One of the big themes of the book, which I am working hard at exploring while trying not to beat readers over the head with it is how, because a minister’s family becomes a living testament to the truthfulness of his ministry, it isolates the family and keeps them from being able to reach out in ways that are available to other members of the church community (even if those available ways are not always so great themselves) when they’re having troubles. I don’t really get too much into what it means for the minister when he’s having troubles or doubts, precisely because that set-up is so minister-focused and I want the book to deal with what happens in the aftermath of that, when you’re trying to establish yourself as your own person and not as an extension of your dad’s ministry.
And note, I use “Dad” in this post because I knew very few female ministers when I was growing up. In my memory, which is the era of the past in the book, it just basically wasn’t an option.
But the central action of the fourth and fifth chapters–the retrieval of the Devil’s baby and the subsequent effort to sacrifice the main character to Satan–is kind of the last hurrah of “How much will you do to ensure your father’s successful ministry?” on the main character’s life, kind of the last time, though she doesn’t know it, in which she acts contrary to her own best interest for the sake of her father.
And then, what I’m trying to get at with the last chapter is how she sets off to see if there’s some relationship she can have with the church, some way of being a part of this thing that was so fundamental to her understanding of herself and her place in the universe, if she is herself and not her father’s daughter, and how she finds, instead, that she can’t not be assumed to be always picking a side. And, if she’s not clearly identified with the pastor, she is assumed to be obviously against, in this case, her. Or at least open to being against her.
And that’s really what I want to get at at the end, that she’s not just staying away any more, but obviously leaving and not coming back, because the whole situation is just so fucked. If you’re not the ones being complained about, it’s assumed you’d be open to complaining.
Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that I read this post and reading the comments from ministers’ kids and ministers’ spouses made me feel… I don’t know… like it’s a hard, weird life, even still. And it reminded me that, even if, for instance, I had known some spiritual truth about myself that I wanted to tell at that time (and I didn’t, in all honesty), I would never have felt like I could risk my dad’s job to do so.