Parmenter’s Wager by Terri Main
Parmenter’s Wager by Terri Main.
It almost sounded like a joke. A Clone walks into a church and… But for Rev. Chris Parmenter, Pastor of All Souls Church, it was anything but a joke. Parmenter had settled into a comfortable life pastoring a growing suburban congregation. The church was the place where he found peace, comfort and certainty, All that would change with a simple question from a young woman with a barcode on her hand: “Do I have a soul?”
She is a clone in a society where clones have few civil or legal rights. Clones are viewed with suspicion. The consequences for a church having a clone as a member could mean loss of membership and standing in the denomination. Parmenter, in answering this young woman’s question, must tread a path between compassion and theology, between the needs of an individual against the sensibilities of an entire congregation, between his own pride and the pain of another.
I deliberately bought this short (31 pages) solely for the subject matter: Does a human clone have a soul? Definitely fits well in the edgy, Christian, speculative genre. In this short, Terri Main asks and answers this question very succinctly and concisely, almost like some special ops missions, get in quickly and get out.
At this point in history, humans have not been cloned but in this plot, set in a few decades in the future, they have and don’t seem to be very well accepted by society. It seems they have few civil or legal rights and seem to be treated as sub human and discriminated against by society, and even Christians which is depicted well through the attitude of Roger Gordon, president of the church board of directors and the initial reaction by Pastor Chris Parmenter to Erica confiding in him with this knowledge.
Main seems to also have used this subject to align itself with those Christians who also feel out of place, rejected or unwelcome in the House of God as she has dedicated this short to these members. After reading this short, I can see the similarity.
Main confronts us with how should Christians treat clones who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour? She portrays some Christians with the attitude that they clones are inhuman, soulless and have no place in the Church and Christians should not accept them. Then Main adds the counter attitude through Parmenter that they should be treated with dignity and respect. It is from this and in trying to answer Erica’s question as to whether she has a soul that Main provides a suitable answer to this dilemma, seeing that the Bible is silent and not specific on this topic. She does this using Pascal’s Wager. I had not known of this and was very intrigued with the reasoning involved in his premise. Applying this to the subject of this dilemma, is very effective and it resonates well with me. I loved the way Main uses this at the end of the short in addressing this question and securing Erica’s place in the Body of Christ.
I was very happy with how Main has treated this “hot potato” of a topic that as I have mentioned before, is going to be an issue when/if this becomes a reality. I can see that the two opposing attitudes of Christians are going to be evident in this reality and I would hope that the outcome is something along the lines of Pascal’s Wager in addressing the issues involved with human clones. This issue does provoke the reader to consider their attitude towards fellow members of the Church being of this creation in the future and how much this attitude will be from their subjectivity and how much will be from the leading of the Holy Spirit and what the Word says about how to love people regardless of their background.
Main’s treatment of this topic shows her love of the Word, of her Lord and her desire to exhort, educate and entertain the reader. This is what I love about Christian fiction. I look forward to more of what Main has to offer.
One a side note to the main plot, I loved the technology described by Main. Talking electronics, computers, electronic personal assistants, cars that talk to you about being low on fuel. Great stuff! I wish we had that now, but can see that all this is just around the corner.
Peter Younghusband has been an avid reader from as early as he can remember. Since becoming a Christian in his early 20s, his passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on his blog. He loves reading new author’s novels or author’s who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.