COMMENTARY: The open road just got a whole lot smaller

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INDIANAPOLIS-Like all American cities in the heady days after World War II, this city tumbled into marriage with the automobile industry. It’s part of what enabled a modest Midwest city to become a throbbing urban giant. Yet as gasoline climbs to $5 a gallon and appears to be headed for $10, that automobile-centered world is crashing down. As I drive a rented car around the city of my childhood, everything looks different to me. Far-flung suburbs reachable only by car look absurd and problematic. I drive four miles here and eight miles there with a sense of sad farewell. In this place where I had a standard American childhood-being driven, yearning to drive, driving myself, buying a car-I sense that a “farewell tour” is at hand.

(Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus,” and the founder of the Church Wellness Project, http://www.churchwellness.com. His Web site is http://www.morningwalkmedia.com.)