Six: The Mark Unleashed: Part 2

Jeseca takes Tom to some guy in charge.  I’m not sure precisely what he is in charge of, but at the very least, he’s in charge of Jeseca and this mission.

(Yeah, I guess because it’s The Future, she’s Jeseca, not Jessica.  My bad.)

They show Tom some footage of Elijah Cohen (proponent of the “dangerous” “Christian heresy,” explaining that The Leader is the Antichrist and the implant is the Mark of the Beast, and that anyone who takes it is going to hell.

Tom sensibly asks why they haven’t just killed him themselves already, and they say it’s because “it’s difficult for anyone bearing the implant to get close to him,” but somebody took that very up-close footage of Cohen preaching.  So why did they film him, and how did Jeseca get her hands on the footage?

So the solution is for Tom, who has “no religious inclination whatsoever” to go into “deep cover” in the prison and get close to the Christians, who will in turn lead him to Cohen.

My question is: why don’t they just torture the Christians?  They may constantly forgive the torturers, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t eventually break.

So Tom enters the prison.  For reasons that are never made clear, this “deep cover” assignment for a nonbeliever involved little to no religious training: Tom wanders past Jerry and addresses him as “brother” (which makes no sense, as Jerry is not a Christian).  This prompts another piece of sense from Brody:

Brody:  I don’t know who’s weirder: the implant morons, or these Jesus freaks.

Jerry:  I guess you don’t believe in heaven, then.

Brody:  Yanno what’s good about that?  I don’t believe in hell, either.

Amen, brother.  Also, gorrammit but Jerry is dumb.

Tom’s cell, too, is plastered with Bible verses on every available surface, and Tom’s eyes are drawn to the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which he can’t get more than halfway through before declaring it “boring.”

I think Tom would fit in around here just fine.  🙂

This critique catches the attention of his cellmate, Luke, who has been lying on his (lower) bunk and reading his Bible in complete darkness.


Luke reads the second half of the parable (closing his eyes for part of it, so we get that he knows it by heart).  Then he asks Tom for an interpretation.  As you would.  Tom correctly guesses that the bridegroom is Jesus, but then goes right off the deep end into the most awesome interpretation in history:

Tom:  Christ only wants to deflower five virgins because the others forgot the oil.  Yanno, seems to me there’s some kind of message about sharing in there.  I mean, aren’t we supposed to share?  Maybe it should be called “The Five Selfish Virgins.”

Tom, I think I love you and I want to have your babies.

Luke chuckles at Tom’s amazing interpretation, and then we get some wild Christian magic: Luke knows Tom’s name without being told!

Luke:  I know things.  Like why you’re really here, and why you think you’re here.  God told me you were coming, Tom.

Heh, really?  That’s how God talks to people?

“Yo, Luke.  Some guy names Tom Newman is gonna be your cellmate soon.  Keep an eye out, ‘kay?”

At least now I can be sure that I’ve never heard from God, if this is how he makes his presence known.

Tom:  So, did God also tell you what the stupid story means?

Okay, now I know I love you, Tom.

Luke gives him the very distilled version (Jesus is coming back), and then he gets to explaining the difference between the implant and having Jesus on your heart.  Except he does it…very badly.

Luke:  When you’re talking about [getting] the Holy Spirit, you become more like the way Jesus wanted you to become.  More like him.  More unique.  More individual.  Opposite of the implant.

Tom:  That doesn’t make any sense.  I mean, everyone becoming more like Jesus?  I mean, c’mon—he’s just one person.

Luke:  He’s also God.  The god who made each one of us as a unique creation.  Sin destroys that, creates conformity.  Redemption in Christ restores that.  Brings us back to what God truly wanted us to be.

Tom:  Still, I gotta tell ya: sounds awfully close to The Leader.

Luke:  You’re just gonna have to figure that out for yourself, Tom.  ‘Cause if you don’t, you’re gonna burn in hell forever.

Tom:  Ooo, hell.  Frightened now.


And Luke, there’s no need to lash out at Tom with your little hell-threats.  It’s not Tom’s fault that you suck at explaining how your religion is different from the totalitarian leader running your world: the one who demands complete obedience lest he destroy you.

I surprised that Tom and Larry didn’t get along better.  Larry ain’t scared of hell, either.

Yanno, this whole thing is terribly confused, but I do like how Tom and Brody are have similar thoughts and motivations about the two primary belief systems of the world.  Jeseca aside, both characters value their individuality and worry about losing it under either system.


The next day, our four main characters have lunch together, and Luke reveals that God also told him that Tom is going to bust Brody and Jerry out of prison.  Which doesn’t make a ton of sense right now, since Brody and Jerry have exactly zero connection to Elijah Cohen.  Still, for lack of a better option, Brody’s ears prick up.

Later that day, Luke has a small-group session in his cell.  (This is seriously the most lax prison ever.  Sure, everyone!  Let’s just all go and hang out in my cell!)

As if it wasn’t evident enough from the previous scene with Tom, Luke turns out to be yet another smug, smirking dickweed for Christ.  He plays teacher to the students, including Jerry, who is kinda getting into it, and Brody, who seems to mostly because he has nowhere else to go.  Brody gets annoyed when Luke and Jerry start talking about nature and the stars and trees and shit being proof of God:

Brody:  You can’t prove God from nature.  It’s been shown to be impossible.  It’s the cosmological or the teleological argument and it was destroyed by Hume and Pascal—

Luke:  Pascal?  Oh, he was a Christian.  You didn’t know that.  Oh, I guess you don’t know very much at all.

Pascal was a Catholic, Luke.  And I know how you RTCs feel about Catholics.


Smirky bastard.

Brody:  Why don’t you tell them the other side of the argument?  ‘Cause you’re just like The Leader: it’s all propaganda.

Luke:  You’re right, Brody.  God’s existence cannot be proven logically or in nature.  It’s really just a subjective experience unique to each and every one of us.


Two possibilities: Luke is embarrassed that Brody had a counter-argument, and is trying to save face…or, once again, this movie has completely confused itself.

Brody is right, of course, so Luke moves on to his next “argument”: the god-shaped hole argument or, in other words, the idea that Christians know the thoughts and feelings of nonbelievers far better than we do.

Man, who says Christians are arrogant, amirite?

Luke brings up hell, and Brody chuckles.

Luke:  You know why you’re laughing?  It’s ’cause you’re scared.  You’re scared.  You know that hell exists and that, sadly, that’s probably where you’ll end up.

Christians are soooo not arrogant!  And they know this nonbeliever’s thoughts so well, too!

Fear of hell: Pascal would be so proud.

Brody, pissed off, storms out of small group, but later confronts Tom.  Tom, none too happy with the way things have been going (especially the fact that he has no way of contacting his handlers, especially Jeseca), spills almost the whole story, leaving out only the part about a manufactured escape in order to find Elijah Cohen.  Brody is wise to the fact that this can’t be all there is to it, but simply offers himself and Jerry up as accomplices in the great escape.  Tom drily observes that Jerry seems well on his way to a conversion, which might make him unwilling to leave prison.



Posted on October 26, 2014, in Movies, Six: The Mark Unleashed. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Tsk, tsk, tsk RubyTea, you’re slipping. A smug RTC prick babbles about how the Holy Spirit simultaneously makes you like more the Messiah and more unique and individual, and you DIDN’T embed a link to Life of Brian’s “YES! WE’RE ALL INDIVIDUALS!” “I’m not.” scene? Yes, it’s obvious, but when the movie is handing them on a silver platter like this…

    Seriously though, screw that “more unique, more individual” noise. When has a drive to uniqueness and individuality ever been a characteristic of RTCs? The closest they get is when they present themselves as the righteous remnant who refuse to conform to the rest of us in not opposing gay marriage, abortion, etc. But amongst themselves, hell no. From what I’ve seen, in the news and in their own media (as through the lens of these critiques, mostly), RTCs tend to have very, very narrow ideas of what Christ wants them to be like. If you deviate from their ideas, they bring down the hammer: If they have no authority over you, they declare you “controversial” and kick you out. If they do, they punish you until you stop deviating, or until they stop having authority over you.

    And anyway, as the Monty Python quote showed, it’s inherently contradictory to claim something makes you more like a single person, yet also more unique and more individual. Plus, it suggests that Luke believes in not-X-ianity: “Being an RTC means you are unique and individual, unlike those atheists, muslims, hindus, budists, pagans, Catholics, Mormons and Satanists who all conform to the exact same belief system.”

    • When has a drive to uniqueness and individuality ever been a characteristic of RTCs?

      They have to do something when they’re not condemning gay marriage, rock music, and voting for Democrats.

      • They like to stand on college campuses calling young brunette women who don’t wear makeup whores too. At least round these parts. Fun for the whole family!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          That kind of preacher wouldn’t be out of place in one of those “Crazy Man on New York Subway” YouTube videos.

          • This is an entire organized Christian group who stands in the busiest part of campus at the busiest time of day. Women are a part of the group, though the women never speak, They aren’t like those crazy guys elsewhere who can usually be simply shrugged off and pitied. They know what they’re doing. Though we never did figure out why they targeted brunette women SO much more than any other women, especially because they seemed to target brunette white women above everyone else. Big Taylor Swift fans, maybe.

            They also had stuff to say about Obama, marijuana, and masturbation, though as soon as they saw me they’d immediately change to what a slut I was, so I didn’t hear much besides sexual harassment from them.

          • A slut is a woman the accuser can’t own.

          • Yes. I still don’t get the brunette hate though.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Seriously though, screw that “more unique, more individual” noise. When has a drive to uniqueness and individuality ever been a characteristic of RTCs?

      I noticed the same thing during my time in-country in the Seventies. You’d expect a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation would lead to cro-magnon anarchy, a myriad of individual asocial “Just Jesus & Me” types going all Ayn Rand Independent.

      Instead, you get such anarchy only at the Macro level, between groups/congregations/churches/fellowships. Within the group, you get total groupthink conformity worthy of North Korea.

      • How would you know if you met an individual-salvationist? They don’t need to recruit anyone else to their one-person churches, so they don’t need to preach to you.

  2. Putting the parable alongside the Prodigal Son, which makes no sense as a story (half the farm is gone?) but works if you assume God is infinite, suggests that the dual-track morality (what’s OK for God to do isn’t necessarily OK for mankind, and vice versa) is fairly thoroughly baked into this approach to Christianity.

    Reading the Bible in the dark would be much easier if you’ve memorised it all. And you’re less likely to stumble over those bits the preachers like to ignore, like being nice to people who aren’t in your tribe. Why do the Evil Overlords let people have Bibles in prison anyway?

    I suspect that in the RTC mindset the only reason to have the ability to make choices is so that you can choose the right thing. So the only reason to have individuality is so that you can allow God to make you into a good person (because you certainly can’t do it for yourself).

    I’ve seen this sort of argument before. RTC: “A.” Non-RTC: “But A is wrong.” RTC: “A is irrelevant, of course: B!” But if the sucker is prepared to swallow A, well, why go to all the trouble of the rest of it?

    Yeah, my entire native culture was built by people who believed, or at least pretended to believe, in something like Hell. So it gets into one’s subconscious and it’s a good way to generate a fear response. This is not evidence for its reality.

    This is sounding more and more like the bog-standard conversion talk that RTCs always give. At least in this world there hasn’t been a Rapture to make it completely irrelevant, though I’m surprised nobody’s said “hey, this global potentate, he’s forecast in this two-thousand-year-old book”.

    • One parable that I feel undersells Jesus’ case was the one about the landowner who pays the farmhands who worked all day as much as the ones whom he only recruited during the afternoon. The landowner reasons tells the first group that he paid them as much as he’d promised, and they shouldn’t complain about his generosity to the second group.

      The thing is, the money the landowner has to pay the farmhands is a finite resource. If he’s being overly generous to the second group, then the first group ends up getting less. And I’m no historian, but I don’t think the typical farmhand got paid so well for his backbreaking labor that he could be confident his family would have enough to eat until the next time he might be hired for some irregular labor.

      In contrast, the heavenly rewards Jesus has promised his followers come from the omnipotent god. Giving the full benefits to later converts doesn’t actually decrease what’s available for the early adopters of Christianity. And since the promised offer of paradise is basically “everything you’d ever want forever”, it’s not like the first disciples need more rewards. I don’t think it’s even logically possible to get more than what’s already been offered. So the disciples don’t need or want more rewards, they just ask that their brothers in Christ get less. That’s not an attitude that the Jesus encouraged. I find it odd that he didn’t play that card.

      • I think the problem that’s coming up here is that circa 30AD the concept of infinities was not current. The idea that you could let all these sinners and foreigners and other low forms of life into heaven, but that doing so wouldn’t make it any less heaven for you, was revolutionary.

        The thing for which the “payment” is a metaphor is a purely binary concept. Nobody gets a better class of heaven than anyone else (though the RTCs have reinvented that with “glorified bodies”), you’re just either in or out.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      This is sounding more and more like the bog-standard conversion talk that RTCs always give. At least in this world there hasn’t been a Rapture to make it completely irrelevant, though I’m surprised nobody’s said “hey, this global potentate, he’s forecast in this two-thousand-year-old book”.

      It’s a Christianese movie. It HAS to end with the Altar Call Conversion Scene.

      And Slacktivist has commented that the Hal Lindsay/Left Behind End-of-the-World choreography only works when you assume NOBODY has ever heard of Pre-Trib Rapture or The Antichrist. Never mind the 40+ year media blitz about it from the same sources.

  3. I haven’t seen this movie or Pamela’s Prayer myself, so I can’t judge the exact smugness in expressions, mimicry and intonations. But based on the critiques, I think I find Luke a more arrogant, punchable jerk than Wayne.

    Exhibit A: See my previous post.

    Exhibit B: I know things. Like why you’re really here, and why you think you’re here. God told me you were coming, Tom.
    I guess this is foreshadowing that Tom is not actually going to end up killing Cohen, but will end up helping the Christians as part of god’s awesome plan that he shared with Luke. How nice of Luke not to share any of that information with the torture victim.

    Exhibit C: Pascal? Oh, he was a Christian. You didn’t know that. Oh, I guess you don’t know very much at all. What the fuck does whether or not he was a Christian and whether or not Brody knew that have to do with anything? That he was a Christian would only give Brody’s argument even more weight, as it shows even the people on Luke’s side disagree with Luke. it can’t be done And if you don’t know exactly who was and wasn’t a Christian, you “don’t know very much at all”? Yo, Luke: Name the six quarks, in ascending order of weight. Oh, you don’t know that? I guess you don’t know very much at all, so all your arguments are invalid, Nyeh-Nyeh. (Not that I believe Brody would really be surprised that Pascal was a Christian. Most people living in the western world before 1950 were.)

    Exhibit D: Brody is right, of course, so Luke moves on to his next “argument”: the god-shaped hole argument or, in other words, the idea that Christians know the thoughts and feelings of nonbelievers far better than we do.
    Ruby summed it up well: The smug prick decides he knows what others feel.

    Exhibit E: You know why you’re laughing? It’s ’cause you’re scared. You’re scared. You know that hell exists and that, sadly, that’s probably where you’ll end up.
    Oh, and he also knows what others think too. And confidently states that all those others are lying if they claim to think anything else.

    In short, screw Luke and the prison truck he rode in on.

  4. Pascal? Oh, he was a Christian.

    Which, in Luke’s mind, means Pascal’s critical faculties were destroyed, and he’d accept any argument that supports his belief, no matter its merits.

    Yep, Luke’s an RTC.

  5. You know that hell exists and that, sadly, that’s probably where you’ll end up.

    You know, I was going to write a comment about how this movie is really showing the promise that RubyTea mentioned and not so much the bad execution. But fuck this idea and everyone who has ever had it.

    Even aside from the contemptible assumption that I deserve eternal torture for being an obstinate liar, the not-so-hidden idea here is that every non-believer is utterly incapable of genuinely loving someone. That we know that we could see our dead parents and grandparents again, that all those we love will be healed and together forever, but nope; we just don’t care enough to confirm the obvious fact of God’s existence.

    The only reason I don’t fill a comments section with bile every time I see that ‘thought’ expressed is everyone who has seems so smug and stupid that I doubt they ever reflected on the implications of what they claim.

    Rant over now.

  6. The parable obviously means that using a lubricant when having sex for the first time (and other times) is a really good idea, and Jesus doesn’t want to cause these young women unnecessary pain, but he also wants them to take charge of their sexuality and therefore bring their own oil. Which is not cheap, either. So make sure you take oil to your wedding night, and don’t just hope the man will deal with it.

    I’m not kidding. The reason olive oil was so incredibly lucrative in ancient Rome that it pushed out other crops to a dangerous level wasn’t only because of its utility in cooking and making soap.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Elijah Cohen”.

    Elijah = the Prophet who was taken up into Heaven without dying, traditionally a forerunner of the Messiah. In Pre-Trib Dispy End-of-the-World choreography, one of the “Two Witnesses” from that scene in Revelation.

    Cohen = Priest.

    Come on, guys, like you couldn’t be more obvious?

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