Issue 11: Trust Baby
Thorn was a trust baby. Not the fiduciary kind of trust where money and credits to buy anything awaited after attaining a certain age, but one born of trust.
“You’re a trust bust, my sharp little one.” Thorn’s mother, Sarah, would always say. Sarah herself was a product of a different type of trust—“Trust in the Lord always, and again I say to trust” her own mother, Ruth, would sing to her. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again rejoice. Follow in the Lord always, and again I say to follow. Sarah knew this tune better than she knew her own name.
Her parents had dropped off grid at the beginning of the millennium, saying that the Power of God is mightier than the Power of Man. Trusting in the Lord and their congregation, the Ends of the Earth Fundamentalist Church of The Most High, they moved to Gray Oaks, a tiny Montana town by a wind farm, where Isaac worked with the other men to maintain the turbines and the women created intricate quilts and whimsical carvings, which a neighbor sold over the internet. But no one in the congregation would touch the internet, and even the basic connections to the grid were frowned upon.
Sarah’s schooling consisted of a set of SonLight homeschool books with scrawls left over from her six older brothers—sharp angular marks of agreement, and from her two older sisters, curvy letters reminding everyone to “stay sweet.”
Each day at sunset, and then on Sunday from first light to mid-sun (for Pastor Corner declared time and clocks the work of the Devil for who is Man to measure the time God created?), she attended the sermon Pastor Corner or one of the elders hammered out in the little log church with the straight-backed pews carved in place. Their sect denounced everything that elevated man above the created station God created for him. While weekday sermons might touch on the need to love everyone, or the sins of loving someone of the same sex in the wrong way, the main enemy was technology. Every Sunday, Pastor Corner would rail against the sins of technology.
As she grew, the sins Pastor Corner discovered Out There on the Godless Grid mounted. Google glass was an abomination, she was told when she was 6, imagining the glass to be something babies spat upon. For Google glass augmented a person’s vision and memory, going beyond the knowledge and the tools Man was given.
When she was 12, it was the biometric Ports that were the abomination. God had created each man to be an individual, each with a unique set of retinal prints, DNA scans, finger prints. But it was only God who knew when a sparrow fell. Only the Lord could track every action of every man. A computer system set up to track these markers was inherently taking over the Lord’s domain, and this was an abomination. Some of the men, including Sarah’s older brother, Jonah, tattooed the tips of their fingers to avoid the biometric scans until Pastor Corner pointed out that this, too, was sin against God, for who were they to improve upon God’s designs for their bodies?
At 14, Sarah learned that the new Registration Acts were a trap cleverly baited to catch everyone in an abomination. Ostensibly designed to thwart identity thieves and terrorists, the global acts required that everyone in the world register their biometrics. Only registered citizens would be eligible to receive health care, to travel beyond their countries’ borders, to partake of the Internet. “This is the number of the beast!” cried Pastor Horner as he urged his flock not to comply. The congregation trebled in size, and that summer was filled with the frenzied construction of cabins, caches of weapons, and frightened faces of children convinced that the beast was coming for them in their beds. After this, no one in the community accessed a Port. At 16, Sarah was told that the new keys for registered citizens, carved upon their foreheads was the mark of the beast. This was the final straw. No one under God’s protection would carve the mark of the beast on their foreheads. This meant, practically, that no one in the community could go outside their borders, for then they were easy marks. And so they relied on the steady stream of refugees for news and to go back out into the world of sin to trade and beg for what they needed.
During the sermons, Sarah counted the knots in the wood, staring in front of her at the rough split boards, imagining her fingers curling up inside the cracks on the wall below the knots, wondering if there she could find refuge from the relentless voice. Sarah knew better than to crane her neck to stare out of the windows at the tops of the pines that swayed in the gentle breezes, for Micah or Ezekial, her older brothers, would snake their long arms along the pew and hold her head steady to face the front, digging their nails into the back tendons along her neck. Then her disgraceful behavior would be remarked on over and over again during the Sunday lunch or the weekday dinners.
Her sisters would not come to her rescue, for did not First Timothy state that a woman should not be in spiritual authority over a man? Women needed to trust the man to be correct, to trust that God would instruct the man in lovingkindness. So Sarah simply stared straight ahead, neck stiff, head never moving, an altar draped in a plain white cloth on Sundays and a green-dappled tablecloth embroidered with a pattern of leaves the rest of the week the only refuge for her eyes. The weekday sermons seemed to be enlivened from that pattern of leaves, which she could trace over and over again. The Sunday sermons, though were interminable, and without the pattern of the leaves, her mind had nowhere to go to escape them.