Ozarks

Grand unified theory in Acela zone: Selfish Jesusland yokels just don't know what's good for them

Grand unified theory in Acela zone: Selfish Jesusland yokels just don't know what's good for them

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, a few newsroom managers sent reporters into the backward lands between America’s coastal super-cities in an attempt to understand what was bugging the yokels in flyover country.

Every now and then one of the big newspapers runs another National Geographic-style feature of this kind — since the odds are good that Jesusland voters will reject the 2020 candidate chosen by the Democratic National Committee and the Acela Zone chattering classes. It’s important to know what the great unwashed multitudes are thinking, since that’s an important source of material for late-night comics.

From a GetReligion point of view, these pieces almost always yield edgy examples of how many journalists see little or no difference between “political” beliefs and convictions that are rooted in ancient or modern forms of religious faith. Repeat after me: All things “political” are real. “Religion” is sort of real, or it is real to the degree that it affects “real” life, as in politics or economics.

This brings me a perfect example of this equation, a New York Times opinion essay by Monica Potts, who is currently doing research for a book about low-income women in Arkansas. This piece zoomed into the weekend must-read lists in many progressive corners of cyberspace. Here’s the double-decker headline:

In the Land of Self-Defeat

What a fight over the local library in my hometown in rural Arkansas taught me about my neighbors’ go-it-alone mythology — and Donald Trump’s unbeatable appeal.

As a rule, your GetReligionistas do not critique opinion pieces of this kind. So why mention this one?

To make a long story short, I could not resist noting a specific passage in this essay that serves as a kind of grand unified theory of how many journalists view the American heartland and the truly despicable — or at the very least lost and sad — people who live out there.

This long essay includes next to nothing, when it comes to reporting and writing about religion.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Jim Bakker plus real estate plus the apocalypse plus zero new reporting equals WHAT?

Jim Bakker plus real estate plus the apocalypse plus zero new reporting equals WHAT?

Jim Bakker likes to build things.

In the old days be built really big things and news consumers with a long attention span will remember how that turned out. Click here for a recent news update.

Today he's building smaller things -- like Ozark cabins for the post-apocalyptic age. Buyers will need lots of Bakker approved religious-home furnishings, of course.

As you would imagine, there are people who want to write about that. The question is whether, in a social-media and Internet journalism age, WRITING about this topic actually requires journalists at a major newspaper in the Midwest to do any new REPORTING, other than with an Internet search engine.

Here's the Kansas City Star headline: "Televangelist Jim Bakker calls his Missouri cabins the safest spot for the Apocalypse." Read this story and count the online and streaming info sources. I'll start you off with the overture:

Televangelist Jim Bakker suggests that if you want to survive the end of days, the best thing you could do is buy one of his cabins in Missouri's Ozark Mountains. And while you're at it, be sure to pick up six 28-ounce "Extreme Survival Warfare" water bottles for $150.

Bakker, 78, made comments promoting his Morningside church community alongside his co-host and wife, Lori, on an episode of "The Jim Bakker Show," which aired Tuesday. The show is filmed there, near Branson.

Then there's a short flashback to the PTL Club days in Charlotte, with no attribution necessary. That's followed by a temptress Jessica Hahn update, care of reporting by The Charlotte Observer a few months ago. Then a bit more history, with no attribution.

Then we're back to information gained by watching the new Bakker show from Branson.

But wait. Read this next part carefully.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

New York Times looks into Eureka Springs, the gay-friendliest Arkansas town

New York Times looks into Eureka Springs, the gay-friendliest Arkansas town

Before I get to that New York Times piece on gay tourism in the Ozarks, let me share a bit of first-person experience in that fascinating region.

About 18 months ago, my daughter and I visited Eureka Springs in northwest Arkansas. I felt like I’d been transported back into the 1960s as there were all manner of funky stores selling books, jewelry and other paraphernalia straight out of the hippie era. One walks down narrow winding streets past fountains and springs (it was quite the place to take the waters back in the 1880s) to stay at a historic hotel that has old-fashioned door keys the size of your wallet.

We didn’t have enough time to see the town’s famed Great Passion Play, overseen by a gigantic statue of Christ, but the chatter I heard at our B&B was that its future was in some danger. This is not an international phenomenon like the decennial Passion Play in Oberammergau, so the audience is limited for such spectacles. Churches and Christian youth groups used to getting entertainment off Netflix aren’t exactly racing to go to an outdoor theater to see a story they already know.

But the town itself was such a delight with stone Victorian houses out of "Arsenic and Old Lace," museums and tons of cool hikes through the canyon the city is located in. Plus, there's the beautiful Thorncrown Chapel just west of the city. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to see that the Springs was trying other avenues to get people to visit. The Los Angeles Times just reported that one market was gay travelers. In this sort-of Bible Belt territory, not everyone is happy about that.

Please respect our Commenting Policy