“A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ” – W.M. Miller Jr (1960)

canticle (from the Latin canticulum, a diminutive of canticum, “song”) is a hymn, psalm or other song of praise taken from biblical texts other than the Psalms.

The divide of Church vs State has been around since approximately forty-five seconds after the rise of churches and/or states (whichever came latter), and to this day remains a touchy subject in a realm of touchy subjects. Don’t talk about politics or religion over the dinner table, someone’s parents have echoed throughout time, but Walter M. Miller’s A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ doesn’t so much focus on the aggressive dichotomy so much as it broadens the scope to tell how each shapes the other in turn, and how the results become neither and both. As each side tries to co-opt the discovery of articles relating to Saint Leibowitz (an engineer in the time immediately proceeding the Great Flame Deluge/Third World War of Atomics) Miller looks at the ways that various sociopolitical factions approach information and fact, and tailor it to their own agendas as humanity first crawls out of a new Dark Age to a new technological Renaissance and in doing so reawakens knowledge of destructive power so vast that it threatens to break the cycle of societal/historical recurrence and technological progress/regress to eradicate mankind altogether. Mostly set within the development of the Order of Saint Leibowitz, traditional religion is forefront – much language being derived from the Latin employed by the Roman Catholic Church – though for the most part they are portrayed as more centrist-atheistic and institutionally focussed in practice. Primarily, this is divided into three sections of the book, each a little over a half-millennium apart:

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