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A look at clergy leadership

Of Green Stuff Woven
by Cathleen Bascom
Light Messages Publishing, Durham, N.C. 27713 USA,
SAN: 920-9298, Paperback ISBN: 978-1-61153-336-1, E-book ISBN: 978-1-61153-337-8.
Pages 274.
$16.98 paperback. 

Cathleen Bascom is the current Episcopal Bishop of Eastern Kansas. “Of Green Stuff Woven” is her first novel. It is refreshing to read a book to which the reviewer can relate, from prairie to center-pivot irrigation and to the state of Iowa. Who could imagine that floods occur on a regular basis in the center of the USA, but they happen, and in “Of Green Stuff Woven,” there is an account of a flood threatening a Midwest town, including a church and prairie land. The main character is Brigid Brenchley. Brigid has decided to become an Episcopal priest and this is a rarity.   

There are two stories here, with each chapter containing the name of a particular prairie flower and description. The story of the young Brigid has her the “quirky” one (hence that nickname) of the family. She has adventures with her family including skiing, fishing, schools and college abroad. The story of the mature Brigid begins with an aging cathedral, offer to buy it, and what to do?  In the meantime, there are numerous characters introduced to us from church staff to townspeople and each has a part in what will happen to this church as floodwaters begin to rise. 

The priest/pastor/minister/rabbi becomes the leader of the flock/church or council. Having a woman lead in this capacity is unusual, especially in moments of decisiveness that include finance. How these problems are solved are intricate and give insight to the very beginnings of churches in certain locations. The reader may look at a church on a certain street corner in their town and ask, “Why there?” The same with St. Aidan’s place in Des Moines, “Why there?” 

The best way to see Brigid’s life is to read the uneven-numbered chapters first, and then go back and read the even-numbered chapters. The uneven-numbers tell of Brigid’s life from childhood to her present day and gives us family, education and Brigid deciding to become a priest. The even-numbers begin when Brigid is actually an Episcopal priest with a congregation and two major problems, financial and location, especially valuable prairie land.  However, it is flood time in Des Moines again. 

“Of Green Stuff Woven,” gives us a detailed look at particular situations, whether in a young girl’s life or the decisions that come upon a church leader. There is humor, too, as when council members worry about selling land that could become a “Trump Tower.” This is a story where the church members have their feet on third base (the past) and are slowly sliding into home plate (the present and future.) 

“Of Green Stuff Woven” is a comfortable book to read and a look at clergy leadership. Becoming the head of a congregation is like becoming the head of a business. Prayer and finance go hand in hand. 

*An Index of names was useful in reading this book, but there is no Index for Chapter Titles. 

 

Copyright 2020 Marie Asner