Study Guide

Stranger in a Strange Land Chapter 27

By Robert A. Heinlein

Chapter 27

  • Patty talks with Mike and Jill about how their act isn't all that bad, although neither of them believe her. Patty uses the discussion to build up her courage to try to convert the two to Fosterism.
  • Patty tries veer the conversation toward her tattoos, particularly the ones dealing with Foster's life. Mike senses a cusp (i.e., a threshold).
  • This is when things get weird.
  • Mike uses his powers to vanish the clothes off Patty as well as Jill and himself. Patty is a little shocked, but once Mike convinces her it wasn't sleight-of-hand, she proclaims it a miracle and Mike a holy man. 
  • Mike tells her his story and decides that the label "seeker" would be more appropriate.
  • Jill and Mike telepathically agree to make Patty a water brother. Mike levitates both women, and they perform the water ceremony.
  • Then, of course, Patty and Mike have sex. Mike has discovered that the act is not so much a ritual representing growing closer but an act of actually growing closer. Pretty deep.
  • After Patty bathes, she asks the two to guess how old she is. Ooh, we love this game.
  • Jill guesses thirtyish, but it turns out she is actually closer to fifty. Mike guesses that Patty has the ability to think her body as she wishes it, even though she doesn't understand the Martian language.
  • Patty preaches her message about love, God, and happiness. She says that God wouldn't have made a fixed game with life. Hmmm. Jill is confused, but Mike thinks he is close to grokking her meaning. (We're not quite there.)
  • Exposition time! Okay, so the next section starts with a little history of Foster's founding of his church. 
  • He founded it on a three step program. Ready? 
  • Step 1: Create a religious system running on America's dual relationship between religion and sex (i.e., that we want to be chaste while also desiring sex).
  • Step 2: Build a church founded on three tiers. This includes an outer church that anyone could attend, a middle church that is open to the saved, and an inner church that is only occupied by the utterly and completely dedicated.
  • Step 3: If someone tries to prosecute you, get mobbish on them.
  • Patty's history also gets a section. Her husband, George, used to be a drunk tattoo artist who occasionally got comfy with his female clients. Then she and George began attending Fosterite services and really got into the religion.
  • George turned his vices toward more religious practices—he only got drunk in church, for example—and their marriage improved. 
  • At one point, Foster himself came to see Patty and gave her his kiss, a tattooed symbol of Foster's lips, showing her dedication to and acceptance into the inner church. 
  • During her talk, Patty says, "God is in you and of you and with you, and the Devil can't get at you" (27.147). Mike translates this as Patricia grokking God.
  • Patricia also discusses happiness meetings, big parties held in Fosterite inner circles. She likens these parties to the sharing of water.
  • Jill considers Mike and Patricia two of a kind in their innocence. She then asks Mike to whisk her away to bed. Literally, you know, with the levitation and such.
  • The next morning Jill finds that Mike and Patricia haven't slept (wink, wink).
  • Patricia has to go to the carnival, but before she does, Mike kisses her and his lips appear opposite Foster's.