Readersforum's Blog

January 26, 2013

Peter Murphy’s top 10 literary preachers

Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell in the film version of Night Of The Hunter.

Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell in the film version of Night Of The Hunter.

From James Joyce to Jerry Lee Lewis, the novelist reads some fiery lessons.

When Enoch O’Reilly, the main character in my second novel Shall We Gather at the River, is deemed too weird even for the clergy, he recasts himself as a radiovangelist in the small Irish town of Murn, channelling the proselytising spirit of rock’n’roll for his own nefarious ends.

Haunted by the spirit of his father’s sinister Holy Ghost radio, Enoch is as much enthralled by notions of personal glory as he is the power of the Word. His tragedy is that he scarcely understands the cosmic forces that propel him towards his ruin.

Enoch’s character has many fathers: the thundering preachers included on the Sermons disc of the Goodbye Babylon box set, Robert Duvall in The Apostle, the many novels that take the figure of the false prophet, Simoniac, or tormented preacher as their archetype.

Consider, if you will, my nominations for the 10 baddest pastors in literature.

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