Sara Miles and the priest Paul Fromberg start cooking lunch for the volunteers every week. They cooked real food, and a wide variety of it, and while they did they talked about everything. One of their conversations was about the Virgin Mary.
""Right. Here's the radical thing about Mary: She doesn't need a man to have a baby. Her virginity means that her womb belongs to her." "And that she's willing to be taken over," I said, reaching for a spoon. "To let God move in her and not know what's gonna happen next." "Exactly," said Paul. "The thing about modern fundamentalists is that they think they can control God like a piece of technology and that they're the only ones who have the secret code." It was a huge relief to me to have a friend who could get beyond conventional discussions about religion. So many of the arguments between left- and right-wing Christians, fundamentalists and Episcopalians, Roman Catholics and Pentecostals, seemed to hinge on the idea that their own sect had the correct practice, "the secret code," that would save the followers and make God reward them. That was idolatry, as I saw it: magical thinking, pagan religion. I didn't think God needed humans to practice religion at all: God didn't need to be appeased by sacrifices or offerings or perfectly memorized quotations from the Bible spoken in the right order. God was not manageable. Human beings might want rituals, but it was dangerous to confuse the rituals with an ultimately unknowable God. That led to crusades, sectarian killings, the casting-out of heretics -- in fact, to the murder of Jesus, who dared to challenge the religious authorities with raw truth. "The message of Jesus," Paul told me, mixing a black bean salad, "is the only cure for religion."" (221)