Soon: Chapter 20: Jae Kicks Ass

Paul is an ass, and Jae kicks ass. 

Sure, it’s short-lived, and sure, we all know that Jae, being a woman, will be proved wrong in the long run, but I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts.

Paul is back from New York, and…well, I’ll just let Paul and Jae tell you:

“Straight wants to take me to a regional chess tournament this weekend.”

You’ve got to be kidding,” Jae said.  “You were stuck in New York till last Sunday, and now, rather than spend a weekend with your children, you want to go play?”

“It’s not a question of ‘rather.’  Tournaments, when you get to play real people in the flesh, not just on-line, don’t come along that often.  Straight thinks I’m ready.”

“Well, whatever good ol’ Straight thinks.”

“Look, I’m proud that I’ve gotten good enough to play tournaments again in such a short time.”

“Yeah, real impressive, Paul.  But let’s face it, you’ve had nothing else to do for months.  If you can waltz out of here with a clear conscience, then you and Straight just go ahead and enjoy yourselves.”

“I can tell you don’t want me to go.”

She shook her head and put her hands on her hips.  “Thank you for clarifying the obvious.  Where is this tournament, anyway?”

“Toledo.”

“Toledo!  More than two hundred miles away.”

“What difference does it make how far it is?”

Would it make a difference to you, Paul, to know your family is leaving you next week?

Oh, Jae, you were wonderful!  That bit about Paul being so good because he’s chosen to do nothing but sit on his ass for months–that was frakking beautiful.

I’m serious; I can hardly believe Jerry Jenkins wrote this.  I want to give Jae some kind of prize.  Maybe Isis-points or something.

And okay, I know: this won’t last.  Jae is destined to be Stepfordized, and even if she was not, she is Wrong to challenge Good Christian Paul, who just wants to play chess with his Good Christian Friend, Straight.

But damn, Jae was fantastic just now.  That was more than Actually Not That Bad.

But on to further tales of Paul’s asshattery!

Paul and Straight have a heart-to-heart on their roadtrip to Toledo. 

(No, of course he didn’t listen to Jae and hang out with his children.  Don’t be ridiculous.)

“Lately [Jae] doesn’t even seem to want me around.  It’s like she’s given up on me.  But I guess I can’t blame her.  I’ve been no prize either.”

Either???  You’ve been no prize either?  Wow, how big of you, Paul, to actually share a bit of the blame in the failure of your marriage.  Let’s see, you’ve been serially cheating for eight of your ten years of marriage.  You’re emotionally abusive, dismissive, condescending, cruel.  Oh, and now you’re been lying to her for months about your new-found faith.

But Jae is no prize, either.  After all, she’s…

She’s…um…

Well, and then there’s…

Wait a second.  WHAT HAS JAE ACTUALLY DONE WRONG, YOU POMPOUS, SELF-ABSORBED, FALSELY HUMBLE ASS???

“I’m worried about my family, Straight.”

Huh.  Could this be some insight from Paul?  Some acknowledgement of the harm he has caused?  Worry that his decade of emotional abuse of his wife and distance from his children is something that can’t be repaired?  That he has hurt his wife so much, and so deeply, that he may never be able to win her back?

“What does it mean for them that I’m a Christian?”

Oh.  It’s all about Paul and his feelings.  I should have known.

“You know that verse in the New Testament that says, ‘He who loves God must love his brother also.’  Well, I’ve been having trouble loving my own wife.”

Paul, you ignorant slut.

You know what, you do not have the right to complain about this.  You are the one who’s spent the last eight years getting women drunk and horizontal everywhere you go.  You are the one who did not get a divorce even though you and your wife were both unhappy.  You are the one who has found a way not to have to spend more than twenty minutes at a stretch with your wife and kids, even after becoming a Good Christian, and now you’re complaining because you are “having trouble” loving your wife?

Let me just back up the wambulance for you, Paul.

But never fear, Straight has some Wise Christian Counsel for our confused hero:

“As for Jae, things may be difficult now, but you have the same job: to honor her and serve her.  Keep it up, and you’ll be amazed at the change you’ll see in her.  It’s an investment.  You do this because it’s the right thing, not for what you get in return.  But you will get what you give.  Invest kindness, service, love, and understanding, and you’ll get it all back in spades.”

This is some of the most convoluted, disingenuous, two-faced logic I have ever heard. 

It’s an investment: you give something, and then you get back even more.

But it’s not about what you get.

But you will get stuff, never fear.

This really just reads to me as an endorsement of lying to yourself: do nice things for your wife so she’ll be nice to you right back.  But tell yourself that you’re doing it for the much loftier and less selfish reason of “it’s the right thing to do.”

And it has bonus points for treating women like machines without individual personalities or motivations: if I act in way A,  Woman will respond in way B.

It’s an investment.

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Posted on October 19, 2011, in Actually Not That Bad, Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Leaving the first comment on my own post:

    New blog theme, let me know how you like it!

    • Ooo, it still has that new-blog smell!
      Personally, I think the combination of wider font (I think) and narrower column puts too little on each line, and makes the height of each post too tall.
      As far as colours and images go, looks all good to me!

      • Umm… embarrassing confession time. It has just finally occurred to me to make sure I hadn’t manually changed the font size in this tab, since I just keep the same tab open here all the time. So, I did the Ctl+0 reset-font-size thing, and… suddenly it looks just about right. Nevermind that, then. (I would still object to suggestions to make the font larger.)

    • I like it well enough.

      Thank you for the new post and paying more attention to this awful subtext than I did.

    • It’s definitely more readable. But why on God’s green earth do these themes never let you get nice WIDE text areas?

    • The theme is good, but the text-part of the page could stand to be a bit wider.

    • I preferred the old way, more stylish. This has so much empty space on the page and the text is so small that it makes it hard to read.

  2. I love your very inspired snark of this chapter. More biting than usual. 😀

    Paul really is such a useless piece of work. Even Buck Williams would be ashamed of himself in such a situation.

  3. “It’s an investment. You do this because it’s the right thing, not for what you get in return.”
    Does not compute…..
    Of course, this is what RTCs are all about – you say the magic words, go to the right church, vote the right way, think the right way – and end up getting rewarded for it. Even when you “do the right thing”, you know that God will reward you for it. Otherwise why would you do it? RTCs blindly accept that every “right” thing they do will eventually bring them a benefit of some kind, either on Earth or in Heaven.
    So it should be no surprise that Jenkins can honestly not see the disconnect between those two sentences.

  4. It’s nice to see the dichtomy explained so brutally honest here. Yes, you SHOULD do good because it is good and not for the rewards you get… But don’t worry, you WILL get those rewards! I think this was called Sweet And Sour Grapes over at the timesink that is tvtropes.

    It puts a new light on that repeat of an old discussion on the slacktivist recently about atheist not having a definition of Good and Evil because without God they can’t have one, only a human stamp of approval or disapproval which just isn’t good enough. Several commenters rejected the idea that it makes you better if you do good things just because God punishes you if you don’t. The pro-God commenter argued that had nothing to do with it, it wasn’t about rewards or punishment, just about God creating the world with a Good and Evil ingrained in the very fabric so that there is an objective definition. But there always seems to be a blurry line between “This is as it should be in the universe” and “God wants it to be like this, and he’ll rewards us if we make it so”.

    A well deserved outburst towards Paul “Oh, my wife is being so difficult to me”-schtick BTW. Reminds me of one of my favourite pop song reviews (that is, the review is my favourite) by Todd in the Shadows:
    http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/teamt/tis/tpsr/28794-ep-14-qdeucesq
    If you decide to watch it, stay at least untill the 5 minute mark.

  5. What Jae has done wrong: Fail to support Paul in everything. (I.e. display a mind of her own, as manifest by not immediately agreeing with everything he says.)

    “It’s an investment”, but you’re not doing this for what you get back. Hmm, can I interest you in some soybean futures?

    (I read via RSS so I don’t see the theme until I go to post a comment.)

  6. Yes, the new font is more readable.

    This is an interesting passage, because it’s the echo of the advice given out on all those “Godly wife” books and blogs: submit to your husband “as unto the Lord” because it’s right because the Bible says so…but if you treat him like your small-l lord and master, he’ll repay you by doing what you want anyway.

    It’s revolting either way, but at least Jenkins is being, dare I say it, somewhat egalitarian here. Sauce for the gander and all that.

    “Lately [Jae] doesn’t even seem to want me around.”
    Er, isn’t Jae upset that he hasn’t been around? Way to twist things, that jerk.

  7. I like how it’s either “the right thing” or an investment in which he will get returns. Not because he wants to be nice to his wife and children, just that it follows the moral principles of his newfound TurboJesus.

    More on the closeted-gay-Paul pile. Not that it excuses anything.

  8. Keep it up, and you’ll be amazed at the change you’ll see in her.

    Pfff. Yeah, you keep that up, and she’ll be amazed at the change she sees in you, you self-centred pile of garbage. Hell, you spend a goddamn day treating her with “kindness, love, service, and understanding”, and she won’t know where her monster of a husband went.

    Ugh. At least he’s thinking about Jae, I guess. Hey, Ruby, out of interest: has he ever said a single word about his kids? Ever?

    • Right on. This line stuck out at me as well for its laughable claim that Jae’s the one who needs to change her attitude. Ugh.

      In a better book by a better author, I’d think that Straight was being a little clever here. Knowing that Paul is taking his first baby steps in his journey to becoming a better person,,Straight knows that he’s not prepared to be told that he’s being an asshat. Instead he guides Paul using only advice he’s capable of hearing — “just act nicer, she’ll change her ways” — and only later in Paul’s spiritual journey will he look back and understand what Straight was doing, that it was he who needed to change all along.

  9. “Investment”…I wonder if Jenkins is thinking in terms of the parable of the talents here. (i.e. Invest what you received from your lord/archon/etc., Or Else. I think one of Clark’s links regarding the parable of the wedding feast mentioned an alternative reading that regards Jesus identifying with the third servant most of all.)

  10. I like to think that when Meta-Jae is out of the scene she’s on a coffee break with Meta-Hattie and Meta-Chole where they trade tips on pushing back against the author.

  11. inquisitiveraven

    Heh, I can picture it, in order to treat her with “kindness, love, service, and understanding,” he’d have to see her as a person. Narcissistic jerk that he is, I don’t think he can manage it. Also, if he did, I bet her reaction would be “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?”

    • Are you sure that wouldn’t be immediately followed up with “Never mind. I don’t care if you’re actually an alien shapeshifter here to conquer the earth, you’re a far better man than he ever was.”

      • inquisitiveraven

        Yeah, she probably would, come to that.

        One thing I can’t figure out though, is why “service” is on the list of things he should treat her with. What does it even mean to “treat someone with service”? Is this more Christianese?

  12. inquisitiveraven

    Also, on the new theme: The sidebar needs higher contrast, and I think the main section might too. Also, seconding the desire for a larger font.

  13. You’ve got to be kidding,” Jae said. “You were stuck in New York till last Sunday, and now, rather than spend a weekend with your children, you want to go play?”

    Lately [Jae] doesn’t even seem to want me around.

    My head kinda went asplody over these two items. Paul is SUCH a narcissistic git. And opportunities to play chess face to face are rare? I could forgive Paul this incredibly weak-ass excuse for leaving his family if he were really going to the super-sekrit salt compound, but apparently he is actually going to a chess tournament.

  14. P.S. I like the new look, but you might want to lighten your blog title since the blue background is so dark, at least one my computer.

  15. You know, given the chess motif, the fact that Chess is playing in town here, and some of what you’ve written here, I think we have Jae’s theme song for this scene:

    Everybody’s playing the game
    But nobody’s rules are the same
    Nobody’s on nobody’s side
    Better learn to go it alone
    Recognize you’re out on your own
    Nobody’s on nobody’s side…

  16. This deconstruction is really a work of art in its own right.

    I think what fills me with more hatred than anything else is the stuff that Jenkins only mentions in passing and seems never to think about, but you stop and examine more deeply.

    Isn’t it horrible that guy got burned alive in a barrel by the evil Atheists? Wait, don’t these (fake, evil, psycho) Christians want that to happen to all Atheists for eternity?

    Jae and Paul’s marriage is really frakked up. I mean, Paul is a skeevy rape-culture-everyday blatantly adulterous abusive sociopath, and Jae is guilty too because… she’s a woman.

    By the Lords of Kobol, she was even going along with the good, godly wife bullshit even as an ignorant evil devil-Atheist! I guess that’s just a reflection of how women literally can not win in the patriarchy, because the goals and standards shift out from under them.

    Jenkins is such a creepy guy to read because you really get the sense that the person to sympathize with in that marriage was always Paul. Even though he’s wrong and evil. It’s not just Paul’s perspective, and it’s not just him being the main character affecting the narration… the world agrees with this interpretation, too, and so does Jae. That’s horrifying.

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