Parable of the Sower Chapter 3

I wrote this story when I was a teenager at an SDA boarding Academy.

For commentary, please insert “Oh my GOD! *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*” after every single sentence.

3

I return to school and go through the rest of my classes. I am so shocked that I actually go to all of them (which, for me, is extremely rare) I know those pregnancy tests make mistakes once in a while, and I want so badly to believe thats what happened, but I know better. I’ve been puking every morning for the last week, craving weird foods, and I haven’t had my period at all this month. No, I am definitely pregnant. I wonder if I have some other STD??? I’d have to tell my mom if I wanted to find out. Should I tell mom?? I picture the look of shock, disappointment, and shame on her face. I picture her crying. No, Not yet. Not till I have to. Not till I start showing.

My sister actually picks me up from school today. Normally I just walk home, so that was pretty nice of her. I guess she could tell I didn’t want to talk to her at the moment though, because she said nothing, only put her arm around me.

I lie on my bed massaging my abdomen, thinking about the baby inside. I stare at the ceiling.

How am I going to explain this to mom? I’m not getting an abortion, I’m not. End of story, and I am keeping this baby. I am. I’m not gonna let my mom snatch it away from me. I think she might….

How am I going to clothe it? I reach into a bedside drawer, pull out bright pink yarn and begin to crochet a baby blanket. My friend, Tori, taught me how to crochet before she moved away.

What gender will it be? I stop crocheting. Better use something a little more transgenderal. I put the pink away and get out soft blue yarn that goes from light to dark blue and start working with that.

I don’t wanna know what gender it is till it pops out, but thats a little impractical because I’ll need to know what kind of clothes to buy. At least baby clothes shop(lift)ing will be fun, all those cute little outfits…. I cringe as I think about what it will be like to go baby shopping alone. Without a husband. Without a mother.

Do I want to tell Matt? After all, its his baby too. I picture his reaction. He’s never liked kids. Probably try to make me abort…. no, can’t tell him… maybe mom, I’ll have to tell her anyway….can’t hide it for long…. no, not yet…

staring up at the ceiling, I start crying. I’ve trashed my life. I blew it. I really really really blew it. I think about how screwed up I am; lying, stealing, cheating, having sex, sneaking out, skipping church… church! I groan and roll onto my right side. I’m gonna be kicked outta the church for this!

But thats what you want. It is. Spiritually speaking, I left the church years ago, and now, when I’m thinking about coming back, I’m gonna get kicked out!

I’m not crying that loud, but I guess it doesn’t matter because Jaimie hears me anyway. She comes in and sits down on my bed.

“Holly, do you wanna talk now? You can tell me about…. whatever it is you believe.”

I brush the tears from my eyes, sit up, and tell her a bit about satanism, occultism, spiritualism, new age, e.t.c. Jaimie listens as I talk, opens her moth to speak sometimes, then thinks better of it. She can tell something is wrong. She knows better than to ask. She doesn’t need to, I volunteer the information.

“I don’t believe in that.”

Jaimie raised her eyebrows, “then what do you believe?”

I flop back onto the pillows with my arms outspread. “I don’t know1 I don’t know what I am! I’m trying to figure that out!” Unwillingly I bust into tears.

My sister puts her arms around me, not saying anything. Somehow, I think she knows better than to say something and I am grateful.

“Jaimie! I’ve really screwed up!” she doesn’t say anything. I cry into her chest for a while, hating myself. Then, I am not sure what is happening, but I think a spark is beginning to ignite, a fire that was snuffed out a long time ago. I’m starting to see how dirty I am, and how this life I’m living seemed so glamorous at first, is really a nightmare. I thought spiritualism would be fun and interesting, which it is, but… its not… I stop bawling and start hiccuping. Jaimie rubs my back.

Even though it is interesting, I am not happy. I may not understand a lot about God, but I do know this: I was happiest when I was following Him. I’m not sure all of what is happening, but I think…..

Jaimie asks me if I want to pray with her. I nod.

“Dear Jesus, please be with Holly, Lord, I don’t have a clue what she’s going through, but you do. Please be with her and let her know your still here….”

I know she’s expecting me to pray after she does, we’ve always done it that way, but I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to say anything. I’m too embarrassed. Not so much because Jaimie’s here, but because God is.

“just say whats on your heart.”

Yeah. Thanks Jaimie. Real helpful.

“God….” I start crying again. Jaimie hugs me and encourages me to go on.

“I…. don’t know what to say….. I’m so sorry!”

After that, things change. Somehow, everything looks brighter, fresher, and purer. The snow is whiter, the sky bluer (even though its still kinda gray out… maybe it looks grayer?) and everyone around me seems much happier. I hug my mom today before I go to school. She seems surprised, but smiles and tells me she loves me.

Jaimie drives me to school today, and I actually stay the whole day. The teachers give me funny looks when I actually come into their classes, and a few make sarcastic comments today, but all their sarcasm seems to fall right off me. Today, nothing matters.

I don’t cheat on homework today, so I don’t get it all done. I don’t even understand it. The teachers give me funny looks, and I hear people laughing at me into their algebra books. My satanic friends just look at me, then look the other way. Somehow, they see I am different too, and they don’t like it.

I come home somewhat discouraged. I can’t do any of my homework, and today I have a lot of it, the students all laughed at me, and all of a sudden I have no friends.

When I tell mom about It (which, in itself, surprises her, because I never tell her anything) she asks me if I want to go to Jaimie’s school. I tell her I’ll think about it.

That afternoon, instead of going shop(lift)ing, I bug my sister to help me with my math, then, I quiz myself on my bible verses to see how much I remember. To my surprise, most of them are still there! Those that aren’t, I review. Then I read my Jesus bible, the one I have so frequently stepped on, sat on, thrown across the room, e.t.c. And on sabbath, I totally shock my friend Renee when I sit down next to her and actually listen to the whole sermon! Sure, I show up with pants and earrings (mom finally conceded to let me wear nice pants) but nevertheless, I show up!

“Hey Holly, why are you hear?” She asks me, “whats gotten into you?”

“Jesus!” I smile. Renee stares at me, shocked. Then, she hugs me (which, in itself, is a reason for me to smile) and says,

“Welcome back.”

That afternoon, I spend reading the bible, listening to Christian music, and stuff like that. I was, in general, a lot happier. My sister and I even had a bible study like we sometimes used to do.

I switch to the Seventh day adventist school the following week. Since a kid like me, with pierced ears, a rap sheet, and an attitude, is mega rare in a school like that, most of the kids are too afraid to talk to me, so I am pretty much in the same predicament that I was at the public school. Everything starts crumbling. My grades are going down since I’m not cheating, and I’m not understanding anything, my class is way ahead of me, and, since I’m not stealing anymore, I don’t have any money. That wouldn’t bother me, except for the fact that already my pants are getting to be a bit tight. Or is that just my imagination?

Every day I come home discouraged. Maybe I should just tell mom about the stupid baby I think one day as I slam the door. At least then she wouldn’t make me go to school!

I drag myself up the stairs to my room, flop down on the bed, take a pillow, press it into my face, and let out a frustrated scream. My door opens. Jaimie strides in, walks right up to me, shoves the pregnancy test kit in my face and asks me, “is this yours?”

I am so shocked I can’t think of a response. I simply nod my head, dumbly, “why couldn’t it be mom’s?”

“Because I asked her if she was having a baby and she said no, she’d hit menopause a long time ago.”

“You didn’t tell her–”

“No, I didn’t.” Jaimie sat down on the bed. I sighed with relief. “but you’ll have too.”

“I know.” I sigh, looking the other way.

“Now.”

“What?”

“Holly, the longer you put it off, the harder its going to be.”

“But Jaimie-”

“No Holly, now. If you don’t‘ tell her, I will.”

“She’s not gonna believe you!”

“She will when I show her the evidence.”

“Jaimie.” I moan.

Awkward silence.

“So. Are you actually pregnant?”

I roll over to face her, “what kind of a dumb question is that?!”

“Darling,” Jaimie holds up the box, “all this tells me is that you and your boyfriend whats-his-name have been fooling around. I didn’t see the test results.”

I sigh, “Jaimie…. I….” I sigh, no better way to get this out, “THERES A BABY IN MY TUMMY!!!”

Jaimie stares at me. I turn away, “Don’t look at me like that!”

“Darling, you my little sister! Your having a baby! Your only 16! What am I supposed to look at you like!”

I sigh.

“Come on Holly, you know you have to.”

“I can’t!”

“I’m sorry. You should have thought of that before you and your boyfriend decided to get it going on!”

“Jaimie!”

She pulls me up to my feet, puts her arm around me, and starts walking downstairs with me.

“Mom!”

“Jaimie?” She pushes me into the kitchen, where mom is working on her shopping list. “Oh, hey Holly. I’m going shopping tomorrow, how’re you doing on tampons?”

my face reddens, “umm…he he, mom… I… don’t think I’ll be needing tampons again for the next… oh, nine months or so.”

Jaimie slaps her hand to her forehead. Mom glares up from her shopping list.

“Not funny.”

“Mom….um…actually…. I was…um…..serious.” I choke out the last word. Mom looks up from her grocery list, stands up, walks over and hugs me.

“Holly, do we need to talk?” I nod into her chest. She sighs and plays with my hair with her fingers.

“Mom. My boyfriend and I…. Matt… we….” Mom pushes me away, her hands on my shoulders, and looks me in the eye.

“You didn’t.”

“I–”

“Holly, please tell me you didn’t!” my mom’s eyes are widening. She looks desperate.

“Do you want me to lie to you?” I squeak.

She gaps, “are you…. please tell me your not–”

“Yes!” I turn away. I don’t want to see her face. She lets go of me, steps back, shocked. Her mouth is open. I don’t know what else to say. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” over and over. Mom stumbles back into the chair. I glance at her face. She’s crying.

“You…. I can’t believe your…..”

I can’t take it. I turn and walk away, discouraged. Jaimie puts her arms around me. Well. That went well.


A knock on my door, “Holly?” I don’t respond. I’m emailing friends. (Online friends, of course, because I ran out of real friends.) The door opens. “Holly? Can we talk?” she shuts the door. I sigh and sleep the laptop. Mom sits down on the bed. I sit at the desk with my back to her. “Holly, come here.” I don’t move.

“Holly.”

I sigh and turn around.

Mom takes a deep breath, “I can’t believe your pregnant.”

I shrug.

“How far along are you?”

“5 weeks”

“Wow. 5 weeks.”

Awkward silence.

“Holly…um… I want to take you to the hospital…. I want to get you tested for other STD’s…..”

I bite my lip.

“Holly, I know this is scary, but if you do have an STD, the earlier we can detect it….”

With my luck, I probably have aids.

“Mom, I’m not gonna get an abortion. And I’m not putting it up for adoption. I’m having my baby and I’m keeping it.”

“Holly –” she breaks off. “Is that what you’re worried about?”

I nod.

“Of course your not gonna get an abortion! That would just be….. no! And… about the child, well, of course were gonna keep it!”

I relax. I don’t care what happens, as long as I can have my baby.

“But we need to make sure its healthy; you need to have an ultrasound, and I want you to start excersing more, eating a better diet, get tested…..” she breaks off.

“Ok mom.” She gets up, comes over, and puts her arms around me.

“I know this pregnancy is kind of, well, hard on you, and….”

“A baby is supposed to be a blessing.” I cry bitterly into her chest, “now its a curse to everyone!”

“Hey.” my mother said softly, “your baby is not a curse. Sure, its an unwanted consequence, but Holly, you’ve always told me you wanted children.”

“Not when I’m only 16!” I sob harder.

“Its either gonna be a curse, or a blessing, depending on how you view it. What do you say it is?”

I think about that for a while. If I hadn’t had this baby, would I have come back to God? Probably not. Maybe God gave me this…..kid to bring me back…. fine. As long as I don’t have aids. This baby could be the entire reason your going to be saved!

I nod, “blessing. Its a blessing.” I pull away from her, she brushes the tears off my cheeks. “Mom,” I smile, “I’m pregnant!”


So that afternoon my mom takes me to the hospital and they suck blood out of my arm with a needle. I’m crying. I can’t stand needles. I’m freaked out! I’m afraid of the sewing machine. So yeah, blood testing is definitely not my favorite way.

“Can’t we do a urine test?!”

But they said that wouldn’t be accurate enough. Joy.

Mom makes it up to me though afterwards, she takes me and my sister to the mall to shop for baby clothes, which is REALLY fun because everything looks so cute!!!

We also buy diapers, bottles, a diaper bag, some rattles, toys, and other stuffed animals. We also had to buy a new crib because mom had given ours away a long time ago, thinking we wouldn’t need one. Yeah, nice one mom.

Christmas is fast approaching, so we also pick out presents for our friends. Mom also buys me some yarn so that I can make scarves or hats for friends, baby blankets, e.t.c. Then we go clothes shopping for me. I don’t look pregnant yet, but we may as well buy them anyway, just in case, and I do need pants with a slightly larger waistline.

We come back from the mall with bags full of baby clothes, pants for me, and baby stuff. When we get home, mom digs up the old car seat and stroller from the basement and puts them in the living room where we can get them in a hurry when we need them.

The phone rings. My mom answers it. She frowns, then hands me the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Holly this is Pastor Messer, umm….Holly, are you really pregnant?”

Warning bells go off in my head.

“Yes actually I am, why do you ask?”

He sighed, “Holly, I hate to have to be the one to tell you this but….. you’ve been disfellowshipped.”

No less than I expected ya big fat hypocrite!

I hang up. There is nothing more to say, and I will spare the poor pastor the awkward silence. Numbly, I walk upstairs to my room. I knew this would happen, but….I sit down on the bed. Tears run down my cheeks. I’ve wanted this so badly once, and it didn’t happen. I’m wishing so badly it hadn’t now, and it has. I sit there for a while with tears running down my cheeks. No one comes in to talk with me. No one knows how to handle this. I wonder if they even know.

Shortly after, mom comes up. “What did the pastor want?”

I shake the tears from my eyes.

Mom sits down next to me, puts her arm around me, and speaks to me gently. “I know. My sister got kicked out for the very same thing.”


I cringe at the words, “kicked out.” usually they are used when telling about a bad person. I feel ugly, dirty, worthless, and, well, bad. I sniffle as the last of my tears run down my cheeks. I’ve already cried enough to never be able to cry again. Or, so I thought.

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Now! P.8-16

Last week, we left off with Book!Merikay hearing about the new Sunday worship laws that are being put into place all over the country.

“Merikay, set the table.” Mother’s words brought me to the realization that this wasn’t a dream. I’d never dreamed of setting the table before. Who’d want to?

I like this. I really do. I am also going to point out that sometimes people dream some really odd stuff. I had a dream once where I cleaned the house. Dreams are funny like that.

We get some characterization about Beth, the little sister, that I really like. It’s actually too bad we don’t get to see more of her in the story, because her character is really well drawn here. If Real!Merikay had handed me this story to critique, I would say, “More Beth, please.”

Beth left the table many times. First for a glass of water, then for some salt, then for chocolate for her milk, and then to let the cat in the house. That was the way it went nearly every night. She would hop up and down from the table, getting a dozen and one things which she needed.

Finally, Book!Merikay decides to tell her family what she’s heard on the news that day. Her little brother’s like, “oh shit, really?” But other than that, nothing really happens.

“The time of the end is near,” Mother said, as she often did when something horrid had happened. “We can see it all around us.”

Adventists really do say that quite a bit. After every single tragedy. That major earthquake that just happened? Guarantee you pastors are giving sermons this Sabbath about how it’s a sign of Jesus’ soon return.

Book!Merikay tells us that she’d imagined this moment in Bible Doctrines class. She’s not the only one.  Who among those of us who were raised Adventist haven’t thought about this at some point?

I remember my abstract plan seemed to be running to my best friend’s house. Her house was out in the country, and her dad knew a bit about off the grid living. He was a professional conspiracy theorist, and I figured he’d be a good person to go to in the end times because he knew how to hide.

But I never really made any concrete plans, and my plans for some reason never seemed to involve my parents, or any of my family members. I dunno, maybe I thought they would spontaneously combust?

If the end times ever do happen SDA style, I will be so screwed.

In any case, we are told that Merikay’s mother has lately been opposed to some of the religious things Merikay tells her, accusing her of being a fanatic. Book!Merikay tries to bring up Ellen White.

“No, what does Mrs. White say?” [mom] replied with a sigh of here-we-go-again.

Sounds about like how I’d respond.

This is pretty realistic. SDA teenagers, myself included, do have a tendency to get very fanatical about things. I could absolutely see a parent getting fed up with it all. But here I need to clarify I am talking about Book!Merikay and her Book!Mother rather than the real life people. I neither know nor care if this is how things actually played out in real life. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s move on.

Merikay tells her family that Ellen White says that when the Sunday Law decree goes out, they are to move out of the cities, because that means that the close of probation is coming very fast.

Pat is very interested in what Merikay has to say, and asks where they should go. Merikay says that they should go into “the country or wilderness somewhere.” Merikay’s mom asks where they are going to find, wilderness. Seriously? You guys live in Michigan. You don’t actually have to go that far to find woods.

Pat points out that they could go up north, and he’s right. Especially in the UP, there’s a lot of wilderness to get lost in.

Pat and I looked at each other. I never realized how interested he was in religious things. He had always seemed so careless and kidish. But in that brief glance, I could see that he was very interested.

I like this. I like that we get this characterization of Pat who is a child who realizes that he’s going to have to grow up and quickly, because there are some dark times ahead. Pat is going to become one of the main characters in the book, but despite this, we really don’t get a lot of characterization about him. Which is too bad, because I have a feeling that characterization is something that teenage Merikay has the potential to be good at. Perhaps if this book hadn’t been written in a weekend….

In any case, Book!Merikay’s parents aren’t too happy about their children wanting to go away and live in the wilderness. They like their lives, and they don’t particularly care to leave them.

If the end times ever actually happen SDA style, I wonder how many will feel this way?

Things are all wrong, I thought later as I lay on my bed. Nothing is happening like it’s supposed to. I didn’t even plan for Pat to get interested so soon. And mom… I didn’t even think the rest, for I knew now that she was not interested.

In some ways, this is a teenager’s worst fear. The fear that they or their loved ones are going to reject God in the time of trouble.

I think we’re going to stop there for now. Next week, we get to go to church with Book!Merikay and see how the pastor is going to react.

 

 

 

 

 

Now! P. 17-24

One week has passed since the events in our last post. That’s not that big a time jump, so I can roll with it. Merikay tells us that she and her parents have had many discussions about moving, but it turns out that they aren’t as eager to go live in the wilderness as she is.

Finally, Merikay’s mother promises that if Elder J is moving, Merikay and Pat can go with him. I have no idea if “J” is the man’s real name, so I’m leaving it out.

It seemed to me that she wanted us to leave, and yet she didn’t want to really let us go.

I wouldn’t want to let my teenagers go live by themselves in the woods either. I would also not want my teenage children to run off with some lunatic to go live in the woods either. (Note that I do not even have teenage children.)

In any case, Merikay is excited to go to church, mainly so she can run away with her brother and Elder J to form their own doomsday cult.

Elder J, of course, preaches a message about the new Sunday Laws. He also preaches that the close of probation is near and they should so totally move out of the cities.

Everyone agreed with him. People cried and gave hearty amens. Now things were happening.

But later, as I walked out of church, I noticed that people were laughing and joking together just like every other Sabbath. Some were talking about the new addition they were putting on their house or the new TV they had purchased.

At first, I thought that for sure this was inaccurate. Adventists have been waiting for this for years. Of course they’d take this new chance to panic about the end of the world.

Or would they?

See, the thing of it is, pastors and elders and teachers are always giving such sermons. “This current event happened, it’s a sign of the end of the world! Get ready!” And people get scared and panic about the end of the world.

But the thing is, you can only remain in a state of anticipation and fear and panic for so long before your mind and body acclimate to the new level or normal. Soon you will hear sermons saying, “the end of the world is near because of this current event,” and be totally immune. Just like any other Sabbath, you think as you head home to pass out in a potluck induced coma.

And so when the real last day events start, nobody’s paying attention, because the pastor has preached such sermons before. When the end of the world actually happens, they’re not ready, because they’re tired of hearing about it.

It’s like the little boy who cried wolf. Eventually, people stopped believing him. Likewise, they also no longer believe “the pastor who cried end times.”

I eventually came to the conclusion that maybe Merikay wasn’t so far off, though we probably have serious disagreements about the reasons. Teenage!Merikay probably thought it was something to do with people not being godly enough.

After church, Pat and Merikay go to Elder J’s house for Sabbath afternoon lunch.

After we had eaten and were talking in the living room, I finally said, “When are you moving?”

There was silence as Elder J thoughtfully stared at his feet……  “Well…” I waited, my eyes fixed on his face……He looked up at me. “I don’t really know, Merikay.”

When I first heard this read out loud, I remember thinking that perhaps The Good Pastor saw it as his duty to stay behind to help others who may not have been able to leave the city. I mean, Merikay is talking about packing and moving like it’s something everyone can do with relative ease. And that’s not always the case. My parents are very well off, and even they couldn’t afford to just put the house on the market and buy a house in the country.

Since we don’t know how much time is going to be passing between now and the death decree, it’s a bit unrealistic to start living in a cave at this point, so unless you’ve already got some property somewhere, you’re probably going to have to stay in the city a little bit longer, at least until you can be sure it’s 100% necessary to go live in a cave.

Also, I imagine there are many other teenagers in Merikay’s position, who want to leave but can’t. If no one stays behind, who’s going to help them?

Staying behind to help those in the cities, especially since there is a short window where people can be converted, is absolutely a noble cause. I don’t honestly know if teenage Merikay even thought about that. It’s probably not something I’d have thought of either, if I hadn’t already read about it in Left Behind.

In any case, Merikay takes this as a sign that Elder J is not as godly as she thought. She goes on for a bit about how spiritual the man is, and how she’s looked up to him. It takes 3 paragraphs, I’m skipping over it.

My whole world collapsed, and I felt my heart sink. I felt sick, dizzy, like I wanted to die. Oh, why was I ever born?

That “Oh, why was I ever born?” seems kind of odd and randomly thrown in. I hope like hell that teenage Merikay didn’t feel like that in real life.

Now what was I going to do? I wasn’t old enough to leave home. The Jenkins weren’t moving, and I knew I had to leave the city. Why did everything have to happen now?

Yanno, there are probably a lot of other teenagers in your situation. Have you thought of maybe finding them and forming a secret underground resistance group? You could probably do a lot of good if you remain behind. You could, I dunno, collect bottled water for when the plagues hit, distribute pamphlets while you still can, and just generally support those who also have no means to leave the city.

Actually, I’m not sure teenage me would have thought about that either. And in a way it doesn’t matter. If the end time events are happening SDA style, then Ellen White is a true prophet and if she says we need to leave the cities, we need to leave the cities because God will punish us if we don’t do what Ellen White tells us to.

Finally, Merikay and her brother have worn down their mom and dad enough that they tell the kids they can go live in the lake cabin for a while. Since they do have a lake cabin, I’m going to go ahead and guess that not wanting to move may not be a matter of logistics.

“But you can take only what we can get into the car in one trip,” Dad said…. Mother gave us food, money, bedding, and linens… I took my clothes, shoes, books, radio, the photographs I had won all my awards for, my camera, rollers and bobby pins, and of course, my driver’s license. Pat packed his clothes, models, magazines, transistor radio, flashlight, compass, and camping equipment.

Here my 11th grade bible teacher stopped reading to us, and told us that this was unbiblical. When the end times happened, he said, the Bible said that we were to just go. Don’t take anything with you, just go.

As an adult, I think that kind of depends. If matters were more urgent, he’d be right. But the Sunday Law has just gone into effect. It takes a while to enforce something like that, and there is a small window of time where you should, you know, pack things like food, clothes, flashlights, compasses, and, for some reason, rollers and bobby pins.

 

 

 

Tell The World Part 5: Foundations Laid

Are you ready for more time skips and jerky jumping around? Then hop on, because we’re on the Tell The World roller coaster, and holy cow is it going to get jerky. The first scene picks up directly after the last episode ends, but after that, we do so much time traveling we get whiplash.

Sad violin music plays in the background as Joseph Bates walks to the post office. I am rolling my eyes at this point because Bates has gotten himself into this, and he seems unwilling to do anything to get out except “pray for a miracle.” I understand that disabled people exist who can’t get jobs, and I have no issue supporting said people. But we have been told that Bates walks for “miles and miles” to share the gospel, so, he would appear to be able bodied. Are there just no jobs available? Then tell or show us that. If Bates were even TRYING I would respect that.

In any case, there’s a letter for Bates, but there’s 5 cents postage due. Joseph doesn’t have 5 cents. They argue a bit about whether or not Bates should take the letter anyway, because the postmaster trusts Bates to repay his debts. Bates says he’d be more comfortable if the post master opened it, and is that legal? Never mind. The post master opens it and inside is…I had to go back 3 times and pause it. I think it’s a $10 bill. The note reads only “I send you this in the name of the Lord.”

Bates: Deliver these goods to my wife, she’ll think you’ve made a mistake.

So, hang on. Someone was rich enough to send Bates a bunch of… I dunno, we’re not shown what. We just see piles of stuff by the door.  They can send Bates food (presumably) and money, but they can’t cough up 5 cents for postage? What the fuck?

Bates runs home to his wife, who says its a miracle. No, it’s an act of generosity that happened to reach you in the nick of time just before your husband would have had to go out and find a job.

After the opening credits, August 30, 1846 flashes across the screen as a voice says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

James and Ellen have just married. Ellen Harmon is now Mrs. Ellen White. She repeats that to herself while exiting the courthouse, giggling like a maniac a lovestruck teenager.

Ellen’s smile slips off. When James asks what’s wrong, she says she’d always pictured getting married in a church. The ex Millerites still haven’t built any, so they went before a justice of the peace.

James doesn’t know what to say, so he kisses her ear.

Is this one of those romantic/sexual things I’m not aware of? Kissing someone’s ear? Ew. What if they haven’t cleaned them? Earwax, gross.

We next see James and Ellen traveling by carriage, talking about Bates’ teachings on the Sabbath. They decide that they will be Sabbath keepers.

We next see Ellen and James white at a Bible study at Bates’ house. After Bates is done preaching about the Sabbath, Ellen goes into vision. Specifically: The Astronomy Vision. I am absolutely shocked that the movie makers had the guts to even bring this up. That is ballsy, especially because we have the internet and can look these things up. Certainly, this was never studied in Bible class or Sabbath School. I thought for sure they’d leave it out.

Well, they do leave out part of it.  All we get is a picture of Saturn, and I think one of its moons. Then we cut to Joseph Bates standing outside the house, talking to James. Joseph Bates believes Ellen when she says she’s never read an Astronomy book, and I wonder why. After all, he has only her word on the subject.

The movie does not go into detail about the astronomy vision, and unlike the last time they didn’t show her vision, I can see why.

We do get one important piece of conversation.

Bates: How is she?

James: Fine. The visions do not weaken her. In fact, often she is healed.

Hallucinations that strengthen you rather than making you weak. I feel like that’s significant, but of course I am not a doctor, so what do I know.

James tells us all that Bates was one of her most vocal critics. No, he wasn’t. We’ve never seen Bates criticize Ellen at all. We’ve seen him act indifferent toward her, that is not the same as strongly criticizing her.

One of the main problems in this movie is that the characters tell us things rather than show them. I really do think this is just one of the side affects of trying to do too much while at the same time doing too little…

In case we didn’t have enough of Joseph Bates, we now cut to Bates having lunch with his wife, who asks if Ellen had “one of her fainting spells.” Bates excitedly tells her that they have it all wrong, and that his wife can read his written account of it. Um, ok, you’re not going to like, I dunno, talk to your wife?

Are you ready for another time jump? They’re not going to tell us what year this is, but it is at least 1847, because that’s when Ellen’s first son was born, and there’s a baby in this scene. Ellen and James are having money problems. Not because they’re trying to put food on the table, but because they are trying to finance the printing of pamphlets.

Ellen: How will we get $7.50?

According to an online conversion calculator, that would be roughly the equivalent of $200. That’s a significant amount of money.

In any case, this is apparently the cue for a montage of Ellen, Bates, and James traveling around spreading the good news. They don’t show them taking up an offering, but I would assume that that’s what they are doing.Then we get this confusing part:

Ellen: we work so hard to study God’s word and yet I still cannot understand the scriptures that you and the others wrestle over. I feel like I am always on the outside looking in.

This is exactly what I could have said when I was in Bible class at Academy, word for word.

James: Ellen, when we come to an impasse God gives you in vision a clarification from his word

Ellen: When I am not in vision it is as if my mind is locked to understanding the scripture.

James: This may be a blessing. Perhaps God is protecting you so that people cannot falsely claim that our message is based on your visions instead of on God’s word.

Our critics cannot claim that our message is based on Ellen’s visions…even though we rely on Ellen’s visions if we get stuck.

That doesn’t sound contradictory at all.

Ellen tries to calm the baby while she argues with James about going to a conference. James thinks they should attend.

Ellen: I cannot mind my child and travel, James. I cannot!

James: Our father has called us to this work. He will never leave us or forsake us.

1848 Sabbath Conference, Belden House, Connecticut

A group of people carries food outside to a picnic table. They talk about some of the “passionate discussions” they’ve had…not just about the Sabbath, but about signs of Jesus’ soon return, which are apparently being fulfilled all around them. They specifically mention the ones in “Matthew,” and I’m pretty sure they’re referring to Matthew 24.

Next we are shown Ellen, James, and a group of men taking a Sabbath afternoon walk. One of the men says that James and Ellen do a lot of traveling, but it’s still not enough. James agrees, especially since they hate leaving their son behind when they travel.

Ellen says that God told her they should create a newspaper. One of the men says that Bates believes they should instead print pamphlets and books.

Ellen: Brother Nichols, the two paths are but one. We have no quarrel with this approach, however, my husband is prepared to start a periodical, as books often suffer neglect on the shelf.

Every canvasser knows this all too well. Sometimes when we would show people the books, they’d tell us they bought them last year. Upon being asked if they read it, the answer was a then disheartening “no.” At no point did these books ever start glowing, and even if they had, that probably would only inspire their owners to back away slowly.

Brother Nichols asks Ellen how such a newspaper would be funded.

Ellen: Let it first be small, and as people read, they will be impressed to donate.

Pity they didn’t have the internet back then. They could have just created a blog, all for free. Of course, blogs also suffer neglect, so that may not have been enough for them.

We are then shown a montage of headlines from a paper called The Present Truth.

Afterwards we cut to an argument. James says they have to give up the newspaper, Ellen says the can’t. James points out that the White family is in a lot of debt. I guess the readers aren’t sending in regular donations. In fact, James is going to the printer to tell him that this month’s issue will be the last.

Ellen: Something will happen to change this course

James: Feel free to pray for a miracle, barring that we are done.

If only the “miracle” hadn’t happened. Were that the case, we wouldn’t have copies of The Review to snark on!

DECEMBER 20, 1849

We see Lucy and a man by William Miller’s bedside. He’s very very sick, and history tells us that this is the year he died. As a voiceover recites a Bible verse about heaven, we get reaction shots of Bates and Ellen finding out the news of Miller’s death.

Next we see James, Ellen, and a lady I can’t identify standing by a big machine.

Lady: How much did it cost?

I can’t tell if James says $6200, or 62 hundred thousand. I replayed this scene 4 times and I still can’t make it out. Ellen and Nameless lady look like they’re about to faint. Apparently Hiram Edson paid for it, so I don’t know what they’re worried about.

Oh, the machine is a printing press. Silly me. In any case, James published word of the purchase in the newspaper, begging for donations, and already money is coming in to repay the loan. This is touted by the ladies as “a miracle.”

Next we see an obviously pregnant Ellen walking with a basket. She holds her belly rather like she’s trying to keep the fake baby from sliding down. Someone hands her a paper. She reads it and frowns.

Ellen: They should call it “the messenger of deception!”

She goes on a rant about how these people have misled former Adventists and how scripture is misinterpreted… bitch take the plank out of your eye.

As James tells her that a meeting tent in Wisconsin has gone missing, I take a screenshot because god if I were heterosexual I’d find young James hot. Photobucket’s not working, so you probably won’t get to see it.

Ellen: We cannot allow this

James: We cannot stop it. We are not organized.

James has a coughing fit. There’s talk about how JN Andrews and Loughborough are exhausted and their health is failing. It’s and odd stilted bit of dialogue.

James: and I wish those were our only troubles

Ellen: What do you have to tell me?

I love Ellen and James’ on screen dynamic. They just really work well together.

James: The Landlord has sent a notice about next year’s rent. $14.50 a month.

Ellen gasps. My historical currency converter tells me that that’s roughly $420/month in today’s money. I don’t know what the cost of living was back then, but that’s like, nothing. Especially for that spacious house the Whites seem to have. Seriously, they are freaking out because their landlord wants PENNIES.

The Whites talk about moving to Michigan, which is apparently “west.” Battle Creek is suggested. Ellen says the name hardly sounds inviting. Indeed, the town of Battle Creek today is really not inviting. Most of the historical buildings are torn down, and it’s kind of a rundown area. I say that as someone who has sorta kinda lived in BC all her life.

This is the cue for BATTLE CREEK, 1855 to flash across the screen, over an aerial shot of something that definitely does not look like Battle Creek.

We see shots of people buying and selling what look like fake apples and rutabagas, before cutting to an interior shot of the Whites moving into a new house. We are told that a “house of worship” will be ready next week. Ellen has 2 small boys, and older and a younger, along with a baby that I suspect is the same baby they were using earlier.  I think this baby is playing multiple parts.

Next we are shown Ellen writing, as her voiceover tells us that too little heed is given to the Bible. Ellen says her writings are the lesser light pointing to the greater light. I will grudgingly allow that perhaps Ellen did not want her writings to be placed on the pedestal that they ended up getting placed on. That doesn’t change the fact that any argument SDAs have can be settled by “what Sister White has to say.”

After that, we see James and Ellen in bed. James surprises me by talking sense.

James: I want you to know that I have put the house in your name.

Ellen: I will not hear such talk!

James: I have deeded the house to you. If God should bid me rest in my grave I will not leave a widow with 3 children and no home. I will not.

That’s smart. That is really really smart. I’m not saying James shouldn’t hope for the best, but I absolutely support him preparing for the worst. Because sometimes, God doesn’t prevent tragedy, and it’s best to be prepared. I believe God would absolutely want James to set up a safety net for Ellen, especially since, spoiler alert, Jesus doesn’t come in Ellen White’s lifetime.

I get that Ellen doesn’t want to hear James talk about dying, but she needs to shut up and listen. She says that God wouldn’t take him away, that he has too much work left to do.

We next see James and another man arguing over whether or not they should organize formally. James decides to call a conference to decide.

James: We shall sit here until we make a decision or until the Lord returns.

We next are shown a large group of men gathered. If Photobucket decides to let me break back into my account, I’ll post a picture. If not, know that I count only one black man. There was never any slavery in Michigan, so he must be someone I should recognize from history class but don’t.

Everyone agrees that they should have a publishing association, but according to the laws of Michigan this can’t be done until they have decided on a name.

Man: We have been called “The people of the shut door,” because we believe that the door to the holy place was closed when the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary was opened.”

No. NO NO NO NO NO NO. NO. NO. You don’t get to rewrite history like that. That is NOT why people are calling you “the shut door people.” This is.

We cut to a shot of James and Ellen on the porch of their house. Ellen has the baby on her lap (It’s John, their 4th son. IIRC he only lived a few days). James tells her what’s been going on in the meetings, which we have just seen, so there’s really no need for this scene at all.

BATTLE CREEK MICHIGAN, OCTOBER 1860

They argue a bit more about a name, when finally someone suggests “Seventh Day Adventist.” Everyone agrees, and the next scene is of them hanging a sign on their church. That building looks really familiar… I think we went there on a school field trip once.

DECEMBER 14, 1860

Baby John is very sick, and dies.  There’s a funeral scene the next morning with falling snow. Ellen sadly sets a little pair of baby shoes on a cross over a tiny grave. I may or may not have actually shed a tear in real life. Moving on.

JANUARY 12, 1861

Ellen is speaking in a church lit with candles. She talks about losing her small son, and I actually do feel sad that Ellen lost the baby like that. She talks about how she deals with the loss, before moving on to talk about the upcoming war. She’s been “shown in vision” that more states are going to join South Carolina in seceding the union, and that the North and South will form armies and many will lose loved ones in the battle.

Oh boy…. really Adventism, you’re going there? Look. I acknowledge that Ellen White predicted the civil war. What I also acknowledge is that if I recall my high school history class correctly, the Civil War was kind of inevitable, if not downright predictable. It was even predictable that it be over slavery…sort of. (I understand that the Civil War was fought over states rights. However, again drawing from high school history class, one of the main rights the states were fighting over was slavery. The causes of the Civil War were intertwined. You can not take just one and say, “the civil war was fought over this.” Well you could, but that would be way oversimplifying things.)

The main point is this: Ellen could have learned all this just by paying attention to what was going on in the world around her. I know they didn’t have Facebook or Google, but they probably had newspapers and people talk. People talk a lot. It is probably a universal truth that people everywhere will always talk politics.

So, for Ellen White to be predicting the start of the civil war, especially when it is the very year the civil war starts is not actually out of the realm of possibility.

For further reading, please see this link. And do read up on this, especially from other sources. It’s fascinating stuff.

Ellen: The law that we must return the slave to his master we must never obey.

I know that the Bible was used by people to justify freeing slaves and helping them escape. The truth is, the Bible was used by both sides, both as an argument for and against slavery. The thing is, there’s an entire book of the bible dedicated to Paul returning a slave to his master. How does Ellen White deal with that? No idea. It probably gets ignored, which is probably not a bad thing.

That’s all for this episode. Next time we will (finally) reach the conclusion of the movie, and then I can dedicate more time to Parable of the Sower, Now! and Adventist Girl.

 

 

 

 

The Thanksgiving Post 2016

Silly me, forgot some of my family is still Adventist. I forgot to bring coffee, and since I refuse to go shopping on major national holidays, I will be coffeeless this thanksgiving morning. But that is ok, because I still have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s a small list:

  1. The fact that (knock on wood) nobody has died yet
  2.  That I’m able to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I’m unable to stay with grandma, but one of my family members has still taken me in, which, thank God.
  3. Cats. I’m extremely grateful for my own dear black cat this year, but I have also been appreciating cats more in general. There’s that black one the neighbor has that I talk to when I come home from work (Tilly), there’s the 2 black kittens my new neighbor has that are outside sometimes and rub against my ankles. There’s the cats at the house I’m staying at now, who are turning out to be very social when there’s not a crowd.
  4. My sweet cat. She sleeps on my face.
  5. I’m not sure how long I’ll have it, but for now, I have health care.
  6. Ditto college tuition, even if it is all loans at this point.
  7. My secular friends, all 3 of them. Maybe 4. That number is up from 2, so yay progress.
  8. My ex SDA Facebook groups. Seriously, I lived without support for way too fucking long.
  9. Books. I love books. Gimme all the books. ALL THE BOOKS.
  10. My job. Yeah, it’s a crappy job, but at least I have one. I am also increasingly thankful for the fact that, gasp, my fast food job isn’t open on major national holidays.
  11. Ariana, thank god she drove me home!
  12. Chocolate.
  13. My drinking meds (don’t ask)
  14. Food. Food food food food FOOD
  15. drinks. There will be minor amounts of alcohol. I shall consume very minor amounts.
  16. No seriously there are some wicked good smells coming out of the kitchen right now.
  17. I think if I were to continue this post it would just be about food and how amazing the cooks in my family are.
  18. That I have at least one family member who’s anti-Tump. I have one (only one, that I know of) pro-Trump family member and I am seriously hoping the two of them will balance each other out.

It’s good to be able to take time out and reflect on things I’m grateful for. While I still have them.

Help Me

Parable of The Sower: Chapter 2

This is a story I wrote as a young teenager at a boarding academy. It is both a conversion and an end times story.

I have edited nothing. (well I guess I did at some point in my early 20s, but this is the original version that I wrote at 15ish.)

2

That Monday, I wake up with a soar throat, headache, and stuffy nose. My sister comes in before she goes off to her SDA school (mainly just to make sure I’m not just faking it like I normally do) she gives me a hug, tells me she’s praying for me, and leaves.

Shortly after my mom comes in to talk to me before she goes to work.

Sometimes, I feel awful. My mom is so nice, so loving, and I treat her like crap. I feel awful.

As soon as I hear my mom’s car in the driveway, however, I get out of bed, get dressed in baggy clothes, and head out. First stop: mom’s room. $40 is now missing from her purse. Then I leave the house.

I’m browsing the CDs at the store in the mall. I’ve just shoved one into my pocket when my boyfriend, Matt, pokes his head out and says, “Hi.” I jump a thousand feet. He laughs.

“Startle you, ‘Drona?” I nod stupidly. He calls me ‘Drona, because Ladrona is Spanish for thief. (female thief anyway) “Skipping school again?”

Rhetorical question, right?

“Wanna come to my house for a while?? My parents aren’t home.” He puts his arm around me and whispers in my ear, “we can do whatever we want!”

I hesitate, not knowing weather or not I want to do what I know he is asking me to do. Not knowing weather I’m ready for this. I mean, it is a big step…. the bible… then I look into his gorgeous eyes, and remember that he’s the only one who really understands me. The only one who won’t condemn me for what I’ve done. He slips his hand into mine and says, “don’t worry, I’ll be protected, it’ll be fun. You’ll be alright.” He kisses me on the cheek, “trust me.” He gently pulls me towards his car, and I do not resist.


At 2:59 I jump into my pajamas and dive down under the covers. My sister is just getting out of school, and ten minutes later she walks into my room. I jam on headphones, pop in a CD, grab a book and try to look like I just woke up. Jaimie walks in, giving me a piercing look. She walks up to me, hits a button on the CD player sits down next to me on my bed. I put the book down and take off my headphones.

“Where’d you go today?”

I look away. The look on her face tells me there is no room for doubt that I was not home today.

“Nowhere.” I say, turning back to look at her, hoping she can’t tell that I’m lying.

“Holly.”

No such luck.

“The mall.” I admit, looking away.

“Thats it?”

I nod. I don’t look at her.

She sighs, “Holly, I’ll still love you. I’m not gonna yell at you.”

I put the CD player and book aside, and roll over in bed. She pats my back.

“I’m praying for you.”

Don’t waste your breath you pathetic fool! I want to shout it out so bad, but I can’t because tears are falling out of my eyes and my throat is getting tight. I bury my face in the pillow. I won’t let her see me cry.

Jaimie gets up and walks out of the room. I feel so dirty, so unclean. So worthless and lost. Yet at the same time, a perverted kind of happiness, a feverish delight. But mainly, I feel like taking a gun and–


Over the next few weeks, my life grows worse. I continue stealing, skipping school, and hanging out with my boyfriend, though we haven’t been alone together since that one special afternoon!

One day, my bubble is burst. I wake up, run into the bathroom, and start puking. A horrible thought occurs to me, but I shake it off. No, its the flu. Its been going around school…. but I haven’t been at school enough to… no, I can still catch it.

My sister, of course, thinks I’m faking it, but there isn’t much she can do. I’m really sick, enough that I actually stayed here all morning and had pizza with chocolate syrup for lunch.

At noon, I feet much better, so I sneak out to the mall and steal some new pairs of jeans, rock CDs, new age books, and occult paraphernalia. And some earrings.

Every morning for the next week I continue tot throw up every morning, and mom no longer believes that I’m sick, and I can see that I’m also beginning to loose her trust, which in itself makes me feel sick, but at the moment theres nothing I can do about it.

By now I’m so worried that I have to find out. At lunchtime, I sneak out of school and run to the nearest drug store. I find what I am looking for and slip it into my coat pocket. Then I buy some cough drops just to make it look like I came in there for something so I don’t look as suspicious.

I get home at 12:10; I have 20 minutes before I have to go back to school for Spanish 4. I take my lunch into the bathroom with me and set everything up, then begin to eat lunch. After I’m finished, I take a look at the results.

“Please God……” I look at the test strip.


“NO!!!!! God, no!!!!” I throw down the test strip and kick the wall. I burst into tears. I’m pregnant.

Now! P. 1-8

Since I have the kindle version of the book, my page numbers aren’t going to correspond exactly with everybody else’s page numbers.

In any case, this is a story written by the author for Bible class. She wrote it one weekend when she was a teenager living at a Seventh Day Adventist boarding academy. In fact, in a way, it was kind of the same Academy I went to, except not.

The version I have is the unedited original. When it was edited for publication, it looks like all they did was make it shorter. This is why Merikay has published the original for us to enjoy. We begin with a news report.

UN troops are moving into Iraq. The new government which the UN set up there collapsed today after a month of uprisings and riots. The troops are being sent in to bring peace to the small country, put down any further uprisings, and establish the democratic government.”

Our story starts with the protagonist, Merikay, watching the news. I kind of skimmed through this at first, because it sounded about as boring as most news reports about the middle east do in real life.

On the rereading this, I have a serious question, and I haven’t been able to figure this out: can the UN do that? Can the UN just waltz in and set up a government? If so, could they please do that right here, right now? Or does the UN actually approve of Trump?

I do not blame Merikay for not knowing the answer to this question. At 17, I had no idea what the UN did either. (Still don’t, for the record.) In fact, a lot of end times writers, most notably Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye of the Left Behind franchise, think that the UN has something to do with end times prophecy, because it is an organization that is somehow set up to take over the world.

I have to wonder how much of this Merikay would have picked up on, not just from her teachers at the Academy, but from the books she was reading. And I know she read a lot not just because she says so in the post script, but because she can clearly write well, and that’s the sort of thing that comes from doing a lot of reading.

So moving on.

“The president, along with government leaders of England, France, and Russia signed a peace pact today at Moscow.”

This story was written in 1963-1964 ish, according to Merikay’s post script. So, what was going on in the 1960s, exactly, that England, France, and Russia would need to sign a peace pact over? I mean that as a serious question, by the way, not a criticism of the text. Damn Merikay, you’re making me do homework!

Let’s see, the cold war would have been going on… hang on, the cold war ended in 1991? I was alive during the cold war? What? I-what? Ok. you know what, I am getting just way too distracted. Let’s move on.

The news report goes on to say that it is hoped that China will soon sign the peace pact. Then the news moves on to something closer to home.

“The Supreme Court today finally approved the much debated National Sunday-Sabbath Bill. The bill declares Sunday the one and only day on which all Americans are to worship….Politicians, educators and religious leaders alike have been pushing the bill for some time, and the majority is quite pleased with its passage…. it is universally accepted that this bill will prove to be the answer to many of our national and international problems…..The president expressed his approval of the bill, and…encouraged other world leaders to pursue similar courses in their countries.”

The important thing here that I want to note is that Merikay and I, in writing out stories, were working off a checklist of end time events. We were not the only ones. Fred Clark, who does critiques of the popular Left Behind novels, has noted that Lahaye and Jenkins work mainly from a checklist of end time events. Fred notices that events B and C in the Left Behind novels do not stem from event A as a consequence of Event A, but that the events all just kind of…happen. For no well explained reason.

Why are there Sunday Laws? What problems are they going to solve? Why does everyone think Saturday Sabbath keepers are a problem? How did they go back and re-write the constitution?

These probably aren’t the sorts of things teenagers would think of, but these are the things I would expect an editor who published this story to think of. Yes, it was edited for publication, however, from the post script it sounds like all that was done to Now! was to make it shorter. And it’s pretty short as it is, so while I’m sure there are some parts you could cut, just making it shorter does not make it better. The short answer: I blame the publishing house/editors/adults.

We will not dwell upon this for long. Whatever the reason, there are Sunday Laws. I can see where the author wouldn’t want to focus too much on politics. The focus of her story is individuals, not governments. Indeed, this is really the only time we will see a news broadcast, and it’s already over. Merikay has turned off the television. Apparently she has one of those old fashioned kind that don’t have remotes, because she has to turn the dial to shut it off.

I walked over to the window and looked out. As I stared at the bright sky, I kept hearing the words Elder Brown had spoken in Bible Doctrines class only a few weeks before: “The National Sunday Law is the sign for Christians to move out of the cities.”

This paragraph is highlighted mainly because this is exactly what I could picture myself doing if Sunday Laws ever did show up in real life.*

In my mind I had figured out exactly where I would go and how I would get there.

I, too, had an end times plan. Well, sort of. For some reason it somehow involved going to Jacq’s house. Right. Because going to a house I was known to visit frequently was totally a good idea. No one would ever find me there.

But I must not have really believed it would come, for now I seemed to be in a collapsed balloon with everything pressing in around me.

About the same way I would react if Sunday Laws ever got enacted, yes.

I could see all those many, many charts Elder Brown had drawn, day after day, on the board, showing the events of the time of the end.

Seventh Day Adventists love charts. I can’t tell you exactly how many I had to memorize in my own Bible classes. I can tell you exactly how many of them I still remember, which is a big fat zero. But then, Merikay probably didn’t spend Bible class wondering if she was too stupid to understand it, or if what they were teaching just wasn’t Biblical.

Don’t get me wrong, I tried, really really tried, I just… never could see where in the Bible they were getting this from. I concluded I was just too stupid, so I went back to working on that ghost story I was secretly writing. No, you don’t get to read it.

In any case, Merikay remembers these charts more than I ever did, because she remembers that the National Sunday Law comes right before that thing we all dread–the close of probation. That moment when Jesus throws down his work and says, “He who is righteous, let him be righteous still. Let him who is unjust remain unjust…” That moment in time when you are either lost forever or saved.

Suddenly it hit me that I had only a very short time left in which to become perfect.

This requires some explanation. For the most part, Christians believe that we are not going to be perfect, and that we don’t have to. It is Christ that stands for us and is perfect for us. His blood covers our imperfections. Adventists also believe this, however, they also believe that, in the last days, there will come a time when, for a little while, we will have to be perfect on our own, without Jesus to intercede for us.

I never really understood where this doctrine came from either, but just being told about it in Bible class was enough to terrify me. You have no idea how many nightmares I had about being lost!

In this story, Merikay’s nightmares have come true. Merikay is going to have to stand before God without an intercessor. That means that she

a) Has to confess all her sins, all of them, any that she’s ever done in her entire life, so she can be forgiven.

b) Never sin again. Ever. Until Jesus comes.

There’s debate over whether or not this doctrine is biblical. Most Christians say that it is not.  As an atheist, I really don’t care, so I’m gonna move on.**

Merikay goes on to tell us that she feels as if she is moving in a dream. How could there be a national Sunday law?

And this is very realistic. If a Sunday Law ever happened, that is how I’d feel. Shoot, that’s kind of how I felt last Tuesday. (Which won’t actually be last Tuesday by the time this post goes up, so nevermind.)

Even though I had read about it and knew in my heart that it was coming, I just couldn’t believe that it was here…. now.

Believe me, ever since I was a kid, I wished it had happened…. then. Cuz then I’d be born in heaven and not have to deal with…well, anything.

So, thoughts. This book… is not the worst SDA end times novel I’ve ever read, which is different from my reaction at 17. I remember when our Bible teacher read Now! out loud to the class, I thought it was some terrible writing. Surely my own story, Parable of the Sower, was far superior.

As an adult re reading both stories… no, that’s not true, I still haven’t had the courage to go re read mine. I know it’s awful. Really awful. I still haven’t made up my mind if I’m going to go back and insert commentary into Parable of the Sower or not, but I’m leaning toward not because, well, what would I say?

So, let me start that sentence over: re reading Now! as an adult, I can see that there is indeed talent here. Yes, the story isn’t the greatest writing ever, but it does have its good points. The dialogue, once we get to it, is very realistic. The characters all speak in ways I find believable. And, at least at this point in the story, I have a protagonist I can relate to. Sunday Laws have just been enacted, and she’s still reeling from the shock of that actually happening. And that’s something that I know a lot of current and former Adventists can both relate to.

Because some of us still haven’t stopped having nightmares.

 

 

 

*I know that there are some Sunday Laws in real life. Adventists don’t like them either, and this is the reason.

** That’s not to say I won’t listen if a Christian does want to educate me. I merely do not care enough to dwell upon it right now.