I am breathing easy.  Just this morning I submitted my term paper.  It’s on mission and the prison theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I’m glad it’s finished, but it has opened up more questions.  Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on a world come of age and the need now for a ‘nonreligious interpretation’ of Christianity holds hope for the church in reaching out to a technologically oriented urban world that has less and less need for ‘religion’.  Perhaps more on this later.

Steady rain is coming down, its sound soothing on the roof.  I am sitting in a cottage next door to Gail’s folks here in Elk County.  Population:  2,882.  It’s in southeast Kansas, near the Missouri and Oklahoma state lines.  Tulsa’s a little over an hour away, Wichita likewise.  Lots of land, really some beautiful hills.  But sparsely peopled.  Yet there’s an urban quality here.   A lot of people here exist forgotten, on the margins of society.

Poverty, drugs, undereducated, underchallenged.  Many families in Elk County are existing in a way of life similar to life in inner cities.

Gail’s mother, Irma, just retired from teaching at the school five minutes down the highway, in Longton.  She tells us of her students and the stories of their lives.  If I didn’t hear Irma, I would have no idea of what goes on here.

So, what is ‘urban’?  Minneapolis, Detroit, St Louis.  For some reason it seems to be here in rural Kansas, too.