Minister’s Column, October 2019

In October we will be attending the fall conference of UURMAPA – the UU Retired Ministers and Partners Association. (Retired? Ha, you say, retired? But that’s a question for another day.) One of the workshops is about giving away books. A workshop I should have taken several times over. In our bedroom are two tall bookcases. (In addition to the ones in the hall, the sunporch, the living room, both studies, and the mud room). My favorite books are in the bedroom, one case of unread novels, and one of read novels that I can’t bring myself to pass on yet. Unlike Dave, I thrive on fiction – I don’t read a lot of “improving” books. Secretly, of course I believe that novels do improve us, giving us extra chances to live different lives vicariously and expanding our sense of empathy in the process. “No amount of argument will change anyone’s mind. It takes a good story to do that.”*

So let me share a few books I have read this summer, books that have helped be become myself, only more so.

The Overstory by Richard Powers, a story about the relationship of humans and trees. Hard to read because it’s 500 pages of small, gray print, and hard because it looks unflinchingly at looming extinctions.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Lives of African Americans in the South, dealing with the fallout from a miscarriage of justice. Powerful, it reads like a novelization of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.

The Price of a Child by Lorene Cary. An enslaved woman frees herself in pre-civil war Philadelphia. Nuanced and honest, it shows a truth white folks may find difficult even as we identify strongly with the protagonist, Mercer.

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd. An apocalyptic science fiction novel beginning with an unexplained plague of memory loss. Questions of reality and identity.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson. Everything she writes is deep and layered. This one begins in WWII London, with a young woman working for MI5, transcribing spy tapes. More questions of identity, loyalty, and reality.

There’s more, but this gives you an idea of how I spend my time when I’m not writing sermons, house-holding, or making ceramic toads.

*Quote from The Overstory

Rev. Kerry Mueller

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