Ten years after the CHRIST (Christian Households Rising in
Support of Truth) Act became law, the USA is at last what the Religious Right
has dreamed of – a Christian Nation. The National Church of Christ is the state
religion – all others are forbidden and church attendance is mandatory.
stars of the flag have been replaced by a cross and NPR in now NCR. (You can
guess what the C stands for.) Everyone carries guns – not to do so would
look suspicious. Alcohol, pornography, birth control, abortion, homosexuality
are all criminalized.
State-run Savior Camps, with Arbeit Macht FreiSaved Though Faith over the entrance and complete with barbed wire and
armed guards, “are not just for lapsed Christians and those afflicted with the
disease of homosexuality. They also cure drug addicts, adulterers, Satan
worshippers, and Liberals.”
Seth Ginsburg, a non-observant Jew, has converted and pays
lip service to the state religion in order to hold on to his job in the office
of a US senator. When he receives a package containing his late father’s prayer
shawl, he finds himself compelled to reclaim his heritage and join a group of
Jews in their hidden worship.
Meanwhile, his wife Maggie is pressured by their
Federal Faith Verification case worker to do her Christian duty and get
pregnant. Because Seth is a convert, the case worker is authorized to inspect
his home at any time, day or night, “to verify the authenticity” of Seth’s
Behind the scenes glimpses at corrupt politicians and faith leaders
(nothing new under the sun) heighten the tension and intensify the parallels
with present day.
Finally Seth is betrayed as a hidden Jew and the trials he
and Maggie endure in attempting to flee to Mexico (oh, the delicious irony) take the reader even deeper
into the rotten heart of the theocracy that the US has become.
This fast-moving, compelling story would have seemed over
the top a few years ago. Now, alas, even the most outrageous scenes are only a
few crucial votes away. At times hilarious, at time terrifying, American
Judas is, ultimately, a warning.
As Mickey wrote in my copy of the novel, “Have a blessed
day. Or not. It’s still your choice.”
Back from the Magic Mountain to my own home mountain -- which has plenty of its own magic.
It was a terrific week with a great class and lots of inspiring writers, musicians, actors, performers . . . folks at Wildacres writing workshops work hard but they play harder. . . It can be kinda exhausting for someone used to a quiet life.
In the middle of the week, Claui brought Josie up for a visit. Tucked between my dormitory building and the studio where my classes were held was what Josie declared "a perfect little play ground!" She played and then Claui and Josie and I went down the road for lunch at the Little Switzerland cafe.
I regret not getting a picture as Josie was so grown up -- eating her grilled cheese sandwich and being very much one of the "ladies who lunch."
I was also surprised to learn that, unbeknownst to me, Josie has a number of admirers in the Wildacres crew who know her from this blog.
I'll be talking in the coming days about some terrific books by Wildacres folks that I read this past week. I always feel so fortunate to be among such talented folks -- sometimes I feel like a bit of an impostor amidst these college professors and MFAs.
But the lovely thing about the Wildacres Writing Workshop is the absolute equality among writers -- from the rankest beginner to the long time professional. We're all there to share what we know and to learn from one another. And somehow, it works.
I'm off today for a week of leading a fiction workshop at Wildacres -- where the internet is extremely limited and we are asked not to up- or download stuff. So I'll be back with the blog Sunday week. . .
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