Soon: Chapter 35: Jae Apologizes More

This is a short one, because we haven’t had quite enough yet of Jae taking the blame for the destruction of her marriage.

It’s three in the morning when Paul and Jae get back to Tiny’s:

Once inside, Jae said, “Paul, I’m so sorry for my part in all this.  I hope you can forgive me.”

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR, JAE???  JUST WHAT?  WHAT SHOULD YOUR SELF-ABSORBED, SERIALLY-CHEATING HUSBAND FORGIVE YOU FOR???

Gah!

Oh, how I wish that this was Jae buttering up Paul so that she could entrap him.

Sadly (spoiler alert!), this is not the case.

“I was wrong too.  I haven’t been a model husband for years.” [said Paul]

Okay, okay, this is good…so far as it goes.  Notice, however, that Paul does not ask Jae for her forgiveness.

And he never will.

Not that it seems to matter to Jae—her Stockholm Syndrome is too powerful:

“I wasn’t a model wife, either.  I was obsessed with your fidelity—or lack of it.”

Yeah, he’s been cheating on you with dozens of women for eight years.  Can’t imagine why you would be worried about that.

“I didn’t consider the effect of my blindness or my anger on you and the kids.”

Notice how Paul neatly avoids the issue of his serial infidelity.  Cool how he acts as though all the problems in the marriage arose because he couldn’t handle a traumatic injury with quite enough sensitivity.  And who among us could handle sudden blindness perfectly, right?  No one!

So he’s blameless!

Then Paul comes as close as he will in this book to revealing his faith to Jae:

“There’s a huge change I want—need—to explain to you.  But I’m not sure I can find the words right now with all that’s going on.  It’s a battle zone here.”

This is a pretty funny way of putting it, because from the NPO perspective, things are going damn swimmingly right now.  This should really make Jae curious…but it doesn’t:

“As long as it’s not a change in your love for me, Paul, I can wait.”

Oh, don’t worry, Jae.  Paul didn’t love you before, and he still doesn’t love you now.

“Trust me, it’s a change that makes me value you more than ever.  I promise you that.”

See?  He values Jae.  Jae is the mother of his children.  She is his wife.  She is his investment, as Straight so sensitively pointed out back in Chapter 20:

“…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.”

Ah, Straight’s words have truly come to pass.  After all, he has invested…

Wait.

He hasn’t invested ANYTHING.

He gallivanted off on his merry way, and Jae came crawling back to him, apologizing and begging forgiveness.

I just don’t even.

Nice to be a RTC man, I guess.  Half the work and twice the reward.

Oh, also…

Even after all this, Paul is still suspicious of his damn nagging wife.

STILL.

I know I end many segments like this, but it just keeps being relevant:

He is an asshat.

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Posted on March 4, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. “Notice how Paul neatly avoids the issue of his serial infidelity. Cool how he acts as though all the problems in the marriage arose because he couldn’t handle a traumatic injury with quite enough sensitivity. And who among us could handle sudden blindness perfectly, right? No one!”

    You make an interesting point here. As we all know, saying the magic words wipes out all your past sins as well as any need to make amends or feel guilt about them. Here Jae, intended as somewhat sympathetic, holds to the exact same idea even though she doesn’t know that he’s converted. She doesn’t blame him for what he did before he was saved because once you’re saved you’re good to go. No repentance to your fellow woman needed.

  2. More and more, I think all of us Snarkers of Ellanjay’s works should get together and create an Ellanjay Female Character Liberation Front. Think of it as kind of a meta-fiction made up of characters, whom having suffered at the hands of their kind of theology, they form an organization with the ability to go inside bad RTC fiction and rescue the characters who suffer the most in these books and bring them into the real world where they’ll be respected. From there, they try to help these poor abused characters recover from their abuse and learn to function in modern society.

    Crazy? Sure, but admit it: someone needs to rescue Jae and Hattie and Chloe just to name a few.

  3. I’m truly appalled by this chapter. Jenkins has basically stroked the egoes of all the male philanderers out there who think that a half-assed apology and a Spell of Prayer constitute complete redemption for all the hurts they’ve inflicted on the women in their lives.

    This book can be interpreted in no other way except as a bigass how-to manual in making RTC men believe the sun shines out of their every orifice and if their wife or girlfriend contradicts them, the woman is 100% totally just jelly and wrong.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Well,over at Slacktivist(?) someone said the REAL secret of Jenkins’ success was in masturbating his target audience with “You ARE Right, Dear Reader”. over and over and over..

  4. Paul’s made an investment, all right – he’s given up the opportunity to sleep with Angela.

    (Unexamined premise: this is presumably an Atheistopian-rules marriage. Did Paul and Jae in fact promise to be faithful to each other?)

    The only way this scene could now end well would be if this Jae turned out to be a robot packed with explosives.

    • I’d settle for her being a regular person armed with something like a small gun or a kitchen knife. Paul isn’t very capable in the first place, as we’ve seen, and he certainly wouldn’t be expecting an attack from any mere woman, especially his personal property. Do you expect your Xbox to try and stab you?

      Or, if that’s too dark/violent/etc or just not in her character, then she could, as many have suggested, sell him out to the Athiestapo too. I’d accept any of these options, certainly.

      • Or even just reworking the chapter:

        “I had to see you one last time, Paul, before I serve the divorce settlement on you.”

        “Wha–?”

        Jae sighed. “Honey, you no-showed the proceedings. The judge rendered default judgement against me. Here’s the order splitting everything fifty-fifty, except I get to keep the children. Good-bye, Paul.”

        “But why?” whined Paul.

        “You’ve hurt me too much, Paul. And then to crown it all off, self-righteously puffing yourself up that on the one occasion when I dared challenge you about philandering, you used the fact that you were right to lord it over me. That’s not what a decent man would do, Paul.”

        And then Jae leaves. Boom. Done.

        • arg! that’s supposed to be “default judgement against you” 😦

          Ruby, can you edit? 😦

        • Oh, to have Jae do that.

          Jenkins on the other hand appears to prefer his women Stepfordized.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          I remember hearing sermons speculating that the original Apostle Paul may have been divorced. Something about how his position in the Sanhedrin required him to be married, but after his conversion on the Damascus Road his wife divorced him for going Christian. Pure speculation, but these sermons DID come from the same wing of Christianity as Jenkins and his target audience…

          • The Jewish historian Hyam Maccoby wrote a book on Paul, claiming (with what looked to me like fair evidence) that Paul’s claim to be a rabbi was false and that he may actually have been a Gentile from outside Palestine. Maccoby’s theory was that Paul was something of a religious dilettante who had converted to Judaism, tried and failed to get through rabbi training, had then dropped all Jewishness to join/rejoin the pagan Romans; he then had a spiritual/mental crisis and converted to the new-born Jesus cult, finally finding a pond small enough for him.
            The book was a refreshingly different view of early Christian history and reported all sorts of contemporary Jewish tittle-tattle about both Paul and Jesus – for example, that Jesus had been fathered by a Roman soldier and that Paul had only become Jewish in the hope of being allowed to marry a rabbi’s daughter that he was madly in love with. Nut nothing about a wife, though.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            I’m repeating what I heard on Christianese radio in the Seventies/Eighties, Grimble. That was one of the going speculations among RTCs of the time. And if Jenkins is still committed to parallelling St Paul with Paul Apostle-spelled-sideways, it would fit to have Jae divorce Paul for renouncing Atheism. However, Jenkins has shown in the past he has no storytelling sense, so it’s probably some random throwaway, at best in the back of his mind from his upbringing.

  5. At the start of the story I was so swept up in how wonderful Atheistopia was, I actually thought Soon was kind of pleasant. Much nicer than the archetypal Left Behind, certainly. This frakked up marriage with piece-of-shit Paul and victim Jae though? It’s honestly sickening. It’s so determinedly wrong.

    Left Behind and now Soon… is there a real theme or pattern in Jenkins’ ‘body’ of ‘work’ about infidelity? This book is horrible in the way that it seems to justify and compliment Paul for being a cheating bastard while beating down on Jae for the terrible sin of seeing Paul clearly for the motherfrakker he is and always has been.

    You think I’m kidding about that last part? Fundamentalism and Conservatism are based around warped and outright evil systems of morality and culture, so of course if you’re part of that, seeing and voicing the truth about it is a real crime. These are the sort of folks who, at best, consider accusing somebody of being a bigot as being on the same moral level, if not worse, than actually being a bigot.

    By the Gods, Hattie never got this sort of treatment. She was also emotionally abused and strung along for a long time by an unfaithful frakker of a man, but she didn’t have to come crawling back on her knees over broken glass and choke down metric tons of Godly Wife bull. (I don’t count the being murdered by the Big G and condemned to burn because, well, lots of people are saddled with that cross to bear in Jenkins ‘literature’.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      This book is horrible in the way that it seems to justify and compliment Paul for being a cheating bastard while beating down on Jae for the terrible sin of seeing Paul clearly for the motherfrakker he is and always has been.

      Paul is a MAN.
      Jae is a WOMAN.
      And that is that.

      (And if anyone objects, Mark Driscoll will Beat You Up.)

  6. (I don’t count [Hattie] being murdered by the Big G and condemned to burn because, well, lots of people are saddled with that cross to bear in Jenkins ‘literature’.)

    Also she was killed by Leon Fortunado and went to Heaven. Just saying…

    • –Although, of course, God got her killed by telling her to denounce the Antichrist in public, to no apparent actual gain.

      • I’ve said so on the slacktivist forum too: I personally would call the punishment its own reward in the LB universe. I’d see my options after being ‘saved’ as follows: A) Live for the full seven years while God and the Anti Christ see who can make my life the most difficult, then live in eternal paradise. B) Loudly denounce the Anti Christ from minute one with a list of the next ten miracles to happen in order to give the unsaved masses some proof and probably get me targeted for swift assasination, sit out the Tribulation in the comfort of heaven, then live in that same eternal paradise. In short, I don’t see why any of the tribbies are worried about surviving in LB, given that they know that dying is actually the better option. Suicide may not be allowed, but with a murderous dictator on the loose who will kill me if I do what God supposedly wants me to do, i.e. try to convert people, that should not be a problem for long.

        Of course, once you start thinking like this, it’s not much of a step to reason like that in real life too. If, like a good RTC, I’d be sure that I was heading for paradise after death, then why shouldn’t I try to help that process along now? Sure, it’s not the Tribulation yet, but heaven will still be better than living on earth. Especially if I get the mandatory martyr-complex and start seeing every parking ticket I get as proof of Christian persecution in the world today.

        Luckily, I don’t believe there’s a paradise waiting for me in the next life, so I’m not tempted. But I wonder why so few of the RTCs seem to take up Sky Diving or try holding their stock evangalizing speeches in rural Pakistan. Are they not as sure as they think they are about heading for paradise? Do they not feel their life sucks as much as they say they do on the Rapture Ready forums? Or do they just suspect God has a way of dealing with people trying to game the system?

        • Suicide may not be allowed, but with a murderous dictator on the loose who will kill me if I do what God supposedly wants me to do, i.e. try to convert people, that should not be a problem for long.

          If Nicolae truly understands who and what he is, and what role he is to play, he really shouldn’t be killing off good people. He should be warehousing prisoners in a secure bunker somewhere, toying with them occasionally for kicks and grins, waiting until the Mark of the Beast makes its roll-out. Then he should strap each of them down in turn, forcibly placing the Mark on them, while making the not-yet-Marked watch and dread their turn…

          Maybe a Mark placed on a believer doesn’t really work as intended – but then again, maybe it does. And it would certainly inflict some mental worries and dread. And with the right torture along the way, maybe you could get some of these folks to doubt the Big Guy, and the Mark should probably work on them, right?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            All these would be good takeoff points for a story, or valid speculations. (And as SciFi Catholic says, since we don’t really know how the world will end, our speculations about it should at least be Cool.)

            However, this is all completely out of the box for Conventional Christian Apocalyptic fiction, which is as run-on-rails formula-driven as you can get.

            And Christian Apocalyptic extends its tentacles into most every attempt at Christian SF — even Frank Creed’s Flashpoint Christian Cyberpunk novels had to include an implied End Times tie-in. For Christian media has signed the Future over to the Antichrist and waits to be beamed up. Don’t be Left Behind!

  7. That raises a question that I don’t think I’ve seen asked before. It’s established that people who get Raptured get first-class tickets to heaven, while those who convert afterwards get second-class. What about those who are RTCs, but die before the Rapture? If their tickets are first-class, then there’s a definite incentive not to hang around…

    (Of course the real reason for this is natural selection – a group that allows/encourages its members to commit suicide is a group that doesn’t have many members left!)

  8. Wait, am I to understand that Paul keeps voicing suspicions about Jae… and that there won’t be a payoff where Jae admits she was trying to trick him? Are you serious here Jenkins? Don’t get me wrong, it’d be detestible if Paul was right in his suspicions too, seeing as how he has absolutely no right to be anything but extremely gratefull that Jae is willing to take him back at all, much less comes to him for it (okay, he wasn’t happy with Jae, but he felt he had to by order of God, so he should be very pleased that getting back is possible without a shred of effort on his part thus far.**)

    But I might, just a little bit, be willing to assume that there’s also intonation and body language on Jae’s part that would tip him off if she tries to cheat him. We can’t see that through the book, but it might be there since Jae doesn’t have as much practice in lying and deceiving as Paul does. It’d mark the first time Paul ever pays attention to his wife’s emotions or desires, so it’s even progress of a sort.

    But if it isn’t a leadup? A foreshadowing to a betrayal plot point Jenkins planned out in advance? Then we’re lead to conclude that this is supposed to be normal behavior. You cheat on your wife for years, you treat her like dirt, you act like she’s unreasonable for mistrusting you while you’re going behind her back and talking to strange women, and when she comes back begging for more the appropriate response is “Hmm, yeah, and why should I take you back, huh?”. She isn’t actually planning anything, but a baseline of mistrust is healthy to keep that woman in her place.

    My disgust for Jenkins is so large, there isn’t an oil tanker left that can transport it

    ** Also an interesting comparison: Paul realizes God wants him to get back to his wife -> Paul just proceeds with buisness as usual and doesn’t even make a phone call before his wife tracks him across the country to try and talk to him. Paul realizes God wants him to starve a city -> Paul jumps to it immediately, and works closely to modify and perfect the plan (oh, we can’t do it ourselves? No problem, we’ll ask God). Why am I not even suprised Paul is so much more enthousiastic about hydro-terrorism than talking to his wife.

  9. Ugh…. the misogyny… just… ugh.

    Paul should be crawling to Jae on his hands and knees, begging HER for forgiveness. He should be breaking down in tears as he apologizes for all the pain he’s caused her. But of course, Paul doesn’t actually have any of that thing called “empathy” – he’s clearly just another sociopath who needs a religion to keep him on a short leash.

    • Not that short a leash unfortunately. We’ve seen Paul with and without religion. His treatment of Jae only got worse. He hates her as much as before, but now wants her to stay nonetheless which personally sounds worse than me than breaking off this sham of a marriage (well, you could stay together for the kids, but Paul has never given a moment’s thought to his kids except “I’m glad they aren’t here to bother me so I can clean up the attic”) The only marignal improvement is that he doesn’t sleep with other women now, but not out of respect for Jae but for God. And since Jae is unsaved now, that is utterly meaningless to her.

  10. Has anyone, ever, at all, called out Jenkins on his treatment of women in his books in general, and Jae in particular? Has anyone ever stood up in his workshops and asked, “But, Mr. Jenkins, what did the character of Jae do to deserve all this?” At any point? Ever?

    Long, long ago, when I first started writing those horrible awful preadolescent writings that we all do, I had a Bad Guy named Jenkins. He was a truly horrible caricature of eeeeevil. I never thought that there’d be someone named Jenkins who turned out to be worse.

  11. http://evincent.deviantart.com/art/Conversion-of-St-Paul-276145773

    A far more realistic modern Paul thing than anything Jenkins could possibly crap out.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I think it’s based on a classic painting of the subject.

      Speaking of which, Soon was apparently intended as a retelling of St Paul’s conversion & career in a modern-to-future setting (“Stepola”, “Apostle”, get it?) If so, it went off the rails a long time ago; I don’t see ANY parallels to the Book of Acts at this point, and I used to be pretty up on that part of the Bible. It’s just another badly-done Near Future Persecution Dystopia. (We’ve got enough Grimdark Futures — why do you think My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic took off the way it did? And why does Christian media just jump on the Grinning Nihilism Grimdark bandwagon instead of bringing countercultural Hope?)

      I mean, look at the title. Soon. Because The World Ends Tomorrow and It’s All Gonna Burn, it has to be SOON; no RTC can use a future setting more than Twenty Minutes Into The Future. (It’s one of my big peeves with Christianese attempts at SF.)

      • I can imagine some great stories that could be written around that one picture, Hell, it could start off with Paul (somebody), Internet Atheist who finds out God still takes an interest in the world Heh.

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