Soon: Wrapping Up

Looks like we have to ease away from Soon before we get to a movie palate-cleanser and then to the Adventured of Michael Murphy.

FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS

I put up two polls to find the worst, nastiest, most horriblest statement of Paul Stepola to his long-suffering wife, Jae.  For both the first and second half of the book, two statements clobbered the competition to emerge as victors.  So now, I leave it to you, my loyal readers to determine THE VERY WORST THING PAUL SAYS TO HIS WIFE.

This should be interesting, because the statements occur at two very different points in Paul’s life.  The first is shortly after Paul is blinded by the miraculous fire pillar of God.  He’s laid up in the hospital, and poor Jae is just trying to help him put together a “disc player” so he can listen to the Bible (as part of his “research”).  Paul’s an atheist at this point, and thus, by definition, a horrible human being who is incapable of love.

The second statement takes place after Jae reveals that she found the letter from Angela to Paul.  It is unsurprising that she takes it as evidence that Paul is preparing to cheat on her, seeing as how he has been fooling around with a string of DOZENS of women for eight of the ten years he has been married.  Of course, this is the one time when a letter from a woman is not quite what it appears, as Paul has just found the love of Jesus in his heart, and knows that the only moral thing to do in his life is stay in a desperately unhappy marriage where he and his wife can barely stand the sight of each other.

Here you go:

SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS

Our own Syera has started a TV Tropes page about the Underground Zealot series.  This prompted the following question from Ivan, which I will (attempt to) answer here:

Is being religious officially a capital offense, or for that matter even a crime? I can’t remember either being stated exactly, and it seems jarring how much effort Bia goes through to do her earlier executions in secret, and Bia, Ranold, the army and even Paul pre-conversion go through a lot of effort to link the zealots to terrorism and pretend they resisted arrest and had to be killed, or making Barton’s death look like an accident. If they could be legally executed for being a believer, why are they bothering with all this? I’d be equally stupid, but before adding it I’d like to know if all law enforcers decide on their own that they want to kill Christians even if they are too young to have ever met one, or if it is official government policy to kill Christians which makes their efforts to make the deaths look like accidents or self-defense superfluous.

Well…it’s difficult to say for sure.  Largely because Jenkins doesn’t say for sure.  I would have loved to see the actual statutes outlawing religion (I’m a nerd that way), but the best I can do is tell you what the characters say…

According to my boyfriend Larry Coker, the Bible is “contraband,” and excuse enough for SWAT to raid a house.

A Bible study group is “a crime.”

Being a Christian is an arrestable offense, but apparently not punishable by death, in and of itself, given Paul’s statements at the oil fires.

Proselytizing is “a crime.”

Specs messing with the movie billboards in L.A. is a “federal felony,” because the movie industry is run by the government.

The penalty for distributing tracts is prison.  The penalty for creating them is death.

And…that’s it for hard facts on crime and punishment.

 

THIRD ORDER OF BUSINESS

I hope to start The Secret on Ararat the week after next, after Easter (Springmas in Atheistopia, perhaps?).  For those of you who may be new or newish ’round these Atheistopian parts, my critique of Babylon Rising is here, and the TV Tropes page for the series is here.

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Posted on March 31, 2012, in Babylon Rising, Books, Polls, Silenced, Soon, The Secret on Ararat. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Hmm! Sounds like what Jenkins was trying to write was a cabal of Atheistapo Feds who were getting a bit too zealous in their chasing down of secret religious believers and extrajudicially executing them.

    Of course, it fell flat on its face and became a monument to Paul’s self-centered perceptions of his awesomeness.

    As for the worst thing he said?

    I’d have to vote the way he belittles her about getting the disc player working. Him being blind in no way excuses being an asshat, particularly as she’s helping him after he’s gone off and been in bed with who knows how many other women over the years without her knowledge*.

    * It’d be one thing if Jae and Paul had talked it all over at the beginning and agreed they could be in bed with other people. It’s another for Paul to just up and decide to do it on his own and hide that fact from Jae.

  2. In the first one, Paul’s “just” insulting Jae terribly. He’s also been through an ordeal, and feeling horrible himself. Sometimes in a situation like that, you lash out — it’s not okay, but it’s understandable and, I think, forgivable. (In someone who isn’t Paul.)

    In the second, Paul’s pretending he’s the aggrieved party because his wife dares to question his faithfulness when he’s cheated on her dozens of times. He’s pretending she is the one who is wrong, the only one who is wrong, now and forever, and that she has no right to ever question him about anything. He’s gaslighting her. And supposedly, since he’s Christian now, he’s a good man whom Jenkins thinks others should emulate! I’ve gotta go with #2.

  3. RubyTea – thanks for reading these books so we don’t have to!

    • It’s my pleasure! (Yes, despite the hatefulness of Paul Stepola, I actually mean that.) Thank you for reading the results of my reading these books so you don’t have to! 😀

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Commenters have said the same thing to Slacktivist re Left Behind.

  4. Grammar Police

    Really, what Jenkins should have done in this world is make CHRISTIANITY illegal, not religion in general. For one, that’s what he means anyway because clearly Christianity is the only religion in the world worth anything. For another, he forgot to include any indication of any other religion getting cracked down on. (see again point 1.)

    This was the hardest choice yet, Ruby! I ended up going with pre-Christian Paul because it sounded so . . . spousal abusive. Like any second he’s going to haul off and start whaling on her. In the other one, Paul actually sounds kinda hurt, however unjustified that hurt is. Still, it’s a reeeeeeeeealy close call.

    • It would certainly be a more interesting book if other religions were ever mentioned – if they were also illegal, there’d be interesting interactions between former enemies finding themselves on the same side, while if it were only Christianity that had been banned one might expect to see at least some sign of Jews, Pagans, Muslims, and so on – perhaps some of them might even be sympathetic!

      But in either case, the presence of oppressed non-Christians would muddy Jenkins’ message (“CHRISTIANS ARE OPPRESSED YAY, I mean BOO”), so one can see why he simply ignored the inconvenient other.

      • Oh no, those other religions are there. There’s those silly mexicans with their old, catholic ways. But at least the RTC due jour sticks up for them, that’s something. Far better than the other zealots who tell the converted Paul to crack down on all false Christian sects. That scene established even before the hydro-terrorism that it is bullshit the zealots were interested in a ‘free exchange of ideas’ or on ‘freedom of religion’. They care only about themselves and their ideas being exchanged to everyone else (and they’d better listen, or else) and freedom for themselves. For all their whining that they’re the victims of genocide, they actively support it when it’s aimed at anyone but them.

        And then we have the Las Vegas cult, run by a violent kidnapping man up to his neck in prostitution and drugs, just so Paul looks like less of a jackass for arresting him, with no regard to the plothole this creates. Given that living a life of (payed) sex, drugs and rock and roll is perfectly legal, why would you form a cult around it since that is the one thing that will get the Atheistapo breaking down your door?

        • Yeah, fair point, I’d forgotten about the Catholic Mexicans… Onymous, “Abrahamic” won’t work because we see no Jews or Muslims – I think it has to be “Christian”.

      • Well we know the Bible is contraband, but astrology and i-ching (I think that was mentioned) are just the superstitions of market analysts. So making a bit of a jump I’d be willing to bet Abrahamic = illegal and nothing else counts as a “real” religion and thus just sort of looked down on.

  5. It might also please y’all that reading the review of Soon has inspired me to update my Mary Sue test to nab Ideology Sues. Jerry Jenkins will likely never use the test on any of his characters, but maybe someone else will and we’ll be spared another awful character like Paul Stepola. 😛

  6. OK, a bit OT here, but the stuff about Paul being blind and in hospital has reminded me of something. He can’t have been the first blind patient the hospital ever had; and even though Atheistopian medicine can do wonderful things, it appears it cannot cure all cases of blindness (otherwise they would have tried doing so with Paul’s blindness, surely?) So why weren’t they giving him counselling and training, supplying him with stuff that he could use (like, fr’instance, an audio player adapted for blind users), introducing him to other blind people? But no, they just stick him in a bed and let him fumble around by himself. And get badgered by Straight, who appears to be the only “counsellor” in the whole place.
    I don’t know what Trope this would fall under – Did Not Do The Research, maybe – but ity certainly deserves to get a mention in the TVTropes page.

    • Didn’t they say they were going to get him a treatment?
      My guess is that there is a better than 90 percent chance that you will require transplant surgery in order to have any return of vision.
      I don’t know what they were waiting for (waiting lists for procedures? Oh noes, could there be some part of Atheistopian medicine that isn’t awesome), but it sounds like they’d be doing it.

      Thanks for the clarification Ruby. Edited the tropes accordingly.

      I went with the latter. They’re both horrible, but I deduct some awefull points of the first one because of the sickbed and general frustration he’s experiencing at that moment, and I’m adding points to the latter for this supposedly being the new and improved Paul, and the total acknowledgment that he did want to bone Angela. In fact, I think at the time of that letter he was still trying to.

  7. I had to go with the Ch. 21 quote. While in Ch. 11 he’s being abusive, in Ch. 21, he’s being abusive and controlling.

  8. My vote went to the Ch 11 quote. Since Paul is incapable of basic theory of mind (i.e. the understanding that others have different knowledge/thoughts than you) I can see Paul being rather hurt by Jae’s accusations. But my gawd the level of abuse aimed at Jae in that quote from 11 is astonishing. Given Jenkins general dim view of women I don’t think we can chalk it up to Paul being an atheist.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Since Paul is incapable of basic theory of mind (i.e. the understanding that others have different knowledge/thoughts than you)…

      So are a LOT of RTCs. Including those in charge of editorial policy at the Christianese publishing houses.

      NOTE: While Left Behind, Soon, and similar get plastered all over Christianese bookshelves as Best-Sellers to a chorus of “PRAISE-THE-LOORD!”s, a lot of far superior SF from a Christian POV never sees print. Can’t get past the editors — too Christianese for the mainstream and too secular/heathen for the RTCs. Authors’ groups such as Lost Genre Guild and small-press publishers such as Marcher Lord Press try to fill the gap, but they can’t do much on shoestring budgets.

  9. “So are a LOT of RTCs.”

    And this can be empirically proven by their frequent assertions that people who profess different beliefs secretly know deep down that the RTCs are right.

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