I read this book about 2-Aug-2008. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1984. This note was last modified Sunday, 24-Aug-2008 13:09:09 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Late Heinlein; when a guy's dead, his readers have to make do with what he left them. Eventually even the third reading of a lesser work starts to look more attractive than the 50th reading of a good one.
Alexander Hergenscheimer walks through a fire pit, and comes out in a different world as Alec Graham. Then the gods continue to play with him. He starts out as a fundamentalist fundraiser (who got into the ministry because engineering was hard) from a fundamentalist world, and none of the other worlds they visit are like that. He eventually is "saved" by realizing that he loves his informal wife and trusts her more than he holds his beliefs about how god runs the universe.
He never does really doubt god. In fact, he spends time in heaven (and is made a saint). One of the things that bugs me about Heinlein is that he's quite the mystic; apparently his bible-belt upbringing really left him thinking that things like "life after death" were reasonable things for adults to consider, rather than stories for little children. We do find that his god is just one in a hierarchy of dieties (we don't much meet god, mostly we talk with his brother Satan).
In the end, his great triumph is to run an ice-cream shop in a small college town, with the afrit he's in love with back in her guise as a human woman. He knows nothing of this, nothing of his trials so far as I can tell. It's a most un-Heinleinian ending, I'll give it that. But it seems to support wilful ignorance as being bliss, which is grossly offensive. Maybe it's the only way to cope with god-like interference in your life, though.