We left off last week with Merikay’s dad dropping her and her brother Pat off at the cabin by the lake. He’s nicer to them than usual, even while telling them, “once I leave, I’m not coming back.” This struck me as a little off. I feel like most parents in this situation would say something like, “When you’re ready to give up this foolishness and come home, your mom and I will be there. Be safe.”
But I think Teenage!Merikay and I had one thing in common: we saw the world in black and white. To us, parents were either loving Adventists or mean assholes. We couldn’t reconcile an otherwise loving parent with a parent who also maybe didn’t approve of our religious choices. I struggled a lot with this as a teen, and to some extent I think it’s rather normal, especially for people who grow up Adventist.
In any case, Book!Merikay tells us that she hopes her father becomes converted, but he drives away.
The next few days passed quickly and were filled with fun. Pat and I swam every day for long hours. The water and sun seemed to refresh us more than anything ever had.
This apocalypse is beginning to sound a little cozy… in all seriousness though, it’s realistic. It’s realistic because something like a Sunday law is going to take time to enforce.
I mean, can you imagine the logistics of it all? You’d have to form an entire committee just to figure out the sheer enormity of the task of taking attendance at the churches. Will it be split up into districts, like schools? Do we declare every person has to go to the nearest church in their neighborhood, or do we allow church of choice? Once we map out the districts, we need to place at least one person per church (but possibly more in larger churches) who is in charge of taking attendance.
Then we need to take a census to figure out who all lives in the districts and what church they should be going to. Do we make children go to the same church as their parents, or do we give them a choice too? If so, at what age does the child get this choice? At what age do we start punishing the child instead of the parent for not attending church?
If they’re going to be lenient and allow church of choice, they could make sure that everyone in a neighborhood registers themselves in a church they will pledge to attend.
Then you have to figure out what to do with home churches. Are they allowed? Because I mean, if anyone can make a home church, then they could be doing some very not churchey stuff. I could totally see a group of men getting together going, “fuck this, let’s start our own “church” where we watch football on Sunday mornings. Go Blue!”
To enforce Sunday Laws, you would also need to assign people to guard the back door of the church to prevent people from leaving as soon as they’ve signed the attendance sheet. In fact, larger churches with multiple entrances would need multiple guards. In other churches, you’d need guards for windows also, along with guards who’s job it is to patrol the hallways and bathrooms making sure that people aren’t hiding out in the bathroom reading a Star Wars book.
Speaking of people who like to read books in church, what about the people who obey the letter of the Sunday Law and go to church, but just sit in the sanctuary reading Harry Potter while the pastor drones on and on about shit they don’t care about? Do you assign people to go around with a pole and smack them, like the Puritans?
If people are too sick to attend church, you’d need a way to factor that in, too. How many sick days is a person allowed? To whom should a person report if they are too sick to go to church? Should sick people be forced to go to church anyway, and sit in a quarantine room? What about chronically disabled people who have issues with leaving the house? Do they get special permits to not attend church, or do you send official church vans out after them? Or worse, do you just shoot them once the death decree goes out?
I could even maybe see Sunday Worship Laws being enforceable within small counties. After all, the Puritans did it. But something like that on a nation wide level, no, a world wide level like Adventists think will happen? It would be a logistical nightmare. Especially in rural areas in other countries where there might not be any actual churches. You’d have to go build some, or else find a way to guard open gatherings.
I don’t write this to say that Sunday Worship Laws are impossible to enforce. I mean, similar laws are in place to make sure all children go to school, although you do get quite a few students who fall through the cracks, (especially since the homeschooling laws in some states are ridiculously lax).
They’re not impossible, they’re just very very difficult and it would take some wrangling. And I kind of wish more end times SDA writers would think about this.
In writing my end times story, I can’t remember if I wrote about any of this stuff or not. I did think about it quite a bit, but I can’t quite remember if I actually found a way to work it into the story. See, I wanted Parable Of The Sower to tell a story, not get bogged down by logistics.
But the logistics of such stories are kind of important, so I wish teenaged me would have written more about it
So I can absolutely see where you’d have long periods of idleness while running from the Sunday laws. I hope Merikay and Pat brought lots of books. They’re going to need them.
Book! Merikay talks about how they’re always hungry because they hate to cook. Welcome, young teenagers, to adulthood.
The evenings were spent in Bible study and prayer. I was really surprised at the way Pat picked up the Bible truths.
Question: How old is Pat? Has he spent his whole life in the SDA school system? You know what, nevermind. I spent my whole life in the SDA school system, got baptized, and still managed not to know about mandatory Sunday Laws. So let’s move on.
Pat no longer seemed like a little brother to me, but rather, a partner, equal in everything.
I wish we got to see more of Pat’s character. We are told that he and Merikay are growing closer, but we’re not really shown it. So far the only clues to Pat’s character are the things he brought with him (I really like that Real!Merikay included the packing lists. I think that gives us subtle clues as to their characters.) Pat likes models, but he also brings a lot of practical stuff like a flashlight, a compass, etc. From this I can gather that Book!Pat is a very practical person. We’re also told that Pat picks up Bible truths quickly, which tells me that he is intelligent and cares about spiritual things.
Pat plays a pretty big part in this story, and I feel like we don’t know very much about him. I feel like I know more about Beth just from that one paragraph earlier than I do about Pat. And we never see Beth again.
If Teenage!Merikay had given me this story to critique, I would make a note that she should maybe develop Pat’s character a bit more. Just give us glimpses, like she did with Beth.
Book!Merikay then tells us she and Pat spend all Sabbath praying and studying. They’re searching their entire lives, trying to remember each and every sin and ask forgiveness for it. This is very realistic. If I thought the world was ending, I’d be on my knees praying for forgiveness every single day, trying in vain to remember sins so I could have them forgiven. I’d be kept awake all night with nightmares, constantly springing out of bed to get down on my knees and pray for forgiveness for some trifle I’d remembered during the night.
On Sunday we decided to visit our neighbors and attempt to give them bible studies….we met a very interested family, the Coopers, who had at some time previously been exposed to the Adventist faith.
Here, again, is where I would make a note were I given this to critique. How exactly have the Coopers heard of Adventism? Was their experience positive or negative?
Show us some conversations with them. Develop this part a little more, show us some scenes where you all get to know each other. Write the Coopers as individual characters and show them. Actually, hang on, how many people are “The Coopers?” Are they just 2 people, or do they have children? Do they have other relatives living with them?
The Coopers are kind of huge characters in this story, so it’s really too bad we don’t get to see much of them.
The next few weeks were spent almost completely with them. We showed them prophecy which had been fulfilled and was being fulfilled at that very moment.
Like what exactly? All we’ve been shown about prophetic events are:
- Peace in the middle east
- Sunday Laws
If this is all they’re talking about, that’s one thing, but if there’s more going on that’s being glossed over, that could be expanded and re-written.
We are told that the Coopers were unable to become baptized with water, but that they became Adventists anyway by “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” I’m gonna have to look that up, because I have no idea what she’s talking about. I’ve yet to hear an Adventist utter those words. I usually hear it in context of speaking in tongues in Pentecostal churches.
There must be a phone at the cabin in the woods, because Book!Merikay tells us she called her mom that week. Book!Merikay’s mom asks if they are ready for dad to go and get them, and Merikay begs her mom to come join them.
We’re told about this conversation, btw, not shown. I would advise Teenage!Merikay to maybe show us more of this conversation, especially since writing realistic dialogue seems to be one of her strengths.
In any case, I can hardly blame Book!Merikay’s parents for not wanting to move right away. I mean, there’s quite a bit of time, it seems like, between the announcement of this Sunday Law and the enforcement thereof. And what teenagers might not think about is the fact that, in the meantime, you still have to be able to pay for things like food, property taxes, and other essential bills that, despite the apocalypse, still need to be payed. If I’m going to leave my job, I would need to do it as close to the time of the end as possible, because I can’t just sit around jobless for months at a time while God gets his ass in gear. Especially since we’re not supposed to be storing food, because then it will just be stolen.
I also phoned the Jenkins, still hoping that something had changed….Elder Jenkins warned me to beware of becoming fanatical, which implied a lot more than was actually said.
Well, let’s see, you and your brother run away to be alone in a cabin in the woods because you believe certain things are a sign that the world is ending. What could possibly be fanatical about that?
There is room for legitimate criticism of Book!Merikay and Pat’s actions. However, I don’t think Teenage!Me would have thought of it like that at all. Teenage!Me thought in black and white, and Adult!Me still struggles with that. I’m not sure Teeange!Merikay thought in black and white like that also, but her writing definitely comes across that way, whether or not that was her intention.
Why did it have to happen! Why couldn’t it wait till I’d died or something, so I wouldn’t have to be so hurt by family and friends who rejected the call? Why must it happen… now?
I said I’d be nice, so I shall refrain from taking a drink every time the title of the book is dropped. Set that aside, that’s not why I want to call attention to this paragraph.
I want to call attention to this paragraph because, first off, it is how a lot of Adventist teenagers secretly think. I’ve not heard an Adventist actually wish they were dead, but I have heard them say that maybe someone else died because they weren’t strong enough to withstand the time of trouble.
When my really religious uncle died just shy of his 105th birthday, one of my friends said, “I think God is allowing all the older people to die off so they don’t have to go through the upcoming time of trouble.”
Because centenarians don’t just die, I guess. There has to be a reason they don’t live to see 110.
I have also heard Adventist teenagers say that they wish Jesus would come, but not so soon. They want a chance to maybe grow up, finish college, get married, and have kids. And then Jesus can come.
I mean, you get your exceptions. You will find SDA teenagers who want Jesus to come before they have a chance to grow up. But a lot of them, even if they don’t feel they can ever say so out loud, secretly do not want Jesus to come now.
I drew attention to this paragraph for yet another reason. The protagonist is thinking she wishes she were dead so she wouldn’t have to be hurt by the actions of others. She is not thinking that perhaps she is hurting them. Notice here that she doesn’t say, “I wish I were dead, so that I wouldn’t be hurting so many other people just by doing what I believe God wants.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very sad that a teenager would wish she were dead, but I think it’s very interesting that she wishes she were dead so she wouldn’t be hurt. I mean, even if she died before the second coming, she’s still gonna wake up and be hurt that people she loved are gone forever. She’d be hurt either way.
I don’t know, your mileage may vary on that. I don’t want to say that you should never do anything if it hurts someone else. Merikay has a right to her beliefs, whether or not they hurt her parents or not. I just kinda feel like the way it’s written comes across as whiny and selfish, even if that maybe was not the writer’s intent at all. (And I am willing to admit that it probably wasn’t. Again, YMMV).
We’ll stop here for now. I probably won’t be posting much until my final exams are over.