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Life Goes On: A Harmony Novel

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Overview

Squarely in the crosshairs of the Church's heresy hunters, can Pastor Sam survive?

It's a madcap year in Harmony, Indiana, as Sam Gardner struggles through his fourth year as pastor of the Harmony Friends Meeting. Join the thousands of readers who have fallen in love with the charming small town that hosts what BookPage calls "the biggest collection of crusty, lovable characters since James Herriot settled in Yorkshire."

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Life Goes On

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Overview

Squarely in the crosshairs of the Church's heresy hunters, can Pastor Sam survive?

It's a madcap year in Harmony, Indiana, as Sam Gardner struggles through his fourth year as pastor of the Harmony Friends Meeting. Join the thousands of readers who have fallen in love with the charming small town that hosts what BookPage calls "the biggest collection of crusty, lovable characters since James Herriot settled in Yorkshire."

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Editorial Reviews

Vinita Hampton Wright
“Gulley opens up the marvel of being human.”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“Gulley is a splendid storyteller, and….his book abounds with shrewd insights into human character.”
Indianapolis Star
“Life Goes On is a visit with old friends. . . You’ll feel right at home.”
Publishers Weekly
Like Signs and Wonders, the previous book in the popular series featuring Pastor Sam Gardner and the colorful parishioners of the Harmony Friends Meeting in Harmony, Ind., Gulley's fourth installment unfolds through a series of warm, lightly comic anecdotes. Readers will know they're in cozily familiar territory from the get-go, when Dale Hinshaw-the vigilant, long-winded, self-appointed guardian of doctrinal purity-seizes an opportunity to take the pulpit on Easter Sunday (Pastor Sam has laryngitis) and rant for 45 minutes without a single mention of the Resurrection. As the book strolls along, Sam presides over a funeral for a fellow who-oops!-isn't dead, experiences a couple of home-repair mishaps, gets validated for another year of preaching, contracts head lice and bemusedly recounts the antics of his fellow citizens. Tiffany Nagel, the "Sausage Queen," is unmasked as a vegetarian; the town's 29-year-old spinster, Deena Morrison, finally meets her Prince Charming thanks to ringworm; and Dale Hinshaw keeps causing trouble, even for his own wife. By the time December rolls around, Pastor Sam is fed up with every "narrow-minded kook" in town, and it's time for some soul-searching and a re-evaluation of his job as pastor-if those kooks don't get him fired first. This is sweet, homespun storytelling, as comfy and reassuring as warm socks in a wet spring. Gulley's growing number of fans will relish this funny and occasionally hokey novel. 8-city author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Gulley's fifth "Harmony" novel, Quaker pastor Sam Gardner (e.g., Home to Harmony; Just Shy of Harmony) has plenty to deal with in his little Midwestern township, including church elder Dale Hinshaw's constant interference in church matters, mutiny in the Sunday School class, a Sausage Queen who is dethroned when it is discovered that she is a vegetarian, and parishioners who just don't seem to understand Sam's spiritual leadership. Caught between old timers who resist all modern thinking and progressives like the feisty Deena and Mabel Morrison, Pastor Sam tries to be the voice of reason and keep his congregation from killing one another. When a small group of church members plot to replace him, Sam becomes more determined than ever to keep his flock together. Gulley's delightful series is reminiscent of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days and will, once again, delight his fans. It will also appeal to all readers who enjoy the charms and perils of small-town life. Recommended for popular fiction collections as well as all libraries that own the "Harmony" series. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060760618
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/29/2005
  • Series: Harmony Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 391,077
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister, writer, husband, and father. He is the bestselling author of Front Porch Tales, the acclaimed Harmony series, and is coauthor of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love. Gulley lives with his wife and two sons in Indiana, and is a frequent speaker at churches, colleges, and retreat centers across the country.

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Read an Excerpt

Life Goes on


By Philip Gulley

Walker Large Print

Copyright © 2005 Philip Gulley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1594150702

Chapter One

Easter

My earliest memory of Easter was when I was five years old and looking for Easter eggs in my grandparents' backyard. I'm not sure if what I'm remembering is the event itself or the photograph of it my father took -- my brother, Roger, and me, dressed in our Sunday suits, pausing just long enough from our egg gathering to record the moment for posterity.

My grandmother kept the picture on the top of her bureau, a black-and-white photo with scalloped edges. In the background was my grandfather's shed, where he had a cot for naps on summer afternoons amidst the pleasant aroma of gasoline, turpentine, and sawdust.

I would visit them on Saturday afternoons and sit in the backyard swing with my grandma while Grandpa push-mowed the yard in neat stripes, the blades snicking against the roller. Every now and then he'd happen upon a long-forgotten Easter egg. A rainbow of egg shell would arc up from the mower while a pungent, sulfuric odor filled the air, the delayed resurrection of a half-buried Easter egg.

Alice Stout was my Sunday school teacher when I was growing up at Harmony Friends Meeting. When she would ask me why we celebrated Easter, I knew I was supposed to say something about Jesus rising from the tomb. But that struck me as a fanciful yarn the adults concocted to liven up the religion. For me, Easter was about sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and brother the night before, dipping eggs in teacups of dye, then laying them out to dry on that week's copy of the Harmony Herald.

Now Alice Stout is in the nursing home at Cartersburg, four eggs short of a dozen. When I went to visit her the week before Easter and read to her from the Scriptures about the Resurrection, she cackled like a madwoman. "Bullfeathers," she said. It is troublesome to struggle all your life believing something, only to have your Sunday school teacher dismiss it as bullfeathers, even if she is out of her gourd.

One of the ironies of life is that we often return gladly to what we once fled. I returned to my hometown and became the pastor of my childhood church. Now it's my job to rally the troops and urge them to believe things they might otherwise doubt, at least according to Dale Hinshaw, our self-appointed guardian of doctrinal purity, who's been vigilant about keeping me orthodox, lest I stray into the wilds of rationalism.

On my fourth Easter as pastor, I suggested we hold special services during Holy Week. I'm not sure now what possessed me to do that, probably my naive habit of thinking the church is always one program away from vitality. I envisioned a little Scripture reading, some singing, then a spirited theological discussion on certain aspects of the Resurrection.

When I presented my idea to the elders, they waded in with their concerns. Asa Peacock wanted to know if we could have cookies. Dale Hinshaw made me promise we'd read from the King James Version of the Bible. Harvey Muldock suggested holding a raffle each night to draw more people, and Fern Hampton declared, rather emphatically, that if the kitchen were used, the Friendly Women's Circle was not going to be stuck cleaning it.

Even though I grew up in this church and am accustomed to its eccentricities, I continue to marvel at how the simplest idea can soon rival the complexity of a Middle East peace treaty. What began as a modest suggestion to read the Bible, pray, and reflect on the meaning of Easter soon involved three committees, a church-wide vote on cookie preference, and an agreement to collect a special offering for the Friendly Women's Circle Cabinet Fund.

Fern Hampton was placed in charge of the cookie vote. Miriam Hodge suggested she might not want to make a big deal about it, just take an informal poll among the ladies of the church.

"What about the men?" Harvey Muldock asked."How come we don't get any say?"

"I'm sorry, Harvey," Miriam said. "I didn't mean to exclude you. What kind of cookies would you like?"

"I thought it was my job to ask people what kind of cookies they wanted," Fern complained.

"By all means," Miriam said." I just thought I'd help."

Fern turned to Harvey. "What kind of cookies would you like, Harvey?"

Harvey thought for a moment. "How about those little chocolate cookies with oatmeal that you mix up and put in the refrigerator?"

"One vote for chocolate drop cookies," Fern said, rooting through her purse for paper and a pencil. "Dale, what kind of cookies would you like?"

"Fern, perhaps we could do this a bit later," Miriam suggested. "I'm sure Sam has more pressing business for us to discuss just now."

"Don't I get to say what kind of cookies I like?" Dale asked.

"You go right ahead, Dale," Fern said. "I'm sure Sam won't mind."

"Well, I was over in Cartersburg last week at the Bible bookstore and they had these Scripture cookies. Kind of like fortune cookies, except they got the Word in 'em instead. I think we oughta get us some of them."

I used to believe the world would be saved by church committees, though sixteen years of ministry have cured me of such optimism. Now I prize those rare and selfless saints, those unwavering levers, who move the world while the committees are deciding on carpet colors.

After Fern's cookie survey, we moved on to the pressing matter of the special collection for the kitchen cabinets.

"Sam, what are your thoughts on the ushering?" Dale asked. "You want a box at the back of the meetinghouse for folks to put their donations in, or were you wantin' the guys to pass the baskets?"

"Well, if you ask me," Fern interrupted, "I think we should pass the baskets. That way people can't sneak out the side door without giving."

The elders sat quietly, pondering this vital concern ...

Continues...

Continues...

Excerpted from Life Goes on by Philip Gulley Copyright © 2005 by Philip Gulley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Life Goes On
A Harmony Novel

Chapter One

Easter

My earliest memory of Easter was when I was five years old and looking for Easter eggs in my grandparents' backyard. I'm not sure if what I'm remembering is the event itself or the photograph of it my father took -- my brother, Roger, and me, dressed in our Sunday suits, pausing just long enough from our egg gathering to record the moment for posterity.

My grandmother kept the picture on the top of her bureau, a black-and-white photo with scalloped edges. In the background was my grandfather's shed, where he had a cot for naps on summer afternoons amidst the pleasant aroma of gasoline, turpentine, and sawdust.

I would visit them on Saturday afternoons and sit in the backyard swing with my grandma while Grandpa push-mowed the yard in neat stripes, the blades snicking against the roller. Every now and then he'd happen upon a long-forgotten Easter egg. A rainbow of egg shell would arc up from the mower while a pungent, sulfuric odor filled the air, the delayed resurrection of a half-buried Easter egg.

Alice Stout was my Sunday school teacher when I was growing up at Harmony Friends Meeting. When she would ask me why we celebrated Easter, I knew I was supposed to say something about Jesus rising from the tomb. But that struck me as a fanciful yarn the adults concocted to liven up the religion. For me, Easter was about sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and brother the night before, dipping eggs in teacups of dye, then laying them out to dry on that week's copy of the Harmony Herald.

Now Alice Stout is in the nursing home at Cartersburg, four eggs short of a dozen. When I went to visit her the week before Easter and read to her from the Scriptures about the Resurrection, she cackled like a madwoman. "Bullfeathers," she said. It is troublesome to struggle all your life believing something, only to have your Sunday school teacher dismiss it as bullfeathers, even if she is out of her gourd.

One of the ironies of life is that we often return gladly to what we once fled. I returned to my hometown and became the pastor of my childhood church.Now it's my job to rally the troops and urge them to believe things they might otherwise doubt, at least according to Dale Hinshaw, our self-appointed guardian of doctrinal purity, who's been vigilant about keeping me orthodox, lest I stray into the wilds of rationalism.

On my fourth Easter as pastor, I suggested we hold special services during Holy Week. I'm not sure now what possessed me to do that, probably my naive habit of thinking the church is always one program away from vitality. I envisioned a little Scripture reading, some singing, then a spirited theological discussion on certain aspects of the Resurrection.

When I presented my idea to the elders, they waded in with their concerns. Asa Peacock wanted to know if we could have cookies. Dale Hinshaw made me promise we'd read from the King James Version of the Bible. Harvey Muldock suggested holding a raffle each night to draw more people, and Fern Hampton declared, rather emphatically, that if the kitchen were used, the Friendly Women's Circle was not going to be stuck cleaning it.

Even though I grew up in this church and am accustomed to its eccentricities, I continue to marvel at how the simplest idea can soon rival the complexity of a Middle East peace treaty. What began as a modest suggestion to read the Bible, pray, and reflect on the meaning of Easter soon involved three committees, a church-wide vote on cookie preference, and an agreement to collect a special offering for the Friendly Women's Circle Cabinet Fund.

Fern Hampton was placed in charge of the cookie vote. Miriam Hodge suggested she might not want to make a big deal about it, just take an informal poll among the ladies of the church.

"What about the men?" Harvey Muldock asked."How come we don't get any say?"

"I'm sorry, Harvey," Miriam said. "I didn't mean to exclude you. What kind of cookies would you like?"

"I thought it was my job to ask people what kind of cookies they wanted," Fern complained.

"By all means," Miriam said." I just thought I'd help."

Fern turned to Harvey. "What kind of cookies would you like, Harvey?"

Harvey thought for a moment. "How about those little chocolate cookies with oatmeal that you mix up and put in the refrigerator?"

"One vote for chocolate drop cookies," Fern said, rooting through her purse for paper and a pencil. "Dale, what kind of cookies would you like?"

"Fern, perhaps we could do this a bit later," Miriam suggested. "I'm sure Sam has more pressing business for us to discuss just now."

"Don't I get to say what kind of cookies I like?" Dale asked.

"You go right ahead, Dale," Fern said. "I'm sure Sam won't mind."

"Well, I was over in Cartersburg last week at the Bible bookstore and they had these Scripture cookies. Kind of like fortune cookies, except they got the Word in 'em instead. I think we oughta get us some of them."

I used to believe the world would be saved by church committees, though sixteen years of ministry have cured me of such optimism. Now I prize those rare and selfless saints, those unwavering levers, who move the world while the committees are deciding on carpet colors.

After Fern's cookie survey, we moved on to the pressing matter of the special collection for the kitchen cabinets.

"Sam, what are your thoughts on the ushering?" Dale asked. "You want a box at the back of the meetinghouse for folks to put their donations in, or were you wantin' the guys to pass the baskets?"

"Well, if you ask me," Fern interrupted, "I think we should pass the baskets. That way people can't sneak out the side door without giving."

The elders sat quietly, pondering this vital concern ...

Life Goes On
A Harmony Novel
. Copyright © by Philip Gulley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 8, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    This is a very light-hearted story about the experiences of a Quaker minister. A lesson in this unique religion with a lot of laughs along the way! Hope to read more of this author very soon.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2014

    This religious cozy

    Might work better as a mystery a la father brown. The eccentrics of a village need the dilution of a body in the rectory or church yard and the humor can then be dark rather than satirical sarcastic has always been the weapon of pride for the teacher

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    Good book

    I always enjoy Phillip Gulley books. He is a very humorous storyteller who always has a great
    Lesson woven into his stories. His characters are always interesting, and we feel we are actually in the midst of what is going on in his stories; we get to know the characters. His books make great gifts for any occasion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2006

    Continued Poignant Laughter and Thought

    This Harmony book continues to delight the reader with the characters of the small town. They are metaphors for what we often see in ourselves and in others. Enjoyable! Tickles the funny bone in a good way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    Laugh out loud funny

    As a pastor of a small town Church, I truly identify with the protagonist in Gulley's stories. He is dead on accurate with his characters and the attitudes that accompany small town and small Church life. There, amidst the prejudices and eccentricities of the characters there is always the grace of God shining through. There is a message in the midst of the mayhem. It's honest, accurate and hilarious-- In his characters I see the behavior and attitudes of others... and more important, myself. Thank you Philip Gulley for another hilariously honest look at life in a small town small Church- and how God is at work.

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