Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Into the Heartland

Today I traveled to the Midwest, taking my last journey by plane during this pregnancy. I transferred in Detroit and was impressed by that airport. It has a great indoor fountain where water shoots up out of holes and across the fountain into others, looking like thin silver minnows jumping across a pond of black water. The number and pattern of jumping sprays varies, allowing one to stare, mesmerized, at the dance.

I had a long walk between gates, but I enjoyed looking at the art, the shops, and the restaurants. One shop sold nothing but dog-themed items. I wonder how such stores are able to stay in business. Or are there really so many people who love dogs that they want to buy the dog-o-poly boardgame or fancy bones during their airport layover?

In Chicago I rented a car and got another General Motors. This was the same car I got last time I chose the cheapest rental model. It feels to me like a hearse, long and tall and dark, hard to see out of and with the feel that it’s made out of plastic. It makes me wonder who the target buyership was for this car when the engineers presented the model to management.

The outskirts of Chicago don’t excite me too much. I drove at least 15 minutes from the airport down a road filled with stoplights every block or so. An endless array of shops, fast food, gas stations, and box warehouse stores lined both sides of the street the entire way. It was flat, developed, commercialized and ugly. I longed to go past a block of parkland or a pond or lake. The freeway took me into farming country, but as soon as I reached my destination, I again drove down roads lined with traffic lights and shops, an endless strip of consumer.

I stopped at one of the box bookstores, Barnes and Noble. There I was surprised by the size of the religion section. It took up almost a full wall, plus several racks. There were rows of Christian Inspiration books, as well as a full two shelves on Religious Fiction in addition to the much smaller non-fiction section on eastern religions and other, more analytical texts. I gathered that was a sign of the reading tastes of the local population, hungry for Christian spiritualism and for novels that promote their values and worldviews in their characters.

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