Saturday, November 15, 2008

Comparing two beloved cities

My earlier blog celebrated San Antonio, Texas, and my life there. This blog celebrates my new hometown, Nashville, Tennessee. I actually lived here before, from 1984 to 1991. And of course I lived in Devine outside San Antonio for a couple of years. So I've had two opportunities to absorb the pluses and minuses of both metropolises. Here I'd like to compare and contrast two cities dear to my heart.

I. Both are definite urban metropolises, huge and sprawling. . . yet still somehow, some way possessing a "feel" of a small town.

CONTRAST: San Antonio is by far the larger urban entity (seventh largest in these United States) and yet the "small town" feel is a bit stronger there - for me at least!

II. Both have diversified economies, in which tourism is the the #1 (or at least #2) contributor. Both also have major medical facilities.

CONTRAST: San Antonio, which began as a mission with a protecting fort, has a major military presence, while Nashville is the state capital of Tennessee and has lots of governmental offices.

III. Both are great entertainment centers. After all, I call San Antonio the city whose middle name is "Party" and Nashville is "Music City, USA".

IV. Both are on a river and exist because of that river, whatever other factors played in their founding and growth. (This is also true of the city of my raising, Boise.)

V. Both have in their center (downtown) a famous and historic building, key player in the tourism mentioned in II above. And both buildings were built for evangelism and then later converted to secular purposes. In San Antonio the said building is The Alamo, which began as Mission San Antonio de Valero, where Franciscans converted the native Coahuiltecan tribes to civilization and Christianity (before the mission was abandoned and then converted into the fortress that played such a key role in Texas Independence). In Nashville the said building is the Ryman Auditorium, which began as Union Gospel Tabernacle that Capt. Tom Ryman had constructed for Sam Jones, the Billy Graham of the late 1800s (later renamed in memory of the Captain at the evangelist's urging, it served as the largest venue in town for traveling operas and other entertainments and then the best-known home of the world's oldest live radio program, the Grand Ole Opry).

Such are the remarkable similarities -- and a few remarkable differences -- of two cities that have meant much during the course of my life. May you, dear reader, find meaning in one or both of them. And meaning and endearment in the place where you live. Most of all, may you find the true meaning of life, which is unconditional and self-denying love for the others, and salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ!

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