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Small Town Notoriety

Sloan, Iowa would rather be known for almost anything else.

by Richard 'Mr. Moo' Moore
April 17, 2005

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Small Town Notoriety
Every town wants to be known for something. Even little towns. Wahoo, NE is known for being the town that David Letterman called his home office. Onawa, IA is known for the widest main Street in America. Lindsborg, KS is known for the Swedish festival, Svensk Hyllningsfest, held in October and for a college with a great Women's basketball team (a regular at the NAIA championship tournament). Caledonia, MN is known as the wild turkey capital of Minnesota. Lexington, VA was founded on a site of a Revolutionary War battle and is known for being the home of Stonewall Jackson.

And then we come to Sloan, IA, a little town of 1,200 in northwest Iowa. They have a great community school, kindergarten through 12th grade in the same building. Friday nights in the fall mean the stadium behind the school is packed to watch a football game, whether they have a winning team or not. The racing pigeon club is building a new facility on the south end of town. The town is surrounded by farms where hard working folks make a living and are raised in the tradition of Midwestern values. But there is a fly in the ointment this week.

With most of the world's attention drawn to the death of Pope John Paul II, a Sloan resident thought it was a good time to place an item on eBay. The seller placed a communion wafer blessed by the late Pope at Mass held in Rome in 1998. The seller also included a copy of the bulletin from the Mass. Included in the listing was this statement by the seller: "I am not Catholic and I do not believe I am going to hell for selling this collectable." This Monday, the seller accepted a bid of $2,000 for the items.

The method that this person went through to get the wafer, better known as the host was remarkable. He went through the line to receive communion twice. "I ate one wafer then I went back to get another one to save and he (the priest serving communion) gave me another one, but I did get a very dirty look."

For those of you not familiar with the practice of communion or Holy Eucharist, let me explain the issue. In the Roman Catholic tradition as well as in other denominations, the bread or wafer used in communion doesn't represent the body of the Christ. It actually becomes the body of Christ. eBay was not used to sell a "collectable". The auction was not the selling of a piece of bread. In the eyes of the church and in the hearts of many followers of Jesus Christ, it was selling the body of Christ.

Whether or not this is your spiritual belief is beside the point. This act is offensive and a slap in the face of anyone person of faith who holds these things sacred. This act is also offensive and a slap in the face of residents of Sloan, IA. For me, I have just been slapped twice. Glad I only have two cheeks.

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