Andrew Bowen’s novella, Triune, is a timely story of religious hatred, its effect on people’s lives and psyches, all the lunacy, violence and misery it engenders in its wake, and the utter waste and foolishness of it all.
Triune begins as the story of an eponymous rock band comprised of an irreverent young Jewish man (Jaron), an enigmatic young Christian man (Noah), and a half-traditional/half-progressive young Muslim woman (Sam). The three are on a mission to show the world that just as they can make music together, so could we all make peace together: “God made us all unique, you know?” Sam tells a reporter. “Triune shows people that unity can be achieved with hard work and an open mind.”
Their naivete and youthful enthusiasm is played out against a background of bigoted parental figures and the endless war in the Middle East. Just as they are about to achieve the long-wished-for dream of a music company contract, Jaron’s brother is killed in Israel, the band breaks up, and (evidently to please his grieving parents) Jaron returns to Israel and joins the army. Not, however, before he unknowingly impregnates Sam, causing her family to disown her.
Sam moves in with Noah, who clearly has some painful past secrets that have warped his chances for happiness. Jaron, off to the wars, keeps in touch with Noah but does not respond to Sam’s letters. In one such letter she tells Jaron about an incident in a store in which a mother got flustered with her whining, arguing children, and took away the book they were fighting over, saying, “I’m sick of this fighting. If you can’t share, then neither of you can have it.” Sam reflects that God ought to say the same thing about the Holy Land: if we can’t share it, nobody can have it!
She has no way of knowing that Jaron, who doesn’t write to her, has latched on to this idea in a rather twisted way. The final section of the book, in which Noah tries to find and rescue Jaron, reads like a Dan Brown story, in which spiritual ideas become the basis for great, if disturbing, adventures. You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens on the Temple Mount!
I would just add my agreement with and appreciation for what I take to be Bowen’s real underlying point in this nicely-done first novel, as expressed in the book by Noah: Speaking of Triune he describes it as “three people of different faiths displaying the universal truth of benevolence, compassion and peace that lie at the core of every religion.”