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Imagine, if you will, that the supreme power of the universe works through common, sinful people. How might their sins be described, and how does such behavior fit with the plans of the Almighty? Can a person’s behavior be driven by consuming greed or lustful desire, then turn devoutly toward the purposes of God? In The Goldfish Preacher, Josh Stannett addresses these questions with a compelling work of fiction and a colorful, often gritty cast of characters. The forces of sin and piety combine and clash on the tough streets of South Side Chicago, creating swirls and eddies of unexpected behavior. Reed Purvis is a hapless, South Side business owner. His wife, Carla, works as a hospital orderly. Together, they hold fast to dreams of a grand lifestyle on the elegant North Shore. Auggie Ewald, a brilliant ex-con, who has paid his debt to society, decides wealth can be more readily amassed through clever and misguided legal pursuits. Robert Broward, self-indulgent and degreed in mathematics, was drummed out of academia for his misbehavior with coeds. He has since put his fascination with beautiful, young women to more lucrative purposes. Robert’s girlfriend, Amber, is a honey-skinned beauty who will pay a steep price for her boyfriend’s ambitions. These characters and more team up to build their fortune in the guise of an innovative, community service church. But they are not servants of the Lord. Their intentions are mercenary to the core, and Robert’s manipulation of women will come to infest the church enterprise. As they watch their dream begin to crumble, then recover, they meet head-on with a slurry of unintended consequences. Will their results be pleasing to the God they claim to worship? Using thought-provoking ideas, Stannett showcases the drama behind a greedy and self-serving cast, and describes a spectrum of human struggle from the urban single mother to the educated professional. All told, The Goldfish Preacher is an intelligent and provocative read.

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