Friday, July 16, 2010

On Sincerity

Cleveland has had a rough week. Lebron James left for the glitter of Miami and famed cartoonist Harvey Pekar died. Anthony Bourdain has a great obituary for Pekar, in which he talks about how Cleveland will end up missing Pekar more than James. Harvey Pekar was in love with Cleveland, and he helped people see how beautiful it was. As Bourdain writes,
“...Harvey captured and chronicled every day what was--and will always be--beautiful about Cleveland: the still majestic gorgeousness of what once was--the uniquely quirky charm of what remains, the delightfully offbeat attitude of those who struggle to go on in a city they love and would never dream of leaving. What a two minute overview might depict as a dying, post-industrial town, Harvey celebrated as a living, breathing, richly textured society.”
Jim Russell and Aaron M. Renn both use Bourdain’s thoughts as a jumping off point to talk about urban development, the brain drain and the brand of a city. The moral of the story - not everyone wants Miami, and Cleveland shouldn't try to give it to them. Cities in the Midwest (like my own Indianapolis) will never be able to compete with a place like South Beach or L.A. When we do try to compete, it comes off as insincere and fake. It’s not who we are. Sincerity always wins, and we should strive to embrace it.

If you ask me why I love Indianapolis, I won’t list any of the sexy building projects like Lucas Oil Stadium or the new JW Marriott hotel being built for the 2012 Super Bowl. I’ll tell you about some of my favorite local restaurants like Jockamo and Papa Roux. I’ll tell you about the house I love and can actually afford located in a great neighborhood surrounded by great people (and I love the people because these are my people). And I’ll tell you how being in the Midwest gives me some weird sense of being grounded, and how that grounding helps me survive the day-to-day rhythms of life.

Like I said, not sexy. But I hope you would see my genuine love for this place - a place that can be hard to love because it requires a little work to find beauty. That’s a true statement about so many things I love in this world, including my faith. I want there to be a sexy reason to love Christianity in a post-Christian world, but all I have are deeply personal stories of God invading my world and filling the dullness with beauty. These things are not sexy, but they are sincere.

And maybe that’s better after all.

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