My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There is so much to grok here, and I’m sure that I don’t grok it all. What I do know is that Heinlein’s ideas are bold and forceful enough to make you both question and defend your own beliefs and ideas, and yet familiar and warm enough for you to recognize the truth hidden within the provocations. What could easily devolve into a lot of pontificating and proselytizing is saved by the wonderful character of Jubal, an old school skeptic, who questions anything and everything by nature, habit, and strict intellectual training. Jubal reminds me of the strain of early twentieth century rationallism that characterized by the movement that questioned and discarded traditional Christianity and its most ardent defenders (a la Chesterton and Lewis). A great character: Everyone should have a Jubal in their life if only as a safeguard against intellectual laziness. Most surprising and yet refreshing was Heinlein’s wonderful sense of humor which permeated the story and added relief from (or sometimes aided) all the cranial heavy-lifting. I was a bit surprised at the tonal shift towards the seeming affirmation of religion (at least a type of religion) and especially by the overwhelmingly messianic and sacramental imagery at the end, but I think Heinlein’s ideas are still uncertain and questioning enough to allow for freedom of applicability. That mix of the familiar and the alien, the traditional and the provacative, is what makes the story unique and memorable. I shall now retreat into myself to meditate on these notions and see if I can grok them a little more fully.