I have been home for a week, and in that time, have been thinking about my week in Las Vegas, where the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership annual conference was held. I had gone, a little reluctantly, because I do not personally care for gambling, but very quickly found myself seduced by the atmosphere of a place which one of our presenters admitted frankly has, as its primary reason for existence, experience. Las Vegas is centered around gambling, glitz and entertainment - I certainly knew that - but what amazed me most was how centered it is on consumerism.
Vegas is the ultimate experience of fun - free outdoor venues, numerous shows, concerts, gambling and more. Big-name celebrities were the headliners: Cher, Donny and Marie Osmond... There are myriad sight-seeing opportunities, both in and nearby. Golf courses, resorts, and a newly opened thrill-jumping opportunity (similar to bungie-jumping) offer opportunities for the outdoor types and the more-daring. Indoors, there are live panoramas and robotic shows, lavish interiors and panoramas of Paris streets, classical Rome, the Conservatory botanical garden display in the Bellagio (outdoors they have the famous synchronized fountains...) art galleries, and shopping, shopping, shopping.
In short, Las Vegas offers together in one place the most, the biggest, the brightest, and the best experiences money can buy. Coming back, I joked to friends that "everything seems so much smaller than life" after Vegas. I recognize the seduction. Las Vegas is really the Pursuit of Happiness gone mega-watt huge. Nothing else can compare. No wonder the lady in the seat next to us on the way out was going there on her 7th trip, clutching her Cher ticket, and sorting through a lap-full of discount offers. She was on her way to break the monotony of her daily life by worshiping at the shrine.