The Gospel According to Sam is a collection of thirty "animal stories for the soul," written by William Miller, a priest who's considered to be one of the best preachers in the Episcopal Church. The "Sam" in the title is Miller's Airedale, a lovable, "wounded healer" of a dog who survived a house fire that burned off his ears but couldn't extinguish his spirit. Sam becomes a vehicle for healing, humor, adventure, spiritual growth, and prayer for Miller and his parishioners. Sam isn't a typical warm-fuzzy, feel-good animal stories book, however.
Miller writes with an earthy sense of humor and a Southern voice that has the reader laughing out loud--think of Molly Ivins, but with the voice of faith and prayer added in for good measure, and a low tolerance for sickly sweet theology. But then he slips in the zinger that cuts through the laughter and goes for the soul. His meditations aren't limited to Sam or even just dogs; birds, pigs, squirrels, rabbits, fish, bugs, and even yaks feature in his stories. An honest awareness and appreciation of the depth and breath of life are hallmarks of these real life adventures and thought provoking reflections.
The Rev. Bill Miller is an Episcopal priest and writer currently living in Hawaii, where he is rector of St. Michael and All Angels Church, Libue, Kauai. Prior to this, he served as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, and earlier, as rector of an African-American parish in Austin. Both parishes grew dramatically under his leadership and have become centers for the arts and spirituality. Before his ordination, Rev. Miller, a Texas native, also explored careers as an actor, model, and country-western singer/songwriter.