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:

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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.

 

  • 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

  • aunursa

    “Chaim Rosenzweig is one of my Jewish characters.”

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

    David Hassid
    Eleazar Tiberias
    Naomi Tiberias

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • flat

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • dj_pomegranate

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

  • 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.

  • 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!”

  • 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.

  • Vermic

    “This was no boating accident!”

  • 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”.

  • 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://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…

  • Andrew

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

  • 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://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

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

  • 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.)

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

    Aw. :( *patpats your characters*

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    Rachel Mount Sinai Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 202 pages

  • Dogfacedboy

    Spoiler alert!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • aunursa

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    HATTIE SMASH!

  • 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.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I bet Bibleman would be on that team.

  • 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.


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