I only drive through Indiana…

indiana_with_torch_star_logo.svgChicago to anywhere east leads through Indiana. And because I’m always on my way to anywhere else, I’ve never given Indiana much thought. Its state motto isn’t much different it turns out: The Crossroads of America; so I don’t feel bad.

Driving east from Indianapolis and winding through the backwoods toward southwest Ohio there is a little place that slows you down. Right there in the middle of nowhere is a sign for a church with a name I never forgot.

The Fourth Church of the Defector

With a population of just 203 according to the road sign,
a number from long before the U.S. Census started to
officially ignore what folk’s around here call Harold’s Creek,
where Indiana State Road 44 crosses County Road 260E,
past Salem Road at the only hollow in the earth for miles,
with six dusty, empty stores too close to the two-lane
and everyone blames Walmart for that, but the truth is
they’ve been vacant so long no one can really remember,
yet they know who to blame so they can sleep at night,
there’s no religion here with two abandoned churches,
one was a Methodist clapboard and looks so Americana,
the other a brick Presbyterian looking so Presbyterian,
and they sit on opposite corners of the four-way stop
now ignored as obviously as these churches once were,
but it’s easy to imagine the booming voices of preachers
out-sermonizing one another through open windows
on steamy mornings while their faithful flocks nodded off,
and there’s a big, old sign with an arrow pointing nowhere
to The Fourth Church of the Defector, founded in 1892,
a church started when no other church could be right,
and it took at least four iterations to get this one right,
which makes one wonder, how bad could it have been,
back in 1892 that is, but then you recall a bit of wisdom,
that when there’s nothing to fight about people give up,
and sometimes they just give up anyway, like here
at Harold’s Creek near State Road 44 and County 260E.

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