Friday, September 06, 2013

I'm doing this for you, internet.

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; 
If you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; 
If you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

From Brian J. Noggle, I was led to an Ace of Spades post about Christian Nation: A Novel.

Ace didn't read it, but because I love you guys, I decided to take one for the team.


Now, I've read a lot of apocalyptica from the Right and Libertarian side of the political axis, ranging from pretty good to far-fetched to barely readable drek. I figured if I could power through some of that, then this should be a breeze. Besides, as an urban-dwelling wookie-suited heathen, he should be able to scare me about the menace of the JeezoNazis lurking out in suburbia, right?


It's like the love child of Tim LaHaye and Margaret Atwood wrote a piece of anti-Ayn Rand un-fan fiction, entitled Atlas Moved From Downward Dog To Crescent Moon.

In its overarching storyline, it's almost exactly a limousine liberal's vision of Ayn Rand's seminal doorstop, down to the hidden gulch where the protagonist is sheltered from the dystopian world outside. Oh, except D'Anconia's got a secret crush on Galt that the author takes pains to hide from himself by making his alter ego sleep with a shrewish and shallow Dagny, this despite loathing everything about her.

Also, the villains are less likeable, real and three-dimensional than the ones in Atlas Shrugged, and the dialog isn't as natural and flowing as ol' strident Ayn's. And the atheist messiah figure is slightly more polemical and single-minded than Galt.

It's all in well-edited English and the plot moves along with the whispering grace of a Gulfstream flying from New York to LA over the amorphous mass of undifferentiated howling savages between. The dialog is orderly, and painstakingly constructed, and represents interactions between people as seen by a disembodied mind from Zeta Reticuli that has never actually experienced anything you or I would recognize as human warmth, save a vague inarticulate longing that stands in for love.

I get a little annoyed at the Gays 'n' the 'Bortion wing of the GOP, but this dude is convinced they're under his bed, waiting to slither out as soon as he turns off his CFL night light, with their horrible Alabama accents and their Ku Klux NRA Intelligent Design yayhooism and turn his beloved Manhattan into some unreconstructed hive of toothless hilljacks, like Philadelphia.

I'm only in President Palin's second term; Nehemiah Scudder hasn't taken office and proclaimed the Theocracy yet, so stuff hasn't gotten completely silly, but I can't wait. I'm sure I'll be doing more pointing and laughing down the road. (My favorite review of it at Amazon, BTW, is this one. It's the one that convinced me to buy it, actually.)

Anyhow, if you can stomach it, it's a chance to see what an Ivy League corporate attorney in Manhattan thinks of you when he's pretty sure you're not going to read it. Because he thinks you can't.


Keads said...

Why thanks Tam. That was one for the team right there. I don't know how you stomach that stuff. Glad you are doing intelligence gathering though.

The Jack said...

From another review I recall the bit about how when President Palin declared martial law among the many totalitarian things she did was repeal the 2nd amendment.

Which struck me as a bit too... self aware for the author.

A ban on guns as part of a totalitarian power grab? That's a bit on the nose.

I know, maybe Palin could have made it so that only the party loyal could retain guns. Via some sort of... permit system, where the slips are only issued to the party loyal.

Is there any armed resistance against the evil regime? Maybe the iron river from the south to NYC can be used for good!

I've heard that Mayor... err Governor Bloomberg is one of the heros. Which makes perfect sense.

Ooooh! I hope the newly sanctified NSA opens up a new surveillance program, they could call it Guardian Angel.

Joel said...

Your review made it sound like it might be kind of fun in a fun-to-hate kind of way. But a quorum of the Amazon reviews brand it boring, on top of everything you said.

How do all these guys get published, and I never can? :(

Tam said...

I don't know about "fun", but it is "fascinating".

And the plot does step along in brisk-but-mechanical fashion.

Being a heavily political tome, you have to throw out all the 1- and 5-star reviews, as they're just partisan cheerleaders for their respective teams who probably haven't even read the book.

When the liberal guy I linked to said he hoped Republicans didn't read it, I was sold. ;)

Joel said...

Holy crap! I just read the excerpts at Ace of Spades.

I salute your patience and gag reflex, Tam.

Wolfman said...

Being just the sort of bearded, gun-totin, white, middle class, flyover country hick these types seem to love to hate, this gives me a wonderfully twisted feeling of shadenfraude. Turns out, I don't ACTUALLY have to stalk the dreams f those silly coastal elites... they've already invited us into their minds. Its quite apparent in their demeanor that the dehumanization of their political opponents (a pre-requisite to ethnic cleansing) is basically complete. Can you imagine this guy balking at bombing Arkansas? Or Texas?

Tam said...

To be perfectly fair, those excerpts are probably as carefully-selected as would be ones of, say, Atlas Shrugged at Daily Kos. ;)

Most of it is not that stilted; merely wooden and aspie-like.

Steve Skubinna said...

They get published, Joel, because they are inextricably attuned to the zeitgeist!

Or maybe they just appeal to all the right prejudices of all the right people. Subscribers to The Nation, the NYT, Slate, Salon and the New Republic will lap this up, but probably when they get together to excitedly discuss the Profound Truths it exposes they're going to taper off and end up staring shamefacedly at each other. In much the same way two high school acolytes of Ayn Rand will react on reuniting twenty years later.

I mean, Sarah Palin? She's the scariest right wing thug they can name? Uh... well, okay, if your hero is Michael Bloomberg then maybe that's not a stretch.

Tam said...


"Can you imagine this guy balking at bombing Arkansas? Or Texas?"

Actually, I don't know that this guy would bomb Berlin in '43.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Pure gold! I wonder who has the movie rights?

Robb Allen said...

I have no desire to read the book because unless the excerpts are actually just a few pages of a subtle joke, I can log onto Twitter and get my USDA recommended daily allowance of hate and that shit's free.

Oddly, as a creepy God-Botherer, I'm always amused at how little people seem to understand that which they hate with such a passion. I wrote this post a while back, and it's quite valid today.

"Which leads me to my main point. Which denomination shall [the theocracy be based on]? Baptist Methodist? Presbyterian? Seventh Day Adventist? The Holy Church of the Cross? Branch Davidians?

You see, the same problem I had finding a church that suited my particular point of view (and there still isn't one for me) is the same issue you'd have with implementing a theocracy in the US. While most Christian churches believe in the same basic premise, that Christ died for our sins, they can't agree on much more than that. Mormons do not recognize Jesus as the embodiment of God. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian faith. Baptists do not recognize each other in the liquor store."

Christians aren't a hive mind. We're much like Muslims, only instead of beheading people of different denominations, we tend to just not invite them over for BBQ and football.

But that's the thing. To so many, all people NOT like them are identically NOT like them. Their superiority complex helps them neatly package 'the other' into a simple stereotype. After the packaging comes the dehumanization, and after that tends to come industrial strength convection ovens at the end of the rail yard.

I check my own premises constantly to ensure I don't think of all 'leftists' and 'progressives' as some carbon copy of one another with the only difference being the material used in the vagina costumes and possible grammar differences in protest signs. Lord knows I'm guilty of 'them-ing' groups, but I don't base my entire outlook on life on a cardboard cutout.

Tam said...


"Which denomination shall [the theocracy be based on]?"

Imaginary Manhattanite Bogeymanism. Duh.

(Unless evangelical Protestantism has completely polymorphed, a la Geiger, into a slavering carnivorous beast since I stopped attending church back in the late Eighties, this guy's visions of what happens in a church are... well, as distorted as a Southern Baptists ideas of what go on at the local Wiccan hangout.)

Robb Allen said...

Well, unless the theocracy requires bitchin' robes and a scepter, count me out.

No way am I forcing New Yorkers to kneel before God in pants.

Joe in PNG said...

Do this guy realize that he is writing the literary equivalent of a Chick Tract?

Borepatch said...

I expect that the irony of tony Upper West Side Swells like the author simultaneously loving on President Harvard Law Review and hating on their strawman view of everyone else is lost on, well on tony Upper West Side Swells like the author.

It's amusing that they keep providing abundant proof that they're not smarter than us. I expect that irony is lost on them as well.

og said...

Point: "know thine enemies" does not mean in a biblical sense. You dont need to lie with the lion to see its teeth.

I mean, unless you're into that sort of thing.

I'm perfectly content to eschew full contact nuttiness when i can. Besides, I'm already well stocked in that department.

Scott J said...

Worlds colliding. You reading the HQ.

Your blog pretty much fills in the space in my blog time emptied by not visiting the HQ much any more. Not for any objections to the content but because the site renders poorly on my phone.

Also the comment threads are long and lively. I haven't the time to keep up and maintain the rate of reload bench and range time I have for the past year.

Tango Juliet said...

"He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them." Sun Tzu

Kristophr said...

If you want a scary right-wing villain, try Tom Kratman's US President in his book "Caliphate".

Liberals have no clue what a truly jackbooted thug is really like.

Steve Skubinna said...

Good call, Kristophr, since their go-to guy for the mildest political disagreement is Hitler. There's no space between "I can't say I'm completely onboard for that" to "Why do you hate transgendered children of color, Mister Hitler McHitlerson?"

Josh said...

It's kinda funny that their D'Anconia-equivalent is crushing on Galt, since that's the least of Francisco's homosexual subtext in Atlas Shrugged. There's a massive amount between D'Anconia and Rearden, and even more conveniently the two are left as eligible bachelors at the end of the story.

But that Rich works looks to be some amazingly trite schlock, Mrs. Tam, and I don't envy you the displeasure of having undergone it.

Warren said...

I for one eagerly await the coming Theoocracy where our fine country is run on the principles as espoused by Theo Huxtable from the Cosby Show.

perlhaqr said...

All right, well, clearly I owe you a pint of something delicious and bitter for performing this task. :D

rickn8or said...

perlhaqr: Indeed. Buy her one for me while you're at it.

Anonymous said...

I read about this book over at Metrocon Fortnightly and found the concept amusing but not really interesting. Your review, however, changes things. As a JeezoNazi of the Utah Whiteshirts clan I applaud your wookie-suited heathen soul for slogging through this and convincing me to read it for myself so I can fully enjoy all the painful, wince inducing lulz.


Windy Wilson said...

Robb Allen, I expect the denomination would be the same one featured in "The Handmaid's Tale", which, while we're discussing subtexts and dog whistles, homosexual and otherwise, had a strong Muslim subtext. It's as if the author wanted to calumny Christians, so he cribbed from the Caliphate for specific horrors.

mariner said...

The review I started reading at Amazon began with, "I am very much part of this book's target audience: secular-minded urban liberals who fear the disproportionate influence of the Christian right in America."

The Christian Right has so much influence that students are forced to pray in public schools.

People are taught in public school that God created the heaven and the Earth and everything in it.

Homosexual activity is a death penalty offense.

No business is conducted on Sunday anywhere in the country, because Sunday is the Sabbath.

No alcohol is allowed to be sold anywhere.

Out-of-wedlock pregnancy is shamed, and divorce is impossible.

Yes, those crazy right-wing Christians have really screwed up this country.

Tam said...


That's the point. The review is written by somebody who should be smack in this guy's target demographic.

You say you "started reading"it; maybe you should finish it. :)

Anonymous said...

I think you had it summed up pretty well with:

"Also, the villains are less likeable, real and three-dimensional than the ones in Atlas Shrugged, and the dialog isn't as natural and flowing as ol' strident Ayn's. And the atheist messiah figure is slightly more polemical and single-minded than Galt."

I look forward to finding this on the New Books shelves at my library so I can enjoy all the gooey-delicious irony without actually kicking out the $ for the book.

Thanks for taking the hit for us, Tam !

Yrro said...


When I went to public school, we said grace as a class before lunch, had a group prayer on the first day of class, and before graduation. We also had a prayer assembly after 911. Technically you could get out of it, if you could find a teacher who wasn't going... I think there was one in the whole school, and it wasn't advertised who they were. Pray at the pole was advertised on every bulletin board, but club soccer couldn't be because it wasn't a "school sponsored activity."

My education on evolution consisted of a single video on the Galapagos, prefaced with "this is what *some* people believe, but not me" from the teacher.

Homosexuality was illegal, although thankfully the punishment was not death (and one of my favorite Supreme Court justices on other issues would still prefer it were that way).

Liquor was illegal to sell on Sunday. Moreover, almost all businesses in town were closed.

When I was in elementary school, I lived in a "dry" county, where all alcohol sales were illegal.

A girl was kicked out of the local chapter of National Honor Society for getting pregnant.

I graduated from high school in '02. Yes, the whole country isn't like this, but it's a very interesting list you picked that they *all* applied within my very recent lifetime. Judging from what I have heard from friends from my hometown, it hasn't changed much in the last ten years. And I didn't even grow up in the South.