Month: December 2020

  • Finding the Music of the World

    Finding the Music of the World

    “Take away the words to the song and hope will take up humming;” I’m not sure how the Rev. Paul Escamilla wrote those words on his manuscript before delivering them in a sermon some some weeks ago. There’s usually a little poetry in sermons, even if you’re not aiming for that old sermon structure of […]

  • Dispatch from the Age of Idolatry

    Dispatch from the Age of Idolatry

    We live in the Age of Idolatry. If you want the bill of particulars, I’ve got it, but it does no good to rehearse the many ways that we have discovered gods who are not God since few of us will own up to such heresy. Idolators are always the other guys. And if I […]

  • Spare Me the Anvil: Tempered Resilience in a Time of Adaptive Change

    Spare Me the Anvil: Tempered Resilience in a Time of Adaptive Change

    If a writer finds a compelling analogy that propels large numbers of pastors to rethink their practice in helpful and creative ways once in their career, I imagine it must be gratifying and sufficient. To do it twice is well-nigh unthinkable. Tod Bolisinger is still on analogy number 1. Bolsinger’s last book, Canoeing the Mountains: […]

  • #1 and a Recap: The Heartlands Best Reads of 2020

    #1 and a Recap: The Heartlands Best Reads of 2020

    Topping this year’s list of Best Reads is Yaa Gyasi’s sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom. It’s a book about race, the South, the immigrant experience, science, family, and faith. It captures a lot of the interests of this web site and it’s flat great writing. You can read the full review by clicking the link but […]

  • #2-Survival is a Style-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #2-Survival is a Style-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    Like Jesmyn Ward at #3, Christian Wiman is a three-time visitor to the annual Best Reads list, having been here in 2018 for his exquisite memoir, He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, The Faith of Art, and in 2019 as editor of the collection, Joy: 100 Poems. In 2020 Wiman published a solo […]

  • #3-Men We Reaped-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #3-Men We Reaped-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    OK. I’ve gushed over Jesmyn Ward enough in the past three years. Her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing made the Best Reads list in 2017. Salvage the Bones, her Hurricane Katrina novel, was on the list last year and is on my all-time Top Ten. So, it’s not surprising that this Mississippi writer finds her way […]

  • #4-One Long River of Song-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #4-One Long River of Song-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    I like to keep a magical writer by my morning reading chair. For a few blessed months this year and last it was Brian Doyle, whose brief essays in the collection One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder sing. His observations have the attention of a nature writer and the lilt of an Irishman […]

  • #5-As I Lay Dying-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #5-As I Lay Dying-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    Part of my return to the classics this year included another run at William Faulkner. I had only ever gotten through an audio version of A Light in August, which I listened to on a drive across the South a few years ago. The Sound and the Fury seemed impossible, but I started this year’s […]

  • #6-A Prayer for Orion-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #6-A Prayer for Orion-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    Memoirs were big in my 2020 reading. But I would have read anything Katherine James put out after her debut novel, Can You See Anything Now? James is not one of those Christian writers who submerges harsh reality beneath a pious gloss. She combines an artist’s eye with brutal honesty and yet suffused throughout is […]

  • #7-One of Ours-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    #7-One of Ours-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

    I got to Willa Cather late. Despite encouragement through the years that I would find her a fellow traveller, I only got to My Antonía a few years ago. But it was enough to get me primed for more, and when a New Yorker article suggested that her 1922 novel One of Ours made a […]