Book review: Our Great Big American God

OUR GREAT BIG AMERICAN GOD : a short history of our ever-growing deity, by Matthew Paul Turner. New York: Jericho Books, 2014. 241 pp. ISBN 9781455547340 This is a book about the history of Christianity in America, written by a young, white, evangelical blogger from Nashville, Tennessee. As best I can tell, Matthew Paul Turner […]

Orobpa, Qoqzaz… Is the “ISIS map” for real?

No one has been able to give a source for this map. It just “appeared on the Internet” as a map of the “Islamic State” envisioned by the eponymous rebel army that has taken over cities in Syria and Iraq. Is this map for real? So many people have reposted it (including some so-called news […]

Book review: Empire of the Summer Moon

EMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON : Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history, by S. C. Gwynne, New York: Scribner, ©2010. ISBN 978–1416591061 As a student of American Indian history (in the Southeast), I have been asked more than once whether I’ve read this popular […]

Where does the name Waxahatchee come from?

Waxahatchee is a Brooklyn-based music project headed by Katie Crutchfield. The music press tell us that Waxahatchee is the name of a creek in Alabama. In January 2011 Crutchfield “was living at her parents’ house on Waxahatchee Creek, nursing the bruises of a few bad relationships and wondering what to do with her adulthood.” A […]

Answer: Hate the South

This Friday marks the first anniversary of one of the meanest pieces of writing I’ve seen from a liberal pen. It is Sara Robinson’s piece for Alternet (picked up by Salon) on “conservative Southern values” as an existential threat to our republic. While there’s a glimmer of truth to Robinson’s portrait of what she calls […]

How Opa-locka got its name

Opa-locka is a small city in the Miami metropolitan area of south Florida. Its unusal name is supposed to have an Indian or “Native American” origin. But there is no documentation for the name before about 1926. That’s when the aviator Glenn Curtiss founded the city, during the 1920s craze for Florida real estate.1 When […]

English from the treetops

There’s a 400-year-old verse that I consider ideal for demonstrating change in the English language. It’s “The lowest trees have tops,” by a nobody called Edward Dyer. As poetry, it operates at about the level of forgettable pop music. It’s standard iambic pentameter, and the rhyme pattern is ABABCC. What first struck me is the […]