fiery deaths trying to attack those two. Most everyone knew that Ben-Judah was “their guy,” and thus he had so far eluded mortal harm.

Like I said, in these books, all the Jews know each other. So Tsion isn’t just best friends with Chaim Rosenzweig, he’s also best friends with Moses and Elijah.

Jenkins muffles the message a bit here with an evasive passive voice — “he became a marked man,” “he would suffer for it,” “he had so far eluded mortal harm.” He’s careful to avoid mentioning any explicit subject or actor. They are intent on killing Ben-Judah because he has become a Christian. But who are they?

Apparently, they are the Jews. This chapter doesn’t suggest that Jews all want to kill Christians. It simply assumes that to be the case — to be something so obvious it doesn’t need to be said. “Everyone knew.”

The authors here may not be explicitly promoting the ancient blood libel against Jews, but they’re certainly presuming it.

That safety seemed at an end now, and that was why Buck was in Israel. Buck was convinced that Carpathia himself was behind the horror and tragedy that had come to Ben-Judah’s family. News reports said black-hooded thugs pulled up to Ben-Judah’s home in the middle of a sunny afternoon when the teenagers had just returned from Hebrew school. Two armed guards were shot to death, and Mrs. Ben-Judah and her son and daughter were dragged out into the street, decapitated, and left in pools of their own blood.

We’ve already seen what Carpathia’s role in this was — ignoring Rosenzweig’s plea to protect Ben-Judah, but not actively targeting the converted rabbi himself. These “black-hooded thugs” were local — people from the former rabbi’s “own nation” who were enraged by his talk of Jesus and had declared him a “marked man” because of it.

The Rapture took away all the real, true Christians as well as every infant on the planet, making it impossible to produce a purer portrait of the blood libel here. The authors did not have any Christian infants available for their monstrous “thugs” to slaughter in this scene, so they had to make do with the closest available approximation — two teenagers who were recent converts to Christianity.

Explain to me again how Tim LaHaye is a “staunch friend of Israel”?

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* I got the sense that this was not the authors’ initial idea. I doubt the authors had worked out a detailed character arc for Rosenzweig, but it seemed to me that he was introduced in the early books as a representative intellectual/scientist type who was duped by the Antichrist and therefore was doomed to death and Hell. Over time, though, I think the authors grew too fond of him to abandon him to such a fate.

This is quite common among people like LaHaye and Jenkins who believe in a crowded Hell where they expect the majority of the human race to be tormented for eternity. Every little bit they balk at the idea — at least when it comes to specific people they know and like, even fictional ones.

I wish more of them would explore that emotional conflict and the underlying logical conflict. I wish they would examine why it is they think that God feels less love and mercy than they feel, or how it could be that God is less loving and less merciful than they feel themselves inclined to be.

Please don’t mistake this for a squishy or sentimental, “soft-hearted” objection to this idea of Hell. The problem isn’t that Team Hell isn’t sufficiently soft-hearted, but that they seem to be denying the divinity of Christ, which is usually regarded as kind of a big deal, heresy-wise, for us Christians.

The argument for Hell is that God demands blood, and thus, in this view, God’s only role at Calvary was to sit in judgment, awaiting the payment of the penalty God was due. From this view, the response to those Christians who balk at the idea of Hell for someone whom they’re fond of is to note that if God was willing to subject God’s only begotten son to such torment, then who are we to imagine that our friends or loved ones deserve anything else?

It seems to me that logic only works if we deny that God’s place at Calvary was on the cross. It only makes sense if we regard Jesus as a sinless sacrifice to God — the paschal lamb without blemish that God demands, but not God. If Jesus is God, though — if God commended God’s love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, God died for us — then it seems like blasphemous ingratitude to imagine that our own merciful inclinations could exceed those of God. If we are reluctant to see Chaim Rosenzweig damned to eternal torment, then we ought to understand that God’s mercy and love exceeds our own, and that the God of Calvary would go — and has gone — to any length to save Chaim and all the others we care about, even unto death, even death on a cross.

In any case, I find it somewhat endearing that the authors couldn’t seem to bring themselves to condemn Chaim to the horrific fate that their theology insists must be in store for people like him.

Alas, such flickers of compassion are the exception and not the rule. The authors also seemed fond of poor Earl Halliday, but they still killed him off a couple of chapters ago and he’s now roasting for eternity in the fires of their Hell. But at least we have the case of Chaim Rosenzweig to show that the authors aren’t always as awful as they think they’re supposed to be.

 

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  • aunursa

    The Official – Left Behind Movie Facebook
    Page
    : Our Buck and Chloe are busy reading the “Left Behind”
    books to research their roles. Have you started reading or re-reading them?
    What is your favorite book in the series?

    Linda ********* All of them. Have read the entire series twice. PLEASE consider making sequels to this film…..this story is too important to try and squeeze it into an hour/half/2 hrs. If this is done right, I believe you will have one of, if not THE largest attendance in recent movie history. Thanks, and SO looking forward to seeing it!

    Steve ******* … Looking forward to getting back into Left Behind again though. My favorite is either the first since that is the one I was reading when I got saved or Glorious Appearing when we FINALLY get through all that mess and madness and on to the joyous time of seeing Jesus

    Mary ****** ********** I am retreading them! When I first started reading them, book 8 The Mark had just came out! I read all 8 books in 16 days! Couldn’t put them down!!! I hated when I finished it cause then I had to wait on the next on lol. Now I have all 16 books in hardback and paperback (the paperbacks I loan out) they are AMAZING!! And I have the 3 original movies. I cannot wait for the new movies to come out!! Soooo excited!!!!

    Jenny ******** ****** Rereading right now. My favorite book is Nicholae, and my favorite part is Buck and Tsion’s escape through Egypt.

    Adam ******* Nicolae was a good book, the insights into his character were amazing, but I found each book brought its own narrative and character developlment along the journey, the whole series went from strength to strength. Love them all, I remember vividly reading each one, I think we were upto book seven when my wife and I were in Jamaica, and we were swopping books with others at the resort, loving each one, and when ever someone walked by next to the pool or on the beach, they would all say: ‘Great series’

    Travis * ******** About halfway through the adult series. the ONLY reason I am going to watch the movies is because of ASHLEY TISDALE! She is so fracking hot! FYI the first movies that were made were BORING and no one should have to suffer through that. At least this time you got some good actors to play in the movie. Ashley Tisdale RULES!

    Pamela ****** read them all and they are my favorite series

  • Lori

    Is Glorious Appearing where we get the steaming vegetables drenched in butter?

  • aunursa

    No. Kingdom Come, the final book that follows the return of Jesus in Glorious Appearing, is where we get steaming vegetables for a thousand years.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I will grant that these books are a steaming pile of… something, but I am pretty confident it is not vegetables.

  • Jereko

    They used to be vegetables.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Those brown things don’t look or smell ANYTHING like steaming mounds of produce, no matter how much melting butter you drench them in.

  • tatortotcassie

    Make that steaming vegetables with melted magically-came-out-of-nowhere-’cause-we-don’t-eat-animal-products butter.

  • aunursa

    They don’t eat animals; they still use animals.

    Irene had made butter from milk she had collected from a cow…

    Kingdom Come, p 2

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Is it just me, or does the whole Millennial Kingdom sound like an extremely boring place to live? After a few years of having my mind go without stimulation I would probably risk damnation to just have something interesting to think about.

  • Makabit

    I have to confess to being utterly entranced by the pictures of the World to Come on the literature Jehovah’s Witnesses keep giving me at the bus stop. The little girl picking blueberries next to a bear, the parents holding up their toddler to pet the lion…it’s really cute and appealing.

    But yes, it does sound dull to a mind honed on the conflict and challenge of this world. Maybe it’s like retirement. I asked my MIL how she really felt about moving to rural Louisiana toward the end of her life, and she said she really loved the graciousness and slow pace, and the chance to relate to people. Perhaps the Millennial Kingdom is like that. You get over the troubles of the world, and sort of relax into the new normal.

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

    *shudders* L&J have truly created the Nightmare Fuel of food.

  • Makabit

    It’s odd, really. Vegetarian food can be extremely good, especially if you can have dairy products. (Are eggs OK as well?) The food could be awesome. And yet, what do we get? Steamed vegetables drenched in butter. I mean, even roasting those vegetables would be a huge improvement.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Eggs can be okay. Depends on the flavor of vegetarian. Lactovegetarians can have dairy but not eggs, ovovegetarians can have eggs but not dairy, plain vegetarians can have both, vegans can have neither, or so I understand.

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

    Sorry, Linda, but the Tribbers just can’t compete with the Avengers.

    *snerk* “largest attendance”

    Now if Buck Williams could turn into an enormous rage-monster who basically can’t die, then the story might be a tad more interesting.

  • Lori

    Every time aunursa posts one of these glimpses into LB fandom It takes everything I have not to restrain the impulse to be incredibly mean in exactly the way Right wing Christianists are always accusing Liberals of being mean. Because those people are stone stupid.

  • Carstonio

    I wouldn’t reject the possibility that at least some of those Facebook fans are fakes.

  • http://twitter.com/count_01 Jared James

    And the fakes I’d divide about evenly between deliberate Poes actually perpetrating parody, and paid-for sock puppets.

  • Lori

    I wouldn’t either, but I think the chances that all the stupid fans are fakes is basically zero.

  • aunursa

    I don’t know which is a bigger challenge for me…

    To convince Slacktivists to accept the fact that millions of Evangelical Christians are honest-to-goodness bona-fide fans of the Left Behind series — they find the plot intriguing and they absolutely adore the characters…

    or to convince Evangelical Christians to accept the fact that Christianity is not Judaism + Jesus. (For those interested, you can follow my extended debate on
    this conservative website thread.)

  • Carstonio

    Given the sales figures for LB, one would expect them to be heavily influential on the larger culture. Millions of non-readers would have a passing familiarity with Buck or Nicolae like they do Bella and Edward, and catchphrases from the books would be among the pop-culture references on TV. Going further, one would expect evangelical Christians to be far more numerous and a dominant infuence on secular culture, Yet LB looks much more like a semi-underground phenomenon among a relatively small but devoted fanbase. That’s enough reason to be skepticial of the claimed popularity of the series. I’ve long suspected that large numbers of the copies bought are given away by missionary organizations.

  • Carstonio

    Given the sales figures for LB, one would expect them to be heavily influential on the larger culture. Millions of non-readers would have a passing familiarity with Buck or Nicolae like they do Bella and Edward, and catchphrases from the books would be among the pop-culture references on TV. Going further, one would expect evangelical Christians to be far more numerous and a dominant infuence on secular culture. Yet LB looks much more like a semi-underground phenomenon among a relatively small but devoted fanbase. That’s enough reason to be skepticial of the claimed popularity of the series. I’ve long suspected that large numbers of the copies bought are given away by missionary organizations.

  • aunursa

    I’m going to risk the wrath of commenters who hate my frequent citation of polls — by citing a poll. According to a 2005 Gallup poll, roughly 40% of Americans answer “yes” to the question, “Would you describe yourself as a ‘born again’ or Evangelical Christian?” That’s about 120 million Americans, which I would say is a pretty large segment of Americans.

    Left Behind has been a cover story in Newsweek, parodied on The Simpsons, and is going to be a major motion picture starring Nicholas Cage and Ashley Tisdale. I wouldn’t say that the series has had a significant impact on secular culture, but it’s much more familiar to a large segment of the American population than you give it credit.

  • Carstonio

    “Evangelical Christian” doesn’t automatically mean “Left Behind fan” or “premillenial dispensationalist.” One of my frustrations with journalists is they use “evangelicals” for fundamentalist Christians or politically conservative ones. The ARIS in 2008 had far different numbers than Gallup, with only 0.9 percent for evangelicals and born-agains, 3.5 percent for nondenominational Christians and 2.3 percent whose Protestantism was unspecified.

    I strongly suspect that the screenwriters working on LB will discard most of Ellanjay’s theology and ideology.

  • Makabit

    I assume lots of people do love the books. I had a supervisor at a job about ten years ago who was very into them.

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

    HATTIE SMASH!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I bet Bibleman would be on that team.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I think Linda would have a better chance of avoiding disappointment if she kept her expectations a bit more realistic. For example, Left Behind might do better than other ideologically motivated movies based on bloated tomes, like Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 or Battlefield Earth.

  • DStecks

    Don’t call them Tribbers. That word means… something entirely different.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I just checked Urban Dictionary.

    The writer of the first entry seemed to think that “Tribbing” should be a synonym for “scissoring”, but gave no explanation as to why. They also couldn’t spell. This entry had 20 upvotes, 24 downvotes.

    The second entry reads: “Someone who reads about philosophy and news on the Facebook: Tribbers.” I’ve never heard of such a Facebook page. This entry had one upvote and six downvotes.

  • The Guest Who Posts

    I’m guessing “tribbing” would come from “tribad”, a word for “lesbian” that I hardly ever see nowadays.

  • Mrs Grimble

    A quick google for “tribbing” suggests you may be right. Don’t try this at work, folks.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I hadn’t made the connection between “tribbing” and “tribade” — probably because the poster on UD sounds like he’d blink stupidly at you for using the latter term — but it makes sense.

  • Funkula

    Tribadism is a synonym for scissoring. As mentioned below, it derives from tribade, which I believe is French for lesbian.

  • The_L1985

    I’d heard “tribbing” was short for “tribidism.”

  • tatortotcassie

    But calling them Tribbles is insulting to those adorable fictional animals that coo and purr, and identify Klingons with 100% accuracy!

    What else can we call them?

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

    Jerks.

  • Launcifer

    Sanctimonious wankers?

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Is “Apocalypturds” taken?

  • Foelhe

    “Now if Buck Williams could turn into an enormous rage-monster who basically can’t die, then the story might be a tad more interesting.”

    The Christian fundamentalist Gary Stu self-insert? “Turn into”?

  • ohiolibrarian

    Or would that be Rayford Fully-loaded-747?

  • misanthropy_jones

    now i really want to see a poor taste in reading materials competition behind the left-behinders and the twigh-hards.

    it would be truly be epic…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    There is some overlap between those two groups.

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

    “It’s just a metaphor for abstinence. Seriously, look it up.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gugBiEkLwU

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, Edward possibly killing Bella with his super-strong and over-enthusiastic sex, and the whole thing being a metaphor for abstinence one would think that the couple there could have safe sex.

    You know, get one of those steel bed frames with the built-in tie-down points, a couple pairs of hand and foot cuffs, Bella applies the restraints to Edward and rides him cowgirl. So restrained he could not hurt her, and thanks to his vampire body she could bounce on him until she tires.

    Sure, unprotected sex can be dangerous, but sex with appropriate precautions can be fun for the whole couple!*

    … somehow I do not think that is the message the author wanted us to take.

    *Or more, depending on your interests and the mutual interests of those you hook up with.

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

    Ha, you remind me of the Spoony One’s review of Breaking Dawn Part I: “Dude, just let her be on top! PROBLEM SOLVED!”

    http://spoonyexperiment.com/2011/11/19/vlog-11-19-11-breaking-dawn/

  • ReverendRef

    I’m not sure whether to up-vote or down-vote this. If I up-vote, will people understand that I’m not up-voting the people quoted here as being “super excited” to get back into the LB world? If I down-vote, will people understand that I’m not down-voting aunursa, but the people who are “super excited” to get back into the LB world?

    I think I’ll just leave this one alone.

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

    I’d upvote, in that case. But yeah, it is tricky :/

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding
  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Imo, Slacktivist being forced to have a downvote function at all is really terrible. I’m not saying I’ve always been perfect — sometimes I’ve gotten really angry and hit the downvote. But I have kept myself from using it for a little while now. I just pretend it’s broken for me and impossible to use at all.

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

    Imo, Slacktivist being forced to have a downvote function at all is really terrible. I’m not saying I’ve always been perfect — sometimes I’ve gotten really angry and hit the downvote. But I have kept myself from using it for a little while now. I just pretend it’s broken for me and impossible to use at all.

  • phoenix_feather

    Ooph. This hurts.

  • aunursa

    “Chaim Rosenzweig is one of my Jewish characters.”

    Let’s see. Here are the other Jewish characters…

    David Hassid
    Eleazar Tiberias
    Naomi Tiberias

  • christopher_y

    That’s a bit of a gotcha, laid out like that, isn’t it. Although I must admit that to me, Hannelore is inevitably someone who works at the Coffee of Doom in Questionable Content and whose father lives on a space station. I’m sure she’s Jewish, but she’s a lot of other stuff more up front.

  • aunursa

    Okay. See if you can guess the ethnicity of the character based only on the character’s name…

    * Yasmine Ababneh
    * Suhail Akbar
    * Demitrius Demeter
    * Heinz Groebel
    * Lukas Miklos
    * Mwangati Ngumo
    * Hannah Palemoon
    * Ming Toy
    * Chang Wong
    * Ree Woo

  • Dash1

    What’s Demitrius Demeter? Not Greek–the name Dimitrios isn’t spelled “Demitrius” by any Greek I know. I’d be inclined to say that he’s South American or Filipino, but the last name “Demeter” doesn’t fit that idea.

  • aunursa

    I erred; his name is spelled Demetrius. He’s Greek.

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

    Believe it or not, he is in L&J-land.

  • Dash1

    Because their research into Greek names consisted entirely of looking up the list of characters in The Robe?

  • Persia

    Man, that’s a depressing list.

  • J_Enigma32

    * Yasmine: Persian? That’d be my first guess.

    * Suhail: Indonesian, right?

    * Demetrius: Greek, but only because I read the comments above.

    * Heinz Ketchup: German, related to John Kerry (no wonder he got left behind…)

    * Lukas Miklos: I’d peg this one as Macedonian or Greek, possibly Bulgarian.

    * Mwangati Ngumo: Generic African. Mwangati is a family name. So is Ngumo. Ngumo is Kenyan. I’d probably guess that Mwangati is West African, so no, I couldn’t tell you this one.

    * Hannah: Native American, obviously from the same Tribe as Princess Pocahontas (the Mikkimaus Tribe)

    * Ming Toy: Generic Chinese Name. Also rather unfortunate, given that Ah Toy, the only Chinese name that Google turns up when questioned about “Toy family name”, was a Cantonese-born prostitute and brothel owner. There’s a lot to be said for missed sexual subtext in this series, isn’t there?

    * Chang Wong: A confused attempt at a Chinese name. Chang is usually a family name. Wong is almost always a family name. Alternatively, he could be a Klingon/Chinese half-breed.

    * Ree Woo: I dunno. Totally lost. Ri/Rhee/Ree is a Korean (specifically, the North Korean variant of Yi/Li/Lee/Yee) surname. Wu is a Chinese surname. Could it possibly be the name given by a confused white guy who couldn’t tell one of them short, slant-eyed peoples from the other?

  • christopher_y

    Late to this game because time zones. I’d agree on most of these, but I’d guess Suhail Akbar as Pakistani and Lukas Miklos as a confused attempt at Hungarian. Where did aunursa find all these?

  • Apocalypse Review

    There’s a Left Behind wiki.

  • http://algol.wordpress.com/ SororAyin

    O bloody hell!

  • Makabit

    There’s also a very famous restaurant owner named Tommy Toy. It was a not-uncommon Chinese family name in San Francisco at one time. It’s now usually romanized to something else–Choi, I think. As I’ve commented in the past, it’s not so much that the Chinese names are wrong (although they are), as that they seem to have been romanized sometime in the late nineteenth century, “Woo”, rather than “Wu”, for example normally means that your family’s been in the US rather a long time.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Living in HI, it becomes apparent that surname can match ethnicity maybe six to eight times out of ten, then you get a guy who looks stereotypical white dude with a name like Wong.

    Heck, I have a German last name and my ethnicity gets guessed as everything from Hindi to Iranian to Hispanic–everything but German/Hawaiian/Chinese which is what I am.

  • Tapetum

    I have a friend who is endlessly amused as people keep assuming she, as the only Asian woman at her church, must be “Renee Wong” (not the actual name). The real Renee Wong is a blond lady, who happens to be married to Mr. Wong, while my friend’s last name is English.

  • Ben English

    Fellow Englishes :)

  • Makabit

    I used to work with a Chinese-American woman married to a Japanese-American man. The amount of condescension it is possible for people to throw at you when you say, “Mrs. Nakamoto speaks Cantonese, someone get her,” is amazing.

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

    Was about to go on a rant about the stupidity of them thinking “Heinz” was a proper German first name….only to discover that it’s apparently sometimes used as short for “Heinrich”. Guess I should leave the outrage for proper German speakers. I’ll be in the corner of shame for a while.

  • Mrs Grimble

    Quite rightly so. I once had a German manager named Heinz Bopp – it was in a hotel that had just been taken over by a German company and he had been flown in. It took him a while to understand why his name made everybody smile.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaenon Shaenon K. Garrity

    Ming, Toy, Chang, and Wong are all surnames. Technically they could be used as personal names, but I don’t think it’s very likely.

    Out of both those lists, “Marc Feinberg” is the only one that sounds like a name that belongs to a human.

  • DarcyPennell

    Maybe they were thinking of Ming Tsai the celebrity chef? I think his TV show started in the late 90s. Wikipedia says Ming is a common personal name. Of course Wikipedia gets things wrong, and Tsai’s name might be unusual, but it’s not as improbable as all that.

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

    Yao Ming’s given name is Ming, as well. It means “bright.” The mistake that L&J make is giving a girl what is usually a boy’s name.

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

    Yao Ming’s given name is Ming, as well. It means “bright.” The mistake that L&J make is giving a girl what is usually a boy’s name.

  • Lori

    I actually know a guy named Marc Feinberg. He is indeed Jewish, but that’s not the first thing I think of when I think of him. In fact, it doesn’t even make the top 10. Because he’s an actual person, not an L&J “character”.

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

    There were at least three (probably more) generations of men in my family named (paraphrasing, but same principle) Dieter Baumgaertner.

    When my father came along, he was going to be the fourth (or more) of the name. Several months after his birth, his name was officially changed to (again, paraphrasing) Gary Baumgaertner, at least partially because of concern about people like L&J, who judge people solely on their names.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    It is for that reason my name is not Enos.

    Plus my dad was picked on as a kid for it, which is why he started answering to a (intentionally bland) nickname instead. He would rather I not have to deal with it too.

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

    Getting named Enos and then watching the Dukes of Hazzard would probably have been either amusing or disheartening.

  • J_Enigma32

    It’s a challenge coming up with a name for a character that covers all of their different features and aspects. Naming your character “Renee Rhee” can say a lot about them; it gives you a bit of a mental image from the start. When the only aspect that you have to worry about is how Jewish they are, though, then a lot of that difficulty melts away.

    I have a Jewish character in “The Blue Pimpernel.” In fact, it features a Jewish family as the central family that the main character was adopted into. The family, biologically, consists of: Ofelia, Maria, and John Stratford. They’re Jewish, yes. Ofelia and Maria are Sephardim. Whether John is ethnically Jewish or not isn’t confirmed, but he’s a practicing one. Maria is from Mexico, she speaks fluent Spanish and English as a second language; John is from Belize.

    Ofelia is never once referred to as “Jewish” in the novel. I hope that you can infer it from the description of the family and their traditions, and their lifestyle (for instance, Maria freaking out over Passover and treating Passover as a major holiday – because it is, or the fact that they don’t normally celebrate Christmas *or* Hanukkah, among other traditions). They have their own quirks – for instance, Maria washes the passover dishes anyway before Passover, even though that’s not Sephardim tradition by my understanding of it – but my goal was to make them recognizably Jewish without constantly throwing it in your face.

    I’ve used Naomi for a character in a series of short stories I wrote. She was Xhosa/Indian, and from South Africa. She wasn’t Jewish; maybe it’s just me, but I associate that name more with Christians. Same with Jonas and Marc. Jacov… isn’t that spelled Yakov? Because if you pronounce that name with the hard ‘j’, you get something entirely inappropriate, and just as unintended as the sexual tension between Buck and Ray…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’ve always had a hard time conveying ethnicity. When I don’t have a specific reason to assign ethnicities, I’d like to think that means that it’s simply irrelevant and could be whatever, but then I think “What would happen if Hollywood decided to film this?” Answer: All white cast, because no one is coded with any specific race. For the thing I’m working on right now, I made a specific point of assigning all the major characters a race, but I’ve only explicitly communicated it for two of them, because it became relevant. I don’t want my characters to end up “implicitly white”, but every time I try to broach the subject, I get this horrible feeling that I’m about to wander into Babysitter’s Club territory.

  • J_Enigma32

    The solution is to make sure you assign a race to every character. If they’re White, mention it. Don’t allow any character, even tertiary characters, to go unassigned a race. It’s a habit that I started doing in the Blue Pimpernel and I continue throughout; if I’m going to identify a character as being half-Korean and half-White (Renee Rhee), why shouldn’t I identify a character was being strictly White (practically everyone with any political or social authority at all). Thus, every character except for the thugs that they routinely fight are assigned a race (this was also done on purpose; it turns out later the majority of them are White as well, but that’s not the connection a lot of people are going to be making immediately). My favorite statement when describing people with power and authority – that is, members of the Party – is “he was white and male, like all other members of the Party” or “they were an elderly white male, like anyone else with authority.”

    For the Stratfords, I researched the hell out of Sephardic Judaism. You couldn’t film that novel without making them Jewish; changing it changes the entire novel, since Ofelia is motivated by “tikkun olam” and Maria keeps Kasrut, and it’s a fundamental display of her love for Renee that she doesn’t force Renee (who isn’t Jewish) to follow it. She keeps a separate part of the fridge for Renee’s non-Kosher food, and a separate set of cooking utensils so she could cook for Renee, and Renee even gets her own milk and cheese. It does complicate things, since Renee notes it makes her feel excluded from the family, but there isn’t a real easy answer for it. Maria also spends a good part of the book prepping for Passover, and your first introduction to Ofelia’s character is her provoking a group of extremely “Christian” students by saying the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew, during the mandatory Prayer at the beginning of class (which pisses them off, since they think she’s making fun of them – which she is).

    Renee is so visually distinctive as a character that you’d be taking away from the story in a very big way. She’s half-Korean and half-White; she looks Korean, since she gets it from her father, but she’s also got auburn hair and green eyes. As far as culture goes, Renee is thoroughly westernized; her dad is from North Korea, and that was a culture he was trying to get away from, not inflict on his children (Renee had an older brother, Samuel, too).

    It’s important to note, though, that just because you code with a particular race, it doesn’t mean Hollywood is going to keep it. Whitewashing is almost as popular today as Blackface was back during Vaudeville.

  • Ben English

    Assigning everyone a race can comes across as really clumsy, though, especially if real-world racial and ethnic classes don’t apply. And even making it absolutely clear doesn’t guarantee anything–see Sokka and Katara the white Inuits in “The Last Airbender”.

  • Alix

    It depends on how you do it. Me, I like description, so I love it when authors give me a really clear picture of what a character looks like, and it’s actually pretty easy to work all sorts of physical features in. Especially if you do it even-handedly, and mention in the same way the features of white people. At that point, it becomes a stylistic quirk of the author.

    What comes across as clunky to me is when the race, or one or two stereotypical features, are mentioned every single time the character appears.

    As for awkwardness – I guess it comes down to whether an awkward attempt at inclusiveness is better than not including anyone not white at all.

  • Ben English

    I’m not saying not to be inclusive, I’m saying that identifying the race of every incidental character can be distracting. When a writer includes information, the reader begins looking for patterns, reasons the info is being given. If a character is so incidental that their race doesn’t affect the plot one way or another, then specifically tagging their race can lead to readers making false connections or even unfortunate implications. What enigma was talking about, on the other hand, identifying the race of people in power, is good because it’s setting and contextual detail.

  • Alix

    …I suspect at least part of this is a difference in how we read things, because one thing I hate is when authors underdescribe their characters. And I’ve never found incidental mentions of a character’s race any more distracting than incidental mentions of a character’s hair color. I don’t go looking for some deep meaning – I just assume the character’s that race because the character’s that race. It doesn’t need any more context than height, or eye color, or how one dresses. But I tend to assume most character descriptions are just descriptions, there to give me a solid picture of the character, not to be deep social commentary.

    Identifying the races of even incidental characters is important too, though, because it is really easy to end up creating a setting where everyone but a few token main/secondary characters are white by default.

  • Ben English

    Everyone being white by default is something readers read into things. Hell, sometimes a character can be explicitly black like Rue in Hunger Games and still have people think she’s white.

  • Alix

    Sure. But I’d argue that seeing a deep meaning to every mention of race or skin color is also usually people reading into things. Someone being, say, black really shouldn’t be, in and of itself, something Significant, just another aspect to who they are.

  • banancat

    I started re-reading Wheel of Time from the beginning, and realized that I had sort of fallen into this. I have realized that the people from Emond’s Field probably aren’t white as I had originally assumed. I don’t know if Robert Jordan ever intended them to have a race corresponding to the races in our world, but since reading the physical descriptions though the lens of examining my assumptions, I now view most of the characters from Emond’s field as looking more like people from south Asia.

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

    My impression is that most “races,” as we recognize them, disappeared centuries, if not millennia, ago. The only pure races left are the Aiel and the Sea Folk because both groups headed for the hills (or the ocean, in the case of the Sea Folk) and then kept to themselves genetically after that.

    As a result, I have always imagined that most of the characters are sort of olive-skinned, but not necessarily Asian or Latino or Middle Eastern specifically.

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

    This discussion is actually making me have flashbacks to the “OMG! How dare J.K. Rowling make Blaise Zabini black?!? She did this just to spite the fanfic writers, didn’t she?” kerfuffle back when the movie of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” came out.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I recall that Kenneth Branagh deliberately cast Idris Elba as Heimdall in Thor in part to throw a wrench into the way white supremacists tend to lionize Norse mythology by casting a black actor as a Norse god. It certainly put the Council of Conservative Citizens into a twist.

  • Makabit

    They went nuts, as I recall.

    People I know who worship the Norse pantheon were amused and pleased. They spend too much of their time shooing away racist gits anyway.

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

    Some people say the HBP book is probably the most open Take That book to fanfics. She has the equivalent of a songfic on two pages of HBP and then skewers it with a character groaning that it was a terrible song; she also tackles several motifs common to post-OotP fics, such as nearing at the reactivation of the DA, but it never comes into play as Harry says “Let’s wait and see”. JKR’s implicit in-universe compliment to Snape as an effective DADA teacher comes from the fact that the DA didn’t need to be reinstated until the Deathly Hallows.

    Some other things she tackles as almost deliberate ripostes are the uncaring-manipulative-Dumbledore and wealth-stealing-(insert character/s here) facets of such fics. Dumbledore takes the Dursleys to task, and explicitly indicates that Harry has received a sizable inheritance. On top of that he gives Harry special attention and instruction over the course of the school year. Oh, and such fics often involve Dumbledore naively insisting on resuming Occlumency lessons with Snape. In HBP Occlumency is basically a one-sentence sidestepping of the whole issue with Voldemort Occluding himself from Harry, which accomplishes the desired end result with no need for antagonism between Snape and Harry.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Please bear in mind that the whitewashing only occurs in that execrable live-action version.

  • Alix

    I think Ben’s point was that yes, she’s black in the book, but there were some fans – heck, I ran into some, and I’m not in the fandom – who still managed to miss that and were outright offended to learn Rue was black.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I thought Ben’s point was about the M Night Shyamalan film. I’m pretty sure Hunger Games isn’t M Night Shyamalan.

  • Alix

    I think at this point I’m just ridiculously confused… XD

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

    Ben made two comments. The first was about the white kids they cast as Katara and Sokka in the movie of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and the other was about the kerfuffle that followed the revelation that the black girl in “The Hunger Games” was, indeed, black.

  • Alix

    Ah, okay. Thank you.

  • EllieMurasaki

    For your education on the Shyamalan film The Last Airbender: all the actors are white, except those who play Fire Nation. Guess which side’s the enemy? In the original cartoon, some of the characters look white, but all the cultures are of color–Chinese, Japanese, Inuit, Tibetan, and at least a couple one-off characters are Korean. Inasmuch as such labels apply to a created world, but those are the places the cultural inspiration comes from.

    And if you didn’t need the education, somebody else probably does, so I’m posting it anyway.

  • Alix

    Yeah, I remember that, but it’s always good to have a refresher.

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

    Um, no. HG has Rue as a black person in the movie too.

    EDIT: Oh, my bad. You were complaining about The Last Failbender.

  • aunursa

    In any case, I find it somewhat endearing that the authors couldn’t seem to bring themselves to condemn Chaim to the horrific fate that their theology insists must be in store for people like him.

    I find it somewhat cowardly. The authors refused to force their RTC characters to face the consequences of their belief in Hell for all non-Christians. They would have had to consider that their beloved friend was suffering in eternal torment. It would have been interesting to see L&J attempt to reconcile that conundrum.

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

    IIRC the closest they ever get to this is just after the plague of darkness begins… Rayford comes across a woman begging for forgiveness and he just shrugs her off and says “You made your choice. It’s too late for you now.” Not one ounce of remorse, if memory serves…

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

    It really is incredible how the Tribbers shed tears for their “fallen comrades-in-arms,” who, for all intents and purposes, are just on a three-year holiday, but never spare a thought for Verna Zee or Alice or David’s secretary or Walter Moon or Jim Hickman or any of the other millions of people who are now suffering an eternity of torture.

  • Lori

    The best part is that the same people who cheer on the Tribbles go around complaining about how decedent and self-focused our wicked secular culture is.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    If they did, then there’s a risk they (or worse, the audience) might realize that God is the villain of the story.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I feel like they have to go through their writing process reciting the mantra, “Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think…”

    Heck, I bet their readers do that too. But then, I get the impression that they have a lot of practice.

  • aunursa

    they’re both Jewish, and so of course they studied together.

    And they’re both Israeli. As everyone knows, Israel is a tiny little country with only six million Jews. So obviously everybody knows everyone else.

  • ReverendRef

    As everyone knows, Israel is a tiny little country with only six million Jews. So obviously everybody knows everyone else.

    Sort of like being an Episcopalian — and there’s only around 2 million of us. Although some people maintain that there are really only 500, we just keep moving around.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Well, by the time you go to conventions and convocation meetings and get inveigled onto diocesan committees, you do tend to get acquainted with people…

  • Daniel

    If they didn’t know each other how would they be able to run the world wide conspiracy to control everything? They can hardly rely on the UN- those losers rolled over for the antichrist like a dog for a biscuit. The masons are pretty noticeable by their absence in this series so far, and what’s going on with the twelve foot tall lizards in Geneva? If you ask me they’ve all got something big planned for the end. “Surprise! It wasn’t God at all, it was all a masonic/illuminate/Opus Dei plot to make it look like the rapture had happened and then….”

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

    LaHaye and Jenkins are vaguely aware that this dichotomy is problematic. It sounds like they’re suggesting that every Jewish person who doesn’t reject Judaism and convert to Christianity is in league with the Antichrist. And that is what they’re suggesting

    Just…perfect.

  • hidden_urchin

    I think L&J converted Chaim because they realized that he could be useful as a part of Nicky’s inner circle (but not a viewpoint character) and not because of any attachment to the character. Think about how it plays out.

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

    I have to disagree with Fred on this one: I think they converted Chaim because he was getting too beloved amongst their readers, not amongst themselves.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    See? The authors aren’t saying that Jews serve the devil because they’re evil. They’re saying that Jews serve the devil because they are befuddled and deceived.

    I’m sure Tsion Rand-Judah can give a lecture at Brandeis University and clear this all up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Prost/100002434484052 Tony Prost

    But if I recall my Pentateuch correctly, most of the time it is God Himself who hardens people’s hearts, unto plagues and destruction.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    “Rand-Judah”?

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Not the best constructed joke, I know. If I didn’t think the reference was clear without shoehorning the real person’s name into the character’s, then I should have skipped the joke altogether.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The joke doesn’t make sense at all. What has Ayn Rand to do with eschatology of any kind? She was also, as you well know, an atheist, and rejected all religion.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    The allusion was to Rand Paul’s trip to Howard University.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Oh.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Nobody cares, Eppie.

  • Dash1

    Not at all–it’s the shoehorning of name into a slot that could have been prepared expressly for it that makes it funny. (Well, that’s one of the things that make it funny. Image of Rand Paul as Orthodox rabbi is now stuck in my head.)

  • Vermic

    “The irony of all this was that the sweet-spirited and innocent Chaim Rosenzweig, who always seemed to have everyone else’s interests at heart, became an unabashed devotee of Nicolae Carpathia.”

    It’s not ironic at all. Time and again throughout this series, LaHaye and Jenkins remind us how their vision of Christianity has no interest in — and no place for — the type of people who have others’ interests at heart. What does TurboJesus care for the sweet-spirited?

    You can’t spend two and a half books holding up Buck and Rayford’s narcissism as good Christian behavior, and then claim “irony” when the one dude who actually cares about people has signed up with the other team.

  • Lori

    The authors aren’t saying that Jews serve the devil because they’re evil.

    No, the Jews aren’t evil. They’re stupid. That’s different and totally not anti-Semitic at all. Oy.

  • aunursa

    I’ve been told that we Jews are spiritually blind. That’s how we can read the same books of the Old Testament that Christians do and yet we don’t see Jesus bouncing off every page.

  • P J Evans

    I don’t understand how *anyone* can see Jesus bouncing off every page in the Old Testament. Because it isn’t written for that at all – that’s retroactive interpretation. (I certainly don’t see it.)

  • Baby_Raptor

    It’s one of those “you see it because you expect to” tricks.

  • Dash1

    Aw shucks, I bet they say that to all the unbelievers.

  • Alix

    Nah, some of us they just decide are devil-worshippers and thus willfully corrupt.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    No, they’re not stupid; their ability to reach obvious conclusions is just being impeded by the influence of Satan having wormed his way into their hearts and minds due to their obstinate hatred of god and jesus.

    Wait. That may actually fall into the definition of “evil” after all.

  • Lorehead

    This update, or rather the piece of writing being criticized here, reminds me of wasting a bit of time arguing with a racist over Jason Richwine’s latest bit of Republican outreach to Latinos, and being told that my rhetorical style “is typical of” my Jewish ethnicity.

  • Lori

    Good lord, really? The entire issue of the GOP “reaching out” to minorities is just made of FAIL on every level.

  • Lorehead
  • Lori

    I literally made the gaping mouth fish face. Talk about saying the quiet thing loud. The GOP is now officially beyond the reach of parody.

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

    That has a real 18th-century feel to it. :O Now we have proof they want to go back to that era :O

  • Lorehead

    Well, chauffeurs of automobiles dates it at least to the Downton Abbey era, but that language is actually taken from the Social Security Act.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Do people still have footmen? Do they still have parlor maids, scullery maids, and tweenies? Quite the aristocratic list of servants.

  • ngotts

    Well at least it goes against stereotype!

  • flat

    You know I am not jewish, so I am not going to make any jew jokes.

  • Lauren

    I believe Lahaye considers himself a friend to Israel in the same way that Tony Perkins “loves” homosexuals, or that America “freed” Iraq in 2003. There’s this paternalistic, condescending kind of relationship in which Benevolent Western White Christian Man deigns to take interest in the lives of “inferiors” by demonstrating how inferior the inferiors truly are in comparison to Benevolent White Guy. Gross, yes, but to these people, it is entirely logical, and only reinforces their feelings of superiority.

  • dj_pomegranate

    LaHaye really should have used the vocabulary already available to him for expressing this peculiar linguistic nuance–for instance, “Carpathia doubleplusungood.

  • ReverendRef

    I don’t think so. I think LaHaye considers himself a friend to Israel because by being their friend and supporting them it helps to set the table for the return of TurboJesus. It’s just one more thing they can check off.

  • SisterCoyote

    I dunno, it’s like that all over RTC culture. There’s this perception that the Jews, being God’s Chosen People, need to be carefully guided and protected – as a nation, by America, and as individuals, by Christians. That’s why being “anti-Israel” is seen as such a political career-ender, I think – even making statements like “It would be great if we could find peace between Israel and Palestine” is seen as not standing 100% behind God’s Chosen People, who… need our protection, NO MATTER WHAT.

  • Alix

    I think you may be underestimating the impact of apocalyptic thinking, a bit. I can’t think of an RTC who, when pushed for the reason Israel needs supporting, doesn’t point to Revelation and the PMD prophecy scheme, and pretty quickly at that.

    They are absolutely convinced the state of Israel must exist for the return of Christ to occur, and (usually) that all or most Jews need to return there. Couple this with a really overly simplistic notion of national sovereignty*, in which any compromise with any nebulous enemy is undermining your nation, and you get the “support Israel in everything” mentality.

    *It is not at all surprising, I’m sure, to learn that these same people think that any suggestion that the US not throw its weight around is tantamount to treason.

  • SisterCoyote

    We may have to agree to disagree; maybe they’re just two different facets of the sect, but the church I grew up in had three or four pillars of whut that it revolved around, rather than just the Rapture. There was an emphasis placed on trying to bring more Jews into the faith that I remember being confusing even back then: “Well, you know, all souls are important to God, but… an Orthodox Jew converting, I mean, it’s pretty special.”

  • Alix

    Interesting! I have to admit that’s not an attitude that I’ve ever personally observed.

    And you’ve just gently reminded me of something I try to keep in mind, and clearly sometimes fail to do so: that every group is always More Varied Than That.

  • tatortotcassie

    I see it more as LaHaye et al love Israel as a concept and a country. They just wish it didn’t have so many Israelis in it. And by Israelis, I mean Jews. And Muslims. And anyone else who isn’t a RTC who shares the exact same beliefs as LaHaye et al.

  • Dash1

    Coming out of the RTC pre-millennial Rapture-awaiting tradition (keyword: OUT), I agree. There’s also the important verse, Genesis 12:3, where God says to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and through you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” I get this quoted at me a lot whenever a relative is going on about how supporting Palestinian rights to clean water and medical care constitutes “cursing” Israel, and how if too many Americans take that position, you mark their words, God will take away his blessing from America.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Geez, someone at that publishing outfit could have studied Judaism a little. This situation reminds me of a discussion I once saw on Jewish views toward interfaith marriage. To people outside of the faith, it can appear that Jews are hostile toward interfaith relationships, particularly between Jewish men and Gentile women. But the truth is a lot more complicated than that. Historically, Jews have frowned on interfaith marriage in places and times where they faced persecution – marrying outside the faith was seen as an attempt to deny one’s background to earn an easier life. In better times, it’s much less of an issue – outside of the more orthodox sects, no one really cares. As best as I can tell, this is true of conversion in general – the view varies based on the situation.

    Given that, why the hell is there so much hostility towards Ben-Judah? It’s absurd anyway (I don’t think summary execution is a common reaction towards Jews who convert), but setting that aside, things are actually going pretty well for the Jews. They have the last sovereign nation on Earth, apparently the last independent religion, and the protection of the global omnipower, not to mention massive wealth from Chaim’s magical formula. Why do they hate him so much?

    Of course, I know the truth – Ellenjay are trying once more to show how much it sucks to be a Christian. Still, you’d think one of them (Jenkins, I’d think) would realize how terribly racist this is.

  • MaryKaye

    Crazy outbreaks of hostility are actually pretty plausible in this situation–remember that we just had the loss of all the world’s children, followed by WWIII. (I know, the authors don’t remember. But still.) I would think extremism of all kinds would be rampant. If someone found a way to blame the kids on Chaim, that’s all it would take, and the blame could be very weak.

    But in someplace depicted as being pretty much modern day…yeah, it doesn’t fly. He wouldn’t be the first Jew to say something like that. Jews for Jesus isn’t a persecuted underground group, it’s just disliked. Kind of like LaHaye’s type, come to think of it–which comes back around to D. Johnston’s point, that the real purpose is to depict Christians as horribly persecuted when, in fact, they are merely disliked, and for some cause.

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

    Jews for Jesus???? You mean that Ben-Judah isn’t the ONLY Jew EVER to become Christian????? OMG!!!!!

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

    I think it would be pretty funny to show L&J season 5 of Sex and the City. I mean, not only do women have sex outside marriage, but a Christian woman converts to Judaism.

    Their heads would explode.

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

    In L&J’s view, no one converts From Christianity. If you do, then you weren’t one to begin with.

  • Lori

    In Charlotte’s case that was more or less true. She was never presented as having any particular beliefs. She was by default whichever white bread religion she had been raised in (I can’t remember which one) and that’s about it. She started out wanting to convert so that she could marry Harry* and then found that Judaism resonated with her. She ended up being more religious than Harry, and her insistence on things like observing Shabbat was a source of mild consternation to him.

    *Harry wasn’t particularly religious, but for family reasons he felt like he couldn’t marry a non-Jew.

  • Hth

    Well, sort of. It actually isn’t totally clear how religious Charlotte was as a Christian (Episcopalian, btw), but you can argue that it was a real transition for her — she yells at him in frustration not long after her conversion that “I gave up CHRIST for you!” which I can’t see coming out of the mouth of someone who didn’t see that as an actual sacrifice. She’s also intensely keen on being the godmother to Miranda’s baby and quite hurt when Miranda chooses Carrie instead; she responds by telling Carrie *very insistently* that being a godparent is a *very important job.*

    I think that ritual and tradition are very important to Charlotte, and both her Christianity and her Jewishness were much more about that than about theology. However, not everyone is a theologian, and I think it’s one very reasonable way to be religious, that emphasis on practice over abstraction. Charlotte is an immensely practical lady in almost all ways, but I wouldn’t say that means that either of her religions were meaningless to her. (/ nerd)

  • Lori

    Until Charlotte decides to convert for Harry I don’t recall her religious background/faith coming up much if at all, so I took her talk of giving up Christ as being mostly a story convenience/conflict driver/stand-in for other changes she feels she’s making for Harry. She says that to him in the middle of an argument driven by the fact that Harry won’t propose. I don’t think her deep love of Jesus was actually the issue there.

    I also thought the issue of who would be Brady’s godmother was about friendship issues and Charlotte’s mostly, but not entirely, unspoken disapproval of some of Carrie’s life choices far more than it was about deep religious feeling.

    I loved Charlotte most of the time, especially as the show went on. I don’t think her lack of profound Episcopalian-ness made her shallow and, as I said, Judaism resonated with her. She clearly got something from it quite apart from the issue of marrying Harry. I think the show made that point pretty clear when she kept going to synagogue even after he broke up with her. She wanted Harry back, but she wasn’t going to de-convert if that didn’t happen.

    I think the whole thing was just a fairly typical TV treatment of belief. It’s there when it’s needed to drive story and absent the rest of the time, which says nothing of importance about the characters and quite a lot about how TV works.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I once stopped at an A&W restaurant in the Rocky Mountains during a road trip to pick up some lunch. It was a small town, and we did not have many options for quick food. My girlfriend, roommate, and I all went in, only to discover the inside of the place was like some kind of revival tent, with text everywhere talking about “Messianic Jews” and accepting Christ as part of the Jewish faith and all that.

    My girlfriend, who is Jewish by conversion, was not amused.

  • aunursa

    OMG. My wife and I had a very similar experience many years ago. We were strolling around the community of Estes Park, Colorado, just outside Rocky Mountain National Park, when we found a Jewish book and gift store. Excited, we went in and browsed around … until we looked at each other, having gradually realized that it was a “Messianic Jewish” bookstore. We flew out of there like a bat out of hell.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    My girlfriend (playfully) gave me crap about it a while. There was one other place in town we could have gone, but I vetoed that option (disliking the chain, I forget exactly which and why) so A&W was the alternative. I had no idea that it would be like that inside.

    We ate in silence and discomfort and left as soon as we could.

  • Alix

    Man. Usually I just run into biker gangs at Denny’s. That would have freaked me the hell out.

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

    I would have been boggled at first and then just been all like “Mmkay!” *off to a different bookstore*

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

    On the upside, IN, that bookstore would probably have provided endless material for our blogs.

  • Ben English

    Not only is the whole world frayed and on edge after the Rapture and the War, but think about what Tsion is telling them. He’s not just saying that Jesus is the Messiah–Jews already know Christians believe that. He’s not just announcing his own conversion, either, even though there’d be better venues for it even in good circumstances.

    He’s standing up and telling the nation of Israel that Jesus stole your children. That Jesus took your loved ones away, and that unless you convert, you’ll never see them again. That Jesus essentially stripped them of their free will and forcibly converted them because you, parents, don’t know what’s best for them, because you, parents, are deceived and foolish.

    So yeah, I think the anger of the Israelis here is actually quite reasonable–of course murdering his family is not, but for L&J to portray this as a reaction to a Jew merely becoming a Christian makes them and their characters look like insensitive jackasses.

    Which is par for the course in these books

  • Adamlangfelder

    This is what I have to say about this series:
    http://youtu.be/gPOfurmrjxo

  • telegnostic

    Jenkins muffles the message a bit here with an evasive passive voice — “he became a marked man,” “he would suffer for it,” “he had so far eluded mortal harm.”

    None of those clauses are in the passive voice. They’re all active voice.
    I’m not disputing your basic point about the vagueness of the passage. I’m just saying that the term “passive voice” has a meaning, and this isn’t it.

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

    Sorry, quoting wikipedia here, so it may not be the best source, but:

    The subject of a sentence or clause featuring the passive voice denotes the recipient of the action (the patient) rather than the performer (the agent).

    Chaim is the recipient in those three cases. In all three cases, the agent is excluded from the phrase.

  • Danonymous

    Not the expert, but I think active/passive are about the verbs and not the story. Chaim is the performer in each case; he is the one who becomes and the one who suffers and the one who eludes so they are all active. Obviously, the paragraph as a whole is leaving out information, but I don’t know if that is a form a passive voice or not.

  • aunursa

    Ticky-tac correction: I think you’re confusing L&J’s Jewish characters. The quotes refer to Tsion, not Chaim.

  • Dash1

    Hmm. What is needed here is a syntactician. I’m not one, i.e., it’s not my specialty, but I sometimes play the role in front of a class.

    telegnostic is right, in that the sentences are not in the passive voice syntactically. It is true, however, that the first two have the rhetorical effect of something very like passivization, in that Chaim is the experiencer or undergoer of some action, the doer of which is omitted.

    The third sentence is actually active: Chaim (subject) eluded (transitive verb) mortal harm (direct object).

    (Oh heck and tarnation! And here I’d promised myself I wouldn’t go all pedantic on everybody….)

  • http://profiles.google.com/kmdavisus Karen Davis

    THIS is why I dislike people preaching against the passive. Most of the time their examples aren’t passive voice. These are not passive. Not one of them. It is true that “marked” is a passive participle, but “became” is not a passive voice verb. Only transitive verbs can be used in the passive voice; “become” is not transitive.

    It is perfectly easy to avoid naming the doer with the active voice. That’s the sin, so to speak, not using the passive.

  • bulbul

    No, no, no. No such thing as a rhetorical passivization. A passive is a mophological and syntactic phenomenon, i had nothing to do with discourse.

  • Dash1

    No, no, no, your own good self. I will humbly beg that you read what I actually said. I did not speak of any such mythical beast as “rhetorical passivization.” I said that the sentences had the rhetorical effect of something very like passivization.

    I know you’re a linguist, so I don’t need to tell you about Relational Grammar, Case Grammar, or Role and Reference Grammar, in all of which one may talk about the fact that the syntactic subject of the sentence may have the semantic role of experiencer rather than doer, as with the verb “suffer.” I was really trying not to go there, since the details are of interest to no one but folks like us.

  • bulbul

    No. Tsion does stuff – becomes, suffers, eludes. You don’t need a syntactician to know that these examples are not in the passive voice, a morphologist would suffice. A true passive often includes a past participle and the verb “to be”, e.g. “Research was conducted by Chaim” is an example of passive voice.
    There are two pairs of relationships here: subject vs object and agent vs patient. The former is syntactical (grammatical), the latter semantical (has to do with meaning). In an active sentence, subject is also the agent and object the patient. In a passive one, subject = patient. Try this pair: “Nicolae kills” vs “Nicolae is killed”. In which of these is Nicolae the recipient?
    Sometimes, though not always, passive voice can be used (see, another passive) to leave out the agent, as in “We are being deceived” or, famously, “Mistakes were made” which would not be possible in an active sentence – you’d have to say “They are deceiving us” or “Someone made mistakes”. This leads some people to believe that a passive is anything that is vague about agency, but that is not true. Whether you say “Chaim conducted research” (active) or “Research was conducted by Chaim” (passive), it’s pretty clear who does what to whom.
    Fred’s complaint is that L&J do not say who is it that intends to bring suffering upon Tsion and whom Tsuon must elude. Quite right, but that has nothing to do with the syntax of the sentences he cites. Even in the examples I gave – They are deceiving us” / “Someone made mistakes” – we don’t know who the deceivers are or who made the mistake is. But we do know that “they” and “someone” are subjects and agents and “us” and “mistakes” are objects/patients. And that’s all that matters when it comes to determining whether these sentences are passive or active.
    For a more detailed overview, try this: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2922

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

    Hmmm. It’s a lot clearer when you see sentences in which the person who should be the subject of the sentence is the object. You see it in scientific writing.

    “The sample was processed by the Perkin-Elmer gas chromatograph, etc.”

    Now active voice would mean writing “we processed the sample using the… etc.”

  • P J Evans

    Yeah, right. Considering how many people have a permanent association between oscilloscope and Tektronix…

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

    Well, they (Perkin-Elmer) don’t make GCs as far as I know but they do make spectrometers for UV-Visible spectroscopy.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    …and what would this book be without such delightful little morsels of anti-semitic assumptions?

    We would have characters who stood out as people, rather than as stand-ins for an entire people. We would actually have to think and consider individual motivation without lumping someone’s thought process into whatever stereotype of ethnicity and religion L&J decided to buy into after their morning coffee.

    We might even have characters with real internal conflict, trying to figure out which course of action was the right one (would it be moral of the genius botanist to figure out some subtle way to poison the food at some large group function if he knew Carpathia was planning on eating there?)

    We might not be presented with the myth of righteous do-nothings who insist their moral zenith occurs when they render no aid and succor no suffering.

    Nah! That other book sounds like a lot of work. L & J definitely made the right choice in avoiding authoring it.

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

    the Antichrist himself played the gentle botanist like a violin.

    See? Jenkins could have said he played him like a fiddle, which would have reminded people of Fiddler on the Roof, but he didn’t! Totally not anti-Semitic!

    The writing remains abysmal, and the lack of a good editor is increasingly evident.

    “This young man was my protege’ and my student! Because I have had many proteges whom I would not describe as learning from me at all! Also, even though I am a botanist engaged in field work and he is a theologican doing research, I consider him a colleague because of our shared work in… um… Jewishness?”

    …had shocked the world, and especially his own nation, when he withheld the conclusion of his three-year study until a live international television broadcast.

    It is a little shocking that an academic using public funds would refuse to publish his findings unless granted a live broadcast on international television, but not in the way the authors intended. I’m not sure that it’s “world-wide-shocking”, but if a U.S. scientist taking federal money for research refused to release his results unless given a half-hour on all the major networks, I’m sure taxpayers would be upset.

    Many had died mysterious and fiery deaths trying to attack those two.

    Sorry, no. The deaths themselves are not at all mysterious.

    “How did that man die?”
    “He burned to death.”

    “But what killed him?”
    “Fire. A lot of it.”

    “But where did the fire come from?”
    “From those two weird guys.”

    “How mysterious!”

    “What, you mean how those guys produce fire?”
    “No, how that man died!”

  • Vermic

    “This was no boating accident!”

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

    It’s especially annoying because the problem could so easily have been solved. Just have Tsion and Chaim work at the same university. Then you don’t have the silliness of a botanist mentoring a Rabbinical scholar.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    “Looks like an open and shut case of death by natural causes”

    “Natural causes?”

    “Can’t live without a spine. Nothing unnatural about that.”

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    “No, no, we’re all supposed to say the old king died of natural causes.”

    “Well, bein’ assassinated is natural for a king, right?”

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

    I seem to have the opposite problem. The longer I have characters, the more mean I seem to get to them. Tania (of my current story) started out as a throwaway character and eventually became one of the supporting cast, but also lost her arm, mother, and girlfriend in the process. Granted, she’ll eventually have a satisfactory ending…

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

    Aw. :( *patpats your characters*

  • Dogfacedboy

    Spoiler alert!

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

    Pfft, you’ll have forgotten I ever existed before you buy this off a shelf. :D

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

    Alternatively you could do a global search-and-replace for Tania’s name and call her something else in the final draft. Then we won’t know who this is going to happen to until it actually happens to her. Did that make any sense? It’s late and I need to get some sleep.

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

    Half-tempted to dislike that sentence, for two reasons. 1) You’ve given me far too much insight into what a sociopath actually is for me to forget anytime soon, and 2) I’m not gonna buy your book off a shelf. I’ll order it off Amazon.

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

    Well, we’ll see where it winds up getting published.:p

    Since this all happens in the first quarter of the book, I feel comfortable with it being known. It’s Tania’s character foil and heavily affects the way she develops throughout the story.

  • Becca Stareyes

    I was thinking about that; I suspect it’s because most writers don’t expect the worlds they create to be just or fair or anything like that — or even true for that matter. Bad things can happen to good people, and the readers can just rail at the cruelty of the situation.

    But if LH&J had Chaim remain a nonreligious Jew, they and their readers would have to confront that God was willing to send a decent guy who was doing good work to feed the hungry to Hell because he was worshiping God the wrong way (when he did so at all), and that was how things were Supposed to Be and were going to be even. The authors must have had some misgivings about that, but rather than wonder about whether they could reconcile their insistance that God is Just and Loving and Only the Right Faith can Spare you Eternal Suffering, they just decided ‘well, Chaim is a decent guy, so surely God would ensure he converts before his death’.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Remember, part of the elaborate framework that lets these people believe what they believe and still think of themselves as good people is that they don’t believe that people like you describe can exist; Para-Chaim, the nonreligious Jew who does good work to feed the hungry can’t exist. Either he eventually converts, or he’s secretly been evil and up to no good all along.

    And when they see someone like you or me, who tries to be a good person, do good things, but doesn’t believe exactly what they do, they know that either we are eventually going to have the scales drop from our eyes and convert, or we’re secretly evil: maybe I secretly beat my wife*; maybe while you’re working at a soup kitchen, you’re surreptitiously trying to convert the patrons to homosexuality. Maybe we’re just biding our time before we rise up and murder all the Real Christians.

    Because a good person who doesn’t believe what they do? Can’t. Exist.

    (* More than is necessary to establish my proper male headship, whatever that means.)

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

    > maybe while you’re working at a soup kitchen, you’re surreptitiously trying to convert the patrons to homosexuality.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that porn.

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

    I haven’t, but I kinda want to :P

  • Dash1

    Actually, I haven’t seen any evidence that L&J regard feeding the hungry as good work or even a desirable thing to do.

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

    I have that problem, but I also have the problem Fred’s talking about. I think what happens is this: we want drama. And killing someone off kills any drama they can ever have again. I dislike writers who just kill off characters left and right; I think it’s pretty lazy.

    As for the problem Fred’s talking about, I cannot for the life of me seem to write an actual villain. I can write antagonists to the protaganists, and I can make the antagonists do some pretty awful things, but I seem to be physically incapable of not giving them scenes which will invariably make random people on the internet think I’m siding with and excusing the antagonists. I set about making a man who was just absolutely awful, almost everything I despise, and I ended up with him sobbing in self-hating agony in the arms of my main character. That isn’t where I wanted to go.

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

    Well, are you actually trying to get a villain who is completely irredeemable? Personally, I prefer villains who have an ideology that, to their perspective, places them in the right. I’m not fond of the cardboard “SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST RARRR I KILL YOU BECAUSE I CAN AND THAT MAKES IT RIGHT” villains.

    On the other hand, I did write one of my fallen angels as being utterly opposed to the very concept of goodness — one who does evil for the love of evil itself, who would adapt his purposes to whatever did the most harm to a society, even going so far as to make it a prolonged campaign perverting the morals of the society in order to set people against each other and– y’know what, just look at the Republican party.

    I find myself gravitating toward villains who could just as easily be antiheroes, though…

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

    Irredeemable, yes. TW: rape

    He rapes the main character for years, and believes he’s perfectly justified in doing so. He’s a manipulative, selfish, self-absorbed shithead with a chip on his shoulder. He thinks he’s a good guy. But I feel like he keeps screaming at me that he knows he isn’t, and he’s tormented by this. The way the story is, and this world is, and especially the way HE is, he will never become anything other than a horrible person who considers himself to fully deserve everything good that happens to him, and to be an innocent victim whenever anything less than wonderful happens to him. He’s charming and capable and passionate and generous… and horrible.

    I think I’m too worried about what people will think and say — like, that they’ll think I’m justifying this guy’s horrible behavior, and especially rape, by also making him have this side to him. Especially because his relationship with the main character is actually really complicated. A lot of the time, people seem to read “complicated” as “justifying unjustifiable behavior”.

    And I sometimes like to read or see villains who are just villainous and who get their righteous comeuppance. I don’t like being unable to write that kind of character, because it makes me feel like I’m not in control of my own writing. It makes me feel like Laurell K. Hamilton, who buys presents for her characters and doesn’t seem to realize that they’re fictional characters any longer. I should be in control, damn it. But I’m not totally.

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

    We never are.

    If you’re concerned about what the audience will think, perhaps you could see about squeezing in an audience surrogate at some point, even if it’s right at the end when he gets his comeuppance?

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

    “If we shadows have offended
    Think but this, and all is mended”?

    Mneh. I think I’m just gonna have to live with the fact that people misinterpret writers all the time, and I’m not going to be the one writer ever who’s exempt from it.

    Btw, this particular character never gets his comeuppance. Because that’s the way this world is.

  • The Guest Who Posts

    I haven’t read any of your stories, but sounds to me like you’re a good writer.

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

    Thanks :).

  • Beroli

    I think…there is no way you can write a character who no one will argue for being in the right unless you make them a complete cardboard cutout. I would be very surprised if no one thinks the villains of Komarr, for example, are heroes.

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

    Well, Voldemort is a pretty cartoonish survival of the fittest villain…

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

    I never said I thought of him as the ideal villain. ^^ Still better than a lot of the ones I’ve seen, though.

  • flat

    Well I see harry potter not as an ideal hero, one of the most frustating things about him is how he isn’t using his intellect when he should have.

    For example while he didn’t really need to close his mind to defend himself against voldemort he still notes that leglimency and occlumency are incredible useful skills in itself, but he doesn’t learn them, he personally notes how useful and how much of an advantage he would have using them and his his six year would have been the perfect time to learn leglimency.

    So when Snape end up curbstomping him at the end of book six I was incredible frustated because I could feel if harry got his fucking act together he could have stopped snape.

    And don’t get me started about the horcruxes because he destroyed the first one in his second year, and didn’t learn anything about their creation, purpose, and the means of how to destroy one.

    Granted Rowling needed to tell the story, and Harry got the shit kicked out of him because he doesn’t pay attention, but sometimes I want to walk in the books and kick him in the groin for being such an immature incurious idiot.

  • tatortotcassie

    Off topic somewhat, but I saw Harry’s failure with Occlumency stemming from a lack of guidance and technique. “Close your mind to me, Harry.” “Ok, but HOW do I do that?” In this instance, Snape is as much to blame as Harry if not more so because Snape is a teacher and should sure as sh!t know better! (I also think Snape deliberately did a piss-poor job with the lessons, which is just reprehensible . . . said the former college instructor.)

    (But I’ll admit a lot of Harry’s choices esp later on in the books frustrated me. Sirius wouldn’t have died if Harry had bothered to stop and think a little, for example.)

  • SisterCoyote

    That always drove me up the WALL. Sirius specifically gave him the mirror, and told him “If you ever need to talk to me, use this.” So the ONE TIME Harry needs to use the mirror, he forgets about it and puts all of his friends at great risk to speak with an unreliable third party. ARGH.

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

    Harry was just a kid, and a kid with both a horrible home life and literally the weight of the world on his shoulders. I’m not saying he was written perfectly, but actually the number of dumb choices he makes is extraordinarily low for any kid his age, let alone one in his circumstances who literally had no one who loved him from the ages of 2 to 11.

    For Snape, there is no excuse.

  • Thomas Keyton

    Snape’s instruction is better than fake!Moody’s “keep casting Imperio until Harry just becomes immune” technique, and Harry learned that pretty well. (Snape actually says it required similar skills, in fact… not that either teacher explains what these skills are short of protagonist status. Hogwarts just has low educational standards in general – I don’t think we see a single spell taught that isn’t taught as “words, wand movement, go”.)

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

    The main issue, as Dumbledore implicitly acknowledged, is that Snape used the Occlumency lessons as a bullying tactic.

  • Thomas Keyton

    YMMV there; I read it more (though not solely) as an untrained teacher and a pupil actively opposed to learning that particular technique under circumstances where both parties were at risk of regular mind-reading by Voldemort… and all that in addition to Snape’s unprofessionalism, just why was it so important for Dumbledore not to teach it? For plot purposes he could have been the instructor with Snape replacing him once he was a fugitive and much the same result would have occurred.
    Snape has many failings, but I think him capable of at least trying to overcome them on a plot-critical assignment.

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

    Incuriosity is one of the most annoying character traits. I’ve tried to make my characters as much like real people as I could by having them constantly ask questions and pry at the status quo of complacent ignorance, even when the answers are “No one knows.” At least then the question has been asked, rather than assuming that everyone is happy with not knowing.

  • Lectorel

    I’ve always read Harry through the lens of his abusive home life, and so his lack of curiosity, while frustrating, is not surprising. The first rule of surviving the Dursley’s was ‘Don’t ask questions.’ It’s not safe – at all – for him to seek answers in the Dursley house. It’s not safe to outperform his cousin. It’s not safe to seek help, or need care, or admit weakness.

    Harry’s always made sense to me, in part because his behavior mirrors some of my own unhealthy-but-needed coping mechanisms. He’s an abused kid, who keeps going back to an abusive environment. He’s not going to suddenly stop assuming that cruelty must be endure, adults cannot be relied upon, or that it’s unsafe to be remarkable.

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

    Indeed. That being said, when the narrative calls for it, oh boy, can Harry and his friends be damned curious for ten cats.

    That’s part of the issue, I think, with the HP books, JK Rowling needed to obscure certain things for narrative exposition and saving up for the Big Reveal, but in doing so created a main character in the Bildungsroman arc of the books who had to be narratively endowed with curiosity or incuriosity at the appropriate times.

    Consider the way he had access to a valuable store of personal connections to his parents through Hagrid ‘writing their old friends’ for pictures to assemble a collection for him, yet it falls to Remus Lupin to reach out to Harry first, and even then very little actual information about Harry’s parents as people and not simply abstractions in the narrative backdrop comes out in the books until Deathly Hallows/Pottermore/JKR interviews.

    A more crackerjack Harry would have started running down those names and written to them, gaining valuable knowledge about his parents. But for that to happen, the Big Reveal that Snape knew Lily and was obviously friends with her in his early years in school would have been blown far too early in the series and thus laid bare the true nature of Snape’s motivations. Keeping that a mystery was one of JKR’s objectives in the series and she did it well at the cost of making Harry’s behavior a little bit inconsistent.

  • Lectorel

    I see that. For me, it was possible to make sense of – Harry, for all his hunger for the idea of family, has experience that says the reality of family is disappointing, so don’t look to close. He investigates things which he thinks are a future threat, largely, which makes sense in the context of the risk/benefit analysis model I assume he uses, but I realize that’s me imposing my own understanding/issues/context on the story.

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

    I think a large part of what happened, is that JKR started out in the Roald Dahl method of children’s storytelling. She couldn’t just go back and pretend she hadn’t done it, when she started writing her characters as more complex human beings and her world as more shaded. Plus I think she enjoyed writing the Dahlesque stuff, and I know lots of people enjoyed reading it. So we have this clash between “Harry was terribly abused” and “Harry literally lived in a cupboard under the stairs and his aunt and uncle hate him so much they give him old socks for Christmas, and he saves the world multiple times.” Not to mention the teachers who should not be teachers, especially Snape. This clash plays out both in the story and in our analysis of it, and sometimes makes it well-nigh impossible to comprehend the story as a whole.

    I think it’s one reason it was so popular, though. Readers could be terrified by the Dementors (and imo, those are the most terrifying beings any writer has ever come up with) and then be distracted by Mrs. Figg. It’s very like what being a pre-teen and teenager actually is — everything happening so fast, and going from tragedy to hilarity in a heartbeat, and you have no clue why any of it is happening and no time to figure it out, and yet you’re supposed to decide your entire future RIGHT NOW. The world is totally cruel and unjust but maybe you have the power to change it, but how are you supposed to do it on your own, and now your best friends are falling in love and it’s just a pain, and wow that person grew up well and you think you’re going to be ill when you see them making out with someone else, ugh this teacher’s an asshole and picks on you, but you have to get a good grade in their class or your future will be ruined, better get ready for the big game!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Reading Lovecraft, curiosity is often a character’s tragic flaw, leading them to learn awful truths about the universe that they are not prepared to cope with. Many of his protagonists are writing in first person with the intention of illustrating why we should not keep prying into things better left unknown, lest we come to the attention of powers far greater than ourselves.

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

    I am steadfast in my refusal to give out spoilers which indicate this might be relevant in some way!!11!eleven!

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

    Well, in Lovecraft’s world, that makes sense. But Lovecraft’s world, while many find it interesting, is really nothing whatsoever like our own world, and so the human beings there are nothing like the human beings here. The rules are entirely different, and are no kind of guide to trying to write characters in anything but a Lovecraftian world — which is not just a horrific world, but a world in which the fact that someone is a so-called “negress” is supposed to legitimately send someone screaming for the hills.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Granted, Lovecraft was horribly racist. But for someone like him, that genuinely was shocking. It speaks to his own neurosis. But Lovecraft’s work was a product of its time.

    As another example of such, this was a period where humans were making discoveries about the scale of the universe they inhabited which dwarfed the previous conception they held of it. So much of human history has been based around the idea that we are the center of the universe, only to have astronomers start discovering that no, the universe is mind-breakingly bigger than we thought it was and we are but a tiny speak against it.

    You see that repeated in Lovecraft’s works as well, the idea that in the universal scheme humans are insignificant, tiny ants against the giants of the universe and only survive because we are below the attention of things which might be greater. The idea that there are certain beliefs about the universe and our place in it that we hold core to our self-identity, and that being forced to confront truths which contradict that can leave us shattered and unable to cope.

    I think that some of that is still relevant. Take the people inside the Evangelical “bubble”. That kind of horror, the horror of the truth blasting away the beliefs, can be a genuinely terrifying prospect. As much as we believe ourselves to be more enlightened now, there is always more to discover, not all of which we are necessarily comfortable with.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I was mentioning to some friends a little while ago that a twist I’d love to see on Lovecraft would be a story set in the modern day using the Lovecraft mythos, where, when the eldrich horrors from beyond the void show up, the heroes don’t instantly turn into gibbering madmen, because it is 2013, and as it turns out, the goat with a thousand young is actually only all that alarming if your head is full of turn-of-the-century sensibilities, and if you’re not the kind of person who freaks out at the idea of someone being biracial, you also aren’t going to go irreversibly insane from seeing a big octopus-headed dude.

  • Alix

    Dude, I didn’t know I wanted that until right now. That would be kind of awesome.

  • ngotts

    Ordinary goats cause enough damage when imported to places they shouldn’t be. A goat with a thousand young would be a one-ruminant environmental catastrophe!

  • Andrew

    Thank you for the link to that PSA – my wife and I remember it from the early 70s (in the NYC area).

  • Deborah Moore

    I am somewhat troubled by your approach to ethnicity. You seem to suggest that having characters with any ethnicity at all is prejudiced. If your characters do have an ethnic identity, it certainly shouldn’t play any role in the story, and above all, they mustn’t have characteristic names or show any signs of belonging to their stereotypical culture. (Even if some of those stereotypes may have some basis in fact).

    For instance, the characters in Fiddler on the Roof were Jewish. They also had classic (East European) Jewish names and did at least some traditional (Eastern European) Jewish things. How anti-Semitic! Furthermore, the characters in Roots are black. The characters in The Godfather are Italian. And so forth. In all cases their ethnicity is essential to the plot. How prejudiced!

    So is there any acceptable way to portray ethnicity at all? And if so, is there any acceptable way other than to write your characters and then assign them an ethnic group at random?

  • Flying Squid with Goggles
  • Lori

    You seem to suggest that having characters with any ethnicity at all is prejudiced.

    This is not at all what Fred is saying.

    If your characters do have an ethnic identity, it certainly shouldn’t
    play any role in the story, and above all, they mustn’t have
    characteristic names or show any signs of belonging to their
    stereotypical culture. (Even if some of those stereotypes may have some
    basis in fact).

    This is not at all the issue. The problem is that in LB the characters are nothing but their ethnic identity, their supposedly characteristic names are actually mostly ridiculous and the stereotypes that make up their stereotypical culture are offensive and ignorant.

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

    Wow. Talk about missing the point.

    In all cases their ethnicity is essential to the plot.

    If you’re telling the story of Italian-American immigrants in America, Italian ethnicity is important. If you’re telling the story of a Jewish community, yup, Jewish culture is a key part of the story you’re telling.

    But if you’re telling the story of, say, Christians living in the End Times and facing a biblical AntiChrist, then giving a secondary character a Jewish ethnicity is, frankly, tangential to the plot at best, to say nothing of Chinese, Greek, or Native American ethnicity.

    Ethnicity as part of a character isn’t the problem. Ethnicity as a replacement for character is a problem, and ethnic stereotypes as a replacement for ethnicity is a huge problem. That all the characters in Roots are black is not a problem. If every character was a jive-talkin’ hustler or a mammy, then it would be a problem.

  • Alix

    Sure there is. It’s called treating the characters as people first, and actually treating the ethnicity in question with respect. It’s like the difference between, say, writing a Strong Female Character(TM) and a character who happens to be female.

    In a story not focused on the subject of ethnicity, ethnicity should just be one of many attributes that inform a character. Important, sure, in the same way the character’s gender or personal history, or a host of other things, are important. But when the character is nothing but their ethnicity (or gender, etc.), with all other traits a reduced second, then it’s a problem.

    Also, white Western folks have ethnicities*, too, and ignoring that just serves to make other ethnicities out to be even more foreign and Other.

    *My phrasing here is not the best, but hopefully I make sense.

    Shorter me: Flying Squid links it all.

  • tatortotcassie

    I believe Fred was pointing out that when ethnicity is all that is given to a character in terms of traits — when an author makes the reader(s) see the ethnicity first and foremost and then maybe gets around to making the ethnic character an actual person — that’s when You’re Doing It Wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Space Marine Becka
  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    I just realized: Buck and Rayford are Chaim’s ” ‘Murkican friends”.

    “I’m Cam Williams, but you can call me Buck! I’m a ree-porter, doin’ the most important job in the world: I stand around and see stuff happen, then I tell other folks about it!”

    “Howdy! I’m Rayford Steele. I fly planes, but not them sissy little things. I only fly big jumbo-jets. They’re like the SUV’s of the flyin’ world! Also, I like to flirt with stewardesses, even when they’re working for me, but it’s OK because I don’t ever do anything else.”

    If you stop and look at it, the protagonists are painful American stereotypes.

  • Jenny Islander

    They’re giant cliches, all right. But I think that if they were ethnic stereotypes, there would be much more talk of American football, jingoism, and beer.

  • P J Evans

    It might depend on which stereotypical White American Male they had in mind. Somehow, football and beer don’t go with Buck and Ray at all. Or any kind of sports, really. They’re more the couch-potato type, to my mind.

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

    I think Cam & Ray are “accidental stereotypes”. The authors didn’t realize that the Americans in the book are a college-drop out, (Chloe) a man who’s first choice of car is a “fully-loaded range rover”, and a man who sexually harasses his co-workers and likes to fly big, manly planes, and a priest who thinks he was unworthy of Heaven because he once enjoyed looking at a dirty magazine. It’s just that they were writing what they knew, what they thought were “good Americans”.

    Later in this book (spoiler?) Buck will buy a vehicle intending to dispose of it shortly thereafter, (consumerism, wastefulness) and illegally cross national borders without a second thought. He does this because he believes the safest place is in America, (!) and because he doesn’t trust any non-American could bring Tsion to safety. (!!)

  • Dash1

    Now my image of Rayford is inextricably meshed with Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    If you stop and look at it, the protagonists are painful American stereotypes.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Buck & Ray don’t have NEARLY enough guns.

  • Dogfacedboy

    Unable to find anything in his university library except for texts on botany….

    I wonder what the black-hooded thugs would have done to his family if Tsion had gone on national television and declared a philodendron to be the Messiah.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Probably they’d’ve been just as baffled as everyone else.

  • Alix

    The Jews willfully rejected Jesus and have made it their goal in the universe to persecute Christians by, apparently, making a world where Christians aren’t super-special in charge (projection, hey), but for some reason God still calls them his chosen people and PMD requires that Israel exist before Jesus returns, so Christians have to support Israel. God’s ways are inexplicable to man, dontcha know.

    This should go without saying, but I don’t honestly believe that crap.

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

    Rachel Mount Sinai Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 202 pages

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    We’ve met other characters in these books without being told anything about their religious or ethnic background. In another book, that might mean it was possible that those characters could be Jewish too, but in these pages it means we know they’re not. If Verna Zee were Jewish, she wouldn’t be named Verna Zee, she’d be Rachel Mount Sinai. If Spiky Alice were Jewish, she’d have a thick Yiddish accent and she’d be constantly identified as a “spiky-haired Jewess.”

    You know, that reminds me of when the converse of this happens. A character may be introduced with no particular indication of their own faith or parentage, yet the audience might infer that they were Jewish from other characteristics of them. For example, Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop is thought of by a lot of (western) fans as being Jewish by ancestry if nothing else due to the shape of his nose and his hair and his last name. However, the nose and hair were just coincidence on the part of the character designer, and the writers gave him the surname Spiegel because they liked the alliteration with his other name, Spike. The producers understandably probably did not give it too much though.

    Given he was born on Mars after a big emergency human diaspora from Earth brought a hodgepodge of cultures mashing together, it is entirely possible his family was Israeli.

  • connorboone

    I think he also used an Israeli handgun.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    See? The authors aren’t saying that Jews serve the devil because they’re evil. They’re saying that Jews serve the devil because they are befuddled and deceived.

    I am pretty sure L&J think that way about any “unsaved” person who does not cross some moral threshold they cannot stand. I think that it is the only way that they can continue functioning in society, by believing that about most people.

    It seems condescending but I might be hypocritical in calling them that, considering that I think that most of their readers are themselves “befuddled and deceived.”

  • bulbul

    “evasive passive voice”
    Sorry Fred, but not one of the examples is actually in the passive voice – ‘became’, ‘would suffer’, ‘had eluded’ are all active voice with Ben Judah as the subject.
    *back to lurking*

  • P J Evans

    ON the other hand, the character that things are happening to IS passive, for them.

  • bulbul

    That makes absolutely no sense.

  • tatortotcassie

    Neither does anything written by LaHaye and/or Jenkins.

  • Lorehead

    No, even there, he became what he became by conscious choice. Suffer really is something that other people did to him, although it’s not grammatically passive.

    But eluding people is something he actively did, and emphasizes his agency compared to an actual passive construction such as he was pursued would have, and much more an active one in which he’s the direct object, such as someone pursued him. That’s what I think Fred actually means: that L&J are evading whom he eluded and at whose hands he suffered.

  • Amtep

    “Carpathia included Rosenzweig in many visible diplomatic situations and
    even pretended Chaim was part of his elite inner circle. It was clear to
    everyone else that Rosenzweig was merely tolerated and humored.
    Carpathia did what he wanted.”

    That sounds like an exact description of the role of Buck & Ray in this story. And Buck pities Chaim for it!

  • Grogs

    It seems that in the LBverse, the default is that non-ethnic name = white guy/girl. I know that in the movies Bruce Barnes, Pastor Billings, and the President were all black, but from what I recall of Fred’s discussion in the first movie, those were in the movie, and there was no evidence of it in the books. In the books, apparently, we never got much of a description of them at all.

    Are there any counter-examples of this trend anywhere in the books? Is there, for example, an asian guy named Bill Smith, or maybe even a white guy named Talledega Nascar?

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

    Are you kidding? :P

    Chang Wong is Jenkins’s idea of a great Chinese name.

    Oh, and he thinks it’s funny to have Mac McCullum call Abdullah Smith “pnzry wbpxrl” (ROT13d because it’s offensive) as a radio call sign.

  • JustoneK

    I just put that in and literally covered my mouth with my hand in shock. I was so not expecting even that. :o

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

    And the hilarious part is, Mac and “Smitty” have the biggest bromance (a word I normally dislike) in the entire series. When they’re not “teasing” each other, they’re falling all other themselves to compliment each other. I’m sure Jenkins had no idea he was doing it, which makes it so much better.

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

    “Are you pout, Smitty?”

    “No, I am not pout, Mac.”

    *gigglesnorts*

  • Jenny Islander

    Where’s that giant list of LB “ethnic” supporting character names? They’re all as bad or worse IIRC. ISTR a Chinese woman named Ming Toy and a French girl named Cendrillon.

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

    Yeah, Cendrillon Jospin. Not coincidentally, a well-known French politician at the time was a man named Lionel Jospin.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Cinderella? Seriously?

    In a better-written series (damning with faint praise, I know) this could have been an amusing addition to her character history. Did she act as tomboyish as she could, just to spite her mother? Does she, like Tonks, insist on going by a nickname?

    That last would be quite a contrast with “Buck” Williams. There’s nothing embarrassing about the name “Cameron”, but CamCam thinks his nickname is flattering, so he insists on it. Somehow I don’t think the authors would have the same reaction about a female character choosing her own appellation.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I remember a Latin American woman in Alan Dean Foster’s Catalyst who was named after a Russian opera. She said upfront that her parents had a poor imagination but a good radio.

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

    And his sister, Ming Wong Toy Woo.

  • Launcifer

    You know, every time someone posts that particular name, I can’t help but think that it’s a poor attempt to anglicise phonetically the name of a Korean car manufacturer.

  • Jamoche

    And I think of the classic Goon Show song. Iddle-i-po…

  • Launcifer

    Maybe it’s the boring first draft of this little ditty and the cows all go “moo!”.

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

    Every time I hear that name, I want to break out into song. “Everybody Chang Wong Tonightl”

  • Grogs

    That could be OK if it was a tight group and they all had racial epithets as their calls signs. In the hands of a competent writer, it could even be used to show that in the new order of things, racial identities didn’t matter much and what were once offensive slurs were just jokes now. But this is L&J, so we know that didn’t happen.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I rather doubt that’s possible no matter how competent the writer is.

  • Apocalypse Review

    I don’t think so. It’s one thing to create characters of the same ethnicity/sexual orientation/etc and give them N-word privileges with one another. It’s another to have white people, in particular, calling their people of color co-workers such things.

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

    I think it could work in a fantasy world. In “our-world-but-apocalypse”… I’m not saying it could never happen. But it would take a writer of the very highest caliber. I sure wouldn’t try it.

  • Jamoche

    Or an Iain M Banks “barely recognizable as still human” world. But even then the odds are pretty badly against it.

  • phoenix_feather

    There’s a moment in the later books where Rayford is trying to find Hattie, who is staying in a clinic under a pseudonym. When he reads the list of guests’ names, it’s includes a bunch of ethnic names and a “Mary Smith,” and Rayford chuckles at how unoriginal Hattie is at picking out a fake name.

    Only it turns out that Mary Smith is an Asian (?) woman and Hattie was hiding under a completely different name. Even Rayford is impressed by how clever Hattie is, since she managed to … shocker … pick a non-English name.

    I have no idea why Hattie is the only character who is able to look past ethnicity in choosing a name, but I’m guessing it was a complete accident on the part of the authors. Maybe Meta-Hattie coming out to play?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That also speaks of Rayford’s poor opinion of Hattie’s intelligence. Glad he got his comeuppance on that note.

    Since he was having “impure thoughts” about her previously, does that mean that he is into women with (in his eyes) low intelligence? It might explain some things if he had a “type” like that.

    Frankly I have always preferred the opposite. An intelligent woman is a much more interesting companion.

  • Alix

    I don’t think it honestly occurs to Rayford/L&J that women can actually be intelligent.

  • Apocalypse Review

    Yeah. Look at how L&J go out of their way to make sure to portray Hattie in the most unflattering terms possible. (>_<)

  • Persia

    Maybe only the underhanded types pose as a different ethnicity. I find it hard to believe they can compliment Hattie without insulting her in their eyes….

  • tnv

    “News reports said black-hooded thugs pulled up to Ben-Judah’s home in the middle of a sunny afternoon when the teenagers had just returned from Hebrew school.”

    They were nominally-Jewish kids in Israel. Of course they would go to Hebrew school, as in, a day school that is taught in Hebrew, because that’s what day schools in Israel are taught in. This sounds as ridiculous as saying in New York or Ohio, “the teenagers had just returned from English school.”

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

    Wait…. HUH? Please tell me that they spent more on that story than just that. So much potential for drama and action in a
    scene and this is how they do it, just rattle it off like a news
    blurb. Gah. Amazing how they can take almost anything and make it
    dull.

    Yeah, that struck me as odd too. Do they even CALL it Hebrew school? I can understand differentiating between religious classes and the regular ones.

  • Jamoche

    I can’t help but think they did all their research by listening to “Fiddler on the Roof” songs.

  • Launcifer

    You know what? I can’t help but think we’d have ended up with more realistic characterisations in that scenario.

  • Lorehead

    The short answer is, no, Israeli schools are not called “Hebrew school,” and that doesn’t distinguish the different types of school in Israel.

    Israel has four different public school systems. One is for Arabs, and the other three for Jews. Of those, one is secular and two are religious, and it seems likely a respected rabbi would have had his children in a religious school and moved them to a different school after his conversion. But, would a newly-minted RTC have sent his children to a secular state school, especially given the murderous feelings toward his family in the novel? Surely the religious schools run by Christians not Real and True survived the Event.

    Israel could have radically redesigned its school system after the miraculous deliverance, the apparent annexation of its neighbors, and the Event. Is there any indication that L&J ever thought of this? (Why would Jews for Jesus attend Hebrew school even in the U.S.?)

  • Carstonio

    At first I didn’t realize that the thugs going after the Rosenzweigs would be Christ-hating Jews. I didn’t think through the implications, and assumed that all societies in a Carpathia-ruled world were hostile to Christians. Like anyone wearing a cross pendant in public would be torn to shreds by angry mobs. Certainly that’s what many RTCs and opponents of same-sex marriage would have everyone believe about the world now,

  • Worthless Beast

    *Shakes fist as Disqus*… I was pretty sure I posted a comment yesterday, but apparently it didn’t take.
    I remember linking to TV Tropes in regards to “Easy Evangelism” and how the idea of “making the target thereof / people you dissagree with STUPID rather than evil” is a tactic used to “humanize” them… but it always comes out wrong / more insulting.

  • Alix

    Real humanization would be making the “evil” people not stupid, but giving them good reasons for making their choices/holding their beliefs.

    But that would require empathy, and it would run the risk of having your readers agree with them. And both are forbidden in Christian Literature(TM).

  • bekabot

    “When Ben-Judah, with the cncouragement and support of the two strange, otherworldly preachers at the Wailing Wall, began sharing his message, first at Teddy Kollek Stadium and then in other similar venues around the world, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before he would suffer for it.”
    — Jenkins & LaHaye

    “If ‘everybody knows’ such-and-such, then it ain’t true, by at least 10,000 to 1.”
    — Robert Heinlein

  • Lorehead

    As Fred has pointed out, he’s just a Jew for Jesus. Would he be the first Jew to convert to Christianity or Islam? Hardly. Do mobs of Jews go around murdering them and their children? Hardly. What everyone knew was that a lot of people would shun him.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    The real rub is this:

    The irony of all this was that the sweet-spirited and innocent Chaim Rosenzweig, who always seemed to have everyone else’s interests at heart, became an unabashed devotee of Nicolae Carpathia. The man whom Buck and his loved ones in the Tribulation Force had come to believe was the Antichrist himself played the gentle botanist like a violin.

    That “had come to believe was the Antichrist” bit. See, because if you Come To Believe that, say, Obama is the Antichrist (or whatever rival political figure of the moment you pick) then anyone who agrees with them must ALSO be literal dupes of the devil, doing the literal devil’s work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Iain.Dove.Lempke Iain Dove Lempke

    This is less important than the main points of this post, but I’m just going to point this out:

    ‘Jenkins muffles the message a bit here with an evasive passive voice —
    “he became a marked man,” “he would suffer for it,” “he had so far
    eluded mortal harm.” He’s careful to avoid mentioning any explicit
    subject or actor. They are intent on killing Ben-Judah because he has become a Christian. But who are they?’

    NONE of those are in the passive voice. The passive voice gets a bad rap for concealing agency, which isn’t totally deserved, but that doesn’t mean that every sentence that conceals agency is passive. Each of those sentences, though is an active construction, with Ben-Judah as the subject; it’s just a rather weak verb.

  • ngotts

    I wish they would examine why it is they think that God feels less love and mercy than they feel, or how it could be that God is less loving and less merciful than they feel themselves inclined to be.

    Maybe they looked at the real world, and deduced that it couldn’t possibly be the creation of a loving and merciful deity?

    Please don’t mistake this for a squishy or sentimental, “soft-hearted” objection to this idea of Hell. The problem isn’t that Team Hell isn’t
    sufficiently soft-hearted, but that they seem to be denying the divinity
    of Christ, which is usually regarded as kind of a big deal,
    heresy-wise, for us Christians.

    I’d think much better of someone who found the idea of Hell morally repugnant, than of someone who objects to it because it “denies the divinity of Christ”.

    The argument for Hell is that God demands blood, and thus, in this view, God’s only role at Calvary was to sit in judgment, awaiting the payment of the
    penalty God was due…

    It seems to me that logic only works if we deny that God’s place at Calvary was on the cross. It only makes sense if we regard Jesus as a sinless sacrifice to God — the paschal lamb without blemish that God demands, but not God. If Jesus is God, though — if God commended God’s love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, God died for us — then it seems like blasphemous ingratitude to imagine that our own merciful inclinations could exceed those of God. If we are
    reluctant to see Chaim Rosenzweig damned to eternal torment, then we
    ought to understand that God’s mercy and love exceeds our own, and that
    the God of Calvary would go — and has gone — to any length to save Chaim and all the others we care about, even unto death, even death on a cross.

    This makes no sense at all. First, if God died, who brought him back to life? Meta-God? Second, since he’s supposed to be the “Ground of Being”, why didn’t the cosmos promptly vanish? Third, this God chappie is supposed to be omnipotent, so all he had to do was either make us sinless in the first place, or close Hell and forgive everyone anyway. Whence the need for all the extreme BDSM?


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