Two Books: Poetry and Ministry

Richard Lischer, Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery (NY: Random House, 2001), 242 pages, no illustrations. A delightful collection of essays that describes Lischer’s first three years as a pastor in Southern Illinois, just east of St. Louis, Missouri. He arrives driving a Ford Pinto. Fresh out of school, he finds his church in … Read more Two Books: Poetry and Ministry


Straining Forward: Minh Phuong Towner’s Story

Michelle Layer Rahal, Straining Forward: Minh Phuong Towner’s Story (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2018), 355 pages, 10 pages of photos.           I was introduced to Minh in 2011. I was preparing a sabbatical after leading First Presbyterian Church of Hastings (Michigan) through a building and relocation program. As I was going to be traveling overland from … Read more Straining Forward: Minh Phuong Towner’s Story


At Home in the Dark: two book reviews about night

Chet Raymo, The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage  (1985, Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 1992), 209 pages, each chapter illustrated with a woodblock print. This may go down as the best book I’ve read all year. Raymo describes himself as a “pilgrim of darkness.” The journey and the night sky seem to provide him with joy. … Read more At Home in the Dark: two book reviews about night


Highway 58 and some recent photos

Aaron McAlexander, Greasy Bend: Ode to a Mountain Road (Stonebridge Press, 2016), 224 pages, a few black and white photographs. Highway 58 cuts across Southern Virginia, from Cumberland Gap (Along the Tennessee/Kentucky border) to the Tidewater. The highway crosses swamps, fields of peanuts and tobacco, old industrial towns like Danville and Martinsville, then climbs the Blue Ridge … Read more Highway 58 and some recent photos


Four Books: Champagne, Skid-row, Generosity, & Mountain Midwifery

I’m catching up on some recent reading… Tilar J. Mazzero, The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It.  (Harpers Business, 2009), 264 pages.  Late last year, I listened to the author’s “Great Courses” lectures on “Creative Nonfiction.” She often used examples of her own writing including this book. I … Read more Four Books: Champagne, Skid-row, Generosity, & Mountain Midwifery


Two Books: A spy thriller and a self-congratulatory humorous look at gumption

Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer (2014)  This is the story narrated by an unnamed man who doesn’t fit in, anywhere. A bastard. His father was a French Catholic priest and his mother a Vietnamese maid. In many ways, the narrator is of two minds. Given the opportunity to study in the United States, he learns the ways … Read more Two Books: A spy thriller and a self-congratulatory humorous look at gumption