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Overshadowed and Choked Out

July 13, 2009 | 1 Comment

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I notice you only occasionally mention Methodists on your show. I suppose it's possible that the Methodist Circuit Riders left Lake Wobegon to the Unitarian missionaries to the Ojibwa, but it's unlikely. In the small town in southern Wisconsin that I'm from, they needed Methodists to conduct funerals. The Catholic priest conducted funerals only for persons active in the parish and the Lutheran pastor had the same policy so it fell to the Methodist pastor to do all the funerals for the "lapsed," "fallen" and unaffiliated of the community who died. I'm guessing that there might be a very busy Methodist pastor in Mist County, MN

Jon A.
Florence, MS


You might guess so, Jon, and you would be wrong. Methodism never took root in this town. Neither did Episcopalianism, Seventh-Day Adventism, spiritualism, ventriloquism, or Chisholm. Small towns generate intense social pressure and minorities tend to get overshadowed and choked out. The big city is more fertile for individuality, as you no doubt are aware. Religion in Lake Wobegon is tribal, and you're either Catholic, Lutheran, or (in our case) Sanctified Brethren. The Brethren survived there as a tiny minority because they are Separatists by nature and feel that isolation and ostracism are only proof positive that they're on the right track. Methodists are more sociable, and whatever Methodists we might have had crossed over to the Lutheran church for the company. As for funerals for the unbelievers, Pastor Ingqvist takes that onĀ  as a personal mission, and Father Wilmer is not so rigid about these things either.

1 Comment

This is so true! Small towns are really like that even here in NY State (If just said "NY" people would think I meant "The City" so NY State always has to have the last name of "State.")

Growing up Methodist till age 10 because that was all we had in our town, I switched to Lutheran along with many of the German and Norwegian people in my area when the Lutherans started their congregation in the next town. They met first in the American Legion Hall, then moved into their new building after it was built. The Methodist Church was surprised at how many left, but they survived.

Now I'm a Baptist but that's another story.

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