Sail into summer reading
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We started reading out loud to each other on our honeymoon with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, mainly because we both wanted to read it but didn’t want to spend time apart. In the five years since, we have maintained the tradition through our nightly ritual of reading and dish-washing, enjoying a variety of stories and characters together. The Harmony Series by Philip Gulley has provided us with many evenings of delightful, laugh-out-loud, you-miss-the-characters-when-you’re-done reading.
Gulley, a Quaker pastor and author, creates the world of Harmony, Indiana, whose inhabitants are somewhere between the caricatures of Garrison Keillor and the people sitting next to you in your home church. The central character is Sam Gardner, the Quaker pastor at the Harmony Friends Meeting. Sam must shepherd his congregation through the seasons of life—through joys and tragedies, through the ridiculous and heart-warming. A favorite scene depicts the 75-year-old church secretary, Frank, giving the sex talk to the church youth group. Meanwhile, church members like Dale Hinshaw, the self-appointed holiness monitor, and Fern Hampton, the not-so-friendly chair of the Friendly Women’s Circle, upset Sam’s harmonious existence and sometimes make him reconsider his pastoral calling.
The six-book series chronicles the frustrations and the comedy of living as God’s people in community. Just when Sam is at his wit’s end with Dale’s antics or Fern’s complaints, he (and we) are reminded that God is still at work in the most unlikely, and yet familiar, places.
—Alan ’02 and Beth ’03 Claassen Thrush both graduated with degrees in sociology. Alan received a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary, and Beth has a Master of Arts in special education. They are currently serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Managua, Nicaragua, where they enjoy reading in any place with air conditioning. You could also find them reading aloud in the hammock chair on their patio, while doing household chores, or on the Managua city buses while carefully avoiding the holes in the floor.