In 1985, Ian and Bill are high-achieving high-school students in an average, Midwestern city when a personal tragedy strikes Ian’s family. The event forces each to closely examine his beliefs and faith traditions, and sets in motion a journey of inquiry that spans a lifetime of cruel and glorious twists. Their sometimes conflicting paths through life’s liturgies and lotteries—its prejudices and paradigms—test and shape their relationship as they struggle to make sense of faith, tragedy, evil, and conventional definitions of morality. Ian wants answers his faith can’t provide, so he abandons traditional religion and its magic, mysticism, and supernaturalism—turning instead to science and reason. In the late 1990s, Ian and his wealthy employer gather an unlikely group of leading scholars, theologians and scientists, as a result of the pair’s shared thirst for truth and knowledge. When profound revelations lead each friend to uncover shocking historical “secrets” in support of his own worldview, their odyssey plays out on a global stage, with tragic consequences. In 2009, despite a nation that is mourning a massive terror attack, “The Desoterica” shakes the world by going public with proof of an incendiary discovery that attacks the very core of Christianity. Is the supposed “discovery” just a public-relations stunt, or is it a profound historical realization? Ian’s best friend, Bill Vanderveen, is among the countless throngs who reject the group’s conclusions, based upon different interpretations of the supposed evidence. Bill’s path has become that of a devoted Christian who sees the bountiful harvest that can be achieved through spirituality and faith. Only by embracing the inherent mystery and pain of their quest, do Ian and Bill make the discovery that really matters—a genuine secret of the universe.
A Secret of the Universe is written for anyone interested in asking big questions about the beauty and terror of our human experience and existence. As emotional and hopeful as it is hard-hitting and brutally honest, this dramatic allegory is fundamentally about beliefs. It's about how we come to form "knowledge" about the big questions in life: God, sex, morals, political ideology—even which medical treatments we will choose to fight our cancers. More importantly, it's about how those beliefs affect our actions, our lives, and the world around us! Told through two friends’ struggle to make sense of life’s triumphs and tragedies—which they interpret through very different religious filters—this story is a mirror in which everyone can glimpse his or her own fallibilities. A Secret of the Universe explores both our compulsive need for answers, and the blind spots we create in the process of searching for elusive clarity. Whether you are a committed Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, subscribe to another faith, or are a hard-core atheist, you will leave this experience having been challenged—in your dogma, worldview, assumptions, or your tolerance for dissenting views.