Nov 19, 2010

Stranger in a Strange Land Review of...

Stranger in a Strange Land: Review of....

Stranger in a Strange LandStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating4 of 5 stars

Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land he interweaves human relations, large ideas and (theology),.  The title to this story was inspired by the book of Exodus in the Old Testament.  

The story a Stranger in a Strange Land takes place in a New America, that is one world ordered hegemony.  The world has made missions to mars and has set up a space colony there.  The space colony had been deserted on the planes of Mars.  The man from mars is found after many years of exposure to an alien race. The climax resolves whether Michael Valentine Smith will be excepted by the people of Earth.  At times this book gets bogged down in Heinlein's philosophy, so it can be a difficult read.

What I liked about the book is its deep analysis of Faith. Heinlein first looks at the cult of the Fosterites. A cult where everyone is happy, and everyone thinks as a one happy unit.  (I would like to go deeper into describing the Fosterites, but I am afraid that this would lead you down a rabbit hole and would maybe bore you deeply.) 

Then he looks at how Michael Valentine Smith twists the Abrahamic religions to make a cult that combines elements of Confucius, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Judaism.  
The religion is based on the wisdom of the old ones . The perfect wisdom of the elders is not to be disputed at all.   The cult members become entwined by a sharing of water together.  They see each other as all Gods. Thou art god and so are my Guinea pigs and Lovebird.  

The religion replaces God and put man in God’s place, this allows man to worship created things.Because man is now God like, the divine things are the things that connect man in deeper communication.  Sex is seen as sharing deeper with many people.  The communal orgasm is sacred, a great religious experience.  Cannibalism is the holiest way to die for it is taking the spirit of the other deeply into the body of the collective .

When God’s proper place, to be above all, is replaced all is left in Chaos.  A chaos I imagine to be like the ending of the Demolished Man by Alfred Bester.  This chaos is a place of no form.
 "The snake eating its owntail, makes a circle, alpha and omega, a process, a spin." (Krysia Jopek pg 4)*

Wisdom of the Old Ones
I am only that I Grok
(Brahman Hindu) 
We are all Gods (not Imago Dei, but really God's)
Athenian Greek Goddess Cults
The Power of the Orgasm
(Native American Ritual)
Drinking (like Deer Hunter) deep into the collective body…
Stranger in a Strange Land  raised the questions: 
What does it mean to be both God and man? 
Why could not Joseph and Mary give birth to the messiah? 
Why did it need to be a virginal birth?    
What becomes lost when the Messiah is merely a superman?

*Krysia Jopek  Maps and Shadows (Los angeles California: Aquila Polonica, 2010), 4.

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