In the late 1980s, Peter Rock worked as a ranch hand in a town in Montana that was also home to many members of the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT). Among the church’s teachings was a prediction that a Soviet missile strike would bring about the end of the world. During a period of time known as “the shelter cycle,” members of the church built underground bunkers stocked with years worth of food and supplies to weather the nuclear holocaust.
Rock’s new novel, The Shelter Cycle, is a fictionalized telling of the lives of two members of that church, Francine and Colville. They were both children during the shelter cycle, and the book looks at how their experience with the church affected their lives as adults. Francine has left the CUT while Colville still believes many of the teachings. The book is an exploration of our ability to change, but also of the ways our pasts continue to shape our lives.
Did you grow up in the Church Universal and Triumphant, or another non-mainstream religion? Did you leave that faith? How did the experience affect the rest of your life?