My heart and home is Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where my father was born a ninth-generation Mennonite in the middle of Amish country. I grew up surrounded by the countryside my family had farmed and roamed since the early 1700’s when they came to the U.S. to escape religious persecution in Germany and Switzerland. My people were Harnishes and Mylins, Herrs and Landises, the Anabaptist stock that gives Lancaster its distinct and strangely alluring flavor. My father settled in the quiet river hills of the county’s southern end, along a creek that I now consider something like a family member, the Tucquan. Its taste and smell are part of my permanent vocabulary.
Despite these deep roots in one place–or perhaps because of them–I get around. I’ve lived on both coasts and I’ve traveled through more countries than you can count on six hands. But I’m happy to hang my gloves in Brooklyn’s Red Hook these days.
I am currently a visiting scholar at The Center for Religion and Media at New York University where I am a contributing editor to The Revealer, founded by journalist Jeff Sharlet in 2003. For The Revealer I write a monthly column, “The Patient Body,” which examines issues at the intersection of religion and medicine. My articles have appeared at Bookforum, New York Law Review, Guernica magazine (where I’m a contributing nonfiction editor), Lapham’s Quarterly, Killing the Buddha, Religion Dispatches and The Nation. (A full list of articles can be found here.)
The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America, my first book, will be published by Beacon Press in January 2016.
I can be reached at otherspoon[at]yahoo[dot]com.