Monday, July 28, 2008

Love/Hate Relationship Part 2

The second reason why I hate SoCal is its culture. I remember watching TV as a kid, and shows like “Saved by the Bell”, while interesting, just seemed odd. The kids ideals, the problems they struggled with, and their culture were so foreign and unattractive. Living out here for 8 years has not changed that perception. I will never understand the “surfer” cult, nor find its lifestyles and aspirations (what few there are) appealing. I cannot stand the “indi” cult. It is ugly, encourages bad art, and reminds me all to much of my adolescent attitudes. Further, the Hollywood cult is equally repulsive. Seeing what extravagant lifestyles these people live is sickening. It is not because I am envious and want that life, but because they have so much and are so empty. Further, they really do not produce much of anything of lasting value. So much of what comes out of Hollywood is filth, either because it is immoral, but mostly because it lacks any substance and is so commercialized. There are very few films or TV anymore that are genuinely good art.

Finally, I am tired of being uncomfortable because I cannot speak Spanish. I have no problem being a minority in SoCal, but it bugs me so much how so many people out here refuse to assimilate. This is America, English is our language. It is frustrating to know that if I have to find a retail job, it will be difficult just because I am not bilingual. It is frustrating to realize that there is at least a chance that if somebody hits me on the road, they might drive off because they do not have a license. But more than that, it is frustrating to be around people who have so much they do not know what to do with it, and seeing so many more who have almost nothing and are content with the scraps they do have.

I do however love SoCal because it is a great place to do ministry. There are so many strong churches in the area. I have a friend back east who cannot find a good church. His criteria are like mine, and are very basic. Biblically centered teaching, authentic worship, and a heart for ministry and discipleship. These are so basic, but so few churches get it right. For whatever reason, (perhaps the number of good Christian universities?) there are a number of very solid churches out here.

Additionally, there are a plethora of ministry opportunities. Back east, our ministry outreaches were washing people’s cars. Out here, there are so many opportunities to serve people in real need. I am at a church that gives me plenty of opportunities to teach (and to fail at it so that I can learn and grow), opportunities with music, leadership, discipleship, mentorship, and so on. One of the biggest problems with larger churches is they have a large enough congregation to recruit only the best for ministries. This seems counter intuitive, there should always be enough opportunities for available talent, but for whatever practical reason, this is not always the case. But it is exciting to be a part of a church that values its entire body, and pushes hard to get everyone involved. I have grown so much as a result of this, where if I had been in another church back east, I might not have grown at all.

So that’s part 2 of why I love and hate SoCal.

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