A literary novel follows a conflicted preacher.
Foy Davis, a Baptist minister who has grown up in Texas, decides in 2005 that he will no longer be a pastor. But Foy leaves his church in San Antonio under a shadow (“They didn’t fire him, but he didn’t exactly quit either”). Adding to his problems is his divorce from his wife some two days prior. He decides he will use his newfound freedom to travel to the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. The trip provides him with a mix of emotions, although he doesn’t do anything too crazy. The reader is then taken to Foy’s past, exploring time periods like his awkward middle-school experience in Houston and a weak attempt, in his college years, to convert strangers in Wisconsin. Then there are Foy’s preaching days. With his Nerf football his constant office companion and his willingness to say “fuck” (at least in private conversations), he sports a ministering style that strikes a balance. He is not too hip to arouse suspicion but not so stale that parishioners find him boring. He is also willing to contemplate big-picture items like what it means to truly believe in God. Although scenes from his youth provide vivid glimpses of the man Foy would become, both Atkinson’s (RealLivePreacher.com, 2013, etc.) book and his protagonist are at their best when tackling subjects that cannot easily be explained away with Scripture. At one point, Foy is summoned to a hospital room where a dying church deacon admits that he doesn’t believe in “the God stuff,” saying, “God becomin’ a little baby born in a manger. That sounds like somethin’ the Mormons would make up.” This would be a tough situation for anyone, but the man pinned with defending “the God stuff” is certainly in a tight spot. It is through such portions that the reader gets true insight into the life of a holy man. Giving a weekly sermon and comforting believers in need may seem easy enough, but what is one to do when those worshippers are more complex than expected? What happens when the sermonizers have their own doubts?
An inviting account of one man’s ambivalence toward his own faith and occupation.