In the early pages of the book a number of women are working together to comb sheep fleeces for burrs and bits of straw.
They are presided over by a very religious family matriarch named Hester.
Hester's daughter in law Dellarobia is not so sure about the certainties of conventional religion.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter Two: "They (the women) all attended Hester's Church, which Dellarobia viewed as a complicated pyramid scheme of moral debit and credit resting ultimately on the shoulders of the Lord, but rife with middle managers"
Good Lord above, as a semi-retired Priest , I know that I have often been a controlling middle manager.
I think that the tantalisingly wonderful Pope Francis also knows all about this.
Here is a commentary about, and excerpt from his most recent missive "The Joy of the Gospel" - lifted from the U.K. newspaper "The Independent"
The Pope first looks with an unforgiving eye at the barriers to missionary ministry that the Church itself erects. In his exhortation,
Pope Francis says “I do not want a Church… which... ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.”
Surprisingly, he rails at the “excessive centralisation” which, rather than proving helpful, “complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach”. He warns that “mere administration can no longer be enough”.
Pope Francis despairs of “the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small‑mindedness”.
He calls this “A tomb psychology”, which slowly transforms Christians into “mummies in a museum”.
And in a thrust that could as well be aimed at the Church of England as well as at the Church of Rome, he notes that in some people we see “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few.”
Good Lord above. This Pope gets it!