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Baylor Alumni

Truth Be Told

A novel that shines a light on small-town secrets

Echoes of Glory
By Robert Flynn
TCU Press
Fort Worth, Texas
ISBN: 978-0-87565-389-1
215 pages, $19.95
prs.tcu.edu

Should people be told the truth when they're more comfortable with a lie? Do the horrors of war ever go away? Is there any loyalty in the political arena? These aren't easy questions that Robert Flynn addresses in his eighth novel. But Flynn—who describes his work as "the search for morals, ethics, religion, or at least a good story in Texas and lesser-known parts of the world"—has never been one to back away from tough issues.

Echoes of Glory centers around a fictional Texas town in Mills County, one that Flynn '54, MA '57, describes as "a facsimile of thousands of rural towns that had a sole reason to exist—the courthouse."
 
Set during the Reagan era, the story is told from the viewpoint of Timpson Smith, the town sheriff who is inches away from retiring. But before he can vacate his post, he gets caught in the middle of a firefight between the deputy sheriff and a mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran.

For Smith, the shooting—and the controversy that arises in its aftermath—revives his own painful memories as the sole survivor of the Korean War's Second Platoon, which was made up primarily of men from Mills County. In the years since the Korean War, the long-gone members of the Second have been lionized as heroes, despite the truth of how they really died. Now, Smith is faced with revealing that ugly secret, along with the truth behind the latest town shooting and the deputy sheriff's upcoming election for sheriff.

Flynn balances the interwoven plot lines and the various characters with ease. As in his previous novels, Flynn gives descriptions of small-town life that are right on target: "Vacant buildings that tempted the idle young, near-empty stores that listed toward the road to hell—All-Night Laundromat that attracted vagrants and nickel and dime thieves." And his ecclectic characters are just as sharply drawn: "He was tall and wiry like a Texas Ranger. He wore long sideburns to make his face look thinner, more mature, more like Clint Eastwood, and he did a good imitation of John Wayne."

Echoes of Glory is what one reviewer describes as "an excellent, interesting, and well-paced story on the search for ethics and right."

 *****

Songs From Jacob's Well
Mike Crawford and his Secret Siblings
Jacob's Well Records
Kansas City, Missouri
jacobswellchurch.org
   
If you're a little confused by the subtitle on this two-CD set, you're pobably not alone. At first glance, the unwieldy phrase—"Subversive Symphonies and Time-Tested Folk Remedies Sure to Aid in the Toppling of Evil Empires"—and the whimsical illustrations on the CD packaging seem incongruous with the band's worship music.

But to twist an old saying, you should never judge a CD by its cover. The songs on the two CDs—one titled "Even the Darkness" and one titled "Will Not be Dark to You"—tell the faith journey of a community of believers at a church called Jacob's Well, located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Mike Crawford is the worship arts pastor at Jacob's Well, and he can be heard either singing or playing the guitar on every track in the collection. A 1989 Baylor graduate, Crawford will be familiar to many alumni from his days as a member of The Spin, a popular student band in the 1980s.

In fact, the music on Jacob's Well abounds with Crawford's offbeat musical style. On one song, the sounds of a glockenspiel combine with drums, violins, and a bass guitar. On "The Search Begins," members of the church congregation can be heard talking and laughing before they begin singing. "The Apostle's Cul-de-Sac" features spoken words, barking, and crickets chirping.

But whatever the style, each song is infused with thoughtful lyrics, inspired arrangements, and a joyous message.

 *****

Scout, The Dog Who Saved "The Nutcracker"
By Marilyn Sebesta
Tadpole Press 4 Kids
Spring, Texas
smoothsailingpress.com

Just in time for the Christmas season, Marilyn Sebesta has written a charming children's book that revolves around a production of "The Nutcracker" ballet. Susanna has been chosen to dance the role of Clara in the famous ballet, and her chocolate Lab, Scout, is in the production, too, despite her habit of hitting other dancers with her tail when she spins. But when a family of mice threaten to derail the production, only Scout can save the day.

This is the first book for Sebesta '71, who worked in education for thirty-six years. In addition to colorful illustrations, the book contains some of Sebesta's favorite holiday recipes. And she even includes a doggie treat recipe that's a favorite of the real-life Scout.

 *****

Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study
By James Leo Garrett
Mercer University Press
Macon, Georgia
mupress.org

How does someone encompass the whole of Baptist history in just one book? Well, for starters, the book needs to be more than seven hundred pages long. And it needs to be written by an expert in the field.

Dr. James Leo Garrett Jr. is a 1945 Baylor graduate who has been a Baptist theological educator for more than fifty years. An emeritus distinguished professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has also taught at Baylor and has pastored numerous Baptist churches.

Baptist Theology is an exhaustive study of the denomination, leading readers from the roots of Baptist beliefs to the most current influential voices in the church.

The book is both a study and a celebration of the denomination, and it is truly the crowning achievement in Garrett's long and storied career.
 

Also of Note

Baylor English professor Greg Garrett has written two books: a novel, Shame, released by David C. Cook Publishers (davidccook.com), and We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2, by Westminster John Knox Press (wjkbooks.com).

O. M. "Skip" Brack Jr. '60, MA '61, provided the introduction and annotation to The Life of Samuel Johnson, LLD, published by University of Georgia Press. [ugapress.org]

University Press of Kentucky has published Sister States, Enemy States, co-edited by W. Calvin Dickinson '60, MA '62. [kentuckypress.com]

Linda Cervenka Metcalf '73 has written her seventh book, The Art of Solution-Focused Therapy, published by Springer. [springer.com]

Connie Clutcher Weeks '73 and Debbie Reese Potts '74, MSEd '75, have authored and illustrated a children's book, Ocean Surprises, published by Seahorse Publishing. [oceansurprises.com]

Patti Qualls Lacy '77 has written her second novel, What the Bayou Saw, released by Kregel Publications. [kregel.com]

Rails Around Houston, by Douglas Weiskopf '77, was published by Arcadia Publishing as part of their "Images of Rail" series. [arcadiapublishing.com]

Sabahat Jahan, MA '03, and retired Baylor English professor J. R. LeMaster have co-written Walt Whitman and the Persian Poets, published by Ibex Publishers. [ibexpub.com]

If you've recently had a book published, a CD released, or a video produced, send a copy for consideration c/o "Under Review," Baylor Line, One Bear Place #97116, Waco, TX 76798-7116.


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