Small Towns as Moral Communities: A Review of The Left Behind

Here’s the plot: a ragtag group of survivors suddenly discovers that people who have been a significant part of their lives have moved on leaving them in a desperate moral quandary as they try to piece together what has happened and work for a better future.  No, it’s not Tim LeHaye’s rapture series, Left Behind.  […]

Heartlands Best Reads of 2017:#1 Lincoln in the Bardo (& a recap)

There are certain things you know you’re going to find when you sit down to read a George Saunders story.  It will be weird, funny, engaging, and surprisingly deep.  I expected no less from Lincoln in the Bardo, Saunders’ first novel and I was not disappointed. The book, which won the Man Booker Prize this year, […]

Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #10 Strangers In Their Own Land

It’s been a great year for reading.  I credit Sarah Willson Craig for inviting me into a real mid-life reading renaissance.  She’s the one who posted the Better World Reading Challenge on Facebook in 2016 and got a group of friends committed.  I’m grateful. Since everyone else is doing their end-of-the-year list, I decided to […]

Why Books Will Win

I’m making a wager that books will lead us to the future. Heartlands came about as a desire to understand the present age, particularly from the perspective of rural America and rural church ministry.  In the beginning I was trying to figure out why the place where I live seemed suddenly so strange to me.  […]

Talking to Anarchists – An interview with Arlie Russell Hochschild – part 3 of 3

By now you know the story, if you’ve been following since Part 1: Blue state sociologist goes to oil patch Louisiana to try and understand the environment and the people of this Red state.  Writes Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.  Talks with an Eastern Shore preacher about what she […]

Churches & Dysfunctional Government – An Interview with Arlie Russell Hochschild – Part 2 of 3

We are repenting from our assumption that government can be an adequate expression of our faith.  That’s one of the marks of these times for Christians on both sides of the Great Divide.   When Arlie Russell Hochschild, the Berkley sociologist, went to Louisiana to try to understand the deep story of people on the American Right, […]

Crossing the Great Divide: An Interview with Arlie Russell Hochschild – part 1 of 3

Can a Berkley sociologist and a Louisiana oil patch Tea Party member find common ground?  That was the experiment Arlie Russell Hochschild (the sociologist) undertook when she found she was having a hard time understanding the forces that were shaping Red States.   When I wrote a review of her book about the project, Strangers […]