Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Novel excerpts

What would make attract you to a church or to a worship service? Such a thing seems very unpalatable. The Time of the Heathen contains two worship services. The main characters attend the first at the Abiding Presence church in the opening of the novel. The pastor of that church is presented as "perfect: topical, relevant, and kind, and unlike others in his profession, rarely said anything offensive to anyone." The music is great. The message is positive and non-denominational.

Later, the main characters attend a pagan worship service directed by a black dove priestess to the White Goddess in a sacred grove. "Ewan looked up as a woman emerged from the trees bearing two black doves in a cage made of hazel twigs. She had very white skin that contrasted unexpectedly with her most intense oval blue eyes and an abundance of black hair flowing and framing her triangular face. On the crown of her head she wore garlands interlaced with rounded white or pinkish petaled apple tree flowers. She walked with a womanly undulation under a white caftan belted by a black, red, and white-striped silk sash. She came toward them apparently completely unafraid, even mildly curious." Pagan music and message are more powerful than the carefully arranged and thoughtfully parsed worship of the West because it is unashamedly partisan.

Whether a god is present or not to receive the worship is not the focus. The contrast is between the feeble worship of the only partially convinced and the potent worship of the believing is one of the themes of the novel.