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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
The Pastor of Rush Springs is a short story by Robert E. Kearns. In a small rural town on a hot July day, some time after neon lights have become popular but before air conditioning is widely available, a newly arrived preacher holds an adoring congregation enthralled. The pastor’s “fire and brimstone” sermon is made even more appealing by his physical stature and rock star-like personality. After a prayer service that same evening, the pastor offers to host a weekend getaway, first for the ladies and later for the men, for their “spiritual awakening.” No one could have predicted how this seemingly innocent event would put its stamp on the congregation for years to come.
In The Pastor of Rush Springs, Kearns paints the portrait of a talented “con man” and his prey. With a highly descriptive narrative and a solid pace and plot, the reader is pulled into the setting and the characters. Only two are described in detail: the parson and his accomplice, but we see the congregation just as vividly by what they wear, their agreeable temperaments, their generosity with the little they have, and the quiet country lives they lead. They make an easy mark and the pastor wastes no time. While he takes most of what’s put into the collection plate, their chapel wants for a coat of paint. While he eats first and to his fill, they happily cook, serve, and clean up after him. He wears pristine suits while they make the same Sunday suit last for years. For me, it’s a sad story, but it’s wonderfully told.