Amish Novels

Since we have started attending a Mennonite church, I have become more interested in learning more about the Amish, the Mennonites’ conservative cousins. In that connection, I have just finished reading a second novel, in the last two months, with Amish characters.

I picked up Sarah’s Sin (1992 by Tami Hoag) on the exchange bookcase at Rockhurst University last month. It turned out to be a romance novel, the kind of book I don’t usually read, but I was impressed by the sensitive way the differences between the Amish Sarah and the “English” doctor she fell in love with was presented. And the beliefs and practices of the Amish community were treated quite respectfully, too.

Then a couple of days ago I finished Mindy Starns Clark’s Shadows of Lancaster County (2009). While it may not be great literature, I found it to be a very enjoyable read. And, again, I was impressed by how respectfully the Amish characters in the book are treated. (The central character in the book is not Amish, but several others are.)

Although a novel, Shadows has a couple of direct references to the tragic shooting in the Amish schoolhouse several years ago.  (Last year we watched “Amish Grace,” 2010, the made-for-television movie about that shooting, and thought it was quite well done.)

It is interesting to see how in recent years the Amish, who have long been widely considered such a oddity, are making more and more of a positive Christian witness in American society. Maybe they are being like salt of the earth, just like Jesus said his followers are to be.

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“The Work of Christmas”

My new posting on The View From This Seat blog is “The Work of Christmas,” about the poem by that name written by Howard Thurman, the distinguished theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. I invite you to read and to reflect on Thurman’s poem posted at

Howard Thurman (1899-1981)

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“Have a Little Faith”

Have a Little Faith (2009) by Mitch Albom is a delightful book, much like his bestselling Tuesdays with Morrie (1997), and just as poignant.

And now the book has been made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame film. The book/film  is the story of Albom’s interviews with Albert Lewis, a Jewish rabbi whom he had known since a child, and Henry Covington, the black pastor of a church/homeless shelter in Detroit, where he (Mitch) works as a sports writer.

“Have a Little Faith,” the film, premiered on November 27, and there was a good article about it in the Detroit Free Press the same day (see it here). Emmy and Tony Award winner and Oscar nominee Laurence Fishburne stars as Rev. Henry Covington.

June and I watched the movie this week (having recorded it Sunday evening), and we enjoyed it a lot. I especially enjoyed it since I had read the book back in the summer.

The film is going to be shown again on the Hallmark channel this coming Sunday, Dec. 4.  I encourage you who have cable television to consider this as a strong possibility for your Sunday evening TV viewing. It is a touching story depicted well.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

It is Thanksgiving morning here in Liberty, and I am writing this to wish a Happy Thanksgiving! to family and friends who are not here.

Mina and her Girls, Naomi (7) and Natalie (1), came to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon and we have really been enjoying their visit. Ken arrived yesterday morning. The six of us will go to the Laffoons for Thanksgiving dinner after while.

I hope the rest of you will have a great day wherever you are.  I am thankful for you each of you.

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Happy Birthday, Kathy!

Today is Kathryn June (Seat) Laffoon’s birthday, and I am happy to have this means (in addition to others) to wish her a Happy Birthday!

I still remember the great joy I felt when Kathy was born in Baptist Hospital in Louisville during my second year in seminary there. And she has brought great joy and happiness to June and me in all the years since.

We feel blessed that Kathy and her family (husband Tim, daughter Katrina, now 17, and son David, now 14), moved to Liberty in the summer of 2008. June and Kathy take walks together regularly. (The picture on the right was taken a few days ago when on their walk.)

We all get together from time to time–except since August, Katrina has been in Ecuador, where she is spending a year as a Rotary exchange student. June is fixing a birthday dinner for Kathy tomorrow, and we are looking forward to celebrating with her (as well as being with Tim and David) then.

It is customary not to tell women’s ages publicly, so I won’t do that here–directly. I’ll just say she was born nine months before the President.

Not long after JFK was elected in 1960, I remember asking my Dad, who was 45 at the time, what it felt like to be older than the President. (He was 26 months older than Kennedy.) So it came as a bit of a shock when I realized about three years ago that now I have two children older than the President!

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7,000,000,000 and Counting

You are invited you to read the posting “7,00,000,000 and Counting” on my The View from This Seat blog (

According to the United Nations Population Fund, on October 31, tomorrow, the population of the world will become seven billion persons. That is remarkable!

When I was born in 1938, the global human population was under 2.3 billion. So in my lifetime the population of the world has tripled, and then some!

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“Is Mormonism a Cult?

On my The View from This Seat blog, I have just posted “Is Mormonism a Cult?” at

I invite you to click on the link and to give some thought to what I have written. I would also be happy to receive comments on this subject that has been much in the news the past week.

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