When Quaker Pastor Sam Gardner is asked by the ill Unitarian minister to oversee a wedding in his place, Sam naturally agrees. It's not until the couple stands before him that he realizes they're two women. In the tempest of strong opinions and misunderstandings that follows the incident, Sam faces potential unemployment. Deeply discouraged, he wonders if his pastoral usefulness has come to an end. Perhaps it's time for a change. After all, his wife has found a new job at the library, his elder son is off to college, and the younger has decided to join the military once he graduates high school. Sam is contemplating a future selling used cars when he receives a call from a woman in the suburban town of Hope, Indiana. It seems Hope Friends Meeting is in desperate need of a pastor. Though they only have 12 members, they also have a beautiful meetinghouse and a pie committee (Sam is fond of pie). But can he really leave his beloved hometown of Harmony?
©2014 Philip Gulley (P)2014 Hachette Audio
"Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor from Indiana with a charming sense of small-town life-and a shrewd sense of life in general...A self-deprecating narrator...he knows how to exaggerate in a witty way." (The Wall Street Journal
"Gulley's work is comparable to Gail Godwin's fiction, Garrison Keillor's storytelling, and Christopher Guest's filmmaking...in a league with Jan Karon's Mitford series." (Publishers Weekly
"The biggest collection of crusty, lovable characters since James Herriot settled in Yorkshire." (Booklist on The Harmony series)
"The tales Philip Gulley unveils are tender and humorous . . . filled with sudden, unexpected, lump-in-the-throat poignancy. Through deft storytelling and his own irresistible brand of humor, [Gulley] explores the depths of the Heartland's heart. A masterpiece of Americana." (Paul Harvey, Jr.)
"Philip Gulley is a beautiful writer." (Charles Osgood, CBS Sunday Morning)
Gulley's stories get at the heart of the simple joys, stranger-than-fiction humor, and day-to-day drama of small-town life." (American Profile Magazine)
"With the storytelling ability of Garrison Keillor, Gulley spins tales that are also a bit like Jan Karon's Mitford. Gulley is a splendid storyteller...his books abound with shrewd insights into human character." (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
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"Gulley does it again"
I was one who had been waiting a long time for another Harmony story. I was not disappointed in this installment.
The author seems to think that faith in Christ is just a quaint social thing. I saw no sign of a sincere relationship with the Lord. The pastor in the story thinks that his job is just another way to make money, and he'd prefer another way if he could find one. The book seems to be written for people who want to make fun of Christians.
This book was recommended as similar to Jan Karon's Mitford series, but they are nothing alike, in writing style or in ideology.
My objection was to the content of the book.
When small town characters talk about murdering someone with whom they disagree, and are shown looking up online a way to do it, this is supposed to be funny, but is way out of line. I also cringe when the pastor's wife threatens to divorce her husband when he doesn't do what she wants. This is also supposed to be funny, but divorce is a horror and a tradgedy, and nothing to joke about.
I wasn't expecting the author to make his characters perfect; we're all imperfect, but I was expecting him to make them sincere. Faith in Christ changes us, but the Lord starts where we are and works on us until we are more like Him. If we truly belong to Him, we may have doctrinal differences with one another, but we are sincerely searching the scriptures to find the truth.
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