How Bonnie and Clyde Helped Make Me a Methodist Preacher (or Getting to Know Your Community Can Transform Your Church)

Bonnie and Clyde get a little credit for my seminary experience. The Depression Era gangsters got their start in Eagle Ford, a flood-prone neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. While they gained a lot of notoriety for their exploits, when they were killed by law enforcement agents in a Louisiana ambush in 1934, everyone recognized the tragedy […]

Why a Story of Fugitive Slaves May Not Just Be History

In light of the current Great Divide, there is no innocent reading of history. We mine every thesis about the Constitutional Convention or the Civil War for evidence of another agenda. History becomes covert commentary on Trump and the Resistance. So when Andrew Delbanco’s wonderful new book on fugitive slaves in antebellum America landed in […]

Race, Virginia, and Jesus’ Circle of Favor

It has been a disturbing week in Virginia government. Once again, we are struggling with how we address questions of race and racism. This time Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring are both confronted with incidents from their past involving appearances in blackface, a remnant of minstrel shows where the entertainment came […]

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 […]