• Reasonable Insects

    I’m just saying…I have yet to meet a reasonable insect.  And if they were reasonable, would we really need to control them with this device?  #screenshot

  • Humor & Theology at the Chemo Pump – A Review of Cancer is Funny

    Humor & Theology at the Chemo Pump – A Review of Cancer is Funny

    My review of Jason Micheli’s Cancer is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo [Fortress Press, 2016] is now up on the great Englewood Review of Books.  Full disclosure: Jason is one of the pastors I work with in the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church and I was on one of his recent podcasts of Crackers […]

  • Post-election Reading – my interview with Mark Athitakis concludes – part 3

    Post-election Reading – my interview with Mark Athitakis concludes – part 3

    I discovered Mark Athitakis and his new book, The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt, in an article on The Huffington Post where Mark was interviewed.  Then I thought, if HufPo can do it, why can’t I?  So, I contacted Mark and well, here we are. Mark’s field is […]

  • Keeping the Midwest Weird: My interview with Mark Athitakis continues – part 2

    Keeping the Midwest Weird: My interview with Mark Athitakis continues – part 2

    In my last interview blog post with the writer Mark Athitakis, “Why we we’ve got to get Willa out of the cornfield”, we talked about the plural landscape of the Midwest, something he covered in his new book, The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt.  Today we […]

  • Why we’ve got to get Willa out of the cornfield – an interview with Mark Athitakis (part 1)

    Why we’ve got to get Willa out of the cornfield – an interview with Mark Athitakis (part 1)

    Mark Athitakis is one of those people who resists the impulse to reduce things to stereotype, which is one of the guiding values of this blog.  Athitakis’s field of inquiry is Midwestern fiction and he has written on books for a number of publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Belt Magazine, which […]

  • Rural is Plural

    This article originally appeared in the great Topology magazine.   We were in danger of becoming a caricature.  When a parent stood up at a local school board meeting and expressed her dismay at a word being used in two books in the school library, blogposts and news stories from New York to Singapore decried the benighted […]

  • Why Iowa isn’t Heaven

    Where else would Ray Kinsella have built his Field of Dreams except in an Iowa cornfield?  Am I right?  A baseball diamond where the ghosts of the past could come for healing and restoration – for their own and for the living?  Had to be in the heartland, where the solid goodness of America is […]

  • The We of Me – Carson McCullers week continues

    Don’t we long to be fully engaged?  I’ve checked in with Carson McCullers a couple of times this week on the occasion of her 100th birthday.  She’s often thought of as a prophet of loneliness, but I wonder if what she expressed in her writing was more a longing to be released from the silo […]

  • More Carson…

    I have thought of Carson McCullers’ economic insights as underdeveloped, but here’s a testimony to her observations in that area from the Director of the Carson McCullers Center… https://www.loa.org/news-and-views/1249-nick-norwood-what-carson-mccullers-knew-about-cotton-mills-and-misery

  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Carson McCullers Week, part 2

    Post 2 for Carson McCullers 100th Birthday Week. Things to expect when you read Carson McCullers: late night diners, music, triangles of frustrated love, circuses, outsiders, and wanderers.  In her two best works, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Member of the Wedding, you also find a fiery, pre-teen girl trying to make sense of […]

  • “A World Intense & Strange”: Carson McCullers Week

    Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of my new favorite writer — Carson McCullers.  My relationship with her began with an audio book of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and quickly followed with lapping up all of her novels.  I’ll share some thoughts through the week on her basic themes, […]

  • It’s about that Church Building. It’s Got to Go.

      Beginning in the late 19th century, the Methodists began settling down.  What had been a movement of house groups, camp meetings, and simple preaching houses, set up shop on every Main Street and country crossroad and made themselves a presence with substantial stained-glassed buildings.  In the 1950s and 1960s we built again during that […]