TSoA: Chapter 19: Crossover!

In addition to reviewing Christian novels, I enjoy reviewing Christian movies.  A few of them, like the recent Time Changer, had an actual theatrical release, but many of them are shorter movies, meant to be shown at church youth events.  Yanno, movies like Teenage Testament, Teenage Christmas, The Pretender, and Second Glance—movies that feature Christian teens facing the sort of moral issues Christian teens face, such as how to drag little kids to church and how to alienate all your friends by preaching at them whenever you see them.

But today, in The Secret on Ararat, brand-new Christian and churchgoer Tiffany (remember her???) has dragged her friends to a Christian youth event out on the woods.

It seems that Tiffany has picked up on the lessons taught at Pastor Bob’s church, exemplified by Michael Murphy, that a lie isn’t really a lie if you just phrase things in such a way that your listeners will be sure to misunderstand:

…even though Lisa and Christy were her two closest friends, Tiffany was beginning to wonder if bringing them here had been a good idea after all.  When she first told them about the retreat, she deliberately didn’t add the word church.  She figured there was no point in frightening them off before they got here, and she trusted that once they did, the experience would be so different from their normal lives that they’d quickly find themselves caught up in it.

Would it really be so easy to keep this a secret for the entire bus ride, plus the first two hours they’re there, as Tiffany does?  Don’t these buses usually have the name of the church on them?  Wouldn’t there be a prayer or some shit before they pulled out?  I wouldn’t know, mind you, but it just seems unlikely…

Also, is this whole thing free to all comers?  Because it seems really awful to ask someone to pay for something when they don’t really know what it is.

Also also, Tiffany has promised Lisa and Christy that there will be cute boys.  Not that retreat-going boys wouldn’t be cute, but the promise of them seems highly manipulative from this brand-new Christian.

Mark is the director of the youth retreat, and you can tell he’s hip with the kids because he wears faded jeans.  He breaks the sad news to the teens that they are there by the Lord’s plan, but that there will still be “crazy fun” stuff to do in the woods.

Christy and Lisa, understandably, are less than thrilled by this revelation:

“You knew if you mentioned the word church it would have taken a bunch of, like, totally wild horses to drag us here.”

You tell her, Christy!

But Tiffany shrugs off the whole lying-to-her-best-friends problem, because church is COOL.

“Yes.  Cool.  About looking at the big picture, and what’s going to happen in the future and why we’re here.”

Sadly, Tiffany’s friends, like all nonbelievers, are hedonists:

“Have some fun and then you die, girlfriend.  That’s the big picture.”

But despite being evil hedonists, and despite being told by Tiffany that they’re risking “everlasting damnation,” and despite being lied to, Lisa and Christy prove themselves to be Good Without God by letting it go.

Okay, I’m not so sure that the lesson is supposed to be that Lisa and Christy are more moral than churchgoer Tiffany, but that’s sure what is being demonstrated.

Needless to say, since this is a LaHaye novel, the retreat works like a charm.  In between kayaking and stuff, Mark delivers “stirring” talks, and the teens’ minds “were open to new ideas and new challenges to the usual way they thought about things.”

Then Mark tells the kids about how Jesus died for their sins.


Something about the way he talked of Jesus as if He was a real person whom Mark knew personally made them feel that He really had sacrificed Himself for each one of them.

Passionate Sincerity!!!  Waaaaaay better than facts and logic!

On Saturday night, Mark instructs the kids that it’s time to go into the woods to do what bears do there…I mean, to have a “Discipline of Silence.”

(Yes, it’s capitalized in the book—is this some kind of real thing that people do?)

Anyway, they’re supposed to go alone into the woods and reflect on Jesus and stuff and “do some business with your Creator.”

Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.

So Tiffany says the magic words and calls her parents to tell them how much she loves them and loves Jesus and ISN’T THERE SOME SORT OF ARK THAT PEOPLE WANT TO GET AROUND TO FINDING AT SOME POINT???



Posted on October 13, 2012, in Books, Movies, Second Glance, Teenage Christmas, Teenage Testament, The Secret on Ararat. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. OK, so the adult sends the kids off into the woods without chaperones. They might be starting out alone, but I bet a lot of them are arranging for a little private rendezvous…

  2. My Flying Spagetti Monster Ruby, you weren’t joking when you said this book is a manual for RTCs which begrudingly has an adventure plot. I can see why the authors side with Tiffany and her plan of just telling her friends they’re going on an adventurous camping trip which is just a bait-and-switch for a crash course in RTCism. Phillip and LaHaye did the same thing with their novel.

    When Micheal Murphy, Paul Stepola, Buck Williams or Joshua Jordan go through the motions of being asshats while being hailed as the greatest and manliest RTCs (minus Jesus) of all time, it’s awefull. But somehow seeing the pointless side characters do it is even more tedious. Never thought I’d say this, but can we please get to finding the Ark and dueling it out with Talon again?

    And now I’m realizing LaHaye should have swapped his monkeys with typewriters, I mean co-authors, for his two series. This novel is supposed to be about a single man’s quest for the arc (and, when the authors are feeling generous, there’s some women who kind help a bit by doing all the work), yet we keep getting bogged down with cutaways to POV chapters of side characters. The Left Behind series meanwhile failed to be an epic tale of global proportions because the POV never left our two pointless protagonists who had to hitch a ride as the Anti Christs towel boys since it was the only way to get at least some glimpses of the worldspanning events it was supposed to be about. LaHaye got the writing styles exactly in the wrong order.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      LaJenkins made a major strategic blunder when they decided to tell Left Behind — all 12 to 16 to 22 volumes worth of not only just “worldcpanning” but COSMIC-level epic — ONLY from the POVs of the two Author Self-Inserts. Because that requires the Author Self-Inserts to ALWAYS be at the scene of each Cosmic Event on the checklist (or at least talk about it in idiot conversations over the phone).

  3. A quick duck for “discipline of silence” suggests that it’s primarily an American-Christian term all right. The deal really does seem to be just “stop talking, and notice things”. Which is pretty basic for anything faintly meditative, but may well be dangerously advanced for RTCs.

    Like, totally, we’re up to date with the eighties now! What do you mean, this book was published in 2004?

    In the UK, it’s very rare for a church (or any other club/society/whatever) to own any vehicle bigger than a minibus (up to 16 passengers – there’s a driver licencing consideration too) – it would be much more likely to rent one, plus driver, when it was needed for a trip. I suppose if a church is doing this sort of thing every week it might make more sense to have its own large vehicle.

    Again in the UK, “business” can be used as slang for availing oneself of the services of a prostitute. Don’t know if that’s the case elsewhere…

  4. Wait a minute. A woman named “Christy”…with no inkling of what Christianity is at all? Where did her parents draw her name from, then?

    • >>>Where did her parents draw her name from, then?

      Maybe her actual name is Crystal. “Crysty” and “Christy” would sound the same, anyway – the former would just look weirder in written form, but what would stop her from spelling it “Cristy”? Tiffany probably don’t realise that the missing “h” is missing exactly because it’s not supposed to be there in the first place.

  5. Sadly, the “passionate sincerity” is THE model evangelical churches use with teens, because (from what I remember of my own “teens & Christianity” days) it is a very successful model. Teens are very prone to emotional excess, and are very susceptible to emotional excess. That’s why so many “evangelize to your friends” models for teens are based on guilt — “tell your friends and family about Jesus now because if they die before Saying The Magic Words, they’ll go to HELL and it will be ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!”

  6. Waaaaaaait . . . the girls are named Tiffay, Lisa, and Christy? And they use the phrase, “like, totally”? And they’re going to a sleepover, err, I mean “retreat”? I have to agree with Firedrake. Actually, I’ll expand: I think these three came from 1987 and fell through a wormhole into this novel, where they have hilarious funy hijinks and contribute nothing whatsoever to the plot.

    Dinallo had his flaws (oh, yes he had his flaws!) but at least he could stay more or less on track, plot-wise. And, of course, Isis.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      1980s-vintage names and Valspeak.

      Well, at least they’re a LITTLE more advanced this time than the 1950s or 1960s.

  7. I love how RTCs translate “open to new ideas” with “immediately accept everything I say as being true.” The concept that one might be perfectly willing to consider an idea but not allow it to change one’s own position is somewhat foreign to them.

    (It reminds me of the time that I was talking with a guy who criticized some atheists for not being “open minded” because his attempts to convert them had failed. He got a bit flustered when I pointed out that they’re just coming from a different perspective and that agreement, or lack thereof, says nothing about whether or not one has an open mind.

    I found out later he was an elder at the church where a friend of mine is a pastor. Oops.)

    • Of course, open-mindedness only applies to right ideas.

      We’re back to Altemeyer and The Authoritarians, I think: he found that the particular personality type he was studying, the authoritarian follower, would often evaluate chains of logic according only to whether they gave the “right” answer, ignoring the logic itself. So saying “All fish live in the sea. Sharks live in the sea. Therefore, sharks are fish.” would be regarded as “valid reasoning” – “because sharks are fish”.

    • I would grant them the possibility that they might mean ‘open’ to all other ideas. It’s just that many RTCs are so sure that their view is obviously right, that anyone who hears it and isn’t convinced must have had a closed mind. If they were only willing to seriously listen to it, everyone would immediately agree that it’s all true. As far as other religions ideas go, well, their views are of course absolute bullshit. It doesn’t matter if your mind is open or closed there, if it’s closed it won’t get in and if it’s open you’ll realize it’s nonesense.

      This is a bit related to how I thought about the laundromat guy in Timechanger. He converts because ‘no one explained being saved so clearly before’. Because that’s the only excuse you have for not converting to Christianity sooner if you have heard of Jesus before: If it was explained badly to you, probably by some wishy washy liberal Christian, it is understandable you weren’t convinced. But if it was explained properly (and most RTCs are very sure THEY explained it properly), then you must be a bad person who has closed his mind to the wonderful news that he was a created as a filthy creature worthy of eternal torment, but that same creator is willing to skip the torment out of the goodness of his heart, in exchange for your acknowledgement of your horrible nature and unquestioning obedience and adoration for that creator.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        It’s just that many RTCs are so sure that their view is obviously right, that anyone who hears it and isn’t convinced must have had a closed mind. If they were only willing to seriously listen to it, everyone would immediately agree that it’s all true.

        “You obviously do not have a Rational Mind. If you had a Rational Mind, you would agree completely with Me.” — attr to Ayn Rand

    • Another side to this is that apparently to the author(s), “new ideas” are those that are around 2,000 years old. Yeah, “new”.

  8. That Other Jean

    “Discipline of silence,” hah! It’s amazing what teenagers out in the woods in mixed company can get up to very, very quietly.

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy

    I hope this Altar Call Scene means we’re near the end of the book. Because Christianese fiction normally ends with an Altar Call (especially breaking the fourth wall to preach and invite the reader directly).

    • Christianese fiction always tries so hard, and yet Barrie’s “altar call” to clap and believe in fairies always comes out so much more believable and touching than anything they come up with.

    • After the second Left Behind book, I wouldn’t put it past LaHaye to spend the whole book on this inconsequential bullshit, with only a glimpse of Arat as Murphy arives at the end of the book.

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