In Vegas attending the BlogWorld/GodBlogCon convention.
Driving in from the airport the other night felt like being in a peep show. The billboards have gotten, um, rather more bold in their advertising. Lots more flesh, lots more provocative poses of men with women and women with women and men with men. There is a lot more of that everywhere – on the sides of buses and the tops of cabs, in pamphlets handed out on the street, everywhere.
I was talking to a friend who works at one of the hotels and they were lamenting the rise in prostitutes – not, mind you, street walkers but beautiful young call girls who pull up to the hotels in expensive cars or who prowl the bars looking for dates. The problem, this person said, was that there are so many women who are doing that that it becomes, to a degree, no big deal to them. The culture, this person was saying, just makes it OK. It broke my friend’s heart.
My friend isn’t religious, isn’t conservative, isn’t judgmental. The comments were just comments of observation made by someone who has lived and worked in the town for nearly 20 years.
But, but, but.
This does not mean this is Sodom. This does not make Vegas the center of a filthy culture. Rather, as Jud Wilhite, senior pastor at Las Vegas’ Central Christian Church, writes:
I no longer see Vegas as Sin City, but as a remarkable place where God is doing remarkable things, with stories of new beginnings at almost every turn.
Grace is God’s greatest gift to us, His faltering, failing followers. And in Vegas, the experience of God’s grace is what can only be described as “uncensored.”
If, as Wilhite references, cultural critic Neil Postman is correct and:
…we must look to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, as a metaphor for our national spirit and aspiration, its symbol a thirty-foot-high cardboard picture of a slot machine and a chorus girl. For Las Vegas is a city entirely devoted to the idea of entertainment, and as such proclaims the spirit of a culture in which all public discourse increasingly takes the form of entertainment.
Then, we must also recognize that culture wars aren’t going to change anything. There isn’t anything that government can do either. There isn’t anything that a railing against the city or its inhabitants will accomplish. The only thing that will make a difference to call girls in Vegas or to us in our towns is what Wilhite talks about – God’s grace.