I have been back in the States for exactly eight weeks. My family and I spent the past five years living in Florence, Italy. For some time now, we have all heard how fast culture is changing. The rate of change is astounding and can leave you wondering how you will ever functionally survive. I thought I would take some time to share my initial observations on what has changed in America since I left in 2006. Mind you, these are just my impressions-I have nothing to factually back these up. Some of it is meant to be light hearted-some of it is meant to stir your thinking.
TV sets have become exponentially bigger, while, for some reason, soft drink cans have become exponentially smaller.
The cereal isle at the grocery store use to take up only half the shelf space-now, apparently, we need something like 113 brands that take up the whole aisle. Do we really need that much cereal?!?
Taco Bell is still reconfiguring the same five ingredients and giving it a new name as a brand new fast food creation. (This represents only a change in creative marketing.)
Any food concoction at a restaurant claiming to be Italian, isn’t. Trust me. (The change here is that we no longer have 1st generation Italians to keep it right)
Restaurant prices and used car prices have increased significantly while we were gone-all other things seem to have remained about the same. I guess this means that we will soon have to drive really old cars and eat only at home-hmmm, sounds like my childhood-which wasn’t all bad.
In the church world the “distributive model” has become all the rage. And we have become even more casual in our dress for church-my grandmother would have “had a fit.” (I was never sure what a “fit” was-but she said it a lot)
Due to the economic debacle of 2008 it is almost impossible to get a mortgage loan now-not because the money is not there or institutions don’t want to lend it-but because of all the new lending regulations. My loan officer knows things about me I didn’t know. I think the lawmakers targeted the wrong audience in their zeal for protection.
American pop culture (meaning movies, music, TV, etc.) has become even more mindless and hedonistic. The problem I see is more and more people think these broadcast messages represent real life. We seem to value entertainment and pleasure over substance and character more than ever.
There seems to be a profound sense of fear and growing hopelessness among our populous. The three recurrent themes I hear behind this are global terrorism, economic gloom and a government that is unable to govern. These three might represent three of our most significant idols as Americans: security, wealth and democracy.
The one, never changing constant: We are still a people in need of a Savior.
I will have more observations as we continue to transition back to our home country. And maybe they will be more profound and more accurate-maybe. What do you think has changed in the last five years? Please comment.