It's mostly better now.
So where were we?
Anita and Nate rush the stage so they can save Richard from his self doubt. Because obviously saving Richard from his self doubt (While being dressed in a gimp suit) is MUCH better than actually fighting the bad guys during the climax.
He pulled Richard to his feet, and they stood there, hands on each other’s arms, like a version of the guy-greeting that friends use sometimes when a handshake won’t do but they’re too manly to hug.That description has no place in a climax whatsoever.
So for Anita to win the fight with Columbine AKA ripoff Harly Quinn who ain't nearly that scary, Anita must win over the crowd of vampires.
The ones she just blood-oathed to herself and then seduced with the ardeur. Those vampires.
Yeah, you could argue that Columbine just ripped a lot of them away, but WE ALREADY DID THIS.
Richard gets nasty and posessive with Asher. Because measuring your dick is more important than NOT GETTING DEAD. Of course, everyone stands up for Asher (and through him, Anita) because you love who you love and we all must work together and Richard is a homophobe, and OF COURSE Asher has to go off in a sad little huff because no one loves him, and OF COURSE everyone has to go OF COURSE WE LOVE YOU and I have to think Columbine is standing over in her corner giving all of this some serious side-eye. You sure you really WANT St. Louis vamps, hon?
And the whole crowd starts screaming FIGHT FOR US JEAN CLAUDE and FIGHT FOR US ANITA, so again, I have to ask: WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AGAIN? The crowd is pretty much decided already. All Anita has to do is pull some new magic out of her ass and hook it up to the willing.
Richard suddenly looked wrong in the leather mask. He didn’t look cool in the leather outfit, he looked like he was doing exactly what he was doing. He was hiding. The rest of us stood there in plain view. Only the bad guys, and Richard, were hiding who and what they were from the world. Malcolm gripped his shoulder. “Fight for us, Ulfric. Do not let your fears and doubts destroy us all.”
You know, it's been four books already. Just fucking kill him and get it fucking over with.
Malcolm also has more jewels, now that he's been mind-wiped into the harem:
“I felt what Anita and her triumvirate raised earlier. It was friendship, love as pure as any I’ve known.
Anita has a couple THOUSAND rape victims at this point. THIS IS NOT PURE. THIS IS NOT LOVE. THIS IS NOT OKAY. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.
Richard keeps focusing on his self doubt, rather than, you know, GOING FOR COLUMBINE'S THROAT, and Anita has to bring up that "God has not forsaken" her. Which is big points for God, but it also means He'd hold to a tree at this point. It rapes less. But no, Richard can't share and the fact that Richard can't share is ruining his life.
And then this happens.
“But he should have,” Richard said. “He should have, don’t you see? If what I believe is right, if what you say you believe is right, then your cross should not burn. You have broken so many commandments. You’ve murdered, tortured, fucked, but your cross still works. I don’t understand that.”Kids, I keep my religion off the blog as much as I can, but I'm about to go full religious nutcase. You may go pop popcorn if you want.
Now. This is the point where a sane writer with any kind of a grasp AT FUCKING ALL of basic Christian theology would bring up that that's kind of the fucking point of the faith. That the Christian God does accept murderers and prostitutes and addicts, that he does honor the faith of the fallen, so to speak. You can never be so bad that God can't haul you out of it as long as you're open to His help. And this is in spite of bad behavior, not because of it. God does not condone your poor choices. What defines a poor choice is between you and God (and if it's not an issue between the two of you, wonderful) But God does not honor your faith because you're good or bad, perfect or imperfect. He honors your faith because he loves you. If the faith of the individual Christian has any power it is not because of their own behavior, but because God values the individual no matter what, to the point of his death. If a Christian in this universe had power, it wouldn't be because they were especially faithful or not faithful. It'd be because they understood how little their own behavior and choices actually matter, save for the big choice of belief. The love of God simultaneously reduces the individual down to insignificance--it's got nothing to do with you--and raises them up to the highest point short of Himself. To the Christian, the God of Glory has decided your value is equal to His own life, and that it is worth paying that price to retain your existence in the universe.The fact that a murderer could absolutely have the power to call on God and be secure in the fact of his answer would not be a power trip. It would be incredibly humbling. God is bigger than you. He's bigger than your definition of morality, and when he answers you, neither you nor He are under any compulsion to justify his decision to honor you.
So, having been offered a window that freaking massive, how does LKH handle this situation?
One: Richard mentioned a lot of things other than sex. For God to honor Anita because Anita is a good person means God has to honor the rapes, the murders, the rapes, the backtalking, the cruelty, the bullshit she did with Joseph, the wanton disreguard for the health and safety of everyone in St Louis--you can go on and on. Lady, I don't think RICHARD is the one hung up on the sex.
“Maybe God isn’t the sex police, Richard. Sometimes I think Christians get all hung up on the sex thing because it’s easier to worry about sex than to ask yourself, Am I a good person?
Anita asks Richard if he tries as hard for the people in HIS life as Anita does for the people in hers. He avoids the question by asking her if she put herself and Jean Claude on "that list". She asks if she's on his list. He says no. She rants at him because how could he fuck her and not care.
Columbine has to be sitting on the fucking floor with a bowl of blood-soaked popcorn by now.
“You benefit from our evil, Richard. You count on us being willing to do your dirty work.Well, he is the only major were-leader in St. Louis who managed to protect his pack and not get dead, so I'll give him credit for that. But that's less benefiting from the evil and more knowing who to pay protection money to.
Seriously, this is why I go off the rails every time LKH brings up religion. If she would just make Anita some kind of weird ass pagan (Not that I would wish Anita on pagans any more than I want her in my religion) who worships an amoral God, I'd feel a lot better about it. But Christianity does have some pretty set rules, and when ANITA can get her cross all glowy and someone else can't, it makes me irritated. When she says that it's proof that GOD CONDONES HER LIFESTYLE I go off the rails.
Anita has raped THOUSANDS of people in the course of this book. THOUSANDS. And now she's trying to argue morality within a Christian framework with one of her rape victims.
The only thing keeping Richard sane at this point, the book is very careful to point out, is Damian's hand on his arm. Damian is feeding Richard positive reenforcement, and Anita orders Damian to take his hand away and leave Richard suffering out in the wilds of Columbine's powers.
“If you mean what you say , if you truly believe it’s wrong, evil, then let go of Damian’s arm. Let go, and stand on your moral high ground. If Jean-Claude and I mean nothing to you, then stand by yourself, Richard, stand on your own two feet.”
AND HEY GUESS WHAT, KIDS! IT'S BIBLE STUDY TIME.
There's a parable about a King who had a bunch of servants and one of 'em owed him a lot of money. The King decided to sell the servant and the servant's whole family into slavery to pay the debit, because that's how Kings rolled back in Bible times. The servant begged for mercy, maybe a little time to earn the money back? The King said "Screw it. I'm forgiving the entire debt. You and your family are safe." Servant goes out, finds another servant who owes him MUCH less money than he owed the King, and chokes him for the money. Other Servant doesn't have it, First Servant throws Other Servant in jail, and when the King finds out he hits the roof:
You ought to be smart enough to see where this is relevant.
‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from [g]your heart.”
God has forgiven Anita for RAPING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. Debt and Sin, in Christian theology, are treated as pretty much the same thing. Anita technically owes God an awful lot, and God has clearly said "You're forgiven. And protected. Here's a shiny cross."
And she throws Richard into the cold because he won't love her unconditionally.
A guy she raped.
Laurel was originally Episcopalian. The Unmerciful Servant is one of those stories that makes you go "Not THIS shit again" every time you read it. She should KNOW this shit.
And again, you know, I could cut a lot of slack for this if it weren't a conversation DIRECTLY ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN GOD AND CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY.
They argue back and forth about this for a while. Richard is asking if anyone is on his side, and Anita and Company are all like "No. If you really believe that we're evil, then let go"
And the chapter ends with him letting go.