The Eternal City

Rome is a magical city.  The history adds to its depth and beauty.  Ancient is good.  Ancient is classy and stylish.  Rome is all of those things in one electric metropolis.  It is very different from Los Angeles, which is my home.  I love this West Coast city, but it lacks Rome’s class.  This Italian city is like fine wine that has been aged many decades.  Vintage is the operative word.  Los Angeles is precocious and whiny in comparison.  The city of angels boasts the glitz and glamour, but it all rings hollow.  I see this even clearer after only four days in Italy.  This is not to suggest that I have not observed before LA’s shallowness.

I knew LA for it what was during my first few months living in it.  At the risk of trashing my home city, I want to say that it has many strengths.  The movie business adds a defining layer whether good or bad.  For those who are theologically inclined like yours truly, LA is home to two major seminaries: Fuller and Master’s.  The Southern California region offers five, which includes the two in LA.  I live in a major region for theological education, which is rather ironic given that it is the seat of the entertainment industry.

Hollywood has produced several amazing, motion pictures based on the major religions of the world: The Ten Commandments for Judaism, Gandhi for Hinduism, and King of Kings for Christianity.  Hollywood does go to the religion well quite often, and it even comes off as a cycle.  Make no mistake, LA is not a religious city; however, I would say that they are strange bedfellows.  These two form an uneasy alliance that is not unlike that between Roman Catholicism and Rome.

The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica are an unusual blend of artistic and religious expression.  Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and more are a sampling of Italy’s best artists and among the best in the world, who contributed some of their best work for religious purposes.  Has Hollywood achieved the status of Rome?  I do not know the answer to that question.  It is quite possible that Hollywood could care less.  I think it is enough for me to have seen a parallel and a contrast between Rome and my home city.

Rome has a depth that will always elude LA.  The former has earned its name as the eternal city.  It exerts an inexorable pull on its visitors.  There might be an odd person who comes away hating Rome.  LA divides people.  Visitors either love it or hate it.  Some who fall in the hate camp come to this conclusion after a few years of living in it.  The city of angels is not cheap, and it moves very fast in a subtle way.  I still enjoy its variety of restaurants, and small cities within cities that have their own nightlife.  LA is a conglomerate of many things.  Eclectic is the best word, but some might call it chaotic.

Is LA shallow?  Hollywood is to the core, which is one piece.  Pasadena has depth and character just like Downtown LA.  That being said, it is not Rome.  Then, there is the food.  Italians know how to cook, and they run circles around the LA chefs and restaurants.  That is all I want to say about it.

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