Boone meets them at the Fosterite Tabernacle. He shows them a hall filled with slot machines, and explains that the Fosterites have, rather than shunning secular salesmanship, made it work for them. Gambling, as any activity, can be holy if done in the proper spirit. Jubal tries out a slot machine and Mike, curious, uses his psychic ability to win three consecutive jackpots. Jill whispers to Mike to stop. Jubal, uncomfortable, puts his winnings in a church donation bowl.

Mike, Jubal, and Jill are taken to the Supreme Bishop Digby's quarters. They are brought to a room which contains, apparently, the preserved corpse of the founder of the Fosterite sect, the Archangel Foster. Boone tells them that Foster had died in the very chair in which his body still sits, and that the Tabernacle had been built around the body. Mike groks "wrongness."

Boone takes them to a service being led by a former football star, where the hymns have a corporate sponsor. Boone summons a stripper and church employee named Dawn Ardent to bring them drinks. Dawn is thrilled to meet Jubal, whose writing she admires. Jill momentarily worries that Dawn is coming on to Mike. They watch the lively service, which includes much dancing and yelling; Mike is captivated. Digby appears, and immediately introduces Mike to the crowd.

After the service, Digby and Boone entertain Mike, Jubal, and Jill. At one point, when Boone has Jill's attention and Jubal is getting himself some food, Digby takes the opportunity to pull Mike off into a private room. Boone leaves to call a cab for his guests. After ten minutes, Jill worriedly tries to open the door to the room in which Mike is, and finds it locked. Mike finally emerges from the room alone, and he and his friends leave in a hurry.


Heinlein worked on the story of Stranger in a Strange Land for more than a decade, and had many false starts on the novel. Many critics believe that the first half of the book was in fact written years before the second half, and the shift from relatively conventional science fiction to outlandishness and heavy satire that begin in these chapters would seem to support this argument. The suspense and adventure elements that had defined Part One and had lurked in the background of Part Two essentially disappear in Part Three, as the novel becomes focused on the spiritual journeys of Mike and his companions.

The Fosterite religion is in many ways a broad parody of cults and televangelist cultures that were on the rise in the 1950s when Heinlein wrote the novel. Their increased prominence in the years after the novel's publication makes it seem oddly prescient. Unlike the exclusionary, conservative religions of traditional American culture, like the one in which Jubal describes being raised, the Fosterites embrace many of the things that other religions might consider vices or sins. Gambling is one humorous example, as it not only attracts crowds, but also raises a good deal of money for the church. The Fosterites have internalized—and, by their belief, made holy—lessons learned from capitalism and pop culture. Their leaders are football players and strippers, and, most ridiculously, they accept advertising money from corporations to sponsor hymns at services. With their focus on moneymaking schemes, it is easy to understand why cynics like Jubal might wonder if they are not just greedy scam artists.


Notes See All Notes
Add your thoughts right here!