Dillard, author of a sustained spiritual exploration in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, takes on Job's question in this densely packed meditation, which whirs with images of dying moths and angel wings, and centers on the accidental burning away of a young child's face. "Holy the Firm" (from esoteric Christianity) is the name of a hidden substance, the basest and "dullest," which is yet "in touch with the Absolute." Dillard fantasizes a circle joined and passing through the brightest idea: "Hold hands and crack the whip and yank the Absolute out of there and into the light, God pale and astounded. . . His right hand is clenching, calm, round the exploding left hand of Holy the Firm." The answer to a burnt child is, in a sense from Job ("Who are we. . ."), but we may need the light (from a candle, a torched child) and the sacrifice. A difficult, restless rumination--remarkably, in these days of liturgical placebos, God obsessed and disdaining easy comfort.