Who’s Going to Make the Case for America? (I Mean, Along with Jill Lepore)

Late in her brief but thought-provoking new book, historian Jill Lepore gets down to why she would write something titled This America: The Case for the Nation: “In American history, liberals have failed, time and again, to defeat illiberalism except by making appeals to national aims and ends…Writing national history creates plenty of problems. But […]

The Red State Christians You Don’t Know: A Review of Angela Denker’s New Book

It wasn’t your typical megachurch experience. When journalist and Lutheran pastor Angela Denker showed up at New Destiny Christian Center to check out the ministry of Paula White, one of Donald Trump’s pastoral advisors, she might have expected a coffee shop in the lobby (she kinda did) and a glitzy auditorium for a sanctuary. Instead […]

Good God, What Happened to the Heartland?: Laughing and Lamenting with Lyz Lenz

Lyz Lenz is so funny sometimes that you can forget that she has written a hard book. As, for instance, when she’s surveying the physical layout of cookie-cutter megachurches and says that “the decor looks like a Hobby Lobby vomited all over the place.” (115) That’s the vibrant Lyz that you want giving you the […]

Getting Beyond ‘Should’ to What ‘Is’: The Virginia Reeves Interview Concludes

My interview with Virginia Reeves, author of The Behavior of Love, concludes with some thoughts on ‘should’ and the struggles of human beings in love to connect. (The interview begins here.) One of the other big words in this book for me is the word ‘should.’ In fact, you title a whole section ‘Should.’ I […]

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 […]

Why Don’t Country People Just Get Out? – Episode 3

It’s happened again. Writers in The New York Times are once again wondering aloud if country people shouldn’t just give up and move to the city to deal with problems of economic insecurity. Which means, it’s time for another episode of “Why Don’t Country People Just Get Out?” In an article titled “The Hard Truth […]

#3 Heartlands Best Reads of 2018: Amity and Prosperity

The changing landscape of rural America. Big economic forces impacting big-hearted, sympathetic characters. New ways to look at the Great Divide. Interesting places and hints of God. Great writing. These are the things that make for a great Heartlands Read. Throw in fracking and you’ve got Eliza Griswold’s gripping and sometimes-terrifying book, Amity & Prosperity: One […]