“True Religion” by J.L. Weinberg— New Age Religion, Queer Culture and the Paranormal

true religion

Weinberg, J.L. “True Religion”, Chelsea Station Editions, 2015.

New Age Religion, Queer Culture and the Paranormal

Amos Lassen

Seth Davis, a gay journalist has an unexpected meeting with a paranormal spirit at a party he attended in the Orenda Valley that causes him to take a religious journey that changes his life forever. As he moves forward Seth comes to a coven of witches at a place called Hope Springs, a tourist mecca in Pennsylvania. The name was changed from Hell’s Ferry because it had once been one of the most haunted places in this country. Learning about the history of the place, Seth discovers something about himself and this drives him to try to find peace somewhere and thereby rest his tortured soul. (If you are finding any of this hard to follow (and it is deliberately written that way so that I give nothing away and hope that this will lead you to read the book), it all falls into place before you close the covers.

Seth is well aware that he must find a way to save his soul and in the process he will decide on what happens to the witches, Hope Springs and the entire valley where it sits. Author Weinberg has written a fascinating novel of horror, redemption, spirituality, history and New Age thinking.

You will probably be as surprised as I was to learn that this is a first novel. Everything comes together so well and the characters (who are flawed) are so well drawn that it is hard to think that this Weinberg’s first outing into fiction. It is so interesting to me to realize that Seth who searches for spirituality actually becomes the catalyst for so much happening here. There is so much here to relish that it is hard to pick out one single incident for explanation and so I won’t but I will say that if you miss this read, you will miss a helluva good time.

I am a spiritual person but not one, who like Seth, had to go looking for it. I think it was always there but I have never been comfortable with New Age spirituality because I have never been sure about what it is. Weinberg explains it through his characters and uses speculative fiction to do so— it works perfectly. I also think that because the plot is somewhat mysterious, we tend to turn pages quickly hoping to understand what is going on.

I do not usually read speculative fiction—it is just not something I enjoy yet I read and loved this book. Perhaps, as I have said, it was the characters or perhaps it was just the use of language to tell the story. It really makes no difference since it is such a good read.