31 October 2006

Boo Indulgences!

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Voyage to Boston

Prior to visiting Boston, I have had the opportunity to visit many other American cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Orlando. However, my experiences in each of those other cities were rather different than my experience in Boston. Boston was unlike any other city I have ever visited before.
I flew into Logan International Airport in Boston on the morning of October 11. I was taken by car to the North Shore area to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where I would be spending the next two nights. The seminary allowed me to have Wednesday free to do what I wanted. So, I asked them to transport me to the nearest commuter rail station in South Hamilton so that I could get back into Boston. So I spent about seven hours in Boston on Wednesday. On Friday, I was transported back to the commuter rail because my stay at Gordon-Conwell was over. I took the commuter rail into Boston and dropped my bags off at my hotel for Friday evening so I could spend all day Friday seeing the rest of Boston. Overall, I was able to experience Boston for about 22-23 solid hours of touring.
My transportation was the commuter rail and the “T”, which is the Boston subway. The commuter rail is made up of many lines that head in all directions around the city to neighboring suburbs and residential areas. It cost around $10 to go roundtrip from South Hamilton to Boston and back. Once arriving in Boston from the commuter rail, I rode on the T. I purchased a 3-day pass for the T so that I could have unlimited use for three days. The T put me within an easy walking distance from anything in Boston. The other, and most used, form of transportation was my feet. Boston is known as “America’s Walking City” for good reason. Everything seemed to be accessible by foot. I even crossed over the Charles River to the northern side of Boston by foot. There are areas to walk everywhere. I really enjoyed the walking factor.
Some of the sites I visited are the typical tourist sites. I visited Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, which is a block of old markets that were renovated to become modern market areas. I had an amazing meal of Boston baked beans, New England Clam Chowder, and Boston Cream Pie at a restaurant that has been there for decades (maybe over a century). I visited Copley Square, which is home to the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church. I visited the Old State House and the new Massachusetts State House. I also visited the Government Square, which houses Boston City Hall. I actually went inside the City Hall and found a demographics expert who graduated from MIT. He talked me through a lot of the reports on Boston demographics that are available through their website. I also visited the USS Constitution and a Navy destroyer battleship. I walked through Boston Common and the public garden beside it. It was beautiful and the squirrels were extremely friendly. I walked around Fenway Park, but did not pay the outrageous price to tour the inside. I also stopped by the original “Cheers” restaurant, known as the “Bull and Finch Pub”. I dropped by the Boston Symphony Orchestra house, but couldn’t get in. I saw the Christian Science Church Park, which has the “Mother Church” and their international headquarters. I spent some time on the campuses of Berklee College of Music and Harvard. I also walked through the North End, also known as “Little Italy” of Boston, and, of course, I ate Italian food for lunch while there.
After coming back and trying to collect all my thoughts from a cram-session of seeing Boston for a day and a half, I’m not sure how I feel about the city. I enjoyed the size and the amount of culture there. Boston has art galleries, museums, theatres, orchestra houses, even Berklee College of Music. I loved the culture and arts in Boston. The city has a high value for the arts. There are multiple art galleries and even multiple art institutes, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art. They also have Berklee, which is one of the leading music schools in the world. They also have the world-renowned Boston Symphonic Orchestra. I also was able to find on the map many theatres and even performance art institutes. Just walking around Berklee was amazing to see, as tons of students walked up and down the streets with musical instrument cases of all kinds. I really appreciated and was excited to see the high appreciation for the arts in Boston. I think through the art districts could be a wonderful way into some of the sub-cultures of Boston.
I enjoyed the young population of Boston. Everywhere that I went, I found college students. They were on the T, on the sidewalks, in the restaurants, in the parks, etc. Boston really is a “college town,” with a list that includes Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, Berklee College of Music, and many, many more. I felt as though I could belong in the culture because of the younger, college-age population.
The North End was interesting to see because it truly was Italian in many aspects. The people have truly kept their culture within America. One guy on the street, after trying to convince me to come in a particular restaurant to eat their pasta, he proceeded to yell something across the street to a friend of his. It seemed like something straight out of an Italian movie. I was intrigued to see this sub-culture that has dominated a particular area of the city and has made their sub-culture become the culture of the North End. From eavesdropping on a conversation of two people walking near me on the street, there is a strong homosexual sub-culture that has dominated the South End. However, I did not get the chance to visit the South End area of Boston during my day and a half in the city.
The city was completely different to me than all the other cities I’ve visited because of the historical and preserved aura of the city. I couldn’t find that same feeling in Manhattan, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, or much anywhere else. The closest city to compare that feeling with would possibly be Washington, D.C., but even that city feels rather different than Boston did. I certainly felt as though I was in a complete different culture at times while I was there. It felt like “New England” because of the history and preservation of culture there.
As for a spiritual conclusion of my time in Boston, there definitely is an extreme lack of Christianity in Boston, especially evangelical Christianity. I saw a few Catholic churches, Episcopal churches, and Unitarian Universalist churches. Outside of those, I really didn’t see any. I saw one storefront church that seemed to be doing ministry “outside the box” a little bit. There really isn’t a Christian sub-culture in Boston. The Christianity of Boston has to be microscopic compared to the masses of people in Boston. That made me feel both excited and frightened. I’m not positive that Boston is where God is leading me. I felt nervous about planting there, but I think that could easily just be my own human fears. I know that if God has that in His plan for me, He will provide for me the strength and resources to make it happen.
I also saw Jim Gaffigan perform at the Berklee Performance Center on Friday night, which was indescribable.
Now that I'm back, I have to read through and analyze around 300 pages of demographic reports put out by the Boston Redevelopment Authority so I can do my project on urban analysis for church planting. Fun fun.
If you want to see more of my pictures from Boston, go to my albums on facebook. I have two albums from my Boston trip.

18 October 2006

Coming Soon: Boston Trip Post...

I'm just posting really quick to let you know (whoever "you" might be) that I will write a long post about my trip to Boston and Gordon-Conwell, along with my ever-evolving thoughts about where I might end up after this May. It's good stuff...and will involve pictures. Everyone loves a blog with pictures. Anyways, goodnight for now. Check back soon.