Christmas Town: Chapter Eleven

Well, I knew that this book would, sooner or later, become more Christian than just “they all hung out at church” and “Joella prayed for the mill to be saved.”

We’re getting serious now.

Joella goes to Jordan’s home to confront him about the whole missing-retirement-account debacle (she catches him eating a frozen dinner, JORDAN’S FOOD ISSUES).  You might think (as I did) that this would be the time for Jordan to come clean with Joella, to let her (and her alone) in on the shameful secret of the Uncle Billys, and why Jordan’s doing what he’s doing.

You and I would be wrong.

“You’re protecting somebody, aren’t you?”  Hope stirred in her heart that he would accept this easy out she offered.  Hope and dread.  Would it really be any better?

WELL, YOU CLAIM TO LOVE THIS MAN.  SO, YES.  YES, IT BLOODY WELL WOULD BE BETTER.

“Don’t, Joella.  I’m…I’m responsible.  I know how that makes me look, I know what you must think.  But trust me.  Just this once.”

Oh, Jordan.  You disappoint me just now.  Open up to her, if you claim to love her.

“I’ve trusted you all this time.”

Bullshit, Joella.  You didn’t trust Jordan for shit when you took him on your little guilt-trip tour through town, conveniently avoiding the many townsfolk who hate him.

She might be dreaming, she knew.  Might be setting herself up to be played for a fool.  But even Jordan Scoville deserved a chance to redeem himself.

Yeah, I guess even the man you proclaim to love, even the man who’s been so good to your brat son, even the man who dared be born into the wrong family, deserves that chance.  You self-righteous snot.

So, she makes a VERY Christian-novel demand:

“I’ll give you more time [before I tell anyone else],” she said.  “On one condition.”

“Anything.”

“I want you to pray.”

Oh, fer…

MOAR FACEPALM

implied facepalm

“Joella, I can’t pray.  I don’t know how.  And no God in His right mind would listen if I did.”

Well, I see Jordan’s dialed it back from “Your God isn’t going to change my mind.”

“Just ask for God’s will to be done.  That’s all you have to pray for.”

Yep, because that’s a prayer that “works” whether it works or not.

Hmmm, maybe Joella has as much faith in prayer as I do, after all.

She leaves, and Jordan goes through his Dark Night of the Soul (TM).  He ends up praying, though he’s thinking far more of Joella than of God, both before and during the actual prayer:

“Okay, this is for Joella’s God.  Work things out, how about it?”

PRAYER AWARD OF EXCELLENCE AND AWESOMENESS FOR YOU, JORDAN SCOVILLE

So, he starts praying every day, because a promise is a promise.  And every day, it gets a little bit easier, because that’s how habits work.  And he takes Joella and the brat to buy a Christmas tree, and Jordan ends up suggesting that they buy a second, huge tree for the town, since there won’t be any lights this year.

It is super sweet, as are Jordan’s mingled feelings of guilt and pain when the whole town turns out to decorate the tree.  They rope him into it, and it turns into a little party, and I guess the Ghost of Christmas Present sprinkled some of his magical whatever around, because the very people who yelled at Jordan and were all but ready to do him violence a week ago, are now holding hands and going all Whoville on him.

I expected the brat to go all Tiny Tim…

…but it’s not quite time for the heartwarming finale yet.  When next Jordan gets to his office (OH YEAH, THE MILL’S CLOSING), Venita greets him with the news that the state auditor’s office will file charges unless the retirement money turns up by Christmas Eve.

And call me crazy, but I don’t think a bunch of squatters in a tobacco field, living off canned soup, will be able to help.

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Posted on December 21, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I forget, was Joella already aware of the fact that Jordan isn’t a churchgoing man? Or is she (rather sanctimoniously) assuming he’s a heathen because only heathens could be this awful, like for all you know, lady, this guy prays more than you do, he just isn’t a showoffy ass about it.

    • Well, he gives the standard Christian’s-idea-of-a-stereotypical-heathen response of “I’m too bad of a sinner; God/Jesus won’t forgive me/listen to me/care about me.” So he’s not an RTC, which clearly means he’s not a church-goer. Of any kind that matters, at least.

  2. OK, Joella makes him promise to pray. She doesn’t specify how much he has to pray, or when he has to pray, or where, or how, and even her suggestion that he ask God’s will be done is just a suggestion. So — apart from the author’s desire that this be a Christian romance — why does Jordan pray every single day? Why doesn’t he just stop with his prayer of excellence and awesome?

    Wait. Jordan lied. He said

    “Don’t, Joella. I’m…I’m responsible. I know how that makes me look, I know what you must think. But trust me. Just this once.”

    . That’s a lie. How can “good Christian woman” Joella hook up with a liar? Ah, but I forgot she’s a divorcee. A blameless one, but a divorcee just the same. So her morals need not be spotless.

    Incidentally . . . real life has shown that raiding the pension fund is not illegal, so a good chunk of this book’s premise is hooey. Case in point: http://www.juancole.com/2012/12/hostess-executives-dipped-into-employees-pension-funds.html

    • Not quite – there are many legal ways to raid a pension fund, but the basic act is still a crime, and I strongly doubt that the Uncle Billys used one of the legal ways. (And why would they? They thought they’d get it back with interest.)

    • I thought that “I’m responisble’ line refered to Jordan deciding not to spend his life runnign the mill, which would have allowed him to spot and intervene in Billy’s retirement schemes.

      So total BS, but it’s a long standing RTC tradition to mislead without technically lying. They’re worse than my RPG players. They by now know that it’s a Bluff check, not a Diplomacy check if they want to trick someone, whether or not they do so by saying things that are techincally true.

  3. I have just realised how the RTC universal plan meshes with the Underpants Gnomes’ business plan.

    1. Collect underpants.
    2. Jesus solves everything.
    3. Profit!

  4. If ‘pray or else I let you get arrested or lynched by the town’s people’ is what a good Christian woman does to the guy she really loves, I can’t wait to see what kind of ‘freedom of religion’ she’d have in store for non-Christians she doesn’t want to bone.

    I like Jordan’s response though. It’s what my response would be, so kudos for a Christian writer letting his unsaved character say things an unsaved reader would recongnize. I’d have no idea how to pray. Oh, I can fold my hands, close my eyes and whisper or think some things I would like to see happen. But I don’t think it would be praying. It wouldn’t be directed at god, because I don’t believe there is a god so I have no idea how to direct anything at hir.

    To me it sounds like someone asking me to stare intensely at the polka-dotted hippo in the room with me. I don’t see a polka-dotted hippo in the room, so I can stare in the general direction that person is pointing at, but I’d just be staring at the wall, not the hypothetical hippo.

    And just like Jordan, I strongly doubt that in the case that there is a god after all, he’d be terribly impressed with me just mumbling stuff to myself, with no expectation that any god would be listening. And if god turns out to be a cool guy who does count that, why would I even need to pray when I spend plenty of times thinking about my problems to myself? That doesn’t count to god, but doing the same thing while sitting with my hands folded in a pew suddenly does count? Doesn’t make much sense to me.

    • Ehm, I should say ‘It’s what my response would be when someone in general asks me to pray’. In this specific situation, I’d call Joella out on her coercive methods, tell her where to stick it and probably hightail it out and let Billy take the fall for his fuck-up followed by zero support for the attempts to fix it.

  5. Since it looks like the book is almost over, here’s my prediction for the ending: The shady investor the Uncle Billys gave the retirement fund money to actually wasn’t so shady, and it turrns out that the investments that he made on behalf of the Uncle Billys actually made a huge profit, so not only does the town get the retirement fund money back and no one has to go to jail, but there’s more than enough money to keep the mill open and make the town prosperous again. And of course, it’s all due to the prayers that Jordan and the whole town made to God, and Jordan converts to Joella’s brand of Christianity because of the “miracle.”

    After all, having the townspeople actually work to make the tourists give enough to the town to save the mill or something similar would mean that it wasn’t really due to God and their faith that the town was saved. And no hero in a Christian novel can actually do anything to try to take charge of a situation on their own, lest someone be tempted to give the credit to man instead of the Almighty Father.

    • Looking on the bright side, since a mill town is basically completely economically unviable these days, it’ll need a Christmas miracle every year…

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 28th, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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