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Get Sauk Centre Centered

February 25, 2009 | 10 Comments

Post to the Host:
Hello, Mr. Keillor. I'm the pastor of First Lutheran Church in Sauk Centre. I just started reading your latest novel, Liberty, and discovered that on page 17, the name of our fair town is mentioned, but it is misspelled as Sauk Center. I don't know how many other Mainstreeters are fans, or how upset they will be when they see the mistake, or what they might do if they are upset. Maybe a correction could be made in future printings, or when the book comes out in paperback.

Kevin W. Born
Sauk Centre


It's good to hear from you, Pastor Born, and I'm glad you brought this up. I really am. I've been meaning to organize a campaign to Get Sauk Centre Centered and what with other things I haven't done it but now I am. In Minnesota, as you know, we have Le Center and we have Dodge Center, and those two fine towns serve as a reminder to our young people that we are in the U.S. of A. and not in the English Midlands or in Normandy. What possessed the founders of your town to give it that spelling, I think we can guess — it's the same impulse that drives someone to take an ordinary gift shop and call it Ye Olde Curiosities Shoppe, the urge to set oneself apart and a little above the hoi polloi, but as a Lutheran, aren't you supposed to stand up for humility and the simple rules of American spelling? I realize there were French people in your area at one time but they've left now and can't we get over it? Do people in S.C. want us to pronounce the name SOWK — SAHN-TRE? How would you feel if, in Minneapolis, they decided to take Central Avenue and turn it into Le Boulevard de Centrale? I hope you wouldn't go along with that. I love your town. I have stayed at the Palmer House, an excellent hotel, and admired the fabulous facade and marquee of the Main Street Theater (or is it Theatre), and of course I have especially admired the way in which the town took its renegade native son Sinclair Lewis, who enjoyed an unhappy childhood there and who punished the town for all he was worth in his 1920 novel Main Street, and after his death has made him into a civic asset and a tourist attraction. That is true entrepreneurship.

And while I'm on the subject, what's with First Lutheran Church? That strikes me as rather unLutheran, to claim preeminence among Lutheran churches in the area. It seems to me that true Lutherans would take the name Sixth Lutheran Church, even if there weren't five others, as a sign of humility. Let's talk.


Mr. Keillor;
You don't need to be in the English Midlands or Normandy to spell 'centre' this way. We Canadians spell many words differently to you Americans. Some of the more common ones are 'Honour', 'Colour' and 'Centre'. Yes, we exist in the shadow of, and are greatly influenced by, the good old U. S. of A. Some might say that we are culturally and economically dominated by you. But we still cleave to many aspects of our ties to England and the British Empire. Queen Elizabeth II is still, technically, our ceremonial Monarch and head of state
I have never been able to use the spell check features on my typewriter or computor for decades now because they all use American spellings only.
And it seems that there is another new 'Americanism' we need to deal with. 'Entreneurship' is a new one on me. When was that one invented ? I believe it originates from the French verb ' prendre', to take. An 'entrepreneur' is someone who undertakes control of an enterprise or organization. When you remove the 'taking' aspect of the word, is the meaning now quite a different one ?

Mr. Keillor:

I must say that I was surprised and more than a little disappointed to read your response to Pastor Born's email. Mr. Born wrote to tactfully and politely point out a mistake that had been made, and then had both his patriotism and religion mocked. If you were aiming for humour (there's another "un-American" spelling for you) you missed the mark by a wide margin. If you were indeed serious, you need to consider more carefully how you make your political (and orthographic) points.

Jeff Conquest

The central criticism of spelling reform is that written language is not a purely phonetic analogue of the spoken form. -Wikipedia

Sir,much of classic literature and punning is lost to the American spelling "reforms". We are unimpressed by your argument and refuse to join your great unwashed.

Better to have accepted correction.
Death before dishonour.

I don't know about the rest of these commenters, but as a Lutheran PK from rural Minnesota, I just loved this and have sent it to all my friends. I especially enjoyed the part about the Sixth Lutheran Church.

I meet people who don't understand satire every day but I never expected to meet them in the comments section of Post to the Host--PHC! I laughed until my side hurt when I read GK's response to Pastor Born.

As a member of the clergy, I thought GK's response to Pastor B was delightfully funny. If I had made a similar observation to Mr. K., I could only hope he would respond in such a way!

Oh Good Heaven's!!!Conjure up a sense of humoOUR!!!It's all in good fun.Regular listeners of GK's should have an inkling of his wit. Roll with it and chuckle, perhaps even laugh uproariously!!!


Thought GK's response was hilarious. S-A-T-I-R-E folks! 6th Lutheran Church was so clever! I bet Pastor Born thought it was funny too.

I think it is the First Lutheran,which was the first to be erected in town, as so not to be confused with the following Lutheran churches in town.

It seems to me that true Lutherans would take the name Christ the King Lutheran Church or Redeemer Lutheran Church or Resurrection Lutheran Church, as a sign they are not fundamentalist Baptists who tend toward names like Blessed Hope Baptist Church or Harmony Grove Baptist Church, even when there isn't very much harmony in the grove.

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