n a press release dated Sept. 4, 2013, ‘Market Watch’ of the ‘Wall Street Journal’ listed
Dallas/Fort Worth, as the Happiest City Among America’s Top 10 Markets!
Wow! Dallas! My hometown! The happiest city among America’s top 10 markets! When I heard that, my chest began to swell with pride. I knew I had always been happy living in Dallas. Perhaps, like many of us, I probably took my happiness for granted.
But, then I began to question that lofty proclamation. What would bring about such noted happiness in our own Dallas/Fort Worth cities? What makes them different? I feel reasonably sure Katharine Lee Bates wasn’t being inspired by DFW when she penned the words to ‘America The Beautiful’. They would certainly not be considered as ‘gleaming alabaster cities’, nor are they outlined by glistening white beaches overlooking shining seas. They are not surrounded by purple mountain majesty nor or they overlooking amber waves of grain. There is no crystal clear river running through them, no romantic horse drawn carriages carrying lovers along scenic tree-lined boulevards through parks and historic neighborhoods. On the surface they would seem rather mundane.
As a matter of fact, like most other large cities, both Dallas and Fort Worth seem to be no more than busy cities with numerous dense neighborhoods surrounding a complex of skyscrapers and crisscrossed with a network of concrete thoroughfares heavily snarled with the rush of commuters. As with all large cities, our news media seem to be filled with bad news. In our search for some degree of happiness, our sports arenas, restaurants, bars, and other entertainment venues are filled with the masses—seeking a respite from their wearisome workdays, just like other large cities. No difference there!
So what is it that sets Dallas/Fort Worth apart from other large cities? What could possibly be the source of our happiness. Could the fact that we are located in the region of the U.S. often referred to as the “Bible Belt”’ have something to do with it? Could that degree of happiness be derived in the fact that a large percentage of our citizens have found an inner peace that only God can supply? Could it be that our Christianity—our faith is God—our predominantly socially conservative, evangelical culture brings about a special happiness not found in other areas. In thinking of these possibilities, it should be noted that this ‘Bible Belt’ label is not merely wishful thinking of a few local religious zealots. This was the findings of a recent Gallup survey. According to that survey, the South truly lives up to its lofty label, insofar as nearly all of the top 10 most religious states are located there. The results are based on telephone interviews conducted between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012, with a random sampling of more than 348,000 adults, ages 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
And, to take it a step further, if the South is indeed considered as the Bible Belt of the U.S., DFW is often referred to as “the Buckle of the Bible Belt”. Perhaps DFW has indeed earned that designation. Our area is home to several noted theological seminaries, including the Bright Divinity School of Texas Christian University, Dallas Theological Seminary, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (the largest Protestant seminary in the world), and the Criswell College. Among notable Christian colleges and universities, DFW is home to Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, Dallas Baptist University and the Catholic University of Dallas. Additionally, the DFW area is also home to several of America’s largest megachurches including The Potter’s house (pastored by T. D. Jakes), Prestonwood Baptist Church (pastored by Jack Graham), Fellowship Church (pastored by Ed Young), First Baptist Church of Dallas (once, under the leadership of W. A. Criswell, the largest Protestant church in the world), and Lakepointe Church (pastored by Steve Stroope and listed as one of the fastest growing churches in America) .
This is not a recent phenomenon. In its glory days, Tenth Street, in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, earned a spot in Ripley’s ‘Believe it or not’ when 28 churches called Tenth Street home. During the 1950’s, that area of Dallas earned the title “Land of Churches,” as it was highly touted that more than 300 houses of worship were located in Oak Cliff — said to be the nation’s largest concentration of churches per square mile. It was during the 1950s that Tyler Street Methodist Church (at the corner of Tenth and Polk streets) took the honor of having the largest Sunday school enrollment in all of Methodism. My own home church was located just a block away at the corner of Tenth and Tyler.
In addition to all the afore mentioned ‘brick and mortar’ centers of worship and study, the DFW airwaves are filled with Inspirational broadcasting. We can name a number of Christian Radio Stations that originate right here in our area including:
KVRK 89.7 Power FM – The Christian rock station!;
KCBI 90.9 FM – Family friendly Christian talk and music ;
KDKR 91.3 FM – Christian Talk;
KLTY 94.9 FM – Contemporary Christian Music;
The WORD 100.7 – Christian Talk Radio;
KYDA – 101.7 FM – Alternative Christian Rock.
Is it happenstance—mere coincidence that Christianity and happiness cohabit in the same areas of the nation? Would we think it odd that those two traits walk hand in hand? I think not. In Psalm 33:12 and again in Psalm 144:15 we read, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD (NIV),” In the Amplified Bible we get a more complete meaning of the word ‘blessed’. There we read, “Happy and blessed are the people who are in such a case; yes, happy (blessed, fortunate, prosperous, to be envied) are the people whose God is the Lord!”. I would venture that that beautiful verse would also apply to individual cities whose God is the LORD.
That being the case, wouldn’t it seem logical to set Dallas ‘the land of churches’ apart from other cities in which Christianity is not a priority—cities causing our president to declare that the United States is no longer a Christian nation. We can only pray that our happy city doesn’t join the ranks of that tragic designation.