Avon Books, 2002
In March I read Phillip Gulley’s If The Church Were Christian. That book had a huge impact on me and my thought processes. I wanted to read more books by him. I certainly had plenty to choose from. I decided to start on his Harmony Series. Home To Harmony is Book One.
This book is fiction but it seems based on the author’s experience. It’s as if someone asked Phillip Gulley, “What’s it like to be a pastor in a small midwestern town?” He tells us, through the voice of Sam Gardner.
Sam, along with his wife and two young boys, have moved back to his hometown. Only a few things have changed in the years he’s been away. Most of the buildings are the same. There is still the same newspaper, library and the coffee shop. His boys go to the same school and the same doctor he went to.
Sam still knows most of the people in town and he introduces them to us. Here’s a few I liked:
- I loved Dr. Neely. He’s getting older now and he and his wife want to move to a smaller house. The problem is they won’t sell to someone who will paint over the children’s names, height measurements and dates that are behind the curtains in the dining room.
- I also liked Miriam Hodge. She was appointed head elder at church and then tried to get the meetings to run according to an agenda.
- Dale Hinshaw is one of those guys who pushes himself into places he’s not wanted. We all know people like that. One of his most hilarious “pushes” was when he decided the church needed to advertise to get more members. He erected a bunch of Burma Shave style signs on the outskirts of town. Here’s one I liked:
If you cheat and drink and lie
turn to God before you die.
Harmony Friends Meeting
And another one:
Go to church and learn to pray
or when you die there’s Hell to pay.
Harmony Friends Meeting
Phillip Gulley writes in an easy, humorous, and often self-deprecating manner. But, he also shares his thoughts, via Sam Gardner, on life in general and how it relates to his faith. In one chapter he was talking about buying gifts for his wife on their tenth anniversary. He’s never exactly gotten giving gifts right, but he keeps trying.
The tenth is the year you are supposed to buy either aluminum or diamonds. So he bought his wife ten cans of diet coke and wrapped them individually. She was sure he had goofed again but on the tenth can he had taped a diamond ring. Sam then reflected on his wife and how glad he was to have her. She wasn’t perfect but he’s never been drawn to perfection. He’s seen how that can spoil a person’s outlook.
“Acquainted . . . with failure, I’m pleasantly surprised when life goes well. It is easy in these aluminum years, to believe in a loving God. It’s the only thing that makes sense. It isn’t skill and pluck and hard work that get us where we are. It’s grace, nothing else.
To learn more about Phillip Gully, visit here.
For more about the town of Harmony, go here.