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God Land
God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America | Lyz Lenz
21 posts | 12 read | 20 to read
In the wake of the 2016 election, Lyz Lenz watched as her country and her marriage were torn apart by the competing forces of faith and politics. A mother of two, a Christian, and a lifelong resident of middle America, Lenz was bewildered by the pain and loss around her--the empty churches and the broken hearts. What was happening to faith in the heartland? From drugstores in Sydney, Iowa, to skeet shooting in rural Illinois, to the mega churches of Minneapolis, Lenz set out to discover the changing forces of faith and tradition in God's country. Part journalism, part memoir, God Land is a journey into the heart of a deeply divided America. Lenz visits places of worship across the heartland and speaks to the everyday people who often struggle to keep their churches afloat and to cope in a land of instability. Through a thoughtful interrogation of the effects of faith and religion on our lives, our relationships, and our country, God Land investigates whether our divides can ever be bridged and if America can ever come together.
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NovelNancyM
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“But everything is political if you don't fit in. The idea of political neutrality is an idea born of privilege, born of bodies not always under assault from the laws and eyes that decide what is normal and what is protected in this country“ (52).

“when you are in the minority -- the voice that is silenced -- you are never in a bubble, even if you try“ (64).

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Aemuller
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Bibliotekate
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Redwritinghood
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Pickpick

This is an honest, unflinching look at faith in middle America and the author‘s struggle to reconcile it with her own beliefs. Lenz grew up in an Evangelical household and married a conservative Christian. Gradually, she became conflicted about the Evangelical church‘s restrictions and exclusionary rules. This book is about her search to find her own place, while also taking a hard look at the current cultural divide and the church‘s role in it.

Megabooks Stacking!!! 3y
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sakeriver
Pickpick

We talk a lot about nuance and how we need it, and what I think this book does so well is presenting a nuance that is not just compassion but also accountability. I thought it was really well done.

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sakeriver
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Next

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NoFrigateLikeABook
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Pickpick

One of my favorite writers! Lenz‘s honest, incisive exploration of religion in the Midwest blends her own story with a more anthropological approach. It could‘ve been three times as long and I would‘ve devoured it still.

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balletbookworm
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Pickpick

I picked this up bc I was interested in her reporting/research on religion/faith in the Midwest (I am 100% a city kid from Cedar Rapids, IA, where Lyz now lives). She does a great job in tying to get inside that mythos of “midwesterners are the salt of the earth and the real backbone of the US”, the cognitive dissonance of faith and politics, but she ties much of it to her search for a faith community that did not make her feel small/unwelcome.

balletbookworm I think she also did a fantastic job of presenting all her subjects fairly and with depth and avoided othering or making any of them the boogeyman which is hard when being “politically neutral” is impossible. (I had a chuckle in the chapter where she attends the ELCA pastor conference and I was like “those are my people! High five” 😂) 3y
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hwestfall
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Pickpick

There was a lot in this book that resonated with me. I struggled a bit with chapter 7, A Muscular Jesus. I am not sure I can put into words yet why. I am going to sit with it a few days and read it again.

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catiewithac
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Pickpick

I think the NYT Review of Books put this one on my radar. It‘s a blend of memoir and narrative journalism about faith in the Heartland. The author was raised by homeschooling evangelical parents and married a conservative Christian husband. She shares her struggles to reconcile Christianity with the horrors done in its name: children in concentration camps, shootings of innocents by angry white men, environmental degradation, etc. Good read!

iread2much Sounds really interesting 3y
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underthebelljar
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Like many of us here in America, Lyz Lenz attempts to understand the great divide that grows wider and wider between Americans in the wake of the 2016 election. Lenz specifically looks at this issue in Middle American Christian communities. There are no answers here but Lenz voices our feelings, our anger, and our hurt, while trying to sort out the cognitive dissonance that takes place in so many Christian communities today. 👇🏻

underthebelljar The only issue I had was each chapter felt like it‘s own distinct piece and that maybe the book was created as a compilation of her essays/articles which made some parts slightly repetitive. It‘s a minor issue though and I thoroughly enjoyed this book and her writing. I highlighted a lot! 3y
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underthebelljar
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Ashley_Nicoletto
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“She didn‘t need to be taught her silence, it was all around her. This is how power works.”

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underthebelljar
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On Christianity and the idolatry of American sports.

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Ashley_Nicoletto
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“When I ask what is happening to our churches, what I really want to know is what is happening to our souls.”

😭❤️😭

MicheleinPhilly I‘m not even religious but AMEN. 3y
Ashley_Nicoletto @MicheleinPhilly I am also not religious, but I was deeply curious about this book. I was raised in the same state as the author and I‘ve experienced this “I‘m a good Christian so I support trump” logic that‘s happening here. I‘m eager to learn anything I can about why it‘s happening. 3y
MicheleinPhilly I hear you. I was raised Catholic and have relatives that still practice it AND support him. He is the antithesis of everything I was ever taught about Jesus. 3y
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Ashley_Nicoletto @MicheleinPhilly Exactly! I don‘t understand how republic politics are aligned with religious values currently. 3y
BarbaraTheBibliophage Thanks for the quotes. I‘ve been trying to decide if this book is going to possible for me. Also not religious, but living in a super Repub, Christian area. 3y
Ashley_Nicoletto @BarbaraTheBibliophage I will say - Lyz Lenz is deeply religious. So in the beginning she really explores how Christianity excluded her as a woman. Which was very interesting, but I‘ve enjoyed her exploring Christian support of Repub politics more. Her experience is very much one that‘s wrapped in her own realization that she wants to be heard/listened to/acknowledged. 3y
BarbaraTheBibliophage @Ashley_Nicoletto Interesting—I think I‘d like the political aspects more as well. 3y
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Ashley_Nicoletto
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“Churches are supposed to be places of openness and community. But often, like the land, they isolate more than they unite. And the story of who leaves the church is just as important as the story of who stays.”

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BookishShelly
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Pickpick

This book is so good that I read it every spare reading moment I‘ve had.

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underthebelljar
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End of chapter 1 and I already have a lot of highlights

This is going to be an eye opening read

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underthebelljar
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underthebelljar
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Just got this one in from the library!

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rachelm
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Just out: my interview with author Lyz Lenz in Electric Lit. Click for discussion of religion meets politics plus potlucks.

https://electricliterature.com/you-already-live-in-god-land-lyz-lenz-helps-you-u...