The glory of Vegas

eiffel-105506_960_720I was recently in Las Vegas. I had low expectations of glitzy facades attempting to cover seedy bars and casinos, and filthy streets; I wasn’t expecting to love it.

But love it I did. It was fabulous: glitter and glamour, bright lights and creativity and a central strip that never sleeps. It was like a giant, adult carnival, and the seediness, while certainly present, wasn’t as overt as I’d feared. I remember walking down the strip one night, past the extraordinary fountains of the Bellagio and the soaring spire of the Eiffel Tower and thinking that human creativity had outdone itself. Here in Vegas, was everything that man had to offer.

Two days later, I drove out of Vegas and went to the Grand Canyon. The contrast was immense. Not just in size and in grandeur, but in heart. In Vegas, human creativity was at its peak, at the Canyon, we caught a glimpse of God’s. And it won, hands down.

The next day we were in Monument Valley, and we rode through the desert on horseback.20160104_074834 The silence was overwhelming. The monuments rose, towering trough the frigid air. They were so sure of themselves. Their majesty did not need the adornment of bright lights, or the lure of naked women. They didn’t care whether people came to look at them or not. They reflected the glory of their creator, and they will likely stand in worship of him, long after Vegas falls.

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The sinister side of Times Square

20151224_213032Times Square is one of the most iconic locations in New York. I was there recently, standing amongst crowds so thick that police officers needed to be present at all traffic lights to ensure that the people didn’t mob the intersections and block all the cars.

The vibe was electric: noise; colour; excitement; thousands flocking to see this image of iconic America. As I stood there, I was struck by a sense of comic irony, which soon turned in to a kind of grave wariness. Times Square is more representative of America and the west than I had realized, and in a rather sinister way.

It stands, gloating, in one of the greatest cities in the world, as a shrine to capitalism and consumerism. As I gazed up at the bright lights, I asked myself suddenly, ‘What am I here to see?’

Thousands flock daily to Times Square to look at advertisements.

That’s all it is. Dozens of luminous billboards, sky high, telling us what we need and who we should be. And it’s a tourist magnet.

I think lots of us like to believe that we’re somehow above and immune to the advertising machine, but Times Square, to me, proves that we’re not. And the scariest thing? We waltz on in, take our selfie, and walk out… claiming all the time that we are not a pawn in the very hand that just moved us.