Overall Rating: 96.67%
Average Rating: 9.67/10
Author Kim Varney Chandler brought the iconic New Hampshire-covered bridges into a new light in her book "Covered Bridges of New Hampshire." The book is more than photographs of beautiful workmanship; Chandler provides a history, genealogy, and details of intricate artistry to life. I found myself as interested in the bridges' original owners as I was in reading about their ancestry. I was fascinated with the different styles of bridges, gorgeous pictures, and stories within this book's pages that provide interest that crosses Gender and age. Never again will I cross a covered bridge without taking in its intricate beauty. Congratulations to Ms. Varney Chandler
M.L. Huston, Keene, NH
Marilyn Huston
An Iowa Farm Boy's Odyssey: Priest, Parent, Professor by Jim Freiburger.

Here is a book that is simultaneously the story of a life, the story of a religious institution, and a story of a changing part of the American landscape. Its author, Jim Freiburger, is himself a microcosm of change that is both informative and illustrative of the challenges that lie ahead.

Born into a generational farming family in Iowa, Freiburger’s very DNA was infused with the ecology of the land and its seasonal pattern, with the values of a hard-working and well-respected family, and with the normative and supporting Roman Catholic community around him. The wonder of the natural rhythms of the earth and the growth and development of a family merged seamlessly with the Catholic Church of that time. So for him to break from the familial expectation that he would someday take over the farm and instead study to be a priest, occasioned a mixture of surprise, pride, but also disappointment. Yet at every step of the way from tractor to the altar, he was lovingly supported.

Those who have lived through an intense experience cannot but thereafter describe that experience in terms of the experience itself. A “Call” to the priesthood is a time-specific event that, when viewed many years later may be understood as the sometimes not-so-subtle encouragement of one’s teachers, parish priests, and even family. Likewise, the decision to leave the priesthood, while time-specific as an event, was a gradual process of assessment and reflection. The author takes his reader deeply into both periods of transition.

The details of Iowa daily farm life, the setting and atmosphere of a parochial school and country parish life, are richly rehearsed and evocative of a time past. For Freiburger, like so many priests who were the subjects of a pre-Vatican II seminary formation, with its Neo-Scholastic philosophy and theology, its quasi-monastic daily discipline and liturgy, the “break” is often triggered by an unexpected exposure to heretofore unfamiliar, but now provocative and liberating intellectual ideas. In this case, the writing of Teilhard de Chardin were part of the catalyst. Almost any ex-seminarian or former priest will readily identify with these experiences. And many, too, have subsequently chosen professions that teach, heal, or support others, as has Professor Freiburger.

The experiences of the past help shape the author’s responses to the challenges of the present, including a Catholic Church high-centered between its institutional hegemony and the urgent needs of the time. The author and his wife chose for their life together Dag Hammarskjold’s quote, “For all that has been, Thanks! For all that will be, Yes!” This is not just a story, but also rather a tale with a moral for the reader to ponder.

Stephen Reno, PhD

Chancellor Emeritus, University System of New Hampshire

Professor of Humanities & Religious Studies

March 16, 2022

Stephen Reno
I have just finished an incredible, blessed season of Advent and Christmas using Fr. Maurice’s Book, “An Encounter: Advent and Christmas,” as I write this review. I can hardly wait to start his “An Encounter: Lent.” I feel a void not having “An Encounter” book for Ordinary time, which I know will come in the future.

During the 43 days of these 2 seasons, the book has helped me dig deeper in my faith with more joy. It has made me an instrument of my faith with love, mercy, and justice toward others. Each day I was able to reflect and examine my inner self, inspiring me to pray for what I needed to continue growing in my faith. This book has taught me how to better approach Our Lord. I’m so grateful for this journey during these Advent and Christmas seasons. Each day of reading this book brought me into a closer union with my Savior.

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