Saturday, August 13, 2005

Low-grade ignorant sarcasm: new vision for South Dakota worship

Up until this point, South Dakota and I have decided to peacefully coexist.

This peaceful coexistance took some of the fuel away from my blog. I did not want to merely bash South Dakota with feeble attempts at witty analysis of South Dakota life. But the thought processes I experience here in commentary of many state residents is irreconcilable with how I want to live my life. I believe that diversity of thoughts, philosophy and theology are God-given. However, the use of sarcasm from South Dakota voting members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (see the New York Times article (sorry you'll have to pay for it) , regarding a divisive issue has made me reflect upon how I live in community. I am seeing how damaging sarcasm can be to community life. This is not particular to South Dakotans, it only reveals that the stack of values I see in South Dakota will be hard to reconcile in the long term. This reflection does not come as a surprise, but I have forgotten some of these reflections as I have been living and serving in a community of faith, albeit still in a situation with political views divergent from my own, a more cosmopolitan and civic personality. I had almost forgotten what it was like to serve out on the prairies.

Such is life in Sioux Falls.The vastness of the priaries is right at the doorstep of the city. But there is almost no reason to leave--and it is easy to forget how the way of life influences thinking. To clarify: A Sioux Falls resident could easily stay within the city limits for a long period of time and not experience the rest of the world. Plenty of shopping. Plenty of places to eat (doesn't really speak for the variety available). I have found that since I have worked in Sioux Falls that I can go weeks without getting on the interstate. Surrounding cities don't offer enough to lure people out of Sioux Falls. Other than the occaisional trip to the Black Hills, or a trip to drop off or visit junior at South Dakota State University or the University of South Dakota--I find there is no compelling reason for a Sioux Falls resident to ever leave the city. I don't even think Sioux Falls is the be all, end all, and I find it hard to get out of here. I imagine that someone who thinks Sioux Falls is the best place in the world finds even less reason to leave.

I find this Sioux Falls brand of insularity a bit creepy, but tolerable.

I once thought I would be counting down the days until I was leaving South Dakota. Now that I see a time where we will leave this place, I will look on this chapter as a time when I truly lived in the vastness of what God creates in culture. Living in Denmark, Washington DC and Wisconsin, I was merely an observer. In South Dakota I attained a new depth in the life of a particpant observer.

By the way, this may be a post about low grade ignorant sarcasm, but you can tell the cook that this is low grade dog food.

Rev. Elihu

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