But you know what? I'm sticking with crass and tawdry. A couple of girls in DC got asked to drinks at a nightclub after repeated (and falsely) insisting that they were 17-year-olds from Arizona. Another person in our group was asked if she had an ecstasy to share with her interlocutor. The streets here are literally paved with porn and I can't begin to describe the t-shirts they sell here. Even the things that are beautiful--the Bellagio fountains, Caesar's palace, the rainstorm in the middle of the Miracle Mile Shops--are all facades, spectacle built on and supporting of greed, lust, and selfishness.
But I know that there's a lot of good here. Here's something: I got a temporary henna tattoo at one of the storefronts out in front of the Travelodge from a guy that I'm willing to describe as "sketchy." He wore a straw-snakeskin cowboy hat and had tattoos (real ones) snaking down his arms and crawling up his neck. In his garbage were several empty cans of alcopop and I could smell in on his breath as he leaned over my shoulder to trace my bird in ink. He kept muttering, giving low, repeating groans, and, while I can't prove that they were track marks, he definitely had a couple of dots of blood over veins on the top of his arms, which I know from physiology is a next step once your inner arms are scarred up.
Yet, maybe it was the fact that he was working on a part of my shoulder that few people see, much less touch, but I really felt a deep kinship with this guy. I could even say I love him, in that vague, undirected, love-of-humanity kind of way. What I really want to do is tell him that he's a son of God, who lived in the presence of God and was sent by God's love to earth. I want to tell him that he will live forever. But this is crazy stuff--this is what street preachers do. I don't even have, for example, a Book of Mormon to give him, not even a passalong card. I kind of have in my mind that I'll write him a thank-you note for the good job (and free touch up) he did on my temptatt and drop in there how loved he is of God but I don't even know his name. And I am scared.
But all of these people here, even the crass and tawdry ones, down inside, they have souls. That's pretty wonderful.