Literary Pursuits

“What If” Scenarios

With so many unprecedented things happening this past year I find my mind going down all kinds “what if” rabbit holes. Without a doubt recent months have brought many major changes to life as we know it. Oddly enough, the one that has affected me the most–or at least how I think–was the stupid panic-buying of toilet paper last spring.

No, my family didn’t run out of toilet paper. We came closer than I would have liked. And we ended up having to buy small quantities of weird brands for awhile, but I knew we’d be okay even if we did run out. Humanity lived for centuries without toilet paper, for goodness’ sakes.

What the run on toilet paper made me realize, though, was the fragility of the technological infrastructure that we take for granted. A whole bunch of people decided, all at the same time, that the best way to prepare for the “pandemic” lock-down was to hoard toilet paper. The stores ran out. The paper factories hadn’t anticipated the increased demand so weren’t prepared to manufacture at a rate to keep up. You know what I’m talking about. You were there.

Stores only stock enough at a time to fill their shelves. If shoppers, for whatever reason, decide to suddenly buy way more than usual the stores empty out quickly. They don’t have stock rooms in the back. They have to wait for a truck to bring more merchandise from the warehouse. In the meantime, if I run out of toilet paper, and the store is out, what do I do? Well, hopefully figure out a way to get by for a day or two until the truck comes. Crisis averted.

What if…

But what if the factory workers or the truck drivers all got sick and the truck didn’t come? What if there was a wide-spread power outage and the gas stations couldn’t pump fuel and the stores couldn’t accept debit cards (among many, many other major problems such a scenario could cause)? What if prices quadrupled all of a sudden?

Genetically, I’m a worrier. Spiritually, I try not to be. The solution for me is not to bury my head in the sand and pretend such things could never happen. They likely won’t, but they very well could.

For my peace of mind I like to read about solutions for potential problems. I recognize that no one could ever be prepared for every imaginable crisis, but thinking through these things helps me mentally.

I’m not ready to jump on the full-fledged “prepper” bandwagon and build a fortress stockpiled with 20 years’ worth of shelf-stable food and ammo… and toilet paper. Don’t forget the all-important toilet paper! But I have thought a lot about how fragile our current lifestyle is and how we might be better prepared to deal with challenges that come along.

That’s why I’ve been reading a lot of what I call “survivalist fiction” lately. This allows me to imagine different situations and see how the author takes the characters through the plot. Most books of these type are, understandably, quite violent. I have started a few I couldn’t finish. The ones I’ve appreciated most are written from a Christian worldview. If you’re interested in reading this kind of fiction, here are some recommendations.

Books I’ve Read

Obligatory Disclosure: As usual, book titles and covers are affiliate links which means I might earn a little bit if you end up ordering from Amazon.

Bonus: Most of these books are currently available to read for free on the Kindle Unlimited program.

Alas, Babylon was written in 1959 during the Cold War. This story addresses what life might be like after a nuclear strike. It’s considered a classic and is the first of the genre I ever read, maybe 12 or 15 years ago. I remember thinking I should stock up on salt. And coffee. (But I don’t remember anything about toilet paper.)

One Second After is a more recent novel, written in 2011, and touted as a book that all Americans should read. It’s the first in a trilogy, though I haven’t yet read the other two. This one has to do with life after an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) takes out the power grid. It is a mainstream book and does include some profanity as well as violence. Also, thoughts about what would happen if medication was no longer available.

California is the first in the 7-book series “Daughter of Babylon” regarding the collapse of America due to a combination of terrorism and a corrupt government. Author Jamie Lee Grey writes from a Christian perspective and while the stories do include violence, they are clean in regards to language and sex.

Band of Believers, also by Jamie Lee Grey, is a 4-book young adult series about a group of Christians who “bug out” to the wilderness once the Mark of the Beast becomes mandatory. The fourth book didn’t feel like it concluded the story so I don’t know if there are more coming or not. This one was probably the mildest in regard to violence.

Havoc in Wyoming is a Christian series about a rural community focusing on how various members manage to get home and work together to survive as society collapses around them due to an ongoing series of terrorists attacks culminating in an EMP.

Once Upon an Apocalypse, a trilogy by Jeff Motes, has pretty much the same premise as Havoc in Wyoming–getting home and surviving as a community after an EMP event. Different author, though, so the story is completely different.

The Cyber Armageddon trilogy by Mark Goodwin gives insight into what it might look like if a computer virus infected America’s financial network.

“As with all works by Mark Goodwin, this book contains no profanity and no embarrassing sex scenes. However, if you’re offended by conservative principles and references to Scripture, this book might not be for you.”

Seven Cows, Ugly and Gaunt is a 4-book EMP survival series also by Mark Goodwin. This one includes a Biblical prophecy storyline. (As the author cautions, “Don’t get your theology from fiction.” Still, a worthwhile read.)

I don’t pretend to understand much about economics but what I hear about government spending boggles my mind and is very concerning. The Economic Collapse Chronicles by Mark Goodwin addresses that scenario.

The Black Swan series, also by Mark Goodwin, is a different perspective on a potential economic collapse, with different characters and situations.

While I’m (obviously) much more of a reader than a TV-watcher, after reading a number of these books, I was interested in watching a few episodes of the Doomsday Preppers TV show. I thought it was interesting how the real-life preppers in the series all have different catastrophic events in mind that they are trying to prepare for… as well as different types of preparations they think are most important.

Like I said earlier, I’ve concluded there is really no practical way to be prepared for every possible situation. For me, I’m glad I don’t have to be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks for joining in the conversation! ~Karla

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