Monday, June 20, 2011

A Different Kind of Place

Since it hasn't actually been this clear yet, I defer to wikipedia for a decent image of downtown Seattle.

This weekend I visited my cousin in Capitol Hill while an uncle stopped by for Fathers' Day. It was as joyous as any reunion of long-separated relatives should be. She spends most of her time in Seattle, my uncle in Idaho, and myself in Texas, but for a couple of nights we all slept under the same roof. We wandered through the city and Green Lake Park, ate scallops fresh from Puget Sound, and drank Belgian ale while our conversations wandered from feminism to Marxism to space policy to particle physics. Not a bad way to cap my first week at Boeing.

One moment on Saturday I glanced at the books on her shelf in the living room. My cousin is very well read (as a PhD in English literature would lead one to expect), and there was wide menagerie of philosophies represented. Before I could ask about anything on the shelf, she quickly commented that the Bible was a gift, and not necessarily something to be taken seriously.

In College Station, it would be a rare bookshelf that didn't have a Bible somewhere in plain sight, but Seattle's a different kind of place in more ways than one. Most of the people I interact with on a casual basis in Texas probably assume that I'm at least nominally Christian unless I say otherwise. Here in the northwest the opposite is true: innocent of religion until proven guilty.

The dichotomy between the primarily religious and primarily secular parts of America is fascinating to me, and reinforces my thinking that there isn't really any such thing as American culture. There's a broad marketplace of cultural ideas in the United States constantly vying for attention. Depending on the location, different sets of these ideas become mainstream. College Station and Seattle are both places that I'm happy to call home, but each must seem baffling to those native to the other, just as my cousin would probably be baffled by exploration of Catholicism.

No comments:

Post a Comment