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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, February 12 2002

Significance

Yesterday's topic "Is this anything?" provides an entree to discuss significance in our lives. I've wondered for years if there's something about Greater Johnstown that sets it apart, making us "self-conscious" about the area and feel a greater-than-average sense of rootedness in the place. Part of me thinks that people from all places like to think their starting place is "God's country." I've known both Texans and Michiganders who can be downright obnoxious about their states.

But their pride of place is not the same kind of association to the place I feel is commonly found among Greater Johnstowners or perhaps, more generally, Western Pennsylvanians in the influence-hub of Pittsburgh but outside of that city per se. I think some of the chroniclers of the Johnstown Flood were observing this phenomenon when more than one of them reflected along the lines, "it's rather curious that they seem to be proud of having had such a world-class catastrophe visit them." It's not pride, so much, I think, as the fulfillment of a long need to be noticed. "We're here in a great beauty spot that's productive and marked by great accomplishments that go unnoticed by the world outside."

I think this phenomenon may be the key to the success of the Nanty Glo Home Page. When I mention to people I meet here in California that I spend most of my free time working on a home page for my hometown in Pennsylvania it seems to strike them as incredible. Why would anyone do such a thing, especially if there's no money in it? But to the thousands of visitors to the page and the hundreds who've helped make it what it is, people who share my love of the place and the times associated with it, it seems entirely natural and not the least surprising.

In contrast, and supporting my theory that there's something "special" about our area's sense of place is my experience with the Nantyglo-Blaina, Wales, page. When I started it two years ago I had lots of experience in web pages, making it possible to launch it with a bang. Every week I get a list of all the "hits" that have been recorded on our site search engine. Almost invariably, there's a fair representative of searches for places and people associated with the Wales Nantyglo Home Page (not as many of for our page, but a sizeable representation).

Yet, in the two years since its launch with bells and whistles that were a generation more advanced than the ones on the Pennsylvania page on its launch, it has generated fewer than 20 letters from people waxing nostalgic or wanting to share their earlier years in that historic and also beautiful valley of the world (less than a tenth of the letters generated in the same time span by the Pennsylvania page). And I feel sure that most of the people who do visit the Wales page have no inkling the page is maintained by an American halfway around the world and with no roots of his own there. It doesn't matter. It's just that they don't have the same rootedness to their place that we have to ours.

It's no judgment on either of our factions...it's not any "accomplishment" on our part to have this love for our home countryside. It's just a fact of our lives.

Let's think more about this. What have you noticed along these lines?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Going for the long shot

A golfer stood over his tee shot for the longest time, looking up, looking down, figuring the wind direction and speed. This of course was driving his golfing friends crazy. "Hurry up and hit the damn ball already!" The meticulous golfer says, "My wife is watching me from the clubhouse, so I want this to be a perfect shot."

"Impossible! You'll never hit her from here!"

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the Day

We need to learn that truth consists not in correct doctrine, but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. We must declare again the mystery of wisdom from above. A re-preachment of this vital truth could result in a fresh breath from God upon a stale and suffocating orthodoxy.

— A. W. Tozer
Sent by Jim Martin

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