Heartlands is the site of Alex Joyner, an eclectic practitioner of trades and a person formed by faith and region. Heartlands is a collection point for writing, news, and sharing on life and ministry in rural America. I grew up in Virginia and make it my home now, but I have also spent significant time in Texas and Great Britain. Though my home as a child and now as an adult is a small town, I have also lived in urban centers and small cities. My conviction is that the unique environment of rural and small town life is often misunderstood and under-appreciated, even by those who live here.
We call this land ‘The Heartland,’ and that speaks to the mythical role of the vast landscapes that frame the American experience. That heart speaks in our national literature from Mark Twain to Flannery O’Conner to James McBride. But The Heartland is not monolithic, and it is irreducible to ‘red state’ ideology, gauzy country music imagery, or even the outlaw progressivism of Willie Nelson. It is vibrant, changing, diverse. Hence, the plural in the title. These are Heartlands that offer contrasting visions of who we are and what we could be.
I am a writer whose calling leads me to reflection on spirit and place, heart and land. I am an ordained minister in the United Methodist tradition, currently serving as the District Superintendent for the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I am the author of 6 books on vocation, biblical study, theology, and the Middle East.
This site is an online watering hole for those seeking nourishment and refreshment as they travel through the land. It’s a place to share ideas and insight, to learn about books and poetry—old and new, and to catch a glimpse of what ministry looks like in this emerging age.
Is it theological? Yes. Is it meant just for ‘church folks’? No. It’s as broad and scattered as I am. But if you are as homesick as I am for a new day, perhaps we’ll share this spot for a while and dream a little.
A book that speaks to my soul: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Musical taste: Singer-songwriters, Delta blues, and Celtic music
Favorite movie: A close tie between The Commitments & The Wizard of Oz
I left my heart in: Archer City, Texas
First real job: Radio news director
Interests: Kayaking and boxing