Carnality: Dancing on Red Lake

In his debut novel, Carnality: Dancing on Red Lake, author and Westword alum Josiah Hesse delves into the weird world of the evangelical movement. Carnality is the first in a planned series of six books that trace the history of the movement in America.

“I grew up as an evangelical in the ’90s in Iowa, where the book is set,” Hesse says. “In this book, I’m looking at how the hippie movement in California in the 1960s really created the evangelical right of the ’80s.”

At the center of the book is Jacob Sloan, a tortured man who was once the evangelical movement’s child star but who has now retreated from society altogether. Through Sloan’s life, Hesse illuminates the strange threads that connect the Haight-Ashbury scene with the Moral Majority. During this Fresh City Life appearance at the Denver Public Library, Hesse will read from the book and offer concrete examples of his hippie-to-fundie thesis.

“I’m illustrating, through videos and pop songs and more, that timeline, from the Monterey Pop Festival to the election of Ronald Reagan to the Left Behind books becoming the most successful book series in American history,” he says.

The presentation starts at 7 p.m. July 31 at the Central Library, 10 West Fourteenth Avenue Parkway; admission is free. For more information, visit


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