London 25.5.2008

Day 3 was Sunday and also the feast of Corpus Christi. I went to Orme Court, the headquarters of Opus Dei for morning Mass and breakfast. There I met, among others, Jack Valero (see previous post) and Neil Pickering, who is my model of the perfect stereotypical (in a very positive sense) English gentleman. Actually, on both my visits to England I’ve found the same thing – whereas usually you have stereotypes and then the actual very different reality, in England all the stereotypes are simply fulfilled right in front of your eyes:) Extreme politeness, high tea, black taxis, red buses, rain, fish and chips, the English accent, everything… So here I am with Neil Pickering.

After it had stopped raining I left for Hyde Park with Jack Valero. On the way we saw a chapel in memory of the English martyrs where benedictine nuns have perpetual adoration. We visited Speakers’ Corner which runs on Sundays almost all day – I was to return there twice more during the day. Here’s a collection of the different kinds of people speaking or preaching there…

… the fellow in the picture above was wearing devil’s horns and preaching something about politics… whereas the next group was sharing the basic evangelical gospel: you’re a sinner and deserving of God’s wrath, Jesus died to pay for the punishment of your sins, now you can have forgiveness, so put your faith in Jesus Christ. One of the missionaries came to Jack and me. Jack aroused his appetite by saying ”We’re fine, we’re very good Catholics, very committed, I’m a member of Opus Dei” (which to a Catholic would work but for an Evangelical is just proof of the Catholic’s self-righteousness and trust in ”religion” instead of Christ)…

… and so when he asked us to share our idea of the Gospel with him, I went ahead and made reference to the synoptic concept of the Gospel being the Kingdom of God restored and that being found in the Church. It was obvious the man didn’t expect such a response at all and awkwardly went on to ask about what Jesus did to our nature. After my ”correct” response he used the last weapon and went for the classical ”as Catholic’s you’d believe in Purgatory, right? then Christ’s Cross isn’t sufficient” and ”you’re earning your salvation”. Duh. I pointed out his misunderstandings and theological and historical problems and said the conversation could go on for hours which we didn’t exactly have…

…later on when I returned there was another long discussion going on which I was very tempted to join but didn’t in the end (perhaps fortunately so), between a Muslim and a Christian end-time-preacher… these were not the only Christian and Muslim preachers around, there were several:

… but there were others there, as well… including a Marxist…

… huggers…

… and a guy with no message at all…

Yep, that’s Speakers’ Corner on Sundays in London. A lot of noise and extremely bad argumentation, basically. But I did go other places as well on that Sunday. Actually I did quite a lot of sightseeing. I visited the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral (where 2 Finns sat next to me) and read about St. Paul (a project of mine going on currently, in preparation for the upcoming Pauline year).

I also visited the British Museum where I saw the famous Rosetta Stone which allowed scholars to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs for the first time because of the Greek text in it. It was quite an accomplishment. There was an explanation next to the stone that the hieroglyphs actually marked both sounds and concepts, for example the word ”cat” first has 3 signs that represent sounds and then at the end a picture of a cat representing the whole word/concept.

I then went to Baker Street to see the famous Sherlock Holmes house and Big Ben. Here are two photos – and what did I say about stereotypes… is there anything more English than what you can see in these two pictures?

Then I saw the impressive Westminister Abbey and visited the Westminister Cathedral, where there was a beautiful evening service on the occasion of Corpus Christi. After a moment of rest and recollection I went to Trafalgar square and the National Gallery (entrance was free but a donation was kindly asked for to keep it free:)

In the evening I returned to Ewan and Heini’s place. Since it was my last evening at their place before leaving for Cambridge (although I did come back after the trip for the last night), it’s time to share a few photos from ”home” as well. This is Heini doing her work/study on the computer with little Anselm, sweet dreams…

And here is Ewan the wonder-man, Jewish boys, English literature, history, Ressu, piano, guitar, Christianity, singing, feeding, Finnish, laughing at funny YouTube videos, personal training in punting techniques… you name it, it’s Ewan:) Here speaking on the phone (but he has no cellphone, and that’s another story for the last post when I come back from Cambridge to London…):

Stay tuned for Day 4 and Cambridge.



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