This is another excerpt from The New World, In this scene, (only a few days before the Apocalypse) daytime television actress Phoenix Eversong is about to be interviewed by tv talkshow host Rupert Jones, on Rupert Jones Live. Ahead of her a bunch of “Quiverfull” women. She finds this opportunity to get out of the soap she so adamantly hates. Please let me know what you think.
People scurried around her in the shadows of the television set. Rupert Jones was sitting at his desk in front of the iconic backdrop, taking a sip from his Rupert Jones Live coffee cup. He was speaking quietly to the panel of three women sitting opposite him. Their mics weren’t on and Phoenix couldn’t make out what they were saying.
She was on right after the next segment.
A woman came by and made some last minute touch ups to her make-up job.
“We should put a little bit more here; to hide the bags under your eyes.”
Phoenix had flown in from Los Angeles only a few hours before. After filming her scenes for Alls Faire, she’d immediately boarded a plane for New York. Yes, she was tired, but she had every reason to be.
The make-up woman finished up and then retreated back in the chaos of the set.
“We’re live in 5 . . . 4 . . .” A man by the camera mouthed the last three digits and counted them down on his fingers.
The music bed came on and the cameras jolted to life, moving around Rupert and his guests.
“Welcome back, we’re here with the three women who you just saw in that clip there. They are part of a fast growing Christian movement known as Quiverfull. They, and others like them, believe that family planning should be left in God`s hands. Here with me now are Sandra Jensen, a mother of 10, and the author of God`s Mighty Warriors. Janet Morris, ex-Quiverfull mother and author of Being Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Quiverfull Movement. And Kate Smith a mother of 7 and star of the new reality TV show, Quiverfull. Greetings ladies, welcome to the show.”
The women nodded their hellos.
“I’m sure most people out there won’t know what Quiverfull means, would you care to explain that for us?” Rupert asked.
The woman whom Rupert addressed as Janet answered: “Sure. Well Quiverfull is a movement made up largely of home schooling evangelicals who believe that all or most forms of contraception are wrong. They believe Christian families should instead leave their fertility completely in the hands of God and that they should do this as a measure of their faith as well as to their obedience in God. They follow Psalm 127, which is where they actually get the name Quiverfull from. They generally follow strict definitions of patriarchal gender roles with submissive wives and headship of the husbands.”
What? Phoenix thought, appalled.
Rupert asked: “Kate, you`re a Quiverfull person. Are you a submissive wife too?”
“Well . . .” She looked kind of uncomfortable, “I believe that my husband and I have an equal partnership. But in matters of dispute . . .” She paused, choosing her words carefully, “I would say that the two of us make decisions . . . as a team. So I think submission is maybe too strong a word.”
The look on Janet’s face showed she did not agree.
“So it’s not the total patriarchy that it’s painted to be, like in the clip we just saw?” Rupert said, raising a skeptical eyebrow.
“I don’t believe that is a totally accurate depiction of Quiverfull actually, so, no,” Kate said, meekly.
“Janet, I’m sensing you don’t agree,” Rupert commented.
“Well, I believe that there is the potential. Sure, each family has their own idea of what gender roles are and our family went to the extreme. And so depending on the personality of the family that you’re involved with, you can get carried away with it. But if you’re of that persuasion you wouldn’t be following the scripture, so when you start picking and choosing which verses you’re going to follow your argument begins to fall apart.”
“So what you’re saying is some husbands are more patriarchal than others and if one were truly following scripture they’d all be Patriarchal.”
“Absolutely,” Janet said.
“Okay, alright, that makes sense. Sandra your book is called God’s Mighty Warriors. It makes it seem like it’s some sort of crusade,” Rupert added, “Is it?”
“In a sense the bible talks about us all being in a spiritual battle with light and darkness. So yes, we believe that one of the things that God has called us to do in marriage is birth children. That’s what “be fruitful and multiply” was a commandment to the entire earth to birth children. So, it’s not a new concept. It’s been here since the beginning of time,” Sandra answered.
“To what?” Rupert asked.
“To give birth to children, to procreate. I believe that that’s something we are supposed to do in all marriages. Not just Christian marriages.”
“But a lot of that scripture was written by men, correct?”
“Well, it was actually written by God. But yes.”
“And he’s a man. And you’re sure of that?” Rupert raised his eyebrow again.
Phoenix scoffed. This is insane.
“Yes I believe he is and I do believe he loves women very much.”
Rupert laughed, heartily as only Rupert could, “He certainly does, after all, all those kids, just shows you. I’m so . . . I have to jump to something before I get to the political part of this. Who breast feeds these kids. You have how many?”
“I have eight and I breast fed them all.”
Holy shit. Phoenix thought, shaking her head.
“Really?” Rupert said.
“And how many do you have?” He asked, turning to Janet.
“I have eight children.”
“What do you say to people; maybe Kate can answer this . . .” He turned to Kate, “what do you say to people who say that you’re having children for political purposes? That you’re trying to – you call it repopulate the world with babies that you produce. And that it’s not just about having a baby to have children and have a family life but more to almost recreate the earth.”
She shifted uneasily in her seat, “Well for us, I believe we’re just . . . we believe that we’re being blessed with these children. We’re not doing it for a political purpose. We’re doing it for a spiritual purpose in a sense that we want to be on God’s team. He said to populate the earth and we love God, so a child’s a blessing. And we enjoy that blessing.”
And in 30 years you’ll have the popular vote and America will be run by the moral majority, aka fundamentalist Christians. Phoenix couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Well do you feel the same way about let say an Islamic family that would have 12 children to repopulate? Do you feel the same way about them?”
Kate responded, gingerly: “Do I believe they’re doing it for political reasons? Is that what you’re asking me?”
Rupert shook his head, “No, do you think that it God’s will for them to also do what you’re doing?”
“Actually when God said be fruitful and multiply, the neatest thing about it was that it was not for a specific religion. It was for people of the earth.”
“I see,” Rupert said. He noticed that Janet looked as though she wanted to add something. “Janet?”
“I think that there’s truth to what both of you are saying. I think for families having this large of a number of children: it’s a very demanding thing. And I don’t think political motivations really could compel anybody to raise and nurture 8 children and usually home school them as well. However, in a lot of literature of this movement, which I reviewed, and including Kate`s book, there is a sense that in addition to Quiverfull being God’s will and God’s law to be fruitful and multiply to trust God to give you as many children as you can handle, there’s a secondary set of motivations that are written in there by the leaders, saying, if several generations of Christians put their fertility in God’s hands, then within a few decades, we’re going to have a vastly increase numbers and we’re going to be able to enact some of the culture war principles that we’re fighting for.”
“What do you say to that?” Rupert said leaning towards Kate.
“Well right now the fastest growing segment of society is Latinos. If you look at the figures, I think it’s one –“
Rupert interjected, “But they’re mostly Christians.
“Catholic,” Kate retorted, “I don’t know if they are politically but you know they say that –“
“Well Catholics are Christian.”
“Yes but they’re not all predominantly Catholic anymore Latinos I would say historically they have been. But now things are changing. So they’re the fastest growing segment of who is actually producing in our society.”
“Are you trying to keep up with them?”
“Uh, no, not necessarily,” Kate looked uneasy again, “But I do believe that Christian influence will gain more power as we have more children.”
I knew it. Phoenix shook her head.
“But I wouldn’t say it like she said; that’s not really the motivation. I mean we’re just doing it because we know it’s something God wants us to do. If we change society, great, it would be great. There are things in our society . . . our country needs an answer right now. And family is the answer, it really is. There’s nothing greater than a family and I believe it’s the answer for our world.”
“Well . . . as well as being rather time consuming, it’s a very expensive thing that you’re doing,” Rupert pointed out.
“Absolutely,” Janet nodded.
“I mean, to have all those children in this culture is very, very expensive, to say the least. What does your husband do? Do you work?”
“Well, yes,” Kate explained, “I work part time. My husband is a construction executive. So for us, we live in affluent area and but it hasn’t always been that way. And we’ve paid our dues and that sort of thing.”
Sandra spoke up, “I believe conceiving children and giving birth is an act of worship, most definitely. Because I believe you’re submitting to God’s goal for the planet and God’s goal for you as a woman. And to me, it’s the most beautiful thing to watch unfold in the whole world. And that is when a woman embraces her own motherhood.”
Rupert Jones turned to face the camera, “I wish we had more time, but we’ve got to go to a commercial break. I’d like to thank Sandra Jensen, Kate Smith and Janet Morris for joining me tonight. You can pick up Janet’s book Being Quiverfull and Kate Smith’s God’s Mighty Warriors which are out in bookstores now. And catch Sandra Jensen, Wednesday nights at 7pm on TLC for the new reality show, Quiverfull. Next my guest, soap star Phoenix Eversong, talks to me about her return to the daytime soap, Alls Faire, and what brought her back to reprise the role of her award winning character, after this.”
“And we’re clear,” The man by the main camera yelled, “Back in 5.”
The make-up woman came around again, “Okay, we’re gonna set you up in that chair over there just as soon as the Quiverfull ladies get un-mic’d and then we’ll plop you up there,” She swatted Phoenix’s face with a soft brush.
She saw the three ladies stand up and walk off the set to the green room.
The stage manager motioned for Phoenix to come up on stage and sit down to be wired up for a mic.
“How are you doing tonight?” Rupert asked her and she turned to see the man she’d watched so many nights on television, sitting right in front of her.
“A little jetlagged,” She said, smirking.
“We’re live in 5 . . . 4 . . .”
The music bed rolled and the cameras moved in closer.
“Welcome back, I’m here with actress and soap star Phoenix Eversong, best known for her role as Elizabeth Alls on the daytime drama Alls Faire.”
Inside, Phoenix was rolling her eyes. Best known for . . .
“I understand you had been killed off on the show earlier last year, why did you decide to leave Alls Faire?” Rupert looked over at her with his characteristically shrugged shoulders; his arms on the table.
Lie or tell the truth?
“I . . .”
“Actually, before we get into those questions,” She’d just thought of something brilliant, “I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on your previous guests.”
She heard a muffled voice behind the cameras sternly say: “Phoenix!”
She immediately recognized the voice. It was the studio publicist; the one who’d briefed her only moments before on exactly what to say. Phoenix could tell that she wasn’t happy about this change in the flow of conversation.
She ignored the voice.
“I have to say that listening off stage . . . it was kind of frightening.”
“Frightening, really?” Rupert raised his eyebrow again.
“Phoenix,” This time the voice was a little louder and she was sure that people watching at home would’ve heard it.
This is perfect. She thought. A scandal, maybe they’ll fire me and I can sue them for prejudices against my personal views.
“I was thinking that, already the Christian right has an inordinately large amount of power in politics today. And if this Quiverfull thing actually takes off we would see an even higher percentage of the population perpetuating archaic ideals which throughout the centuries have proved to be antagonistic towards free thought, to women, and to anyone else who doesn’t fit their esoteric mould.”
“You’re saying Christianity is a bad thing.”
“No, Rupert. I’m saying people who follow Christianity are a bad thing,” Phoenix shifted in her chair and brought her elbows down on the table to look more relaxed, “Listen, the basic views of Jesus are ones that I wholly agree we should all adhere to, but somehow in translation it get strewed. Treat others as you would have them treat you. Love your enemies. But where are those teaching when it comes to passing legislation banning homosexuals the opportunity to live in loving, committed, legal relationships?” Phoenix asked.
“So you believe homosexuals should be allowed to marry.”
“Of course I do. I also believe that a religious mindset only escalates this ideological conflict between us and them.”
“You’re referring to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?”
“Listen, I’m the first to admit that I don’t really know a whole lot about the war; but from the way it’s being present to me in the media and through conversations with fellow Americans, it seems to me as though it’s being promoted as a war between Christianity and Islam rather than a was between America and Afghanistan or America and Iraq.”
“Phoenix.” The voice was louder.
“So if it were up to you, would let religion continue?” Rupert asked.
“Of course, Rupert,” She smirked, “I’m not saying that we should abolish religion. Religion has a huge place in history and in art and in personal development. But I think that when we start drafting legislation based on religious views, it can be very harmful to the general population. Think about the witch trials!”
“You’re equating Quiverfull with witch burnings?”
“Well, of course not directly. But I don’t think you can argue against the fact that it was Christianity that went through Europe seeking out free-thinking, outspoken women and executing them as witches. When any group of people is allowed to exercise extreme prejudice on another group of people, unchallenged, it’s never good. That’s all I’m saying.”
“That’s a little alarmist don’t you think. You’re making it sound like having a majority of Christians in power will somehow bring about an apocalypse.”
“Well, of course Christians wouldn’t think that because they’d be the ones in power; but what about people of other religions, and for that matter what about homosexuals, what about women?”
“I really don’t think that Christians are against women,” Rupert said.
“The woman in your last segment said it herself that it’s a Patriarchal system. And maybe right now there’s the illusion of equality, but if you’re saying that it’s a Patriarchal system there’s the idea that the male is somehow superior to the woman, and they must be subservient towards the male gender. When more and more people subscribe to that ideology the illusion will wear away and we’ll be left reverting back to the 50s.”
“I think that might be a little over exaggerated, but I’ve got to go for a break. Ms. Eversong, it was interesting to say the least, to have you on the show.” He smiled. “You can catch Ms. Phoenix Eversong on CBS’s daytime drama Alls Faire, everyday at 2pm.”
* * *
“What the fuck were you thinking?” Maxime, the publicist, burst into Phoenix’s changing room.
“What?” The woman’s voice grew shrill. “What?”
“Calm down,” Phoenix tried to hide a smile, “It’s not that bad.”
“Not that bad?” She shouted. “Not that bad? Do you know who your target audience is?”
Phoenix rolled her eyes.
“Christian, stay at home wives,” Maxime shook her head, disbelievingly, “Fuck, I’m going to be fired.”
“You’re not going to be fired,” Phoenix said, reapplying her lipstick in front of the mirror.
“Yes I am. You were supposed to talk about your return to the show. About how happy you were to rejoin the cast and . . . Jesus, we’re fucked.”
“Calm down. We’re not fucked. Do you realize how much media attention this is going to win us?”
“What? Are you crazy? No one cares about some stupid fucking soap actress except for the stupid fucking Christian, stay at home wives who watch her everyday at 2pm.”
“Hey,” Phoenix shot him an angry glare.
“Am I lying?” She scoffed and began pacing, madly, back and forth, “This is bad, this is really bad. I have to call the network.”
The woman took out her Blackberry and began dialing. She realized that there was no reception in the room and abruptly left.
She hoped she did get fired from that shitty soap. Maxime was right, no one cared about her as an actress except for stay at home wives; but hopefully after the Rupert Jones segment she’d have a larger appreciation among the viewing populous.