Howdy, partners…it’s my first ride through Bonanza City, and no worries, because the pioneers’ first lady lildago will be back in the saddle next week. I hear from the locals that last time out, there was a little set-to that is now only referred to in whispers as “Microwave-gate”, and that a big ol’ gold star was handed to a mighty sweet young ‘un named Mallory. And since that wraps up my repertoire of cowpoke-talk, let’s move on to the dawn of day 11 at Kid Nation, shall we?
Jews rule, Christians drool
Things must be rougher than they look in Kid Nation, because the day opens with 14-year-old Sophia declaring that she doesn’t believe in God. As it turns out, though, she doesn’t think God (along with her parents) has forsaken her or anything…she’s just an atheist. A brief theological discussion ensues, which can be summed up as follows: “God sucks.” “You really think so?” Guylan, 11, isn’t big on the whole religion thing either, while 10-year-old Zach comments that religion is a “touchy” subject. Among fifth- and sixth-graders? Really? Precocious, much?
Town council members Anjay, Mike, Taylor, and Laurel head off to check out The Journal, which apparently provides them with some guidance on what the theme-of-the-week should be. By amazing coincidence, The Journal suggests that the young pioneers hold some sort of interfaith service for the town. While the council ponders the Journal’s wisdom, there’s a spirited discussion at breakfast about the Jewish celebration of Hanukah. A couple of girls high-five each other for being Christians, while some boys dub themselves “The Jew Crew”. Which really is not a bad name for a hip-hop duo, at that.
The opiate of the masses
The council calls a town meeting to suggest that one religious service be held, with everyone attending, and all faiths could be represented. A lovely sentiment, which is met with groans and heads hanging down dejectedly. Well, no kid likes being dragged to church, after all. But wait – apparently, the pioneers have far loftier reasons for not wanting a general religious service. 12-year-old Pharoah snaps that “we can’t have all religions in one room – I know that for a fact”. Another kid pipes up that religion causes wars. Good point, as it’s certainly managed to start an uprising in Bonanza City. Beleaguered council member Laurel laments that she thought an interfaith service would be “nice”. Ah, Laurel… a politician’s first rule is that when you try to please everyone, you please no one. Olivia, 12, sniffs that she’s a Christian and thinks that it’s pointless to hear others’ beliefs. I foresee a bright future for Olivia as a FOX News anchor. The council gives up the meeting in a huff, and 11-year-old Mike tells the pioneers to do what they want. Yeah, well…I find that if you tell kids to do what they want, then that’s exactly what they will do. Reverse psychology doesn’t work until after puberty hits.
Enterprising Alex, age 9, has decided to take a survey of all the kids’ various religions. The budding statistician discovers that most kids are Christian, with a smattering of Jews, a Hindu, possibly a Muslim or two, three atheists, and a whole bunch of “others”, which I take as kidspeak for “don’t know, don’t care, leave me alone and let me drink my root beer in peace".
The Gandhi approach
The town council members decide to give the religious service a shot anyway, but no one shows up when they ring the bell to assemble the pioneers. Laurel is disappointed, thinking that everyone would want to come together as a community. Another lesson in politics – mention religion, and you scare everyone away.
Later in the evening, 12-year-old Morgan takes it upon herself to arrange an impromptu prayer service, and goes around politely asking the kids to join in if they want to. Her approach works, and she manages to assemble a respectable crowd by the fire. Some kids do say a prayer – one even chants – and the gathering is deemed a success.
This is the church, this is the steeple, open the door, and see all the wee people
Some are born to the upper class, and some aspire to it. And some, like 10-year-old Taylor, revel in it. The beauty queen-slash-council member likes being in the “upper class” because it means she gets to spend the day lounging around the saloon. Funny, I thought barflys were usually more lower-class than upper-class. Fellow yellow-team member Zach is disdainful of Taylor’s slothfulness, and he offers to help the green team with their chores. Jared, age 11, meditates to prepare himself for the day’s challenge. I guess he was under “others” in Alex’s survey.
Host Jonathan announces that this week’s showdown will be a “steeplechase” of sorts. The teams are given giant puzzles of churches (hopefully, that won’t offend any of the non-Christians, right kids?) that are to be put together, then hoisted up by a winch. The first team to raise their steeple will become the “upper class”, with the second-place team becoming “merchants”, third-place being “cooks”, and last-place are stuck with “laborers”.
The red and blue teams are the fastest out of the gate, and after a near photo-finish, the blue team prevails and are awarded upper-class status. Red soon follows, and after a lengthy interval, the green and yellow teams end up neck-and-neck with only a couple of minutes remaining in the challenge. The yellow team manages to pull ahead, and the green team are stuck being laborers but fortunately finish in time to earn the pioneers a reward.
The reward choices are revealed to be either a mini golf course or a library of holy books (a Bible, a Koran, etc.). The decision is to be the council’s, but after being burned by the microwave choice last week, they defer to a town vote on the choice of reward. The kids end up voting for the holy books, much to the astonishment of Taylor, and me too, honestly. A little mini-golf would definitely take the edge off this pioneering stuff.
In spite of the overwhelming vote for the books, only a few kids appear to be really interested in reading them. Anjay goes off to perform a small Hindu ceremony, which draws the attention of a couple of girls. Anjay must have been praying to a god of dating, because the girls are fascinated with the ceremony and pepper him with questions and giggles.
A tear in his (root) beer
9-year-old Cody is in tears, because he got a letter from his girlfriend. A girlfriend at age 9? No wonder his parents shipped him off to New Mexico. Cody decides he needs a root beer to take his mind off his lost love, and BFF Campbell accompanies him on his, uh, bender. The boys quickly tire of chugging root beer, and head off to go look at cows. Presumably because they’re not quite big or strong enough (or drunk enough) to go tip them.
Meanwhile, a small, righteously indignant posse goes to rout out Taylor, who not surprisingly is shirking her kitchen duties. They find her in the saloon, and though her drinks are alcohol-free, her attitude is as bad as if she were doing tequila shots. She laughs at the contingent of do-gooders, and tells them she doesn’t care what they say. Anyone want to bet that once this show is over, we’re going to see Taylor and her parents in Dr. Phil’s guest chair?
Zach, again upset with Taylor and the state of the kitchen, decides to recruit some help to clean up. Rather than using Morgan’s gentle approach, Zach actually mugs a kid in the street, which propels a few others to join in the group dishwashing effort.
The council congregates to decide on gold star nominees. This week, Zach is considered (with the other council members taking pointed shots at Taylor while praising Zach’s work ethic), along with Morgan and Greg. In confessional, Mike, 11, questions the motives of the nominees, wondering who’s working for the gold star and who really cares about the town. Yet another political lesson learned – idealism dies hard. And quickly.
At the town hall meeting, a show of hands indicate disapproval of the job that council has done thus far. That disapproval is mostly aimed at Taylor, however, and the public complaints bring howls of approval from the assembled pioneers. Host Jonathan comments that Taylor is either not too bright or simply doesn’t care about what everyone thinks, and sure enough, Taylor remains impervious while her new nemesis Zach angrily refuses to back down from his poor opinion of his teammate.
Jonathan then asks if anyone wants to leave Bonanza City, and the lovelorn Cody raises his hand, claiming that he misses his family as he’s never been away from them this long. Cody cries openly, and self-proclaimed “best bud” Campbell is also sobbing as Cody takes his leave.
It’s time for the $20,000 gold star to be handed out, and after a brief council huddle, Anjay rises to announce that this week’s star will go to Morgan. The pioneers cheer their approval, and Morgan happily accepts the star and phone “key” to call her parents with the news. Morgan speaks to a pleased and proud dad and mom, while 10-year-old Campbell drowns his newfound loneliness with root beer shots.
Next week, it’s election time – can Taylor maintain her council seat? Hey, in a world where George W. can be re-elected, anything is possible, right?
Should we pray that Taylor recognize the error of her ways? PM me.