Study Guide

Stranger in a Strange Land Chapter 23

By Robert A. Heinlein

Chapter 23

  • Jubal, Jill, and Mike visit the tabernacle. On the way, Jubal tries to prepare and warn Mike about what he'll see, but Mike is too preoccupied and stores away the conversation to grok later.
  • At the tabernacle, they are shown around by Senator Boone. While waiting for Jill's admittance badge, Boone shows Mike and company the slot machines that are used to convert the unfaithful. Interesting tactic.
  • Jubal tries his hand at the one-armed bandit three times and wins all three times. Turns out Mike was using his psychic abilities on the machine to try to figure out what a "jackpot" is exactly. 
  • Boone says that Jubal's luck is either a miracle or a busted machine.
  • The group is led into an inner sanctuary where the preserved remains of Foster, the church's founder and main prophet, reside.
  • Mike groks a wrongness with wasting food, and Jill feigns a faintness to get them out of the room, fearing Mike might do something to the Foster mummy and get them all in some major trouble. 
  • In the chapel, they are introduced to Dawn Ardent. She's tasked by Boone to help save Mike's soul, and she's overjoyed at such an assignment. She's similarly overjoyed to meet Jubal, her favorite author. She goes to rejoin the service, but we'll be seeing her again.
  • A Fosterite service takes place. It consists of a lot of dancing, chanting, and speaking in tongues. The whole thing feels like a Vegas show mixed with an evangelical service as produced by Monty Python. You'll have to read it to believe it.
  • Mike finds the service exciting and very Martian like. It's not the words—he considers those unimportant—but how the congregation grows closer through the service.
  • Supreme Bishop Digby gets on stage and converses with a woman "possessed" with Foster's spirit. He claims Foster as a message for the Man from Mars.
  • After the service ends, Boone takes the trio to Digby's personal parlor. Digby meets them there, and through careful maneuvering, he manages to get Mike alone with him in his retiring room. Uh oh.
  • Only Mike comes out of the retiring room. Boone assumes this means Digby left for his office through the back door, but we'll give you three guesses as to what really went down.
  • Jubal thanks Boone for an interesting trip and hightails his people out of there.

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