Monday, I posted a book review. I loved the book--Chasing Prophecy. I loved everything except the lesbian couple, called MomZ. What I didn't like wasn't the fact that they were lesbian. This is 2014, after all. What I criticized was my assumption that the author, James Moser, just stuck the lesbians in to show how "hep" he was. I called it the "author’s capitulation to current cultural sexual/matrimonial fad)".
Well, the author, James Moser corrected my assumption. He explained:
re: MomZ--I needed the kid + parents to be semi-outcasts in the community, with only the Bethlehems supporting them, making it all the more precarious when that family turns against them. I needed them to be edgy enough that a rural community would , not "shun" exactly, but kind of have them at arm's length to begin with. Gay seemed just right to accomplish that, & that's all, just fyi. :) Wasn't an attempt to be trendy or anything else, though I get why it can come across that way when there's nothing else about their relationship mentioned beyond, 'hey, look, they're gay.' :) In any early draft he had straight parents who'd just been divorced, and the community had chosen sides between the parents--which necessitated about 10 pages of back story that early readers found tedious & extraneous to the story line. Then I just switched to 'gay' & people went 'oh, right, now they're all alone.' w/ just about 2 paragraphs of backstory.
I stand (actually sit) corrected. I'm a little awed how Moser used the lesbian relationship to show in"2 paragraphs of backstory", the school and community environment, which Mo had to deal with. It does show that Mo's different. It does show how being different would align Mo and Prophecy together, against the rest of their world. MomZ was the perfect solution.
My next question to the author was about the cult. Was it based on a real cult? James Moser said, "Yes, no, and maybe...
Bigger ideas--I'm really interested in:
TIPPING POINTS--The Branch Davidians & David Koresh--the people at Ruby Ridge Idaho-etc--they all started as good folks with good intentions, raising vegetables & strumming guitar. How did they get to the point where they were willing to die rather than succumb to society? How does that happen? How does strong faith turn to blind zealotry--when & how exactly does that happen--is it when people are backed into a corner & have to redefine themselves to survive?
Community w/ interesting names north of Spokane I recall fr. my childhood. In summers we'd stay w/ my dad in the bay area. Guy named Love worked at coffee shop. Big commune near base of Mount Tamalpais. That was the start of my interesting/meaningful name obsession--which is why I love talking about faith with someone named Faith, for example. A girl named "Present" used to babysit for us.
Later, First teaching job north of Seattle there was a family called "The Israels" also w/ interesting names. I think of war & conflict when I think of Israel so I went with Bethlehem which is the most innocent thing I can think of. The gov't did the 'you're not a religion--you're a for-profit avoiding taxes' 10 year lawsuit, which ended w/ gov't seizing their ranch. They went peacfully to a different property in Eastern Wa. about 10 years ago now, I guess. So the kind of Meditteranean-region name + gov't lawsuit is what I borrowed, conceptually. All my names are made up though. They did have a leader named Love also, who I never met. He did not have a son named Able or grandkids named Clean, Bright or Prophecy (that I know of--there were about 60 of them so 1-2 names may accidentally overlap for all I know :) ) I had Israels in my class but the Bethlehems are more like the young ones I knew in the bay area--a bit edgier. The Washington ones were harmless. Vegetables & a fall harvest fair, couple coffee shops downtown.
The drugs for profit when backed into a corner I took from the TV show Breaking Bad. What they turn into is more like David Koresh's outfit. The bigfoot ending is obviously just cribbed from Boo's big scene in Mockingbird.
The Israels did live on a big ranch east of town which I've driven by, but never set foot on (the gov't sold it as part of settlement--it's now a Jewish youth retreat center, or something like that). The main lodge in my book is the boy scout camp lodge in Northern Idaho, complete with bigfoot + wooden eagle carving on the mantel.
Boulder Creek is based on Arlington, WA, which Twilight readers have told me sounds like Forks, which it does, b/c all small towns around here feel like that.
Interesting, no? Moser asks what happens to good intentions.
How does strong faith turn to blind zealotry--when & how exactly does that happen--is it when people are backed into a corner & have to redefine themselves to survive?
I'll tell you. They turn from reliance on God to reliance on themselves. I know two communities that are thriving. You could call them cults, if your definition of cults is simply people that live together for a common purpose. All Catholic religious orders do this, e.i. Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, etc. The two I'm thinking of aren't ordained priests and brothers, however.
One is the St. Martin de Porres Dominican Community in New Hope, Kentucky. They are a group of Lay Dominicans, men and women, some married, who live together. They work together. Their work is a publication company, New Hope Publications.
The other is the Resurrection Community in Casco, Maine. This group consists of only women. The oldest members were once Dominican Sisters of Bethany. In the 1980's, the mother house called all their sisters to France. Those who didn't want to go were released from their vows. They got together and live in Casco, Maine. Today, they run a farm and are known for their dog training and boarding.
These two communities are focused on God. He is their leader. That's the secret of their success.