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Angelsportion Cover v2As a pastor, you learn who needs to be coddled in the parish — that is, who those folks are that if you do anything — ANYTHING — that rubs them the wrong way, you can pretty much expect that they will pick up their marbles and go somewhere else. In post-modern, self-centered America, this is becoming more and more of a danger. Churches have their fair share of these souls. And I guess that’s okay.

The following review of my book was written and sent to me by a friend, Ed Dietrich. He isn’t even close to what I just described above. Ed, a faithful member of my congregation, is dedicated for all of the right reasons. His church isn’t his country club. It isn’t his “self esteem” crutch. It is the place where he receives what he knows he needs: the forgiveness of sins.

Ed serves in various capacities, and I suppose most importantly, he serves in the role of “friend.” He’s the kind of guy that you can count on to be very honest with you, and in the midst of a mixing of verities, you can rest assured that he’ll welcome you doing the same without you having to worry that he’ll stomp away angry, throwing a tantrum at home and refusing to return your calls or emails. Yes, the church has those folks, too. But that’s not Ed. He is, to say the least, genuine, and he is unencumbered with that particular character flaw. That means a lot to guy like me — his pastor.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, I received this review from Ed and as soon as I read it, I wanted to post it. And so, here it is at Angelsportion.com. It’s well crafted, and you will see that he read the book as though he were preparing for a test. For that, it deserves to be read. Ed deserves to be read.

By the way, he didn’t just send a review. He wrote a quiz, too. That’s posted below as well, just beyond the review.

Enjoy! I sure did!


A Review of
The Angels’ Portion: A Clergyman’s Whisky Narrative
A Book by Reverend Christopher I. Thoma
October 2015 (But aging since 1972)

Review written by Ed Dietrich

I have had my family doctor for about twelve years now. I really didn’t choose him to be my family doctor; I kind of inherited him. My previous family doctor decided to change his career path and gave up family practice to become an instructor at a medical school. My current doctor, Christopher Harrison, joined the family practice when the vacancy occurred.

I was in one of those little rooms at the doctor’s office because it was time for an annual physical examination. That was the first time I saw Dr. Harrison. When he walked into the little room, I said to myself, “This man could pass for a middle school student.” That is how young he looked (and pretty much still looks) and for a number of years I referred to him as “Doogie Howser.”

My wife, Margaret, thinks that he is a quack. Every year I get the results from my annual physical and share them with Margaret. Thankfully, I can say the same thing each year, “Once again I am the epitome of good health.” Then Margaret falls down laughing and calls the doctor a quack because he lets me do anything I want to do and doesn’t make me “toe the line” for continuous good health and longevity. Margaret goes to aerobic exercise three times a week and takes vitamins and other natural remedies. She spends $50 a week to stay healthy and I spend $50 a week to kill myself.

I talk politics with Doctor Harrison. The first year Obamacare went into effect, I asked him if he was going to throw in the towel on family medicine. He replied that there is no throwing in the towel when you are still paying off student loans at a rate $1800 a month. Wow.

So you ask, “What does my doctor have to do with reviewing The Angel’s Portion?” Well, there is a lot of commonality between Dr. Harrison and the author of The Angels’ Portion. Both are from the Midwest and both share the same first name, Christopher. Both men are extraordinarily intelligent and both know a lot about what is going on in the world. There is even a physical resemblance. In fact, if Doctor Harrison could grow three or four inches taller and put on some muscle, they could pass for brothers.

Why did I purchase The Angels’ Portion? I am a member of Pastor Thoma’s congregation and I know that his work is always outstanding and of high quality. I consider Pastor Thoma to be a good friend and sounding board. Although, I didn’t know what to expect from the book. After all, I don’t like Scotch and in the immortal words of Tom T. Hall – “I like beer.” I’m sure that most people who purchased the book (at least during the first few months after publication) did so for the sole purpose learning about Scotch and which brands/ages are best. After the first ten reviews or so, I stopped paying attention to the “review” portion of the posting (you know the part that talks about nose, palette, and finish stuff) and concentrated on the story that led to the review.

For me the stories made the book. The stories are full, and so to understand everything in each review, an individual need (or look forward to gaining) a broad knowledge base in classical education, pop culture, movies, books, music, and the Bible.

In the end (for me at least), The Angels’ Portion is not about Scotch. It is a book about a man and his life in motion; a man and his vocation as well as his avocation; a man and his wife; and a man and his children. And what wonderful stories they are!

The writing is excellent and easily understandable for the reader. I grew up at the tail end of the golden age of radio. I can remember that we always had a television, but I can’t remember ever listening to the comedies, dramas, or science fiction on the radio. Nowadays, you can listen to the old radio programs at night, but you have to get them from Chicago, St. Louis, or Toronto. I find listening to these programs now very fascinating. With radio, mental images are created in your mind because there is nothing to look at. That is the way it is with The Angels’ Portion. Pastor Thoma, through his use of words, draws mental images for you so that you can understand the conclusions drawn in his reviews of Scotch. Even if you don’t drink Scotch, you have a mental picture, and maybe even a taste, of the Scotch being reviewed.

The book isn’t just for whisky drinkers. I recommend The Angels’ Portion to anyone with a family, including grandparents. Younger parents will appreciate the wisdom shared and grandparents will smile and say to themselves, “Been there, done that.” The Angels’ Portion is worth the price of admission; it’s like turning on your radio and “watching” the stories that come out of the speakers.

Book Review Quiz

1. The first name of Pastor Thoma’s wife is _______________________.
The occupation of Pastor Thoma’s wife is ______________________.

2. What are the names of Pastor Thoma’s children?
____________________________ ______________________________
____________________________ ______________________________

3. Pastor Thoma grew up in which city? _____________________
Which state? __________________

4. One summer, Pastor Thoma, his brother, and a friend “hopped” a flatbed railcar with their bicycles for an adventure. How many trains did they “hop” that day?____________________
To which city were they traveling?_________________________
About how many miles did they travel?_____________________
How did they get home that day? (Hint – it was not a police car.)

5. As a younger man, Pastor Thoma was the leader of a rock and roll band. What instrument/specific model did Pastor Thoma play?
The name of the band was: ________________________________________
Who were the other two band members and what instruments did they play?
Name: ____________________ Instrument: _____________________
Name: ____________________ Instrument: _____________________

6. Everyone has a fear of something. Name two of Pastor Thoma’s fears as indicated in The Angels’ Portion.

7. Pastor Thoma and his brother went together and purchased a rock album. It was on vinyl. Are you able to name:
…the group that recorded it? _____________________________
…the album title? _____________________________________
…the store where it was purchased? _______________________
…where they purchased their record player and how much they paid?

8. Pastor Thoma has two treadmills in his home (his and hers). In that room, sitting in the corner is a large stuffed green frog named: _____________________________________
In which city was the frog purchased? ________________

9. From the lyrics below, name the group that recorded the song.
“Tintobell in the paradise city where the gwass is gween and the nose is runny. O wone you pwease take me ho-ome, yeah.”

10. Although this may be subjective to the reader, there appears to be severe
disdain for two brands of Scotch.
They are: ___________________ & __________________________

11. In the list below, circle the person(s) not quoted or referenced in The Angels’ Portion?

Winston Churchill
H. L. Mencken Aristides
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Nancy Reagan
Senator Lloyd Bentsen
Alfred E. Newman
Mick Jagger
General Schwarzkopf
C. S. Lewis

12. In the list below, circle the movies/books that are not referenced in The Angels’ Portion?

Star Wars
The Avengers
Forrest Gump
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Karate Kid
The Chronicles of Narnia
Lord of the Rings
Indiana Jones
Foot Loose
White Fang
Call of the Wild
World War Z
The Thing
Mad Max

13. Pastor Thoma mentions two area liquor stores and their proprietors by name in The Angels’ Portion. They are:
Store: _____________________ Proprietor: ____________________
Store: _____________________ Proprietor: ____________________

14. Following are a series of statements. Choose “true” or “false” for each.
True/False — Pastor Thoma paid $300 for a bottle of Scotch at a Duty Free shop.
True/False — Having your son using the toilet in the bathroom adjacent to your office while you are on the phone is an example of a bad distraction.
True/False — Pastor Thoma owns the last will and testament of a French knight that is dated 1493.
True/False — The Thoma family pediatrician graduated from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
True/False — In one review, Pastor Thoma compared Chivas Regal to swamp water.
True/False — Some kids like candy, other kids like to draw pictures of Scotch bottles.
True/False — The Rainforest Café has a very poor selection of Scotch.
True/False — A coffee company asked Pastor Thoma to write a review on one of their products.
True/False — One of the analogies used in reviews was “many are called but few are chosen.”
True/False — During the Winter of 2014, Pastor Thoma spent at least three Saturday evenings in his office at the church to make sure that the building would be open for worship the following day.
True/False — Pastor Thoma will sometimes provide valuation services to those who ask. One bottle of Scotch he valued sold for $4300 at auction.
True/False — Twizzlers red licorice is only one molecule away from being considered as plastic resin.
True/False — Pastor Thoma’s son will sometimes read from a Greek New Testament bible.
True/False — One of the reviews is largely concerned with shooting 135 rounds of ammunition at a firing range (Sig Saur P226) and the skill level of the shooter at hitting the target.

15. Extra credit question: What is the name of the band for which Pastor Thoma’s step brother-in-law sings lead vocals?

16. Extra credit question: In your opinion, what important points were not included in this quiz?