Is Going Home Possible?

Yesterday, my new blog friend The Portly Politico, wrote about how it seems that the old rural South is dying, saying this:

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the changing, dying rural communities I observed on a trip through western South Carolina.  You’re not supposed to say as much, but I don’t like that the culture and the world I grew up in are changing.  I’m not sure when it became taboo to say, “This is my home and these are my kin,” but apparently that’s no longer acceptable if you’re a conservative Christian in the American South, especially if you’re a white man.

I both understand and sympathize. As a child of the far upper midwest (North of Fargo) transferred to the far agricultural edge of Chicagoland, the shoe fits extraordinarily well. In truth, out here in the middle of Nebraska feels more like home than Indiana ever did (and my folks moved there in 1935).

But he recommended an article by Leslie Alexander called Stranger in a Strange Land. It’s a wonderful (not really in the good sense, but full of wonder) recounting at how soulless she finds Dallas.

There is a distinct feeling that almost everyone has come from somewhere else, and not a similar place.  An untattooed, unpierced body is infrequent.  Pink is the most common hair color. Amorphous masses of bodies abound–male, female, or something in between. Cordial relations between the sexes–between ladies and gentlemen–is non-existent.  Instead, there’s a strange ambiguity that feels desolate. The atypical Normals look at each other with recognition.  And a kind of wistfulness.

Courtesy is rare.  A Louisiana girl, I am accustomed to pleasant greetings and warmth, a shared desire to connect.  Here, greetings are often met with silence or suspicion.  Even a drive-through smoothie shop is an empty experience; I recently attempted small talk at the window, trying mightily to connect.  I left feeling unseen, and sad.

I don’t know about you but that speaks to me on a deep level. As I move about out here, an American of Norwegian descent who grew up amongst Prussians, and now lives amongst Bohemians. We are far enough from the cities to have a fair amount of community left, and I think Leslie found that in Southern Louisiana too.

It’s interesting that one of the defining characteristics in Britain between Brexit and  Remain is that most of the Brexiteers are rooted in British soil and history, while the Remainers are not. They have come to be called Somewheres and Anywheres. It’s just as applicable here.

But whether it’s Lincoln, Omaha, Dallas, Chicago, or any of the other cities, community is very rare. Back in the day, our churches played a fair role in the community, even where, as where I grew up, we had about the same number of churches as we did bars. Some churches worked together easily, like my E&R and the local Methodist church. Some would do projects, and some were simply aloof. All had what seemed reasonable justifications for their view, and all respected all.

Most of you know that I have long since converted to the ELCA, partially because it is the heir to the long-submerged Norwegian Lutheran church. But I admit to finding it nearly as loose as the UCC I came out of, and that looseness does not build a community. Maybe that’s why I suspect that one of these days, I’ll find myself in the LCMS, it provides a continuity and tradition that I find comforting.

In a sense, it may be the Kingdom of the Right-Hand equivalent of the originalism that informs my view of the founding of the United States.

If that statement intrigues you, I started a series of videos at All Along the Watchtower this morning on just what the Missouri Synod is all about.

Anyway, that is what I’m thinking about today.

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

9 Responses to Is Going Home Possible?

  1. audremyers says:

    Watched the video and enjoyed it but…you fooled me. I thought it was going to be a video of YOU. Thought I was finally going to have a face to go with a ‘name’. Sigh. Oh, well… (lol!)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for sharing my post, NEO. I’m glad it resonated with you, as did Leslie Alexander’s piece. Those anecdotal accounts have far more emotional impact than the dry facts and figures (which are important, too).

    As for the denominational stuff, you should definitely check out the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. I have a buddy who attends a small LCMS church, and he calls it “the future of Protestantism in America.” A bit of an overstatement, perhaps, but they are SUPER conservative and traditional, and their services are beautiful (and highly liturgical). I’m roughly Southern/Free Will Baptist myself, but I tell people I’m a Lutheran in Baptist’s clothing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • the unit says:

      Uh yeah, wearing a Lutheran Face in Baptists clothing. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      You’re quite welcome. I think I will at some point, my problem here is that the closest is about 40 miles away, while my ELCA is 4 blocks. There’s another somewhat in between (can’t think of it right now) that is closer, and may end up being a way station for me. I’ve become quite inactive not least because of the ELCA doctrine, which is pretty much indefensible. No surprise I like liturgy, no doubt if I were a Brit I’d be Anglo-Catholic.

      Like

  3. Pingback: New Mustang is a Sign of the Times – The Portly Politico

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