I think I’m experiencing reverse culture shock or some version of it. Growing up in southern California, things around me always seemed normal. I was minimally aware of the materialism surrounding me, and only in certain cases did it become annoyingly obvious. When I moved to Salt Lake City I was so mentally prepared for such an extreme change in culture that what I actually did witness was not that difficult to get used to. I quickly grew accustomed to seeing references to the LDS church be it temples, wards, missionaries. There were also the witty LDS references: Hookah 10% off with temple recommend. All of these reminded me that I lived in a state, a county, a city where one religion in particular was inescapable. As I said, one assimilates at a surprising speed.
But I also assimilated to the good things: a slower paced lifestyle, healthy living (for the most part), living in a real city that still remains clean and user friendly, people smiling at you just because you’re a person, being downtown and seeing people you know going for a quick jog or studying at your favorite coffee shop. Most of all, I desperately miss the community of believers I was a part of. These people became family instantaneously. These people knew that when you are a minority you have to make a choice: live recklessly for what you believe, or don’t. There is no room for lukewarm Christianity. There is no room for complacent Christianity. However, there was also a group comprised of those who hated and resisted against organized religion in any form. Another minority though they may be, there is no short supply of them in Utah’s metropolitan area (or ya know… as close as Utah gets to a metropolis). Bottom line: You can’t live in Utah and be apathetic towards religion. Everyone has an opinion and will most likely offer it unprompted.
Change scene. Wow is California different! People truly are apathetic towards religion. They genuinely don’t care. Worse than that is the existence of Christians who don’t care about the people who don’t care. “Live and let live” is the mantra it seems. I can accept that when I go out shopping I’m not surrounded by one religious group. I can accept that if I want to eat something on a Sunday I won’t have to weed out the places that are closed. What is harder to accept is that when I meet someone who goes to church, I’m not necessarily meeting someone who has an active relationship with Christ. Harder to accept is that finding out someone goes to church doesn’t mean that I’ve just met a brother or sister. The occurrence of this (twice since I started working at P.F. Chang’s) makes me feel sadly out of place; I’m the naive new kid who isn’t accustomed to the way things are. But wait… Didn’t I grow up here? Shouldn’t I be used to this?
Equally irritating is the reminder that in this particular area of southern California resides an over population of yuppie, self-entitled, high maintenance suburbanites. When I work, I don’t get smiled at because I am a person, I get barked at because I am a service. I admit, this is a sweeping generalization (and I have had some amazing patrons and have met some quality people), but any server in the Thousand Oaks/Westlake area is more than likely to agree. I know I can only say so much seeing as how I am a product of this culture, but maybe that allows me to better assess it having been gone for well over a year. Maybe…