A Response From Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

We interrupt this blogfast for a public service announcement. Quite unexpectedly, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has responded to an earlier post regarding their support for a Chico abortion mill. Here’s the e-mail I received last Tuesday:


Mr. Culbreath,

I wanted to take the time to contact you regarding a recent blog post and your concern with our sponsorship of The Women’s Health Specialists.

Sierra Nevada supports many federally regulated non-profit organizations, and have a long history of charitable giving in our community. We assist hundreds of local and national organizations that make contributions to our community, many times (as in this example) with the donation of beer for an event.

Many organizations we support, The Women’s Health Specialists among them, provide free screening of breast and cervical cancer to women who might otherwise not receive the attention and care they need. Additionally, this organization provides adoption education, menopause services, fertility health services, and health services for men, as well as many other education services.

When choosing organizations to support, we try to focus on the larger picture when making donations to our community. The support we give goes to a myriad of needed services (not just one) that might not be available for our community if we had not supported them.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. concentrates its charitable giving on education, the environment, and the promotion of children’s and family issues. We strive toward responsible corporate citizenship and give back to our community in ways we feel benefit it.

I hope this addresses your concerns, and explains Sierra Nevada’s charitable contribution philosophy.


Sierra J. Grossman
Brand Manager

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
1075 East 20th St
, CA 95928
Tel: (530) 893-3520
Fax: (530) 893-1275


Dear Ms. Grossman,

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Clearly, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company cares about the community of Chico and would like to better the lives of its neighbors. I am especially pleased to learn that your company focuses on “the promotion of children’s and family issues”.

May I suggest that children are not particularly well-served by killing them? May I also suggest that families are not particularly well-served by eliminating their youngest members?

You claim that Sierra Nevada Brewing Company looks at the “big picture” when making donations. In this you seem to be saying that you don’t mind helping an organization kill babies so long as it also screens for breast and cervical cancer and does other good things for people. Clearly this is absurd.

Perhaps the directors of your company really haven’t given the abortion issue much thought. If that is truly the case, then you may want to help educate them on the matter. Here’s a good place to start. Here’s another. And here’s another.

No amount of good that is done by an abortion mill can justify your company’s moral or financial support. Anyone who needs cancer screening or other health services can find plenty of help in Chico. Even if they could not, these services are not worth taking the life of even one innocent unborn child.

I am confident in saying that the pro-life community in northern California and beyond – many of whom are hearty beer drinkers – will simply choose not to consume Sierra Nevada products until such a time as your company retracts its support for Women’s Health Specialists and similar organizations.


Jeff Culbreath
Orland, California


“In the multitude of words there shall not want sin: but he that refraineth his lips is most wise.” – Proverbs 10:19

“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.” – Matthew 12:36

It’s that time again, dear readers. Thank you for reading and commenting. I have written much on this blog – not all of it edifying, charitable, or reasonable. Too many words. I sincerely ask pardon from those I may have offended. If you are so inclined, your prayers for Mrs. Culbreath and the baby would be most welcome. I do expect to return but, as usual, am making no promises as to when. God bless you all.

The Great Chasm

The vast chasm between the modern world and the Catholic Faith is striking. There are three things which underpin Catholic culture but which the modern world finds intolerable:

1. Religious authority. Modern man likes to imagine himself a totally independent and autonomous being. What he calls his “conscience” is absolutely supreme, and if he is “spiritual”, he recognizes no religious authority higher than himself. “I’m spiritual, not religious”. “I don’t believe in organized religion.” Although he may go to church, he does so because he happens to agree with his church, not because his church has authority to teach him anything. And when he ceases to agree with his church, he simply takes up with another. (He treats marriage in much the same way.) Catholicism’s reliance upon the teaching authority instituted by Christ is therefore repugnant to him.

2. Absolute truth. The modern world is essentially relativist. It does not accept the idea of a thing being objectively true to the exclusion of other “truths” – especially when it comes to moral or spiritual things. It does not understand that an act can be morally good or evil in itself, without regard to circumstances. The Church’s absolute ban on contraception, for example, is hard for moderns to take. The same goes for divorce. What about this situation? And that? And the other one? Shouldn’t contraception then be justified? Isn’t divorce the lesser of evils?

I know of a young couple who have two children, each born with a fatal genetic disorder. If they have another child, it is likely that the next one will also have this same disease. What are they to do? They cannot divorce and find a better genetic match for themselves. They cannot practice contraception. The answer is nothing short of heroic virtue, a taking up of the Cross. They are called to stay married, no matter the hardships. They might be called to have more children with the same kinds of problems. Alternatively, they may be called – and this is what is really intolerable to moderns – to a lifetime of marital celibacy, or at least sexual restraint. There is no soft and comfortable answer. It is all the Cross … or so it seems to a world blind to the joys of obedience, ignorant of the freedom that comes only with living the Truth.

3. Miracles and supernaturalism. I’m not a Spirit Daily kind of Catholic, but there can be no doubt that the Catholic faith is both rational and mystical. The world sees a contradiction here. How can a religion which is so intractable in its insistence on earthly authority, and so relentlessly consistent in its theological and moral teaching, be the same religion that embraces miracles and signs and wonders which seem so … wild and personal and individualistic? Isn’t it afraid of the supernatural undermining the natural? Ah, but it is all of a piece! This dichotomy of the natural and the supernatural is rooted in a proper distinction, but the modern world takes it too far, compartmentalizing each, so that one may have nothing to do with the other. Yet the fact is that each depends upon the other. There would be no “nature” without the supernatural events that brought it into existence and keep it going. And there would be no miracles apart from the backdrop of nature.

Rather than being a threat to Catholic dogma, authentic mysticism is instead a threat to modern ideas of individualism and autonomy. If such things are real, then God might be real too – and much too close for comfort. As a Protestant, it was once explained to me that Protestants shy away from the Blessed Virgin Mary because she makes God too intimate. I had to admit this was true. If God could be as close to any human as He was (and is) to the Blessed Mother, then I had some explaining to do. Funny how Protestant immanentism results in a too-distant God, whereas Catholic transcendence results in the highest degree of personal intimacy with the divine. To the Protestant, God is certainly real and “close”, but He is thought of in strictly spiritual terms. He doesn’t reach out into our dirty, earthy, material world through miracles and merely human oracles.

Moderns, whose skepticism is rooted in the dichotomies of Protestantism, are therefore contemptuous and dismissive of things like the Holy House of Loreto, in which the original home of the Holy Family in Nazareth was transported by angels to the hills of the Italian countryside; the Miracle of Lanciano, a consecrated Host which has been bleeding for more than a thousand years; the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, in which the sun was observed to hurl towards the earth by more than 70,000 witnesses; the mystical stigmata of St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, and many others; Etc..

I don’t think there has ever been a time when the Church and the world were so fundamentally at odds about everything. The pagan world, though violently hostile in many ways, proved to be a fertile soil for Christianity. The ground had been prepared for receiving the Gospel. The modern world, by contrast, has rejected not only the Faith but the necessary underpinnings of Christian belief. It was a diabolical masterstroke. To paraphrase Dr. Peter Kreeft: Paganism was like a virgin, ripe for the Gospel. Modernity is like a divorcee, whose heart is hardened against her first love.

October in the flatlands

Here are some photos I took around the ranch this afternoon.

A view of the homestead from a corner of the fruit orchard.

This is our famous super-deluxe-custom-built-late-model-chickenhouse – the jewel of the west side, the pride of Orland, the envy of neighbors for miles around, and St. Isidore Ranch’s main attraction. Note the exterior doors for the nest boxes, so that eggs may be easily retrieved from outside. Note also the ventilation windows at the top. A low-maintenance automatic watering device can be seen to the right. There are twelve nest boxes inside, and sixteen feet of comfortable roosting rods. The spacious building measures 8X8, so it can double as a guest house if needed.

Looking west from the goat pasture towards the city of Orland.

This cinderblock building once functioned as a milking barn for a dairy operation. We converted it to a workshop and a home office, where I am sitting now.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Farmer Jonathan, Amy, and Angel our Great Pyrenee.

To my eyes, the most beautiful sight on this earth. Mrs. Culbreath is due any minute …

Latin Mass F.A.Q.

I’m working on a hymnal for our little TLM community, and in the front of the hymnal will be an F.A.Q. for newcomers. The F.A.Q. should be short and concise while covering the basic questions people are likely to have. Would you mind proofing this for me? Tell me if you think I’ve made any errors, missed something, or as I’m prone to do, included too much.


What is the Traditional Latin Mass?

The Traditional Latin Mass is the most ancient form of the Roman Rite approved for general use today. Although formally codified by the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the canon dates back to the time of St. Gregory the Great. Due to the great solemnity, reverence, and otherworldliness of this liturgy, it has often been called “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven”.

How is the Latin Mass Different?

The Traditional Latin Mass is not a Latin version of the Novus Ordo Missae. The prayers themselves are different. They tend to be theologically precise and spiritually effusive. The rubrics are also quite different. There are fewer options, and there is little room for innovation. The priest faces the altar, or “liturgical east”, in the direction of the risen Christ. There are long periods of silence in which to contemplate the mystery of divine love as revealed in the liturgy. There is more kneeling, genuflecting, bowing, and crossing, all of which are symbolically important and give the rite a pronounced God-ward orientation.

Do I Need to Know Latin?

No. The Traditional Latin Mass is for everyone. This is the same rite that formed countless numbers of holy men and women over the centuries, few of whom knew Latin, and many of whom were illiterate. The content, structure and form of the Mass may be learned and richly appreciated without any knowledge of Latin – although one can’t help picking up some Latin along the way.

Why is the Mass Celebrated in Latin?

Here’s what Blessed John XXIII – the Pope who convened the Second Vatican Council -wrote in his great Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia:

“Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.

Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin’s formal structure. Its ‘concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity’ makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression …

Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use …

Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”

How Should I Worship at the Latin Mass?

If you are new to the Latin Mass, you should use a missal with an English translation alongside the Latin. These missals are available at the entrance of the church. Larger missals, with the propers for each day and rubrics for other celebrations, are available for purchase in various places. Ask a fellow worshiper after Mass where you might obtain one of these.

As you follow along with the priest, don’t be too concerned about falling behind or losing your place. The contents of these ancient prayers are rich with meaning: one does well to linger on the words for a time. In this way your soul will be drawn toward communion with Jesus Christ and, if you are well prepared, the reception of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the altar rail. At certain times – such as the Sanctus, the Credo, the elevations, the Agnus Dei – you will be reminded to “catch up” with the liturgy in order to participate fully.

In some churches, the altar servers normally say the responses alone. In other places the congregation joins with the altar servers in responding to the priest – sometimes very quietly, and sometimes more audibly. It is best to follow the custom of your parish. If unsure, ask the celebrating priest what he prefers.

How Should I Dress?

Assisting at the Holy Sacrifice on Sunday is the most important thing you will do the entire week.

Acceptable attire varies from place to place, but in the United States the following norms apply:

For men, long pants and a collared shirt is the acceptable minimum, preferably with a coat and tie.

For women, any kind of modest feminine clothing is acceptable, while a long skirt or dress is to be preferred.

All should avoid loud, ostentatious, and immodest clothing. Skirts and dresses should cover the knees while sitting. Sleeves should cover the shoulders. Shorts, t-shirts, tank-tops, bare midriffs, low necklines, and revealing or tight-fitting clothes are always inappropriate.

What Are Chapel Veils?

Until very recently it was the universal custom of Catholic women to cover their heads whenever they found themselves in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. This requirement was even written into Canon Law, and is based upon the instructions of Saint Paul in Sacred Scripture. Veiling is an outward sign of submission to the Divine Order:

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, disgraceth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven. For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels.” (1 Cor 11:3-10)

Although the veiling requirement has been relaxed in recent years, the practice is still encouraged at the Latin Mass. Chapel veils may be borrowed at the entrance of the church for ladies who wish to recover this beautiful tradition.

Is Talking Allowed Before or After Mass?

At the Latin Mass, it is customary for worshipers to make their preparation and thanksgiving prayers in church where Christ is reserved in the Blessed Sacrament. Very often the rosary is said just before Mass commences. Talking in church before or after Mass makes it difficult for people to concentrate on their prayers. Even if no one else is in the church at the moment, silence should be observed so as not to discourage others who may enter at any time.

Are Children Welcome?

Absolutely! The traditional liturgy is a wonderful school of reverence and devotion for young children. A quiet, worshipful atmosphere is not inconsistent with a certain tolerance for childish noisemaking. Nevertheless, out of respect for others, parents should remove children who are crying or making excessive noise. At the same time we ask everyone to be kind and understanding towards those who are struggling with young ones.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company … and Abortion

This is sad news. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company produces excellent beer, much loved by traditional Catholics in California and beyond. Unfortunately we recently picked up some literature from Chico’s most notorious abortion provider: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is listed as a supporter. So long, Pale Ale! Sure, it’s been fun, but there must be other west coast microbrewers who don’t spend their profits on the destruction of human life.

Front Royal, Virginia

“Finally, I would like to say a few words about Front Royal, Virginia. Within a stretch of about a mile in Front Royal are located the campus of Christendom College, as well as the world headquarters of Seton Home Study School and Human Life International. There are many stories about the origin of the name Front Royal. It is believed that during the Revolutionary War, when captains were mustering their troops, they called the men to ‘Front the Royal Oak Tree’.

If we look carefully, however, there is another meaning for the term Front Royal. When a country is at war and the king has gone to battle, the area or ‘front’ where the king is located to lead his soldiers, that area is called the Royal Front or Front Royale. So we believe it is no coincidence that Seton, Christendom, and Human Life International, certainly in the forefront of the Catholic battle against the secular culture, are to be found at the Front Royale. Because we are engaged in a battle royal, with the Heavenly King of Kings at our side.

St. Peter tells us to be ready to give reasons for the hope that is in us. If you would like to see more reasons for hope, I invite you to come to the Front Royale and visit us. You will find it is worth your effort to visit the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and drive down the stretch of road where Jesus Christ is King.”

– Dr. Mary Kay Clark, President of Seton Home School 

Happy Columbus Day

A few items …

My dear friends, Sancta Sanctis is back! – one year to the day since her last post. Enbrethiliel has always been one of St. Blog’s most unique and endearing personalities. We have all missed her.

William Luse is waxing eloquent once more on the riddles of life. What can I say? The man can flat-out write. Don’t let the pop culture and political commentary fool you: persevere unto the very end, and great wilt be thy reward.

The Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary is now online. (Courtesy of the Cornell Society For a Good Time.)

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. on Morality and Columbus Day.

Hispanic Catholics to be enlisted in California’s fight for marriage.

The Orland Project, or Why I’m Not a Libertarian

Yesterday I attended, with my oldest son, an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Orland Irrigation Project. The Orland Project was the joint effort of local water associations and the United States government – a project which, quite literally, made civilization possible in this part of the state. The coordination of men, money, and resources for this task was a massive undertaking. As one of the speakers pointed out, if a project on this scale were proposed today “the moon would crash into the earth before the environmental permitting process was completed”.

The Orland Project would have been impossible without the help of the United States government. We can thank one of those federal agencies that is probably “not authorized under a strict interpretation of the Constitution”. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but if the Department of the Interior or the Bureau of Reclamation is not authorized by the Constitution, then I say we need to rewrite the Constitution. That is, presuming the United States has a future as a nation. Maybe it’s best in our day that we revert to the Articles of Confederation, in which case agencies of state and local governments can serve the same purpose – but that’s a different argument altogether.

The point is that libertarianism, aside from being totally unrealistic today, is a deeply flawed ideal. Government can accomplish much that is good beyond civil defense and enforcement of contracts. Taxation is not “legalized theft”. There’s nothing wrong, in principle, with government aid to the poor. There’s nothing wrong, in principle, with government regulation of trade and commerce. Etc. It is true that government today is much too big and overreaching, and has become in many cases a force of destruction and petty tyranny. I’m all for reducing the scope of government and returning to Catholic principles of subsidiarity. Ron Paul will get my vote because he’s the only candidate who is serious about moving in that direction. But still, it is hard to muster enthusiasm for a campaign that is essentially libertarian in principle.

Back to the Orland Project … as a refugee from the big city, I’m always impressed by what Orlanders are able to get away with. The political incorrectness is refreshing and totally without guile. By without guile, I mean that it isn’t a conscious ideological reaction against anything – it’s just the way things are. To give one example: all the speakers were men, and 95% of those in attendance were men. Except for the ladies who served the food. In the big city, the feminist bureaucrats in charge of orchestrating such an event would go to the ends of the earth to avoid such a naked display of patriarchy.

In 1906, a song was composed by John A. Apperson of Willows to inspire local settlers to petition the federal government. “Sign It Every Man” was re-printed in the books we received:

Come all ye Water Users from Old Shasta to the Bay –
All who wish to aid the country and make our farming pay;
Let’s band ourselves together and call on Uncle Sam
To help us build our ditches and a water-holding dam.
Now boys, let’s all take water, we will share a better fate
Than filling up on boo-zy rum and coming home so late;
We will flood this glorious country with water cold and pure;
Why then there’ll be no failures – the crops will all be sure.

Sign it, sign it, every man
Oh sign our big petition to send to Uncle Sam,
And he will give us water to put upon our land;
We’ll all be gay and happy when he grants our just demand!

Let’s be a band of brothers to boost our cause along –
And that’s why I stand before you to sing this urgent song
Invade the halls of Congress and urge law-making men,
Lay stress upon our story and tell them we’re from Glenn,
Where soil is rich and fertile, for we’re sure, it can’t be beat,
Where nature’s golden treasures are now laying at our feet,
And where fruits from every Nation grow thrifty in our land
We only need the water and labor’s sturdy hand.

Sign it, sign it, every man
Oh sign our big petition to send to Uncle Sam,
And he will give us water to put upon our land;
We’ll all be gay and happy when he grants our just demand!

Oh, come to dear old Orland, where doth the orange grow,
And where fields of fine alfalfa are ready for the mow
Where pretty girls and mothers plant flowers all year ’round
Where roses and verbenias can every day be found;
Wake up, kind Water Users, it is up to you for choice;
Work hard for irrigation, oh, hear our pleading voice!
Let us dam up creeks and rivers, for dams, forever pray –
We’ll have a flood of water on our lands some sweet old day.

Rural America and “fitting in”

When my grandparents moved to a nearby small town, they were told by a well-meaning neighbor that they would never be fully accepted. The neighbor was wrong. My grandfather was a very likable fellow and made many friends. My grandmother joined the Women’s Club and made friends of her own. It didn’t happen overnight, but they were good-hearted and patient. They helped their neighbors and tried to make themselves useful. Although they were never really part of the town’s “inner circle” of old-timers, they were accepted enough to be considered full members of the community.

This interesting article explores the dynamics of insiders and outsiders in rural America. The good news is that America’s small towns and rural districts need new blood. The small town “brain drain” is not a myth. The bad news is that, although they need you, they don’t need you as much as you think they do. And if you have an attitude about it, they may not want you at all:

“Most communities in rural areas have had no in-migration in a century. A few people from businesses and schools come and go, but the structure has stayed intact and usually declined in size. You can identify these areas when everybody is related to everybody else. A newcomer has to watch his mouth, as any comment about any citizen will get back to them from the relative to whom it was delivered. This stratification is hard to break without a large influx caused by a new industry or the town becoming a bedroom community or a retirement haven.

The easiest way to disturb the status quo in rural America is with aggressive behavior. This is not tolerated, even among insiders …

If we are aware of our tendencies, perhaps we can better deal with them. It is said that the old favor stability and the young favor change. Most rural towns need new business and industry to survive but the residents fear disruption of their lives. The new residents should be sensitive and respectful of those who were born and bred in a town, but the lifers should not expect them to defer on matters of importance. Once change is set in motion, it takes active participation to steer it to benefit all concerned.”

In general, I’ve found that most Orlanders are very friendly and tolerant of newcomers. The town, long depressed, is finally in something of growth phase, and the business class recognizes the economic need for new residents. Out in the country, new neighbors are valued simply because neighbors are scarce. But friendliness should not be mistaken for anything deeper than that. You’re still a stranger and will need to pay your dues before getting invited over for dinner.

I’ve also seen how “rocking the boat” has the potential to get a newcomer into trouble – whether coming from the left or the right. Orland is milquetoast central. That is an endearing quality in many respects and one of the reasons we like it here. But part of the milquetoast personality is a rather uncritical acceptance of what currently passes for American values. When I complained to the Glenn County Office of Education for inviting a wicked east-side abortion provider to one of their events, the reply was that they “can’t discriminate” against any group based on “personal beliefs”. At a meeting of a local civic organization, it was suggested that some literature might not be acceptable for display in the conference room. This idea was rebuffed with an appeal to “freedom of speech” because “this is America” where we “don’t believe in censorship”. These comments come from decent, solid, respectable people in the community. (These same people, I am sure, would draw a line in the sand before Orland turned into Haight-Ashbury.) But the price of this respectability is upholding in principle whatever values are currently mainstream.

Back to the topic at hand … for your edification I will repost my “How To Move To a Small Town” rules from the old blog:


… drive 15 mph over the speed limit just because there aren’t any cars around. In small towns where crime rates are low, lawmen have more time on their hands and don’t mind issuing speeding tickets all day.

… be frightened by the “BACK OFF, CITY BOY” decals on the rear windows of pickup trucks. (Unless, of course, you are a chronic tailgater who can’t read.)

… assume your new home is Mayberry, USA. Just because everyone knows everyone else doesn’t mean everyone likes everyone else: be very careful when name-dropping.

… let your new neighbors suck you into a local clique too fast. Keep your distance from feuds you know nothing about.

… expect your neighbors to roll out the red carpet for you. You are the foreigner, the stranger, the uninvited guest. Be humble and grateful, and a few of your neighbors might just take a liking to you.

… expect to make friends quickly. Unlike city people who tend to be rootless and highly mobile (and thereby more open to new acquaintances), your small-town neighbors have plenty of friends already – friends they’ve known from childhood.

… get involved in local politics until you’ve lived there for at least five years (preferably ten).

… expect much in the way of privacy. A house in a suburban Sacramento cul-de-sac is more private than a farmhouse on a few acres outside of town.

… obsess over your “place” in the town. Whatever it is will be made known to you in due time.

… worry too much about those strange folks whose yards are full of barking dogs, junk cars, and broken-down farm equipment. Not everyone is cut out to be a Martha Stewart clone. Chances are they’re good but eccentric neighbors whom you just might need someday.


… patronize local businesses whenever possible. One easy way to become “accepted” in town is to become a good customer.

… bring your neighbors cookies and gifts on holidays and feasts – especially if they are Catholic.

… wave at strangers, especially when driving down the road you live on. A polite assumption of familiarity often results in actual familiarity.

… be interested in your neighbors. Not nosy, but genuinely interested. Introduce yourself, ask questions, listen, and learn. People like people who are interested in them.

… realize that social class is important in a small town. If you are an educated person who listens to classical music and reads high-falutin’ magazines, the working class people can smell it on you before you so much as open your mouth. There are exceptions, but most won’t get too close. You make them nervous, even when you’re bending over backwards to be friendly.

… realize that there is nothing wrong with social class. You can love your neighbors and be plenty neighborly without sharing their beans and barbeque.

… keep your “emotional distance” for a few years. Small towns are hard to know, and a bad small town can really sting you.

… stick around for the reward. Once you’ve graduated from small-town bootcamp (and it can be brutal), you’ll have something that few people these days now enjoy: a real home.