The Parable of Stuckey’s: A Story of Church?

Despite the fact that one of my most traumatic childhood episodes happened in a New Mexico Stuckey’s, I have always been in the thrall of the teal blue roofs that promise Mexican blankets, cheap sandwiches, and lots of pecan-themed candies.  The trauma came as a result of Stuckey’s time-honored practice of placing fragile novelty knick-knacks […]

What If We Can’t ‘Get Past’ Sex? A Review of Entangled

The following review was originally published on The Englewood Review of Books and is republished with permission. The author is Heartlands editor, Alex Joyner. What if questions of human sexuality are not something that the United Methodist Church (UMC), like other mainline Protestant denominations, have to settle and get past, but rather are the foundation on which the […]

House Burns. Farm Threatened. Christian Fiction Revived? A Review of This Heavy Silence

The cover of Christy, Catherine Marshall’s 1967 work of Christian fiction, has stared at me from a thousand church library shelves over the years. The original paperback version shows a young woman in early 20th-century dress seemingly dancing through a mountain meadow like Julie Andrews in the Alps. Catherine Marshall created Christy as a tribute […]

The Prodigal Son’s Older Brother as Wimbledon Chair Umpire – Friday Poetry

What the older brother squandered was his sweat, which, had he known it was as dissolute as life in the far country, he might have traded out for something more exciting. But his fierce fidelity to the American dream was his particular delusion. “Virtue can be earned in honest labor.” Only honesty was not his […]

God is in the Countryside (and Country Churches)

Maybe it’s because I’m getting ready to do a workshop on storytelling this weekend, but I’ve been thinking about the parables of Jesus. The Nazarene had a way of incorporating the stuff of the world around him into his messages. Farmers and seeds, shepherds and sheep, tenants and landowners—these were things Jesus’ listeners knew about. […]

Why Don’t Country People Just Get Out? – Episode 3

It’s happened again. Writers in The New York Times are once again wondering aloud if country people shouldn’t just give up and move to the city to deal with problems of economic insecurity. Which means, it’s time for another episode of “Why Don’t Country People Just Get Out?” In an article titled “The Hard Truth […]