Project Sunlight Chapter 8

The Drinking game so far

  1. The word “bitter” is used
  • Every time I bang my head against the book in frustration
  • Jenny and Carol behave in a way that is not age appropriate (99% of all SDA authors can not write believable children.)
  • The Book goes on and on for pages about Bible Study
  • Sybil acts like a Bible Worker/Sabbath School teacher
  • Sybil does something creepy
  •  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
  • Bill acts like an emotionally abusive husband
  • Sybil acts afraid of her husband

 

We pick up the story at an unknown time after chapter 7. Jim is coming to take Carol, but he chats with Meg for a bit first.

Jim: How are you doing Meg? I’ve tried to keep busy day and night so I wouldn’t think about Jen. I know it’s been easier on me than on you, but even so, these weeks have been rough.

(Emphasis mine)

Loss of a child isn’t any easier on one parent than the other, regardless of how much time said parent has or hasn’t spent with the child. We’ve been over this last chapter, so let’s move on.

Jim(Still speaking): These things happen to other people’s kids, but not our Jen. Marie tries to understand but I guess a person can when it’s not their own.

Oh my god…. Jenny was her step child. Yes she’s not biologically related, but that doesn’t mean Marie didn’t think of Jenny as her daughter.  The author acts like Meg has a monopoly on the suffering in this tragedy. She doesn’t. All 3 of the adults in Jenny’s life (4 if you count Michael) have the right to be sad. Equally sad.

Sunlight: I never dreamed such pain existed…She was so young–all her life before her. But there’s no point in talking about it. It has happened, and we must go on.

Um, what? It has been a month. Only a month, and Meg suddenly decides it’s time to stop talking about it and move on.

Question: when one loses a child, does one ever get to the point where one stops talking about her? I mean, yeah you may not talk about her every day after a while, but wouldn’t you sometimes still talk about Dear Little Jen and how much you miss her?

Not wanting to talk about your child at all after she’s dead is not healthy. Is it a plausible human reaction? Yes. But it’s being presented her as a healthy way to move forward, and that’s a terrible message to be sending.

Sunlight(Still speaking): Carol is great company to me, and I’m learning to lean on God, at least part of the time.

I lost Jen, but I have Carol, and God, so it’s all good. Blehc. This book makes me want to vomit.

For the most part, though, this is the last time we’ll visit the topic of Jen’s untimely death.

Jim: I never realized until this happened what it’s like to lose someone. It made me understand what a wretched thing I’ve done to you. I’ve said I was sorry a good many times, Meg, not really comprehending what I’ve put you through. Now I want to say it one more time with a new knowledge that no words, however sincere, can begin to touch the problem.

At least Jim sounds sorta kinda sincere, here? I think it’s a bit crass of Jim/the author to compare THE DEATH OF A CHILD to divorce. Losing a husband to another woman isn’t the same as losing a child to death, especially when said husband was an asshole you should’ve divorced a longass time ago.

Also, I’m not seeing any real apology here. He’s just acknowledging that he hurt Meg, but he doesn’t seem all that sorry.

Sunlight: Let’s discuss this once more and then forget it forever.

We’re supposed to read all this as Meg healing from the wounds of the painful divorce, but it reads more like someone who goes from talking excessively about something that’s bothering them to suddenly deciding they don’t want to talk about it at all. Both of these things are extreme ends of the spectrum; neither one of them is healthy.

I submit to you that the author does not know how to write realistic relationships because, in Adventism, relationships don’t ever heal. What poses for healing is, instead, more unhealthiness, just of a different variety.

Also, WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!

Anyway, here’s the entirety of what Meg says:.

Sunlight: Let’s discuss this once more and then forget it forever. I did hurt terribly, Jim, because I loved you so much. I still do love you, but I’m not longer bitter(drink!). No thanks to me, I learned from Jesus Christ that only pride keeps one bitter(drink!), and He took that pride away from me.

There’s a lot of talk, in Adventist circles, about the sin of pride. Ellen White specifically warned against this sin, and we guard ourselves so carefully against it that any sort of good feelings we may have about ourselves are suspect. Do you have good self esteem? Do you feel good about yourself in general? Well, that’s pride, and that’s a sin. You need to pray to Jebus that he will take it away. But remember, Seventh Day Adventists are a special, chosen people.

If that sounds confusing to you, it’s because it was confusing to us, too.

 

This is the only way I can think of to make that sentence make sense. Bitterness comes from the root sin of pride because you don’t deserve anything good. Without God, you are nothing. And don’t you forget it.

Or something… I’m actually not sure how one’s anger over a divorce could possibly be fueled by pride.

Unless, perhaps, one is of the opinion that believing that you don’t deserve to be treated like crap is equal to the sin of pride.

Oh, wait. There’s my answer.

 

Sunlight(still speaking): I forgive you. I say those words only because you need to hear them so that you can go on with your life, free of guilt. Now, please, let’s never discuss it again. Here’s Carol’s jacket. Don’t forget she has school tomorrow and needs to be home early.

It sounded like Jim was pretty guilt free before. I mean, we saw him apologizing to Meg early on in the book, but it was a nonpology, the kind of “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to fall in love and have sex with her, it just happened. One day I accidentally took off all my clothes, and she took off her clothes, completely by accident…

Meta-Meg seems to come through here, in trying to hustle Jim out of the apartment.

Jim: You know, you’re some girl, Meg. We’d like you and carol to come for dinner next Sunday. Bring Michael, if you like.

WOMAN. WOMAN WOMAN WOMAN WOMAN WOMAN. Meg is a WOMAN, not a girl, ya douche. Grown up females are referred to as WOMEN!

After Jim leaves, Sybil and Meg get together for everyone’s favorite activity: Bible study!

We get one line about how Sybil and Bill love Carol, then on to the important part: Bible study!

Fortunately for me, they get interrupted by Michael.

Michael: Sorry to interrupt you two, but I had something I wanted to share with Meg. I’m glad you’re here too, Sybil. I guess we’re all in this together.

Sybil: Well, what is it? It’s got to be important to bring you on a Sunday afternoon when there’s football on television. Out with it.

Michael: No, I want you to go on with whatever you were discussing, and when you finish, I’ll spring my discovery. (He chuckles) If I have any profound thoughts as you go along, I’ll toss them in.

This reads as highly passive aggressive, but I digress. Sybil and Meg are studying and discussing the book of John.

Out of nowhere, literally nowhere, we get this:

Sunlight: It’s the strangest thing, but lately, every time I pick up my Bible to study, I feel troubled about the cigarette I have in my hand. I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible that says not to smoke or drink, yet somehow I don’t feel comfortable doing either of those things anymore.

No, this doesn’t happen. This only happens when a person, or people around them, have been brainwashed, or at least influenced, to vie drinking and smoking as a no good bad terrible thing.

Otherwise, no one really feels a need, without anyone telling them otherwise, to stop drinking and smoking just from reading the Bible.

Michael: I think I know why you may feel that way. both habits are self destructive, which hardly seems compatible with God’s desire for us to be healthy and happy. You’ve always smoked far too much, Meg. Why don’t you back off?

Moderate drinking is not self destructive, and, depending on what you’re drinking and how often, may even have some health benefits.

Smoking, I’m not sure about. My guess is that there’s no health benefit. In any case, Meg probably does need to stop, however, note that Michael tells her she’s always smoked too much.

Except, we haven’t been shown that. We’ve seen Meg having a cigarette after a stressful day at work, we’ve seen her smoke once before dinner and after dancing… what we don’t see is Meg having a pack a day habit, or even half of that. What we see is Meg having a cigarette on occasion.

It’s one thing if the author wants to make Meg a chain smoker, but she must show that all throughout the previous chapters. This, right here, is some serious retconning. “Oh, by the way, Meg smokes like a chimney.” Your readers are not stupid. They are going to see that and go, “bullshit.”

From this, I learn that the author probably doesn’t go back and edit her own work. Also, whoever published this didn’t bother to employ a decent editor.*

Sunlight: Well, I only brought it up, thinking that perhaps as we grow closer to God, he makes us aware of those things in our lives which disturb him. Then believing expands to encompass obedience and–I guess the world would be submission. So believing could turn out to be quite an assignment. And as for your suggestion, Michael, I’ve tried to quit smoking. One hour leaves me climbing the walls.

It does? Really? When? Please go back and demonstrate this. Oh, you didn’t bother? Well, screw you, then.

Believing does not always expand to obedience. Even the demons believe, and they tremble...

Also, is it just me or is God starting to sound like a controlling boyfriend? In order to have a relationship with him, we must change a zillion and one things about ourselves, submit fully to him, and let him control every aspect of our lives.

Replace the word “God” with “Bob,” in that paragraph, and your creep-o-meter should start pinging like crazy.

Michael:….I have become what Scripture calls a son of God, and how can a son of God walk down the street puffing on a cigarette or idle away an evening at the bar?

This one I have agree with. People who stroll down the sidewalk smoking are blowing their carcinogenic cigarette smoke in my face. The right to blow your smoke ends a good 20 feet before my face begins. I have also seen a friend with Asthma stop breathing as she passed you. So, yes, I totally support “stop smoking in public” campaigns. How can someone who considers themselves a Christian trample on the rights of others around them to breathe clean air? Go smoke in your own apartment.

Drinking in a bar, though? Doesn’t infringe on my rights at all, so, knock yourself out. Just don’t get behind the wheel afterwards.

Michael(continuing): It’s like trying to imagine the apostle Paul addressing the Greeks with a cigar in one hand.

Question: was smoking a thing back in Paul’s time? If so, would he have? Paul was a Roman citizen. Did he ever address the Greeks?

There’s more talk about joining God’s family, dying to self like Jesus died for us, and then Meg says something about how she could tell God that Jen’s death is ok, because God doesn’t make mistakes. Meg says that she is going to do this instead of trying to find some reason why Jen died.

That just sounds unhealthy to me, but set that aside.

Michael: god didn’t kill Jenny, you know.

Sunlight: No, but he could have prevented it.

EXACTLY.

If I go out, right now, and witness a murder, and I have the power to prevent that murder from being carried out (I don’t, for the record, I don’t own a gun, have no training for such events, and don’t know how to fight. Set all that aside.) If I have the power to prevent said murder, say, I am a police officer who is well trained in such situations, and I do not even try to prevent that murder, but just hide there quietly in the bushes, doing nothing, what does that make me? It may not make me a murderer, but it may well make me an accomplice. At the very least it would make me a shitty police officer, and I would be called to give an account of my actions to my supervisor.**

God is all powerful, able to do anything. Nothing is impossible for God… bla bla bla. It is therefore possible for him to have prevented Jenny’s death, and he didn’t. God is absolutely one of the responsible parties here.

Meg goes on to say that Jenny loved Jesus, and why would Jesus let his loyal friend die?

Sybil: Maybe that’s why He didn’t step in, Meg. All was well between him and Jen.

From Chapter 1 of “What NOT to say to a grieving parent.” Sybil doesn’t say it outright, but the subtext here is, “All was well between him and Jen for now. If he’d let her live, it might not have lasted.”

Yes, this is said to people at their children’s funerals.

Sybil talks about this being a test that Meg passed, because God trusted her to hold steady despite the fact that he stood there and said nothing as her child was killed in front of him.

God allowed Jenny to die as a test for Meg? Whoa! I hope God never wants to test my mother. I’m too young to die!

There’s more talk of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and then, out of nowhere, Meg asks Michael to tell them what he came to tell them.

Michael warns them all that he has “startling news” that he has no idea whether or not they’re ready for.

He’s going to ask Meg to marry him?

No, the news is that Michael has discovered the truth about the Sabbath.

He gives us a whole page and a half long monologue about it, in which he mentions the character of Joe Westcott, a Lutheran minister.

Sybil interrupts, probably just so Michael doesn’t have that much of a monologue.

Sybil: Michael, are you trying to tell us that Jesus Christ expects us to observe Saturday as the Sabbath?

We’re probably supposed to think that Sybil is finding this exciting, life changing news. She’s really thinking, “this was worth rushing over and interrupting our Bible study? This could have waited.”

Michael says it’s really exciting (spoiler alert, it’s not.) He goes over the history of why Christians keep Sunday, and all us Exers know it and it’s really boring so I’m skipping it.

Joe has apparently told Michael a lot of things, and has read books about the subject.

This doesn’t strike me as odd, but it does Meg.

Sunlight: Why did Joe have all this material at his fingertips?

Because libararies, you dumbarse.

Michael: He has a bulging file on the subject and a very uneasy mind

Sunlight: you mean he believes the seventh day is the Sabbath, Michael,? Then why isn’t he preaching it from the pulpit?

Michael: It takes courage, Maggie. He’d probably soon be out of a job….

Question: If a Lutheran minister started preaching about Saturday Sabbath and the proper observance thereof, what would really happen? If he would get fired, I wouldn’t see it as persecution. To me it seems more of a “If you don’t agree with our beliefs, you should probably find another church” type thing. Which sounds reasonable.

Michael is so convinced that he’s right that he’s already kept his first Sabbath. When asked what he did, he responds:

Michael: I spent the morning studying by Bible and praying, and in the afternoon I went with Joe to the hospital. He uses Sabbath to minister to the sick. It’s his way of observing the day without rocking any boats.

Note that by “ministering to the sick” the author really means “annoying the shit out of sick people who just want to be left the hell alone.”

Also, that sounds like a wicked boring day. I prefer to spend my Sabbaths reading books, watching X-Files with my friends D and S, and playing Fantasy Life on the DS3.

Meg, Michael, and Sybil  all agree that they believe in the Bible and Jesus, and decide that that means that, as of this moment, they have just received the gift of salvation.

Mmmm ok. But then, why isn’t Satan saved? If all you have to do is believe, Satan and his minions qualify, right?

Michael prays to close out the Bible study, and Jared starts talking.

Michael has made an exciting discovery, for the Sabbath is, and always has been, an issue in the struggle between the Prince and Lucifer. Just as the tree in the Garden of Eden was a test to Adam and Eve, so this matter of the Sabbath is a test to Adam’s descendants.

Why? Of all things, why would God make the Sabbath a test?

Jared babbles on about Earth Friend for a while, and studying the scriptures, and then babbles on about Babylon.

(You may groan now.)

Babylon represents every evil program and movement and erroneous religion that the Rebel has created over the centuries.

So, Seventh Day Adventism, then?

Come out of her before it’s too late. Forsake the bars, the television sets, the social causes that neglect men’s souls, the churches where there is enthusiasm but not truth. Put aside the toys of earth: the yachts, the town houses, the stereos, the jets whisking people from sea to sea. Take your Bibles and search as though your life was at stake, for it is.

Fear Mongering much, Jared Ms. Strong?

Also, fuck you. The causes that don’t affect “men’s souls” are important too, dammit. I have a feeling that Ms Strong’s definition of “social causes that neglect men’s souls” and mine are two different things. But then, she’s also probably one of those people who thinks animal rights campaigns aren’t important. After all, they’re just animals.

Also, most people I know are too poor to have “townhouses,” “yachts,” and “jets/plane tickets.” And how is a townhouse a toy, anyway?

I see the accelerating pace all about me here in the Peaceful Kingdom. There will be some breathtaking events to record,

No, there won’t.

and then this journal will be closed forever.

And not a moment too soon.

 

The chapter ends here? Really?

This chapter was BAD. Not just because of the horrible things said at its opening about how to deal with divorce and death, but because it’s boring. This chapter is basically just a bunch of Bible study, theology, and some history of early Christianity. It was boring to read through and the characters don’t talk like human beings.

This felt like a very short chapter, because nothing happens. I actually counted out how many pages it was and compared them, just to be sure it was actually the same length as the others.

Whoever edited this couldn’t possibly have been competent, or they would have known to “cut the fat.”

Which I now must do to this blog post, because I’ve gotten pretty rambly in spots.

 

*Yes, I know that, to an Adventist, even one cigarette once in a blue moon is “far too much” smoking. That’s beside the point. The point is that here is a difference between a smoker and a chain smoker and Ms. Strong should know it.

**It’s one thing to try to prevent it and fail. That is not what I am talking about here.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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