They've been a-blowin' at me all day, as I sit here enjoying the beach at Lake Michigan on a beautiful, if windy, late summer afternoon. We've been hanging out here all week, somewhere in the vicinity of Holland, Michigan, but tomorrow we head on home. The kids will be back in school in a week, and then Ohio University will start its fall term the week after that. I'll be teaching philosophy of science and ancient Greek philosophy--a great combination of fantasy and reality.
In Holland there are more Reformed churches than you can burn a stake at, but as far as I could tell there was only one Catholic Church, which I wasn't able to find (it did not appear to be visible at the address where Mapquest said it would be, but maybe they have to keep a particularly low profile in these parts). The tourist dollars appear to keep the area well funded in terms of public monies: there is beautiful sodded grass in every lawn, the sidewalks are clean and tidy, the buildings are all well-kept, and everywhere you look there are happy smiling faces. Living here during the off season might be just a little bit like living in River City in 1912, except for the whole reformedness of the place. Lots of Dutch names everywhere, too, and I'm not sure I'd be very comfortable living in a place where I had to pronounce lots of "oe" and "eevvff" combinations. It's also rather difficult to get over the feeling that one is rather insulated in places like this. Back in Athens there are reminders everywhere that Appalachia is not an economically thriving area, and there are many opportunities to get involved with helping people out. I'm sure that there are plenty of similar opportunities here, but there's this nagging feeling that much of the information about such opportunities gets swept under the rug or at least put into the back broom closet during the tourist season, and for some reason I find that a little disquieting.
Which is particularly weird in this particular place. These people are all Calvinists, after all, and who's more prone to dismality than Calvinists? When on vacation it can be easy to forget that things are not all that great in many parts of the world, that people are suffering while you're sitting in the sand watching your daughter play on a boogie board. So what's with all the white-washed anti-Calvinism of this place very Calvinist locale? Maybe this is what happens when money trumps religion.