I've been a Seventh-day Adventist since birth--and I've been a baptized member for nine of my 22 years. For all those years I've heard my pastors, teachers, and parents say "Jesus is coming again!" or "Jesus is coming soon!"
I've sung all the songs, watched the lectures, taken the classes, and visited all the Adventist Historical sites. I am the perfect, stereotypical Adventist. The date October 22 has always had an ominous ring to it, though nothing bad has ever happened to me on it.
Then today in my Old Testament Studies class, I was given a new way to look at this date. October 22nd wasn't the Great Disappointment, as all of us in the church call it. It was the Great Anticipation. Our ancestors believed that Jesus was going to come back to earth, to take them out of this sin sick world.
October 23rd was the day of disappointment. When the clock stuck midnight on that cold morning the hopes of many were crushed. Hiram Edson said, "We wept and wept until the day dawn." Many of these early Adventists left the movement. They had been disappointed several times earlier, and this was the final straw.
But the reason I know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is on a mission sent from God is this: we still exist. We shouldn't. Everyone should have given up after October 22, 1844, but they didn't. In December of 1844 William Miller wrote in the Midnight Cry, "I have set my mind on another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light. And that [the time God gives me more light] is today, Today, and TODAY until He comes."
In the days surrounding the Disappointment God's truth was given to many, and shared with all who would listen. They had the right day, but the wrong event. Jesus wasn't supposed to come to earth that day, but instead was to enter the Most Holy Place in Heaven to act as our Lawyer.
F. E. Beldon's song says it best:
We know not the hour of the Master's appearing;
But signs all foretell that the moment is nearing
When He shall return--'tis the promise most cheering--
But we know not the hour.
He will come, [He will come]
Let us watch and be ready
He will come, [He will come]d
He will come in the clouds of His Father's bright glory
But we know not the hour.
We don't know when Christ will return, but that doesn't matter. We know THAT He will come, and that's all that matters.
Father, we know that Your Son has promised to come back to this earth to take us to Heaven to live with You there. May that coming be soon, but more importantly, may we be ready for His coming. This is my prayer for all those who read this. I pray this in the name of Jesus--He who came to earth, died as a the substitution for our death penalty, rose again on the third day, and is now in Heaven as our advocate. Amen.
Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. New York: Anchor , Doubleday, 1996. Print.
Just over two months ago I went on a trip to Europe, where I got to experience many of the most important places in history. When I was over there I remembered something I learned about in Dr. Haluska’s English Literature class—the White Martyrdom.
There are actually three colors of martyrdom:
1) The traditional Red Martyrdom which spilled the blood of countless (mostly early) Christians. Of this Martyrdom Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
2) The Green Martyrdom was a way for Irish clerics to copy the early desert hermits. They moved away from civilization, hoping to find God in the solitude and beauty of nature, as well as in the written Word of God.
These hermitages very quickly became monasteries, and the monasteries quickly became cultural centers at a time when all of civilization was collapsing (the mid-to-late fifth century to the early-to-mid sixth century—when Rome was collapsing). They collected books from all over the known world, on topics both sacred and secular.
3) The most moving to me (at this point) is the White Martyrdom. There was a main priest of the monetary, who was called the Abbot. Under the Abbot were twelve priests who were awaiting ordination. When they had learned and grown enough to be ordained, they were charged with the task of starting a new monetary, and in doing so they would spread the Gospel of Christ with the pagans they came in contact with.
It wasn’t as easy as it is now, though, to move to a faraway land. These freshly ordained Abbots oftentimes didn’t even know where they were going. They would just pack a small boat and sail into the white, foggy morning—never to be heard from by their friends again. Some didn’t even pack oars, instead trusting God to guide them.
They didn’t just drop off the face of the earth, though. They witnessed to much of Europe, making their way as far west as modern-day Kiev in Ukraine. They formed new monasteries in places like Salzburg and Vienna, Liège and Würzburg.
James Bullock remarked, “All England north of the Thames was indebted to the Celtic mission for its conversion” because the British Christians hated their Saxon invaders—the same people who had pushed them out of their lands into modern-day Wales. It was the Celtic missionary martyrs who brought the gospel to England.
As I mentioned, I got the idea for this post from a lecture from Dr. Haluska’s English Literature class. He quoted from a book by Thomas Cahill: “How the Irish Saved the World,” which I read in preparation for this article.
Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2014 (for Monday, July 15, 2014)
Time: 5:22 pm European Time/11:22 am EST
Place: Over Newfoundland, heading toward Boston. 2960 miles from Brussels, 1468 miles from home. Longitude 60 degrees 59' 17" West. Latitude 44 degrees 48' 36" North. Remaining time in flight, 3 hours 13 minutes.
We ate breakfast at 8 o'clock on Monday morning, which was the latest we've gotten to eat. We left the hotel a few minutes before 9 o'clock so that we could meet up with our walking tour guide, Ann.
Ann is a very happy woman, about 5' tall, and not quite as wide, but fairly close. Her personality and style of dress reminded me of Becky, which gave us a very fun and lively tour.
Ann led us through the same part of town we had explored the day before, but we got to hear all of the stories this time (there was no motor getting in our way.
We crossed a bridge and walked into a gated community from the 13th or 14th century. This is where the original Women's Lib ladies lived. They didn't want to have to be married. They wanted their independence, so they basically lived like nuns and dressed like nuns. Instead of praying like nuns, however, they went out and worked. The gate to their community was locked from 6:30 in the evening until 6:30 in the morning. I think I could handle living there, at least for the most part.
The next highlight we got to see was the Wall of Beer. In the country of Belgium there are 1,132 locally produced beers, and there is one bottle of each on this wall. There are fewer lectures I've been given that were more awkward than having someone lecture a group of 26 Adventists (most of whom have never drunk a drop in their lives) about beer.
Our next stop was the town square, but to get there we walked through several of the shopping streets. I saw several lace shops, and even saw a lace loom (I'm not quite sure that's the right word, but I don't have a better one at this point). I would have liked to see it done, but we do what we can...
We were released by about noon, after giving a special book to Dr. Wohlers and Rita that we had all signed. At this point we also bid a fond farewell to the Laughlins (who left at noon to fly to Spain for the rest of this week).
By noon we were on our own, though I stayed with Kathy. We went into a couple of shops, including a shop where they make and sell chocolate. I didn't see how they made it, but I got to buy some for the family.
Kathy, Chris, Anastasia, and I all decided that we wanted to go to Gent in the afternoon. Gent is a city about an hour away by train. In it is a beautiful Cathedral (with a an absolutely gorgeous altarpiece) and a 12th century castle. It was a lot of fun.
We got to Gent by about 2 or 2:30 and took a short bus ride over to St. Nicholas' Church. Unfortunately the altarpiece isn't in St. Nicholas, but is instead in (another) St. Baavo's church.
As we walked in we were greeted with choral music performed by a middle school choir from somewhere in the United Kingdom. Their music added a wonderful effect to the church--these old churches were made for music--but it was very hard not to analyze them to death. I thought that they were a very poor choir, but it was wonderful to have them there.
After we had enjoyed their music we each paid our E4 for a ticket into the museum to see the altarpiece that had been painted by the van Eyck brothers around 1425. Even though this was so early in art history, this shows some of the very first attempts at realism. The altarpiece is in 12 different panels, all showing various aspects of worshiping the Lamb (as described in Revelation).
On the right side on the top of the altarpiece is Adam, and on the left top is Eve, showing the importance of Original Sin. I had never realized, but Catholics believe (at least they did at the time of van Eyck) that before the Fall we were in need of Salvation, but we weren't eligible for it until Adam and Eve sinned. It was very complicated, and I don't want to try too hard to explain it, because I probably would mess it up. Suffice it to say, it was full of hooey.
After viewing the Altarpiece and enjoying the audio guide that went with it, the four of us left the church and headed to the 12th century castle which was only a few blocks away. It was built around 1180, but wasn't intended for a king and queen, but (I believe) a count and countess.
Included in our ticket was a movie guide (not an audio guide), but I kind of wish that I hadn't gotten it. The movie really wan't especially factual, or well done. I could have gone through the castle in 20 minutes, but we spent over an hour because we were trying to watch the movie as we went.
Highlights from the castle included a sword that was over 6 feet tall (I took a selfie and it's just as tall as I am), a chapel, a tower where we got to take pictures of the scenery, and a surviving two-seater outhouse which was open at the bottom over the lawn below. I also saw remnants of several other outhouses, too.
We got home from Gent after trying about four train platforms, and I went to the grocery one more time (I was sick of peanut butter sandwiches, so I wanted some cold fettucine alfredo). Then it was back to the room to eat, watch Hogan's Heroes, and go to bed. We had to be up and out by 5:55, so I set my alarm for 4:45 am.
Love to all!
Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 (for Sunday, July 13, 2014)
Time: 4:42 pm European time/10:42 am EST
Place: 35,988 feet above the Atlantic ocean, at the very beginning of being over North America. 2,661 miles from Brussels, 1,775 miles from home. Longitude: 54 degrees 48' 11" W. Latitude 45 degrees 56' 17" north.
We left Leiden by about 9 in the morning, walking down to the train station from our hotel. The weather was iffy at best. We were forced to take a total of three trains, finally arriving in Brugge by about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I spent most of the day dozing, so nothing particularly wonderful happened.
When we arrived in town we were given a few minutes to check into our hotel which was a boat called "De Barge." Joel and I shared a double room. There wasn't a lot of space, but there was plenty to be comfortable. We were told to be back downstairs in about 10 minutes so that we could continue our adventures.
The whole group assembled, and then we walked about 15 minutes to the church of Our Lady (it had a really long Flemish name that I couldn't even hope to pronounce, so I don't remember it). In it is Michelangelo's statue of the Virgin and Child (or some very similar name). It was the only one of Michelangelo's statues to leave Italy during his lifetime.
It was confiscated by Hitler's men during World War II (along with the Gent Altarpiece, which we'll talk about in tomorrow's post) and plays an important role in Monument Men which is a fairly recent movie I haven't been able to finish yet. Suffice it to say, it's beautiful and the church got it back when the war was over.
We really didn't spend that much time in the church since there was really only that one piece of art to see. There were others, but we were very quickly able to see them on the way to the statue.
We left the church and walked across the street to St. John's Hospital which dates from the High Middle Ages. For centuries it was an actual hospital, but in the last hundred years (or maybe even less) it has been turned into a very nice museum.
It contains an altarpiece, dedicated to various St. Johns. I don't remember who is in the middle panel, but St. John the Baptist was shown (decapitated) in the left panel, and St. John the Revelator was shown (in vision) on the right panel. It was really quite remarkable.
Also in the church was a reliquary that (at least at one point) was supposed to hold the relics of St. Ursula. I don't think anyone told me the actual story of St. Ursula, but I like my story better anyway. I think she was a Christian octopus that was killed for her beliefs. But probably not...
Museums close about 5 o'clock in Europe, and the gift shops close even earlier, so I didn't get a postcard of the altarpiece. Too bad.
After finishing up at the hospital we headed over to a place where you get on a tourist boat. As we were trying to all get on the boat we came very close to capsizing, but luckily we managed to not do that. The man driving the boat gave us all sorts of factoids, but I was sitting in the back (as some sort of a ballast, I suppose) so I couldn't hear anything.
After the boat ride (which was quite a lot of fun) we were given free time. It was around 7 by this point, so I went to the grocery story to get some more bread, then went back to the hotel and ate. Over this trip I've managed to introduce Joel to Hogan's Heroes, so we watched four or five episodes. It was a fun way to kill some time before we were ready for bed.
Love to all!
Date: Friday, July 11, 2014 (for Wednesday, July 9, 2014)
Time: 10:23 pm local time (4:23 pm EST)
Place: Hotel Mayflower, Leiden, the Netherlands
I actually started this blog yesterday evening, but I didn’t get beyond “Hello folks!” before I decided to go to bed. So I’ll try again now.
Wednesday morning dawned chilly and overcast. We left the hotel early again, heading to Notre Dame, the Cathedral of Our Lady in Paris. A Cathedral is where the Bishop has his seat, and in Paris it is at Notre Dame. My closest guess is that our equivalent is the conference office, or the church most closely associated with it.
Dr. Wohlers lectured for a few minutes before letting us go into the museum. He started to outline for us the six periods he sees in French history. In very short detail here they are:
We got to go into Notre Dame by this point, and it’s very beautiful inside, though darker than you would expect for a Gothic church (which was built specifically to let light in). The rose window was simply gorgeous, and there was an air of ancient, sacred goings on—though it could have just been incense.
As I was walking around I heard the organ being played, which was very exciting. As I continued to walk, though, I realized that he wasn’t actually playing anything. I got my hopes up that they let Joe Schmo go up into the organ loft and fiddle around, but alas and alak, it was only being tuned.
Notre Dame was built in 1163, though it wasn’t completed until the 19th century. That’s close to 800 years! The original builder, Maurice de Sully, didn’t even expect to see his building finished. He did it out of a desire and a willingness to serve God (actually, technically, to serve Mary, but we’ll take what we can get).
We walked around the outside of the Cathedral to see the flying buttresses and gargoyles. I can finally say that after studying and learning for almost 20 years, I finally understand the point of a flying buttress, and how they work. Special thanks goes to Kathy for taking the time to explain it.
We walked around Paris for a while, stopping by the opera house where The Phantom of the Opera is set. After that we were freed, and I went with Joel and the Laughlins. Little did I know that we would end up at an expensive Chinese restaurant, but I made the best out of it and it was decent.
The afternoon was spent at the Louvre, which was very exciting. I paid the extra E5 to get the audio guide, which was able to take me on a guided tour. We were given two hours, and that was the perfect amount of time. The tour I chose was the “Three Highlights” tour, though I’m not quite sure what the three were, since they also showed me several others.
The first thing that I saw was the Winged Victory, which had just recently been put back out on display, after having restoration work done on it. It is a statue that looks like an angel (without a head or arms) landing on a boat (or part of a boat). It’s famous and kind of pretty.
Then I got to see the Venus di Milo, another statue of a lady without arms, though this one does have a head (but no shirt). She is really quite breathtaking and looks very real, though she is larger than life size. She has a calm serenity about her that is very enjoyable.
The next place I was taken was to see La Giaconda, who(m) we know as the Mona Lisa. I had been told that the guards didn’t take kindly to pictures being taken, but they weren’t stopping us, and so I got a nice picture of her, and then a selfie with her. What a memory!
In the same room as Mona, though on the opposite wall, is Véronèse’s painting of the Wedding at Cana, which is really quite nice. I discovered, however, that the old masters had no clue what it actually looked like in the Holy Lands, how they dressed, or what musical instruments were available. The painting looks like it could have come out of Rome, and there is a cellist and a violinist providing the music. Whoops!
I also got to see the very famous painting of the coronation of Napoleon, which is a misnomer. It depicts Napoleon after he has been crowned Emperor. It depicts Napoleon crowing Josephine as the Empress.
In the gift shop I saw a 3D puzzle I want to get of the Eiffel Tower, though I will look for it when I get home so that I don’t have to pay E45 for it. It’s really nice (and I believe numbered), so I think it would be fun to do.
It was raining as we left the Louvre and started to head back to the hotel. Dr. Wohlers wanted to take us to l’Arc du Triomphe, so we stopped there briefly. It’s quite impressive, and is actually a war memorial. Carved onto the inside of the arch are name after name after name, but as far as I can tell they aren’t names of people, but of places. I will have to investigate more at a later date. Also under the arch is the French answer to the Tomb of the Unknowns. This is specifically an unknown soldier from World War I, so my bet is Ben Walton (the brother of John, not the son). Carved onto the memorial are these words: “Ici repose un soldat francaise mot pour la patrie 1914-1918.” Here rests a French soldier who died for the homeland.
We made it back to the hotel unscathed, then Kathy and I ran back out to go to a couple of grocery stores. Then it was off to bed.
Love to all!
Date: Thursday, July 10, 2014 (for Monday, July 7, 2014)
Time: 10:04 am local time (4:04 am EST)
Place: Train from Paris to Leiden (we just passed through Brussels)
Hello folks! I’m slightly more awake now!
Monday morning started out fairly early again, as we were to go over to Museum Island to visit some of the finest antiquities that exist. We started with what is called the Eastside Gallery, a section of the Wall which has been graffitied. I appreciate it for its artistic and cultural significance, but didn’t especially care for the art. It’s just not quite my style.
We made it to the Neue Museum, which Dad and I had gone to last year and spent quite a lot of time in. We had managed to miss our reservation, so we had to come back in an hour. We walked around for a few minutes, visiting St. Hedwig’s Lutheran Church, which has a beautiful organ on the side. My guess is that it is about the same size as the organ at home, though it might be just a little bit bigger.
We went back to the museum and were let in, and Dr. Wohlers told us to be out in just about an hour. Pretty much the first thing I did was to go to find Neffertiti. She is very beautiful, so it was nice to get to see her again. After that I just kind of wandered through the museum. I went through a hall which showed the change in how Egyptians depicted the human face, and it was really quite remarkable.
I discovered that there was one more level with “prehistory” type things on it, which included a ceremonial golden hat that was used as some sort of a calendar. It was quite cool. Also included was a Neanderthal skull which had been crushed and glued back together. They had also made a probable reconstruction (which I don’t think is particularly probable since there was no nose on the skull, so we’re only guessing that he had a very wide nose. I’ve watched too many episodes of Bones, I guess
We were released to go to lunch after going to the museum, and I went to McDonalds and ate with Rita and Wohlers. It was nice to get to sit with them. I spent most of my time chatting with Rita, since Wohlers didn’t really chime in, but I think he is enough like me he enjoyed being there and hearing the conversation.
Next we went to the National Museum, which told the story of Germany from the early ADs to the present. I thought it was very well done, but most everyone else took Dr. Wohler’s assignment too seriously. He pointed out a few people that we should be looking for, and they all were stressing about not being able to find them. I, on the other hand, decided that it was fine to see as much as I could see, and enjoy as much as I could enjoy. If I did that, then I would probably learn what I was supposed to learn, and I would certainly have fun doing it.
At that museum I saw four or five pianos, a really nice portrait of Handel (the original that we often see in books) and several other great works of art. I compared the busts of Napoleon and Joseph Bonaparte, saw paintings of King Frederick the Great of Prussia (who was ruling at the time of Bach and his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. CPE actually worked for him) and our very own King George III (the king during the Revolutionary War). I never did find anything about Karl Adenauer.
We went to one more museum that day, and it was called the Pergamum Museum, situated right next to the Neue Museum. In it is the Ishtar Gate and the ceremonial passageway from Babylon, both of which date to the time of Daniel. Daniel very possibly would have walked this gate every day on his way to work, and by looking at it, it’s not hard to discover where he got the ideas for the beasts. Both are absolutely breathtaking. The gate very easily stands 35-40 feet tall.
I went upstairs in the Pergamum Museum and was treated to Islamic art. Their culture, along with Jewish culture, forbids the use of animals or people in their art. They believe that doing so would be breaking the commandment against graven images. Instead the Muslims have developed art full of intricate patterns and geometry. Everything is extremely intricate and beautiful.
There was one rug hanging on the wall that I spent a fair amount of time trying to comprehend. There are five panels that have the same bell-like pattern. In the sixth panel, however, there is only one vertical half. Most of the rugs on the walls had holes, but this one seemed to have the border all the way around, so I couldn’t figure out why the pattern didn’t continue. They must have run out of red yarn.
After we finished in the Pergamum museum we were given some free time to eat, go back to the hotel, and gather our belongings. We were taking a night train between Berlin and Paris. We were supposed to have a stranger in our compartment since Lisa went home on Sunday, but Dr. Wohlers very kindly bought us another ticket that we could give to him so that we could have the compartment to ourselves. The man was very nice, and was happy to move.
I was in the compartment with Kathy, both Laughlins, and Joel. Joel and I got to have the bottom berths, then Kathy and Dr. Laughlin slept in the middle. Kaiti slept on the top, with her suitcase sleeping in the other top berth. We had good strong air conditioning, so I had a fighting chance to sleep well.
Love to all!
Date: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 (for Sabbath, July 5, 2014)
Time: 11:08 pm local time (5:08 pm EST)
Sabbath dawned far too early, and I went down to have my warm Swiss cheese sandwich for breakfast. Yummy… I’m very much ready for some scrambled eggs or apple and raisin muffins. We had to leave the hotel by about 8:30 to catch our train to Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
When we got to the town, we walked for about a mile until we found the old town. There we walked down the long street until we came to the town square, which contains a statue of Luther and one of Melantholen (I don’t remember how to spell his name).
We continued down the street until we came to the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) where Martin Luther had nailed his 95 Theses to the door. Last year when Dad and I had gone to the church it was closed and there was a gate up so we couldn’t get up to the door. This year, in addition to that closing and the gate, almost all of the church was covered in what was effectively bubble wrap. They are renovating the church for the 500th anniversary of the day the Theses were nailed to the door. That’s coming in 2017, so I’ll have to be sure to get there then.
We went around the corner, past the church, and found an unused staircase. We all sat down, and Joel and I were in charge of the church service. I taught the group to sing A Mighty Fortress in German, and then we sang a version of it in English. They didn’t seem to care, but I got to do it, and the Laughlins, Kathy, and the Wohlers enjoyed doing it. The Wohlers thanked me for it later.
Joel gave the short “sermon” which basically consisted of telling about his car accident, and then saying how we could very easily see that God, the Mighty Fortress, was in charge. The day before, after visiting Checkpoint Charlie, one of our group fainted due to dehydration, but we could see that God was in control. In everything that has gone wrong, we can see that God is protecting us and keeping us safe.
On our way out of town we stopped and went into the courtyard of Luther’s house. There Dr. Wohlers told us a little bit about Katharine von Bora, his wife. He quipped that she probably wasn’t the best preacher’s wife, since she couldn’t even play the piano. I quipped right back that the piano wouldn’t be invented for 200 years.
We all got on the train again, this time heading for Leipzig, the home of Bach for some 27 years. Last year I had been there, and so when we were released to go find food, I led my group to the Italian restaurant that Dad and I had enjoyed the year before. I got a pizza this time around, and it was quite delicious.
From there we walked to the St. Thomas Church (which was maybe a 3 minute walk). Bach had been the official town music director, which put him in charge of all music in the 4 churches in town. St. Thomas was the “first church,” which means that his new music premiered in the St. Thomas church. We got to experience a concert of absolutely amazing music, most of which would have premiered in that church.
The concert started with an organ transcription of Bach’s famous chaconne for violin. It continued with a motet by Heinrich Schutz, Bach’s motet Jesu meine Freude (Jesus, Priceless Treasure), and his cantata no. 167. I was about the only person to love the concert, but I did love it with all my heart.
After the concert we waited around for a while, then took a subway train back to the train station. From the station we made it back to the Berlin Hauptbahnhoff, which brought us back to our hotel.
Later in the evening Joel and I went down to the market, and I bought a bag of gummy bears that weighted a kilogram (2.2 lbs). After we got back, a few of the girls came and knocked on the door to see if our roommates wanted to go to the Laundromat with them. They declined, but Joel and I jumped at the chance for clean clothes.
It was a fifteen minute walk to the Laundromat, but it was much nicer than the one in Florence. It was actually inside a building instead of what looked like a garage. And there was ample seating (and enough washers and dryers). After a few goof ups, we got clean laundry, and went back to the room. I soon fell asleep, which is also where I’m heading now.
Love to all!
Date: Monday, June 30, 2014 (for Sabbath, June 28, 2014)
Time: 10:25 am local time/4:25 am EST
Place: Vienna, Austria
Sabbath was, ideally, to be a restful, easygoing day, but thanks to the Three Stooges plus 1 (or Laurel and Hardy Squared) it was a bit of an adventure. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We had church in front of one of the most famous churches in Florence: Santa Maria Novella. The front of the church is quite beautiful, but the façade dates later than the rest of the church. It has green accents around the edges. Our devotional was given by Chris Dant, who told the story of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
We went inside Santa Maria Novella, and were specifically told to find two pieces of art. The first was a very beautiful crucifix by Brunelleschi. The story goes that Michelangelo was walking past the church and saw the crucifix and dropped his packages because it was so incredibly lifelike and beautiful.
Also in the church was a painting of the Trinity by a man named Tomaso Guido, who was called Masaccio. The painting shows the Father and the Son, but you have to look very carefully to find the Spirit. It is depicted as a dove, but if you aren’t looking for it, the dove looks like part of the Father’s robe. It’s a very beautiful painting.
Another statue in the church was very disturbing to me, but I’m not really sure why. Kathy Goddard explained it to me, and it made more sense, but it still struck me as very odd. It was a statue of Christ in the tomb. We are used to seeing Him dead on the cross, but our art doesn’t depict him in the tomb. Theirs did, and it was the strangest thing to me.
As I was walking around, I saw a grave marker by the edge of the church, towards the front. It said Jacopo Peri, creatore del melodramma. This is the grave marker of the man who invented the opera genre, though we don’t have a complete score to it. The first complete opera we have is Orfeo by Monteverdi.
We were given a break for lunch, and we went out for one last Italian meal. I head that we were to be back with the group by 1 o’clock, but Laughlin and Goddard head 1:30. I deferred to them, though I shouldn’t have. We missed meeting up with the group for the train trip to Pisa.
Our group is very efficient, partially because we are all teachers (in some form or another). We all fanned out, leaving one at the center as a meeting point. We walked around the area, looking for them. I got Dr. Wohlers’ number from dad, and then when he didn’t answer I got Chris Dant’s number from Curtis. I texted him and we figured out that they had left us and had gone to Pisa. We decided to follow them, catching a train that left a few minutes later.
Once we were in Pisa we took a bus over to the leaning tower, which is the belfry (or campanella) of the Cathedral. In front of the church, and higher, and almost as large is the baptistery. Before we got there, the big group got to go into the baptistry, and they even did a demonstration of the acoustics. Unfortunately, I missed it.
We did get to go into the Cathedral, and I was very impressed by it. It was set up for tourists, but they came the closest (except maybe San Giorgio in Venice) to having some form of reverence, which I greatly appreciated. The front of the church had a medieval mosaic at the front which had been rediscovered during renovations in the 1958.
I got my picture taken in front of the Leaning Tower, but didn’t attempt to climb it. It was expensive, for one, and it is leaning over. I didn’t want to risk falling off it. I figured my weight at just the right place could drastically change the fragile balance it has and ruin a historical monument for everyone.
We took the train back to Florence, and then were dismissed for one more meal. We stopped at a grocery store and I bought a little bit of produce (I’ve been craving vegetables), then we went and ate sitting on the steps of San Lorenzo. It was a nice place to look out at the people walking. The people in the open-air market were closing up for the day, and banging very loudly, and at one point I think I heard a shot (though it could have been a firework), but I felt quite safe.
From there we went back to our hotel, collected our luggage, and went to the train station for a night train from Florence to Vienna. We were assigned couchettes (koo-shetts, a compartment with two sets of three-high berths), and I was with both Laughlins, Goddard, Joel, and Lisa. We were a good group. I was the one in charge of climbing up to the top berth and putting our luggage up on the rack. Then we made Kaiti and Lisa sleep up on the top. I was willing to let the older ladies have the bottom, but they offered it to me.
We all slept decently, though not stellarly. Others in our large group (the whiners) complained the next day about how bad they slept and how hot it was on the top. Lisa and Kaiti never said anything.
That’s about it for Sabbath. I’ll write about yesterday a little later on.
Love to all!
Date: Sunday, June 29, 2014 (for Friday, June 27, 2014)
Friday morning we took the train back to Rome to spend the day. We got off the train at Roma Centrali (the central train station in Rome) and then went to two or three art museums, all of which frown upon taking pictures, so they all sort of run together.
At the first museum we went to, they had the very famous Roman copy of the Greek Discus Thrower, which does an amazing job of showing all of the musculature. It actually looks as if it could be moving and throwing the discus (which is basically a Frisbee). Standing next to it is another copy of the original (which has been lost for centuries). It looks like it would have been as grand, but is missing its head, and at least one arm.
Between the first and second museums Lisa lectured for a while about the relationship between the Roman Empire and the Christians. The Empire was made up of two different classes of people: the Patricians (wealthy, nobility) and the Plebeians (the working class). Suddenly the Plebes found themselves getting some say in how government worked.
The Christians had problems because they were seen as unpatriotic. The Romans would allow the people they conquered and ruled to continue to worship their local gods, but they demanded that they also worship the Emperor as a god. The Christians refused to do so, and were actually seen as atheistic by the Romans.
The Early Christians didn’t want to just have a religion that would grant them citizenship, but nothing more. They wanted to have a personal relationship with God, and with a community. The Romans worshipped out in the open, but Christians were much more reserved and worshiped in private. For all the Romans knew, they Christians were sacrificing babies or having orgies.
In the 300s or 400s Christianity became one of the official religions of Rome, but in doing that, they had to define themselves. What were their beliefs? What were their practices? Who were the heretics among them? Part of the rule was that worship had to be done in public (church) so that people could come in and see what was going on. This is a good parallel to how Adventists officially became a denomination. We needed to be on a list with the government so that our young men wouldn’t be drafted into the Civil War, or at least so they wouldn’t have to fight.
Between 300 and 1000 Christians had two major tasks: 1) they were missionaries, and 2) they had to learn to deal with authorities. During this time, however, there were those who felt that they should spend extensive time alone in prayer and meditation. They began to move out into the desert, but then began to move into groups. These were the beginnings of monasteries and convents.
Around 1000 the lay people, those who didn’t feel a call to be a nun, monk, priest, or hermit, wanted a way to be more holy themselves, so the Church gave them sacraments. Performing these sacraments (marriage, communion, and several others) literally made them holy (so they thought).
In the late 1400s and early 1500s the Church—run by popes and cardinals who were members of the Medici and other rich families—tried to become a stronger political entity, but by the mid-to-late 1500s it was a lost cause. The State won. St. Peter’s Basilica was a last ditch effort to be important.
Rome itself really wasn’t important at all between 500 and 1000, but it was still an example of a great empire. Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Hitler all tried to recreate the strength of the Roman Empire.
In Florence, where we stayed, there was a man named Sabonarola who called for reformation in the church. He is famous for his Bonfires of Reform, wherein artists—convicted of his message—threw their worldly pieces into the flames and never worked in that genre again.
There are two great legacies of Rome: 1) the arch with the rounded top. It is used heavily in Romanesque art. The second (2) is Roman Law. It was very complex, but was codified and became the basis of Church canon law, finally becoming the basis of most of the law in the Western world.
The second museum we went to was connected (in some way that I never did figure out) to the Roman baths. In it they had a lot of wonderful examples of early Christian iconography. This included the Chai-Ro (X-P) symbol for Christ, and a way to spell Christos in a design which doesn’t require you to lift your pen. Greg King knows how to do it, and I want to learn how.
The group went to St. Peter’s Basilica next, and I was very proud of how the Catholics have done at keeping a reverent feeling in the church. I still felt more like a tourist than a worshipper, but they did better than most (especially San Marco in Venice) at keeping a religious focus.
I have a picture of me standing on the spot where (according to tradition) Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope. Charlemagne wasn’t too happy about it, either. He had become the most powerful man in all Europe, then the Pope crowns him, which showed that he (the pope) was more important the Charlemagne.
Down the center aisle of St. Peter’s they have markers in the floor saying what size other important churches are. St. Peter’s is easily the largest Western Christian church, with St. Paul’s Cathedral in London coming second by probably 50 feet.
In St. Peter’s there is an anteroom chapel on the right side in the back. In it is a gorgeous statue by Michelangelo called the Pieta. It is a statue of Mary holding Jesus after they took him off the cross. It is absolutely elegant and beautiful, though not especially realistic to me. She looks calm and collected, though sad. I think she would show much more sadness and fear at that time.
The story goes that a very young Michelangelo carved this statue, and it was delivered one night. The next day Michelangelo was in the church, and he heard someone say that it couldn’t have been by Michelangelo. Hurt, he broke into the church that night, and carved his name into the statue, signing it. As soon as he knew what he had done, he was filled with remorse. That was the only piece of art (or at least religious art) that Michelangelo signed.
He lived at a crossroads. Someone a generation before would never have dreamed of signing their religious art because it was a gift for God. A generation after him wouldn’t have thought twice about signing the work. That is the quandary I’m in when I sing a sacred song. I love to sing them, and try to do it for God’s glory. Unfortunately, though, when I do, it’s easy for me to start singing for my own glory. I understand how Michelangelo would have felt. He wanted recognition, but wanted to give the honor all to God.
From St. Peter’s Basilica we walked through quite a bit of Rome, passing the Trevie (sp?) Fountain, which was under constructing. We finally made our way to the Pantheon, which was built in about 30 BC by Agrippa to commemorate a great victory he had won. Around 100 AD it was rebuilt and repurposed into a Christian church, easily the oldest Christian church in history.
I went inside and was hoping to sing a little bit, but that wasn’t to be—there was a play going on. It was a 20th century take on a medieval morality play, loudly amplified, and done in Italian. It was a shame, too, because I would have liked a little bit more time to go through and enjoy the solitude I was hoping to find.
We walked past another church on the way to the fountain of the Four Rivers. That particular church was dedicated to St. Louis of the French. Beyond that, I didn’t pay enough attention, I guess, but there was a beautiful painting on the wall and a beautiful organ in the back.
We finally made it to the Piazza Navonna, Dr. Wohler’s favorite place in Rome. We stopped for a few minutes there at the Fountain of the Four Rivers, none of which I could accurately name. There were street musicians in the square, and just as we were leaving they began to play my theme song on the violin and accordion. So pretty.
We all walked a ways further until we came to a bus stop. We waited for the right bus for about half an hour, and when it came it was full. But Dr. Wohlers told us to get on, so another 26 people and backpacks squeezed onto the bus. We had been warned to hide our valuables because this was the pickpocket bus (but also the bus we had to take). We all did, with the exception of Kaiti Laughlin, whose phone was stolen. On the bright side, though, she is getting an upgrade when we get back.
It’s been a lot of fun, but also a lot of art museums. ☺. I’m tired right now, and I think I’ll lay down for a while. I’ll write about our Sabbath misadventures tomorrow. I don’t know when I’ll get to post this, but when I do, I will.
Love to all!
Date: Friday, June 20, 2014
Time: 8:45 pm local time/2:45 pm EST
Place: Bern, Switzerland
I’m exhausted again, though maybe not as bone-weary was I was this time last night. We had to leave our hotel by 7:45 this morning, and breakfast began at 6:30. Joel and I thought that it would be good to wake up by about six so we could get showers before heading to breakfast before it got too full.
I set the alarm on my phone for six o’clock, but kept waking up to see what time it was. About 11:55 or so I woke up, thinking that my phone hadn’t changed time zones and that it was 6 in the morning (we’re six hours ahead over here). After trying, unsuccessfully, to wake Joel, I grabbed clean clothes and trudged to the shower, leaving the light on which I thought might wake him up slowly.
I went into the bathroom, and while preparing for my shower it dawned on me that I should go check my watch (which I knew was running the right time). So I went back to the room and checked it, and lo and behold it was just about midnight. I’m so glad that I didn’t take the shower at that point, because I would never have fallen asleep.
Joel and I went down to breakfast a few minutes past 6:30 and were soon joined by Kathy Goddard. It was a very European breakfast: fresh croissants, corn flakes without milk but with yogurt, and I had some mint tea, too. Quite yummy, but not quite filling (or at least) not filling for any amount of time.
After breakfast and packing up essentials (like an umbrella) for the day, we walked a few minutes (maybe 5-7) to a park by the Swiss Parliament. We had a brief worship talk from Dr. Wohlers. He read Psalm 117 to us, and then we had a quick prayer.
After worship Dr. Diller took the floor and lectured to us about the history of Switzerland, its people, and their culture.
If you look at a map of Switzerland you can see tall mountains and deep valleys, which has led them to being very isolated culturally, even from themselves. That isolation has even gone so far as to make their Swiss German language sound like a much more like Old German, and it’s difficult for a non-Swiss to learn Swiss German because there isn’t really a standard language. It’s even different enough between two towns 20 miles away that you can tell where people are from. The Swiss didn’t have before 1848 the Swiss really had no sort of allegiance to Switzerland, but to their canton. A canton is not quite a city state, but not quite a county either. A fairly small region that shared a common language and customs.
Switzerland was the home of the Neanderthals (whatever we believe they actually were), and in more modern history it was the home of the Celts. Once Rome fell and became the various tribes, the tribes native to Switzerland were the Alemanni and the Helvetii, from which the Swiss get their official name, the Confoederatio Helvetica.
This area was quite Christian by the year 200, but paganism had set in by around 500 when it needed to be reconverted by Celtic Christian missionaries. At some point I will try to write a post about the “White Martyrdom,” which really doesn’t have anything to do with Switzerland, but it also does. Google it for more information until I get around to it.
I talked yesterday about Grossmünster Cathedral in Zurich. Dr. Diller told us today that on the side of the church is a statue of Charlemagne who was the Holy Roman Emperor who sent missionaries to the area in the 700s. Those missionaries founded the church that would eventually move into the Grossmünster.
The Swiss Reformation began c. 1523, less than a decade after Luther’s 95 Theses were nailed to the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg. The two names most important in the Swiss Reformation are John Calvin (who focused his energies in Geneva) and Huldrych Zwingli who was stationed in Zurich’s Grossmünster church.
There was no concept of Separation of Church and State during the Reformation, because it was thanks to the Holy Roman Princes that the Reformation was able to happen as effectively as it did. They allowed the publication of anti-Roman writings and protected the Reformers from the Church.
It is hard for us living in these modern times to not look at the Princes’ involvement with the Reformation as anything but political, but Dr. Diller pointed out that it probably was, at least for the most part, a deep desire to follow the Bible.
A generation or two after the Protestant reformation died down in Switzerland, the individual cantons were in a position where they could individually decide to accept Protestantism or Catholicism, and it depended on the region. It was about this time, however, when the Anabaptists (those who believed that baptism should be an adult decision and therefore were re-baptized as adults) were beginning to rise.
These newcomers to the religious scene were dangerous to the fabric of the society. Up to that point, the main point of government was to raise money so they could go to war to get more land. The Anabaptists, however, were pacifists. In reality they weren’t even really citizens. In those days (the mid-to-late 1500s or so), birth and death records weren’t kept by the state. They were kept by the church. Your birth certificate was really your baptismal certificate. (This was true even with Bach in 1685 and Beethoven in 1770). If you weren’t baptized as a baby, you weren’t on any sort of books until you were baptized as an adult (not even a teenager).
These strange new beliefs worried both the Protestants and Catholics, so they both began to persecute the Anabaptists. The center of this persecution was Bern. Eventually those Anabaptists who survived moved out of the area, many coming to Pennsylvania, eventually becoming the Amish or Mennonites.
Switzerland was captured by Napoleon for a short time during the Napoleonic Wars (which were fought from the late 1700s through somewhere before 1820. After these wars were over the Council of Vienna met to re-sort Europe, reestablishing earlier borders. At this time the countries began to modernize their governments. The Swiss had problems, however, because they never had any particularly strong ties to a central government. Instead, they were loyal to their canton. In 1848 these cantons formed the Helvetic Confederation, which is basically the Switzerland we know now.
In the late nineteenth century Switzerland decided that it should build up its infrastructure to allow for people to take their vacations here (which they already did).
The country decided to stay neutral in World War I and II, though it was quite difficult to do so in WWII because they were completely surrounded by the Axis. Their neutrality was accepted by all, though, because they were the financial capital of the world. If a country is going to be invaded, they get as much of their movable capital out of the country and into a Swiss bank account.
Because Switzerland was neutral during the war, however, there was nothing to force the issue of women having the right to vote. In much of the world the idea says that if women are working for the war effort (while their husbands are fighting) they should be allowed to vote. In Switzerland, the right to vote for all women wasn’t accomplished until the 1990s.
After our lesson in the park we walked to the Haputbahnhoff to get on our train to Interlaken, which is a gorgeous part of Switzerland which is situated in the Alps. As we were on our train, we got to enjoy a lot of beautiful scenery, which I tried to take pictures of, but my pictures really don’t do justice to the absolute beauty of the area.
We got off the train at the Interlaken Ost (East) station and bought tickets for a ride up and around some of the Alpine mountains. The views were absolutely breathtaking, but I had a quick thought: It’s a wound. Ellen White explains in pages 107 and 108 of Patriarchs and Prophets:
"The entire surface of the earth was changed at the Flood. A third dreadful curse rested upon it in consequence of sin. As the water began to subside, the hills and mountains were surrounded by a vast, turbid sea, Everywhere were strewn the dead bodies of men and beasts. The Lord would not permit these to remain to decompose and pollute the air, therefore He made of the earth a vast burial ground. A violent wind which was caused to blow for the purpose of drying up the waters, moved them with great force, in some instances even carrying away the tops of the mountains and heaping up trees, rocks, and earth above the bodies of the dead. By the same means the silver and gold, the choice wood and precious stones, which had enriched and adorned the world before the Flood, and which the inhabitants had idolized, were concealed from the sight and search of men, the violent action of the waters piling earth and rocks upon these treasures, and in some cases even forming mountains above them. God saw that the more He enriched and prospered sinful men, the more they would corrupt their ways before Him. The treasures that should have led them to glorify the bountiful Giver had been worshiped, while God had been dishonored and despised.
The earth presented an appearance of confusion and desolation impossible to describe. The mountains, once so beautiful in their perfect symmetry, had become broken and irregular. Stones, ledges, and ragged rocks were now scattered upon the surface of the earth. In many places hills and mountains had disappeared, leaving no trace where they once stood; and plains had given place to mountain ranges. These changes were more marked in some places than in others. Where once had been earth's richest treasures of gold, silver, and precious stones, were seen the heaviest marks of the curse. And upon countries that were not inhabited, and those where there had been the least crime, the curse rested more lightly."
I didn’t rest on this idea for long, but I was reminded again how beautiful heaven will be if one of the most beautiful spots on earth is a wound upon the earth.
The majority of our day was spent riding trains all around the Interlaken area, enjoying the scenery, some pictures of which I’ll put on Facebook.
There was a castle we wanted to see, but it was schedule to close at 5 o’clock. Dr. Laughlin went and asked about it, and said that if we wanted even a chance to see it we had to get on the 4 o’clock train from Interlaken back toward Bern. We were to stop at the town of Thun (pronounced tune). We got off the train at about 4:35 and walked very, very quickly up the mountain to the castle.
As we rounded each new corner to find yet another new corner, I was sweating buckets and sure that I would die right then and there, without even reaching the castle. We got there at 4:55, but it was already closed. They were celebrating their 750th anniversary (which is an amazingly long time, come to think about it), and had closed to decorate for a party sometime this weekend. All that way, all those pounds washed away, and for nothing.
We walked (a shorter, much more direct way) back down to the main town of Thun, looking for food. It took us probably another 30 minutes before settling on an Italian restaurant. Mrs. Goddard and I shared a mushroom pizza (which I picked the mushrooms off of), and we chatted around the table for probably most of an hour.
Earlier on in the day we had been discussing the four personality types (Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric, and Phlegmatic). I couldn’t quite get them figured out, but Mrs. Goddard was helping me by giving me mnemonic her husband used. A man is sitting on a bench, with his hat next to him. Someone comes and sits down on his hat. The Sanguine laughs, the Melancholy cries, the Choleric hollers, and the Phlegmatic puts his hat on and walks away.
After we finished eating we walked to the train station so that we could get back to our hotel and ask our receptionist/concierge where to find Apfelstrudel mit vanillesauce. We got to the station within a few minutes of getting on a train heading toward Bern. This train was of a different brand, however, and before our first stop Joel discovered that this brand wasn’t on our Eurorail pass. We got off at the next stop, which, it turned out, was not served by any other line. Our options were to get back on the next train heading to Thun, or get back on heading toward Bern.
During this time we discovered that (we think) we were allowed to be on that train, so we decided to take the next train to Bern. During that time we chatted some more, Mrs. Goddard posing the question how would each of the personality types respond to this afternoons misadventures (missing the castle, getting on the wrong train, etc.), and that is where my title comes from. The Choleric would have yelled about it, the Melancholy would have broken down into tears, the Sanguine would have laughed, and the Phlegmatic would shrug his shoulders and wait patiently.
The train finally came to get us, and we made our return trip to Bern, though we arrived at a different place. I would have been completely lost, but Joel and Kaiti knew exactly where we were going. They got us back to the hotel in one piece, but when we got there we found out that there were no restaurants open to sell Apfelstrudel.
I’m back in the room now, and ready for bed. It’s almost 10:30, so good night.
Love to all!
My walking estimate is a minimum of 3 miles today. I started a hunt for a pedometer today, but without luck.
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.