So Wile E. Coyote was driving home when he got into an accident, and he's been comatose for the last fifteen years. What do you think should be going through his mind? Denial? Shock? Frantically wondering how he could possibly get caught up with his life?
We never find out. Because Hibbard doesn't bother to tell us.
This would be a great time for Hibbard to show Wile E.'s reaction. That way, Hibbard could tell us, "Remember how the guy felt after losing fifteen years of his life? Don't be that guy." But no. His propaganda hasn't even risen to the level of terrible. So instead of letting the horror and numbness wash over our witless hero, Hibbard jumps to the next day.
Over the next day [Wile E.] didn't have a single moment alone. He spent every precious minute with his wife, his children and their spouses.
Right. Because this is all about how you should spend time with your family so God doesn't sic a lumber truck on your ass.
He found it bittersweet, coming to know his children again.
"Bittersweet"? Like hell. Wile E. should feel like a total stranger. He just lost fifteen years to a coma, and the first thing he notices are these weird-looking adults who happen to be his children. No, Hibbard, "bittersweet" doesn't cut it. How about "alienating," "heartbreaking," "a gut-wrenching sense of loss, from fifteen years gone by that he would never get to live"?
Oh, but I forgot. This is propaganda. Heaven forbid you let your characters deviate from their scripts.
His daughter was married to a fine man, unashamed of his commitment to Christ. They had a child of their own, his first grandchild. They had begun the next cycle in the wonderful gift of life God gives so freely. He found his daughter just as strong in her commitment to God, alive and vibrant.
I thought the whole point was to be there for your family, lest they fall apart and go astray for want of a Christian Dad™. So what's the point of this story, Hibbard: A man doesn't really need to be there for his family? His wife and kids will turn out all right in his absence?
Way to kick your own legs out from under yourself.
"But you seemed so angry," [Wile E.] said at one point. "I was so afraid you wouldn't listen to God; you might ignore His still, small voice."
"I did, Daddy—I ignored it for a long time," she replied. "But He showed me. He used you to show me. All the times you were patient with me...all the times you waited up for me...they all pointed me to Him."
Looks like they did fine without Wile E. In fact, all of them did. They've all turned out to be Good Christian Kids™.
The odd thing is, his kids mention things Wile E. told them. But Wile E. doesn't even remember telling them. This ought to alarm him. But no—he's mildly disturbed. When his wife picks up on it, he brushes it aside.
"What's wrong?" she asked. But it was too perfect a day, too wonderful a time to dispute her.
"It's nothing. My mind must be tired—not used to being awake, I guess."
Bull. I'll bet God got through to them, or God's using them to get through to him.
Wile E. and his sons talk all night long, and he doesn't seem to have any shock or regret over losing fifteen years of his life. When morning arrives, Wile E. and Mrs. Wile E. are in the backyard, talking about how the family turned out so well.
"What did you expect?" asked his wife, so familiar to him, yet eerily different in her appearance. "Did you think they would abandon God, they would live out their lives as lost sheep?"
The number of people who speak this way in real life: 0.
"Of course not," he answered. "I guess I was only hopeful they would follow Him so closely. After all, it's a choice each of them must make for themselves."
Which means they lost nothing when you were in your coma. Still looks like they did well without you.
They stare at each other for a moment, and he marvels at how she cared for him while he was comatose. Naturally, it's not from obligation, but from her "strong character and devotion" which come from being a God-Fearing Wife™. What's more, he'd been married to her all this time and he didn't even seem to notice.
Just as the story starts to feel a modicum of emotion, he changs the subject. He asks how they knew he was coming to. She says he was wiggling his toes and his brain activity was starting to change.
And then we cut to another blob of prose. I swear, the way these scenes are transitioning, it feels as if we're in a dream. Dream or not, Wile E. and his kids and kids in-law chat the rest of the morning. The dude's pretty thrashed from being awake for 24 hours and being asleep for the last fifteen years, so he tells them all he needs to get some sleep. His oldest son's strong enough to lift him up, carry him into the house, and put him back in bed.
"I'll be awake in a few hours," he lied, sadly aware of the warning he'd overheard the doctor giving his family only hours ago, thinking he was out of earshot.
"He may return to normal after today. ... But I fear it's not likely. His brainwaves aren't normal—they're still too close to those we find in a comatose patient. ... I'm afraid when he next falls asleep, he's not likely to wake again. I'm so very sorry."
Yes, people, American doctors really are this melodramatic and stilted.
[He] simply closed his teary eyes. As he did, he heard his grown children and wife quietly mourn losing him once again. ... He wondered, "Is this what a coma feels like—did I somehow forget? Will I be trapped forever, able only to hear—wishing every day for death?"
But, sure enough, the Peace That Surpasses All Understanding™ washes over him, as he realizes that he can die at ease.
He'd seen his children grown, each so familiar with the joy of serving Christ, each raised by the loving hand of his wife and his God, graceful through all. ... Immediately he was bombarded by the memory of his thoughts from the night of his accident—and he knew how foolish he'd been.
Right. Let's just put aside God sending a lumber truck after you and erasing the last fifteen years of your life.
"How does a promotion compare with this: to see my children grown and successful: committed to God and enjoying the peace only He can bring—to see my wife, cared for and surrounded by them, a loving family knit so close together? If I'd been promoted, it could in no way have added to this great treasure."
Because, as we all know, every Christian™ thinks and speaks in sermons. This is almost as bad as a Chick tract.
Inwardly, he wept for how he'd taken so much in his life for granted. ... He saw how frequently he'd traded God's treasures for pale substitutions, mere shadows of what he truly wanted.
"How could I have missed it? ... How could I have been so blind?" He begged God to grant him one last request. "Tell them, Lord—show them what I now see. Don't let this revelation go to waste."
No wonder your characters think in sermons, Hibbard. You seem to be fond of it.
Then, amazingly, he heard God reply. ... "Yes, I will tell them. I will call them, and I will tell them this same message I've been telling you for so long...this message you chose not to hear. Why did you ignore me, dear child? I told you every day, and showed you in a thousand ways... How loudly must I whisper before you hear Me?"
Are you serious?
Wile E.'s kids have grown up to be godly men and women. So why is God acting as though they've wandered away? Is his God really that big of a moron?
He wept bitterly to hear such revealing truth.
Oh—so God's not going to give the kids a message. He's giving Wile E. the message instead.
It was too much to take in all at once. The words rung all too loudly in his mind as he lay there, motionless. And as amazingly as falling asleep and not waking for fifteen years, he awoke that night without falling asleep at all.
It's no coma. It's a freaking dream.
"...relax...relax..." he thought he heard God's voice telling him.
It's not God. It's a nurse.
"You've been in a car accident, and you've had emergency surgery. The drugs are still wearing off. You're not going to remember any of this, so lie back and relax."
Yeah. So all this was an elaborate dream sequence from God, designed to make Wile E. realize the error of his ways. Fifteen years weren't flushed down the toilet, his family hadn't grown up without him, and he really has to get his act together.
And what does Wile E. say in response?
"Thank you, Lord."
Probably because he can't lift his arm to give God the middle finger. (I wish.)
At last he made sense of the words his children in his dream had remembered, the words he'd spoken but couldn't recall. They're instructions, not memories—God sent me instructions in my dream. And unexpectedly, other words rang again in his ears—the words God had whispered so loudly to him that day—so loudly it nearly killed him.
"I told you every day, and showed you in a thousand ways...How loudly must I whisper before you hear me?"
Imagine an abusive boyfriend or husband whispering into his lover's ear, "I treated you like a princess, and you didn't get it. How hard do I have to hit you before you get a clue?"
Not much of a difference, is there?
The sad thing is, many Christians do see a difference. They think God has the right to do whatever He pleases, just because He's God and we're sinful and corrupt creatures who deserve to be tortured for eternity for the little wrongs we do. But God can flood the earth, commit genocide, send plagues on His own people, and send people to eternal torture for misdemeanors—in other words, he can act utterly contrary to the ways he tells us to act—and all he deserves is our allegiance.
Here's one of the (many) problems with this flawed reasoning: Love wants what's best for others in motive, deed, and means. When you use your power to manipulate and injure people, you are not acting out of anything but your selfish heart. I could not conceivably care less about how loving you say you are, what right you think you have, or how good your intentions are. No one—and I mean no one—has the right to threaten, coerce, manipulate, or assault anyone they love. Ever. And I don't care how powerful you are, how smart you are, or if you're a god.
Peace out, everyone.
John Jude Farragut