Review: “Dakota” by Kathleen Norris

Thumbs up for Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris.

A portrait of a place – the Dakotas – interwoven with the changing religious life of the author. I am tempted to say that I can’t write a review of this book because too long has passed between my reading and my writing. Which is true. However, the time passed because I didn’t know how to review it right after I read the last page, either. I will re-read it someday and then perhaps I will be able to comment more wisely than: well, this was interesting and lovely. For now, let me say that I copied out many passages.

Step by step, as I made my way back to church, I began to find that many of the things modern people assume are irrelevant – the liturgical year, the liturgy of the hours, the Incarnation as an everyday reality – are in fact essential to my identity and my survival. I’m not denying the past, or trying to bring it back, but am seeking in my inheritance what theologian Letty Russell terms “a usable past.” Perhaps I am also redefining frontier not as a place you exploit and abandon but as a place where you build on the past for the future. When we journey here, we discover it is no less old than new. T. S. Eliot wrote, “The end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” Against all the odds, I rediscovered the religion I was born to, and found in it a home.


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