This post is written as kind of a response to what I read in chapter 3, but I didn’t feel it really belonged in the main post.
I realize now that I am jealous of Annemarie. She gets to go to bed thinking that this stuff isn’t really going to affect her*. Even though she’s living in dangerous times, she really gets to grow up thinking that she’s never going to have to take a bullet for someone, never going to have to risk her life to save someone else.
Adventist children don’t grow up like that.
Adventist children are told, from a very young age, that the things that are happening to Jews in this novel are going to happen to them. And soon. Very soon. How soon? Oh, soon in God’s time is not the same in our time, but it’s definitely very soon. Definitely within the next 5/10/20 years (exact amount of time given varies, depending on how recently it’s been since they’ve seen a Revelation seminar.)
Adventist children like me grow up being told that they will never grow up, because Jesus is going to come first.
But before that happens, we have to go through The Great Tribulation(tm). Adventists are not believers in the rapture. They believe that the only way to avoid the persecution of the great tribulation is to die before it happens. Sometimes insensitive bastards will say that “all the old people are dying off because God is sparing them from the great tribulation,** which is surely one or 2 years down the road.” Such insensitive assholes also say things like, “God probably killed/let that teenager die because he knew they wouldn’t be able to stand up in the Great Tribulation.” Sometimes this is said at funerals in earshot of a family member.
Adventist children are not living in dangerous times at all. Yet, unlike Annemarie, we knew that we will be put into camps and killed, just like the Jews were during the holocaust.We hoped there would be brave people like the Johansens to take us in.
Our teachers were quick to burst that hopeful little bubble. There will be no holdouts in the end times, they said. Everyone will either persecute or be persecuted. There will be no allies, there will only be us, and the only hiding we will be doing will be in the mountains.***
I was in 2nd grade (ages 7-8) when we read this in class. Number The Stars doesn’t contain anything graphic, or even anything too detailed. It doesn’t need to. To a child, the unknown punishment is often just as scary, and in any case, there’s no need to tell the small children in the room everything we know about the Holocaust.
But for us second graders at the SDA elementary school, we weren’t left to wonder about details for too long. My second grade teacher wasn’t one for scare tactics, but the other teachers weren’t so careful. They told us exactly what happened to the Jews during the holocaust, and constantly warned us that, one day soon, it would happen to us.
And there would be no Annemarie to protect us. Only God. Would God protect us from the camps, from death? Well, maybe, but maybe not. He might allow us to be tortured and killed, and we would have to trust that God would help us to get through it.
Wow. Writing that out, it makes the God we worshiped sound like such a dick.
In any case, Almost all the kids in our class were scared of the tribulation, but not me. After all, I reasoned, the worst the Nazis could do would be to torture and kill me****. But God? God could send me to hell. And that was something to be scared of.
*Spoiler alert, she’s wrong, but that’s beside the point
**Yes, I have heard this said at funerals.
*** please do not ask what people who live in areas without mountains are supposed to do. Just get killed, I guess.
****In my 11 year old wisdom, I figured that my period cramps were worse than anything the Nazis could inflict on me, and that death might just be a relief at this point.