Well, only one day before we head out on our adventure to Southern Czech for our Thanksgiving Retreat. I'm really looking forward to the whole experience. Oddly enough, I actually enjoy traveling. There is something so quaint about taking the trains across Europe. Reminiscent of an era long past in the US. And yet I would never consider this place anything less than modern. It just has managed to hang on to character more than the states have.
I was walking home a couple of weeks ago with a Czech guy named Ruda, and he was telling me how he used to want to visit the US but feels now as though it has lost it's magic. Somehow the allure has been smothered in Hollywood and wars. We have been covered in a mask of McDonalds and the dream of owning a big house and two cars. Sort of makes me think of my American Drama class in college and how much time we spent trying to figure out the role of the American dream in literature and life. Anyhow, this guy was talking about how Americans tend to be drawn to Europeans because they still have a deep cultural flavor. It got me to thinking about things.
While I would say that, in a lot of ways America really has become a somewhat unrealistically idealistic country, I think there is a lot more depth than people tend to give it credit for. I'm about the last person who is likely to shout "I'm proud to be American," from the rooftops, but it saddens me that I often feel the need to apologize for being an American. Our culture is FAR from perfect, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find any culture that isn't. The main problem with the US is just how public we make all of our messes. There is no sense of privacy anywhere in our nation. In our obsession for freedom, we often sacrifice our sense of decency. We have become a nation where nothing is sacred, everything is just on the surface.
The real tragedy here, is that this national sense of surface living tends to go hand in hand with Christianity. While the US shouts loudly that we are a nation that supports all minorities, the world still supposes us to be Christian. Therefore, they take the things they see and apply it to Christianity. Our fights across the globe come to be seen as crusades to spread our culture, rather than to support the downtrodden.
Wow, suddenly I'm ranting, and I really had no intention of doing so. All I was really trying to say is that I'm looking forward to seeing a bit more of the country this week. I'm looking forward to taking in this culture that I truly am fascinated by. I'm also looking forward to fellowshipping with fellow Americans. At the same time, I hold myself at a distance somehow. I'm afraid to be forced into a closed culture box.
It is my desire, and my joy, to serve God wherever He calls me. I feel so blessed that He has allowed me to take in tiny moments of the world, and do my best to look forward to the opportunities that will come in the future as well. Somehow this is coming out all twisted and convoluted, but in truth, I just want a chance to love and serve under Christ and not under my nationality. To share His love, and not cultural condemnation. After all, we're only temporarily on this planet. Why is it so hard for us to find ways to enjoy each other?