Monday, December 8, 2008

Hyde Park Chapel

It is so incredible to have the Hyde Park Chapel right in central London. Right next to the V&A, the South Kensington museums, the Royal Albert Concert Hall, and Hyde Park-- right there in one of the most beautiful and buzzing parts of London lies this wonderful meeting house. It is really miraculous. It is also the most expensive piece of property the church owns. There is no doubt that the church wanted to make a statement here in London, and show this big city that we are here and are here to stay. It is not only a meeting house, but a monument that "Truth will Prevail!"

Trapped By the Mormons!!!

This film was a real treasure. Actually, it was a pretty ridiculous, and hard to believe that it wasn't a joke. It really represented the kind of attacks and false speculations that were being made about the Mormon missionaries in Britain and their followers. It portrayed the missionaries as visions of "all-conquering manhood" who use their suave and cunning tactics to trap women. I mean, look at those mesmerizing eyes! He is one wily, wily Mormon. If I were an young, innocent British woman, I would surely fall for those hypnotizing eyes! NOT. Everything about this 1922 film was absolute nonsense, but highly entertaining!

The Synagogue

Attending the synagogue on Thanksgiving was a very interesting experience. I admit, that I do not much about Judaism, but this experience helped me understand new things about this religion. One of the most interesting things our host told us was that Jews do not believe that one has to be a part of the Jewish church in order to be righteous. Only if they are born into Judaism, they are encouraged to practice the religion, and anyone is welcome to join their religion. Because of this, they do not believe missionary work or attracting people to their congregation is necessary.
I also found it very interesting just how strongly they follow their religion and have kept their traditions. For instance, the concept of not traveling on Sunday, or spending money is observed very strictly. In fact, it keeps people from being able to attend church. And they are very strict about what kinds of animal products they eat. 
I really enjoyed seeing one of the Toras they had at the synagogue. I had never seen such a huge scroll, filled with hebrew writing! It was a cool experience to become better acquainted with this religion.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sainte Chapelle

This lovely little chapel is a jewel in the crown of Paris. It lies in the courtyard of royal palace on the Île de la Cité, and was built by Louis IX to house holy relics: Christ's crown of thorns, image of Edessa, and thirty other relics of Christ.
The stained glass of the chapel is absolutely stunning. The room is small, but has tall, stretching walls that are completely paneled with the colorful glass pictures. When inside you seem to be completely encompassed by them, and the gothic stone tracery that delicately frames each panel. There is also one large rose window in the back of the chapel that is quite lovely.
Two-thirds of the stained glass in the chapel is the original that Louis IX had built, but some of it was severely damaged during the French Revolution. Still, I couldn't which were new or old. They were all absolutely gorgeous.

Gadfield Chapel

What I most enjoyed about this little church was:

 1) The series of questions you had to be able to answer in order to enter the chapel, such as "How many chapters are in the Book of Enos?" That was an easy one.

2) I really enjoyed our Peter's commentary on the chapel. When he read the quote about how people just flooded Wilford Woodfruff with questions before he returned to America was very moving. You could tell that these people wanted to do whatever it would take to get to America to be with the rest of the saints. They loved the missionaries and did not want to see them leave England, but most of all, they loved the gospel. Many of them sacrificed a lot to make the journey to Zion.

Benbow Farm

The Benbow Farm is where the church really began to take off in Herefordshire. William Benbow, a recent convert to the church, felt inspired to take Wilford Woodruff to visit his brother John Benbow at his home on March 4, 1840. John and his wife Jane were open to Woodruff's message of the gospel and soon baptized in the pond on their farm. Afterwards their home became a regular center for religious meetings, and over 600 converts were baptized in the same pond on their farm. Eventually the Benbows, like most converts, emigrated to America to join the saints. This little farm and pond still remains as a memorial to all the great work that took place in the beginnings of the church in England.

Chelsea: Walk of the Superstars

Chelsea is basically where the cool people live. All the rock stars and legends of literature, music, and art made their nests here. So if you are a V.I.P. or planning to make history, you should consider finding real estate here. It might burn a hole in your pocket though-- living here is a bit pricey. Still, everybody who is anybody can be found in this very neighborhood. You can hardly throw a rock down the street without hitting some sort of plaque or a famous residence. For many years this has been the home of London's superstars, and continues to be today. Don;t take my word though. See for yourself...

Royal Ave. is considered the fictional address of our favorite secret agent, James Bond. What I's like to know, is if there are real secret agents living in this area, or if there ever was. Perhaps, Pierce Brosnan was intereted in real estate in this area.
34 Tite Street is where Oscar Wilde made his residence. He was a famous victorian author who wrote beloved play The Importance of Being Earnest and the one we recently saw, An Ideal Husband. This general area is also where Princess Diana and the "Sloane Rangers" worked some of their magic. It used to be a slum part of town, but they rejuvenated it to restore it to its old glory.
Artists also made their homes on Tite Street, such as John Singer Sargent (#31) and James Whistler (#35).  These houses are not the original ones that the artists lived in, but seeing where all of these famous Londoners lived helps you understand the area demographics. The VIPs make live around these parts.
Here at Number 19, Bram Stoker graced St. Leonard's Street with his presence. He is the author of Dracula. Perhaps, he inspired Stephanie Meyer.
Here is Lawrence street where the famous T.S. Eliot lived for much of his long life. The novelist, Henry James, also lived on Lawrence Street. He died at his residence in 1916. This shows that this was a very fashionable area for writers.
Just for fun, here is where the famous rock star Mick Jagger used to live. Stars of the past and present flocked to this area. It doesn't matter if you are a poet or a Rolling Stone.
Here at #16 Cheyne Walk, lived Dante Rossetti. He was one of the famous artists of the Pre-Raphaelite  brotherhood. They believed art had become too academic, and had lost its beauty and sincerity. They strove to bring the aspects of art back that they considered to be essential. Dante also had a famous sister, Christina, who was a poet and posed for one of his paintings.
Just down the street from Rossetti lived George Eliot-- aka Mary Ann Evans. Again, this was the area for serious writers and artists-- not silly female novelists.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away is Flood Street. This is the street where Margaret Thatcher lived. She was Britain's first and only woman prime minister. Known as the iron lady, she was tough, a staunch conservative, and a powerful speaker-- she certainly left her mark. I wouldn't mind seeing more Margaret Thatchers in our government today!