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Great Wall Salton Sea

“There are only two man-made objects you can see from outer space. One is the Great Wall of China, and the other is the Salton Sea. One is the result of the work of hundreds of thousands of laborers over two thousand years, and the other is the result of a gigantic mistake.” In the years he lived near the Salton Sea, Russell Rathbun heard this so many times he lost track of who first told it to him. But the words, he writes, “loitered in my brain,” and they spawned the meditations on ambition and identity shared in Rathbun’s new book The Great Wall of China and the Salton Sea.

Russell Rathbun

Russell Rathbun is a writer, speaker, and blogger who brings his irreverent sense of humor and curiosity to often-overlooked subjects. A founding pastor of House of Mercy in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Rathbun has authored several books and has been regularly featured on Minnesota Public Radio. Nadia Bolz-Weber, in her foreword to his new book, calls Rathbun the sort of person who is completely unafraid of the Bible—and as a result, “he finds quirky, surprising, and completely unique interpretations of the text that shed light and give clarity to what it means to be a human living in the twenty-first century in a world spinning out of control.”

In The Great Wall of China and the Salton Sea, Rathbun interpolates musings on Scripture into his accounts of the landmarks of human audacity and ambition, creating a work he describes as “midrashic.” How do we find ourselves again? asks Rathbun. How do we rebuild our connections to each other, the earth, maybe even God? As he drives cross-country to the Salton Sea and takes a trip to China's Great Wall, Rathbun uncovers a way of finding ourselves and the deep connections we long for in an increasingly complex world.