For more than 20 years, Oregonian columnist Steve Duin has given Portlanders a reason to get out of bed in the morning-and the only good reason to read the state's largest daily newspaper. His sports writing mattered, even to readers who didn't care about sports, because he told stories that couldn't be gleaned from reading box scores or watching the games or listening to the palaver coming out of the Blazer front office. In 1994, he took over the newspaper's Metro column and turned his laser sights on bigger game: Oregon politicians.

Father Time, released last month in time for Father's Day, collects Duin's columns about two things he values above sports and politics: his family and his abiding faith in something bigger than all of us. He's no Superdad dispensing sage advice to the nurturing-impaired. To be honest, the whole parenting thing leaves him pretty much as bewildered as the rest of us. But when you get done reading Father Time, many of its pages will fall into one of two categories: those flecked with spittle because they made you laugh out loud, and those spotted with tears because they made you bawl. Take the time he asks his 13-year-old son if another player on his Little League team can borrow his athletic cup: "The question set our relationship back several years."

When he talks about his faith, Duin is never preachy or cloying. Maybe because he loves God in the only way that counts-with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his mind. One of his favorite quotes is from St. Francis: "Preach Christ. If necessary, use words." Duin uses words only when necessary, and what he leaves unsaid is sometimes all he needs to say.

Father Time

By Steve Duin (Arnica Publishing Inc., 181 pages, $15.)