By the Rev. John Ohmer
Although my home has been in the Washington, D.C., area since the early 1990s, I lived longer in Indiana, where I grew up. So as I arrive “back home again” for General Convention, I offer, as a public service announcement, my Top 10 List of Things to Know About Indiana:
#10: I was going to say “with apologies to David Letterman,” but since David Letterman was born and raised in Indiana, no apology may be necessary. Letterman, born in Indianapolis, attended Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis and Ball State University in Muncie. His first job out of college was as a weatherman in Indianapolis.
#9: People from Indiana are “Hoosiers,” not “Indianians,” which isn’t even a word. Which brings us to:
#8: There are lots of theories about the origin of the word “Hoosier.” This article from Indiana University is the best, most responsible source if you’re interested. Most of them are wrong, and many are unflattering. Which brings us to:
#7: Some people refer to Indiana and the rest of the Midwest as “fly-over” states.” If you do this, do not expect an argument. It’s not that they’re agreeing with you; it’s just that they’ll be glad “snooty, big-city fella” folk like you are NOT living there. You wouldn’t fit in. That’s because:
#6: Hoosiers are known for being friendly and hospitable. Unless of course you criticize Bobby Knight or start other crazy talk.
#5: The long days of General Convention will be matched by long days – literally. Sunset won’t be until after 9:15 p.m. the whole time we are out here. Indianapolis is about as far west as you can get in the Eastern Time Zone.
#4: The best way to tell a native Hoosier from one who has moved to the state is to ask them: “What is the greatest sport in Indiana?” Someone who has moved there and is trying to ingratiate himself will say the Indianapolis 500. Now, granted, the Indianapolis 500 truly is “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” If you have some free time, you should take a cab over and visit the racetrack and museum.
Wimbledon, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and Vatican City all can fit inside the racetrack oval. But a true Hoosier will tell you that the 500 is not Indiana’s greatest sport. That distinction belongs to:
#3: Indiana high school basketball. I’d say that high school basketball is a religion in Indiana, but that’d be an understatement. Most people I knew growing up didn’t take religion nearly as seriously as they did basketball. Of the 16 largest high school basketball stadiums in the country, 15 are in Indiana.
#2: High school basketball used to be about the only thing to do on weekend nights in Indiana. When I was growing up north of Indianapolis in the 1970s, it was derided as “Naptown” and “India-No-Place.” But…
#1: A lot has changed since then. Spend a few minutes checking out this official guide to Indianapolis. Walk over to the Indiana State Museum or take a quick cab ride over to the eclectic Massachusetts Avenue. The Eiteljorg Museum of Native American and Western Art is considered one of the world’s best of its kind. Words like “growing,” “pedestrian-friendly,” “green” and “vibrant” are now being used to describe the capital city. So at least this convention attendee is delighted to be “back home again in Indiana.”