Soon: Chapter 1: Paul and Jae and Height

So, Paul is a serial-cheating jerk (who may or may not also be a date-rapist!), and Jae is a shrewish harpy.

Can this marriage be saved?  Must it be Saved to be saved?

Hell, why did Jae marry this ass in the first place?

Well, Jenkins tells us.  Sorta.

First, he grinds the action (such as it is) to a halt with some details of Stepola/Decenti relations.  Now, written by a good writer, exposition can be a perfectly good and useful tool, letting us in on characters’ backgrounds and helping us to understand and identify with them.

So, here it is: This is the first…sigh…Wintermas that the Stepolas have ever spent with the Desentis, because Paul’s mother died of brain cancer that fall, and she was alone while the Desentis were not.  (Paul’s father was killed in WWIII.)  The grandchildren are “formally acknowledged” by their grandparents.  Ranold B. Decenti takes every opportunity he can to disparage Paul’s job.  Paul can’t even decide (after knowing him for more than 10 years) how he should address Ranold.  And, as already discussed, he can’t stand to be in the same room as his wife.  So, basically, everyone hates and/or resents everyone else.

Well, ’tis the season!  😀

Then, after hearing these uttery banal details of their sinful atheistic lives, we are told of Paul and Jae’s courtship: they met in graduate school.  Paul was studying religion (on his atheist mother’s recommendation), and Jae, economics.

[Jae] was tall and lithe, a celebration for the eyes.  He–she said–would easily pass muster with her father, an ex-army general and one of the founding fathers of the NPO.  They married in 26 P.3., right after grad school.

Well, hey, when based on nothing more than prettiness and parental approval, how could a marriage not thrive for forevermore?

I’m just astonished that Jenkins mentioned that Jae is tall.  That’s a helluva lot more description than we usually get of his female characters.  In fact, both he and Tim LaHaye tend to confine their description to their male heroes, and then, solely to height.  Rayford Steele is six-four, Michael Murphy is six-three, just like Paul.  I wonder if Jenkins promised LaHaye that he would never make another hero as tall as Ray-Gun.

Like “drop-dead gorgeous” Hattie Durham, we have no more specific idea of Jae’s looks than that she is “a celebration for the eyes.”  Whose eyes?  Well, Jenkins’, I suppose.  And Paul’s, at least until the first half-drunk co-worker turned his head.  Again, shades of Babylon Rising–even after she’s dead, we have no idea what Laura Murphy looked like, except that her husband thought her beautiful.  Do LaHaye and Jenkins just not care about appearance, as long as the men are tall and the women are gorgeous?  Do they think the utter lack of description makes us identify with the heroes more?

Pity the short RTC man or the non-gorgeous RTC woman who reads these and just can’t identify with the characters, because how can you identify with a character unless they are just a placeholder for your own reflection?

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Posted on December 15, 2010, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. *STARES* (O.O)

    Characterization and description, Jenkins is doin it rong.

  2. An extra-aggressively atheist society allows classes in religion? Knowing how Jenkins sees atheism, you’d think his Atheism Distillate ™ wouldn’t even suffer Classical Mythology classes!

  3. Paul was studying religion (on his atheist mother’s recommendation)

    … Wait, what?

    Unless it’s a course of work specifically designed to show religion in a bad light — i.e. How Religion Ruined The World 101, followed by How To Kill God 381 and Breaking Opiate For The Masses Addiction 421 — then… I don’t… why is…

    *sigh*

    • Paul’s study of religion, and how it makes no sense in light of what other citizens of the world know about religion, is enough for a post of its own!

    • Maybe in a historical context? In this atheist utopia we study even evil things in their proper historical perspective.

      • True, yes. When I read ‘study religion’ I thought it was less about Criminal Studies and more about, you know, theology/seminary. My bad, I shouldn’t have expected such complexity from Jenkins. =D

    • Hi! Just thought I’d mosey on over from The Slacktivist’s and apocalypse review’s sites and see what the fuss is all about…

      On the “Why-would-an-atheistic-state-permit-religion-classes???” front; my guess would be that it’s similar to a Criminal Behavior Studies curriculum — y’know, why people used to embrace a particular religion, etc. Kind of a “What motivates ’em to do what they do?”/Know The Enemy-type thing. Does Paul Apostate’s job somehow involve suppression of religion?

      • So the guy is basically supposed to be a Paul-who-was-Saul? Hmm, interesting. Or at least it could be interesting if the guy wasn’t being written by Jerry Jenkins. -_-

  4. Adding to the people saying “Wait, this is a world where being Christian is outright illegal, and they have classes on religion?” What?

    All I can think of is that this is being provided as a reason to either like or hate Paul more.
    Like: He’s more Christian than almost anyone else currently around! He knows Bible stuff! He’s kinda like RTCs already!

    Dislike: He was exposed to the truth but isn’t a Christian!!!11 He must be a selfish jerk.

    So I could see it being thrown in for either purpose.

    Or, I suppose, this is meant to explain why Paul will inevitably start spouting scripture later, or why he ends up subscribing to Jenkins’ particular branch of it, or whatever.

    But ignoring the reason: You can’t just throw that out there! You need a justification. No matter what, though, this dystopia is looking more and more utopic (in both senses of the word) all the time.

  5. “He’d pass muster with her father”… to me begs to be completed with “while she continued to date girls while out from under the parental eye”…

  6. Ah, family holidays: “The grandchildren are ‘formally acknowledged’ by their grandparents. Ranold B. Desenti takes every opportunity he can to disparage Paul’s job. Paul can’t even decide (after knowing him for more than 10 years) how he should address Ranold. And, as already discussed, he can’t stand to be in the same room as his wife. So, basically, everyone hates and/or resents everyone else.”

    Wow. This may be the most realistic depiction of human interaction that Jenkins has ever produced.

  7. Hmmm…Desenti can anagram into “Needs It”, although what that “it” is referring to is going to be anyone’s guess.

  8. Hey! Just found this place via Slacktivist.
    I was wondering, you said earlier that the world blamed religion for the start of WW III, is this true (as in, did religion actually cause the war)? If so, it might go some way to explain the over-the-top napalm barrel punishment for religion (people who’ve suffered and don’t just want justice, they want revenge). Otherwise it’s more of an Idi Amin kind of thing than a Stalin thing: Cruelty because we’re nuts rather than cruelty in support of a vicious policy.

  9. Decenti is an anagram for “enticed”. So she’s enticed by his manly prowess.

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