I really enjoy many things about the move back into the beautiful land of Pennsylvania. Their is something about having hills and mountains around that I appreciate, but I find my mind wandering on occasion to something I miss. Washington Bible College was great in the diversity of culture. We really did not have a cultural majority among the student body. Being away from that I find myself missing it. Something I heard at the Internet Ministry Conference has helped me to better understand what it is that I miss about the mixing of cultures. I don't recall what session, but it was pointed out that innovation and creativity are found where cultures intersect. The internet is full of intersecting culture, but I find myself often in the same cultural intersects to the point that they are almost their own culture and the innovation and creativity is often related to technology.
At WBC I had the privilege of knowing people from various US backgrounds, people from various places in Asia, people from various places in Europe or the west coast of the US. I was challenged by their thoughts and perceptions. Even as I was less involved in the student body, the D.C. area had that same taste as a whole. I want to be clear, skin color is a form of diversity, but my main subject is the diversity of thoughts, ideas and cultural influences, not skin color.
Being completely removed from it leaves an empty spot. I get some of that from the folks I work with at FIM who have experience in many cultures, but they mostly grew up in the North East of the United States within Christianity and have many of the same influences as I do, generational differences excluded. Being able to observe other cultures brings to light the problems that come with my own cultural expectations and assumptions. I miss the consistent challenge that the intersection of cultures brings.
All this isn't to say that various cultures don't exist in Allentown. Certainly they do! I'm not sure if they simply aren't as integrated on the whole or just in the circles I walk in. Either way, I miss the diversity of culture. The strength of Washington Bible College in this area is something I don't expect to see acheived in my lifetime throughout our country, but it does cause me to reflect on heaven. I think the thing I look forward to most, in terms of the characteristics of heaven, is seeing that diversity unified to create the beauty that God created unspoiled by our sins.