We made it to Anaheim in more or less one piece. The most exciting part of the trip was watching the temperature drop from about 113 F as we crossed the desert between Phoenix and Los Angeles to about 84 F as we descended down to sea level and arrived in Anaheim. (For those of us who have grown accustomed to the summer heat of Phoenix, that’s a pretty big shift.) My wife and daughter are now snuggled under double blankets in our hotel room.
We met up with my sister-in-law who lives here in California last night and went on a walking tour of the Convention Center complex. We walked down the long promenade in front of the building and suddenly saw the entrance to Disneyland across the street. A quick confab and a tram ride later and there we were in Downtown Disney.
I’ve been in Downtown Disney in Florida before. (We spent a week in Disney World three years ago as one of our few big vacation trips.) I was surprised at how similar this one was here in Anaheim, though it was admittedly smaller and more intimate. The crowd density was about the same.
What struck me though was the contrast between what I’m here to do and what the setting is that we’re attempting to do it in.
The single largest issue according to the people of Arizona that is facing the Episcopal Church is our lack of obvious commitment to the world’s poor. The lack of commitment is seen by most in the Episcopal Church’s budgetary change for the coming three years to remove the agreed upon 0.7% of the total budget to be spent in support of the Millenium Development Goals. I’ve gotten an endless stream of mail asking me and others from the Arizona deputation to work to restore that funding.
(To be fair, the Executive Council and the Presiding Bishop’s staff are arguing that the funding is still in the budget and always has been, it’s just not being broken out explicitly. I and others are responding that the point of the MDG’s is to increase the level of funding not to identify funding that’s already being spent…)
So there I was walking down a street filled with expensive disposable commercial trademark characters thinking about that controversy. I was wondering what it would be like to take the intellectual enterprise and obvious project management skills that created this street full of temples to world commerce and consumerism and use those powers for good.
I don’t know that the Disney imagineers and marketers would be able to solve the world’s problems, but gosh, I imagine they’d find it a much more fulfilling task to try to do that rather than to sell another character-branded widget.
Sort of shame that we as a church have lost the bully pulpit we once had to say that in a compelling way to the community.
Maybe the Episcopal Church (and other churches) might think less about accounting issues and more on how to regain the moral voice and suasion that we once had in society.
Young people from the finest universities in England used to catch the vision of traveling to the poorest parts of the world in hopes of serving the poor. Maybe the foot-soldiers of coroporation motivated consumerism might convinced to do the same thing.