Saturday, February 04, 2006

Riding the Rails

I just moved to Chicago, where I will be spending the next three and a half months participating in the S.C.U.P.E. (Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education) program. This is part of my Masters of Divinity program, and I'm looking forward to working with the amazing professors of S.C.U.P.E. and taking their amazing classes. My first class, which starts this Friday, is "Urban Principalities and the Spirit of the City," and it is being taught by a minister from Detroit who did numerous civil disobedience actions with Fr. Daniel Berrigan, including an action where they clipped an opening in a fence at an air force base, walked down the runway while reciting an Easter liturgy, and attempted to disassemble missiles at the site. (This was during the Vietnam War.)

Anyway, I'm here in Chicago now, looking forward to starting the program. I've been here exactly a week, and, between my sporadic work schedule (I'm interning at an American Baptist Church), I've made several attempts at exploring the city. These attempts, at first, involved me walking a few miles both west and east from where I'm living. That got boring pretty quickly (though there are public libraries within two miles in both directions, providing a contingent destination plan in case my senseless wandering becomes overly dissonant with my continual strive to be oriented toward a purpose for my life).

I have now resorted to hopping on the "L" (short for "elevated train," for those of you not familiar with Chicago lingo) and riding it for the sake of... well, riding it. I am probably the biggest public transportation geek in the world -- not only do I bask in the environmental glory of mass transit, but I also find public transportation (and, particularly, the "L") a great way to view and get immersed in the culture and dynamics of the city.

Where else can you take a tour of the city for $2? Where else can you go to be in the same place with people of all shapes, sizes, colors, classes (except, for the most part, upper class folks), beliefs, ages, etc.? I guess I have never thought about it before, but public transportation (and, specifically, train and subway systems) is really the most diverse environment that most people will ever experience. Hey, wait a second... that's pretty remarkable to think about. There's a lot of potential there...

Granted, I've found that the rails aren't always that diverse. Most of the college kids, yuppies, punks, and hippies come on near the campuses and get off around the gentrified-but-hip neighborhoods. Most of the middle class European American folks get on at the suburban and/or gentrified neighborhood stops and get off around downtown. Once the "L" hits the southside (around 47th) and the westside, almost everyone on the train is African American. And the Latina/o American, Mexican American, and Asian American folks, I've found, tend to get on and off on the northside (but closer to downtown), though the boundaries aren't always that clear.

Okay, so this post, like my neighborhood exploration, has no clear destination or objective. That said, it is thematically justifiable for me to just stop writing right here. But, because I like suspense, I will stop writing right ---------


Blogger Chaya said...

Well, you don't know me at all haha. I ran across your name while I was working on some voter empowerment cards at the ACLU of Ohio. I really admire that you led a fast and prayer vigil against HB 3.
I'm a law clerk at the ACLU of Ohio for now. I'm only doing this for another month or so though. About 2 weeks ago, I realized that I never asked God if I should go to law school. So, I asked Him, and He said no. My bad.
So, I dropped out. It was such a relief. Even now with all the stress of finding a job and discovering what I should be doing, I feel at peace with the decision.
So, I stumbled across your blog, and I thought that I would say "hi". Your blog is so well written. My blog (mainly my brother's though) is wanttoseemyrandomknowledge. Yours is much more inspirational though. I'm sure that I'll start to check it often. (I hope that doesn't make me a blogger stalker.)
I'm considering seminary school. I would love to go into a pastoral counseling program. I know that's what I should be doing.. but I just don't know when yet haha. Anyway, if you have any advice at all, I'm taking all that I can get (especially if its not the- what?? dropping out of law school?? are you crazy??- variety). My e-mail address is
I hope that you have a very blessed experience in Chicago.

3:10 PM  

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