Project Sunlight, Last Chapter (11)

Chapter 11

Hi everyone, are you all ready for more of our exciting, tension filled, apocalypse? Me either, but let’s get this done anyway.

The summer has passed in a flurry of activity for the little community in the Adirondacks

Yes, this chapter starts with yet another time skip. The end times events are taking a very long time to unfold.

We begin this chapter with more drama, at least, the author is trying to create some drama, by having Jean show up to try and take her children away. Spoiler alert, she doesn’t succeed.

Why no one thinks to go to the government to get their kids back from the evil Sabbath keeping rebels, I don’t know.

In any case, Jean tells Meg that she accepted the children’s decision to stay when she left, but now she has come to insist they go with her. She has brought no backup whatsoever and it’s one against 12, not counting the children themselves.

Jean says that she is more inclined to believe that these calamities and disasters are the result of people turning away from traditional beliefs than that they are divinely predicted events. The two are not mutually exclusive, but Jean doesn’t seem to know that.

Meg tells Jean she will find the children “thinner, but tanned and fit.” I wonder what she means by thinner? If the children are too thin, they need to leave the Cult of the Holy Mountain and go with Jean, where she can get them to a doctor who can help them.

Jim has sent, with Jean, a letter and a birthday present for Carol. He may not be man enough to go to court, but damn if he’ll miss giving Carol a birthday present.

Joe, to his credit, worries a bit about Jim getting in trouble for helping them. He is glad to see Jean, and puts his hands on her shoulders. Which could be seen as very threatening, actually.

Jean: I came only to bring the children back. It’s no longer safe for them to be here with you. Sooner or later someone is going to discover this place and that you’re here because of your religious convictions.

Any competent dictatorship would have already found these things out, particularly since the Sunday worship thing has been going on at least a year. Wait, I just accused the US government of being competent. Forget everything I previously said about their ridiculously stupid hiding place.

Joe, the world is falling apart and you’re losing touch with reality. The water supply in America is contaminated (Revelation 16:3,4) Europe is staggering with famine under an intense heat that literally scorches men (Revelation 16:8) And the population in other areas is afflicted with sores that are beyond medical help. (Rev 16:2). If we don’t turn back to God, this planet will be wiped out! Are you hearing me Joe?!

Let’s talk about the science of this for a second. I don’t know much about the subject, admittedly, but Europe is suffering from famine because of an intense heat that “literally scorches men?” How hot would that have to be? And wouldn’t the oceans start boiling before that could happen? And what does “literally scorches” mean? Does this mean they get really bad sunburn? Or does their blood start boiling the minute they step outside? Is it hot enough to melt DNA? (185F, in case anyone cares.) Explain this to me, dammit!

Also, do you think, over in Europe, that “all these bad things are happening because we took God out of schools/money/our sex lives” would really be the response to these disasters? I see this attitude from Americans a lot, and I know the persecution is supposed to start here and spread, but I mean, you’d think that in order for the “we need God” attitude to spread, turning back to God would have to have worked for the Americans. “Oh look, the Americans instituted a Sunday law and they stopped having earthquakes, they have potable water, and are otherwise living normal lives. Why don’t we try that?”

As it is now, they would look at America and think, “well, that’s clearly not working. Let’s not bother, then.”

I don’t know if Ms. Strong knows this, and there was very little excuse for her not knowing this, even then, but Europeans think differently than we do. They think dollar coins are a good idea, don’t like guns, and they’re not as conservatively religious as we are.

But don’t worry everyone, the author won’t take cultural context into account or anything. That would be, gasp LIBERAL!

There’s some back and forth about whether or not the Sunday law is a good idea, with Joe saying it’s a terrible idea to kill those who think differently and has he ever read the Old Testament?

Jean: But the persecution today is only to bring people back to a proper regard for God.

Um, what? Who thinks like this? does anybody you know think like this? I should go find all the Christians in my life right now and see how they feel about this.

There’s more arguing about whether the persecution is good or bad, and I just want Jesus to come and end this book already.

Jason: I think it is usually safer to be among the persecuted than the persecutors.

Jason was 12 years old 2 years ago, so let’s assume he’s about 14-15 right now. He’s old enough to make his own decisions on religion, probably, but not old enough to fully grok the consequences of death and torture. And he’s still young enough that the court would force him to go live with his mom if it was determined that his father was an unstable criminal unable to earn a living. Which he is.

Jean: You won’t think so, Jason, if they find you up here.

Jean has a point. But of course she’ll be shut down because she’s a heathen and a woman, so, what does she know?

Jason: Not safer physically, perhaps, but spiritually. And this is a right cause, Mother.

He blathers on about Bible verses and God being the creator and blah de blah de blah de blah.

Jean(smiling ironically): Hear ye, hear ye! My son, the preacher…

Jean, this is not helping your cause.

Jason: (After a lot of blather wherein he quotes Bible verses that theoretically support his point): The saints are described as those who keep the commandments of God. You can’t keep the commandments, mom, if you reject the 4th one.

On what grounds can men take our lives if they have no scripture to condemn us with?

Our laws are not based on scripture.  There’s no scripture saying it’s a crime to kill your stubborn child, despite the fact that if you do, you’re going to jail. This statement, therefore, is just stupid.

Jean: The whole Christian community can’t be wrong, Jason

Who thinks like this? Does anybody think like this? Does anyone actually believe in moral majority?

Jean tells them she’s had enough, and that the kids need to get in the car.

Jason: I have never disobeyed you, mother, but I wish to stay here with dad.

This is a lie. All children have disobeyed their parents at least once. It is a normal part of childhood development.

Jean: You will have to trust me, Jason. I insist you go back with me.

You know, there’s no real reason his father shouldn’t let Jason go back down the mountain. I mean, he’s just as saved there as he is here, isn’t he?

Also, how, legally, would children work in a world with mandatory Sunday worship? Who decides, for example, the age at which children are said to be responsible for their own attendance? A person like Carol, who is roughly 10, would be too young to go to church by herself if her parents don’t take her. A 14-15 year old could potentially drive him or herself, depending on the driving laws in his or her state and whether or not he or she has access to a car. If the cutoff point is age 18, what about those 18 year olds who, in this wretched economy, can’t get a job, don’t have access to a car, and have parents who won’t drive them? Do they get slaughtered for, basically, the crime of not being able to find a ride to church? Has the public transit system improved so much that this is not an issue? If  there’s no potable water and the economy is in the toilet, how would there be money to get gas to get to and from a church? Does everyone have to bike? What about disabled people?

I forsee either an exponential growth of churches springing up all over urban and rural areas alike, or mass confusion.

Seriously, I have never read an end times novel where the author has sat down and thought this all out. And that’s disturbing.

As far as ages go, how does God work this out? What about children who are too young to decide for themselves they won’t go to church on Sunday? We’re told we must disobey our parents and not work on Saturday when the Sunday laws come, but we can’t really prevent our parents from making us go to church. We know, because many of us have tried it.

You know what, I’m tired of trying to do more thinking than the author did and we still have quite a lot to get to, so, let’s move on.

Joe: I believe the children are old enough to make their own decision, Jean. They know more about their Bibles than most adults.

I’m not going to argue with that, but knowing your Bible and actually knowing the consequences of torture and death are two different things. Legally, we should not be allowing 14-15 year olds to make these kinds of decisions.

Jean says that she is frightened for them, and how could Joe do this to her? Because Joe is an unstable death cultist, that’s why.

Joe: There is no safe place on the face of the Earth, Jean. As yet we have suffered none of the disasters falling upon the planet…. If the children wish to go with you, I will not stand in their way, but if not, I beg you to let them remain here. And it is the fondest wish of my heart that you would stay yourself (his voice breaks.)

Hang on, I thought that probation had closed and it was already too late? I mean, I guess it was clearly not too late for Jean to lose her salvation, but it is too late to gain it back. We have been outright told this. What does it matter if Jean stays or goes? Joe is going to lose her anyway, and it may as well happen now so he doesn’t have to watch Jesus kill her when he finally gets around to showing up.

Jean: I’m sorry I came. (She, too, is close to tears.) You have turned the children away from me. If it weren’t for the trouble I’d bring upon them, I’d report you all to the police. Bill would have done it long ago if it were not for his love for Carol. He hates everything you stand for, and so do I.

I’m not sure what she means here. If she reported them to the police, is she worried her children could get wounded in the crossfire? Does she think the police will just kill all the children too?

I think the children with criminal parents would be removed from their parents care, rather than outright killed. Social services should be swamped trying to find homes for them all. Children do not have the same rights and abilities as adults, and I’m surprised no one is bringing this up. Are the children being punished for the sins of their parents? Would people today really stand for that sort of thing?

Jean is right about another thing. Joe has, like so many Adventist parents, brainwashed their offspring to the point where they do not respect their non SDA parent as they should. He has turned the children away from their own parent. I wish Jesus would kill Joe when he returns. Unfortunately we’re supposed to see Joe as righteous.

Jean goes back down the mountain without further argument, and nothing really comes of her visit. It was, therefore, pointless to include.

Carol shares portions of Jim’s letter with the group that night.

I saw Sybil on the street the other day. She told me Bill went to a popular faith healer here in the city and appears to have been cured of his heart problems, which had really been giving him trouble lately. There is a great deal of healing going on, all kinds of miracles and supernatural events.

Why show when you could just tell, right? Showing us these things would make for a terrible story after all.

In any case, I thought Bill didn’t have any heart problems? All the tests showed up clear. Has he been ignoring the doctor’s advice not to do any work? Or are all the difficulties of life on earth stressing him out too much?

Llook guys, the antichrist finally makes an appearance!

Lately there has been much excitement over various appearances of a being quite different from any normally seen on Earth. He…purports to be Christ (revelation 13:12-15; Mark 13:6; Matthew 24:23,24).

Because if the author doesn’t insert Bible verses awkwardly into the text, you would accuse her of not knowing what she was talking about!

It’s been said he has called down fire from heaven in imitation, I suppose, of whomever it was who accomplished that feat in the Bible. Please share all this with your mom and Michael. They will probably have some rational explanation for it.

Sybil was a serious Bible student at one point. She would know that it was Elijah (Elisha?) Who called down fire from Heaven, among other people. She would also know that this is what the false Christ will do.

Joe gives us all a mini Bible study on the subject of False Christs, and how every eye shall see Jesus, and that this totally isn’t referring to watching him on TV because….?

I actually remember talking about this in Bible class, how Christ would accomplish this. Of course ideas like TV and holograms weren’t considered (because Jesus wouldn’t have foreseen THAT).  “Every eye shall see him” meant, of course, every naked eye shall see him. Speculations ranged from having the earth spin really really fast to us all being gathered in the same place to somehow making the earth flat. It was all very scientific.

Anne (don’t ask me who Anne is, I don’t know and I don’t care) Says all of this is simple enough a Kindergartner could understand, which makes me feel intelligent because I studied this shit as diligently as I could for about a decade before I gave up understanding it.

A few pages later, Joe tells us that “bottomless pit” in the context of Revelation 20 “is nothing more than the earth stripped of all life.”

So, Adventists, how’s that literal interpretation of the Bible working out for ya?

“Every eye shall see him” can’t possibly be referring to TV (No divine being could have predicted this, even though it would be a plausible fulfillment of the prophecy) but “Bottomless pit” doesn’t actually mean bottomless pit?

I’m confused.

More Bible study, more Bible study, Michael says the second coming will be “an awesome day” and I’m thinking “awful” is the word because mass genocide, oh and look, here’s Jared to tell us just how dire things are getting.

How clearly my new friends have charted the course ahead of them. It is sad that all the world has not yet searched the Book as they have. Only a moment of time remains, and well it is, for the fear and suffering on Planet Earth have risen to heartbreaking proportions.

And it took at least 3 years for this to happen. (Things were starting to happen at the beginning of the 2 year time skip, if you’ll remember.)

In the next section, something finally happens! The author finally creates a few tiny moments of tension… but not that many, lest we actually start finding the novel interesting.

So, it’s winter now, and the police finally show up. Took them long enough, jeez. There are 10 of them. Police officers, I mean. But only 2 Adventist men are left because… ?

Wait, how many men (and grown ups, which the author doesn’t care about) were there at the beginning? I need to go back and check my list.

Here’s a writing tip: don’t put more people into your novel than you can develop character for in a reasonable amount of time. 13 people for a >200 page novel is too many. Trim this number down.

Police officer: How long have you people been living here?

Joe: This is our second winter

So, about a year, then? Why doesn’t he just say that? It would give us some frame of reference for where we are time wise.

I get why the author wouldn’t want to name specific dates or years, but that’s no excuse for keeping the timeline this vague. Make another footnote if you feel that’s necessary. Or chop off the time skips.

Police officer: Why are you here?

Joe: We prefer this simple life to the dangers and health hazards of the city

Joe: We are hiding here from the evil government who is going to kill us for worshiping on Sunday.

Fixed that for you, Joe!

Police Officer: (irritation growing in his voice and showing on his face): how did you acquire this property?

I’m going to pretend he is just asking Michael this to see if his answer matches up with the government’s property records. Even I could look all this up if I felt like it. It’s not that hard.

Police Officer 2: What religion do you belong to?

Joe: We are followers of Jesus Christ and trust in his blood for our salvation.

All these evasive non answers are, understandably, irritating the officer.

Police officer 2: Never mind that. What day do you worship on?

Joe: We’re atheists

Just kidding. There will be no atheist holdouts. All the atheists are too scared of being killed to resist the evil Sunday Government. Because that’s totally the way it worked in Nazi Germany!

Joe(hesitating only a moment): The seventh day Sabbath

He’s going to hell for that hesitation. Just kidding, of course not.

Police Officer(smiling strangely): Is there a child here named Carol?

Smiling strangely? What does that mean? When an adult man smiles strangely while asking about the presence of a child, all my red flags go up. Was that intentional? Did this book just get very very dark? Nah, probably just bad writing.

Police Officer: She is under our protection at the request of our informant. The rest of you will be shot at six in the morning when the law goes into effect.

What about the other children. They just get shot?

Joe: What Law?

Are you stupid? The law you’ve been reading about in the paper, the law that your Bible supposedly predicted…. you know what law dammit.

Officer Police Officer finds it hard to believe that these goons don’t know about The Law, so we get told about The Law, the law that makes the crime of not going to church on Sunday punishable by death.

Joe argues with Officer Police Officer, who tells him that the SDAs have invited disaster on the world by refusing to worship on Sunday, and it’s very repetitive and this book has told us this before and I’ve talked about it before and let’s move on.

Joe: Are these your personal convictions or those of the state?

Police Officers don’t make the laws, Joe, they just enforce them. If the victim is white. Or the perpetrator is black. Or there’s a full moon on a Thursday in October.

Police Officer: I didn’t come here to be interrogated, I will ask the questions….sit down in a circle about the fireplace and say what you will to each other and your God, if you have one. you have only a few hours left.

Seriously, the nearest neighbor is 20 miles away. Why don’t the police just take Carol out of the house, start driving, and then shoot the rest of them now, right now? You are giving them precious time in which to come up with an escape plan. Also, I may or may not really want to see Joe take a bullet to the head. No one would know you hadn’t waited, and if the world is in such a state, I doubt anybody would care.

Carol asks the Police Officer if it was her father who told the police on them.

Police Officer: Young lady, I said I will ask the questions. but (chuckling) I guess it doesn’t make much difference one way or the other at this point. No, it was not your father. It was a man named Bill Norris.

Why would the officer not think it was a big deal to tell Carol this? It doesn’t, because in ten minutes Jesus is going to come, but he doesn’t know that. From his perspective, he is taking Carol back to the city to live with her father. Carol will now be unable to trust Bill. Their relationship will deteriorate. Thanks, Officer Police Officer!

If the author wanted to merely communicate that to us, she could have had the police remove Carol from the house before he told the rest of them, who were just going to die anyway.

Everyone starts singing. Carol asks if they will really shoot people. Meg tells her they will, and to tell Sybil she loves her.

Carol: I would rather just stay here. I’m not afraid to die.

That’s because you’re ten. And brainwashed.

Meg tells her she doesn’t have a choice, reminds here that Jesus will always be with her, and tells her she’s a good little soldier of the cross, and then they join the others in singing.

(Over the singing comes another sound, loud, unnatural and frightening. Beneath the old house the ground heaves and shudders. both singers and police race from the building in terror. Outside they find the skies overcast with an eerie blackness, while earth-shattering thunder rolls over the earth. Vivid gashes of lightning splinter the darkness.)

Jason: Dad, the mountains are moving–they really are. Everything is moving. We will never survive.

Joe(Tears streaming down his face): Son, this is not a time to fear. It is a time to rejoice.

Jason: You mean this is it? Jesus is coming?

No, it’s just another major earthquake. Your idiot father knew this was coming, and he moved you into the mountains anyway.

Everyone kneels. There is a rainbow (Jesus loves Gay people! Proof!) there’s hailstones, a hurricane, the police are huddling in terror among boulders along the shore. Shore, what shore? They’re in the mountains, what do you mean there’s a shore?

You know what, never mind. We’re almost done with this book, and so am I.

Carol: the Lake has disappeared, Mother, and some of the mountains have collapsed. The earth looks like the landscape of the moon. It’s a bottomless pit alright.

Lake? There was a lake? I thought they had a spring.

I thought they were just jabbering on a few pages ago about how everyone will be looking up when Jesus comes, not down at the earth? And that this was why TV couldn’t be the way “every eye will see him?”

Set that aside. This book is narrated by Jared. Why, oh why isn’t he narrating now? Carol should not be telling us this. Having her narrate out loud the things that are happening is clunky and awkward. It’s not how real people talk, and it’s not how books are written.

This next passage is also clunkily narrated by Carol. It would have been better if Jared had written it out, play style, like the portion above with the earthquake.

That being said, I still might have shed a tear or two. Because if you squint enough, this passage works.

Carol: Mom, oh mom, an angel is bringing Jen. She sees us. She’s letting go of the angel’s hand. She’s coming. Oh mom, open up your arms.

(Laughing and crying, Sunlight holds the form of her elder child tightly.)….

There’s more praising God, I don’t care.

A tall gentle angel takes his place beside Sunlight. “I want to give you a very special welcome to your new life,” he says. “My name is Jared.”

And I’ve been stalking you on and off for roughly 4 years. No, he doesn’t say that. In fact, this is where the book ends, precisely because the explanation sounds creepy.

Just kidding, it’s actually a decent place to end. It’s probably a good idea not to let endings drag too much.

We are finally done with this book, guys! We made it! Get yourselves a celebratory drink, and go read something decent. You’ve earned it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Richest Caveman Chapter 18

Chapter 18

The Rock that Would Not Roll

In which Doug returns to his cave.

Doug takes his family on a vacation to Southern California, and Micah asks to visit his dad’s cave. None of the other kids wanted to go, and the 5 year old was much too young. Micah is only 2 years older than that, but he’s deemed old enough. Okay, whatever.

Sweet little Micah. This chapter is heartbreaking, because I know this child’s life is going to be very short. I’m not entirely sure what he died of. Some say it was a tractor incident, others say it was a construction incident, others say he committed suicide.

Regardless, it is tragic for one to die so young.

Doug tells us that it has been 8 years since he’s hiked this trail, and things have changed. Even the spring has changed its course. Doug wonders if his cave will even still be there.

As we rounded the rdige and beheld the 3rd valley directly before us, I stopped a moment to breathe and take in the scene.

“Watcha lookin’ at, Dad?” Micah asked.

“My rock,”I whispered.

At that point we were surrounded by rocks, and my statement might have sounded strange to a person who could not see what we saw. But one rock in that valley stood out…I had lived in the shadow of that giant boulder for a year and a half…..sometimes there were earthquakes in these mountains, and rocks and dirt would come tumbling down the valley walls from all directions, but I was never afraid under the protection of “my rock.”

Doug points out more landmarks to Micah, who listens wide eyed.

In a few moments we climbed into the two rocks and over a log…very little had changed. The smoke blackened ceiling, my rock log chair and my fireplace were all still the same. Some of the sand in the bedroom cave and main floor had washed away, but it still felt like home.

They make a fire and cook dinner. Micah asks what happened to the bible his dad found up here.

Not long after I started reading it I accidentally dropped it in the creek,” I said. “After that it swelled up, and it wasn’t very easy to read, so my friend Glen gave me a new one. I’m not sure what ever became of the first one.”

That Bible was that special to him, and he didn’t at least keep it out of sentimental value?

In any case, Doug and Micah sleep in the cave. Doug drops in a few paragraphs about Jesus being like a rock before they fall off to sleep.

Micah had a hard time waking up the next morning. His eyes were half opened, and it was comical, watching him look around, trying to remember where he was and how he got there. His hair looked like it had been combed all night with an eggbeater!

Doug tells Micah they have to get an early start to go back to town to meet the rest of the family.

“But dad, we just got here.”

“I know, son, but our vacation time is about over. Let’s be glad we had a chance to visit this place.”

You couldn’t have gone up there earlier so you could stay there longer?

Before they leave, however, Doug leaves a bible in the cave, because he has never heard that you should leave nothing but footprints behind when you camp.

Micah asks if Doug will ever move back up here again, and Doug says that no, God doesn’t call us to run away from the world, but to go out into it and preach.

Some credit must be given to Doug for not telling little Micah that of course he will have to return to the cave soon. The end times are coming, after all. 10 points to Slytherin!*

I was so thankful for all my children, and I felt particularly close to Micah this morning as we hiked along together…. Micah has taught me one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.

Ouch, right in the feels!

Doug starts reminiscing. Apparently 5 years earlier, MIcah was very sick.

Karyn and I found him in his crib moaning and staring blankly at the ceiling. We knew something was seriously wrong so….we raced to the nearest hospital, 40 miles away….after a basic examination, an intern…told us he feared Micah had spinal meningitis. He said the only way to know for sure was to do a “spinal tap.” That involved inserting a 3 inch needle between the vertebrae in Micah’s spine. The spine, of course, is filled with nerves.

Micah knew about 3 words at this time, enough to comunicate that he didn’t understand.

Two of the nurses held my baby boy on his side, bent so his back was arched. This evidently caused Micah a great deal of pain, because he started groaning. The saddest part was that the intern confessed to having little experience doing spinal taps. So I watched with a breaking heart as 3 or 4 times the young doctor pushed the needle into my little boy’s back. Only a parent can understand the heartache of watching a child suffer.

I disagree with Doug’s last sentence, but let’s set this aside. First off, was there a reason that this particular intern had to be the one to do the spinal tap? Also, why was Micah not sedated for this? One can only hope he was given some kind of pain medication, at least.

Micah looked up and cried out over and over, “Daddy, daddy, daddy.”

This tore me apart.

Yeah, I sympathize. I’m torn apart just reading this, especially because I know that, a good 20 or so years after this incident, Micah actually dies.

One of my greatest fears was that Micah would die thinking I didn’t love him.

I…had a lot to say about this when I thought Micah had committed suicide, but it looks like it was just a construction accident. Still tragic, but at least the probability he felt unloved is low.

In any case, Micah did have spinal meningitis, but “with the grace of God and 10 days in the hospital,” his life was saved. Well, at least Doug gives the doctors some credit. 5 points to Slytherin.

Doug blathers about how God loves Doug just like Doug loves Micah, and it hurts God to see Doug in pain.

This is why Doug feels called to preach the gospel, to tell the world that God loves them.

It is my prayer that those who read the testimony in this book will learn from my experience that happiness does not come from the abundance of things…. but the joy of serving God and ministering to my fellow man is genuine, and it leaves no hangover.

I know, because I tried it all!

Except for, you know, therapy.

This is the second (and last, since that’s the end of the book) time Doug says that ministry leaves no hangover. It’s almost like he knows religion and drugs are basically the same thing, they serve the same purpose.

This book was not as badly written as some books I’ve read. It’s still a terrible book, for Adventist literature this is, like, Prize winning good.

In any case, it is clear that Doug wants to tell a good story, rather than necessarily teach anyone. I can’t tell you how many times I or my friends wished that we had stories like Doug Batchelors. Some of us now do have wild, interesting stories. Some of us left for good, some of us regret having them.

Am I blaming Batchelor for this? No, my mistakes and choices in life were mine and mine alone. In fact, by the time I left Adventism I had largely forgotten the details of this book.

However, Doug’s story does whet the appetite for other stories like this, and leads some children to dream of a life like his. Which, according to him, is kind of the opposite effect he’d hope he’d have.

If I prayed, which I do not, it would be my prayer that these posts have made you laugh, cry, or helped you learn a bit about writing. I know *I* learned something about writing as I read this book and wrote these posts. Mostly I learned what not to do.

Go ye therefore and do likewise.

 

 

*I know, I know, I don’t want to be in the same house as Doug either. But he is cunning and ambitious, and has a certain disregard for the rules, so, he’d definitely be sorted that way.

 

 

 

 

 

The Richest Caveman Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Going Home

Doug opens the chapter by telling us that they are all going to Covelo so he can take care of some business. He doesn’t tell us what the business is, exactly, and it’s probably irrelevant to the story.

Everyone is very excited to go back, especially to see Pastor Joe and Mrs. Phillips, who are apparently like grandparents to the young Batchelors.

Apparently, the Phillipses helped out the Batchelors when Doug couldn’t get a loan. See, he had no credit. Please do not ask how he was supposed to get credit without getting a loan first, because that’s a tough question to answer in 2016, and was probably much harder in 1970 something. In any case, when Pastor Joe heard, he sent Doug a check for $300, which was worth more than that would be today. Doug paid Joe back as soon as possible, of course.

Pastor Joe never retired. He kept doing ministry until the day he died. Which, by the way, happens by the end of this chapter. Doug and Karyn go on another few trips down memory lane, recalling that the Phillipses lived simply in order to give 50% of their income to various ministries.

Remember the time we saw a car coming the wrong way on the freeway, and it turned out to be the Phillipses?

“Do I! That was scary,” Karyn laughed. “It seems funny now, but they could have been killed.”

Killed someone else.

Fixed that for you! In any case, this story is not funny, it’s horrifying. Pastor Joe’s mind was clearly slipping, which is a very sad thing.

In any case, they spend some time with the Phillipses, because the next thing they know, pastor Phillips has died.

Afterwards, Doug gets a call to go work in Covelo.

Karyn kicked me. “Say yes!” She whispered.”

Doug tells the Northern California Conference he’ll pray about it.

Karyn said, “I’ll pack while you pray.”

Good for her!

When I finally got there, I discovered how much I didn’t know about pastoring. I didn’t even know how to conduct a board meeting. I made motions and then seconded them myself! But the people bore with me patiently…the congregation grew and prospered. We bought the property next door and built an addition on the church.

I…don’t know enough about church board meetings to comment.

On top of all this, Doug holds evangelistic meetings. These end up taking so much of his time he steps down as pastor, because it’s all too much.

Doug tells a few stories about converts, then talks about going to Easter sunrise services. On the way home, Doug passed the Pentecostal Faith Tabernacle. Doug said he felt a strong urge to stop and go in, because he felt he was supposed to preach there that day.

Using his brain, he thinks that that’s nonsense and drives on by. He drives by several times arguing with himself before going home to eat breakfast. He then decides he’s being like Jonah, and goes back. On the way out of the house Karyn asks where he is going.

“To church,” I said.

“Oh?” That was all she said. She wasn’t surprised, because I often acted strangely.

I’m not sure what Doug means here, this is potentially a red flag.

Doug goes to the church and slips into the back pew. Doug explains that prayer in a Pentecostal church isn’t like an Adventist church. These people believe in speaking in tongues.

The lady beside me sounded like she was talking about Japanese motorcycles.

This sounds very realistic to me. One of my friends used to attend the Assembly of God church, and she demonstrated for me what speaking in tongues sounded like. What she did was speak really fast “I should have bought a hondai but instead I bought a honda.” Over and over. She said she debated with herself whether or not she should fake that she was speaking in tongues herself, but couldn’t quite bring herself to do it.

In any case, Doug prays quietly to himself.

Then a whole sermon came to me, just as if it were being handed out, about Mary Magdalene representing the church.

Interesting. Doug’s subconscious is composing a sermon for him.

After the prayer, the pastor notices Doug, announcing that their “Adventist brother” is here, and does he have a few words he’d like to say?

I stood up. “You know how it is, Pastor,” I said. “We preachers can’t just say a few words.” I smiled and started to sit, but before I could, he came right back.

“Then why don’t you come on up and preach?”

It sounds to me like the pastor is making a joke, but Doug takes it seriously. He comes to the podium with his Bible and actually preaches the sermon that he just came up with during the prayer.

As the last of the people were leaving, Pastor Hull turned to me with tears streaming down his cheeks. “Pastor Doug,” he said with a chocked voice. “God sent you here this morning.”

I wondered how he knew.

“I’ve been sick,” he went on. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I’ve been praying about it. I asked my wife to preach but she was scared to death. So you see, Brother Doug, God sent you in answer to my prayer.

Doug blathers on about how God has his people in other churches too, and I think he’s about to talk about being accepting of other religions, but I was too optimistic because Doug says they will all be united as one body who keeps the commandments of Christ, in the end. And by that he means the Seventh Day Adventist church.

This, apparently, is how he met a Spanish lady named Marta, who comes to church even though she doesn’t understand any English, because it is clearly God’s house. Doug invites her to the SDA church, because he has members there who speak Spanish. Marta comes and gets converted.

And then Mrs. Phillips dies. Doug conducts her funeral service and speaks to her son, who is apparently a “hard drinking, rough talking macho man.”

Doug talks about how the Phillipses were saints, and he hopes to be a saint too, and that God will finish what he’s started in his life.

Thus ends yet another chapter with a very strange story that I sort of doubt happened exactly as Batchelor is claiming. I get that truth is often stranger than fiction, but I can still only suspend my disbelief for so long, and this book really does strain credibility.

This chapter and the last really didn’t need to be included, and could have been left out. Nothing of great significance really happened. I get the feeling they were mainly included just so the book could reach a certain length.

This was our penultimate chapter. Next time, we come full circle as we swing around back to the cave Doug used to live in.

Join me tomorrow (or whenever I get unlazy enough to post) for the final chapter: The Return Of Caveman!

 

 

 

 

 

Project Sunlight Chapter 10

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, everybody! The apocalypse is finally happening! Woooooooo!!!!!!

Here’s 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
  • The author decides to insert stuff into the book that never actually happened but should have. (We have always been at war with Eastasia)
  • Worst. Apocalypse. EVER. So just… be drunk this whole chapter, ok?

 

Two years have passed

What? Seriously? You’re going to wait two fucking years to start your apocalypse because…..?

Whatever. We’re two chapters from the end and I’m done trying to figure out the ridiculous random and arbitrary time skips.

Mankind now has no second chance. Long the Rebel has assured men that they need not fear, that even if they missed the rapture (another theory he prepared to lull them to sleep) there’d be another chance later on.

Umm except not everyone who believes in the rapture believes that those left behind will have a second chance. And either way, no rapture believer I’ve met actually thinks this way. They are all desperately trying to be good enough to get raptured.  Nobody wants to be left behind to face the time of trouble.

Sadness fills heaven, for there are those we loved who simply could not tear themselves away from their activities long enough to hear the pleading voice of Earth Friend.

Well, maybe if he’d actually started speaking audibly so people could hear him…nah.

Jared blathers on for a bit about the lying Rebel and Jesus coming soon. Except that

There is nothing on earth at the moment to indicate that any joyful event lies upon the horizon.

So, Jesus isn’t coming soon, then. He’s coming…whenever he gets around to it. Which is pretty much what’s been going on on Earth for last 6K years.

My eyes are riveted upon the little group in the mountains of New York State, and I am concerned for their safety.

Why? According to you, everyone’s already been sealed for eternity. If they die now, what does it matter, since they’re going to get resurrected “soon” anyway?

They are only a few among countless thousands who have pledged their allegiance to the Word of God. May it all be over soon.

Yes. May it all be over soon, before anybody else dies. I mean, die heathens, die, get here soon Jesus so I can get on with the eternal worshiping.

Jared then gives us a list of people at the house in the Adirondacks:

  1. Meg
  2. Michael
  3. Carol
  4. Joe
  5. Jean
  6. Tammie (Joe’s daughter)
  7. Jason (Joe’s son)
  8. Roy
  9. Ellen
  10. Dale
  11. Anne
  12. Mr. Laird
  13. Kelly

That’s like, 13 people. How big is this house, again?  Jesus better come soon, or all these people are going to kill each other.

Dale has just returned from town with

  1. Several newspapers
  2. rubber rings for canning
  3. a few gallons of gas for the generator
  4. some staples

I’m guessing here that Jared doesn’t mean actual staples, but it is kind of clunky that, in a list of specific things, he’d add “oh and some staples.” I now have an amusing thought that he really did bring a bunch of staples, and that Michael and Meg are groaning because what are we going to do with those?

Dale:….had a strange conversation with the storekeeper today. He asked me if we were one of those crazy communes he’d read about. Said he thought they died out in the 70s. When I said we weren’t, then he asked me why we were up here anyway. I told him we thought cities were no longer safe or healthful and that we hoped to survive simply off the land. Guess that satisfied him that we were harmless, if a bit crazy.

This conversation made sense at first, but then I read it again, because it seemed off. Then I realized that this conversation does not make sense. At all. The angels have just started pouring out bowls on the earth. There have already been terrible calamities, the economy is unstable, and now worse things are happening. There’s been looting and rioting, panic in the streets, etc. All that was 2 years ago, and there’s no reason to think it’s gotten any better. In fact, all good SDAs know it only gets worse over time.

So, why the hell is the storekeeper even asking them these questions? If there’s been a metric fuckton of calamity and crime lately, everyone and their dog should be heading for the hills, not just Bible believers.

The conversation with the storekeeper only makes sense here in the context of a pre-apocalyptic world.

It is my headcanon, therefore, that Sunlight & Co are one of those ridiculous doomsday cult communes, and everyone who’s “persecuting” them is only trying to save them from themselves. The newspapers they’re getting these headlines from? Signs of the Times, of course. Or some other Adventist newspaper. I dunno, use your imagination. It’s more than the author of this book did.

Then Dale reads the headlines of the newspaper:

Sunday Observance Enforced. Violators will be Prosecuted persecuted.

It’s October, so the adults have a fire going. This is a summer home, so it wasn’t ever really meant to insulate. Everyone’s cold. I don’t care.

Joe: Here’s an article about a new health problem in the South Pacific. It seems the population of entire cities are afflicted with excruciatingly painful sores that antibiotics won’t touch.

First off, here’s a writing tip. If you want to write about an apocalypse, and you’re not going to touch your precious main characters, at least have people around them who can be affected. Show us what is happening, do not tell us about it by having your character read a newspaper. That’s boring.

Second, not all diseases are cured by antibiotics! The author should know this. And what kind of disease causes sores, anyway? I know there have to be sores because Bible, but…Oh I know! It’s Measles! Measles made a comeback because idiots quit vaccinating their children, only instead of regular measles that could be prevented with vaccines and treated somehow, it’s now Super Measles, a strain of the disease that evolved resistance to…  I dunno, do I look like I work for the CDC?

Joe: It’s my guess that the first of the 7 plagues is being pored out. Those sores, coupled with the decree that those refusing to worship on Sunday will be prosecuted, are warning flags to the Bible student.

What does “prosecuted” mean in this context? The death decree hasn’t gone out yet, because that doesn’t happen till the end of the next chapter. What exactly is the penalty for not going to church on Sunday? And how are you all able to escape it? You live in a house owned by Michael. The towns people all seem to know about you. I have serious doubts the Church Police wouldn’t have found out about you all by now.

How would enforced Sunday attendance work, anyway? How exactly would they know you weren’t in church? They could take attendance at the churches, but how do they know which church you go to? Is it divided up like school districts? Do you have to fill out extra paperwork if you want to go to a church outside your district? Is there someone sitting there poring over records looking for absentees and hunting them down?

Don’t make me do your job for you, dammit! These questions need answers!

In the paragraph about Sunday enforcement and plagues, the author includes a footnote. Actually, we’ll be generous and say that this is the editor’s doing. I’m in a good mood today.

It is the author’s intention here, and in later chapters, only to give a general idea of how the plagues, outlined in Revelation 16, may take place. It would not seem that these plagues could be universal, lest the early ones eliminate the earth’s population before the later ones should fall. let the reader be alerted that the author has taken the liberty, for the sake of the story, of naming definite geographical locations and time concepts relating to the plagues for which there is no Biblical basis. God Himself will determine where and when the plagues will fall, and over how long a period.

Ms. Strong (Or Mr. Editor) is not the first person to notice that, were all the Bible plagues to fall at once, too many people would die before the latter ones could have a chance of falling. We’ll go along with this explanation, then, as plausible.

No shit the author has “taken liberties for the sake of the story.” That’s just what authors do. Readers know this. But even if we somehow missed the memo, you literally gave us a memo in the first page of this book.

In any case, Meg gets worried and asks if the plagues are going to affect them. Because  Screw all those other people,  I want to know if this is going to affect me.

Joe reads Psalm 91, which I recall being forced to memorize in 8th grade and barely remember it. Kelly agrees with my teacher that reciting it every day at the beginning and end of each day is a fantastic idea. Also, somehow this proves that the plagues won’t fall upon good Bible worshiping Adventists.

Joe: Now, Meg, as to the mark of the beast, the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are complex, and I do not pretend to understand them in their fine details

I never understood them, either. I finally concluded that it’s because your interpretation is wrong.

Joe:…It seems that just before Christ returns, some power, labeled here as the “image of the beast” arises to carry out the same cruel purposes as the beast had in earlier times. It is the followers of this beast and its image upon which the plagues will fall.

That’s…. not an answer. Jean agrees with me, saying it’s not specific enough.

Joe: I believe any power that would deny man his freedom to worship God as he sees fit. To be even more specific, those powers today that are forcing men to worship upon a day which God has never set aside as Holy. Daniel describes a power which shall think to change times and laws (Daniel 7:25). Which is exactly what happened when the true Sabbath was subtly eased offstage centuries ago, and we will see an attempt to do the same again in our time. this power attempting to wrench from God his authority has been active in every age, under different guises, and all spring from Lucifer’s hatred for Christ.

Jean argues that people should have the right to disagree, and Joe agrees, because forcing people to worship a certain way is a bad idea and makes Jesus cry.

This, by the way, is the same Jesus that sends people who disagree with him to hell.

These are the same Adventists who believe that you will go to hell if you disagree with them. These are the exact same Adventists who do attempt to force people within their circles to worship the same as they do. I will give them credit for staying out of the government, but when I was on Planet Adventist, I was totally forced to do things their way.

There’s more talk about the beast, which is mostly just reading Bible verses, and the dragon, and the Remnant…zzzzzzz. Oh, sorry, right. I’m awake now. Um, where was I?

Jean: Sometimes I think we have made the Sabbath our whole religion

Wow, great insight! Seriously, tell me she’s wrong.

Ellen disagrees, and then blathers on about how the Sabbath is important right now because it was lost, and now it’s found, and it is a test of their obedience.

I’m gonna quote Diamanda Hagan here, because this blew my mind when she said it:

Any God who would expect his followers to tell the truth and die rather than lie and live is an asshole.

When I heard her say that, I played it over and over again and then cried, because I realized that it was true.

Jean doesn’t reply to Ellen, and stalks off. We’re supposed to think that this is because Jean couldn’t say anything because Ellen was right, but I think Jean realized she was dealing with crazy. Sometimes, when you are dealing with crazy, you have to stop talking and walk away.

There’s more Bible verses, then everyone mercifully goes to bed.

In the following months they go to the store less often, preferring to keep to themselves as much as possible.

Increasing isolation. never a good sign.

Note also the time jump. In the following months. So basically, whole months are passing where there is nothing going on.

This, folks, appears to be the real reason this time will be called the Time of Trouble. It will be a long, boring game of waiting for Jesus.

The occasional paper they squire confirms Joe’s predictions. The ocean becomes afflicted with a mysterious “algae” that leaves the waves clotted with stagnant red mass resembling blood. The marine life dies and washes, stinking and rotten, onto the shores.

Interesting. Instead of going with a literal interpretation of the passage, the author goes with this.

A quick google search shows that this situation is possible.

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae—simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater—grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. The human illnesses caused by HABs, though rare, can be debilitating or even fatal.

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/redtide.html

Story wise, then, it almost makes way more sense to have the plague of disease come from the plague of the Red Tide (another term for HAB).

But fuck the story, we’ve got bowls to pour out and persecution to get to. Safely offscreen, though. We wouldn’t want to actually show any of that happening to our beloved main characters!

It is late March and everyone is gathered around a fire when they hear the sound of a snowmobile.

Kelly: What is a snowmobile doing out here at this hour?

Clearing off the roads, maybe? Snowmobiles come and go at all hours of the night, lady, jeez.

Tension fills the room, each member of the group well aware that beyond their quiet retreat there have been difficulties for followers of God.

Nope. I haven’t seen anything about any difficulties for followers of God, so I’m calling bullshit. Yawn. Is the apocalypse over yet? Are they actually going to start getting prosecuted?

Surprise, it’s Meg’s Ex husband Jim!  Meg tells him Carol will be excited to find when she wakes up in the morning.

Jim: I won’t be here in the morning, Meg. I have come to take Carol back with me. You must all listen to me carefully and take me seriously. I came here at night, for it is not healthy to mingle with, or aid, those observing the 7th day Sabbath. It is not safe for Carol to be here, Meg. Marie and I will keep her until this all blows over, as it surely will.

I like Jim, here. He’s talking sense… or is he? He’s right, it’s not safe for Carol to be here, and her worthless mother needs to let her go. The government knows where they are, and they could raid at any minute. I like to think they would take all the children and not kill them, but if there is a battle, the children could get hurt in the crossfire.

However, it’s apparently not safe in the cities, what with all the rampant crime and calamities.

So, where exactly is he going to take her? Would she really be safer with him?

This scene makes way more sense if you picture these people as doomsday cultists living in their little commune up in the mountains while back down on the rest of the planet, life continues as normal.

Jim tells the rest of the group to lay low if they’re going to insist on keeping the Sabbath, and that those in the cities can’t buy anything, which makes ordinary living impossible.

They are constantly on television and in the papers as they go on trial for their beliefs.

Question. Why are we hearing about this from Jim? If the author can’t bring herself to let any of her beloved characters go to prison, then for the love of all things holy, at least have the characters themselves watch it on TV! I would still criticize that, but it’s better than having someone tell us about it like this.

Jim is still monologing.

To make matters worse, as you know, some mysterious problem has afflicted the water supply of the entire Eastern half the country. At first it was just the ocean, but now there’s no pure water to be had, and we’re dependent on what’s shipped to us. You can’t believe the mayhem it has caused. By the way, what have you been doing? melting snow?

There is no potable water anywhere. Ok, so, how is normal life even possible right now? There should be mass hysteria and planet wide panic.

Joe: We weren’t aware of the problem. Our drinking water’s fine. Comes from a deep well.

(Ignore the fact that Joe lied. They are very well aware of the issue from reading the newspaper.)

There is no water anywhere. Except here. Jim has a moral obligation to tell someone, on the downlow, so that they can get water to the poor dehydrated cities at once.

Scientists everywhere would want to study this water, see why it’s not reacting like the rest of their supply. Maybe it holds the secret to purifying the rest of the world’s water.

Jim: You can’t give the well credit. Wells haven’t been any cleaner than streams. Everything is choked with that miserable, revolting-red mass. (Revelation 16:4)

Ok, but, this well is just fine. Why are you insisting that this must be some divine miracle, instead of scratching your head and going, “huh, wonder exactly what’s different about this well. I should go inform a scientist and someone who can help distribute the potable water.”

Nope. Nobody ever thinks of doing this, because Goddidit.

This attitude is the enemy of scientific discovery.

Joe asks about Jim’s religious beliefs, and Jim tells Joe he can’t argue with the theology, which is a lie, because the theology is just whacked. Lots of people disagree with it. Adventists don’t believe this, though. Adventists believe that no one argues with their actual theology, because it’s flawless.

Jim: but I have no intention of putting my neck on the chopping block just because of that.

Good for you

My conclusion is that things are going to get worse before they get better

This makes sense from an SDA perspective, but why would a secular person think this way? Joe should be saying this, not Jim.

Joe tells Jim things are never going to get better, and Jim tells Meg to wake Carol up and get her dressed, preferably in warm clothing. Jim has at least brought the group “staples.”

Image result for staples

What the fuck are they doing up there with all those staples? It’s like, the cult of the Staple or something.

Sunlight:…. but about Carol… I really don’t want her to go. She understands the issues involved and is content here in spite of the hardships.

No, she doesn’t. Carol is…what, ten? A ten year old just is not old enough to understand the ramifications of persecution and death.

Jim: will you let her make that decision, Meg?

No, no no no no no NO. You don’t let your ten year old decide to put herself in danger. That’s bad parenting. And too, Jim should be well aware by now that Carol is too brainwashed to ever leave of her own accord.

Jim asks Carol to go with him. She refuses.

Carol:…. Uncle Bill himself said there would be violence in the cities sooner or later

How do you know? Bill hasn’t been with you guys or spoken to you for months.

There is no potable water in the cities. Hasn’t been for months. What do you mean “violence is going to erupt sooner or later?” If there were truly no potable water, nobody would be able to live a normal life.

Jim should be taking Carol and Marie to another area of the mountains where they won’t be harmed once the government finally decides to get around to persecuting people.

In any case, Meg asks about Bill and Sybil, and Jim remembers he has a letter from Sybil to give to her.

Meg tries to reassure Jim that Carol is perfectly safe and content here.

Jim: She’s not even getting an education. It’s unnatural living like this.

Carol: No daddy, Ellen is a teacher, and she has school for Jason and Tammie and me every day. Pastor Joe and Michael teach us all kinds of interesting things, too, and we’ve learned so much about nature out here that I can tell you every kind of bird in these woods. I’ve learned more this winter than in 2 years of school. I listen while Michael teaches Jason algebra, and already I can do it, and I’m only in the 4th grade.

Plug for homeschooling, everyone!

Ok, so, Ellen is a teacher. That’s nice, what kind of teacher? does she have an actual degree in elementary education, or is she just a lady in the role of teacher here at Doomsday Cult Mountain Academy?

And a 4th grader doing algebra is not that impressive. Depending on what is meant here by “algebra,” I’ve known 2nd graders who can do it.

In any case, Jim is right about the lack of formal education. Knowing all the birds in the mountain isn’t necessarily going to help her pass a real science class in a real school, which she will need in order to get into a real college so she can graduate with a degree and get a job that will allow her to not starve.

All this, of course, is assuming that there is not an apocalypse going on. Could schools possibly be functioning anyway if things are so bad in the cities? There is no water, there are “crime and calamities”… are these kids just having classes while tornadoes rage in the background drinking poisonous water?

Jim is a tiny bit relieved, and decides he’s not going to drag Carol away against her will. I still think this is a stupid idea because clearly, life is functioning just as it should be outside the compound, and bad things are going to happen if he doesn’t get Carol out soon.

Realizing that he is outnumbered and that the men here could easily overpower him (not really, this is just my head canon excuse for not arguing further.), he leaves, but gives them “the supplies.”

Before he leaves, however, we have our first defector:

Jean: I would like to ride back to the city with you. I’ve just packed my things.

Smart woman. Get away from the compound while you still can.

Joe: Jean, you can’t mean this. Let’s go and talk it over privately before you make your decision.

How does this not sound like a controlling asshole? How does this not sound creepy? And how have you been living with her for months without seeing this coming?

But Jean has already made up her mind. She blathers for a bit about Joe probably being right (because no one in this book thinks Adventist theology is wrong! That just doesn’t happen in real life!)

When we sold the house, I set aside some money for my personal use, fearing where your search would lead us. It’s in a Rochester bank and will meet my needs until I can get a job. Tell the children that when I get settled and establish a home, I will come for them. Probably in May…

If the apocalypse is raging, why are the banks still open? Set that aside. This is a smart woman. Good job Jean, for following your instincts and trusting your gut.

Readers, If you have sneaking suspicions about where your husband’s religious philosophy is leading him, setting aside money secretly is a good idea. Because, even if SDA theology is right, bad things can and do happen because of it.

Hang on… I thought the economy was wrecked and peoples’ money was pretty much worthless? Why… how… what… I…. nevermind. I think I should have given up expecting consistency by now.

I’d say that Jean needs to take the children with her now, but she and Jim are hopelessly outnumbered.

I’m actually disappointed that there will be no major custody battle. Jim and Jean could just go to the police and say “there’s a group of Sabbath keepers holding our children hostage, and we want them back. We’re worried the kids will be hurt, please help them. Oh and these Sabbath Keepers are unarmed.”

The next thing we know, a law passes saying that Sabbath keepers may no longer have their children, and a mass of social workers come to take them away.

Alas, nothing that interesting is going to happen. This apocalypse is very boring.

Jim and Jean leave. There’s some blather about how discouraged they all feel, and then everyone except Michael and Meg run along to bed.

Meg asks Michael how Jean could just walk away like that, without a word of warning.

I don’t believe there wasn’t any warning. Surely Jean said something? If not, then she probably was afraid of what her husband would do if she found out she was planning to leave. Because that is the most dangerous time for a woman.

Then Meg reads Sybil’s letter. This is awful. This is the part I remember most from this book.

Dear Meg,

The world has turned upside down. The money Bill so carefully hoarded is of little value now in our deteriorating economy.

Is water the currency now? Note also the wording. Bill wasn’t saving his money, he was hoarding it. Which he couldn’t have been doing if he constantly allowed his wife to sit around finding new ways to spend it.

Sybil talks about how, because of Bill, she didn’t feel like she could accept Michael’s discoveries about the Sabbath.

I did not want anything in my life that would be offensive to Bill. But my heart knew Michael was speaking the truth.

Right. All of us deniers know in our hearts that the Sabbath is truth, we just deny it because we don’t want to risk offending our controlling abusive husbands.

Sybil goes on about how she fears it is too late for her, and that if Carol comes back with Jim, they will help look after her.

I go now and then to Jen’s grave. It comforts me somehow.

The grave of a ten year old child is somehow comforting as the apocalypse rages around you? I’m going to pretend I didn’t just read that.

That sentence is stuck in there randomly and makes no sense, in or out of context.

Sybil goes on for a bit about how much Bill hates Sabbath keepers and wants to kill them, and how the death penalty will be enacted soon.

Meg cries on Michael’s chest for a while, and neither one of them can figure out if it’s too late for Sybil or not.

Fortunately, the novel narrowly avoids creating tension (is Sybil still able to be saved? Is it too late for her or will she at last find Jesus?) by having Jared tell us the answer. Phew, that was a close one. I don’t like it when there’s tension and suspense in my novels.

Sybil’s letter tore my heart, for when the Prince left the temple and ceased his intercessory work, it was indeed too late. Not just for Sybil, but for millions of others.

Creepy passage. I can see why some of you had nightmares.

Jared spouts Bible verses for a bit about why, then goes on to say that there is much more suffering to come, more trials and tribulations.

One wonders why God would have the apocalypse drag on like this. I mean, it’s just going on and on and on and I think they’ve been hiding in those mountains for about a year now.

For being really boring,  this chapter has a lot of stuff packed into it. There’s diseases, people coming for their children, and a bunch of other stuff that really should have been sprinkled throughout as backstory. Or things could have been more developed. An entire chapter, for example, could have been done about “the sores antibiotics can’t touch.”

I would have enjoyed this book so much if the author had left aside all other aspects of the story and just wrote about the consequences of certain things. How does Super Measles impact the environment? The economy? Scientific medicine? That would’ve been interesting and wouldn’t require a plot.

Also, note how Jared seems to have abandoned his experiment. He doesn’t ever talk about his findings from observing Meg, he is just… observing her. He never seems to really learn anything.  Jared could have been completely taken out of the story and nothing would be missing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number The Stars Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Is the weather good for fishing?

 

  Annemarie’s father is a little spooked. He says he thought that if the Nazis came at all, they’d look around, see they had no place to hide anyone, and leave. This is a little naive sounding, but let that pass.

Ellen apologizes for her dark hair because it made the Nazis suspicious. Annemarie’s mother tells Ellen never to think like that. Her hair is beautiful, just like her mother’s.

Weren’t we lucky that papa thought so quickly and found the pictures? And weren’t we lucky that Lise had dark hair when she was a baby? It turned blond later on, when she was two or so.”

Um, if Ellen was pretending to be Lise, shouldn’t this have been one of the first things they thought of? I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to think that we might need some kind of an explanation for why we have a dark haired dark eyed child when our other daughters have blonde hair and light eyes. I’m not really sure why the Johansens weren’t more paranoid.

I’m a little suspect about this dark hair turning lighter later on. Usually it’s exactly the opposite. Most children I know are born with blond hair and blue eyes, and then, if it’s going to, these things change colors later on. It was that way with almost all my family, except, some reason, for me. Maybe *I* came from the milkman.

In any case, I can put that aside for the sake of a good story. It is a really lucky coincidence.

Annemarie realizes, with a jolt, that this is the first time in 3 years that her parents have spoken of Lise.

“I think we must not take the risk of sending you to school today,” he said. “It is possible that they will look for the Jewish children in the schools.”

Oh sure, now he’s properly paranoid.

Ellen’s reaction to this is very telling.

Not go to school?” Ellen asked in amazement. “My parents have always told me that education is the most important thing. Whatever happens, I must get an education.”

 

 I wonder if this is Ellen’s family in particular, or the attitude of Danes in general.

Mr. Johansen tells her to think of it as more of a vacation, and that her parents would agree that her safety is the most important thing right now.

What’s sad is that Ellen’s education may indeed suffer. In certain times and places, the war interfered with children’s education. I’m not sure if that was the case in Denmark at the time, I’ll have to go look it up later.

Do they even speak the same language in Sweden? Would Ellen be able to find a school over there she could understand the language in right away?

Mr. Johansen calls over Mrs. Johansen, who’s name we learn is “Inge.”

“Remember what Peter told us? I think today is the day to go to your brother’s.”

Inge agrees, but tells papa that he must stay behind. If only she and the girls make the trip, the Nazis probably wouldn’t look too hard at that. But if the whole family leaves, that would look suspicious.

I’m not sure how much sense this makes. The Johansens are still being watched. They will still observe Inge and the kids leaving, on a school day, right before the Jewish New Year. Unless today is Friday?

I’m not entirely sure it’ll look much less suspicious, and their father will still be in the city where the Nazis can easily get to them…

At any rate, the others leave to go get ready, so Annemarie is the only one observing Mr. Johansen’s call to Henrik, Annemarie’s mother’s brother.

We were told about him earlier, how he had the farm that was across the sea from Sweden. He happens to be a fisherman, with a boat.

So, Henrik, is the weather good for fishing?” Papa asked…. “I’m sending Inge to you today with the children, and she will be bringing you a carton of cigarettes…. yes, just one…but there are a lot of cigarettes available in Copenhagen now, if you know where to look….and so there will be others coming to you as well, I’m sure.”

Clearly, they had this code worked out beforehand. That means that they knew, at some point, that the Jews would have to flee the country. Which makes their lack of paranoia in the previous chapter a little strange.

Annemarie takes a while to work out what all this is code for. There are not plenty of cigarettes in Copenhagen, and people have been smoking some truly awful smelling things. Her papa complains about it a lot.

So, what is her father really sending Uncle Henrik?

Then she knew. It was Ellen.

We cut to a scene on the train, where the girls are looking out the window at the scenery. Annemarie wishes they could stop at the deer farm, which could better be described as a deer zoo. Mrs. Johansen promises Ellen she’ll see it someday, and it seems like wishful thinking to me.

The train does stop at the deer park, but no one gets off. Instead, Nazi soldiers get on.

Annemarie tensed. Not here, on the train, too? They were everywhere.

Yes, yes they are. In fact, it seems to be a recurring fact throughout this book. Soldiers stop, question the main characters, then go away. Then the characters have more runins with the soldiers and the cycle repeats.

The soldiers stop and question random passengers. They approach Mrs. Johansen, who tells them they are going to Gilleleje, where her brother lives.

The soldier turned away…then, without warning, he turned back. “Are you visiting your brother for the New Year?” he asked suddenly.

Mrs. Johansen, surprised, replies that of course they’re not celebrating the New Year, it’s only October.

And guess what!” Kirsti exclaimed suddenly in a loud voice, looking at the soldier…..Annemarie knew what she was about to say. “This is our friend Ellen, and it’s her New Year! But she didn’t. Instead, Kirsti pointed at her feet. “I’m going to visit my uncle Henrik,” she chirped, “and I’m wearing my brand new shiny black shoes!”

Annemarie and Mrs. Johansen aren’t happy with Kristi for this , but I actually think that this is kind of genius. Yes, Kirsti is 5, and it’s unlikely she’s doing this on purpose.

But, it actually is less likely to draw suspicion to act like a 5 year old chatterbox who babbles on and on about her shiny shoes than it is to simply be reserved and quiet and answer only the questions asked.

In any case, Kirsti makes the officer laugh, and he moves on.

Hang on, how come these German officers don’t ask what Mrs. Johansen is doing with a dark haired child? If Ellen is that noticeably different from the Johansens, I’d think the soldiers would be bringing this up constantly.

They make it to Gilleleje without further incident, and Mrs. Johansen reminisces about her childhood a little as they walk to the farm.

The chapter ends with Annemarie running ahead to the house, and Mrs. Johansen giving Ellen a hug.

I’m starting to realize that not a whole lot really happens in this book. I think it may be more realistic that way, but still, the next chapter not much really happens except that Annemarie and Ellen pick flowers and stare across the ocean at Sweden.

I’m not sure I agree with those who gave it a bad review, but I can at least see where they’re coming from when they say it is boring. These next few chapters… aren’t the most interesting. It does pick up again in the chapters after that, but still, I’m actually kind of surprised at how not well this book seems to be holding up after 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Richest Caveman Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Indian Tales

How not To Handle Domestic Violence Next Door

Yes, this chapter is absolutely as racist as the title claims.

Remember the stories Doug told us about living on the res with his Uncle Harry? Well, buckle up kids, because this is worse. Much worse.

Doug gets a call from a pastor, asking if he’d like to come work with the Navajos at La Vida Mission.

Doug, remembering his experiences living with his uncle, decides against the idea. Unfortuantely for him and for the Navajo, God had other plans.

He and Karyn drive to the mission to visit for “a day or so.” The trailer breaks down right there in the mission yard, forcing the Batchelors to stay until they can get it fixed. It ends up taking two days, during which time Doug and Karyn see the needs of the Navajo, and decide to stay.

The mission had purchased a house in Waterflow, New Mexico, that was to be our home. They wanted us to raise up a church there, but the people occupying the house hadn’t moved out yet, nor even finished packing, for that matter. They left old furniture, unwanted junk, and garbage. They even left their dirty breakfast dishes on the table.

Sounds like someone really really didn’t want to move out. I wonder if the house was foreclosed?

The Batchelors have neighbors who live in a mobile home owned by the mission. The yard is littered with beer cans.

This mission is near the one where Doug’s uncle worked, and one day he meets up with his good buddy Ken, who is now a raging alcoholic. He says it’s been 10 years since he’s seen him, so we have some idea where we are in our timeline. Ten years since Doug lived with his uncle, so that would make him…what, 26 now? My how the time has flown.

Ken and Doug pray together, and Ken tells Doug he’s his best friend.

“No, Ken. I’ve been your worst enemy. I got you started down the wrong road. O God, what ahve I done?” I cried. “Have I destroyed a man’s life by my bad example when Iw as young and foolish?”

(Doug doesn’t say all this to Ken, he says it out loud after he leaves.)

It’s good to see Doug feel some sort of responsibility here. However, I don’t think this is necessarily Doug’s fault. Yes, he badgered Ken into drinking, but Ken is still the one who chose to start, the one who chose to continue, and the one who chose to not seek help. The main responsibility for Ken’s wrong turns in life falls upon Ken.

Doug then tells us about his neighbors. Their names were Tom and Alaice. She was a computer operator who had office skills. He was a vietnam vet, spoke English and Navajo, and was an electrician.

The neighbors were polite, but aloof. Karyn and Doug wondered wh this was.

They soon found out.

Then one night we heard a frantic knock at the door….I quickly opened it and there stood 11 year old T, the oldest of the 3 neighbor children. “Come quick!” she pleaded. “My father is killing my mother!”

I hesitated for a split second…for an instant I thought that I probably should call the police… but if I did that, I might never reach them with the gospel.

Um, what? Doug seriously thinks this? “I could call the police, have this guy locked up, and in doing so make the woman be safe, but NOPE. I can’t do that, because winning the male to Jesus is more important than the woman’s safety.”

Eegad!

Anyone who puts their religion over someone’s personal safety is an asshole. I actually think the Christian thing to do here is to call the police. Protect the innocent at all costs! You can witness to Tom in prison.

In any case, Doug rushes in and breaks up the fight. Doug has a background in fighting, so while I normally would think rushing in to save them yourself is a terrible idea, I’m willing to let it pass.

However, this begs the question; if Doug is willing to break up his neighbor’s fight, why THE FUCK was he not at least thinking about stopping the “black pimp” from killing that poor girl 6 chapters ago? No, I’m not going to stop bringing that up.

Doug tells Tom that he could have called the police, but he didn’t. Because Doug is an idiot.

“This is no way to settle problems. If you hate her that much, leave, but don’t beat her up.”

As much as Doug is trained in fighting, he has not been trained in handling domestic violence situations. I don’t fault him for running in to break up the fight, but he should have shouted to Karyn on his way out to dial 911. (They did have 911 when Doug was my age, right?)

Tom and Alaice begin yelling again, and Doug physically restrains Tom.

When she saw that he could not get away, she attacked him and began pulling his hair.

Good for her!

Also, this is why he should have called the police. Because then there would be two police officers who could hold them both back from each other. Instead Doug makes a bad siutation worse by trying to handle it himself.

“Cut it out!” I yelled. I threw him against one wall and her against the other–it wasn’t that hard since they were both half drunk.

She’s the one being attacked, yet you punish her for snapping and trying to hurt him back by throwing her against the wall, too.

Meanwhile, the children are watching this, crying. Yanno, Doug, if you weren’t going to have Karyn hang back and dial 911, you should at least have had her come with you to take the children to your house for a while. In fact, maybe that should be done before she dials the emergency number.

Despite them being half drunk, Doug tells them all to sit down and discuss this like rational human beings. Even sober people can’t agree on what rational behavior is, but he expects people who are half drunk to do this? He needs to call the police right the fuck now, put Tom in the drunk tank, wait for them both to sober up, then call a counselor who specializes in domestic assault situations.

Of course, none of that actually happens.

Doug takes them all into the living room. Neither one of them talks very much, which I suppose is an improvement over fighting.

I made up my mind not to leave until one of them left.

At least he did something to make sure Alaice was temporarily safe.

Finally Alaice leaves, taking the children with her.

He and Karen soon learn that this family has been making the headlines for years.

Tom was tall, handsome, and macho. Alaice was attractive and flirtatious, and they both drank. They were jealous of each other, and when they drank, the fights erupted.

Fights. This makes it sound like both of them go after each other equally, which we have just been shown is not the case. What Doug really means is, “Tom starts to beat up on Alaice, who tries to defend herself.” Yes she tried to hit Tom when he was restrained, but who can blame a woman in a situation like that for snapping and wanting to hurt the man who hurt her?

It sounds like this couple would benefit from divorce. But of course divorce is never the answer for a situation like this… no no no. These people need Jesus!

I debated what to do. Should I report them to the mission and have them evicted? If  I did that, I would lose all hope of ever winning them for Christ.

I have to agree with Doug that an eviction might not actually solve the problem. Just because they have to live somewhere else doesn’t mean Tom is going to stop beating up Alaice.

Doug resolves to try and solve the problems himself, with the help of his invisible sky fairy God.

Terrible idea, by the way. For God’s sake, let the authorities handle it. They’ve been trained to do this, and I think God, if he existed, would want Doug to use the gray stuff between his ears and seek out professionals. Why else would a hypothetical God put professionals on this earth?

Anyway, Doug proceeds to use his religon to justify making the situation worse.

When Tom got in trouble for pulling a gun on a man who had insulted him, I went to court with him. When he got in jail, I helped him get out.

Poor Alaice. She hears her husband has been jailed, and she thinks to herself she’s finally safe. Then she finds out that that no good busy body neighbor went and bailed him out again. Her heart sinks.

Seriously, this is Doug not caring what happens to Alaice. This is Doug caring what happens to Tom. Alaice is just a woman, after all, what does she know? If he converts Tom, the entire family will be converted, too.

Karyn has decided to make friends with Alaice and the kids. Sometimes the police did make an appearance, and the kids would go to the Batchelor’s house while they got things sorted.

Good. This is good. This is something I actually approve of. Make your home a safe space for the woman and kids to go while Tom is getting arrested. Yeah, ok, fine.

One night when I was gone for a few days…Karyn sat in her bed reading. Suddenly the back bedroom door opened, and Alaice came charging in. She looked at Karyn and said, “I’m sorry!” and went running through. Seconds later, Tom came chasing after her with a broom. Karyn didn’t even get out of bed. We had become accustomed to this behavior. The whole world seemed an uglier place because of their drinking and brawling. (Emphasis mine)

Wait, what? I… I….I…. what?! I don’t even know where to start. This is just awful. First off, Karyn needs to call the police when this happens. Tom is clearly a threat to Alaice, and if she cares about Alaice, if they’re really friends, she’d call in professionals.

It’s not just about protecting Alaice at this point. Tom is chasing Alaice through their house. I presume the Batchelor’s children are present. There’s no telling if Tom would be a threat to them, so Karyn needs to get her butt out of bed and protect them. And then start locking the front door in the future so this doesn’t happen again.

Poor Alaice. She thought running to her friend Karyn’s house would help, that Karyn would do something to protect her from Tom.

Note also the last sentence in the paragraph. Doug is placing the blame for this on both Tom and Alaice. Both of them may be drunk, however, Tom is the one threatening Alaice. We don’t hear Doug talk about Alaice chasing Tom with a broom or pulling a gun on people. Tom is clearly the unstable one, Alaice is not. Doug, here, is doing the classic Adventist Christian thing called “victim blaming.”

Doug is a motherfucking cuntwaffle.

When Tom is sober, Doug talks to him about God.Tom apparently has an interest in spiritual matters, and he clearly needs Jesus.

Newsflash, Doug, even devout Christians sometimes beat up their wives. Jesus isn’t going to help the situation. You need to stop getting Tom out of prison and going to court with him and let him get locked up for a while. Then Alaice needs to see a social worker to see what she can do about getting her away from him.

Nope. According to this book, these people need a Revelation Seminar! Sigh.

Here, Doug reveals himself to be not just a motherfucking cunt, but a sleazeball. Remember all that help he gave Tom? Well, apparently, it came with strings attached.

We planned another Revelation Seminar, and I really hoped I could get Tom and his family to come. I talked ot him one day. “Tom,” I said, “You owe me one.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve gone to court with you, I’ve stood by your side, I’ve fended off the police, and I’ve been a good neighbor. Now I want a favor from you.”

“All right, Doug, what do you want?” He asked.

“I want you to come to these meetings that I’m starting.” I said…..

“Oh no, Doug, I can’t do that.”

“And why not?” I countered. “Why don’t you just come the first couple of nights? Then if you don’t like them, you can quit.”

“Ok, I’ll come,” he said.

Like every single Seventh Day Adventist I’ve ever met, Doug only does things to manipulate others and try and convert them. Because that’s totally what Jesus would do.

People at the mission tell Doug he will be lucky if he can get more than 10-15 people to come to a meeting, so Doug sets a goal for 100.

There’s setting high goals to help yourself reach a high standard, and then there’s setting impossible goals.

This book, however, disagrees with me, because on opening night they have 375, including children. Everyone is amazed. Clearly this is the Lord’s work.

Tom, Alaice, and their whole family come to the meetings, which totally change their lives, they quit drinking, rekindle their marriage, and live happily ever after.

I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.

Doug is also told that the Navajos are “a gentle people and wish to please,” and often get baptized just because you want them to.

Which… ok? I have no idea how true this is, and it just sounds condescending. Indians want to please White Man, of course.

In any case, Doug thoroughly investigates the baptismal candidates before dunking them, and Tom and Alaice were among those baptized a few months later.

There the chapter is mercifully brought to a close.

This chapter was terrible, and sickening to read. I can’t help but wonder how things really turned out for Tom and Alaice. Did the gospel really help their domestic violence issues, or did it only temporarily bandage the actual problem, before it started up again, this time more underground?

Now that Alaice is a Christian, she will have a hard time making herself divorce Tom if the problems ever do return, and most church members wouldn’t be supportive of such actions.

One thing is for sure: Doug sucks royally at handling domestic violence disputes. He is also a slick manipulative little bastard who’s help comes with strings attached.

I used to think of Doug as a nice guy who was genuinely a good person but misguided. It turns out that I was wrong. I thought this book would just be a quick read as I commented on all the outrageous stories Doug tells that half to be at least partly exaggerated.

I didn’t think I was going to learn that Doug, more interested in helping the abuser than the abused, was part of the enemy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Richest Caveman Chapter 15

Chapter 15

But Lord, I Could Never Be A Preacher!

 

We’re on the home stretch, guys! Only 23 more pages left in the book. That’s 23 more pages and 3 chapters I can finally feel like I’ve accomplished something. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a book review on the blog before, so, this would be something to celebrate. You can all do so by sending me flowers. I’m told that the receiving of flowers is essential to being a female, so, quick, send me some before the boob fairy comes to confiscate my womanhood.

This chapter is very short, so I’ll try to post two chapters today, but we’ll see how it goes.

Ever since Doug got saved, he’s been trying to badger people into converting to Christianity witness to everybody he meets.

Shortly after he is baptized into the SDA church, the pastor holds an evangelistic series. Doug figures it’s a great way to witness to the people he meets, so he invites everybody.

The evening the meetings began, our small church over flowed. I stood at the door and watched for friends I had invited. Many of my neighbors in the mountains attended that first night and continued to come. When we had our first mass dunking baptism, 10 or the 12 who were baptized were those I had studied with and invited. “What a joy to serve God!” I thought. “This is happiness, and it doesn’t leave a hangover.”

I don’t recall exactly who I talked with about this, but I was talking to a person the other day who thinks that drugs and religion are very similar things. They both can make a person “high,” and they are both very addicting. Doug has not beaten his addictions. Rather, he has traded in for another. But just because Doug is no longer slowly murdering his poor innocent liver doesn’t mean he is not hurting himself. Doug is now hurting his mind, and the minds of others. And that’s a lot worse than a 24 hour hangover.

Pastor Joe eventually approaches Doug and asks him to preach. He declines, as he doesn’t have an education. Pastor Joe tells him he doesn’t need to have a college education, and I wonder if he is aware that Doug is a high school dropout?

I do agree with pastor Joe. You do not need a doctorate in theology, or even a high school degree, to preach a good sermon. (Drink!)

Over the next few months, Pastor Joe wears Doug down, and he eventually agrees to give it a try.

This, perhaps, is why nobody ever let me preach the sermon. I thought this was how it worked. First, the pastor approached you, and you refused. Then he would keep approaching you and you would gradually allow yourself to be worn down. In reality, when the pastor hears you say “no,” he thinks you actually mean it and doesn’t bring it up again.

Or maybe that was just because I am not the possessor of an almighty penis, and therefore am unfit for preaching anyway.

I used to daydream about being asked to preach in this manner. I also used to daydream about having a great story like Doug’s.

Doug is very nervous as he gives his first sermon (no, we don’t get to hear what it’s about.)

If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never forget that first “sermon” I preached! I didn’t even own a suit, and I forgot to put on a tie, but it wasn’t my clothes that bothered me….my hands perspired, and I could feel my heart thumping in my throat….I grasped the edges of the pulpit. I was glad to have something to hide behind so the audience couldn’t see my knees knocking together.

I gotta give Doug (or Tooker) some credit here, this isn’t terrible writing. Doug does tell us he’s nervous, but then he also goes on to show us. It’s a pity Doug/Tooker will never take a writing class. Whoever wrote this has some potential.

After the sermon, everyone shakes Doug’s hand and tells us what a blessing he is.

Me? A blessing? I thought. I noticed that several of the saints who complimented the sermon wore hearing aids. I figured that they must have been broken that morning.

Do you have to insult disabled people in order to lift yourself up?

“Doug, you really should go to college and train for the ministry,” Pastor Phillips urged. “The Lord has given you a special talent for this work, and I know how much you love sharing the gospel. his work needs you.”

Go to college? I never even finished High School! They’ll never let me in there!

Just kidding, Doug doesn’t say that. He tells pastor Joe he will “pray about it.”

Usually this is Adventist speak for, “I’m trying to refuse you but I have to be polite about it.”

In the end, I did go to school to take a few classes. Dear old Dad! He had always wanted me to get an education, even if it was a religious one, so he was happy to help, and for 6 months I attended Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas.

Doug tells us he “took a few classes.” Did he graduate, I wonder? Did he go back and get his GED, or was that not a requirement for that particular school in that particular time? I have read that Doug has a boatload of honorary degrees, as well as a GED, but it took quite a bit of googling to even find that, and frankly, I couldn’t find an actual source for it.

Most people have their degrees/diplomas listed on their websites, so, I’m gonna at least say that this is pretty sketch.

I think I  made this point earlier, but if Doug has no degree at all aside from a GED, he may find it difficult to find other employment. If Doug ever does “see the light,” as many Christians are praying he will do, he’d pretty much find himself out of a job in an unstable economy.

At this point, I’d say Doug is in too deep to leave anyway, even if he wanted to.

Doug tells us that me made straight As in college, and read a book about how Benjamin Franklin taught himself 7 languages, invented things, and was a vegetarian. Doug figures that if Franklin could teach himself, so could he.

He does not go on to say he tried to teach himself college level algebra, but he does claim he taught himself Spanish, flute, trumpet, flying a plane, and windsurfing.

At the time I was learning to sing–though my friends were begging me to give that up!

Heh. That was actually kind of funny.

In all seriousness, I hope he did not teach himself to fly planes. There are just some things you shouldn’t attempt to self teach, and that’s one of them. This is one of the main reasons teachers exist.

I also want to state that there’s a reason Benjamin Franklin’s accomplishments are so impressive: they’re not common. Not everyone is able to self teach. Myself, personally, I can only teach myself a little bit before I get overwhelmed and need help. This is another reason teachers exist.

After college, Doug worked in Texas doing some Revelation seminars.

Later that year I was invited to join the famous gospel singing group called Heritage Singers–as their devotional speaker. I’m still working on the singing!

I’ve never heard Doug try to sing, so I’ll just believe him on that one.

Doug closes the chapter with a statement that makes me bang my head against the wall.

Eighteen months of speaking five times a week more than made up for what I had missed in the way of formal education.

I… I’m just gonna let that stand. I think this statement kind of speaks for itself about Doug’s views on formal education.

This chapter has been mercifully short, and mercifully not awful.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for chapter 16. Chapter 16 is going to have me raging, so, we’re gonna save it for another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Richest Caveman Chapter 14

Chapter 14

If At First You Don’t Succeed

 

The first time I saw Karyn, we were both only fifteen.

The minute I read the first sentence of this chapter, I knew it wouldn’t turn out well. And it won’t. After the events of this book takes place, Doug will find another Karen, after this Karyn divorces his smug and allegedly abusive ass.

Two years later, they’ll meet again. I’m not saying a relationship started at 17 can’t last, I’m saying the odds are low. 17 year olds are just beginning to figure out who they are, particularly Doug, who has literally just converted to Christianity. Converting to a religion is a major life change, and I feel like you need at least a year afterwards to fully adjust before you go trying to involve someone else in your life like that.

In any case, Doug meets Karyn again at 17, and he offers her a drink.

“No thanks, Doug. I don’t drink anymore,” She answered.

“What do you mean, you don’t drink?” I asked, disbelieving. “Everybody drinks!”

No, Doug, everybody does not drink. I’m not believing that there was literally nobody in his life, pre-conversion, who chose, for whatever reasons, to abstain.

“And I suppose you read the Bible too?” I asked, half sarcastically.

She stopped and looked at me in surprise. “As a matter of fact, I do. How did you know?”

“I don’t know. Just by putting two and two together, I guess.”

Because no one who reads the Bible could possibly drink! Moderate drinking, what’s that? That’s for alcoholics.

Doug and Karyn go on a walk, talking about religion and the Bible.

We saw each other a lot after that, and two weeks later we were married.

They met briefly at 15, and then again at age 17. Strike 1. They were married “a few weeks later” after this second meeting. Strike 2.

No wonder they divorced. This relationship was doomed from the start. It’s not usually a good idea to get married that quickly, especially when one is 17. Most marriages that started at age 17 at least had the couple in question knowing each other for a lot longer than “a few weeks” before the marriage.

Immediately, Doug and Karyn start looking for a place to live. They don’t like town life, so they hitchhike to….??? (No seriously, that’s pretty much what Doug says.)

And they can’t just live in the cave Doug’s been living in because….????

They find a driver who is heading to Covelo, a place surrounded by national forest, with a lot of churches. Doug and Karyn feel that God is impressing them to go there, so they do.

We lived in a cave in the national forest for a while

Is this sort of thing allowed? Are you actually allowed to just wander onto a national forest and start living in a cave? I thought this sort of thing was a big no no? Were the laws different in the 1970s?

The only problem was money. The only work I could find was seasonal.

Well, Doug, this is why your daddy wanted you to finish High School. Even in the 1970s/1980s, most places at least required a high school diploma.

At summer’s end we were forced to return to Palm Springs so I could support our growing family, for soon we would be parents.

A fast, young wedding followed quickly by a pregnancy. Yup, this was a recipe for disaster.

Doug’s dad helps him to get into the meat business, buying him a used VW. He had a sign painted on the side, Doug Batchelor’s Wholesale Prime Beef Steaks. He tells us that business was great for him as soon as he started this, and that he learned interesting things about meat during this business venture.

One day a customer asked me if I could get her some prime pork. I knew about the grades of beef: prime, choice, good, and fair. I had seen graded chicken, but I’d have to do some checking about pork.

Doug checks with his butcher friend, who laughs at him.

The Department of Agriculture doesn’t think you should feed that stuff to your dogs. They’re not even going to grade it. That stuff’s swarming with ‘bugs.’ They even print pamphlets telling you to make sure you cook it thoroughly to kill all the trichina larvae.”

I have no idea how true this was back in the 1970s, or the 1990s when this book was written. I’m not sure how I’d go about looking that up, but I do know how to look up how things are today, in 2016.

I went to the USDA website, and here is what they have to say about grades of pork:

Although inspection is mandatory, its grading for quality is voluntary, and a plant pays to have its pork graded. USDA grades for pork reflect only two levels: “Acceptable” grade and “Utility” grade. Pork sold as Acceptable quality pork is the only fresh pork sold in supermarkets. It should have a high proportion of lean meat to fat and bone. Pork graded as Utility is mainly used in processed products and is not available in supermarkets for consumers to purchase.*

(On the same webpage, we are told that “Fresh pork” means “uncured meat.” I have no idea what that means, but I’m sure someone else does.)

One hopes that, in later editions of this book, someone has added a footnote to inform readers that, even if this ever was true, it is no longer true today. Pork does have grades. To do anything else is to purposely mislead one’s audience.

Trichinosis, however, is still a thing. Here’s what the USDA has to say about it. Source is the same as above.

Pork must be adequately cooked to eliminate disease-causing parasites and bacteria that may be present. Humans may contract trichinosis (caused by the parasite, Trichinella spiralis) by eating undercooked pork. Much progress has been made in reducing trichinosis in grain-fed hogs and human cases have greatly declined since 1950. Today’s pork can be safely enjoyed when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.

(Emphasis mine.)

If things have been improving since 1950, that should have been known at the time Doug wrote this book.

In any case, as yucky as Doug (and I) think all this sounds, it seems like things have improved drastically since twenty years before this even happened.

Doug goes on to talk about Leviticus chapter 11, in which God forbids the eating of pork.

Some preachers told me those laws had been done away with, but that didn’t make sense. Didn’t the human body still respond to the food put into it, the same as it did during the time of the children of Israel? Wasn’t it still subject to disease and germs and parasites?

Well, yes. But today we have way more sophisticated cooking techniques. We have microscopes to detect bacteria. We have improved testing methods. Yes, the human body would react the same way to germs and disease, but, even by 1975, we had better ways of dealing with those things than the Israelites did!

Doug goes on to tell us about his own experiences with meat eating. He decides that he should use his own products. Ok.

Soon I was eating New York Steak for breakfast, T-bone steak for lunch, and fillet Mignon for dinner.

Yes. This sounds like a totally healthy balanced diet. I expect good results from this.

But then I noticed that I felt run down all the time, with no energy. My behavior began to change too. At night I would sit and watch TV and eat a quart of ice cream by myself–yes, a whole quart! I felt my spiritual life being numbed, and I had less inclination to resist temptation. My cave-man diet of rice, beans, bread, and fruit had given me a feeling of strength and vigor. For the first time I realized what an impact diet had on my physical, spiritual and moral well being.

First off, Doug, you’re not supposed to eat steak for every meal. Second off, you just told us you were eating quarts of ice cream every night! No wonder you felt run down and had no energy!** And you want to blame your ice cream eating habits on meat eating? WTF that makes ZERO SENSE.

I don’t think Doug truly understands the concept of moderation.

Doug tells us that even though he and Karyn were making good money, they were unable to save. The more money they made, the more they spent.

Doug never really learned money management growing up.

He and Karyn decide to move back to Covelo, where they start going to a Presbyterian church. Doug wants to give the local Seventh Day Adventist church another try, but Karyn prefers to stay home with Rachel, their new baby girl.

Hang on, your son was just born. How many years did the events of this chapter take, Doug? You can’t just time jump without telling us. Jeez!

When Doug goes, he digs out his old overalls and his “scroungy looking” shirt, tying his hair back in a ponytail. Then he rides to church on his motorcycle. I guess he wants to see if they’ll still treat him the same way the other church did.

Doug invites his friend, Duane, who wears tattered blue jeans, because that was “cool” back then. Doug put the scare quotes around cool, not me.

One of the back pockets of his jeans had been torn off, and his bare skin revealed the fact that he wasn’t even wearing underwear! I almost felt embarrassed for him, but I didn’t mention it.

Ok, there’s showing up in tattered clothes to see how people will react, and then there’s wearing clothes that aren’t even appropriate for leaving the house. This crosses that line very much. It’s just not appropriate for anyone to go anywhere with your ass sticking out of your pants.

There’s not likely anything Doug can do about it, and since his bare skin is sticking out, Duane is probably very aware of the problem, so, drink up, because I agree with Doug that it was probably the right thing to not mention it.

The people at this particular church are a lot friendly than the last church, even though most members are pretty old. I find this semi-believable. I’ve been to churches where there are lots of older people, but they’re friendly older people who aren’t terribly judgemental. That being said, I haven’t found churches like this, in general, to be especially welcoming.

After church, people crowded around us, welcoming us and inviting us home to dinner. No one seemed to notice our clothes, and I felt a little ashamed by now.

Sounds like textbook love bombing to me. And I bet that they did notice your clothes, they might have just been kind enough not to mention it. Though Duane’s outfit really is inappropriate, and I wouldn’t fault a pastor at all for asking him to go home and change.

Oh wait, Duane’s male. It’s only the females that get sent home to change when they show up in something inappropriate that shows too much skin! Silly me. I forgot.

In any case, the pastor draws the short straw, so Doug and Duane come to his house for Sabbath afternoon dinner. Afterwards, they have a Bible study, in which Duane falls asleep.

That would be my reaction too, especially after a particularly full meal, which Sabbath afternoon dinners usually are.

The next Sabbath, Karyn goes with him to church, and they decide to make it their home church.

Pastor Joe tells Doug he’s almost ready for baptism, but doesn’t feel like he can baptize him because he still smokes. Pastor Joe tells Doug that as long as he’s addicted to cigarettes he’s chained to the devil.

“Can you imagine Jesus blowing smoke in someone’s face while he’s talking to them about the love of His Father?”

Pastor Joe is talking here, and I actually agree with him. Blowing smoke in someone’s face is rude. I disagree with Christians that Jesus was the nicest guy ever, but if one believes the Biblical account, Jesus was at least polite and respectful (most of the time). Someone who is polite would at least try to blow their cancer causing second hand smoke away from someone’s face.

Now, would Jesus smoke at all? I don’t know. Was smoking a thing in his time period?

Doug then tells us this is similar to his drinking. He told God he didn’t want to give up drinking, because it was fun. So God told him “go ahead and drink.” Doug quickly assures us that this didn’t mean God approved of his drinking, just that God was giving him the choice.

Little by little I began to see all the heartache my drinking caused. I’d wake up in jail or be sick all day and throw up, or I’d wake up  and find out I’d made a fool of myself and embarrassed someone I cared about. Once I found out I had wrecked a car that didn’t even belong to me. I heard the Lord saying, “Doug, are you enjoying yourself?”

This paragraph does not describe the behavior of someone who enjoys occasionally getting drunk on the weekends, or having a glass of wine with dinner every now and then. These are the behaviors of alcoholics.

In the Adventist mind, there is no distinction between the two groups of people. If you drink at all, you are an alcoholic. This is why Doug doesn’t tell us that he was an alcoholic, or that he had a drinking problem. He doesn’t need to. All he needs to tell his audience is that he used to drink, and his audience will agree that he was an alcoholic. However, in this paragraph, Doug shows us that he really did have a problem. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with Doug (drink!). Abstinence was probably a good choice for him.

Doug tells us that giving up smoking was harder than quitting drinking, and I’ve never smoked tobacco or used any sort of tobacco products, so I can’t comment.

Karyn, he tells us, gave it up really quickly, when the doctor told them that their baby (I don’t know which child this is, what with all the time skips and jumps Doug takes us through) was born pre-mature because of Karyn’s smoking.

I checked the CDC website, and this appears to be correct information, even today.

Doug tells us that it was much harder for him to kick “the cigarette demon.” I wonder if he means that literally…. but I probably shouldn’t speculate on whether or not Doug has a mental illness that causes him to see demons, so moving on.

I threw my cigarettes away and tried to forget about them. But the next day I wanted a cigarette so badly my hands shook. I hurried to the store and got some more….and so the battle raged for months.

Compare this passage to the one we just went over in Project Sunlight. In PS, Meg is told to just give it to God and forget about it. Here we see Doug trying that, and it clearly isn’t working for him.

I am not saying one’s belief in a higher power can’t be helpful when one is trying quit cigarettes, just that it doesn’t work for everyone, and that most people need something more.

The smoking battle is very easy for Meg in Project Sunlight. Once she realizes that giving up smoking is her gift to god, she never does it again. We all knew this was unrealistic. Doug here is showing that.

So, props to Doug for writing a more realistic book than June Strong could.

However, he still goes for the magic God route. He is telling us about how his truck broke down, and that he is dreaming of a new one.

“Lord, I’d even give up smoking d you’d give me a truck like that!”

I half expected the punch line to be that God did give him a truck like that, so he praised God and stopped smoking. Instead, we get this disturbing paragraph

I never claimed that I heard God’s voice speak to me audibly, though I have heard it many times speak to my conscience, but suddenly I heard a voice echoing in the cab of that old pickup: “You’d quit smoking for a truck, but you wouldn’t quit smoking for me?”

(Emphasis mine.)

This, then, answers the question of whether or not Doug is hearing audible voices. I think Doug needs to see a therapist. They have medication for that sort of thing, which is much safer now than it as in the late 1970s. Or early 1980s, whatever time period Doug has dragged us to without telling us.

After this, Doug throws his cigarettes down the outhouse (they have an outhouse? Why? Those were still a thing in 1970/1980?) and never smokes again.

Ten years later, Doug finally gets his dream truck, a Datsun 4×4 with a winch, king cab, and five speed.

“Lord, why did you wait ten years?”

He told me that during that time, I had saved up enough money from not smoking to buy it.

Looks like it wasn’t God who gave Doug a truck, then. It was Doug. Doug answered his own prayer. And in reality, if you think about it, so do we all.

 

 

 

**Incidentally, Ellen White tells us that eating sugar is worse for you than eating meat. So of course Adventists demonize meat eating and consume sugar in moderation.

 

 

 

Project Sunlight Chapter 9

In Which Nothing Really Happens

  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
  • The author decides to insert stuff into the book that never actually happened but should have. (We have always been at war with Eastasia)

 

We begin the chapter with a group of friends gathered in Meg’s apartment. Joe  is telling Meg and Michael that he must tell his Methodist congregation about the Sabbath, even though it will mean he gets fired.

Joe:….time is running out…I can procrastinate no longer. If Jean were with me in this, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment, but she’s alarmed and bitter (drink!) that my study has led me to this place.

Why? Why would Joe believing Saturday is the Sabbath be alarming and make someone “bitter?” And why would your wife’s reaction cause you to hesitate?

Sunlight: What will happen if you share your convictions on the Sabbath with your congregation?

Joe: I expect I will have preached my last sermon. Do you have any idea what it means to walk away from a group of people you have loved and nurtured for 5 years?

Joe, I walked away from a group I loved and who nurtured me for twenty years. STFU.

Michael informs Joe that if he loses his job, he can take a counseling position. Michael works for the government, and I guess they do employ pastors sometimes? But wouldn’t you need to have an actual degree in counseling in order to work in counseling for a government agency?

Michael and Meg reassure Joe that they are behind him 100% and will attend his Methodist church on Sunday.

Ah, yes, church. Where exactly have Meg, Michael, Sybil, etc, been going? Obviously it hasn’t been an Adventist church yet, but if they’ve been studying and praying, it makes sense for at least Meg and Sybil to have begun the tedius task of church shopping.

Now, with the information about the Sabbath, would be a great time to introduce our main characters to the Seventh Day Adventist church.

Except, that doesn’t happen. This next scene is the only time we see Our Heroes attend a church in the entire book. I think it’s very odd for the author to have left it out.

In any case, here we are, come Sunday, in Joe Westcott’s church. Meg and Michael sit a few pews behind Joe’s family, and we are told that they are wondering if Jean knows what Joe is preaching about.

Jared is an angel. Angels can’t read minds. Angels can’t read minds. ANGELS CAN’T READ MINDS!

Sunlight(Whispering): I’m scared to death for him

Why? Sure he may be a little nervous, and if all doesn’t go well he may lose his job, but Michael already told him he has another one he can give him (he bought it at the store and he put it in a bag!*), and the persecution hasn’t started, won’t start for another 2 years.  So there’s no real tension here.

It would be better if the author had really ratcheted up the job situation. Ministers don’t tend to be rich. It’s possible that Joe’s family is already struggling. If he loses his job, his wife and children might go hungry (we all know how the people in this book would feel about food stamps), they might lose the house (do they even own the house, or does it belong to the church?), and how are they going to pay for little Tammie’s appendectomy with no medical insurance?

Then, after Joe gets fired, Michael comes in with good news: he’s just heard that the pastoral counselor for the state of New York died (peacefully, in his sleep, of old age) and would Joe like to submit his resume? Joe later gets the job, and they all agree that it was God’s timing and Joe is happy he trusted the Lord to provide.

I would still find all this snark worthy, and a plot line that has been done to death, but at least it would be interesting. The way it’s written, it just… there’s no tension, Joe is going to have a job no matter what, and no one is trying to kill him(yet.)

In fact, one could argue that Joe is very specifically not trusting in God right now because notice he only agreed to preach this sermon after Michael promised him another job.

In case we readers felt like we were being left out, we get 3 pages or so of Joe’s sermon. I’ll give you the highlights.

I have been searching my Bible as never before. I feel we are right upon the borders of those climactic events that will bring the history of this planet to a close.

Why? Nowhere in this book, so far, does it talk about any of the signs of the end times as per Matthew 24, Daniel, and Revelation.

….At first glance, the Sabbath commandment appears to have no practical purpose.

Why? Show of hands, folks, which off us can’t see the benefit of having at least one day a week where we rest from our work?

I can no longer stand in this pulpit on Sunday mornings believing as I do.

Why not? Will you only preach on Saturdays now?

There is no conversation as the congregation leaves the church. It is a stunned and quiet people who shake hands with their beloved young pastor. Finally only Joe, Michael, Sunlight, Jean, and her children remain.

Why? Ok, everybody is stunned. Do all stunned human beings react with silence No. We should be over hearing congregants talk in low (and not so low) tones about their idiot pastor. We should be seeing people who come to church merely for the social aspect gossipping about Mary’s weight problem, and what it could possibly mean. We would not, however, see a bunch of silent robots parading quietly out of the church.

Joe’s wife, Jean, throws a fit. She can’t believe he’s done this. Everything he’s worked so hard to build for 5 years is gone! He has betrayed these people!1!!11!!1!!1

This seems like an over dramatic reaction to me. Would someone really think like this? I’ve never seen anyone preach a sermon on the Sabbath to a non SDA (or SD Baptist) audience, so, I don’t really know.

Joe argues back that he would’ve betrayed them more by not telling them the Sabbath truth, and introduces her to Meg and Michael. In the middle of what is gearing up to be a colossal fight. Yeah, great time to introduce your friends, Joe.

The only descriptions of the people we get are that Joe’s wife is a fragile blond, his daughter has curly hair, and his son is a sober 12 year old. (Well, I would hope a 12 year old would be sober!)

All this, by the way, is more information than we have about Joe, which is that he is “tall and craggy, and dark haired.”

Descriptions, like consistency and dialog, are clearly not the author’s strengths.

Jason expresses worry about his father’s job, to which his father replies

I have already accepted a position as a counselor in the city’s department of social services.

How? Does the State not require that pastors have actual degrees in anything besides… whatever it is pastors get degrees in? Does Joe have a backup degree in psychology that he hasn’t mentioned?

Not only does this take all the tension and drama out of the story, but it all seems to come out of nowhere and doesn’t make sense.

Joe asks his son what he thought of the sermon.

Jason: It makes sense to me. I know a girl at school who goes to church on Saturday. Once the teacher asked her to explain to the class why she couldn’t go on Saturday outings, and she made it perfectly clear. I’ve half believed it ever since.

The girl made things “perfectly clear” yet Jason only “half believed” it?

Why?

And that’s…. that’s it. Nobody says anything more. Jean and Joe don’t get into an argument, no one cares what the daughter thinks, Meg and Michael don’t feel weird for intruding into the family fight. Everybody just packs up and goes home.

Michael asks if Carol minded staying with Sybil, and Sunlight says Bill adores her and spoils her, but that she is concerned about Sybil, who has “changed somehow.”

Michael: Less friendly?

Sunlight: No… no but she’s more withdrawn…she’s more reserved and doesn’t seem to enjoy things like she used to. I asked her if she wanted to go shopping-her favorite thing–and she refused to come out of the apartment, or even open the door. She said Bill wouldn’t like it. I’m worried about her Mike.

Just kidding. That would make sense with what we’ve seen so far, but it doesn’t actually happen.

Sunlight: No, she’s her same dear self, and as beautiful as ever

It’s really important that Sybil is still beautiful.

but I had the feeling she was uncomfortable when I was telling her the things we’ve been studying while she’s been sunning herself on the Mediterranean. The weeks with Bill, I fear, have been so rewarding to her after all the lonely years that she feels need of little else.

Sybil no longer needs religion as a coping mechanism, I guess.

She said she had neglected her Bible badly, and that our studies together seemed like something out of the far past. She and bill are like young lovers. It’s nice to see, yet frightening. Like there’s no room in her life for God anymore. No room for anyone except Bill. When I mentioned that you and I were worshiping in our own way by ourselves on Saturdays, Bill laughed and said, “Meg, aren’t you and Michael off that kick yet?” I don’t think Sybil could take that kind of ridicule from him–she loves him so much. And she would be so afraid of losing him.

We see here that Bill is not only disrespectful of his wife’s religious beliefs, he is disrespectful of his neighbors’ beliefs as well.

Threatening to leave your wife if she starts believing in the Bible, mocking her and her friends for studying the bible… if this is what we know about, imagine what he is putting Sybil through in private. This right here is a form of emotional abuse.

Michael: I want to ask you something, Maggie. And I want your full attention.

Sunlight: You sound almost as serious as Joe did in the pulpit

Michael: I’m at least as scared as he was

Sunlight: you don’t have to be afraid to ask me anything, Michael. You have been so kind to me that I would do anything on Earth to make you happy.

Michael: Like marrying me?

Is… is this supposed to come off as sweet? Because it doesn’t. It sounds painfully awkward and manipulative.

Sunlight(startled): You mustn’t joke, Michael, on a day when Joe has been through such an ordeal.

Joe just preached his last sermon. Losing his job sucks, but it’s not like he fucking died. There’s no need to act as though you just got back from his funeral.

Anyone who expects you not to make jokes on the day they lose their job is an asshole. Fuck, anyone who expects you not to make jokes at their funeral is an asshole.

Michael:(taking her hand in his) I’m not joking, Maggie. I love you.

If you loved her, you could’ve planned this out better. Taken her out to Dinner or something.

Alright lazy cat, get off my book!

Meet “Karma,” the enemy of all book reviews.

What do you mean you need to turn the page? I need my beauty sleep!

Meg gives us a full paragraph about how she never even thought of marrying Michael, but says yes anyway, because all of a sudden, without any kind of courtship or anything, she realizes she loves Michael more than she loved Jim, even.

They’re going to celebrate by eating salads and going home to tell Carol.

What a man, ladies!

Later, people are gathered in Meg’s apartment.

Michael’s parents have given him and Meg their summer home in the Adirondacks as a wedding gift, and they want to have the wedding there in the mountains. The Sabbath before the wedding, Michael and Meg want Joe to baptize them. Everyone is invited.

Sybil: It all sounds like a little bit of heaven, but I don’t know whether Bill would consent to go or not, and you do understand I couldn’t leave him, don’t you?

I’m not allowed to spend a day (or two) away from my husband! This doesn’t raise any red flags whatsoever!

This is also evidence that Bill no longer sees Meg and Michael as friends. He won’t even go to their wedding? I mean, yeah weddings are incredibly boring, especially SDA ones, but still, at last pretend to come up with a good excuse.

Joe tells them all that the elders of his church offically told him to take a hike. Since we all know Joe has another job lined up, this is boring and anti climactic.

Other members of his congregation have told Joe that if he wants to start up a Saturday church, they will join. Because churches like these don’t already exist. Joe wants to introduce these people to Meg and Michael.

Sunlight: Why, Joe, that’s worth all you went through. Of course they may meet with us. There’s a girl at work who’s been studying, and I think she’ll soon be wanting fellowship too.

All Joe went through? Joe didn’t go through anything. He got a new job as quickly as he lost his old one. That’s not persecution, that doesn’t produce tension, and it’s boring to read about.

Meg tells us she is down to 2 cigarettes a day, and wants to quit entirely before baptism.

All of this reads less like friends sitting around talking, and more like testimony time in your local Sabbath school.

Joe tells Meg to turn her smoking problem over the the Lord and forget about it.

Because it’s totally that simple. Ms. Strong does realize Nicotine withdrawal is a thing, right? It’s kind of hard to forget about withdrawal when you’re going through it.

There’s a few more paragraphs about Michael’s struggles with beer (because he’s totally an alcoholic! He drinks beer in the evening, wine with his meals and enjoys coctails on the weekends!) and then Sybil blathers on about how she’s slipping away from God.

Sybil: Bill says religion was just like my needlepoint and volunteer work at the hospital–something to stave off loneliness. He thinks it’s a crutch and that we should stand on our own two feet and face up to problems in our own strength.

Bill isn’t wrong, here. However, even though it is a crutch, there’s no reason she can’t still be serious about her faith. Let’s pretend, like the author, that Sybil has been doing volunteer work at the hospital all this time. Is there a reason she must give it up now that Bill is back in her life? Is there a reason she has to give up her needlepoint? If the answer is yes, then that’s disturbing. If the answer is no, then why must she also give up her faith?

Bill sounds like a controlling, emotionally abusive jerkwad.

Joe: He’s not alone in that thinking… our mental institutions are filled with men and women who needed God but who had been taught to handle life on their own.

FUCK YOU!

I see this attitude sooo much. God can solve all your fucking mental problems. You only have depression/anxiety/mental illness because you don’t trust Jesus enough.

Asswhipe.

There’s a time jump of two months, and Meg, Michael, and a bunch of other nameless people no one cares about all get baptized in the lake outside Meg and Michael’s summer home.

Michael: It’s a whole new life, Maggie. I feel so great, I have to pinch myself every morning to be sure I’m still on this wretched old planet.

Aside from how stilted this dialog is…. what the hell good is pinching yourself going to do? Are you not allowed to pinch yourself in heaven? If you were in heaven, would it not hurt when you pinched yourself?  Or do you think you’re constantly in a dream and that is why you are hurting yourself every morning? To make sure you’re awake?

Sybil, by the way, is absent from this day of dunking.

The day after the day of dunking, Meg and Michael get married.

During the wedding dinner they talk about–what else–the upcoming apocalypse.

Joe: …I must talk to you all before we go back to the practical realities of life. As I study, and of late I have not put my bible aside until the wee hours of the morning many a night, I can only conclude that some very somber events lie ahead of us. Already we see even more trouble brewing in far places, much unrest and scandal in our government here at home, and the nation’s economy in a very perilous state (emphasis mine)

Since When? All this should have been woven into the story before hand. You can’t just decide in the middle of the book to say, “oh, by the way, a lot of stuff has been happening off screen that I didn’t bother writing about.”

I mean, look how easy it was for Joe to get another job. If the economy was that bad, this should have been downright impossible. In fact, you could have included this earlier and created more tension. Joe and Jean have an argument about how terrible the economy is, and how Joe can’t afford to just throw away a perfectly good job when the alternative very well could be starvation and serious medical debt.**

Audience, here’s a writing tip: This is what second (or third, or 4th, or 60th) drafts are for.

Jean: Joe, you sound like a prophet of doom.

Well, he is joining a doomsday cult….

This is a land of religious freedom. You told me yourself that groups have worshiped on Saturday for years.

Then why go start your own church?

Joe: That’s true, but there have been many calamities on earth lately [Mark 13:7,8]

Like what? Go back and edit some in. Or at least bother to invent some right here, right now.

People are uneasy. There is a strong feeling that if man would go back to the kind of reverence this country once knew, maybe God would smile upon us again. The first step is to urge, if not enforce, an old fashioned observance of Sunday as a religious day, rather than the day of recreation it has become.

Why? And who’s “they?” Joe tells us people are uneasy. Who are these people, and why do they feel so strongly about God? I could see Christians believing that we all need to turn to God, but I could also see people, a large group of people, having very strong sentiments in the other direction.

And I’m not just talking about atheists/agnostics. What about Muslims? Are they thinking of trying to enforce laws that force people to worship Allah? What about Hindus? Do they want to enforce laws that would return people to their Gods, in order to stop whatever calamities are supposedly happening? What do Muslims and Hindus think of these resurrected Blair Bills?

 

Joe is still speaking: ….already there is a strong push in this direction. The State harassed by the church.  Always when organized religion begins to pressure government there is trouble.

Atheists and Adventists agree on this. Even a stopped clock…

I think this would be a good place to discuss where some of this Sunday Law stuff comes from.

Ellen White and the early pioneers of the church were absolutely convinced that a Sunday law was coming. why? because, in Ellen White’s time, they were.

Let’s talk about the Blair Bills.*** These were laws that would have enforced Sunday Sacredness. In some places, these laws already existed. Some Adventists were even fined for violating said laws.

Between 1885 and 1887, nearly 20 Sabbath keepers in Arkansas alone had been charged with Sunday desecration and fined up to $500 each.

(The Return of the Latter Rain, Ron Duffield, p. 183)

 

In early 1888 the well known Cardinal James Gibbons joined forces with many protestants in endorsing a petition to congress on behalf of national Sunday legislation….Senator H.W. Blair introduced a Bill into the US senate to promote observance of “The Lord’s day…as a day of religious worship.” Only a few days later, Blair submitted a proposal to amend the US constitution and Christianize the nation’s public school system. This was the first such legislation to go before congress since the establishment of the Advent movement in the 1840s.

(Ibid.)

 

Thankfully, for Seventh Day Adventists, as well as a whole nation, both Blair Bills died with the 51st congress

(Ibid, p.257. See also W.A. Blakely American State Papers Bearing On Sunday Legislation (1911) p. 366

In the late 1880s, a lot of Americans were scared. Ellen White and the early SDAs latched onto this fear and combined it with the 1840s end times panic. Sunday laws meant persecution, which, to them, meant the end of the world.

Adventists are largely in denial about this particular threat being in the past. They are convinced that the end of the world will still happen this way, even though times have changed. Ellen White wrote it, so it must be true. Historical context? What’s that?

In any case, that is why there is a Sunday law being proposed, even though it seems random and makes no sense.

Anyway, back to the wedding. Meg quotes the verse about the wide gate being the way of destruction, and there will be few that find the way to the straight gate.

Jean: Does it really say that, Meg? why didn’t you ever point that out to me, Joe? I always felt you couldn’t be right, when all the world kept Sunday, even though your presentation of the 7th day Sabbath seems clear enough.

Seriously? How does Jean not know this verse? She’s a minister’s wife. I am well aware that there are ministers out there who are poorly educated, but no minister or minister’s wife is that poorly educated. Especially if they’ve got small children in Sunday School, because this verse gets handed to children on memory verse cards a lot.

In any case, Joe points out, rightly, that he didn’t know that was the text that would convince Jean.

I personally think that if that’s Jean’s only argument than she must actually be 2. Because no grown up I’ve ever heard has ever started anything like that.

However, the author decided Jean would think like that because Ms Strong couldn’t imagine that anyone could possibly hear the same evidence she did and come to a different conclusion.

In any case, everyone leaves, and Meg and Michael are alone at last in their new summer house.

Michael: Do you realize, Maggie, that there’s no one within 20 miles of us?

Scary, isn’t it? I could beat you to death and no one would hear you scream.

Just kidding, he doesn’t say that. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable staying very long in a place where I’d have to hike 20 miles if someone needed help.

Meg asks Michael if he agrees with Joe about the doom and gloom, and he does. They chat for a while about why Michael monologues bible verses about why he believes this way, and Meg gets frightened. Michael reassures her that God will take care of them, and Meg asks about Sybil.

Sunlight: What are we going to do about Sybil? Her great fear is that Bill will go back to his old life-style, and she will be without him again, so she simply doesn’t cross him in any way, not even to come to our wedding….I have a terrible fear that she will just slip away from God. I don’t forsee losing her friendship, for she and Bill are both too attached to Carol, but it won’t be the same if we can’t share all we learn with her.

Bill is absolutely emotionally abusing her. This should be ringing all kinds of alarm bells. Meg and Michael’s main fear here should be that they need to get Sybil out of her abusive relationship, not that Sybil will reject God in favor of him.

The latter part of this paragraph… I have friends like that. Friends like Meg, I mean. It’s kind of a sore spot, so let’s move on.

Michael: We must do our best to keep her in contact with Christ

Poor Sybil. No one cares about her as a person.

Michael:You know, Meg, I’ve been thinking that the time may come that this place will be a refuge for those of us who were here this weekend. If persecution lies ahead for those of us who believe the Seventh Day Sabbath is significant, we would be safest out of the mainstream civilization.

Right. The authorities will never think to look for you in the home you own… Even if Michael’s name isn’t on the paperwork, his parents’ names would be.

Sunlight: Sybil told me that even Bill feels hard times are ahead. Shes’ afraid, with the economy in such a shaky condition, that there will be looting and rioting in the cities before long. He once felt he had plenty of money….but now says that inflation has reduced his savings and investments alarmingly.

Again, why are we being told rather than shown? Also, why is inflation suddenly a problem? Who is looting and rioting and why? What happened to cause all this? Does the author care as much as I do?

Michael: I think everywhere people are aware that time is running out. You know that widespread famine has brought death to millions in the lesser developed countries. The earthquakes and tornadoes and airplane disasters (mark 13:7,8) don’t even make the front page anymore.

What countries? Why is there famine? What plane crashes? If plane crashes aren’t even making the news anymore, that means planes are no longer being designed well and people should keep their feet on the ground where they belong.

And if the world is such a mess, how the hell were you even able to have a wedding? How are you able to have normal lives?! I’m picturing planes crashing around Meg and Michael and people starving in the streets, and they just casually step over the bodies like, no big deal, wanna go disco dancing?

Also, WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME WE’RE HEARING ABOUT THIS OH MY GOD HEADBANG HEADBANG HEADBANG (DRINK!)

Sunlight: Let’s fix this place up so that we could even stay here in the winter if necessary. And we’ll plant a huge garden, and I’ll can a lot.

This is seriously the thought process of half the Adventists I know.

Michael: Which reminds me, I want you to give notice at work that you’re through. Without a family, I’ve been able to put a good amount aside over the years, and I want you home with Carol.

Hang on. Meg just got done telling you Bill’s money is about to become as worthless as the paper it’s printed on. How can you…

Sigh. Nevermind. The lack of consistency is not my major issue with this paragraph. Let us merely note it, and move on.

Holy fuck Michael what a jerk! Jeez.

First off, I want it on record that I am not against stay at home mothers. That is not what real feminism is about. What real feminism is about is choice.

Michael, here, does not ask Meg what she wants to do. Does she want to return to work? Does she want to stay home with Carol? We don’t get to know, because Michael doesn’t ask Meg if she wants to quit work, he tells her to.

Meg, submissive little moppet that she is now that she’s converted, gushes over how awesome Michael is for doing this.

Jared (remember him? Our creepy angel guy? Yeah, he hardly ever pops up anymore. The author isn’t even trying at this point) closes the chapter by blathering on about how end is near, but don’t worry, God will take care of you.

I shall have a very special welcome on that day for Sunlight and her friends

That doesn’t sound ominous and threatening at all. No, not one little bit.

Jared closes on this line:

I shall always be grateful that Earth Friend didn’t pass by Sunlight and Michael, though they appeared most unlikely candidates for this land.

From page 38:

My interest grows in the young man Michael. He exercises great patience…she’s quite right that he would make a fine follower of the Prince.

Consistency? What’s that? Who cares?

Certainly not the author, that’s for damn sure.

 

*Actual quote from a 4 year old Jenny to her father, who was less than amused.

**there was no emergency surgery, I made that up.

***http://www.oakwood.edu/historyportal/ejah/2011/blair.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.