Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just a Little Furious...

I'm going to take a break from blogging about my trip to respond to a editorial article I read today. I welcome comments, but please keep them respectful and clean. Plus, I am not arguing for or against Gay Marriage. My position on that question does not matter for my argument deals with another.

So, before I "taint" you with my opinions, I'm about to write a post in response to the following article by Giles Fraser through The Guardian: "The Church of England says it is against Gay Marriage. Not in My Name." I think that you should read this before you read what I'm about to write so that you know what I'm talking about. I don't intend to inform you nor do I want someone to start using my opinion as fact. So, please read what I'm reacting first.

In any case, for those of you who do not want to read it, Giles Fraser, is a "Priest-in-Charge" at St. Mary's Newington in London. He claims that a recent statement by the Anglican Church is "unrepresentative". Apparently, leaders of the church "who purport to speak in the name of many thousands of people who will think the whole thing is posh" put forth the statement saying that same-sex couples will not be able to marry within the Church of England.  He says, "The church is no more a cartel of moral wisdom."

Now I'm not an expert of religions, especially of the Church of England. However, unless my conception of religion is rather medieval or outdated, I think he's a little confused. Religious doctrine shouldn't be something to be debated and decided upon by people. From what I understand, religions/churches should be teaching and enforcing the will of the Lord, not that of the people. It shouldn't be a democratic or republican club where the members collectively decide what to believe and what to practice.  The whole point of religion and its doctrine is to give to the people the will of the Lord and how to act in accordance of such.

Why, according to Fraser, is the church "no more a cartel of moral wisdom"? Because in his view, the majority of church members do not agree that gays should be denied the right to marry. Now, what if, I say this tentatively because I'm encroaching upon dangerous ground, what if God had decided to declare marriage solely between heterosexual couples. What if that was really the case? Would he argue with God and say that God obviously never surveyed how the people really felt? Does the Anglican Church not believe that it's leaders preach and establish the word of God?

He asks why the church isn't saying that secularization isn't the greatest threat to the church; however, this seems to be one of the largest examples of this phenomenon: the complete disregard for religious authority. If you do not believe in what your church believes, because you think God's will is different, than by all means, leave. Personally, I always fear when a church changes its doctrine because it seems rather strange that eternal truth is suddenly not eternal anymore.

"What is truth?" could possibly be one of the most important questions with many different answers being promoted throughout the earth. Some will argue that truth is exactly as Fraser argues: a collectively decided and commonly accepted rule, "fact", or belief. I, however, again take another definition which again may be labeled as outdated. For me, truth is God's word, for He cannot lie or deceive. It seems rather simple to say that if God has declared it, than it is truth. For me, a Christian, I will trust what God says before science because I have a strong belief in Him and His guidance.

What I believe should be the solution to all these religious questions is to look at a church's doctrines and understand them fully. Then, take the question to the Lord and ask Him if that is His will, if that Church holds His authority. If not, move on and keep praying that He will lead you to His truth. If so, congratulations. You've found what some have been dreaming to find all of their life.

In any case, let's remember that religion isn't a club or a governmental state. If you firmly believe that gay marriage should be allowed, don't force a religion to change it's practices. It's not discrimination, it is their beliefs. At least in America, we believe to worship freely. Find the religion that believes in gay marriage and choose that one. Otherwise, leave the religions alone. They are trying to teach you the word of God. Don't listen if you don't believe and don't criticize it. Religions have helped millions of people find meaning and purpose in life and to criticize them is quite despicable, according to me. However, to each his own. I can't change others actions nor do I want to tell you what to do. Which, I guess I just did that by using the imperative. Let me say this than, it is my wish that we are respectful of other people's beliefs.

I've already written a little bit on gay rights and religion: Here is that post: "Change your own standards please"

Monday, June 11, 2012

5 Terre to Genova and Back ... with a Ginger.

 So, we started off in Levanto which is a city right outside of the 5 Terre called "la porta alle cinque terre" (the door to the 5 terre). Here we found a huge park with a bunch of Italian families and their little kids. Here we have some playing mafia trying to handcuff the mother to the bench. One of the kids looks like he is trying to stab the ginger, but he is actually threatening his mom not to move. It was pretty hilarious. Then, he pointed the knife at us as they slowly walked away as if to say, "you better not follow us."

Oh, and there was a ginger Italian kid.

The boardwalk of Levanto.

Just a cool castle in bad lighting that is now a private residence because people can afford that.
Did I mention there was a ginger Italian here?

View of Levanto from the Castle (above) and Mary and I trying to get a picture of me heel-clicking. Cierra was successful however, and that picture is on facebook. Below is the church of Levanto.

 Below you have the city of Monterosso where we spent the first evening on the beach. It was a lot of fun, although it was too sketch (cold and dark) for my taste to get in the water. However, we found this awesome piazza on the edge of the sea and played "Who's line is it anyways?"  It was pretty legit and we were quite entertaining for those passing by.

Below is the fabulous pesto pizza with pomodorini (little fresh tomatoes) that was oh so delicious and wonderful. Mary and I shared this one, but I'll refrain from using the language she used to describe her experience.

 On Saturday we decided to trek all 5 cities, although we were only able to walk between the first two. The other ones we took trains. This is Riomaggiore and the beach here is full of rocks: no sand...which is great for not getting sand in your shoes, but terrible for walking barefoot. The tide was rising and so the waves were HUGE and it was a lot of fun. Don't worry, none of us got sucked in.

Some more pictures of the beach that we started with. On the left is the beginning of "Via dell'amore" (lover's lane, pretty much). It's beautiful, and we had a lot of fun walking down it, all of us without our significant others. I had about 2-3 offers to hold my hand and one who actually

More views of the walkway and the ocean from the Via dell'Amore. Below s just the sea with some fun popcorn clouds. It's a pretty big place.

This is Veronica that we met on the beach at Riomaggiore who was walking to her grandmother's home in the city over. She is a really sweet Italian girl, but she's going through a tough spot with a cancer she has. I hope everything goes alright, but she's going in for more treatment soon. She's quite a talented artist and poet and can really make you laugh if you'll just take the time to talk to her. Unfortunately, she said that because she's so sick and in the hospital so often she doesn't get that many opportunities. So, here's a shout out to Veronica!

More of the ocean from the pass.

So, the trains would go right through the mountains and most, like this one, just stopped right by the sea. It was pretty sweet. So sweet in fact, that I had someone take a mostly only see me and the train station though. HI! The next town is just over the hill.

Here is another pic of the lover's lane. The sun was pretty bright and my ipod doesn't take the best, um, sorry bout that.

 Here's a gate with a whole bunch of couple's love notes, locks and chains. However, Veronica told me that periodically they take them all off because it overweights the gate and it can fall over...If that's true, then you are better off finding a secret place or writing your names directly on the walls (which everyone does anyways).

View from Veronica's house up in the highest point of her city. It was a pretty epic climb. Unfortunately, the food was too expensive at the restaurant she was showing us and we had to take the treck down...

View of the hilly landscape with bad lighting. Darn sky. I'll get you one of these days, but at least I saw it perfectly. Thanks glasses. Don't worry, mom - I still haven't lost 'em.

This is the 4th city next to Monterossa. I don't remember all the names, but I think this one is Verazzo.  It was here that we saw the pretty large sunburned man who scarred me forever.

More pictures of this area. I think this was my favorite since it was a little smaller and there were less tourists. And I found a new personality here: Erik Gump.

Hey, just in case you were didn't get enough of this one building, I'm getting you another angle. Sorry about the repetition, but as you know, I liked this one.

OMG!!!!!!!! (just a side-note, anytime I type OMG - I mean oh my gosh. Just saying so no one gets offended). These are testaroli, typical pasta of the 5 terre, with the three colors of Italy! Green (pesto), Red (Ragu alla bolognese), and White (Burro e Salvia). It was one of the best moments of my life and confirmed that there is a God, because a God-less planet would not have something so amazingly delicious. In fact, I feel this way about all of Italy.

A pic from our Hostel's climb. It was a pretty steep way up, but our hostel was tiiiiiiiight. It was all the way up on the top of the hill and gave us a beautiful view of the city (Riomaggiore) and the ocean.

So, on my way to Genova, I stopped at Rapallo just because. It was such a beautiful little city! Everywhere was full of flowers and the boardwalk was full of Italian families and barely any tourists (I LOVE THOSE PLACES). In any case, I had a great time exploring some sanctuaries, castles, and reading on the boardwalk.

There was this random painted Gazebo in the middle of town that I found. It had a summer concert series, but I wasn't going to be around for that unfortunately. But as you see below, there were flowers everywhere! It was aweseome!

The Boardwalk

So, it was pretty awesome... I had a really fun time with Jose, one of the awesome guys who I knew on the mission, and his family and we went to a ward activity where we played soccer. Not to brag, but to brag....I scored 2 out of the 3 points for our team. It was pretty legit...

:)  I love Genova. I'd show you pics, but I didn't take any since I had already been there. In any case, you can find ones from my mission on my facebook. PEACE!

Venice - Yep, Been There Too...

You walk out of the train station and what do I see? All these little canals are looking at me...

Sorry, couldn't help it. That song was playing on my itunes.

In any case, OMG THIS IS VENICE. Ok, got it out. This is the first sight as you leave the train station.

PS  - Venice = Venezia (Italian)
It was a rainy morning, so everyone had their umbrellas and rain-garb.
This is the view I got as we were speeding down the canal in a boat bus. I think it was called a traghetto, but in any case, it was just a large boat that they use instead of a bus system in Venice. That was one of my favorite parts of the city: no one was going to swerve around the corner and almost kill you with their car!
Here's one of the thousands of bridges over the Grand Canal.
Cruise liners...I've never been on a cruise...
Entrance into the city from the sea.

On the left, this is the passageway from the Palazzo Ducale to the old jail. It is where they would take prisoners right after their trial.

This (on the right) is the facade of the Venetian Cathedral (this picture doesn't do it justice on how big it is). Apparently, it was tradition that when you went on a voyage by ship (no matter for what reason) you brought back a foreign object to pay tribute to Venice and it was placed somewhere in or on the Cathedral.

An example of the gold covered/mosaic ceilings inside the Venetian Cathedral.  Below is a look from the side of the Cathedral.

This is a guy who is making a blown glass figurine. I never really realized that when they say "blown" glass, it is because they actually blow into it. They use that really long pole and blow into it to make the molten glass expand.
These are just some more examples of the Moreno blown glass. It is ridiculous how intricate they make it.

A brick bridge on the island of Moreno.

This is a really cool church on Moreno. Inside they have the crucifix and the baptismal font both made out of blown glass. Cool, huh?

This is a typical Venetian street. They are so tiny!

And another Venetian bridge.

More canals please? We never rode a gondola because they are pretty ridiculously expensive. Maybe when I come back one day with my wife...

This was my favorite church. The marble outside was so beautiful with blue streaks mixed with other red blocks.

When I build cities on top of islands, I always include these HUGE squares, just for fun.
Hey look it's me! This is in front of one of the canals.
So, apparently this guy steps out of his house and hops in his gondola to go to, sweet?

This makes it look like the church is blasting something with it's powerful rays. Pretty cool, I thought.

Below is the Grand Canal.

This is the main island from the water. We are going to go visit the colorful island of Burano (below).

We aren't sure why they colored all of their houses such awesome different shades, but it makes for a great place. There weren't many tourists and all the Italians were out playing, so this made it for my favorite part of Venice. On the right is this island's leaning tower of the church. So much for Pisa.

That night we went to a Vivaldi concert, which was seriously the most amazing thing I've ever heard. Hands down. They played Vivaldi's 4 seasons (they=a group called the "Interpreti Veneziani"). They all played on 16/17th century instruments in this tiny little church. It was fabulous.

All in all, it was quite the trip and I loved it. Venice is quite the city and should definitely be on everyone's list.