Stan was strongly influenced by his Southern Christian upbringing. Under the pressures of family and career, he attempts to simplify his life by taking a job teaching at a small college in Tifton, Georgia. He needs Tifton to provide that stereotypical small-town lifestyle that he always believed existed, even though he had never observed it. As that illusion and his marriage both evaporate, he begins to realize that there is a discrepancy between his Southern Christian values and how his keen senses perceive reality. A young Stan is polite with strong religious values. As he grows older, he turns from religion and becomes a bitter, cold man. The book opens with a devastated Stan at the funeral of his former student, Cleave. Cleave has committed suicide, but his motivation is a mystery that is slowly revealed as the story progresses through unlikely international connections to Tifton and Cleaves even more unlikely connection to the September 11, 2001, attack on New York and Washington, DC. Cleaves death further changes Stans perspective of the world and causes him to question all his previous conclusions about human interactions and human interactions with God. In His Own Image is about the commonality of human nature, despite the wide diversity of human cultures. Through a fictional story built around real historical events, In His Own Image shows how individuals are molded by their birth cultures but, eventually, have the opportunity to break from human influence and see the world in a new way. In His Own Image is not about religion itself, and no ultimate religious conclusions are presented. Instead, it deals with how religion shapes our perception of reality. The reader is challenged to distinguish the part of their religion that was created by man from that which comes from God.