Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Living in a rural area is rather different from living in the city, and not just for the obvious reasons. There is much less traffic, pollution, hustle and bustle, and people. There are many more acres of green, in the form of fields and trees. Life feels much less stressed here.

As well as these obvious things, there are more subtle differences. I have been reminded a number of times in church meetings, after I have made a suggestion or remarks about church structures, that we are in a rural area. Things are done differently here, and the normal rules of the church do not always apply.

I find this an interesting condundrum. What makes rural people above or below following the rules? Why is there an exception to the rules lurking in every church committee? Why is this considered normal?

This studied avoidance of refusing to understand what is required by the church seems to spill over into other areas. For example, many people I have heard talking in public places are all experts on climate change, and know that it doesn't exist. Have they studied the science, I ask?
And the poor greenies are to blame for many things, from lowering herd numbers to causing floods and fires because they made someone do something somewhere that has led to the catastrophe. They are the favourite community scapegoat. I still scratch my head about this.

And the local independent member for Port Macquarie can't be trusted as there is a National TV ad that says he votes with Labor. The poor man states (correctly) in vain that in over 89% of bills before the State parliament, he has voted with the Coalition. Yet the TV ad must be right (musn't it?), especially as it shows him with the Independent Federal member, who we all know didn't support the coalition because he secretly wanted to side with Labor policies.

Once upon a time, ignorance of rules and poor communication means might have been the reason for not knowing. But with TV, newspapers, radio and the internet all available at least in this rural area, not knowing is no longer an option. Perhaps the answer is one that Jane Austen suggested in Mansfield Park, where the 'sturdy independence' of the rural folk in one scene meant that they could not bought with any amount of money to move a harp in a cart during the harvest.

Nonconformity for a reason can certainly be a good thing. But nonconformity for the sake of nonconfomity is not really helpful and can be dangerous. Should this really be encouraged?


  1. Well said, but I don't think it's peculiar to the rural church. 'The way we do things around here' - the priorities we claim, the particular relationships we construe as significant, the version of 'tradition' to which we subscribe - seems to be one of the greatest obstacles to a future-focused, spirited 'pilgrim people'.

  2. I absolutely agree with you about the church generally, especially about the need to cling to tradition. I guess I was talking about the whole rural community, not just the church community.