Conversation at the morning coffee group at the Town House Cafe in Harrison turned to religion, which was understandable since most folks having their cups refilled have long attended Protestant denominations in the community.
At this day's table of eight, we had two Methodist ministers, one active, the other retired but who still fills in at area churches when needed.
The discussion centered around the fact that church attendance has been steadily dropping in many denominations, not only in this community, but across the state and nation.
Hank Thompson, who with wife Nickie attends Harrison's popular First United Methodist Church, perched just above our home, said it's been some time since he last saw a significant number of young folks in church,
"And without the younger ones coming up to fill the gaps left by we older departing ones, the church can't grow. That's apparent today. And it's a sad thing," he said.
A member of Harrison's First Presbyterian Church (where I was christened as an infant) said that congregation also had been steadily aging and dwindling in recent decades.
Leaders at that impressive, relatively new Presbyterian sanctuary and support buildings high on a hill entering Harrison along Capps Road are wrestling with what the future may hold if financial resources aren't found to maintain the considerable debt incurred in building it.
Jeanetta and I both recall Sundays in youth when we were expected to don our Sunday best and regularly attend church with our families. While she was attending a Pentecostal Church in town, I fell in with a teenaged crowd who enjoyed attending youth group get-togethers each Sunday evening over at the Episcopal Church. Programs for the youngsters and teens is how many churches kept their pews active and attendance up in years past.
I have no doubt the covid pandemic over the past two-plus years has kept many churchgoers away as they watch over home computers. That's likely as effective as trying to educate youngsters held out of classrooms in the same manner.
From all I have read and learned, fading church attendance isn't a problem unique to the 13,000 who call this Ozarks community their home.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center released last month showed that 63 percent of Americans today say they consider themselves Christians. That compares with 78 percent who said that in 2007.
Moreover, 29 percent of the respondents said they practice no religion today compared with just 16 percent in 2007.
In 2007, 56 percent of respondents said they considered religion as very important; that had dropped to 41 percent by last year.
Where are names?
Now that Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of five counts of soliciting and grooming minor females for sex for the late Jeffrey Epstein, I'm waiting to learn the names of all male visitors to Epstein's isolated private island over the years.
Since she now stands convicted of such behavior and it's become common knowledge that an unknown number of influential and powerful men enjoyed secluded beachfront stays with Epstein and girls secured by Maxwell, I assume the public will be informed just who these people were. Right?
After all, in matters of prostitution, aren't males as guilty as female participants? Isn't their participation the "bottom line"?
And isn't it the responsibility of genuine news reporters assigned to this story to uncover all the names involved and report them to the world? Where are members of the so-called "legacy media," also known as the "mainstream national media"?
Surely they don't perceive their role as protectors of such offenders because of their political affiliation? Taxpaying, voting Americans certainly need and deserve to know who was participating in Epstein's underaged island romps.
So I'll be right over here (along with most of America) patiently twiddling my thumbs while waiting to learn this information from those calling themselves journalists.
What is science?
I happened across the following the other day; my version summarizes my feelings about bona fide "science" like the theory of everything.
Yes, indeed, I most certainly do believe in science as we knew it in the 1970s and '80s.
However, I do not believe coercion of any form is science.
Neither do I believe withholding and/or manipulating relevant data to benefit a political agenda is science.
Cherry-picking data for political reasons is not science.
Social conditioning and engineering certainly aren't science.
Fearmongering to maintain control has never been science.
Guesstimations are not science.
It's not science when an infected populace is told they can view relevant current data about medications and their production if they will wait 55 years.
It's not considered science should cures for viruses and diseases be kept from the public so medications can be peddled by manufacturers to the public for enormous profits.
And finally, censorship in any form is never science.
Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at email@example.com.