As I write this, I am one month and two days from moving halfway across the country. After nearly eight years in Minnesota—by far the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere—we’re moving to Pennsylvania. We’ve already started packing, and soon we’ll list for sale a house I once believed I’d stay in for the rest of my life, a house I’ve tiled and gardened and loved.
It is perhaps appropriate, then, that I read Grace Olmstead’s new book Uprooted (Sentinel, 2021) while I was uprooting myself. But, as its subtitle reveals, Uprooted isn’t about leaving so much as staying and “recovering the legacy of the places we’ve left behind.” Using her own roots in a small agricultural town in Idaho as a case study—one that may not be widely familiar in its specifics but offers ample connections to more universal themes—Olmstead explores community and belonging, farming practices and food sources, land policy and evolving mores, and whether it’s possible to remain or return home in a culture that often equates transience (“You’ll go far!”) with success.
Olmstead is an Anglican-curious Christian (and sometime CT contributor) who presently attends a Baptist church in part for its proximity to her house, and her book is offers many glimpses of her faith. But I was surprised to find its discussion wasn’t more explicit, and I wanted—with some self-interest, I’ll admit, as I prepare to leave my Minnesota home and friends and church—to pick her brain about the connection between rootedness, discipleship, and life in Christian community.
“This is a book about fidelity, interdependence, and place, and so it’s ...1
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