Originally Posted by Angst
I remember reading one other book by Orson Scott Card. I'm not sure of the title or series, (Alvin Maker perhaps), but the main character crosses a stream and his genetic make up is changed in the process. It sounded like an allegory for baptism. There were several other similar passages in the book that had religious symbolism.
Yes and no. Definitely Alvin Maker that you read, but the water actually tries to kill him. His powers were brought about because he was the seventh son of a seventh son, which seems to be a recurring theme in fantasy series (I seem to recall at least one series where females attain "powers", but it has to be the ninth daughter of a ninth daughter). I'm unsure if this system has a religious implication.
For what it's worth, here's the wikipedia