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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

wealth, weddings and waste

I lived in Orange County---the richest county in the richest state in the richest country in the world---for four years as a university student. It is a place (1) that God has blessed with great wealth and convenience and (2) where many people have replaced God with said money and convenience. In my own experience living and visiting here it's been a mixture of both. But thankfully I've known many people who recognize #1 and do their best to be vigilant over #2.

Nevertheless, this summer (my third summer in California since starting my Czech odyssey) I've noticed and and been shocked (not so much disillusioned, just shocked) by this great wealth and convenience that America and especially Orange County enjoys widely. I suspect one reason for this heightened sensitivity is that this is the first summer when I've gone directly to Orange County rather than starting in Auburn (which is still a wealthy and conveient place if not quite as ostentatiously or as widely ostentatiously)---so I haven't had a little "buffer" between the Czech and the O.C. (Michael: "Please don't call it that.") that I've had before.

Part of this sensitivity probably has to do with the two beautiful weddings that I've attended since returning stateside. Please understand that I don't wish to criticize these weddings (except to say that I dislike fruit filling in wedding cakes)---weddings are supposed to be big celebrations and to be invited in any capacity is an honor and a joy. Nevertheless, these beautiful weddings were both more than a little bit more than I've bcome used to in the Czech.

And part of it probably has to do with living in Prague this past year. After two years in Sokolov, I came to see Prague for the international, cosmopolitan hub that it is, where foreigners are common, English is widely spoken, and trams are frequent. And then to return here where even the convenience of Prague pales in comparison---wow.

And, lastly, there is waste. Lights and computers left on. Long, long showers. Suburban society built on a decades-old given that everybody has a car. Growing up in a time and place where electricity and gas are abundant and cheap. No or at least inconvenient recycling (although---kudos to Costa Mesa for paying for its own sorting). Huge portions of food, much of which goes into the trash. I'm not pointing fingers---I'm part of this system and enjoy the comforts derived from it---but right now I notice.

I need to figure out something to do with what I notice. What do we do with three years' worth of lessons of adopting a different lifestyle? How do we hold on to what God has taught us?

- Joel


Anonymous Danielle said...

Well, still I am happy to live in the Czech Republic.

5:45 AM  
Blogger The Booters said...

I think what it boils down to is personal responsibility. If we were meant to be poor. we would have been told to give away all of our belongings and live a poor life. but that is not what i see Jesus teaching. So what i say to you is, be responsible with what you have. Don't go overboard. do what God lays on your heart. a long shower every now and then, probably not that big of a deal. Being vain in your appearance (which i know you are) and needed to take an hour long shower every day, probably not so good. as well i think that this applies to everything...time, talent, money, etc.

3:41 PM  
Blogger James said...

"You become a monster, So the monster will not break you" -- Bono

PS if you want to see a more modest wedding come to Dublin ;)

4:37 AM  
Blogger James said...

I hate money.

But it feels so cool and crisp as it slips between my tactile fingers as I pass it to the video game store cashier...

9:10 AM  
Blogger The Booters said...

should have been at our wedding, then you could have said the same about mendocino as "the o.c.", and i agree, do not call it that :)

and i can totally see how you feel. i grew up in so cal, moved from ritzy chino hills to even ritzier orange county and was raised to think life is what you have to show for it, like cars and homes and money and the region you live in... then i met god and kyle :) and living in nor cal has really helped me change this view as well, it is a fresh change, a little culture shock for me (what does that say? like i could survive in another country) but a fresh one and good one :)

we need to hang out soon. like tomorrow..... nevada city, come see the art of whimsy :)


12:51 AM  
Blogger Péťa said...

It is hard to resist to be a part of society that surrounds you from every side. But you two were able to stay in the Czech Republic for three years and you didn't forget what God has taught you. That takes a lot of strength sometimes!

What I'm thinking of is...despite all this "waste", there are people in America maybe not just like you (with the experience of living overseas) but they see what you see... once you find those, it might be easier to always remember what God taught you.

Or stop by in Europe time by time :)

1:50 AM  

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