Cover image for Life goes on : a Harmony novel
Life goes on : a Harmony novel
Gulley, Philip.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, [2004]

Physical Description:
243 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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

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Pastor Sam Gardner is back in his fourth year serving the eccentric Quaker community of Harmony, Indiana, which continues to bustle with gossip, scandals, and small-town fervor. This year, the Sausage Queen is impeached after a shocking revelation, plunging the town into anarchy as her many and varied responsibilities go unmet. Dale Hinshaw gets his comeuppance when his wife, Dolores, hits the road, leaving Sam to cook Dale's food and do his laundry. With a new doctor in town, Deena Morrison's days of spinsterhood might be drawing to a close, while the Friendly Women's Circle beseeches the Lord for new kitchen cabinets.

Amidst the surprising and annoying struggles of his congregants, Sam's commitment is put to the test. As he sits in the empty meetinghouse on a snowy Sunday, Sam wrestles with what it means to faithfully preach the gospel to this community. He becomes even more endearing as he faithfully seeks to serve his quirky flock.

A masterful storyteller who peppers his narrative with profound spiritual truths in the most natural way, Gulley has created a fictional world that will quickly become a welcome refuge.

Author Notes

Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister, writer, husband, and father. He and his wife, Joan, live in Indiana with their sons, Spencer and Sam

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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. Excerpted from Life Goes On: A Harmony Novel 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. Easterp. 1
2. The Sunday School Queenp. 11
3. The Drillp. 21
4. Homep. 31
5. The Giftp. 41
6. The Fourthp. 51
7. Freedom Monthp. 61
8. A Near Missp. 71
9. Love and Rumors of Lovep. 81
10. It Takes a Thiefp. 91
11. Labor Dayp. 101
12. Scandalp. 111
13. Hope Blossomsp. 121
14. Desecrationp. 131
15. Autumn Leavesp. 141
16. Heatherp. 151
17. Sam Finds His Backbonep. 161
18. Sam's Revelationp. 173
19. Dolores Makes a Breakp. 183
20. Our Winter Meditationsp. 193
21. A Sudden Turnp. 203
22. The Last Standp. 213
23. The Petitionp. 225
24. Life Goes Onp. 237