Monday, May 23rd 3:30 PM
Richard picked me up at the house at 8:20 or so this morning. Said goodbye to Becky, Laura, and Becky’s parents and headed out to Chicago. We picked up Sam and John on the way and then traversed I-88 in a purple Chevy Blazer to get to Chicago.
It’s my first time at Moody and it’s an interesting campus. Land is obviously at a premium in downtown Chicago, so the campus feels a bit cramped. I’m sitting in the student center writing this, where I can view the registration area and various folks milling around, waiting for dinner and the start of the conference’s activites tonight. If only they had wi-fi access… I asked before I came and they said there was wi-fi in here, but I guess they were wrong. Or maybe they have it turned off… who knows? So, I guess I’ll have to resort to dial-up back in my room.
You can see the whole cross-section of evangelical church leadership just here in the student center. At the table next to me is a guy in jeans, a t-shirt, and a University of Wisconsin baseball cap. He looks typically midwestern. Across the room is a group of several black guys dressed to the nines – suits, ties, very slick. One of them is probably 5-9, 325, wearing a lime green pinstriped suit with the lapels turned up. Stylin’, I guess. Basic attire seems to be jeans and t-shirts, which is nicely relaxed for a pastor’s conference. I had a fleeting image of guys whose idea of “casual” dress was an open collar and loafers with their slacks and jacket… I am happy in that regard to have been (at least for now) proved wrong. Here next to me a few minutes ago was one Institute staff member talking with a few friends from out of town. They were discussing the latest Star Wars movie, so I tried to ignore them since I haven’t seen it, and won’t see it until our break on Wednesday. If I wasn’t going to the movie Wednesday, and if I’d brought my basketball shoes along, they’re having an organized 3-on-3 basketball tournament on Wednesday afternoon… that could be fun. Oh well, maybe next time I come.
We had a late lunch this afternoon at a goofy diner called Ed Debevic’s. The highlight of this place is the waitstaff that is intentionally rude to the diners. Our waitress was sullen, cynical, and had us nicknamed. Grey-haired Sam was “Pops”. John, the youth pastor was “Sparky”. I’m not sure she had a nickname for me – I guess I was beyond description. Our waitress was actually pretty tame compared to the other guy who was serving. There was a booth with two younger-ish women across and down from us a bit. At one point, they must have complained or something about their rootbeer float. So, the waiter grabs it off the table, carries it three booths away, sets it down, and yells at the top of his lungs, “Well how’s this, will you enjoy your rootbeer float better when it’s over here?” They weren’t quite sure how to respond. Once the waiter had left, a guy from a neighboring booth went over and returned the float to them – they were a bit too cowed to retrieve it themselves. Later, they made the mistake of asking for extra napkins. He walked away, shaking his head. Then, in a loud voice from behind the counter, he was laughing at top volume, and holding his head in his hands. “More napkins?!? For the love! More napkins?” Then they got their napkins.
Well it’s almost 4:00 now and the stream of men coming into the student center has continued uninterrupted. Across the way, Gene Getz, who is one of our general session speakers, is greeting some friends and mingling with the crowd. The Wisconsin fan is still sitting there, hasn’t moved or spoken since I sat down. Two guys behind me are discussing the future of Moody Broadcasting. Just another day in the big city. Dinner is in two shifts, and ours starts in half an hour. Like I need it after the cheese burger from Ed’s.