Archives for the month of: August, 2018

Third place in any competition does not get the recognition that it should. Sports teams that finish third are not afforded the opportunity or attention of the first and second place teams. No one ever talks about the runner-up to the runner-up.

Among the cities of Spain Valencia is third place. Everyone knows about Madrid and Barcelona but most folks have little knowledge of the third largest city in the county. Located about 200 miles from both of the two largest cities in the country, Valencia is home to about one million people and has a rich history dated back to the Roman Empire. During it’s long history it has been ruled by the Romans and the Moors. It was a part of the Byzantine Empire for many years and has Ben an important Christian stronghold for centuries.

The city was established on the banks of the Turia River which frequently flooded causing much damage to life and property. After the Great Flood of October 14, 1957 a plan was devised to divide the river into two branches that flowed around the city until it emptied into the Mediterranean.  The project was completed in 1969 and the old river bed was converted into a 9 mile green space through the heart of the city. The Valencia Biopark is at the western end of Turia Park and the modern City of Arts and Science is located at the eastern end. The park provides many cultural and recreation opportunities as well as allow people to travel through the city without use of city streets or roads.

Spain is known for many extravagant festivals and events. Valencia has one of the most unusual, yet little known.

The Running of the Bulls in the small city of Pamplona in northern Spain attract around one million visitors every July. This event was immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises.” For eight consecutive mornings, people come to race with bulls along a 930-yard street course to the city’s bullring, where the animals are killed during the traditional corridas.

Yesterday La Tomatina was held in the small town (population 9,000) of Bunol, Spain. Thousands come from all over the world for the ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight.” On the last Wednesday in August every year 20,000 people who are lucky enough to have secured one of the limited number of tickets gather in the center of town and throw more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes at each other.

While the Running of the Bulls and La Tomatina are well known around the world, Valencia’s unique festival of Las Fallas (The Fires) is not nearly so well known. Every spring more than two million people come for a week-long event unlike anything I have ever seen.

About 750 neighborhood groups with over 200,000 members- one-quarter of the city’s population- take a full year to construct beautiful and elaborate structures of paper and wax, wood and polystyrene foam, some towering up to five stories. These creations are displayed throughout the city during the week of the festival that culminates on March 19, the birth date of their patron saint, St. Joseph.

The Mascletà, an explosive barrage of coordinated firecracker and fireworks displays, takes place at 2:00 pm every day of the festival but sporadic outbursts of fireworks are heard periodically throughout each day.

On the final night of Falles beautiful and elaborate structures such as the one above are burned as huge bonfires at approximately the same time all over the city. After all the fallas dotted around the streets are burned, the main one is saved until last so that everyone can watch it burn. This climax of the whole event, La Crema, is set outside the Ajuntament -the town hall- where thousands of people have been gathering for hours to get a view of this spectacle.

The next time you plan a visit, be sure to include Valencia. It may be “third place” among the cities of Spain but you will not regret your visit anytime but it will an added bonus if you can be there during the festival of Las Fallas, March 15-19, annually.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

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Nearly 1600 years ago St. Augustine of Hippo said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I agree with this ancient theologian and philosopher but I wonder what he would say today. Would he see a world that is much larger and complex or would he see a world that is smaller and interdependent? Would he recognize our similarities or our differences?

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Regardless, I agree that travel is life changing. It helps you to see a great big wonderful world but “travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” (Gustave Flaubert).

In one of Willie Nelson’s songs he longs to get back “on the road again…making music with his friends.” I have no experience or desire to travel the same way Willie does but many experiences have been enhanced by others who have been on the journey with me. At the same time I think Mark Twain is right, “There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

Whether it is the snow-capped peak of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, Israel’s Mt. Hermon, the Tyrolean Alps in Austria/Italy, or the Rocky Mountains in the western United States- photos and videos are not adequate. Books and journal articles are not enough. There is no substitute for being there.

Hummus in Israel/Palestine, a churro with cajeta in Mexico, fish and chips in England, Nasi Kandar in Malaysia. You can eat these foods anywhere but it is not the same as when you eat them “there.”

People can tell you about the great cathedrals of the world but no description can compare with actually standing in awe when you visit Notre Dame in Paris, St. Paul’s in London, the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

There is no way to fully appreciate the Parthenon in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome, the pyramids of Egypt, or the rose-red city of Petra carved into the hillside in Jordan without being physically present in those places.

One cannot comprehend the beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, or the Northern Lights without traveling to those locations. Turia Park, Keukenhof Gardens, Bellingrath Gardens, and Monet’s Garden require a visit to Valencia (Spain), Amsterdam, Mobile, and Giverny in order to be captured by their splendor.

The significance of the beaches of Normandy, Pearl Harbor, the Cabinet War Rooms in London, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima cannot be understood unless you have been there.

A few years ago a friend and his family spent the Christmas-New Year holidays in a distant land where violence and tension provide daily news stories. After returning to Atlanta I asked him what was the most memorable part of that experience. He replied, “I realized that we are all alike. We want the same thing for ourselves and our families.” Maybe Aldous Huxley was right. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

I enjoyed a recent trip to England. We drove through the beautiful Cotswold region and stopped by William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon Avon. I saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham and Windsor Palaces. But the trip centered on places of significance to the Methodist Movement in the late 18th century. My faith was strengthened by traveling to places of my religious heritage as I learned about the Wesleys and the spiritual awakening that they fostered. Many trips to the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine) have made the stories of the Bible come alive.

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While the articles and podcast interviews of the website www.anepiceducation.com focuses on family traveling, there is so much truth to it’s tagline- “Travel is an education and the world is the classroom.”

Where do you want to go? What do you want to learn?

Jamie Jenkins

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My next trips are to the Holy Land (March 11-22, 2019), Greece and Turkey to follow the journey of the Apostles (April 23-May 3, 2019), Holy Land (again Feb. 15-26, 2020) and to the Oberammergau Passion Play and European Capitals (Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Regensberg, and Prague- June 3-12, 2020.

Your are invited to join me. Contact me if interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the late 18th century many European countries were engaged in violent revolution. England was not one of them. Some historians credit a religious movement in that country with creating a climate that prevented such upheaval.

The Methodist Movement, spearheaded by John Wesley and his brother Charles, had its origins in the academic environment of Oxford. They were joined by a small group of other students in rigid religious rituals. Because of their methodical approach in their devotional and charitable activities they began to be called the “Methodists,” a derisive term.

This small group of people became known as the Holy Club. They rigorously practiced the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, and accountability but their religious fervor was not limited to such acts of piety. They regularly visited the prisons and hospitals. They established schools for poor children, offered basic medical care for those who could not afford it, provided housing for poor and elderly widows and their children, and much more.

The long term effect of this movement was due largely to the well-disciplined organizer, John Wesley. To what did he owe his strong faith, persistence, and tolerance?

Much is known about the impact of John’s mother, Susanna Wesley. She has been called the Mother of Methodism. “Her example of faith and religious reverence she set for her children inspired them to become powerful spiritual leaders and to launch the Methodist Movement.” Her constant devotion and strict discipline to the education and spiritual formation of her children certainly impacted John, the 15th of her 19 children.

Adam Hamilton* says, “If John learned about his faith from his mother, he learned how to deal with disagreements from his father and grandfathers.” His grandparents on both sides of his family were dissenters from the established Anglican Church but his parents were committed Anglicans. John “adopted a posture that is often called the via media- a middle way- that found truth on both sides of the theological divide.”

In one sermon that is among John Wesley’s most famous he said, “Though we can’t think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart? Though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”

Hamilton suggests that this spirit of Wesley leads us to “give them the benefit of the doubt. We assume the best in others, not the worst. We speak well of others, not poorly. We treat them as we hope to be treated. We listen more and talk less. We walk in other people’s shoes and try to understand what they believe and why. This does not mean we give up our convictions, but it does mean we test them.” The focus is intended learn what we have in common and to build bridges not walls.

It was this humble, listening, catholic spirit supported by a strong resolve to follow Christ wherever He would lead that transformed the religious practices and daily routines of people across England in the late 18th century. This helped to create a climate where social changes could be accomplished without widespread violence. One does not have to be a Methodist to see the value and to follow the precepts of Wesley but in doing so we just might make a better world.

Jamie Jenkins

*Revival: Faith As Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton, Abingdon Press 2014

 

William PRITCHARD Jr. Obituary

What you are about to read is not what was planned for today. Rather I offer a tribute to a wonderful man who I wished everyone could have known. William Grady Pritchard, Jr. of Atlanta passed away on Saturday, July 28, a little less than a month before his 91st birthday.

His obituary described him appropriately as “a devoted Christian father, son, husband, partner, friend, leader, volunteer and athlete, who spent his life helping others and being a good friend to all he met. He will be remembered particularly for his kindness and generosity, along with his ability to make everyone feel welcome in his presence.”

Rather than chronicle Bill’s many achievements and the vast number of charitable organizations he supported I want to simply pass on three items that were included in the printed program for his memorial service today. Each of the pieces speak for itself and give you an insight into the character of this saintly man.

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end, nor do I really know myself; and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you does, in fact, please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know if I do this you will lead by the right road. I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

-Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

 

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To laugh often and to love much; to win the respect of  intelligent persons and the affection of children;

To earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

To know even one life that breathed easier because you have lived… This is to have succeeded.      -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” —from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can as long as ever you can. 

-John Wesley

Jamie Jenkins

 

Often I am confronted with difficult issues and people are expressing drastically different opinions. Sometimes I agree with one perspective and disagree with others. What should I do? What do you do?

Do you just concede, give in? Does it seem like too much trouble and not worth it to fight/argue? No matter how much the issue is discussed or debated, nothing is going to change. No one will gain new understanding. Don’t fight it.

Another possible response is to determine that you are going to prove your position is the right one. Win this argument. Conquer! After all, in everything there are winners and losers and you are not going to be defeated. Your opinion will prevail.

Do you listen to all perspectives to see if there are some points that make sense, even if others do not. Are you willing to make an effort to understand where the other persons are coming from and learn from them. Compromise is an acceptable option.

Is it wise to simply accept or at least fail to object to anything that people throw at you? It has been said that silence speaks consent so is your reluctance to pose questions or objections a good alternative?

If you refuse to give in and are insist on winning, what is the collateral damage? Is it necessary to have victors and vanquished on every matter?

Is compromise is an alternative to conceding and conquering? Is it possible that no one has all of the right answers? Can anyone see all sides of an issue at one time? Can you moderate your views and opinions and still maintain personal integrity? Is it possible to have a win-win conclusion?

I believe there are absolutes. Issues on which there is no debate. Practices and perspectives that are essential to orderly and ethical living. But I believe most of what we argue about and are divided over are secondary issues for which there is more than one “right” answer. Even when we cannot agree, it seems the right thing to do is at least be civil and respectful of the other person.

If you know anything about the Bible you probably are aware that the leaders of the church in Corinth were not always of one mind. The Apostle Paul counseled them to “be in harmony with each other, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11 CEB). He did not instruct them to be in agreement on everything but to value one another enough to work to “harmonize” their attitudes and actions. They did not have to all sing the same note but to blend their various voices.

We can make beautiful music together but that means each of us sings our note. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins