NRA: Squeezing the stallion

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 8-10

Today we deal with three pages. They involve at least two warheads exploding in American cities, yet they remain primarily preoccupied with traffic.

A traffic jam is presented as the primary obstacle facing our protagonists near Chicago, and traffic conditions are the only details provided in the report they hear of the perhaps-nuclear bombing of New York City.

We’ll get to that, but first let’s deal with the misogyny, because these three pages offer a condensed version of the gender stereotypes that pervade this entire series. More than anything else, what we encounter here is a contrast between Buck and Chloe — between man and woman, husband and wife, male and female.

The contrast is not subtle. The male is presented as heroic, resolute, resourceful, brave and take-charge. The female is presented as dependent, dithering, distracted, fearful and passive.

Here is what we read about Chloe in these pages:

Chloe snuggled close to him. “What do you mean ‘when we were first married’? We’re still newlyweds!”

… “Buck,” Chloe said, “our home. Where will we live?”

… It was like Chloe to worry about her home. … She had made their ridiculously expensive Fifth Avenue penthouse flat her own.

… “What are we going to do, Buck?”

… Chloe shrieked and buried her head in Buck’s chest.

… Chloe gasped … “What are you doing, Buck?” Chloe said.

Buck is given much, much more to say and to do. He’s in charge. He’s focused on the problem at hand and takes action to address it because he’s a manly man and that’s what manly men do.

And lest you doubt his manliness, Jerry Jenkins falls back on one of his favorite devices — the piloting of a powerful engine as a symbol of male virility:

Buck had never had patience for traffic jams, but this was ridiculous. His jaw tightened and his neck stiffened as his palms squeezed the wheel. The late-model car was a smooth ride, but inching along in near gridlock made the huge automotive power plant feel like a stallion that wanted to run free.

That has all the subtlety of an Extenze commercial. But the Extenze commercial is intentional, and therefore not nearly as funny.

Except this isn’t really funny either. Yes, at one level it’s hilarious — just look at the verbs in that paragraph: tightened, stiffened, squeezed, inching. Or the adjectives. And I don’t think any of that is deliberate or conscious. That stiffening as palms squeeze the smooth, huge stallion is the authors exposing themselves. Or, rather, it is the authors exposing the insecurities that underlie their patriarchal ideas about gender.

That insecurity is revealed at every step in these pages, as each of those helpless, shrieking questions of Chloe’s is countered by an assertion of Buck’s resolute, masculine know-how:

It was like Chloe to worry about her home. Buck was less concerned about that. He could live anywhere and seemed to have lived everywhere.

… “What are we going to do, Buck?”

Buck wished he knew what to say. He usually had an answer. Resourcefulness had been the trademark of his career. Regardless of the obstacle, he had somehow made do in every imaginable situation or venue in the world at one time or another.

… Chloe shrieked and buried her head in Buck’s chest. Buck scanned the horizon for what might have caused the concussion.

It seems the authors don’t know how to make Buck look brave except by making Chloe look frightened — or to make him look smart except by making her look dumb, or to make him look strong by making her look weak, or to make him seem big by making her look small. (And if that last one seems like an implied cheap shot or a bit of too-easy armchair psychiatry, re-read that amazing paragraph about Buck’s “huge automotive power plant.”)

It’s impossible to reconcile the portrayal of Chloe here with the very first thing we learned about her back in the first book. I’m sure I read more into it than the authors intended me too, but in our first glimpse of Chloe, she seemed impressive.

In the immediate aftermath of the Event, when the entire world was paralyzed with shock, chaos and grief, Chloe Steele, 20, somehow made her way from Stanford University to Mount Prospect, Ill. That’s about 2,200 miles, and Google maps says it would take a day and a half to drive it under optimal, non-apocalyptic conditions. That’s about what it took Chloe — at a time when no planes were flying, the railroads were shut down, the highways clogged with horrific accidents and driverless cars.

The authors didn’t explain how Chloe managed this, which somehow made it more impressive. She’s Chloe Steele — that’s how she did it and that is all you need to know.

I miss that Chloe — the smart, independent, omnicompetent young woman we thought we were meeting when she first showed up in Book 1. It’s a long way down from that initial appearance to this scene portraying Chloe as a helpless, shrieking, submissive little wife.

“Resourcefulness had been the trademark of his career,” we’re told here about Buck Williams. That, too, is difficult to reconcile with what we saw of Buck back in that same point of the first book. While Chloe was mysteriously skipping from Palo Alto to Chicago, it took Buck forever to get from Chicago to New York — this despite his having a massive expense account and the ability to charter a pilot. That expense account seems to be Buck’s idea of “resourcefulness” in a crisis.

A trademark of Jerry Jenkins’ career as a storyteller is his preference for telling over showing. It’s not just that he tends to tell readers one thing about his characters while showing them the opposite, but also that he doesn’t seem to realize that it matters quite a bit who is doing the telling.

These three pages heaping praise on Buck and belittling Chloe are presented from Buck’s point of view. It’s Buck Williams here who is praising himself. And it’s Buck Williams here who is making Chloe out to be a pathetic, whimpering, dependent child. Jenkins seems not to be aware that by presenting these opinions from Buck’s perspective he is inviting us to distrust, discount and disregard them. Or, rather, to disregard their face-value meaning and to reinterpret them in a way that accounts for Buck’s self-interest.

In other words, what Jenkins thinks he’s telling us is that Buck is a resourceful action hero while Chloe is a helpless little girl. But what he’s unintentionally signaling to us, instead, is that Buck is a pompous jerk who doesn’t respect his wife.

Brief detour here back to Creative Writing 101. Let’s say you’re writing a story with a character named Jim and you want your readers to regard Jim as brave. You can go about this in several different ways:

1. Show Jim doing something that requires bravery.

2. Have another character in your story describe Jim as brave.

3. Have the omniscient narrator of your story tell the reader that Jim is brave.

4. Have Jim tell the reader that Jim is brave.

Those are listed in order. The first is the most effective approach; the last is the least effective. The last one, in fact, can be counter-productive.

In these novels, Jenkins often goes with No. 4. He’s also fond of No. 2, but even then it comes across more like No. 4 because what we get is either Buck’s glowing praise of Rayford or Rayford’s glowing praise of Buck. That mutual admiration society lacks credibility because one gets the sense that what each character admires most about the other is that character’s reciprocal admiration for him.

Once again let me remind you that Jenkins charges $3,500 for the “Craftsmen” level writing courses offered by his “Christian Writer’s Guild,” but that those courses are only available to those who have successfully completed the $1,000 “Apprentice” and $1,280 “Journeyman” level courses.

I believe there’s a lot we can learn about writing from Jerry Jenkins, but not through those courses.

We haven’t yet discussed what actually happens in these three pages of Nicolae, so we’ll revisit them next week.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Yes, I agree.  Without discussing some other person we really don’t know, I guess I can just say that although some of his comments may have raised an eyebrow, I don’t see him being abusive or trolling to anyone here.  He appears to comment in good faith.

  • Mau de Katt

     

    So Rayford hears Jesus in (NKJV-style) English, Chaim Rosenzweig hears
    Jesus in Hebrew, Lukas Miklos hears Jesus in Greek, Mac McCullum hears
    Jesus in Redneck, etc.

    I really, <i.really want to hear those NKJV Bible passages Jesus was quoting spoken in Redneckese.

  • Mau de Katt

     (OK, the “html” portion of my brain must be offline tonight… what the heck was that drunken code I just tried to format with???)

  • BrokenBell

    Erp. I should’ve gone back and looked at your comment as well, huh? Thanks for the correction.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Actually I usually like Lliira’s commenting style very much:  her points on Twilight in this thread  a day ago were as incisive as anything else I’ve read on the subject.  But no,  I don’t agree at all with the comments – and not just the comments by Lliira - directed at Fearless Son; I found them to be unfair.  I think a constant and honest effort to be fair to other commenters is one of the things that makes the Slacktivist comment section enjoyable. 

     

  • Münchner Kindl

    The technical aspect of Fearleass Son argument – that girls can hurt boys because boys have the same joints – is true. Leaving aside the whole complex around it: that bullying is not always a one-off confrontation; that it’s often several against one; that it needs to be dealt with on another level, too (and from authority); that fighting back can get the victim in trouble with authorities – the technical aspect that humans, even girls with far less muscles, can fight against stronger boys, is true.

    A lot of the Budo (martial arts) styles which emphasize practical self-defense more than sports competition use levers, for example. A lever works on any joint and needs very little power from the person administering it.

    Aikido especially shows this, together with the “use your opponents strength against him” method – all attacks are turned into circular motions and either deflected back to your opponent or used to make him fall. So instead of needing strength to block a strike, you just deflect it and use the opponents own bigger mass and force to make him fall.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aikido
    Because Aikido was developed by a rather old Sensei (teacher/ master) for people with not a lot of muscle, not a lot of mass.

    Now true, you need several years of intensive training to be good enough to use it competently; it doesn’t help if your opponent is similarly skilled in another martial art (or wrestling); it doesn’t help (unless you are at master level) against more than one person; etc. The whole surrounding problems need still to be dealt with in another way.

    But technically, size and muscle mass alone do not make somebody automatically stronger or invincible. People have the same joints to use levers on; the law of physics make bigger and heavier people even easier to throw or fall once they move.

    Picking somebody up by the neck and throwing against a locker is something else entirely, of course. But that doesn’t count as defense in the martial art sense. Defense starts with you having a closed position. Every attack means opening your position and losing your balance, making you vulnerable to the defense move.

  • Beroli

     

    However, I don’t have any quarrel with Fearless Son’s general point.  I
    don’t read it as anything approaching “you can stop them, you just have
    to choose to”.

    Okay, you don’t read what he wrote as what he wrote.

    Why are you trying to make your reading comprehension problem Lliira’s problem? Words mean things.

    I think a constant and honest effort to be fair to other commenters
    is one of the things that makes the Slacktivist comment section
    enjoyable.

    The irony of this from you is staggering.

  • aunursa

    Sorry, I failed to include a sarcasm tag.  Mac hears Jesus in plain-ol’ English.  But anyone is welcome to translate it into Redneck. (For some reason, Jesus addresses Mac by his middle name.)

    Mac was about to tell the Lord that there were people— particularly from the previous seven years—that he was eager to see. Each had meant something special to him, had made a significant impact on his life. But before he could articulate it, Jesus spoke to him by name. “I know, Cleburn. And you shall see them soon. I long for that reunion as much as you do and will rejoice with you when you see them.”

    From Glorious Appearing

  • Ken

    Setting aside the idea that the New King James English is anyone’s native tongue, I suppose that means Nicky’s one world language thing didn’t get fully implemented. Not surprising, really; here we are two years after the one world government was set up, and the US president is still in office and still has control over nukes. The one world religion also seems pretty ecumenical so far.

    Does going through the prophecy checklist really count if all you do is make the check-mark?

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    Well, if you didn’t care about actually writing good books and were just interested in the money, maybe his writing course would be useful… after all he got a lot of people to buy these things, so he must have some trick.

    “Buck had never had patience for traffic jams, but this was ridiculous”

    Okay.  Imagine that 9-11 had just happened.  Was any person not a psychopath really thinking this way?  I’ve been in traffic jams where I’ve been getting angry, then see the ambulance and the covered bodies, and my attitude instantly changes.  But not with our heroes.

    Gah, I hate the way they muzzled Chloe.  She’s always been the one I most empathize with, especially in the scenes where she was in prison about to be killed.  That was the one time in these books I actually felt stirred emotionally.

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    Choe, the Rise of Antichrist

    Do not be unequally yoked

    Buck Williams was probably in the most unequally yoked marriage in history.  His wife, the Antichrist, sat next to him in the driver’s side part of the Lincoln.  In many ways she was not the different from the girl he had fell in love with, except for a hardness in her eyes and a lilting way of speaking that was musical and hypnotic.  But she still had the smile, that way of  brushing the hair out of her eyes that was the same old Chloe.  And he was conflicted.

    To divorce her would be wrong, as she hasn’t asked for one, and hasn’t been unfaithful, as far as he knew.  And, God help him, he still loved her.  Was it possible for her to repent of this madness?

    She put one hand casually on his knee and one head on his shoulder.  His heart did a flip flop and he looked down at her.

    “Watch the road dear,” she said.

    He swerved, barely missing the edge of a taxi.  A squeal of brakes, a loud honking.  Traffic had ground to a standstill, there was no moving down this street at all.

    “Maybe we should have opted for motorcycles,” he quipped.  Chloe giggled, and his heart lurched again.  He could almost pretend that things were the same as before.

    She sat back and folded her arms.  “I suppose I should have called for a helicopter ride, but they couldn’t have taken all of us.  I wanted you to all be there as I make my U.N. speech.  Although I don’t think there’s going to be any flights to New York today.  They’d make an exception for me, but it might not be all that safe.”  She sighed.  “Our home, our stuff.  All gone.  Vaporized just like that.  Somehow that pisses me off more than anything.  Well, they’re going to find out what happens when you piss me off.”

    “What are your plans, Chloe?” Amanda said in a slow small voice, as if she were trying to talk down a jumper.

    Chloe turned around.  “Why don’t you tell me?  I mean you people are supposed to have the next years all mapped out right?”  She was met with silence and she snorted.  “That’s the problem with prophecy.  It never tells you anything useful until after it’s too late.  Well my first step will be to stop this kind of nonsense…”  She waved around at the chaos around them.  “from ever happening again.  We need to crack down and crack down hard on dissidents.”

    “But human rights…” her dad began.

    “ARE IRRELEVANT!” she snarled.  “The Constitution is a nice idea, but people are too selfish and petty to make it work.  If the choice is between order and freedom, my choice is order.  And order is achieved through unity and strength.”

    They sat in silence as Buck made his way through the gridlock.  He felt his wife’s hand on his knee again, and he repressed a shudder.

    I’m in love with the Beast from the Sea, he thought.

    Am I going to Hell?

  • JenL

    Areyoufuckingkiddingme.
    What’s wrong with a Ford F250? I’ve seen some of the new ones. They’re
    frakkin’ roomy, all the bells and whistles. You could haul anything in
    those.

    I seriously doubt anybody *hauls* anything *in* a Lincoln truck.  That’s not the point.  You might hook something very expensive up behind it – a big boat or motorhome – so that those you pass on the freeway can add up the total $ value and whistle at the extreme by which your money exceeds your needs. 

    But put something *in* the truck?  You might scratch the paint! 

  • JenL

    Was that true for any other LB reader but me? No idea. But it can’t be
    overstated how conservative Evangelicals are not reading the same books
    you and I are.

    I was right there with ya.  Now, I can look back at it and see the
    problems.  As a kid, the notion that someone could worship the wrong God
    entirely and yet *still be a good person* was literally a new idea that
    I got from that book.  I was

  • aunursa

    I suppose that means Nicky’s one world language thing didn’t get fully implemented.

    Well TurboJesus doesn’t have to play by Nicky’s rules.  So the one world language could have been fully implemented for the duration of the Tribulation, but Jesus could speak to each RTC in his or her native language.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Look, whatever FearlessSon’s comment did or did not say and regardless of my reading comprehension or lack thereof, I will reiterate my central point:  if you ask someone for their opinion and he responds with a civil and apparently sincere reply, you should respond with the same civility and sincerity.  If you think the opinion he gives in response to your request is wildly off-base, there are better ways to express this than “*headdesk*” and comments to the effect of”you don’t know what you’re talking about, so don’t say anything” or “just stop”

    If you want to be outraged by “dangerous” and “deluded” beliefs I would suggest there are better targets out there. 

    I think  we can agree we’ve carried this discussion as far as we can.

  • Beroli

     

    Look, whatever FearlessSon’s comment did or did not say and regardless
    of my reading comprehension or lack thereof, I will reiterate my central
    point:  if you ask someone for their opinion and he responds with a
    civil and apparently sincere reply, you should respond with the same
    civility and sincerity.

    You think that beliefs, no matter how outrageous, should never be responded to with anger as long as they are expressed “civilly” and “sincerely”? You are welcome to live by that belief. Given that you are not a moderator here, nor did Lliira, me, or anyone else ask your opinion of their personal etiquette, you should probably stop trying to demand other people do so.

  • The_L1985

    Don’t forget, they must be entirely lacking in anything remotely resembling suspense. I read a trilogy from the Lancaster County series, and by the end of the first book I knew 90% of the plot points for books 2 and 3. (More disturbingly, the book repeatedly implies that the Amish aren’t Christians, and are somehow hostile to Christianity. The Amish.)

    That has never happened before in any other series of books I have ever read.

  • Jenny Islander

    In the universe where Buck (“Please call me Cameron, my high school English teacher called me Buck!”) and Rayford (“Don’t call me Captain, we’re not on a plane”) Steele are decent people, everybody in the car is tensely discussing how to get through the traffic jam because if they let themselves think about why there is a traffic jam they will be paralyzed.  When they get somewhere relatively safe, they’ll let themselves grieve and rage.

    Also Chloe is checking the street map for gas stations and alternate routes and redialing everybody in their cell, hoping that a call will get through.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     I could get behind that, all right. A disaster of that magnitude – I can imagine not wanting to let it process because you’re deathly afraid your brain might just stop working and you’ll curl up into a little ball.

    Too bad Jenkins is not that writer.

  • Ursula L

    Don’t forget, they must be entirely lacking in anything remotely resembling suspense. I read a trilogy from the Lancaster County series, and by the end of the first book I knew 90% of the plot points for books 2 and 3. (More disturbingly, the book repeatedly implies that the Amish aren’t Christians, and are somehow hostile to Christianity. The Amish.)
    That has never happened before in any other series of books I have ever read.

    The whole genre of Amish romance novels written by conservative evangelical Christians is odd.  

    The woman whom I aide for is quite fond of the genre, so I’ve read a few, as they’re lying around her house.  She also had a couple books on Amish theology: Amish Grace and The Amish Way.  Going by those, the books are very much about conservative evangelical Christians, not Amish Christians. 

    What is really interesting is the difference between the typical examples of the genre and the books written by an actual Old Order Amish woman, Linda Byler.  

    In her books, Amish don’t dress all the same.  In one, when a family moved to a new district, there was a lot of attention on how the women worked on learning to style their hair differently, to fit the district’s custom, and how they made new wardrobes.  The protagonist of the book is a teenage girl, and she’s as concerned about her weight as you’d expect in a book about any teenage girl.  She likes the new outfits, she thinks the apron style makes her look thinner.  There is also fashion differences even within the district’s style.  Trends come and go with the fullness and cut of sleeves, the length of skirts, the choice of colors.  The girls and women in the stories put a lot of thought into their clothing, and will do things like sew a new dress if they’re going out on a date.  

    While Amish church districts have a hierarchy, with bishops, ministers and deacons, in her books it isn’t nearly as authoritarian as in the books written by evangelicals.  When their is a problem, no one goes running off to ask the bishop what to do.  

    Problems are sometimes solved within the community and tradition, and sometimes solved with non-Amish help.  In one book, a woman who has a very unpleasant experience with the hospital birth of her first child seeks out a midwife service run by two Amish women for latter births, and is much happier. In another book, when the protagonist’s mother has a mental breakdown, the family finds help with modern medical care, when the mother is briefly hospitalized, has surgery for a thyroid condition, and takes antidepressants and other medication to help her recover.  

    In the evangelical-written books, shunning is absolute and an Amish person who breaks the rules of shunning and stays in contact with someone shunned faces severe consequences. In Byler’s books, people are flexible about shunning.  For example, when one of her protagonist’s boyfriend is contacted by his mother, who left the family and was shunned when he was a child, both the protagonist (a woman in her early twenties) and her boyfriend, travel together, unchaperoned, to visit his mother. When they realize she is dying, they stay for several weeks, caring for her until her death and after to settle her affairs.  They aren’t stressed at all by the idea that they’re completely ignoring a decades-old shunning decision in order to care for a dying woman.  

    The mother had left because she was utterly overwhelmed from having six children in as many years.  A combination of overwork and postpartum depression.  While birth control is not directly discussed, it’s fairly clear that Byler is writing with the belief that while large families are valued, people also need to know what they can handle, and make decisions accordingly.  

    They also aren’t stressed by an unmarried couple traveling together and living together in the sick mother’s house to care for her.  They’re aware of the conservative Christian interest in “courtship” and not even touching, and there are some people in their district who think it is a good idea.  But the young woman in question talks about the practice with her parents, separately and together, and they’re not sure it is a good idea.  In the end, she sets her own boundaries, based on what she is comfortable with – in her case, she’s comfortable with hugging, kissing and holding each other, but not much more, before marriage. 

    In the evangelical-written books, Amish people confronted with modern technology are often quite helpless.  In Byler’s books, they’re comfortable with using technology. One protagonist who works as a cook and housekeeper at a non-Amish ranch uses all the modern tools of her trade at work, with complete ease. Her family has telephone, kept outside the house, with an answering machine, and it isn’t just for emergencies.  They’ll schedule calls with relatives who live far away and talk just to stay in touch, they’ll call to have pizza delivered, they’ll call to arrange to hire drivers so they can go to the mall or anywhere else.  

    The contrast between the evangelical-written books and the Amish-written books is fascinating.  Overall, I think the characters in Byler’s books are more realistic and well-rounded, not only because she’s a better writer than some of the other popular writers in the genre, but also because she’s writing from inside the culture, without projecting the evangelical Christian agenda onto Amish material culture.  

  • Ursula L

     I could get behind that, all right. A disaster of that magnitude – I can imagine not wanting to let it process because you’re deathly afraid your brain might just stop working and you’ll curl up into a little ball.
    Too bad Jenkins is not that writer.

    We have a disaster that is two cities hit by nuclear bombs.  

    This is not unprecedented.  In fact, there is a very good precedent for the aftermath of this situation, namely Japan in the aftermath of WWII.  The modern bombs are more powerful than the WWII nuclear bombs, but that is counterbalanced by the fact that there wasn’t all of the other attacks of conventional warfare going on, and that these two cities in the US are a smaller proportion of the nation than the two cities that were destroyed in the much smaller nation of Japan.  

    There are also numerous examples of communities and cultures dealing with the atrocities and scale of modern warfare, which is horrific even if the conflict doesn’t go nuclear.  From WWII, you have Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands, China, the Philippians, etc.  More recently, their are examples such as Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan again, etc.  

    So we don’t need to use our imaginations to figure out how people cope with this type of attack.  We merely need to recognize people outside the US as people and observe how they cope with this type of attack.  

    And people generally don’t shut down because when you’re stuck in this sort of attack, surviving the initial blow but unsure of surviving the aftermath, you’re too busy taking care of yourself and the people you care about to focus on the full scale of the problem.  

    If the Tribbles are caught in a traffic jam outside a city that was just hit by a nuclear bomb or a major air raid, then they aren’t going to be thinking about the full effects of the destruction.  But they also aren’t going to be griping about how the traffic keeps them from enjoying the full benefit of the luxuries of their new car.

    Instead, they will be doing, more or less, what we see Chloe doing, but without the misogyny-glasses that transform her very important concerns into trivia.  

    Where will we live?  How will we find uncontaminated food?  Can we even survive the secondary effects of a nuclear attack that didn’t kill us outright, or are we facing certain death by radiation poisoning?  What about our family?  What about our friends?  

    Meta-Chloe is once again fighting to tell her story, as she asks her husband where  (and how) they will live in the aftermath of a nuclear attack that targeted the city where they were living.  

    Because “where will we live” is a very important question when your home has just been bombed.  One cold winter night, and it becomes your last question, as hypothermia and exposure provide a final answer of “you won’t.”  

  • The_L1985

     The really weird part about Beverly Lewis’s books in particular (the Lancaster County series) is that she clearly knows a lot of things about the Amish that most outsiders wouldn’t*–but still writes wallbangingly-bad assumptions about religion.

    The divergence between “real” Christians and the Amish?  “Real” Christians have the smug satisfaction of knowing that they are “saved,” whereas the Amish have the humility to realize that you can’t assume things like that.  And the book portrays the former as being better than the latter.

    * This doesn’t necessarily mean that she ever was Amish–she says she had a Mennonite upbringing in the author blurb, but that certainly doesn’t mean she was Amish in particular.  Her patronizing attitude towards Amish people is glaringly obviuos.

  • The_L1985

     My parents had a Lincoln Town Car (1985) when I was a tiny tot.  I remember Mom complaining about how she couldn’t fit into parking spaces half the time.  It broke down a lot.  We traded it in for a Saturn when it was only 8 years old because we were tired of walking home from places and we thought Saturn cars would be The Wave Of The Future.

    I don’t consider it a coincidence that every single car my folks have purchased since was made by a Japanese company.

  • The_L1985

     Meh, you can enjoy SOME trashy novels in that way. I prefer to read the really badly-written ones, for reasons entirely unrelated to sexual stimulation. ;)

  • The_L1985

     When I first saw the Cadillac Escalade (a couple years pre-Navigator), I realized that the SUV had gone too far.

    It’s supposed to be an off-road vehicle.  If you never drive off-road, but you need to carry lots of people on a regular basis, GET A VAN!

    Also, 2 adults and 2 children does not qualify as “lots of people.”  I’m talking about bringing half the Scout troop or kiddy sports team somewhere.

  • The_L1985

     I dunno.  If I knew enough about cars to fix up an old Continental, I might drive one from the 60′s or so.  They were classy as hell.

    The Lincolns I know, from the 80′s on?  Not worth the money!

  • The_L1985

     IIRC, Lincoln was the last auto company left to make bench seats.  When I was growing up in the 90′s and my grandparents wanted to fit themselves, my parents, my great-grandmother, and two grandkids (me and my brother) into a roughly-medium-sized car, they COULD.  Comfortably.

    I miss bench seats.

  • The_L1985

    More like:

    My papa told me, “Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’
    If you dont’ quit drivin’ that hot rod Lincoln.”

  • The_L1985

     One word (letter?):  Thirty H’s.

  • The_L1985

    This is even funnier when you consider that the Volvo logo is the scientific symbol for “male.”

    And my dad, who was born and raised well away from the Mason-Dixon line, still drove a Lincoln when he came into money.  It’s not a Southern thing.

    Most Southerners will simply dream of a bigger fancier pickup truck.

  • The_L1985

     If I’d been tall enough or strong enough to do that, I would have.  You are so damn lucky to have spent your childhood above the 5th percentile for height.

  • The_L1985

     My dad told me that “ignore it” tripe.

    Only he went further, into “laugh at it and pretend you think it’s funny.  That confuses them.”  I never could muster up the courage to tell a teacher what was going on, much less laugh.

    I can only imagine how bad things would have gotten if it had progressed into actual physical violence against me.

  • The_L1985

     I’m also curious as to how he would have handled the female bullies I grew up with.  When you’re emotionally tormented for years on end by your peers, you almost WISH they’d just hit you and get it over with.

  • The_L1985

    This, so much.

    That, and I knew what a Muslim was at 10.  To me, the Calormenes were obviously different from Muslims because they worshiped a different god.  I never once connected Tash to Islam, and was shocked to realize that other people did when I heard criticisms as an adult.   Especially since I was told that “Muslims like Jesus, too, but they believe he’s just another good person, not part of God.”*  It’s hard for even a really sheltered kid like I was to hate people who think Jesus was a nice guy.

    To me, the criticism was of people who deliberately chose to worship cruel forms of deity (Tash, Jerry Falwell’s God, Molech), not of any real-world religion in particular.  Since Tash is supposed to be that world’s equivalent of Satan (i.e., not God, Mohammed, or the deities of any non-Christian religion), the obvious conclusion I drew was “Goodness is about what you do and how you treat people, not your religion.”

    C.S.Lewis is one of the main reasons I was able to be even remotely polite as a teenager when I started having classes with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and atheists.  I had literally never knowingly encountered anyone who wasn’t a conservative Christian until that point.

    Also, in re: Susan, I’d felt that the reason Susan was not a friend of Narnia anymore was because she’d lost her sense of wonder and adventure and only cared about “girly stuff.” It’s hard to see Susan as being “slutty.”

    * I was also mistakenly told (by my mother) that Muslims worship Mohammed as the Messiah.  When I learned that Islam doesn’t have a Messiah, the things I knew about Islam suddenly made a lot more sense.

  • The_L1985

     Some bullies have real power, some don’t.

    The people who made my middle-school years miserable didn’t have any sort of real power.  They were rejected by the JV cheerleading squad for not having the grades, and they took it out on me because I was a 4’2″, rail-thin little girl who couldn’t do anything worth doing in P.E. and spent most of her time buried in a book.

    They didn’t have much in the way of power at all.  I was simply the only one in the school who had less.

  • The_L1985

     That’s the sad part.  They sound so much like sockpuppets that it’s hard to tell the difference.

  • The_L1985

     I have to admit that while FS doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I can’t help siding with him on this.

    To say, “Your suggestion is bad because of problems X, Y, and Z” would be perfectly ok.

    However, the first few replies to FS were “Your suggestion is bad because you’re not a woman.”  What?

  • Ursula L

    The people who made my middle-school years miserable didn’t have any sort of real power.  They were rejected by the JV cheerleading squad for not having the grades, and they took it out on me because I was a 4’2″, rail-thin little girl who couldn’t do anything worth doing in P.E. and spent most of her time buried in a book.

    They didn’t have much in the way of power at all.  I was simply the only one in the school who had less.

    That sounds like real power to me.

    Their lack of power compared to anyone else does nothing to relieve them of their obligations to act with justice and kindness to anyone less powerful than they are. 

    And it is a very real problem.  When people with relatively little power  try to assert their power and improve their position by abusing those with even less power, it eliminates the possibility of solidarity between people with relatively little power.  And that is something that the people with the most power want, because it is easier for them to dominate the less powerful when the less powerful are busy fighting among themselves rather that working collectively to address their common problems coming from the great power difference between the most powerful people and the average person.   

  • Ursula L

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that she ever was Amish–she says she had a Mennonite upbringing in the author blurb, but that certainly doesn’t mean she was Amish in particular.  Her patronizing attitude towards Amish people is glaringly obviuos. 

    My understanding is that the Amish are not a subgroup of the Mennonites, nor are the Mennonites a subgroup of the Amish.  Rather, the Amish, Mennonites, Brethren and Hutterites are all examples of subgroups within the Radical Anabaptist tradition that developed in the Germanies and central Europe.  (Which is distinct from the Baptist tradition that developed in England and the US, despite the shared belief in adult baptism.)

    From what I understand, the difference between living with the “hope of salvation” and the “knowledge of salvation” is one of the key theological differences between Amish and Mennonites.  

    There are also a variety of cultural differences, and differences that blur the line between theology and culture such as the different understandings of shunning.

    So I can understand someone raised Mennonite, particularly a more conservative type of Mennonite, focusing on the disagreement they have with the Amish belief in the hope of salvation rather than the Mennonite belief in the knowledge of salvation, because it is one of the key differences between the groups.  And often rivalries between closely related groups are more bitter than rivalries between groups which are distant from each other.  

    And someone who was raised Mennonite, but who moved towards conservative evangelical Christianity, would be even more distant from shared beliefs with the Amish, since conservative evangelical Christianity doesn’t share the Mennonite beliefs about the ways in which faith must be shown in action, such as strict pacifism. (Except for what Fred calls the big four political positions.)   Forget about the Amish belief in living a distinctive and separate life from the world.  That’s works-not-faith, and heresy to someone who has a strict belief in faith-not-works.  

    And while people characterized as “works-not-faith” frequently believe that genuine faith is necessary, and necessarily expressed through works, people who belief in “faith-not-works” can become suspicious or even paranoid about works, as something that distracts from the importance of faith and suggests the ability to have control over one’s own salvation through deliberate action in life.

    Beverly Lewis’s works are odd, in that she writes about the Amish, but in a way that is fairly clear that they have some theological beliefs which her conservative evangelical readers will consider Wrong.  But at least she recognizes their distinctive beliefs as being what they believe.  

    But there are even odder writers, who write Amish as essentially having conservative evangelical beliefs, including strict faith-not-works.   But they are still for some reason living a life that is distinct and separate from the world, for religious reasons, and despite the characters being written as not believing that these actions in life are part of their faith.  

    I can’t say that I’ve ever enjoyed the Amish Romance genre for their stories.  But they’re fascinating for the perspective they provide on different theological views, as different writers with different US conservative evangelical theologies try to write stories fitting their beliefs into the form created by Amish material culture.  Including beliefs that render Amish material culture irrelevant to faith and theology.  

  • JenL

    I’m also curious as to how he would have handled the female bullies I
    grew up with.  When you’re emotionally tormented for years on end by
    your peers, you almost WISH they’d just hit you and get it over with.

    In my case, the “laugh and don’t let them know they hurt you” bit *did* work on the emotionally abusive (girls and boys) bullies – but only once I’d changed schools and had a chance to start out that way.  Bullies at the new school made an attempt or two, didn’t get the reaction they were hoping for, and moved on. 

    At the old school?  With the same old bullies?  “Laugh at them” or “ignore them” just simply doesn’t work if the problem is that they’ve *been* bullying you for a couple of years and KNOW exactly what hurts you the worst.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    if the problem is that they’ve *been* bullying you for a couple of years and KNOW exactly what hurts you the worst

    Absolutely.

    A army-brat friend of mine in college used to talk about the technique of pretending to be emotionally wounded by arbitrary choices of topics that bullies in new schools tossed at her, thereby shaping the bullies’ behavior away from the targets that would actually have upset her. This struck me as kind of brilliant, though I suspect it’s a difficult technique to pull off. (I’ve never actually seen it done as far as I know.)

  • Münchner Kindl

    In the immediate aftermath of the Event, when the entire world was paralyzed with shock, chaos and grief, Chloe Steele, 20, somehow made her way from Stanford University to Mount Prospect, Ill. That’s about 2,200 miles, and Google maps says it would take a day and a half to drive it under optimal, non-apocalyptic conditions. That’s about what it took Chloe — at a time when no planes were flying, the railroads were shut down, the highways clogged with horrific accidents and driverless cars.
    The authors didn’t explain how Chloe managed this, which somehow made it more impressive. She’s Chloe Steele — that’s how she did it and that is all you need to know.
    I miss that Chloe — the smart, independent, omnicompetent young woman we thought we were meeting when she first showed up in Book 1. It’s a long way down from that initial appearance to this scene portraying Chloe as a helpless, shrieking, submissive little wife.

    I think Fred is making a mistake here. This thousand-mile-journey of Chloe didn’t happen – because it wasn’t described on-screen, like Buck’s heroic journey, nor was it planned in advance, like some of Buck’s  other travels. Things that are neither shown nor told don’t exist.

    Secondly, when Buck travels through Manhattan, Fred points out that Manhatten in the LBverse has some very odd dimensions compared to real-life Manhattan (15 miles long vs 2 miles or something like that), as another proof of no fact-checking when it’s incredibly simple.

    So unless it’s stated in the text that Chloe travelled two thousand miles, she might just have walked a couple of blocks or driven half an hour with her car.

    Obviously, her achievment wasn’t great and so her change isn’t that drastic, either.

  • E-foster

     its bad that all of the main characters are vapid, materialistic fuckwads who never shut up about their Ridiculously Expensive  Manhattan Penthouse Apartment and are perhaps the least considerate and self-aware characters ever concieved.

    they are like the antithesis of everything that Christians are theoretically supposed to be.

    its almost like this book is a sly mockery written by someone who hates Christians, though i know thats giving them too much credit