Pentecostal Preacher as Villain
, April 24, 2013
This review is from: In the Seventh Day (Paperback)
One does not hear too much about the anti-hero these days, but if that character has moved on to other climes and you miss him, take heart–the bastard is alive and well in a new pull-no-punches novel by Jane Cooper Easton, In the Seventh Day. Set in a small midwestern community that can only be described as “way off the beaten path” Cooper takes us directly into the mind of Kevin Hillar, a charismatic young preacher who has come to town to establish The Way, a new denomination that will follow the “umbrella authority” that his fundamentalist sect has generated from their retrograde understanding of the teachings of the Apostle Paul. To the liberal/secular mind the most generous description to be offered of this quirky theological world would be “violently anti-feminist.” And so it is in Ms. Easton’s novel.
One would have to search far and wide to discover in modern literature a darker, more perverse, self-serving, devious, holier-than-thou anti-hero than Rev. Kevin Hillar. Coupling astounding sexual charm with charismatic preaching he rapaciously and murderously gratifies his libido under the radar as, via pithy and precisely ten minute long sermons he recruits a devoted congregation soon eager to build a permanent “umbrella centric” church to replace the tobacco barn which was his first sanctuary.
Ms. Easton’s book is a chilling murder mystery procedural as well as a tough minded rumination on a particularly destructive form of Pentecostal Christianity in rural America. It also is a daunting cautionary tale about a deeply rooted societal wish to keep women as fully subjugated as suggested by the old Chauvinistic saw, “a woman should be kept barefoot, naked and in the kitchen.” The tale is gripping throughout and may require a strong stomach on the part of some readers. As literature it is a construct almost totally Brechtian in design. In terse, cooly objective prose it sharply defines the malaise, describes its malignant spread, but consciously withholds the expected–indeed, longed for–final scene where poetic justice is meted out.
In the Seventh Day