"I never do anything I don't want to do. Nor does anyone else. But in my case, I am always aware of it."
After 25 years Earth send an expeditionary force back to Mars to find out what happened to the earlier group that left and never came home. They find the last surviving member, a young man, Valentine Michael Smith, who is biologically human, but whose mind is all Martian.
"Thinking doesn't pay. It just makes you discontented with what you see around you."
Because Smith is heir to a considerable fortune, he is taken back to Earth and put into hospital so others can influence him and thereby influence Earth. Secretary General Joseph Douglas orders him kept under strict guard and when Julie, Smith's nurse, and Ben, a reporter get wind of the plot they set out to kidnap the vulnerable Martian.
"But goodness alone is never enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil."
Enter Jubal Harshaw, famous physician, philosopher, and counter culture figurehead who takes Smith under his wing. Harshaw, through multiple twists and turns gets the government to lay off of Smith by using those who would wish to manipulate Smith to oversee Smith's vast fortune.
Smith is fascinated by Earth's religion and is introduced to the Fosterites who have a massive following. Digby, the Supreme Bishop, hopes to enlist Smith to his cause, but before that can be accomplished, Smith makes him disappear.
"Most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habits of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers."
As a Martian, Smith was trained in various forms of paranormal abilities. One of which is his ability to make people who irritate him disappear. Smith feels badly that Digby has disappeared and so he decides to 'grok' the situation which means Smith can, if allowed, go away for eons until he is able to completely understand all aspect of his current dilemma. It is only through '#grokking' that one can come to know oneself.
"If you've got the truth you can demonstrate it. Talking doesn't prove it."
Smith founds his own church which is much like the Fosterites in which it uses gaudy tactics to attract new followers. Soon those of the inner circle begin to learn Martian, enjoy new psychic powers, and engage in free form sexuality. The populous soon grows tired of Smith's new religion and flagrant immorality. A crowd gathers outside the building that houses the Church of All Worlds. He exposes himself by standing naked before them as they kill him. Soon after, he ascends to heaven and becomes an archangel.
I have read Robert A. Heinlein's novel #Stranger in a Strange Land multiple times. Many of the lines I can quote by heart. It is a deeply moving novel that tackles subjects such as sexuality, freedom, liberty, and government. Heinlein took a neophyte with a completely open mind back to Earth so that he could experience society in a unique way. It is through Smith's eyes that we are able to view and experience life from a completely different view point. It is not important that we accept that view point, it is only important that the view point is experienced.
It is all in the 'grokking' you see.
I would recommend Stranger in a Strange Land without hesitation and would love, as always, your opinion and thoughts on the novel.
*All books I review are available through your local bookstore or Amazon and Barnes and Noble. #Robert A Heinlein