In this installment of our continued review of Corrupts Absolutely?, edited by Lincoln Crisler, we take a look at “The Real Church” by Jeremy Hepler. Continuous readers of this blog know that I am not a religious man. Therefore, the thought of a religion-driven superhero story did not particularly thrill me. Yet, reading and watching things one might not be interested in is all part of the job. And so I began reading.
The story starts with the main character discovering his ability to heal others after killing his neighbor’s dog. Telling his mother the tale, she is overjoyed that her son has been given a gift from Jesus. After the death of her alcoholic husband, she takes the money from it and opens a church, The Real Church. However, the protagonist has a problem, he has been unable to heal anybody or anything since the neighbor’s dog. Until his mother dies that is. The event sends him into a downward spiral and he begins drinking heavily, leading to him hitting a little girl while driving. Amazingly, he heals her and realizes that he must cause the injury in order to heal anyone. Immediately, he starts intently harming others in order to heal them and draw people into his church and away from the fake churches out there.
Jeremy Hepler’s writing on this piece drew me in. Especially the part of the abusive alcoholic father, which I relate to personally. He then builds the protagonist into a very interesting personality. The young man, despite doing horrible and terrifying things, believes that since he is drawing people to his church and, thus, salvation that it is perfectly acceptable. It is a portrait of self-delusion that is one of the many things that pushes me away from dogmatic religions. It is a bold story that screams at the hypocrisy of churches and their beloved leaders. My hat is off to Mr. Hepler for writing it. We give it .
This maintains the quality of Lincoln Crisler’s collection at 4.5 alien heads. And after 4 stories that is not bad at all.