Gallery #3 and Commentary

October 9th, 2006

Prague Gallery #3 In case I have any readers still checking this space, here are some final pictures from my time in Prague. Previous galleries can be seen here.

There is so much in Prague to shoot. I thoroughly enjoyed photographing the city, although the limitations of time (required classes) and mobility (no car) kept me from getting a few shots I had in mind. Many places I visited required me to purchase a license to take photos. While not thrilled about this extra fee, I was glad that there was some way to get photos of these places, rather than being forbidden entirely.

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Jan Hus—Czech Reformer

September 14th, 2006

Old Town SquareIn the center of Prague’s Old Town Square stands a large monument. With the abundance of shops and restaurants on the square, it would be easy to rush by without considering the monument’s significance. The bronze statue portrays an imposing figure standing facing into the wind. His defiant posture contrasts the oppressed Czech people lying at his feet and his opponents huddled to his side. It might come as a surprise to find that the hero of the monument is a household name to most who have studied church history. The statue portrays, Jan Hus (or John Huss), one of the precursors of the Protestant Reformation.

Hus was a preacher, philosopher, professor, and Dean and Rector of Charles University. Hus had been assigned to preach at Prague’s Bethlehem Chapel, an unusual church that was founded with the stipulation that the preaching be done in Czech, the native language of the people. This was a remarkable idea in an era when most services were conducted in Latin.

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A Couple Recommendations

September 3rd, 2006

Jacques Barzun told us that modern society rejects anything that cannot be immediately understood. I think he was right. In my opinion, this intellectual tendency is at the root of many bad ideas in economics and politics: the best theories require a kind of extended propositional reasoning that modern society doesn’t value.

PostmanTwo books chart and illustrate this trend well. (These are books I recommend often.) The first is Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. In terms of research, argumentation, and writing style it is among the best books I have read.

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About Charles University

August 25th, 2006

Charles University logoFounded in 1348, Charles University is the oldest university in Central Europe. As the first university in the region, Charles University was able to draw prominent thinkers from around the Holy Roman Empire. There have been several familiar names that have walked the halls of Charles University through its long history. Jan Hus (often anglicized John Huss) was the dean and rector of the university in the 15th century. Albert Einstein was a professor at Charles University before going to Berlin and ultimately emigrating to the United States. Writer Franz Kafka and physicist Nikola Tesla are famous alumni.

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Terezin Concentration Camp

August 23rd, 2006

Terezin CemeteryOne Sunday afternoon after church, a couple friends and I took an hour-long bus trip to the small town of Terezin. The town was built in the late 18th century by the Hapsburgs to serve as a political prison. In the 20th century the Nazis converted the town into a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp.

Terezin (or Theresienstadt as it was called during the war) was a concentration camp, not an extermination camp. Although Jews were executed at Terezin, most were sent east to dedicated extermination camps like Auschwitz. The numbers are stunning. Of the 144,000 Jews interned at Terezin, some 88,000 were sent to extermination camps. Another 33,000 died at Terezin, mostly due to the overcrowding and poor health conditions. At the end of the war only 17,247 prisoners had survived Terezin. Only one in eight prisoners lived.

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The Church is Rich

August 11th, 2006

For me one of the benefits of traveling is the chance to spend more quality time with my MP3 player. I love listening to MP3s while touring. Things like waiting for public transportation are transformed from being a drudgery to being productive, even edifying, times.

While in Prague I decided to focus my listening on Jan Hus and the Reformation. I listened to Reformation presentations by Dr. Panosian and Tom Browning, a pastor in Arlington, Texas. I also benefited from Dr. Minnick’s preaching on treasuring the Word of God. If I had been gone longer, I would have kept up with the preaching at my church via Sermonaudio.

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Student Life Gallery

August 5th, 2006

Student LifeMy best memories of Prague will be of people, not places. So here are some photos of my classmates (with a few random shots around Prague thrown in). In parentheses I identify the students’ home countries. For the Americans I gave the college they attend instead.

Prague Heat

August 3rd, 2006

people getting hosed offFor the most part living in Prague was not that different from living in a large city in the U.S. The one thing I hadn’t anticipated was the heat. Summers in Prague can bring all sorts of weather. It can run from warm to cool, but the temperatures usually average in the 70s. We were advised to bring summer clothes, sweatshirts and jackets, and rainwear. This July was unusually hot in Prague, so I never touched the warm clothes I brought. For most of our time in Prague the temperatures were in the mid-90s. It was hot enough that one of the girls in our group had the sole of her sandal melt onto a tram track while she was crossing a street.

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Graduation

August 3rd, 2006

prospective graduatesI’m back in Greenville now, unpacking and getting ready for a new school year. My trip home was relatively uneventful. I’ll post a few catchup things from Prague before I shut down the blog. I’ve got a bunch of email to work through, so forgive me if I still owe you a response.

Graduation last Friday was held in the Great Hall of the Charles University Carolinum, which according to Encyclopedia Britannica is one of the oldest existing university buildings in the world. The graduation program began with an anthem played on a baroque organ while the Prime Minister of Croatia, Dr. Ivo Sanader, and the other speakers filed out and took their places on stage. Speeches were made by TFAS leadership, two students, the vice rector of Charles University, and the Prime Minister. Roger Ream, the president of TFAS, presented Prime Minister Sanader with the 2006 Vašek and Anna Maria Polák Award for his promotion of democracy and free markets.

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In Scotland

July 29th, 2006

I made it to Scotland. I’m on an internet terminal in the basement of a McDonald’s. Not an ideal blogging location. More later.