Every now and the, a GetReligionista (or in this case a GetReligionista emeritus) reads a short news report about some religion event or topic then pauses, a bit perplexed. It's like something basic is missing.
Consider the following perfectly ordinary story from The Argus Leader, a smallish Gannett newspaper in Sioux Falls, S.D. Does anything strike you as strange about the top of this story? Is something missing?
Three Dewey County men have been federally charged with arson and burglary, accused of burning down a nearly 100-year-old historic church.
Cody Yellow, 27, Robert Grindstone, 28, and Ake Kyle Eagle Hunter, 28, are charged with third-degree burglary and arson. Each faces 30 years in federal prison if convicted.
According to court records: Eagle Hunter told authorities he picked up Yellow and Grindstone in Eagle Butte then drove to the church on July 19. He said he went to the church to visit a friend’s grave.
Eagle Hunter said he was walking from the cemetery towards the front of the church when he heard a crash. He said he walked back to the front of the church a saw Yellow going into the church and knocking things over.
Grindstone, then, came in with some diesel fuel and started dumping it everywhere. Then, Yellow leaned down and lit the fuel, starting the fire.
OK, this is an interesting event. Perhaps even some kind of hate crime? Is this a church burning or merely a church that was burned?
But what very basic, key fact is missing? How about this: What is the NAME of this historic little church? Isn't that a rather crucial detail?
Finally, more than half way into the report, there is this:
Jay Vogt, director of the state historical society, said the loss of any historic landmark is devastating for a community. How St. Basil’s Church was lost made it that much more disheartening. ...
The St. Basil’s Church was built in 1917. Its six miles west of Ridgeview in Dewey County. Although the church doesn’t maintain regular services; wedding, funeral and an annual Memorial Day Mass still takes place.
OK, so this is St. Basil's Church. That's a name that -- in terms of church tradition -- has some very deep and complex roots.
That's why M.Z., in her original note on this strange little piece, asked another basic question: Why haven't the journalists who produced this story included the full name of this particular church? What KIND of church is it? Orthodox? Catholic? Eastern-Rite Catholic? What? Isn't that rather basic information?
Now with a few clicks of a mouse, one can find out that -- apparently -- this is a Catholic parish. Why not say so? Yet it also seems that this building has another name -- the Mossman Church. So do multiple rural congregations use the same sanctuary?
One more time: Isn't the name of the church that was burned down a rather basic fact to include early and, later, ultra-clearly in a hard-news report?