TPD pp 196-199: Backstory madness!

Whew~! I was beginning to think that I’d have to buy a copy of this book. I’d seriously hate to spend money on it. Thankfully, it finally turned up after a systematic search (as opposed to the haphazard “shuffle through boxes” approach).

Alright, where were we? Oh yeah…. real estate.

Andy and June Forsythe had a very nice home, a modern log house on the outskirts of town, not far from Forsythe lumber.

oh god anything but more real estate.

Oh good, it’s actually a “dinner fellowship”. So, okay, so google tells me a lot of churches have this on their schedule but not what it is, and wikipedia tells me that “fellowship” is the people in a given church, so… do they… eat people? Or something? No, I’m joking. Obviously this is some kind of event… in a home… with food apparently… and… churchy people.

Chaos doesn’t know either. He posits that “it might be where you have a church dinner and then afterwards talk about God?” Kae suggests “it kind of sounds like it’s basically a… group of people who host dinner for each other in turn?”

We’re really wrong for this.

Anyway, so the fellowship in question consist of Hank, Mary, and “many others of the Remnant” (and can I just take a minute to say I hate that name? Seriously, it sounds so… post-apocalyptic. They’re facing a downswing in their particular faith, not the end of the world.). The humans appear to be the Colemans, the Coopers, the harrises, some college kids, and the Forsythes, and some other unnamed humans; there are also the angels Krioni, Triskal, Seth, Chimon, and Mota hanging out in the rafters.

Oh god, and then the next few pages are going down the lineup of everyone’s backstory. Alright, let’s see what we can make of this:

The first couple we meet have been churchgoers “all their lives” but only “made a serious commitment to Jesus Christ a year ago”. You know, going to church every week is a commitment. If you can’t find Jesus in a church, how is anyone supposed to find him? If it takes a special action on his part, as here when the “Lord had spoken to their hearts”, then how does anyone escape hell? Doesn’t that mean everyone who is damned is damned because Jesus wants them to be damned, since he didn’t reach out to touch them? And they’re damned whether they go to church or not?

The next couple had been going to another church, but “never knew much about the Bible or about Christ”. See previous answer.

The next couple always knew the Lord. Always? As infants? Well whatever.

Oh look, more glossing over. You know, if you can’t write more than a handful of unique characters, maybe you shouldn’t write the chronicle of an entire town on a grand scale? Maybe you should stick with the small secret rebels and build them in-depth? Just a thought.

And now comes the interesting sociological phenomenon: everyone’s fears and darker impulses building on each other. One person says it’s war, he can hrdly walk outside without feeling like he’s “running through a shower of spears”. The next insists it’s Satan out there, like a lion trying to devour everyone. The next adds that they should do something about it. Someone brings up the university, and the high school: “The kids are messing around with Satanic stuff like you wouldn’t believe. We used to trip out on drugs, now it’s demons,” says a high school student, who totally sounds like an ordinary high school student. Next thing you know it’ll be mass hysteria and rioting and then innocent people being burned to death for wearing hippie leis.

Ron discusses the classic gateway drug: “I think I got into the Satanic Stuff […] when i got my fortune told. Hey, that’s when I caught it, no doubt.”

So… non-Christian religion is not only of the devil, evil, makes you turn into a drug addict, makes you steal and do “all kinds of horrible things”, makes you “end up sleeping in the weirdest places. . .  and with the weirdest people”, but it’s also a disease you can catch just by partaking in innocent activities, say, at a carnival.

“There are more witches and fortune-tellers around here than Sunday school teachers!”

Well all I can say is…..

 

So anyway…

They gather to pray for the poor lost souls of the teenagers of the town, possessed and strung out on drugs. I’m just glad they’re not reaching for the torches and pitchforks. The fervent prayers become a song and the angels sing along.

(can it be this song? Please?)

 

Meanwhile, Kate sits alone, eating dinner her husband didn’t bother to come home for, wondering where her daughter was tonight, crying into her plate.

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9 Responses to TPD pp 196-199: Backstory madness!

  1. Jarred H says:

    You guys are pretty close to your idea of what a fellowship dinner is. It’s just where a bunch of church people get together and have a meal together. There might be a Bible study or someone might give a homily after everyone eats, but that’s not strictly necessary. Also, fellowship dinners are often held at the church (assuming the church has a space to hold it) after a worship service.

    If you can’t find Jesus in a church, how is anyone supposed to find him?

    In fairness, look at the number of 1%-ers who sit in church regularly and yet never seem to find themselves uncomfortable with Jesus’s scathing remarks about wealth and people who collect and/or hoard it….

    So… non-Christian religion is not only of the devil, evil, makes you turn into a drug addict, makes you steal and do “all kinds of horrible things”, makes you “end up sleeping in the weirdest places. . . and with the weirdest people”,

    Since none of this has happened to me, should I assume I’m doing witchcraft wrong? (Okay, Freyja is snickering over that one.)

  2. Thank you for going through this book and pointing out things from the outside. I was on the inside (and a young teenager) when this book came out so it all seemed so normal. We were the oppressed, fighting the good fight as the “Holy Remnent” we were better than those culture christians that claimed to be christians because thats how they grew up, we were better than those that cam to church on sunday, sat on their butts and then went home and did nothing. We were fighting to get satan out of our towns and cities. (Satan being the one that made other religions, and made them look like fun, and tempted to drugs, alchohol, and)

    And how did we fight this you might ask? Did we go picketing? did we go marching around our town to make social change? No, we sat on our fat knees and said words to the sky asking our big sky daddy, our big magic man to wave his magic wand and change the hearts and minds around us, while we stayed hidden in our houses.

    Back to the book, that is what is happening in this scene, are they going around trying to take back their town which they feel is under attack? Nope, they go to each others houses and pray together. And we as the omniscient readers get to see the invisible forces gaining power above them that will take care of the situation for them.

  3. jenl1625 says:

    Anyway, so the fellowship in question consist of Hank, Mary, and “many others of the Remnant” (and can I just take a minute to say I hate that name? Seriously, it sounds so… post-apocalyptic. They’re facing a downswing in their particular faith, not the end of the world.).

    In the faith I was raised in, the two were closely connected. The idea was that we were to go spread Teh Big Guy’s Word to all the world – he literally *couldn’t* come back until the opportunity had reached everyone. (Never mind that we couldn’t know ”the day or the hour”, so he could come *anytime*.) And the closer we came to succeeding, the harder He Who Rules the Hot Place would work against us.
    There were a couple of specific terms that were used – ”the shaking of the church” referred to the idea that false prophets would arise, inside and outside the church. Many would be mislead, and would leave the church. Those who stayed true – the Real Believers – were ”the Remnant Church”. It would be The Remnant Church that would be taken up to heaven upon TurboJesus’ return. (We didn’t believe in a Rapture, we had an ”Investigative Judgment” wherein you were saved or damned *before* he came back.)
    But in that mindset, seeing a lot of people leaving your church (due to demonic activity, no less!) would look an awful lot like the beginning of The End.

    Ron discusses the classic gateway drug: “I think I got into the Satanic Stuff […] when i got my fortune told. Hey, that’s when I caught it, no doubt.”

    So… non-Christian religion is not only of the devil, evil, makes you turn into a drug addict, makes you steal and do “all kinds of horrible things”, makes you “end up sleeping in the weirdest places. . . and with the weirdest people”, but it’s also a disease you can catch just by partaking in innocent activities, say, at a carnival.

    Oh, absolutely, yes. Except for the ”innocent activities” part. On the one hand, we didn’t really believe in outright devil possession, or physical demonic attacks. On the other hand, when you chose to mess around with the occult? At best, you were wasting your time and money. But there was a very real concern that if you messed around with fortune tellers, tarot cards, ouija boards – to the extent they worked, it was by tapping into … bad things. At least as I was taught growing up, there was no way that a medium could *really* be talking to your dead grandma. But to the extent the medium knew stuff he or she shouldn’t, it was *very* possible that the devil was passing on the information, to get you to open your heart and mind and give him a toehold on your soul.
    We didn’t emphasize guardian angels (too Catholic or something), but I clearly recall being told as a child (at church school) that if you entered certain places – movie theaters, casinos, *bowling alleys* – the combination of smoking, alcohol, bad language, and just plain old *bad people* would be enough to cause our guardian angels to STAY OUTSIDE. Go into a place like that, you’re on your own with no protection against the forces of evil. Watch a questionable movie at home? No problem. Watch the same movie in the theater? You may have just taken the first steps down the road to hell.
    As a 3rd and 4th grader who was very possibly the only kid in my (very small) class who’d actually been *in* a movie theater and a bowling alley – noticeably non-smoky in both cases – I was skeptical. And at 13, when I visited Circus Circus in Las Vegas, I didn’t see anything so horrible about their casino, either.
    And they wonder why so many kids, fed those kinds of lines as young children, grow up and leave the church.

  4. Firedrake says:

    jenl1625 – wow. I suppose that, like all the lies spread about homosexuals, it might work with the “good” kids who never dare break a rule and so never meet the real thing they’re supposedly being warned against.

    (One thing that anti-magic Christians never quite seem to manage to deal with is healing. They like the idea, if they’re of a revival-meeting kind of denomination, but they can’t admit that anyone else could do it. Quite how fixing someone’s constant pain is Evil if it’s done by the wrong person, they have trouble explaining.)

    • Skyknight says:

      I skimmed through a book by one of Pat Robertson’s cohorts called “The Beautiful Side of Evil”. Basically, the idea (and not just from that book) is that harming people is just a FORM of evil. Evil’s REAL identity is denying God any amount of glory. When the “wrong” people perform clerical healing, they’re necessarily giving the credit to someone other than God–which is unacceptable. It’s rather akin to supralapsarianism claiming that both salvation and perdition are necessary for God to be properly glorifiable. Love is just a means, not an end; only divine glory can ever be a proper end.

      Although the terminology is altered a bit, one of Jack Hyles’s statements comes to mind–“All evil is sin, but not all sin is evil.” REALLY tells you something about the RTC God’s priorities.

  5. Mau de Katt says:

    “The kids are messing around with Satanic stuff like you wouldn’t believe.”

    Yes, and the Very Alarming Demonic Stuff they are doing is… meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other Eastern-religion-based practices, as well as the more common occultic things like astrology, Tarot cards, and all the New Age religious stuff that was making such publicity at the time (crystals, herbs, aura-reading, “channelers” aka mediums, etc). Oh yeah, and on the other side you had all the heavy Metal afficionados with their deliberately “Satanic” costumes and makeup and such. Dio (ever see the cover to Holy Diver? lol), Ozzy, and the Glam Metal groups like Mötley Crüe had been really big several years before, so of course they were the ones the Fundagelical “Spiritual Warfare” types still obsessed about.

    So… non-Christian religion is not only of the devil, evil, makes you turn into a drug addict, makes you steal and do “all kinds of horrible things” … but it’s also a disease you can catch just by partaking in innocent activities, say, at a carnival.

    Yes. The belief is that Satan is behind and responsible for any belief or practice that is not Real True Christianity. Just by partaking in any of these things, even on a casual, investigative, or “just for fun” level, gives Satan permission to “oppress” you (if you’re a Real True Christian) or outright attack you even to the point of possession (if you’re not a RTC). This is why the Spiritual Warfare types freaked out so badly about churches offering yoga classes and such (“it’s not exercise, it’s SATAN’S INROAD INTO THE CHURCH!!!!”). So Ron’s getting his fortune told resulted in a demon and/or demons attaching themselves to him and moving in on his life, mind, and soul.

    The Fundagelicals still believe this, in fact. This is why they fight so very hard in the so-called Culture Wars, because they believe that if Real True Christianity doesn’t “Take Back America [TM]”, Satan will literally take control of America and every institution in it. They think this is already in the process of happening, which is why they scream so much about “The War On Christmas” and why everything that is Liberal, Democratic, or just plain “Not Modern Neoconservative Republicanism” is literally Of The Devil.

    • Skyknight says:

      I wonder why they don’t think a third option, abjuring God and Satanel alike (and preferably the legitimacy of either side’s coercive power), is possible. I’d think Satanel’s philosophy would be a bit more substantive than just “whatever God didn’t do”, because that sounds more like infantile spite than any real view of How Things Ought to Be.

      All I can think of is that they think God and Satanel (and other angels included) are coercive-power elementals–that by their very substance, they cannot do/help but coerce everything about them (q.v. the angels and demons bumping/nudging others into doing certain things), any more than a proton can avoid attracting an electron. It’s not choice on the part of the angels and demons, but reflex.

      • Mau de Katt says:

        It’s because “The Official Rules of God” in RTC-dom state that, if you don’t “Choose For God,” you automatically “choose for Satan.” There is no third option available; it’s one or the other. God’s In Charge, whether you want him to be or not, so if you don’t choose for his side, he tosses you over to the other side by default. You then have the rest of your natural life to realize your mistake and ask to be on his team, before you die and are Sent To Hell For All Eternity Amen.

        • Exactly, and to the RTC’s I grew up around all other religions were automatically Satan tricking you into going with the flesh and not following the only real true God, Jew’s, Muslim, Tao, Eastern Orthodox, Mormon’s, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science, Scientology, Catholics (one of the things my mom actually disagreed with everyone around her, to her Catholics were not on this list, they were ok but misguided). The circle is drawn so small that only a small number of churches and denominations are considered “real true christians” and even sadder the other denominations that would be on the list of RTC are still considered misguided because they don’t accept / follow one truth or another that our one small little 200+ person church has realized is from God. (The arrogance of the people thinking that only our small group has gotten it right and all the others large number of groups have not only gotten it wrong, but have gotten it fractally wrong still irks me)

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