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We crashed a wedding in Arcadia, Missouri last weekend for little reason than that mom would be there and that it would be good to get away. Work has been stressful for both of us, lately: K whiteknuckles her keyboard as she IMs me at work when her sole coworker spazzes out, which happens every day; I have been busy discovering for a fact (compiling statistics and so forth) that last year my staff doubled the work it was doing without also bothering to double the number of people who did the work, which explains why my job has been relentless. The break was indeed nice, and the trip was in itself unique because we finally witnessed a wedding in the Church of Janus Karst from a perspective that was not that of the bride and groom.

The wedding took place in the chapel of a former Catholic girls’ school, Ursuline College, which is now called the Arcadia College Bed and Breakfast and is operated by a family that has no qualm about violating child labor laws and that apparently believes it unnecessary to clean the unisex public restrooms and showers on a daily basis, no matter how many people stay—a fact that is probably good for the children, but not so good for the guests. The chapel was constructed in 1912 (give or take a handful of years) and really was quite extraordinary.

However, it has not escaped the years entirely.

Though we were not invited, we went to the wedding anyway because it promised to be an extraordinarily profane affair, a juxtaposition of former holy space presided over by DST, a strident atheist who directs a church—in Arkansas, churches are easier than nonprofits to establish—created for the purpose of cave stewardship and for taking advantage of the fringe benefit of legally officiating weddings. (He officiated our wedding in a sculpture park in St. Louis because he also happens to have been mom’s second husband—which is to say, my one-time step-father.) Though the ceremony was by DST standards straightforward and without extravagance, we were not entirely disappointed.



This was a very entertaining post.

I’m not sure, however, what you mean by cave stewardship.

The church was formed when a particular property went up for sale in Mt. View, Arkansas. On the property is the pit entrance to Janus Cave (hence: Church of Janus Karst), which drains a good lot of the mountains around what used to be Guion Ferry. To own the entrance is essentially to own the cave (although because caves occupy an unusual area in property law, it would not be illegal—though it would be extraordinary—for a neighboring landowner to blast his or her own entrance to the section of the cave that he or she “owns”) so DST and a few other Arkansas cavers with money to spare pooled their money, formed a church, and bought the land. They then proceeded to use the property as a base of operations, meanwhile putting a gate on the entrance to keep vandals and teenagers and most undesirables from going there, and they began cleaning up the cave and partaking in a lot of conservation efforts. Hence, stewardship. This led to the purchase (if I remember correctly) of a few—perhaps several by now, but I do not know—other caves by the church.


Wow. That part of the country is even stranger than I thought it was. Then again, I live in a state where open containers in cars were legal until last July, so I probably shouldn’t talk.

I think it’s this caving cult in particular that’s rather strange, but I’m sure the Ozarks has plenty to go around. We’ll get to experience more in about a week.

If anyone happens to be driving through Branson this coming Saturday…(Eat your hearts out, people.)

I’m pretty sure open containers are legal in Arkansas too, or they were when I was there at least.

It makes sense to me. Why shouldn’t passengers be allowed to drink?

Exactly. That’s why I make Greg me everywhere.