Far from the bustle and night life of the big cities, The Netherlands is still dotted with some of the world's dourest Calvinist communities. Among its grimmest is the former islet of Urk (pop. 5,500), a fishing village on the Zuider Zee. On Sundays, Urkers still separate their hens from the roosters, turn their paintings to the wall, read only one book (the Bible), take only one processional walk (to church). Doing anything else is sinful. For years life in Urk was pretty routine, and the town constable's daily report invariably read:...

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