Thank God for Satellite Radio: A Jimmy Mac Travelogue

(This is Jimmy Mac)

As we all know, once one gets about 50 miles from a major metropolitan area, radio rapidly descends into the bowels of political insanity, theological inanity and musical vapidity.

Ergo –

Thank God for satellite radio!

I am amazed at the extent of road repair in the Western half of the US.  Not so much interstate roads, but local state roads.  Wyoming and Montana must have powerful friends in high governmental places (does “Shoot ‘em up” Cheney still wield power in Foggy Bottoms?) because they are undertaking massive repaving/rebuilding of state roads which, to the eyes of an urban-based and driving Californian, already look pretty good to me!  Denver is awash is street, bridge and viaduct repairs.

WalMart is ubiquitous.  Even Othello, WA, population 6,900, has a large one!  There is no hope.

Even in the most outbackish places in remote parts of Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota and Montana, when you visit a café/diner/whatever that is surrounded by dirty obviously working pickup trucks, you find many cowboyish and farmerish types —- text-messaging on iPhones!  There is no hope #2.

Speaking of pickup trucks, are there ANY that are smaller than a battleship?  One just doesn’t see them on the roads anymore.

One thing about the plains states, there are miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.

This is truly a beautiful country!  The scenery (not referring to national parks in this case) is breathtaking, unspoiled, healthy-looking and remote as all blazes.  Why some people live that far from “civilization” is beyond me.  But they obviously know and appreciate something that this city boy doesn’t know and appreciate.

With the kind of local radio to which local denizens are subjected, it is no wonder that there are huge swathes of the country that are politically backward, religiously depraved and foster dependence on firearms and remoteness.

Thank God for satellite radio!

There is a direct correlation to buildings with large displays of the (KJV version, of course) Decalogue and “Impeach Obama” signs.  That word would, of course, be unfamiliar to them, so there are big letters that let you know, in case you don’t, that you are looking at the 10 Commandments.

In case you are not familiar with the arcane language of the KJV, here ‘tis (Deuteronomy chapter 5):

I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

Neither shalt thou steal.

Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

(I was surprised at the last one – but didn’t let my hope run wild about reference to “manservant.”)

Thank God for satellite radio!

MSNBC and, to a lesser degree, CNN are obsessive about the minutiae of the news of the moment and beat it to death!  Hour after hour after hour after ….

Rural Catholicism is a mixed bag:

  • Gregory County South Dakota (as of the 2010 census, the population was 4,271 in a total area of 1,053 square miles) has 4 Catholic churches – all served by one priest — who is from Uganda!  I met him and I asked him how he happened to chose moving to this remote location of the country.  He didn’t:  his bishop called him and told him to pack his bags.  There is one other Ugandan priest in South Dakota.  Now THAT’S what I call lonely.  We went to Wednesday 4:00 mass at St. Anthony’s in Fairfax, SD (on a good day whenever everyone is around, the population is about 100, 2 of which are 3rd cousins of mine) which was held in a 1970s building and at which 8 were in attendance (we significantly increased the attendance for that day).  Normally there is a mass on alternative Sundays; the other Sunday it is held in Bonesteel, SD (population 275).  St. Anthony’s has a parish membership of about 40.
  • St. John the Baptist in Clancy, MT (population 1,406) is a satellite church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius of East Helena, MT and seats 90.  The Sunday we attended the 6 pm mass, it was almost a full house.  I was impressed by (1) the number of young families, (2) the degree of participation, (3) the good selection of music, and (4)  the rather enthusiastic singing by the majority in attendance.
  • St. Rose in Cuba City, WI (population 2,156) is the parish in which I was raised.  The 10 AM Sunday mass saw bodies in about 50% of the seats.  There are also masses on Saturday at 5 PM and Sunday at 8:30 AM.  The liturgy was pedestrian, the music lackluster and the homily way too long.  The presider was vested ONLY in an alb and stole and he shouted everything he said.  I’m not much on liturgical frou frou, but this was basic black without the pearls!
  • Blessed Sacrament Church in Rapid City, SD (, a diocesan seat and the second largest city in SD, has a population of 67,956 as of the 2010 census.  There are  3 Sunday masses – 7, 9 and 11 – and we peeked in on the 11 AM.  If the attendance demographics are any indication (and I hope they are not!),  the parish will be unpopulated in about 25 years.  So many white faces and so much white hair.  “Diversity” hasn’t seemed to have found its way to BS church.
  • Then there is the parish of Pope John Paul II in Bigfork, MT.  (  The population was 1,421 as of 2000.  Their website says that the name has been changed to Blessed JPII parish, but the sign out front hasn’t changed.  The building is quite striking on the outside, but the inside was disappointing.  Then, too, the name gave me cause to pause and be concerned.  As I ran through their website, I noticed that their Cry Room doubles as a Reconciliation Room – hopefully not at the same time (but, then, maybe so.)

In each of the first 3 parishes we happened to get the into to the new liturgical language.  In general there was a lot of apologizing, saying that the mass REALLY isn’t changing, etc.  In Clancy the speaker even went to go so far as to answer his own question:  Why are these changes happening?  Because JPII and BXVI want them.

In closing, may I say:  thank God for satellite radio!

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Thank God for Satellite Radio: A Jimmy Mac Travelogue

  1. Todd says:

    Just so y’all know, these aren’t Jim’s pictures. I found them on the internet. And he never showed up in Ames, but I forgive him for that. I invite the conservatives online, but they decline to visit, too.

  2. Bill Logan says:

    Jimmy, thanks for this engaging commentary! I’d like to do a road trip to see more of this beautiful country. I did live for a time in Salt Lake City so I saw some of the country around there.

    An alternative to satellite radio is listening to podcasts. The BBC has some wonderful podcasts that I’ve downloaded to my iPhone and listen to while commuting. I HIGHLY recommend the “In Our Time” program hosted by Melvyn Bragg. He discusses a topic with three guests (usually British academics) to give an intelligent overview of it. The show’s complete archives are now available on iTunes.

    Interesting that you mentioned Othello, WA. The Catholic church there is pastored by Kevin Codd, the former rector of the (now-closed) American College in Leuven, Belgium. He wrote a wonderfully insightful and sensitive book, “To the Field of Stars,” about his first experience as a pilgrim walking the camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I highly recommend the book.

    • Jimmy Mac says:


      I was in Othello at a now-defunct BMEWS radar site from 1963-1965. At that time the Catholic church only had a basement and that is where we went to mass. It obviously has changed quite a lot. So has Othello (I couldn’t recognize anything!). The hispanic population now dominates where it was once a small (about 2,000) Anglo farm town with a few hispanic field workers who never seemed to show up in town.

      Also, one textual correction:

      “get the into to the new liturgical language” – “into” should be “intro.”

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