Monday, March 16, 2009
Lent, Day 17: he has prepared a city for them (updated)
(from St. Petersburg, Russia)
I have no digital pictures from our life in Michigan - I did not own a camera until a year or two after we returned to southern California. I found the areas we lived in beautiful (we lived in the suburbs for a couple of years and in the country for a couple of years; I worked on a beautiful campus near a picturesque little town). However, I found southeastern Michigan maddening. Bloated and then adrift from its fortunes being intertwined with the auto industry, as that industry began to wane the cities around Detroit had become lost in a mixture of nostalgia, decay and a kind of confusion that comes from having material resources without knowing knowing how long they'd last. Would the auto industry revive? If not, who could come in and breathe the hope of future productivity and liveliness into this region?
The city of Detroit itself was an extreme version of its neighboring cities. Ran by a good ole boy network of politicians whose rhetoric thrived off resentement toward the perceived success of the cities and counties surrounding Detroit and whose actual motives seemed to me more concerned with self-preservation, the city remained reliant on guilt offerings of the auto industry, on the federal and state government (which pumped money into Detroit to keep the Democrat political machine going - a million votes, even if dwindling every year, is worth a lot to a governor who is battling the Republican interests in the rest of her state), and on gambling casinos - a horrible taxation upon its own citizens (taking from them more than money). Perhaps they had no choice, with no worthwhile source of income on the horizon which could actually contributed to the longevity of the city or the well-being of its people.
I have good friends who still live there and I do care for the place, but it was maddening place - and perhaps a frightening portent of a future that we should work hard to avoid.
I offer this reflection after having looked at this (admittedly one sided) pictorial from Time Magazine. Let us pray for the peace of that city, while we make our pilgrimage to a city not made with hands.
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11)