Soon: Chapter 2: The First
This is the first of a couple of different things…
The funeral for The Dork Too Stupid is over. Paul wanders around Arlington Regional Cemetery (um, didn’t you have a plane to catch, Paul?).
Yes, yes he does. But first, Jenkins needs to make a few points.
Paul moved into a section where all the headstones were cross-shaped.
Now, it’s been a few years since I visited Arlington, but I know for a fact that there are other religious symbols besides the cross. A quick Googling will turn up Stars of David and many others. In fact, atheists can have an atom with an “A” at the center on their headstones.
This will become quite the pattern with Jenkins as he paints his “atheistic” world–whenever something tragic happens, the victims are Christians. But when religion has done something bad, it is never American Christians who are the perpetrators.
A plaque read: Religious symbols were common before World War III, when it was the custom for every enlisting soldier to declare his denominational preference.
Paul spat in disgust.
As he walked on amid the tombstones, his outrage mounted. Life had been torn from all these young men and women–so many barely out of their teens–and for what?
Wow. So far, so…Actually Not That Bad. I have a feeling that Paul spitting and being outraged is supposed to be a sign of his awful not-yet-savedness, but (and I can’t even believe I am typing this)…it rings true. His feeling–of the futility of religion, his anger that people lost their lives for religion–it makes sense. And so, it is a first. The first time in this book that Jenkins comes anywhere close to imagining what an atheist in an atheist world might think about religion. It’s not what all, or most atheists think now (and I really hope Jenkins is not trying to say that atheists are in the habit of spitting at Arlington, or any cemetery). But it actually seems like he’s trying a bit here.
And I’m also a bit impressed that Jenkins mentions female soldiers. I realize this is giving him credit for simply doing something right, but it is unexpected, so…point.
Because fanatical Muslims waged holy war on the West? Because religious groups in Bosnia jockeyed for primacy? On and on it went, back to the dawn of history, people persecuting each other over abstract ideas. That their tombstones symbolized the ideas they died for seemed the cruelest of ironies.
Yep, here we go. When people are persecuted and killed for their faith, they are American Christians. When they persecute and kill, they are Others, other faiths and/or other nationalities. Hell, at least LaHaye and Dinallo had the guts to bring up (even though they immediately dismissed) American abortion clinic bombers and murderers.
I hope it gave them some comfort. And yet here they lie.
That is another first. The very first time in the book, by my count, that Paul has spared a thought for anyone other than himself. (Of course, he is grieving the death of The Dork, but he certainly hasn’t given a thought to anyone else who is grieving. Not even The Dork’s hot daughter.)
Two firsts. They’re not great, but they are also Actually Not That Bad.
I did not think I would be able to write those words for this book.