A preacher suffers adversities, has visions, gathers disciples, and sets out to fulfill God’s mission for him.
The Gudsens are old-school Michigan Lutherans: upright, honorable, and dull as dishwater. But lately they’ve been acting kind of strange. Herkimer Gudsen, the pastor of St. Luke’s Church in Saginaw, made headlines a while back when he was shot through the skull with a hunter’s arrow and miraculously lived to tell the tale. Surgeons had to leave part of the arrow shaft embedded in his head, but Herkimer suffered no ill effects whatever—or so it seemed. Now, though, he begins to hear God speaking to him, and the church elders aren’t entirely thrilled by his messages. They expel Herkimer from his church when he refuses to oust two openly gay parishioners who are living together, so he founds a church of his own with the pair of gay refugees as his first followers. His wife Megan, hopelessly ill with skin cancer, is wary of her husband’s visions but becomes a believer in short order when her cancer goes into remission and Herkimer is cured of his impotence. Even Herkimer’s jaded brother Jim, a world-weary Vietnam vet, gets in on the act, forsaking his agnosticism and pledging God his celibacy in exchange for Megan’s cure. When Herkimer declares that God has promised a cure for Megan in exchange for saving 12 lost souls, Jim and his brother take to the road. As they make their way to California, they gather in fallen women, junkies, hypocrites, and sinners of every age and condition. They also find a sister they’d never known about, and a father they’d given up for dead. Will Megan recover? Hard to say—but there’s no shortage of miracles on hand.
Turrill (A Bridge to Eden, not reviewed, etc.) can be rambling and slow to set the scene, but offers a taut and highly focused narrative once he gets going.