The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Good seasonings

Books serves up essays to savor

Small publishers often issue titles that may never spark widespread public attention, but become beloved word-of-mouth books. One I'm telling friends about is Different Seasons: Twelve Months of Wisdom & Inspiration by Dale Turner (High Tide Press, 1997; cloth, $22.95). A retired United Church of Christ pastor, Turner has been writing a column in The Seattle Times since 1982. He writes what might be called "sermonic essays."

These pieces share a trait of all good religious thinking: the ability to find the profound in the every day and, conversely, to state important truths in simple language. They remind me of writing by the late Lutheran theologian Joseph Sittler, whose work regular readers of this column know I admire.

Different Seasons is organized by month. For June, Turner writes on such topics as "Education After Graduation." For July he marks the nation's birthday by surmising what really constitutes "progress" in our history. He also cites tourist visits to the passion play at Oberammergau to discuss what it is like to perform for the public when one is carrying deep private wounds.

And for August he uses the occasion of friends selling a house and moving into a small condominium to talk about possessions and collections that we eventually have to give away. He suggests instead (particularly apt for vacation time) "collecting" things that don't require storage space. For example, each day collect one new sound, sight or scent that you haven't noticed previously. In life, as on a favorite vacation, it's the memories that ultimately we treasure most.

If you can't find the book in a store, call the publisher toll-free at (888) 487-7377, or order it at Amazon.com.


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