I was almost scared to go to Chicago. The people had always seemed too brash and just a tad too scarily forward for my subtle Kiwi(2) culture. But with every Chicagoian that I have met, I have come closer to storing their directness and openness in my heart.
Our journey from Lithuania seemed a little long and boring for me, with no in-flight movies that I care to mention. So US border control was a welcome sight. We arrived late at night into a rather quiet O’Hare airport. It was such an adventure to have to get our fingerprints taken and our retinas scanned. Customs was so small and so, well nothing, that I was out of the airport before I had realised that I had totally missed the person to ask if I needed to declare my cards. It didn’t really matter. Immigration had made us sign over most of our rights before entering the country.
We were picked up by our lovely Lithuanian American friend. On the way home he told us that he had a function to go to that evening and did we want to come. The event involved food and listening to Franklin Graham(3). Apparently there are always ‘no shows’ at such an event, so after a few calls we were in.
The event was a fascinating event. We were basically at a thank you meal for all of those who support or work in Care Net, a network of clinics which, in my words, offer the opposite to abortion. These people did a lot of good work for women, children and families. The organisation reeled in a couple of young women, via video and in person, who had been helped through some rather tough decisions.
From my observations America is an extremely polarised country. And the abortion issue is just one of her many flash points. I was naive enough to ask the NRA(4) member beside me if they ever go to the abortion clinics and counsel the women who have recently had an abortion. It was then that I discovered that the abortion clinics and those who are involved are The Enemy. We seemed to be the good guys and they seemed to be the bad guys. The whole idea of actually looking for common ground and possibly working together just seemed to be too far out there. After all, they the abortionists, get paid for their services and would only see us as coming to take their clients and thus their money away.
It was also another awakening for me. This was the night that first started screaming to me that the Republican movement and conservative evangelical Christianity seemed to be joined at the hip. Indeed we were only a week or two out from what turned out to be a rather historic American election(5). Indeed a Republican senator was seated all of two tables away from me, he was warmly introduced and left shortly afterwards. I guess there was no point wasting a busy schedule preaching to the converted.
We left Chicago way too early in the morning, flying the amazingly cool and fun Southwest Airlines(6) to California.
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Great read KEl, I lapped up every word. I love Chicago, its a shame you had to leave so early the next day. SouthWest Airlines, cool and fun?
There is more to come, I am two chapters ahead of my blog at the mo
Good observations, as I start reading your journey from start to …er… finish, I guess. Yes, I too see that conservative Christianity and the Republican party are joined at the hip. At least in much of the country, though especially with this last election that took a bit of an upset with especially younger Christian voters who are starting to move away from the abortion issue as the sole litmus test and see other areas as important (human rights, torture, the war(s), environmentalism). Just my 2 cents.
My memories of Chicago all come down to late nights in bitter cold looking for Moody while I was in college in the early 90s several states away. Virtually nil, aside from that cool retro McDonalds I recall.
Yeah Tim I asked many questions about politics and God. Soon I will devote a whole chapter just to the subject. I was fascinated by what people had to say and would struggle very much voting under your system. But more after I have finished writing about Texas.
Fav. line: […] “Canada, that poor nation which so desperately and reluctantly defines itself by its southern neighbour.”
Ever heard of Blue Like Jazz, a somewhat post-modern and ver ‘Emerging’ book by Donald Miller. He writes good stuff about the Rep.-Christianity link as well, and how it is, being a christian democrat (I think he was even part of the Obama-team).
Well. Onto chapt 3!
Yeah David, I have read ‘Blue Like Jazz’, but it was a long time ago though. But I did enjoy it. I didn’t know that he may have been part of the Obama team though.
I will have a whole chapter devoted to politics soon.
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