Circling Faith is a collection of essays by southern women that encompasses spirituality and the experience of winding through the religiously charged environment of the American South.
Mary Karr, in “Facing Altars,” describes how the consolation she found in poetry directed her to a similar solace in prayer. In “Chiaroscuro: Shimmer and Shadow,” Susan Cushman recounts how her dissatisfaction with a Presbyterian upbringing led her to hold her own worship services at home and eventually to join the Eastern Orthodox Church. “Magic” by Amy Blackmarr depicts a religious practice that occurs wholly outside of any formal setting—she recognizes places, such as a fishing shack in south Georgia, and things, such as crystal Cherokee earrings, as reminders that God exists everywhere and that a Great Comforter is always present. In “The Only Jews in Town,” Stella Suberman gives her account of growing up as a religious minority in Tennessee, connecting her story to a larger narrative of Eastern European Jews who moved away from the Northeast, often to found and run “Jew stores” in midwestern and southern towns. Alice Walker, in an interview with Valerie Reiss titled “Alice Walker Calls God ‘Mama,’” relates her dynamic relationship with her God, which includes meditation and yoga, and explains how she views the role of faith in her work, including her novel The Color Purple. These essays showcase the large spectrum of spirituality that abides in the South, as well as the equally large spectrum of individual women who hold these faiths.