"The church gets by real well with the good folk that we do have, not the ones we might wish we had."

Author and raconteur Emerson was ordained as a minister in 1965, and even now "new things keep coming up." His stories include some explorations of the biblical text, but most come from the author's direct experience. He rushed to a home where a toddler twin had just died, and though he felt he could do very little, he did what he could and was later abundantly thanked for it. He juxtaposes two concurrent pieces of news: the PTL club had a new multi-million dollar auditorium with a piano that cost $6,800, while in Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa had just gotten $26,000 to set up a work center—no mention of a piano there. His years as a preacher, of course, play into the narrative. He speculates about possible titles for someone in his position, opining that as well as the minister, he could be, among other things, guru, one-man band, gunslinger, wheeler-dealer, or sheepdog. He concludes with the hope that the turmoil in today's world will help us take our freedoms and blessings more seriously.

Emerson is a skilled writer who avoids sermonizing, admitting his doubts and failings while keeping the mood upbeat. The subject matter ranges widely: from a visit with a convicted, violent murderer who cried when Emerson prayed with him, a fortuitous meeting on the roadside after he'd locked himself out of his car, a short essay on the sometimes dark message of the cross in Christianity, and his New Year's resolution not to make any more New Year's resolutions. The stories are offered in no particular order, but that incongruity adds a flavor of homey, conversational reminiscence that engages the reader. This collection would make an off-beat but decidedly devotional focus for Christian study groups and enjoyable reading for seekers of any denomination.

Return to USR Home