Cover image for Just shy of Harmony
Just shy of Harmony
Gulley, Philip.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco, Calif. : HarperSanFrancisco, [2002]

Physical Description:
242 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Christian
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Master storyteller Philip Gulley returns to the winsome ways of Harmony, Indiana, the small Midwestern town that captured the hearts of readers in his acclaimed debut novel, Home to Harmony. Just Shy of Harmony follows the happenings of an eventful year spanning two Easters, in which Quaker pastor Sam Gardner and the members of his flock discover surprising answers to life's challenging mysteries.

Sam has an unexpected crisis of faith -- will he overcome it? Does the future of the church really lie with Pastor Jimmy of the Harmony Worship Center and sermons like "Ten Mutual Funds Jesus Would Die For"? Will Wayne Fleming resolve his conflicted love for the beautiful lawyer Deena Morrison, owner of The Legal Grounds Coffee Shop, where ten dollars buys you a cup of coffee and the answer to any two legal questions?

All the lovable Harmony characters are here, with all their homely charms. Readers will discover a secret illness, learn of a surprise lottery recipient, and laugh at the progress of Dale Hinshaw's ill-hatched Scripture-egg ministry. When Easter dawns, all will expect a miracle in Harmony.

Author Notes

Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister, writer, husband, and father. He is the bestselling author of Front Porch Tales and the acclaimed Harmony series, as well as If Grace Is True, coauthored with James Mulholland. He and his wife, Joan, live in Indiana with their sons, Spencer and Sam

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

When Sam Gardner reads an article about "the ten warning signs of depression" in a Christian magazine, he discovers that he has seven of them. The article closes by telling readers that if they have seven or more signs of depression, they should see their pastor. The trouble is, Sam is the pastor. He's tired of writing sermons and exhausted by his congregation's resistance to any change more meaningful than installing a new vanity in the women's bathroom. In this refreshingly candid novel, a sequel of sorts to Home to Harmony, the members of Harmony's quirky Friends Meeting engage in various struggles with depression and doubt. Like Jan Karon, Gulley has a gift for understanding the hilarity and pathos of small churches in small towns. With his characteristic wry humor, he develops a host of side characters, from Dale Hinshaw, the self-righteous and infuriating church elder, to the salt-of-the-earth lottery winner, Jessie Peacock. Gulley is unflinching at depicting some of the church members' narrow-mindedness, but he never succumbs to stereotype. While some readers may initially have a difficult time adjusting to the way Gulley often switches from the past to the present tense, this device helps the book play out like a comfortable, down-to-earth conversation. Many readers will relate to Sam's honest struggles with faith and will appreciate the book's subtle message: that Sam's faith is rekindled only when he steps away from congregational infighting and begins to help others. This story is a winner. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Just Shy of Harmony Chapter One Just Shy of Harmony Sam Gardner sat on the porch the Monday after Easter. It was early in the morning. The Grant kids were walking past on their way to school. "Are Levi and Addison ready?" Billy Grant yelled from the sidewalk. "They'll be right out," Sam answered. The window by the porch swing was propped open. Sam could hear his wife, Barbara, giving their boys last-minute instructions. "Levi, don't forget your lunch money. Addison, if you have to go pee-pee, tell the teacher. Please don't go in your pants. Just raise your hand and ask to use the bathroom. Can you do that, honey?" The boys walked out the front door with their mother following behind, adjusting their shirt collars and smoothing their hair. "Behave yourselves. Obey your teachers." Barbara settled herself on the porch swing next to Sam. She let out a heavy sigh. "Addison's kindergarten teacher called yesterday. Do you know he's wet his pants twice in the past week?" "He is an unusually moist child," Sam agreed. A pickup truck rattled past their house. Ellis and Miriam Hodge driving Amanda to school. Ellis bumped the truck horn. "There go the Hodges," Sam observed. "I really like them," Barbara said. "I wish we had ten more just like them." They swung back and forth in a companionable silence. "I was looking at the calendar," Barbara said. "I had forgotten this Sunday is Goal-Setting Sunday." Sam groaned. "Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten too. I don't think I'll go." "You have to go. You're the pastor." "Maybe I'll get lucky and die before then." But the Lord didn't see fit to spare him. Instead, Goal-Setting Sunday gnawed at Sam the entire week. That Thursday he read the "Twenty-five Years Ago This Week" column in the Harmony Herald. There was a mention of Dale Hinshaw's long-ago mission trip. Twenty-five years ago, one of their goals had been the development of "Lawn Mower Evangelism." Compelled by the Almighty, Dale had ridden across the state on his John Deere lawn tractor. Whenever he passed someone in their yard, Dale would give them a Bible tract and witness to them. "We just have to throw the seed out there," Dale had told the Herald. "There's no telling what the Lord can do with it." Then he was quoted as saying, "Near as I can figure, I averaged eight miles to the gallon." This Sunday promised to be another glorious chapter in the goal-setting history of Harmony Friends Meeting. The first Goal-Setting Sunday was held in 1970, the year Pastor Taylor came to Harmony fresh from seminary, chock-full of grand ideas. Sam was nine years old and has a vague recollection of Pastor Taylor standing at the chalkboard in the meetinghouse basement, encouraging them to splendid heights. In 1970, their goals were, one, to spread the gospel to every tribe and person in the world, two, to end world hunger, and, three, to carpet the Sunday school rooms. They'd carpeted the Sunday school rooms first, donated a box of canned goods to a food pantry, and then lost their enthusiasm to do anything more. Goal-Setting Sunday had gone downhill from there, each year a stark testimony to the growing apathy of the church. At the last Goal-Setting Sunday, Dale Hinshaw had proposed painting Jesus Saves on the meetinghouse roof as a witness to people in airplanes. "They're up there in the wild blue yonder, bucking up and down in the turbulence. The pilot's telling them to fasten their seat belts. They'll look out the window and see our roof, and it'll fix their minds on the eternal. If they're not open to the Lord then, they never will be." That was when Sam had proposed doing away with Goal-Setting Sunday. "Why do we even bother? We set these goals and make a big deal out of it for a month or so, then we forget all about it. When we do remember it, we feel bad that we didn't do anything. Why don't we just skip Goal-Setting Sunday this year?" That had gone over like a pregnant pole-vaulter. Dale had quoted from the book of Revelation about lukewarm churches and how God would spew them out of his mouth. "Do you want the Lord to spit us out, Sam? Is that what you want? 'Cause I tell you right now, that's what He'll do. You're leading us down a slippery slope. First, we'll stop doing the Goal-Setting Sunday, then the next thing you know there'll be fornication right here in the church. You watch and see." Any deviation from tradition had Dale Hinshaw prophesying an outbreak of fornication in the church pews. It took Sam several years to learn he was better off keeping quiet and not suggesting anything new. "Just go along with it," his wife had told him. "It's only one Sunday a year. Let them do whatever they're going to do. It's easier that way." So when Dale suggested at the elders meeting that it was time for Goal-Setting Sunday, Sam didn't argue. They scheduled it for the first Sunday after Easter, which is when they've always held it, lest fornication break out in the church. Dale came to the meetinghouse on Goal-Setting Sunday clutching a briefcase. An ominous sign. After worship, everyone clumped downstairs. Miriam Hodge, the last bastion of sanity in the congregation and, providentially, the head elder, stood at the blackboard, chalk in hand. She asked Sam to pray, so he used the opportunity to talk about the importance of tasteful ministry. "Dear God," Sam prayed, "may whatever we do bring honor to your name. Let our ministry be proper and reverent, befitting your magnificence." He'd no... Just Shy of Harmony . Copyright © by Philip Gulley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Just Shy of Harmony by Philip Gulley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1. Just Shy of Harmonyp. 1
2. Dale's Dreamp. 11
3. When a Man Loves a Womanp. 19
4. Sam's Fading Faithp. 29
5. Hard Timesp. 37
6. The Legacyp. 45
7. The Datep. 53
8. The Jackpotp. 63
9. A Dubious Blessingp. 73
10. A Hint of Hopep. 85
11. Jessie and Asa Come to Termsp. 95
12. No More Wing Budsp. 105
13. A Sweet Liberationp. 113
14. On the Night of Love Rebornp. 121
15. A Beautiful Weekp. 129
16. Peace on Earthp. 137
17. A Winter Blessingp. 147
18. A Ministry of Availabilityp. 155
19. Refreshedp. 165
20. The Smallest Goodp. 175
21. The Caribbeanp. 185
22. Bea and the Reverendp. 195
23. The Ministry of Noodlesp. 205
24. A Time to Diep. 215
25. A Reason to Hopep. 225
26. The Hour of Truthp. 231
Acknowledgmentsp. 245