Larry Moffitt's review of...
MIRACLE MOTORS: A Pert Near True Story
By Peggy Senger Morrison
By way of full disclosure, I used to be Peggy Senger Morrison’s editor
at ReligionAndSpirituality.com, the religion news service of United
Press International. Editors are real bastards. We change people’s
perfectly good prose. We mess up art. Occasionally an editor will get a
truly exceptional writer about whom he/she recognizes they are unworthy
to edit, aside from delousing for typos and changing every instance of
“that” to “which” and every instance of “which” to “that.” Peggy is a
truly exceptional writer.
Miracle Motors is way more than a
motorcycle travelogue seen through the prism of a Quaker pastor, raised
by straight-arrow parents, who tried to be a good girl and mostly
succeeded. She comes with a few quirks acquired from having an
extraordinary ability to really see people and the flaw of giving a crap
about what happens to them. A good girl she is, but not exactly the
pastor’s wife her parent’s envisioned.
It is precisely those
quirks that make Peggy Senger Morrison, storyteller and self-described
“provacatuer of grace,” such a readable writer. She is a fully realized
human being endowed with a set of empathetic feelings and the jaundiced
shields required for survival and humor. She is a biker. Not a biker
chick. A biker. Think of finding yourself in line next to a leather-clad
motorcyclist at the Starbucks in a truck stop. The two of you sit down
with your mocha fraps and she proceeds to make your jaw drop telling
your about her newly adopted congregation being struck by a quadruple
homicide. Or the conversations she has with God.
Reading her book
is like that. Along the way, we also learn a few things about the
Quakers. They’re not Amish and they don’t manufacture oatmeal.
She writes eloquently about the motorcycling experience and the rest of
her life that transpires in and around her ministry. The bike saddle is
her prayer room. Riding is where she gets most of her talking with God
Regarding the book’s subtitle, “A Pert Near True Story,”
she quotes a cowboy poet she knew who told her “pert near true" is
defined as "something that is so full of truth it doesn't matter whether
it actually happened or not.” Every few pages has that kind of workable
truth, often rendered with great humor, and things I wish I had thought
She is a woman of deep and practical faith who chats
up God frequently with the expectation that the conversation will not be
one-sided. God’s voice doesn’t come to her through burning bushes or
booming out of an offstage sub-woofer. She has trained herself to
recognize the voice via her own intuition and in the words of others. A
medical student from Central Africa asked her out of the blue, “When are
you coming to Burundi? I need your help.” In those brief words Peggy
heard God’s unique voiceprint, or the “Present Christ,” or whatever you
want to call it. It was all she needed to motivate her for three trips
to an African country that hadn’t seen many straight-talking,
motorcycle-riding preacher women. Like maybe none.
enough about herself to indicate she has been has honest in telling her
story as it’s possible to be in such a book. She’s clearly not your
father’s Quaker pastor.
The world is full of people who can write
well but have nothing to say. Conversely, there are those who see what
goes on but can’t articulate it worth diddly. Peggy observes and
describes life with clear eloquence. Unforced wisdom, useful and
harvestable, abounds throughout. Peggy Senger Morrison is a gifted
storyteller who knows jack, and has given us a book of true-life
adventures tuned to a frequency appreciated, not by theologians, but by
you, me and joe sixpack.