Mother came from a long line of French atheists. But while she was heavy with my younger brother Jean-Pierre, she took a stroll on a Chestnut Hill green, where she was caught in a thunderstorm; a bolt of lightning knocked her to the ground, causing her to have what she came to call a religious experience. She was quickly carted off to Massachusetts General, where, on waking, she became a Christian for life. But she had trouble settling on a single denomination. Not long after finding a new church that better fit her shifting theological tastes, she would move on to another. This was largely because, as Father would say on those occasions when I accompanied him to his weekly Liszt-and-rose affairs, the church she’d most recently abandoned wasn’t consistent with the social advances he had made and the views that went with them.
Sacred Books & Sky Hooks plows a field near those tilled by Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven), and Bart Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted). It should also appeal to those who read such skeptics as Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens).
On a bleak, frigid morning on the Fifteenth of March some forty years ago, I entered the world, courtesy of Renée Swift, née Arouet. While she and I were in the delivery room at Massachusetts General, my father, J. Ethan Swift II, JD, was pacing the halls outside, hoping for a boy to continue his good name. The gods smiled on him, and I was christened J. Ethan Swift III, with a JD to follow.
Father liked to say that he was “of the Dooblin Swifts,” though he had left Ireland and run off to London when he was barely seventeen. He’d been born into a Catholic family but when he turned twenty-one and moved to Boston he became what he was pleased to call “a staunch, born-again Unitarian.” He had come to prefer the music of Liszt to that of Palestrina, he’d often say, and a rose supported by a vase on top of a piano to a statue of the Virgin standing in a dusty alcove.
Sacred Books & Sky Hooks is a genre-bending novel, mixing a few nonfictional elements with fiction. The short nonfiction is an investigation of the religious myths created by the founder of Summum (Corky Ra), Joseph Smith, and the Apostle Paul. The fictional parts consist of love stories, a kidnapping, and several dead bodies. The narrator acts as both a prosecutor of and a defense attorney for the three mythmakers. An FBI agent helps him solve crimes and tries to keep him safe from a nemesis with murder on his mind.
Paul Enns Wiebe perpetually asks himself, "What do I want to write when I grow up?"