God Land by Lyz Lenz

God Land

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 ...

Details God Land

TitleGod Land
Release DateJul 19th, 2019
PublisherIndiana University Press
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Religion, Politics

Reviews God Land

  • Rick Lee Lee James
    A moving story of an authentic quest for faith. Many who have found their faith at a breaking point due to the effects of Trumpian Evangelical Christianity will find a welcome companion on their journey in these pages.The author on her journalistic and faith journey, rightly calls out many hypocrisies in white evangelical Maga Christianity while at the same time lifting up the sincerity and loving hearts of many within it. She is truthful about h...
  • Elisabeth
    I received an advanced reading copy, opinions are my own.I can identify with this author’s journey through faith as I began a similar journey 20 years ago. The outcome for me wasn’t the same but the outsiderness and the loss of relationships were a very real issue for me as well. I am interested in understanding why people want to stay with a faith that doesn’t really want them and they don’t really believe in. I guess it’s hard to give...
  • Emily
    This one hit really close to home. Lenz combines reporting from churches throughout the Midwest with deeply personal stories about her faith, the evolution of her politics, dissolution of her marriage, and a failed church plant. Her stories show the good (community! potlucks! lovely traditions! mutual care in rural areas!), but don't shy away from the messy. It's a deep, nuanced, complicated--even diverse--look at the Midwest. She lives in Iowa a...
  • Kari
    “A white Christian pastor, ignoring the violence against Muslims while perpetuating a victim narrative for Tim Tebow, is part of the story of faith, most notably the stories we fail to tell. And these silences are inextricably linked to race, power, and class.”“And if we want to know what is happening with faith in America, we have to look at the effects of faith, even the violent ones. Even if we believe we are not that kind of Christian, ...
  • Byvynyl
    This is fucking fiction because white evangelicals don't feel remorse and are incapable of being introspective. Their religion is founded on racism.
  • Chris Hubbs
    God Land is an insightful and challenging critique of Christianity in Middle America. Lyz Lenz clearly still loves her Midwestern home, but laments that the predominant Christian voices are conflating Republicanism, gun culture, and male-only leadership with the message of Jesus.God Land doesn't try to paint an overly cheery "we just shouldn't let politics divide us" picture. Lenz's own story illustrates how divisive these issues can be on a pers...
  • Shelly
    Such a good book that I read it with every free reading minute I had. I got my copy from the library but also plan to buy a copy to gift.
  • Melissa
    I picked this up because 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). And 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, etc etc but she also ties much of it to her search for a faith community that did not ...
  • Alison
    I spent the better part of my day today reading this book. It was earth-shattering for me. I dug out my sticky page-markers so I could remember all the beautiful, brilliant, true passages. This country is falling apart (let's stop pretending otherwise), and Christianity--white, evangelical, conservative Christianity, to be precise--has had a hell of a lot to do with that. Lenz is a Christian saying she's been deeply, deeply on the inside and, yea...
  • Mark Wheaton
    A deeply felt look at who we are versus who we think we are, particularly for those who might feel at odds with public Christianity in America these days after growing up in the rural church. The kind of book where you wish you could build a time machine and pass it out to everybody in your high school back in the day who might’ve felt inculcated by going to church rather than uplifted.
  • Sarah Olson
    This is a book for anyone who has ever felt discomforted by the way the Christian church behaves around Donald Trump's presidency. This is a book for anyone who stood up against the Christian status quo and lost relationships with friends and family as a result. This is a book for those who are grieving the loss of Rachel Held Evans. This is a book for those who want to better understand, with equal measures of compassion and frustration, the con...
  • Caroline
    Searching, trenchant, and tender. Could have been better copy-edited, but I'm interested in reading more on this topic & others from Lenz.
  • Shirley
    Disappointing. The book lacks good organization, making it hard to follow and tiresome.
  • Gwen
    Solid collection of essays on the shifts in Midwestern Christianity as highlighted in the wake of the 2016 election. Not as much analysis as I would have liked, but Lenz's personal connection to the subject is quite compelling. I'm glad that C-SPAN taped her talk at Politics and Prose. My favorite quote [on why leaving the church isn't easy]:...it isn't just about church, it is about community and family. It's hard to walk away from the place tha...
  • Maggie Mason
    “For a young mother church was more than a religious education -– it was her community. ‘Some weeks, I only left the house to go to church,’ she tells me. The women in the congregation shared cold remedies for babies, which, according to Evelyn, involved ‘steam and some molasses.’ ...Betty tells me those years were the worst years of her life. And in those years, church with her escape and her sanity.”“I believe Marilyn is talking...
  • Dawn Rupert
    "God Land" is an attempt to explain the values of the Evangelicals who voted to elect our current president. I would give this book 4 stars for Lyz Lenz's investigating reporting and 2 stars for this turning into a memoir of her difficulty in finding a church she feels comfortable attending.Lyz Lenz appears to have a troubled life, and I hope she can find 'community' in her new church if this is what she wants and needs. Good luck Ms. Lenz.Also a...
  • K-Pop Keegan
    Raw, brave, healing for my soul having grown up in a similar faith tradition and struggled with all the same issues within the evangelical church over the years, particularly after 2016. I feel validated in my reasons for leaving the church while also feel inspired by her ability to keep digging, questioning, and clinging to her faith through it all. I will be recommending this book to all my friends (church goers and not) hopeful that it will sp...
  • Sam Ashworth
    GOD LAND packs so much wisdom, research, and wit into just a hundred-odd pages that it's almost unfair. Lenz writes beautifully about the Christian tradition in the Midwest, but she never over-romanticizes--or unfairly condemns. She writes with humor and empathy, but without sentimentality. I'm an East Coast Jew, so the America she's describing seems, on the surface, wildly different from my own, but the more I read, the more I find myself wantin...
  • Kirsti
    When I started following Lyz Lenz on Twitter, I thought she was a stand-up comedian. It turns out she is a journalist and memoirist who has created a searing and thoughtful (but also funny and compelling) book about what it means to be an evangelical Christian right now in the midwestern United States. I enjoyed the book tremendously and have recommended it to friends. So often Christian women are pressured to tamp down their exuberance, leadersh...
  • Bonnie
    This book. It pierced my soul and hit incredibly close to home. I am Midwestern, Evangelical, and a Democrat, like Lyz Lenz. While my marriage did not die, so much of what I assumed about my faith and my patriotism did after the 2016 election. This book could only be written by a Midwesterners, because it tackles contradictions with both clarity and empathy. Lenz also directly addresses white privilege in a way that white women need to hear. Read...
  • Kate
    A great read! I think many of my friends would like this, whether churched or nones, it provides good insights into the religious culture of the midwest, what Lenz describes as civil religion. I was unfamiliar with that term, but was immediately reminded of a PBS episode over two years ago about how Putin is using the Roman Catholic church in Russia to further submission to the state. Lenz also acknowledges, and perhaps celebrates, that not all w...
  • Deborah Williams
    As a (former) resident of what the Coasts like to call "flyover country," I feel like I know the people Lenz interviewed in Iowa and elsewhere: her sympathy for them--even as she shines a bright clear light on homophobia, racism, and particularly misogyny on their faith communities--keeps the book honest, compassionate, and a compelling read. Add to that her honesty about her own marriage and doubts--it's a great read. Smart, well-researched, and...
  • Christy
    3.5 stars for the content, 3 or fewer for the lack of editing! Some paragraphs did not contain even one complete sentence, and there were way too many easy-to-fix typos. Almost felt like I received an uncorrected proof, which was distracting. I also felt the author didn’t quite go far enough in condemning the white supremacy inherent to Trump’s ascent to power. Worth a read, but borrow, don’t buy like I did!
  • Catie
    "It's easy to spin dreams, harder to weave them into something practical.""But everything is political if you don't fit it. 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.""Hope is a terrible endeavor. It's the triumph of will over experience."
  • Richard Noggle
    (Three and a half stars)The personal narrative is stronger for me than the more academic elements, and luckily it overshadow them. Lenz's voice is sharp and often funny, and her assessment of Middle American churches is often sad (silencing the voices of women and marginalized communities) but ultimately hopeful.
  • Emily
    “This is why I still have a faith. This is why I haven’t given up entirely. That moment of passing from one form into the next is mysterious and almost magical. Because when I see death in faith, it is not an end, it’s a rearrangement of elements. What is inside is released and allowed to reach upward.”
  • Agnes Brady
    The book is a mix of the author's own experiences and reflections in traveling from an evangelical background to a more progressive Christianity with a bit of scholarly materials included. The book is basically another millennial's reflections on the current political, social and religious scene from a progressive perspective.