Project Sunlight Chapter 4

Drinking Game (So far):

  1. The word “bitter” is used
  2. Every time I bang my head against the book in frustration
  3. Jenny and Carol behave in a way that is not age appropriate (99% of all SDA authors can not write believable children.)
  4. The Book goes on and on for pages about Bible Study
  5. Sybil acts like a Bible Worker/Sabbath School teacher
  6. Sybil does something creepy
  7.  One of the characters indicates that they are “crazy” for reading the bible/praying/going to church/whatever normal thing lots of mainstream Christians do

The chapter opens with a long paragraph about snow, and how all earth children enjoy it (no, not all of them, Jared, god.)

I, too, an fascinated by the falling snow and wish I might stand with [Jenny and Carol] with my arms around them, for I love Sunlight’s daughters.

Creeper. Creeper. Creeping creeper who creeps.

I would like them to know that though they may be missing one parent, all heaven is concerned about them. They need have no fears or insecurities.

First off, they have two parents. Sure, Jim isn’t around all the time, but he’s still there, and in their lives. It’s not like he never comes to get them at all.

SPOILER ALERT

Second… I don’t want to spoil things to much, but, spoiler alert: something awful is going to happen to one of these girls. So a more accurate statement would be: they need have no fears or insecurities… until chapter 7.

/SPOILER ALERT

 

All of heaven is concerned with their welfare….INDEED.

Michael comes over with “some corn to pop,” and tells Carol that “domestication” means “using your charms to entice a poor helpless young man to sit by the fire munching popcorn forever.”

Carol: sounds to me

Michael: you women are all the same.

Yes, we are all helpless robots who need a man to save and program us with their penis of programming.

Meg tells Michael he really should get married. Michael asks if that’s an invitation, pinging my creep-dar slightly.

Michael and Meg talk after the children go to bed. They reminisce about the fun they used to have in the snow, and then their talk turns to –what else– the Bible. Meg asks Michael to read aloud to her the last 3 chapter of Mark.

Meg asks Michael her question. You remember her question, right? How she was confused about the Sabbath, because Sabbath was just ending on “the first day of the week” after the Crucifixion? Well, Michael reminds here that, duh dumbass, Jesus was a Jew. What day did Jews Worship? Hint: Not Sunday.

Meg realizes that it was really stupid of her not to realize this, and I find myself nodding along in agreement (drink!)

They read the last chapters of Mark, and Meg tells Michael he should study for the monastery. (I don’t think Michael wants to live a life of celibacy, Meg.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that the cross was either the focal point of all time or the greatest hoax anyone has ever pulled off.

Why? Why would you come to that conclusion? Look, if you believe everything the bible said about the event, you could think that way. But what if someone just wrote it down, as a story, years after the fact, for some as yet unknown to me purpose? Or what if the authors got a lot of the details wrong? Maybe a person named Jesus never existed at all.  Maybe they really did break his legs. It boggles the mind that Meg hasn’t gone to the library to do any further research. Even Doug Batchelor did that when he was searching!

Michael tells Meg that this is the first time he’s ever held a bible in his hand, and that he has never read one in his life.

Ok author, calm down. I could believe that Michael has never sat down and read the bible.  But I don’t believe he’s never so much as touched a bible before. This is America, where there are not only a lot of Christians and free bibles to go around, they’re trying to take over the government as well.

Moving on, Meg tells Michael to pick the Saturday night activity, and he chooses ice skating, telling her Jenny and Carol should come along too.  Taking the girls along on one date out of many doesn’t sound terrible unrealistic to me, so I approve.

Michael leaves the apartment, and we get Jared saying

It is strange indeed to think there are decent young men like Michael who have never held a bible in their hands.

Oh, fuck you Christians. You do not have a monopoly on decent young men. I’ve met loads of decent young atheist men, and even thicker loads of indecent young Christian men. Gee, it’s almost like each and every group on earth has decent and indecent people in it. Who’d’a thunk?

Jared thinks that men and women should constantly be pouring over the bible, and goes on for a paragraph about how it is God’s book to us… bla bla bla, I don’t care.

Our next scene is Meg and Sybil having yet another bible study! I wonder how much of this book would be left if you cut out all the bible studies everyone has.

Meg tells Sybil about reading the bible with Michael.

Sybil: Does he have lost our minds?

Again, all this indicates is that Sybil, perhaps unconsciously, thinks they are losing their minds.

I’m not trying to go for a “Christians know in their hearts that their religion isn’t true,” because that is insulting, and I also don’t think that’s at all true.

However, it does make one wonder, when you keep repeating that something is “crazy” or that people will think you have “lost your mind.” So far, at least in the religious realm, neither of these characters has done anything particularly unusual.

Sybil: would [Michael] like to study with us?

Sunlight: Michael’s a very private person. I think he’d be aghast at our brainstorming, but he’ll listen to anything I want to share with him and give it careful thought.

Credit where cred it is due: Ms. Strong got this right. Group bible study isn’t for everyone. Some people study better on their own.

Sybil: I’m sure you realize, child, that the man is in love with you

Because a man and a woman can’t possibly just be really close friends without any romantic or sexual attraction!

Sunlight:(silent for a moment.) It’s not what you think, Sybil. We share a lot of memories–right back to the sandbox days, in fact. He’s lonely, I’m lonely, we meet each others’ needs. For now. that’s all there is to it. sooner or later he will meet someone who will sweep him off his feet, and he’ll ditch all his altruistic notions.

We’re lonely and we meet each others’ needs… does the author even realize how that sounds?

Sybil just smiles, so Meg changes the subject to the Bible. Which I actually prefer to read about than bad SDA romance.

Sunlight: I never knew before that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were just 4 men telling their sides of the same story. I am probably the last person on Earth to find that out.

Meg went to church for roughly the first 13 years of her life. I feel like Ms. Strong has forgotten this, because she frequently behaves as if Meg had absolutely zero bible knowledge. Yeah, I can believe she’d forget a lot of the specifics over the years, but basic stuff like this doesn’t go away unless you were really really young. Canonically, Meg was in her early to mid teens when she stopped attending church.

So, uh, I call Bullshit on at least one of those things, if not both.

Sunlight (still speaking): I found myself going back and forth between Matthew and Mark, comparing their accounts, and it turned out to be fascinating.

What? You compared accounts in the gospels and didn’t notice all the contradictions? Are you human?

Reading the gospels was the part of the Bible that set me off on the path toward Atheism, so it always boggles me when comparing the gospels does the opposite for someone else. I guess not everyone reacts the way I do to the story of Jesus and the many contradictions. Meg might not be at the point where she realizes that every single word of the Bible is to be taken literally(Not all churches believe this either), so I can kinda give this a pass.  But not much of one.

Sybil goes on for a few paragraphs about how Jesus had no privacy, yet he never turned anyone away, even when he wanted to be alone.

Because Jesus had no boundaries, you see. Boundaries aren’t important, kids. You never know when you might be witnessing to someone, whereas you would turn them off completely if you had stuck to your boundaries and gotten your precious “Alone time.”

Meg compares the people of Jesus’ day, who couldn’t get enough of him, with people today, who are largely apathetic. She thinks this apathy might be worse for him than the constant gathering of multitudes, and I can’t say for sure either way.

Sybil starts crying as they discuss the crucifixion story. Meg tells Sybil the book of Mark worked a miracle in her life, and proceeds to tell us about it.

…So when I read those verses about God not hearing us if we cannot forgive our fellow man, it was like a slap in the face. As plainly as if God had written me a letter, I saw the awful ugliness I feel for Jim, plus the jealousy and hatred I have for his wife. Suddenly the anger, hurt, and bitterness (Drink!) that were bottled up inside me poured out. Luckily, the girls were in bed. I lay down on the living room rug and sobbed. And dug my fingers so hard into the shag that the next morning half my nails were broken.

Umm that’s pretty bad. Are we supposed to believe that this is Meg’s Gethsemane moment? Because to me it reads as more of a “Meg needs a psychologist and badly” moment.

In my mind I screamed at Jim, all the horrible ugly things I wanted to say, and then I cried even harder, for I realized that under all that anger was the most awful hurt.

WELL NO SHIT. God, you’re just now having your main character realize this? This is not how human beings work! Of course Meg is hurt and angry! We’ve only been bashed over the head with that since the beginning of the gorram book.

It hit me that to have hurt so badly, I must have loved a lot.

I bang my head against the book(drink!) no, I had NO IDEA you loved your X husband!

And how could I feel bitter (drink!) toward someone I loved so much.

Dear Author, one can love someone and feel “bitter” toward them at the same time. Jim has behaved very shittily toward Meg, who has every right to be “bitter” at him. I imagine it’s a similar dynamic between child and abusive parent. Often, these children love their parents, and yet are extremely angry and “bitter” at them. And they have every right to feel that way.

I just love it when the Bible comes along and tells them that these normal reactions are to be eradicated, because um, Bible. Because that’s totally healthy.

I knew there in the darkness that I would always care deeply and be concerned for his happiness, so I prayed that God would help me to forgive Jim and erase all the bitterness(drink!) from my heart.

When I got myself together, I went straight to the phone and called Jim. Marie, his wife, answered, and I asked her if she and Jim would like to have dinner with me and the girls on Sunday. It took her by surprise, and I knew she was uncomfortable, but she checked with Jim and said they’d love to come.

Now I rather doubt they were all that enthusiastic, but I want to make things more normal for Jim and the girls, and we have to start somewhere. I’ve asked Michael to join us, and I’d like you and Bill to come.. I think it will be less awkward for everyone if it’s a little dinner party…. so that’s what the book of Mark did for me.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s get started. Now, I don’t have a problem with Meg forgiving Jim. That’s for her to decide. I also don’t have a problem with her inviting him over for a dinner party, though I hardly think it’s necessary in order to make things more normal. As far as the kids are concerned, as long as mommy and daddy can talk to each other without snarling, that is enough to brighten their lives, and really, it’s probably about all you can hope for at this point.

Just because Meg and Jim need to be friendly for the sake of the girls doesn’t mean they need to be friends.

In any case, after Meg’s monologue, we hear from Sybil about Bill.

Sybil: Bill will be home that day, and I think he will humor me because he’s been gone so much lately. I want you to meet him. I’ve made him sound dreadful, but he’s a very special man when he wants to be.

Ding ding ding! Are little alarm bells going off yet?

Sunlight: Do you love him?

Sybil: yes, unfortunately

Sunlight: Why unfortunately?

Sybil: Because I would have long ago built myself a more rewarding life if my heart didn’t start leaping around in my chest on those rare occasions when he comes walking through my door.

Yes, I have wondered why she hasn’t divorced Bill. The classic tail of the man who neglects and or abuses his wife, but wifey still stays with him because she loves him.

I  know the author probably isn’t meaning to depict an abusive husband, just a neglectful one, but these are some of the warning signs of just such a person. Is this what the author is trying to do? Or is she going for a “Sybil is bitter but the Bible is making it all better!” Type approach? If the latter, she’s not succeeding. Sybil here sounds very much like a battered (emotionally if not physically) wife.

Sybil seems reluctant to continue talking about this, so Meg changes the subject. To the Bible, of course, saying that Sybil has really studied hard and put her to shame.

(That’s because Sybil is secretly been a believer for years. Shhhhh. Don’t tell Meg.)

Jared tells us that he is thrilled with the two women’s conversions, but also scared.

The Rebel is furious at what is happening, and will never allow them to continue to learn ad grow unmolested. His brilliant and evil mind is already scheming to destroy Earth Friend’s work…. I long to leave a little note on Sunlight’s pillow tonight, saying, “Hold on, Friend. Just hold on. No matter what comes.”

Because that’s totally not creepy stalker type behavior! I think such a note would just freak Meg out. Really, it’s a good thing that Jared decides that encouragement is a job for The Prince and Earth Friend to do.

I’ve read ahead a little bit and I know what’s coming. It seems like, if the Bible study is what caused Rebel to do what he does, then it would be immoral to ever allow the two women to start studying the Bible in the first place. Or, you know, just prevent the fucking tragedy since, you know, God is omnipotent.

Stay tuned, folks, it’s going to get interesting. Especially since I will be filtering out most of the Bible study discussions. I plan to get especially angry in chapter 7. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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