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Gotham City

As long as I can remember, I have been interested in the world of Batman. Since I was pre-kindergarten, I used a towel  for a cape and donned a mask and tried to save the city against the likes of the Joker, the Penguin, or the Riddler. The truth remains: I still am a fan of the Dark Knight.

In fact, let me point out a few similarities.

We have the same initials: BW.

We both can point to emotional distress and loss as a catalyst for certain decisions and actions.

We both are more nocturnal than the average person and both have a rather tight inner circle. Oh, and there’s more, but you are already rolling your eyes a bit, so I’ll stop here for now.


Gotham City, though, isn’t as fictional as we all may think. While some of it is based on NYC and some of it looks like Chicago, it’s all about where we call home.  And is there any geographic place where you most identify with to the point that seeing it suffer would cause you—yourself—to suffer?

In an age of instant communication where there is more information than reflection and more words being used, than thoughts being listened to…in an age where many marriages meet online and where we connect and reconnect over images and digital traffic….place still matters. Wendell Berry writes these words: “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”

 And I think we all have sacred places and desecrated places in our lives. I remember where I first kissed her. That place is sacred. And no, I won’t tell you her name. She knows. I remember where I first received a paycheck. I remember where I first….

 Place matters.

 Gotham City matters….to me. And before you try to identify what psychosis best describes this, look first at your own life and whether or not you resonate with Mayberry or Oz or the ‘hills are alive with the sound of music,’ or a galaxy far, far away. Place matters in our psyche and in reality and when the two merge we truly find out more about not only our identity, but that which we are willing to call sacred.

Toward the end of Dark Knight Rises, a passage from Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities is read. It goes like this:  “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

Place matters. And deep down, you know this is true.

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As a University director of study abroad in Central Texas, ideas and stories matter. These reflections are for pilgrims making progress.