Life events have brought me into increasing contact with Central Pennsylvania, a vast tract of mountainous, rolling farmland stretching between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. I think it was James Carville who derided Pennsylvania as those two cities “and Alabama without Blacks in between.”
For instance, recently I attended a Mennonite church service. Mennonites are a pacifistic but extremely conservative religious sect, similar to the Amish but not as rejecting of technology like cars. On the day I went to service, I was surprised to see that men and women sat on separate sides of the church. I certainly stuck out, despite my attempts to dress conservatively. The men looked very uniform in appearance — and very ethnically German, to my eye.
You would think that if any group could resist the messages of modern America, it would be the Mennonites. Yet I was surprised to hear, during a portion of the service that included comment from the men’s section, that the Mennonites were keen to compare themselves to the Jews: as suffering outsiders. The leader (he occupied the pulpit but was not quite a preacher) did a little math, comparing the (supposed) six million Jews who died in World War II to the number of Mennonites who’d been killed for their beliefs. What he meant to show was that the Jews suffered much more than the Mennonites, and that we should bow our heads to that.
* A late twenty-something white woman who, despite living in a fairly rural area, casually dismisses the idea of having children as “like having dogs”, i.e., not a big deal, you’re either a dog person or you’re not, etc. Despite being smart and cute (and with a boyfriend), she declares she’s not interested in having children.
* A campaign worker for an aspiring Republican who tells me that she works on “coalitions… reaching out to Hispanics and women.”
Christopher Donovan (email him) is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist.