Shadowed: Chapter 19: Ranold Sucks

Okay, I don’t think Ranold sucks, obviously.  I think Ranold is basically the hero of the story, being the only person so far who has a rational reaction to finding out there is a vicious, mass-murdering god up there: resolve to fight him no matter what.  But Jerry Jenkins for sure thinks Ranold sucks, and his entire purpose in Chapter 19 is to tell us that.  He especially feels the need to remind us of Ranold’s suckitude, since we haven’t even seen him since Chapter 5, when he was dealing with the few moments right after both his son and wife died.

Oh, and for those who are keeping an eye out for references to Ranold’s shocking weight (which honestly sounds to me like he’s just a strapping guy with a big build), we have this:

…he shaved and showered and dressed in a suit tailored for his massive frame.

I’m pretty sure that Ranold’s weight and/or eating habits are referenced every single time he makes an appearance.  But we’ll see as we go along.

And references to Ranold’s weight always make me spare a thought for poor Charlotte, currently having her chubby ass roasted for all eternity in Hell for the crime of being raised in Atheistopia.

But the real point of this chapter isn’t Ranold’s humongous girth, but his heartless attitude towards his loved ones.  He takes care of Berlitz and Margaret’s bodies, and considers it not a tragedy if they don’t get buried in the near future, seeing as how millions upon millions have died in the past three days.

And he looks back on Margaret and Berlitz with realism: he thinks Margaret was “boring.”

This is, of course, completely in contrast to Our Hero, Paul, who…okay, he also thought Margaret was boring.

So you can see how much more awful Ranold is than Paul.

And Ranold considers Berlitz a “loser,” what with his multiple marriages and non-military career, while Paul…okay, he didn’t specifically use the word “loser,” but he certainly seemed to think little enough of the brother-in-law…little enough that it didn’t even occur to him to warn said BIL about the coming slaughter.

Jenkins also drops in, rather out of nowhere, that Ranold had repeatedly cheated on Margaret.

Just like Paul, except for how Paul had a change of heart and abjectly apologized and begged Jae to take him back—

Oh wait.  Paul never did apologize to Jae for his decade of affairs.

I know I keep asking this question, but why do people like this even get married in Atheistopia?  Jenkins could have had so much fun showing the evil atheists and their evil ways, like the lives of never-married, serially-monogamous.  In fact, wouldn’t it have reinforced the point that evil atheists don’t give a crap about “traditional” marriage, and are just in pursuit of our own ever-changing desires?

Hell, Ranold himself admits that he “could pay for the services [Margaret] rendered, in the home and in the bedroom.”  So why would such a man as this even bother to get married?  (I’m sure Jenkins would never watch the work of such a nonbeliever, but Joss Whedon of course explored the idea of a world in which someone wealthy and powerful like Ranold could, legally and without shame, hire the services of a respected prostitute.)

All that to say, as usual: I don’t get Jenkins worldbuilding.

And the hits just keep on coming: after several days of basically humoring Aryana in her grief, he blows her off entirely, even telling her to her face (well, over the phone, skull or otherwise) that he never bothered caring about her, since she was Berlitz’s third wife and he figured she’d go the way of the other two.

This actually is in contrast to Jae, who liked Aryana and thought her Berl’s best choice for a wife.  Though Jae made that assessment and built that relationship back when she was an atheist, and hasn’t spared a single sympathetic thought for her grieving sister-in-law since coming to Jesus all the way.

It’s funny to consider that Berlitz and Aryana, people whom everyone else saw as silly at best, had the happiest and healthiest marriage of just about anyone we’ve seen in this entire series.  (With the possible exception of Enzo and Maura Fabrizio in the last book, though I have to deduct points because he is a murderer, and she badgered him into faith.)  But Berlitz and Aryana, unlike Ranold and Margaret or Paul and Jae, seemed genuinely love each other and (gasp! choke!) enjoy each other’s company.

Talk about you “traditional” marriages.

Anyway, Ranold continues his reign of awfulness by being rude to his driver, insisting that the man carry his bag from house to car and not just sit in the car and honk for Ranold to come.  Which, honestly, I rather prefer, it being a more direct approach, to Christian Paul’s smug condescension and lecturing to those he perceives as “under” him.

And…that’s it.  A chapter to remind us that Jenkins doesn’t care for his designated bad guy.

Oh well.  I guess it’s only fair, since we’ve spent three books cataloguing how much his designated good guys sucks.

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Posted on April 1, 2015, in Shadowed. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Like I said, I’m starting to think that Jerry Jenkins has the same mindset of Conservapedia. Both believe that fat or ugly or fat and ugly people never have anything wise to say. It’s basically the same mindset of a grade-school bully, where every time someone makes a point, the other person just goes, “Yeah, well you’re fat” and walks away feeling all proud, because it’s a far worse than to be fat than to be stupid.

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_obesity

  2. On marriage:

    You could easily come up with an Atheist society where strong government support for single moms and social reaction against old religious norms resulted in low marriage rates and high out-of-wedlock birth rates, and where most adults feel zero obligation to marry or be monogamous, and it’d have the added bonus of making a much better foil for the Christian protagonist as he feels called to follow old-fashioned morals.

    But I almost want to say Paul and Jae, and Jae’s parents, have to be conventionally married because anything else wouldn’t work with the intended Church Lady audience. Paul needs a wife and children so he can cheat and treat them badly and then claim to repent – if she were his ex or his babymama, she wouldn’t have the nearly same moral standing to complain about him chasing other women. Jae needs to be a virtuous wife so the intended readers won’t look down on her for committing the sins of premarital sex, adultary, and/or divorce. And Jae needs married parents, because if she’d been raised by believers in Free Love she’d be morally suspect to the Church Ladies, unless you actually spend time establishing her character as someone who reacted against what she was taught and decided to remain a virgin until marriage and be monogamous afterward. And that’s a lot more work than Jenkins wants to put in.

    • I’m sure satisfying the church ladies is a part of it, but I think it goes deeper than that. One of the most pernicious aspects of Christianity is that one can sin by thought as well as by deed. And that can be quite a limitation when doing creative writing.

      An interesting villain needs to be given some well thought out goals and motivations. But what happens when merely trying to imagine the desires of a truly evil person risks damning the author to hell? You end up with villains whose villainy is practically non-existent, like Ranold being fat and rude. Or someone like Styr Magnor who has actual evil intentions, but ends up as a mere background character who never really interacts with anyone.

      Creating a realistic character who does not respect traditional marriage would involve thinking about that person’s motivations. It might involve thinking about what it’s like to feel lust for someone to whom one is not married. And just thinking about that is already as bad a sin as actually committing adultery.

      And so evil atheist Ranold strongly disapproves his son’s divorces. And Paul used to cheat on his wife, but mainly just to alleviate the boredom of long trips. None of the characters can feel any inappropriate sexual desires, because that would require the author to think about it. It’s kind of sad really: Being so afraid of different values that you can’t even allow yourself to imagine people having different values.

      • Or perhaps reading about such different values might cause the audience to have sinful thoughts, especially if a villain has a coherent alternate moral system to live by. In fact, if the author does too good of a job presenting an opposing viewpoint, innocent readers might be convinced, and be damned!

    • I see the marriage thing as a simple worldbuilding failure. People mostly get married right now (Atheists as well as RTCs), and people mostly got married in the Bible, so obviously marriage is a universal ideal that nothing can unseat (even if Those People don’t do it properly, with a virginity test for the bride).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      You could easily come up with an Atheist society where strong government support for single moms and social reaction against old religious norms resulted in low marriage rates and high out-of-wedlock birth rates, and where most adults feel zero obligation to marry or be monogamous, and it’d have the added bonus of making a much better foil for the Christian protagonist as he feels called to follow old-fashioned morals.

      But as been hashed out many times before, worldbuilding is not one of Buck Jenkins GCAAT’s strong points. (As in all the other aspects of good writing.)

      Now if he could just stop pointing out all his bad worldbuilding with “See How Clever I Am? See? See? See?”

  3. Patrick Phelan

    Wow, Jenkins DOES have prophetic gift. Obviously, just before sitting down to write this chapter (in ten minutes and done), God gifted him a vision of the future, and he saw Ruby’s review of his books, and realised he hadn’t made his bad guys clownishly evil enough to be less appealing than his clownishly evil good guys, so he pounded away on Ruby’s favourite character to say “no, really, see, these are the bad guys! They’re FAT!”

    Then he said “whoo, three thousand more words! best author!” and, I dunno, fell over frothing violently at the mouth, I can’t tell what people like him do in their spare time.

  4. That Other Jean

    I take it that Jerry Jenkins, fat-hater extraordinaire, has never looked into a mirror?

    • The deepest loathing is self-loathing.

      (And I suspect this is also behind altar call culture: can you be sure, really really really sure, that you aren’t faking your conversion and going to hell after all? I mean you still have impure thoughts, and that’s not supposed to happen to the Godly. Better make a big show of things just to be on the safe side.)

      • A religion where being virtuous was actually possible wouldn’t last very long. To ensure a steady stream of sinners in need of salvation you need to have standards that are impossible to meet, but failing to meet them can still be blamed on the individual.

    • Patrick Phelan

      From what I hear, he’s looked into too many mirrors. He’s struggled with weight issues and apparently mostly triumphed over that, but not the associated self-lo… Or, yes, what Firedrake said.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        The image of a preacher literally too fat to stand up screaming from the pulpit about some Other (usually SEXUAL) sin happens IRL all the time; lots of church videos on YouTube.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for April 10, 2015 | The Slacktiverse

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