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Thoughts in the Night, by Al Edlund

Review by Ed Quillen

Daily life – April 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine
Thoughts in the Night and Other Essays
by Al Edlund
published in 1996 by the author

Since 1961, the Rev. Al Edlund has served Salida, for many of those years as pastor of the First Christian Church, and for a few of those years, on the school board.

Now he has gathered thirty-five short essays into a small book, by turns inspiring, contemplative, intriguing, and meditative.

Generally, I enjoyed it, though I suspect Thoughts in the Night should be savored at a leisurely pace, perhaps an essay a day, rather than devoured in one sitting.

Edlund examines a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from medical ethics to Biblical literalism.

One of my favorites was “A Cross Word”:

“The other day in a grocery store parking lot, we heard a man yell `Get back here right now!’ His wrath had itself known to anyone listening.

“A car blocked our view. My wife suggested that he spoke to his dog. I commented that men don’t talk that way to dogs — only to children. Just then, the car moved and we saw the little boy that now knew the man’s displeasure.

“It should not surprise us that people speak differently to children than to dogs…. We exercise our `good manner’ voice when talking to strangers. Our `Sunday Go to Meeting’ voice becomes employed when talking to the preacher. (We also carefully monitor our vocabulary.)

“Other tones express sympathy – understanding – concern, or anger – disgust – impatience, etc. I find it interesting to realize how often my voice says more than my words. Could the same observation of your voice reveal contrasts between your words and the specific manner in which you speak?”

Well, yes. And it’s annoying to think about how often my spoken words contrast with my short tone of voice. Implanting such annoyances in our psyches is one of the most valuable services our clergy can provide.

Thoughts in the Night, though quite legible, would benefit from better typography — the margins are unbalanced, and the uneven spacing between words sometimes jars.

But that’s a minor quibble, and it’s a book that will reward the time you spend with it.

— Ed Quillen