Silenced: Chapter 12: The Stepfordizing Continues

It is the day that Jae and the kids head to Washington—after school, Jae will pick up the kids, and they will blow this pop stand and never look back!  At least not until Paul comes back.

The evening before, Straight was over for dinner again, and was still being a jerk.  Sadly, Jae’s Stepfordization has progressed to such a stage that she believes the problem is her, as all good Christian women should.  After all, Straight is “a wonderful man, a loving person.  And he was smart.  Wise, too.”

Had she offended him?

Well, yes, by being atheist in the first place.  But yes, also, Jae—rest assured that if any relationship in your life is not picture-perfect, you are the one to blame.

So without Straight’s guidance, she continues into Acts 4.

Jae compares Paul’s job to the temple guard in the story, and finds herself “strangely pulling for the underdogs in the story.”  Why she thinks this is strange, I don’t know.  Regardless of your beliefs or lack thereof, it’s not strange at all to pull for the underdogs in the story.  Look at how much trouble we’ve all had pulling for Joshua Jordan, a hero with all the money in the world, multiple homes, a private jet, a hot wife, and the accolades of an entire nation.  Not so easy.

Then this weird thing happens:

And these people shared their lives and belongings—when was the last time Jae had heard of people taking care of each other like that?  It seemed today it was everyone for himself.  What was so wrong with people of faith, even if we disagree with them?  They don’t hurt anybody.  In fact, they help the needy.

Let’s unpack this.  Lots to cover here.

First, it is clear in at least two different ways that Jenkins didn’t proofread this section.  He leaves out several verses, only quoting up to Acts 4:30, when the part about early Christians living in a socialist hippie commune is in Acts 4:32-35.

And just look at those weird tense changes and perspective changes.  Is Jae thinking the last three sentences?  They aren’t italicized, as her other thoughts have been.

Backing out a bit:

…when was the last time Jae had heard of people taking care of each other like that?  It seemed today it was everyone for himself.

Well, Jae, you’re a couple of hours away from moving in with your family, where your dad is giving you a job so you can have a nest egg of your very own, and where your mom and brother and sister-in-law want nothing more than to bond with you and your children.

And you live in a world where cancer has been cured and homelessness has been all but eliminated and mental health services are accessible to all and where people donate to “international humanitarian relief.”

I mean, I get that your husband is a self-absorbed jerk who can barely remember his own kids’ names, but that’s no reason to blame the rest of the planet.

Jenkins fast-forwards all the way to Acts 9, conveniently skipping over Acts 7, which contains the stoning of Stephen, because that story only has meaning for Paul.

Jae, of course, is shocked by Acts 9:11-12…

Straight Street?  What were the odds?

Pretty good, when you have a writer who is grafting your husband’s life onto the life of Paul, almost word for word.  And name by exact name.

And Saul regaining his sight?  This was too much.

Indeed.

For there, we cut over to Paul, who is once again hanging with Enzo.  I don’t know why he even bothered leaving the underground meeting room in the first place, considering it took eleven hours for that meeting to break up.

Enzo tells Paul a bit about the leader of the Paris underground, Chappelle.

Hey!

Clearly, we can see where Jenkins got his inspiration!

Enzo prays with Paul, “exhorting and blessing him“:

“Try to help those who argue against you.  Be merciful to those who doubt.”

Heh.  Bit late for that, Enzo.  Or have you never heard of a little place called Los Angeles?

Back in the good ole USSA, Jae and the kids have so far made it…

…into Indiana…

Indiana doesn’t exist anymore, Jae.  Just so’s you know.  You’re still in Heartland.

Looks like Jenkins forgot again.

In any event, this means the kids have conked out by about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which seems a bit odd.

But it gives Jae time to listen to Acts 13, as Jenkins skips over some shit that Peter did and gets back to Paul, the really important one, who talks more about forgiveness of sins.

Ever since Jae had first heard it, she had been obsessed with her own shortcomings.  How much easier life had been when she never thought about this!

Either Jae or Paul is Doin’ This Wrong, because we damn well know that Paul never thinks about his personal shortcomings.  Then again, maybe this is all part of the RTC Male Master Plan: get the womenfolk so “obsessed” with their own flaws that they never question or blame you for your serial cheating and inability to interact with your own children.

Oh, and color me astonished that a Christian thinks that atheists never think about their flaws and how to correct them.  Because all atheists live lives of criminal hedonism, don’tcha know!  Raping, robbing, pillaging, kicking puppies!

Well, except for Jae, who has spent the past ten years forgiving Paul countless times for his myriad of narcissistic, cruel flaws, and raising their two kids essentially alone.

Sigh.  Then Jae hops forward to Romans, where this text grabs her.

No wonder these people are willing to put their lives on the line for something they believe in!  The Bible itself acknowledged that they might face death for this decision.  Is it fair for a government, a world system, to tell people who they can and cannot believe in?  Jae worried she was becoming sympathetic to the enemies of the state.

Well, she is becoming sympathetic to the enemies of the state.  Or at least to some of them, though we have yet to see any underground Hindus or Jews or Wiccans.  Guess they just didn’t love their faith enough.

Advertisements

Posted on November 20, 2013, in Books, Silenced. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. In any event, this means the kids have conked out by about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which seems a bit odd.

    Drowsy-making kids’ motion sickness medicine is one of the best things in the world on a long trip. For the adults and the kids. It certainly made long rides with siblings bearable for me, anyway.

    And agh, Jae, your critical reasoning skills! Employ them! Of course a particular faith’s holy book would do its best to make the people of that faith look as good as possible! Stories of early anti-Christian oppression don’t tell you a damn thing about the important reasons why religion was banned, like what Christians can very well get up to just as well as anyone else when they’re the ones with power.

    Self-serving narrative is self-serving!

  2. I’m trying to figure out WHAT Jenkins is templating the post-religion world on. I’m tempted to say a libertopia like you’d see in the works of L. Neal Smith (the typical mold of the things was recently a subject on Invisible Neutrino’s recently-resuscitated weblog), but the usual crafters of them don’t usually go in for strong central governments, and I have no idea how Smith & Co. view your typical charities, religious OR secular.

    {lightbulb}

    Come to think of it, I wonder if someone could do a satire involving a movement of Christian neo-Zealots striving against a recently-manifested worldwide libertopia…? Your choice of what shade (if any) of “Whoever wins, we lose” to use for the primary colours.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I’m trying to figure out WHAT Jenkins is templating the post-religion world on.

      I don’t think he’s templating it on anything other than Born-Agains’ paranoia fantasies and Christianese Conspiracy Theories. Buck Jenkins doesn’t think that deep.

      This is just a generic Near Future Persecution Dystopia, slammed through the word processor as fast as possible. While hitting all the buttons of One World Government, One World Economic System, One World Fill-in-the-Blank from End Time Prophecy.

      Thing is, his original premise — retelling the story of St Paul the Apostle in a contemporary or near-future setting — actually had potential. But this was Christianese Fiction, and he flanged up a Persecution Dystopia as futuristic stand-in for the Early Roman Empire. I don’t think it went any farther than that.

      I’ve seen better worldbuilding in My Little Pony — Equestria (unlike Atheistopia) actually has some depth to it, and fanfic writers have expanded and deepened the universe. When Bronies can out-worldbuild the Greatest Christian Author of All Time (GCAAT), that should tell you something.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I think what I was trying to say with the above is that Atheistopia (and any non-reality background) is (in Tolkien’s terms) a Subcreation, and you have to approach a Subcreation with some rigor and seriousness and sense of its own “reality”. Equestria is not as rigorous a subcreation as Middle Earth (few are), but there is still something there. Atheistopia has NO rigor or consistency at all; it’s just a stage set thrown together without any thought.

  3. Wait, so Jae now thinks that religious people don’t hurt anyone. Aren’t these books set after a World War 3 that was entirely caused by religion? I guess Jenkins forgot about that part.

    • Wasn’t she in L.A. when the zealots underground, in the span of half a day:
      Spread tracts that claimed RTCs are no threat to anyone.
      Threaten everyone with lethal miracles if their demands weren’t met within a preposterously short time.
      Unleash a lethal miracle because their demands weren’t met within a presoterously short time.

      “We’re no threat to anyone who does exactly what we want.”

  4. …when was the last time Jae had heard of people taking care of each other like that? For fuck’s sake Jenkins, get an editor. Or a proofreader. Or anyone who could’ve pointed out that your own novel is chock-full of both the evil atheistic government and specific evil atheists doing things for others. From the highly effective anti-poverty program, to Paul’s flirty colleague investigating his dad’s letter as a favor, to Tiny giving Paul and Ranold the red-carpet treatment, to Jar herself trying to help your then-blinded asshole of a husband.

    And stop pointing out how similar your story is to that of the biblical Paul. Your audience knows it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      And stop pointing out how similar your story is to that of the biblical Paul. Your audience knows it.

      But Buck Jenkins, GCAAT, cannot resist pointing out to the reader “See How Clever I Am?”

  5. >>>Is it fair for a government, a world system, to tell people who they can and cannot believe in?

    I suspect that if LaHaye&Jenkins had a government they want, they’d think it’s not even a question worth asking.

    (WordPress is unblocked, so I’m back. Hi. I missed this blog.)

    • At best, they might allow other people to believe something other than RTCianity… as long RTCianity is the official state religion, and is the taught exclusively in schools, and non-RTCs never try to spread their belief system to RTCs, and RTCs have full access to spread their religion among non-RTCs, and non-RTCs accept that the anything RTCs disapprove of will be forbidden by law, and……

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I suspect that if LaHaye&Jenkins had a government they want, they’d think it’s not even a question worth asking.

      INGSOC, not Goldsteinism.

  6. It’s something authors miss. If you put amazing happenings unexplainable by mere human science into your work of fiction, this is not evidence for amazing happenings unexplainable by mere human science in the real world.

    Actually, I bet people would still talk about being in Indiana even if there aren’t any signs saying “welcome to Indiana” any more. People still talk about Middlesex in the UK, and that hasn’t existed since 1965.

    Ivan: yup, that’s exactly what Atheistopia is doing — taking care of people! And any reader approaching this story with a modicum of critical thinking skills, as opposed to already knowing that there are Good Guys and Bad Guys, will surely notice that even through Jenkins’ hugely biased account.

  7. it’s not strange at all to pull for the underdogs in the story. Look at how much trouble we’ve all had pulling for Joshua Jordan, a hero with all the money in the world, multiple homes, a private jet, a hot wife, and the accolades of an entire nation. Not so easy.

    And it’s not much easier to pull for the alleged poor persecuted underdogs in this story, or in Left Behind. They are only the underdogs if we forget they have a trigger-happy omnipotent ally in their corner.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      And it’s not much easier to pull for the alleged poor persecuted underdogs in this story, or in Left Behind.

      Over at one of the Spiritual Abuse blogs, someone commented about a study showing that one of the most certain signs of a sociopath (over 95% correlation) was the ability to milk pity by painting themselves as poor poor persecuted victim. (I grew up with a sociopath and have seen this exact dynamic in action.)

  8. In fact, they help the needy.

    Are there any examples in this story of Christians actually helping the needy when it doesn’t further their personal agendas? I can think of a ton of examples on the part of Atheistopia, but the only Christian example I can think of is Straight volunteering at the hospital. Even that he only did to gain converts.

    It seems odd that, in writing a piece of religious propaganda, Jenkins would decide to praise Christianity for helping those in need but neglect to provide a single example of them doing this. I mean, have Paul save a kitten from a tree or something. It’s not hard. :/

    • Yeah, but then you have to show Paul saving a kitten in a Super Manly Way that no mere atheist could manage — maybe he reads it a tract showing how sinful it is and takes its food away to give to a more deserving kitten owned by an RTC — and it all gets too complicated.

    • I think that’s a result of the weird dichotomy Jenkins’s brand of Christianity has about charity: The Bible’s pretty clear about charity being good, so they have to be pro-charity, but helping poor/sick/needy people goes against their strain of Conservitism, so you can’t actually do anything. The end result is lots of lip-service to the idea of charity, but a strong prohibition about actually giving any.

      • “but helping poor/sick/needy people goes against their strain of Conservatism”

        Hi,
        I know you probably meant well by this, but I do feel the need to point out how insultingly untrue this “selfish conservative” meme is. In fact, a 2008 study showed that the people of red states gave more on average than the people of blue states:

        http://wizbangblog.com/2012/08/22/charitable-giving-red-states-vs-blue-states/

        Now we can argue all day about why this might be the case (I personally think that when people grow up thinking that solving social ills is the job of the government, it’s only natural for them to not give as much to private charities), but that’s not really the point. The point is that the dichotomy between charity and selfishness probably goes in the opposite direction: RTCs are told by their conservative peers that charitable giving is a good thing and helps to solve social ills, while RTCianity is pretty clear about shunning and despising all people outside of your in-group. This means that we’re still left with the same point you’re making about RTC hypocritical selfishness, but also taking into account what reality shows us.

        • Actually, I could argue all day about the trustworthiness of the study as a measure of “helping poor/sick/needy people,” because the study counts tithing. The study also leaves out (as it measures based on IRS charitable deductions) time spent on charity work. I doubt most people claim the time they spend working at soup kitchens or clearing nature trails on their tax returns.

          • “because the study counts tithing”

            Confused: is tithing suddenly not a valid form of charity, just because it’s predominantly used to help the poor/sick/needy among the in-group?

            “The study also leaves out (as it measures based on IRS charitable deductions) time spent on charity work. I doubt most people claim the time they spend working at soup kitchens or clearing nature trails on their tax returns.”

            Eh, you might be right on that account.

          • Predominantly? Citation needed. Tithes are used for any number of non-charitable activities, like building and improving churches, missionary and evangelism work, etc. We’re not exactly talking about Doctors Without Borders, here, let alone GDwarf’s point about “helping poor/sick/needy people.”

    • …the only Christian example I can think of is Straight volunteering at the hospital. Even that he only did to gain converts.

      Jenkins actually missed a pretty good opportunity here: Jae could have thought about Straight as an example of an atheist doing good in the world, except HAHAHA Straight is actually a Christian!

      Then again, I’m quite sure that Straight cannot be the only hospital volunteer on the planet.

    • In the first book didn’t Paul’s friend’s daughter try to help some prostitutes who were being killed? Or was she just prosyletize … procielatiize … preaching to them?

  9. Straight Street? What were the odds?

    And Saul regaining his sight? This was too much.

    Ohmigod, Jae is SO CLOSE to realizing she is a character in a shitty novel. Make that final logical leap, Jae! You can do it! We believe in you!

  10. Ruby, I can’t seem to comment directly on your response to my response. This brings up two things to mind:

    1) Do your settings only enable comments to nest two or three deep?

    2) Pretty sure this is the universe telling me not to continue this line of questioning. I happily concede the point.

    • I can’t reply to either Ruby’s or you last replies. Haven’t noticed that happening before. IIRC, you don’t see nesting beyond a certain number of levels, but you can still post those replies. But you can still reply to the comment from November 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm.

      As far as your point goes, I’m willing to believe that RTCs contribute quite a bit to their church-charities. Like RubyTea, I have some skeptism about those charities. I suspect quite a bit of their money is spend on either church upkeep or spreading their religious and/or political views. I haven’t got hard figures for that though.

      But even if my suspicion is wrong, there is the problem that these RTC churches are politically alligned with the groups that are not so much concerned with the possibility that the poor might be getting less than they need than that they might still be getting more than they deserve.

      I do suspect that GDwarf’s original statement was a bit unfair. I am willing to believe that there are quite a number of RTCs who personally donate quite a bit to help the poor. But IMHO, it doesn’t make up for their support of policies that leave the underprivileged with nothing but charity. Especially when it depends on the luck whether or not you’ll be noticed by a particular private charity, and it’s a crapshoot how much money it’ll have available at any given time.

    • I nest comments 5 deep here, just because I hate when comments

      star
      t
      loo
      kin
      g li
      ke
      this

      😀

  11. Ever since Jae had first heard it, she had been obsessed with her own shortcomings. How much easier life had been when she never thought about this!

    The key word here for me is ‘obsessed’. RubyTea didn’t like the suggestion that atheists don’t try to improve their flaws, but I’m more bothered by the idea that people should be obsessed with them. “No one’s perfect”, as the saying goes. That phrase can be used too dismisively, true. But the RTC’s version of “No one’s perfect, and everyone should feel terrible about that” isn’t an improvement.

    And don’t get me started on the idea that since everyone is imperfect, we should all beg for forgiveness from the being that created us, who is also the only one with the power to make us perfect. And no, we can’t actually improve ourselves, it would be supremely arrogant to think we could ever live up to god’s standards on our own. Only through god’s amazing grace can we be forgiven and escape the punishment of hell that our imperfect selves so richly deserve.

  12. says we should experience, had his revelation been delayed “till now,” of recognizing his divinity! As it is, we are not, and unfortunately never shall be, in a position to form a truthful opinion of the history of Jesus. We can only glean, from the meagre descriptions of him which have descended to us through interested sources, some faint ideas respecting his opinions, his creed and his acts. These, in many instances, assimilate, we believe, to those which are read of, as distinguishing the Essenes. One thing is certain, that the Jesus of Christians is not what Jesus was, but what they conceive he ought to have been. Their conception of him is far more ideal than real.

  13. In any event, this means the kids have conked out by about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which seems a bit odd. But it gives Jae time to listen to Acts 13, as Jenkins skips over some shit that Peter did and ..

    Jae felt her daughter’s small hand reach out and tug on the earphones.

    “Mummy?” Jae hit pause and removed the earbuds. “What is it cheeesykins?” Jae said using her affectionate pet name that Brie was probably already too old for.

    “What’s wrong with you Mummy? You used to smile and be happy and look after us so well but now all you seem to do is listen to this and be sad. What is it mummy? What is it making you so sad, what’s wrong ..”

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, November 23rd, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: