A Travellerspoint blog

Exclusion

I am ze Prince

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At these historic castle ruins in Heidelberg, Germany, our tour guide told us the story of a Prince. The Prince ate with his people in the regular dining area every day until one day he realized, “I am ze Prince, and ze people stink. This is impossible.” He relocated his meals to a high tower where he ate alone. It is possibly the tower depicted in this picture, but it's equally possible that it is not. They all look the same to me.

This makes me think of exclusion. Sometimes we exclude others. We exclude them because they are different from us. We exclude individual people, or whole people groups. But then there are times where, out of pride or self-interest, we exclude ourselves.

The quality of the Prince's life was probably not improved when he stopped interacting with his people. Sure, maybe it was nice that he did not have to smell them, but you often can't know someone without getting a little dirty, and relationship is almost always worth the price. I doubt that the Prince was able to be a better leader when he stopped spending time with his people. I'm sure the people did not feel more happy and willing to serve a Prince who refused to spend time in their presence.

It makes me think about who I have intentionally or unintentionally excluded myself from. Some people are challenging. Christians far too often use the excuse that they are trying to maintain their own purity and not be lead into temptation, when really they exclude themselves from certain people because they don't want to get a little dirty.

Posted by Tayler 14:09 Comments (0)

Religion

intended for communion

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The large cathedrals of France are quite a sight. They are beautiful. They're often located in the center of the city. The amount of money that was needed to create such extreme buildings is unimaginable. Now they serve a new purpose--they are basically museums. People come in an out to look at the architecture and to be amazed by the stained glass windows. But the builders of these enormous cathedrals had different intentions.

Cathedrals were made so large so that the entire population of that area could fit inside. They were created so tall so that each person's eyes would be drawn up to God. They were made with ornate detail and beautiful colors in appreciation for a beautiful and complex God. Sure, the church of that time, as of any time, had a lot of problems, and we probably would not choose to return to that time if given a choice. But there are things we can learn from them through what they left behind.

Church was created for communion. Churches were made large so that many people could gather together. They were placed in city centers so that people would walk by them frequently. They were made tall so people could see them from a great distance and be reminded of their creator. Too often in our society, church is a once a week, get in get out, kind of thing. From the looks of the cathedrals all around France, their builders understood that this is not the church we were intended to create. Church should be fellowship with other believers, we should be a community on more than just Sunday, and it should remind us, whether through decoration, people, of both, of the beautiful God we worship.

Posted by Tayler 13:43 Comments (0)

France

rationality, order, formality

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An elaborate display: seven miles of pathway lined with hedges and flowers, 2000 acres of land, 2400 water features and fountains. This is what one finds behind the lavish palace of Versailles. The gardens are almost as unbelievable as the palace itself. They are marked by order, control, and formality. As shown in the picture, every angle is exact, every pathway is perfect, and each hedge is exactly the same size.

I feel that all of France is influenced by the order, control, and formality that is seen in the Versailles gardens. You see it in the architecture of Paris, the building of the Louvre, and most other historic landmarks of France, but you also see it in the people. Parisians are strikingly formal. They dress formally, in trench coats and slim legged trousers. They speak formally in public settings, with a practiced social script that is polite but not extensive.

The food in France has a similar theme. Take the American macaroon vs. Parisian macaroon dichotomy, for example. Parisian macaroon takes about five times longer to make and require much more attention to detail and much greater accuracy. In Parisian pastry shops, every treat looks like it was hand-crafted with excellence. Treats are lined up orderly, labeled, and ready to be enjoyed. When the French eat out, it takes multiple hours. They eat slowly, but formally, and enjoy the meal process. Their meals have an order and a formal process.

France is sophisticated, orderly, formal, and controlled. I enjoyed engaging the French culture. It is not a lifestyle I am used to, but I greatly appreciated my time there.

Posted by Tayler 10:47 Comments (0)

Human Rights

stepping in the right direction

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This huge clock in Musée d'Orsay looks out on the apartments, offices, parks, and schools in the city of Paris. Looking at humanity through the lens of time, I am struck by how both have affected each other. Humans have shaped the plotline of history. But, time has also shaped humans. Individuals are born at a certain time and what they think, experience, and believe is largely shaped on the time and place of their birth.

The Human Rights movement has affected time and has been affected by time. The story of the West has especially been shaped by the idea of human rights. The idea of natural human rights became popular during the Enlightenment. At this time, the West, specifically white males, had already obtained much more than their fair share of the world’s resources and wealth. The idea of human rights has shaped the way that wealth and power has been redistributed since this time.

Over the course of time, much progress has been made. The African slave trade was eliminated in Europe and North America. Africans in the West were given the right to vote. Women were given the right to vote, the right to own property, and the chance to hold jobs. Racism against Western Africans has decreased. Some wealth has been redistributed to narrow the gap between rich and poor and create a large middle class.

But there is still a long way to go. There’s very long way to go. The world is full of injustices. Even America, “the home of the free,” is littered with injustice and human right infractions. I was reminded of this by El Masri’s story. But I am hopeful. I am hopeful because of how far we have come. I’m hopeful because I know that every few decades a new generation is born that sees an even brighter future than their parents saw, because they were born further down the timeline of history. Humanity affects time, and then time affects new generations of humanity, and so the cycle moves into the future. Surely we will never get to a place where all the world’s problems have been fixed, but hopefully we will never stop trying.

Posted by Tayler 10:41 Comments (0)

Immigration

Open the door?

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Immigrants come from one place to another. But this is only possible if there is an open door between the locations. Immigration is the subject of much debate. Everyone has a different opinion about how far open the door should be, what people groups it should be open to, and how many people should be allowed to come through the door. And even when people do make it through the door at the border line, they often find other doors closed. Such as the door to a good job, the door to cultural embrace, the door to education, health care, etc. People are allowed into our country, but the door of society is slammed in their faces. Immigrants’ children usually do not have the same chances as the children of European descent, whose families have been here for centuries. Immigrants in America and in European countries like France have a similar story to tell: they came, full of hope, through the door that leads to the West, but they were unable to get through the doors of societal embrace or equal opportunity.

This picture was taken at a monastery near the border of Germany and France. The door shown is the passage into a silent courtyard reserved for prayer. It is a place where people of the past spent time speaking to the creator of the universe, a God who allows us to enter through wide-open doors into his presence. That’s pretty amazing. We have been shown so much grace by the doors Christ has opened for us. Yet, we too easily forget to show grace to others. We act in self-interest instead of love. What would Christ do with the door of immigration? That’s a tough question to answer, but I know that His course of action would be full of grace and mercy, and ours should be also.

Posted by Tayler 10:33 Comments (0)

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