AJoyner web photoHeartlands is…
…the site of Alex Joyner, an eclectic practitioner of trades and formed by faith and region.

…a collection point for writing, news, and sharing on life and ministry in contemporary America.

Alex Joyner is…

…a Virginian who has spent significant time in Texas and Great Britain.

…a writer of a number of publications.

…a pastor in the United Methodist tradition, currently serving in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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 not reducible 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.

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.

For a little more on the dream of this site try this post.


A book that speaks to my soul: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

A place that speaks to my soul: Archer City, Texas

Musical taste: Singer-songwriters, Delta blues, and Celtic music

Favorite movie: A close tie between The Commitments & The Wizard of Oz

First real job: Radio news director

Interests: Kayaking, baseball, and boxing

5 responses to “About”

  1. Dear Alex, I just learned of Kirk Mariner’s death. I had planned to get in touch with him to pick his brain about Eastern Shore architecture and antebellum houses there. I’m writing my second novel and it’s set, like the first, on the Eastern Shore in a fictional town. I wonder if you might have advice about resources? My email is rammatt5@aol.com.

    Peace, Matt Matthews


  2. […] Heartlands is about the particular way these questions play out in rural America.  Over the year, it has developed a particular interest in how place and story can ground us.  Hence, book reviews, travelogues, and interviews with authors and artists.  But you have helped shape what this blog looks like.  And it’s time to count down the most read posts of 2017.  So here they are: […]


  3. […] One of the things that’s spurred me to do this blog is this sense that what the heartlands mean is really different than it used to be. It used to be that, even if people lived in urban areas, they would look to the rural areas as being an inspiration or holding the essence of what it means to be America. I agree; I don’t think that’s the case anymore. […]


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