The Faith Reader
This is what we talk about when we talk about God.
For six years This Land Press collected stories, ambitiously chronicling life and culture in the middle of America from an independent perspective, untethered by denominational obligations or political affiliations. Many of these stories directly or indirectly relate to faith and show different faces of God told by different voices from different perspectives and different places.
One tells us that 47 percent of our neighbors worship the God that Charles Fox Parham found in Kansas at the end of the 20th century. This God is a personal God; He rips “through your viscera like an electric current and make your religious conviction dynamically manifest" when you emerge from a sacred baptismal, writes contributor Mike Mariani in "Tongues of Fire in Kansas."
The "Strange Love of Billy James Hargis" by the late Lee Roy Chapman and Michael Mason shows how the Christian Crusade, which Hargis founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the 1950s, brought this God into millions of homes. His Okie-flavored rhetoric gripped the country as he preached that the civil rights movement was a godless communist plot. And Hargis begat the American Christian right.
“God is a GOOD God,” Oral Roberts promised. Roberts’ God only wants to heal, not punish. In "The Gospel of John," Lindsey Neal Kuykendall dug through Oral Roberts University's ephemera for the letter ex-Beatle John Lennon wrote a letter to Roberts in a moment of desperation. Lennon was searching for forgiveness and through Roberts, the story goes, found it.
“The ability to forgive and forget is divine,” said Pastor Bob Yandian, formerly of Grace Fellowship, in defending the church’s handling of a pedophilia scandal to Kiera Feldman, who wrote "Grace in Broken Arrow." Pastor Bob’s God always forgives.
We find more bad men in the City of God. Chapman and Joshua Kline traveled to the Oklahoma-Arkansas border—where white separatists and fringe militia types flock to worship and, some say, conspire to dismantle the Zionist-occupied government—to find out "Who's Afraid of Elohim City?"
Oh, for God’s sake.
Life in America has always been intertwined with faith, and we publish the Faith Reader to give some insight into the spiritual landscape of Middle America today. This anthology, made up of investigations and reportage and inspired by personal experience and historical archives, represents the best deconstructions of, investigations into, and meditations on faith and spirituality that we’ve had the privilege to publish.
167 Pages. Printed in the United States.