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Tidy categories may suit the media, but people are more complex up close.

News outlets, historians, and sociologists can (and do) tell us all about the statistics, but they don’t (and can’t) tell us about what it’s really like in a given place—how the squish of creek water between your toes or the crunch of autumn leaves on a city sidewalk shape your sense of normal and good and right. To understand that—to understand the people in the places—we need stories. We need to listen, get to know the nuance of people, and have empathy for their way of seeing things.

Brandon O’Brien is, in many ways, a man torn between places. Raised in the rural South, educated in the suburbs, and now living and doing ministry in Manhattan, he’s seen these places, and their complexity, up close. With the knack of a natural storyteller, he shares what he learned about himself, faith, and the people who make up America on his own journey through it.


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