Social drinking, Wednesday night youth sports and Southern churches' waning influence

Social drinking, Wednesday night youth sports and Southern churches' waning influence

Not everybody drives a truck. Not everybody drinks sweet tea. Not everybody owns a gun, wears a ball cap, boots and jeans. Not everybody goes to church or watches every NASCAR race. "Southern Comfort Zone," song by Brad Paisley

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I'm not sure what to make of a just-published Associated Press story making the case that the once-dominant influence of churches in the South is waning.

On the one hand: Duh.

I mean, haven't we all read enough about the "Rise of the Nones" to know that a societal shift has occurred?

On the other hand: I'm not certain that the small town of Sylacauga, Ala., allowing Ruby Tuesday's or O'Charley's to sell beer on Sunday afternoon is a sign of the End Times — or the best example of churches losing their dominance.

The top of the AP story:

SYLACAUGA, Ala. (AP) -- Prayers said and the closing hymn sung, tea-drinking churchgoers fill Marble City Grill for Sunday lunch. But hard on their heels comes the afternoon crowd: craft beer-drinking, NFL-watching football fans.
Such a scene would have been impossible just months ago because Sunday alcohol sales were long illegal in Sylacauga, hometown of both the actor who played TV's Gomer Pyle and the white marble used to construct the U.S. Supreme Court building. While the central Alabama city of 12,700 has only one hospital, four public schools and 21 red lights, the chamber of commerce directory lists 78 churches.
Yet few were surprised when residents voted overwhelmingly in September to legalize Sunday alcohol sales. Churches lacked either the heart or influence to stop it.
That shift is part of a broad pattern across the South: Churches are losing their grip on a region where they could long set community standards with a pulpit-pounding sermon or, more subtly, a sideward glance toward someone walking into a liquor store.

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Whoa! Is 'brunch' an urban sacrament for child-free hipsters, 'nones' and Jews?

Whoa! Is 'brunch' an urban sacrament for child-free hipsters, 'nones' and Jews?

So a reader sent me this URL the other day that took me to a typically hip Washington Post feature about the lives of the shiny elect in this newspaper's prime demographic -- the young, mostly white, single people in the power elites that run the nation's capital.

The note said this was prime GetReligion territory. The headline: "How brunch became the most delicious -- and divisive -- meal in America."

Say what? I read a few paragraphs into this long feature and then set it aside. I just didn't "get" it, I guess.

But the second time through it I started seeing the key points in the piece. The bottom line: Brunch is, in a mild sort of way, a culture wars thing. It's a near-religious rite on Sunday mornings that stresses where you are and what you are doing, as well as where you are NOT and what you are NOT doing.

Brunch is a secular sacrament? Read carefully:

... Interest isn't universal. A review of Google search data ... shows how heavily talk about brunch is concentrated around the coasts -- and how barren the Midwest brunch scene is. Any Midwesterner who tells you otherwise is likely an outlier, an urban transplant.
"Cultural trends tend to go from the coasts to the center," said Farha Ternikar, the author of Brunch: A History. "The Midwest is slower on food trends with the exception of Chicago."

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It's 5 o'clock somewhere: hymns and happy hour?

“Beer with Jesus” might have fallen off the country music charts, but the trend has legs — er, foam — apparently. You may remember the other half of our resident husband-wife team, GetReligionista Bobby Ross Jr., writing a post in November on the subject.  In summary, he looked at reports on churches offering services in pubs and bars and the successes and failures in each.

We have a new twist to the story now, and it comes to us from the country music capital of the world, Nashville Tenn. It also involves music, but not of the hometown variety.

The Tennessean invites us to pull up a barstool and join the Beer and Hymn Sing Group in this report:

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