A debut collection of mild-mannered, sermon-like tales covering a year in the life of a Presbyterian minister in a small Minnesota town--by a native of Minneapolis and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Northport, New York. Alter-ego Reverend David Battles arrived in the tiny town of North Haven fresh from seminary school and on his way to grander pulpits, but he and his family have discovered in their four years of small-town life that instead of outgrowing this backwater they've become attached to its every quirk and comfort--and have themselves become a local institution along the way. Tending to a flock of elderly sticks-in-the-mud (including Alvina Johnson, whose iron hand has directed the children's Christmas pageant for 46 years), middle-aged dreamers (like Lamont Wilcox, who's devoted his life to building a boat, though he lives 140 miles from any body of water), and passionate young folk (including Carmen Krepke, a young motorcycle mama who believes she saw Christ on a Harley), Battles presides over Grand Kick-Off Dinners, youthful weddings, and dubious baptisms with restful equanimity, all the while searching for the moral to every little tale. All of which makes for a pleasant enough (if highly homogenized) view-from-the-pulpit of human nature, even if Lindvall's tightly structured and predictable tales echo all too clearly the sermons from which they originally sprang. Prairie Home Companion without the sharp edges--but a good substitute for going to church on Sunday.