Bronzed Bodies & Coffee Culture
Saturday in Bondi, and the suburb is abuzz. The Moore College team is in the thick of it, undertaking a demographic and cultural research project of sorts dubbed “The $20 Wander” by Assistant Minister Blake Hatton. The method? Take $20, buy a coffee and something to eat, watch people. Things we were asked to look out for included what kinds of things have gotten people out and about, what do they seem to value, what might their hopes and fears be, and what professions people might have been employed in. There were a few observations, mostly unsurprising, that were unanimously reported by the team.
Firstly, health. The markets at the local public primary school were full of the latest and greatest in organic vegetables and health foods. There were at least three kombucha stalls. In addition, as we’ve noted all week, there were very few pasty, puffy bodies around: bronzed and sculpted was the order of the day. Body shape is even an indication of local versus tourist: the latter seems more willing to be seen out in public without a perfect six-pack.
Secondly, fashion. While there were several styles in evidence, there was not one instance of dagginess. Even the retro oversized beachwear look maintained an aura of expensive taste and careful arrangement.
Thirdly, the finer things. Good coffee, good pastry, heirloom produce, international cuisine – all of these were present in abundance.
As we shared our observations, ministers Martin and Blake affirmed and deepened what we’d seen. Blake spoke of how ministering in Bondi can bring out a whole range of insecurities: am I cool enough to reach these people? Reaching Bondi with the gospel requires a Spirit-given determination to see with the eyes of faith: people really do need Jesus, even if it looks like they have everything. Martin revealed that there are three big, busy plastic surgery practices in the area; the attention to beautiful bodies is matched by a dark side of anxiety about one’s image.
In a place like this, the gospel truth that Jesus has come not for perfect people but for broken ones is a powerful message. However Bondi-ites might measure their own righteousness, there’s an undercurrent of anxious self-knowledge: they don’t measure up, even to their own standards. Pray that the Spirit might enliven many in the knowledge that Jesus calls them just as they are.