Michael Hogan

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Breaking the Rules

If anyone would advise Lindsey Martin-Bower not to mix religion and politics, she would probably tell them to take a hike. This rollicking novella does just that. It considers the case of Yung Sung Gonne and his Universality Church and two young women trying to bring it down. Frustrated by the rules for sexual chastity which keep them from their mates, they seek to undermine Sung's church. The holy leader himself, a scam artist extraordinaire whose inspiration to build the church came during a masturbatory fantasy, is a perfect target. Martin-Bower uses her rapier wit and her polished literary style to bring the reader to a understanding of the abuses of power and the dangers of any organized religion when it hooks its theology to politics. She also let's us see the clear difference between spirituality and institutionalized religion and the mistake of substituting one for the other.

Martin-Bower is well known as a poet and critic. Her deep learning (we are treated to allusion to Thomas Hardy, for example) is so finely merged in the text that we barely notice. Her humor is sometimes bawdy, sometimes subtle, but always lively and with perfect timing. A fun book to read!

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