Tuesday, April 25, 2006

If you are bored and find your life meaningless...

...then this post will likely not help at all. But it will tell you how other people find meaning. Or at least where they find meaning. Valparaiso has a great data set of religious denomination by county---under a class titled "American Ethnic Geography"---that pretty much confirms what everyone knows, but does it in pretty colors. Baptists are in the South, Lutherans make up a little patch in the middle-North, and Mormons dominate Utah and, um, whatever state is above it. Idaho maybe. Catholics are pretty much everywhere else. A good discussion of some of the details is given at Regions of Mind. Nebraska has an especially interesting history, being divided by its German heritage into strong Lutheran and Catholic segments.

My Antonia by Willa Cather springs to mind as a great description of the cultural incomprehension of immigrants, exposed on the Great Plains to fellow expatriates from the Old Country but of different denominations, who realize the odometer of hate and love has been reset. They can choose to share across a gap that three-hundred years of madness back home had made unbridgeable. My family first settled from Germany in Nebraska; in Kansas City, Missouri, where I was born, there was no area where Catholics had a majority district. (In contrast to French-y St. Louis.) Moving to New Mexico for my parents must have been like a German Catholic visiting Spain.

Note the single county in Nebraska that is majority Baptist: that's because there's only one church, and it's Baptist. The most Catholic state is probably New Mexico. The least religious state appears to be Oregon, if I understand the addendum to the Regions of Mind post. There are a few counties where Mennonites or Reformed or whatnots rule. I don't think there are any majority Jewish counties.

Anyhoo: interesting.


Blogger Justin Cox said...

This map should forever prove my assertion that Missourah is, in fact, a Southern state.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Sean Strasburg said...

except for Catholic St. Louis--that's more like the Ile de France. except midwest.

11:24 AM  

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