I have a lot of Stephen King novels to catch up on this year. So I thought I would start with Revival. I had heard lots of good things about this book before I finally got it as a gift this last Christmas. Anyone who knows me, knows that Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. He is in the top spot of Authors I would like to meet. I would love to sit and pick his brain over dinner one night. I just think he would be a very interesting person to talk to and learn from. Aaaah! To Dream. Anyway, back to the book at hand.
Revival is a story of a young boy named, Jamie Morton, who lives in a small town in Maine and who happens to be one of the first people to meet the new Reverend, the Reverend Charles Jacobs. On that first meeting, the Reverend shares with Jamie his love of science by sharing with him of the story of when Jesus walks on water, but he doesn’t just tell Jamie the story, he has props, one that looks like he has actually made a Jesus figure float across water. Jamie is intrigued until the Reverend shows him how he did it. Then comes the let down of when the magical illusion falls away and the magic is revealed to be something totally mundane. Jamie still likes the Reverend and his family after that even though he has to see the same trick many times over in Youth Group. Jamie and his brothers and sister attend Youth Group every week where they learn other lessons using science from the Reverend.
Everything seems normal, until two incidents happen. The first being when Jamie’s brother, Con, loses his voice due to a skiing accident. Doctors have looked at him and couldn’t figure out how to fix the problem. Con is going crazy. In fact, his whole family is affected. They are all depressed and angry. One evening, things blow up in the house and Jamie runs out crying. Just running and running until he runs past the Reverend’s house and the Reverend’s wife sees him and stops him to see why he is crying. She takes him to talk to the Reverend about his troubles. The Reverend is upset by how badly this family is being torn apart by the loss of Con’s voice that he makes a promise to Jamie that he can help Con and by some miracle, the Reverend pulls it off. He uses his knowledge of science to build a machine that helps restore Con’s voice. Everyone has a hard time believing what happened, but their joy at the return of Con’s voice overshadows their disbelief.
Then comes the incident that pushes the ignition on this story. The Reverend’s wife and son are tragically killed in a car accident. The Reverend is beyond heartbroken and gives a sermon that shocks, hurts, and angers some in the congregation. The part of the sermon that really got to me is the following… “There’s no proof of these after-life destinations; no backbone of science; there is only the bald assurance, coupled with our powerful need to believe that it all makes sense. But as I stood in the back room of Peabody’s and looked down at the mangled remains of my boy, who wanted to go to Disneyland much more than he wanted to go to heaven, I had a revelation. Religion is the theological equivalent of a quick-buck insurance scam, where you pay in your premium year after year, and then when you need the benefits you paid for so – pardon the pun – so religiously, you discover the company that took your money does not, in fact, exist.” I totally understood this feeling. I lost my father when I was 15 and I didn’t, and sometimes still don’t at the age of 41, understand why my father had to die then at that point in my life when I needed him and was just getting to know him. It made it hard to believe in God and that in turn made it hard to believe that my Dad was in heaven. I hoped he was. I hoped God was real, but there is always that doubt fueled by anger at my loss and continued losses, so I could identify with the Reverend’s anger at the loss of his family. The story takes off from there. The Reverend leaves town and Jamie grows up. The story is how their lives keep intersecting every so often. We get to see Jamie grows up and goes through many ups and downs. We get to see the Reverend change faces, personalities, etc., but it seems that he always some secret agenda working in the background. A secret agenda that could either be good or bad, and we are left wondering until the very end. I don’t intend to give away anything more than I already have as the story is worth reading. It’s a story of love and loss. It’s a story that has stuck with me for awhile now.