Thursday, September 6, 2012

Praha-Прага-Prag-Prague

Even the name itself---Prague---evokes some of this city's medieval mysteriousness. This capital city of the Czech Republic was our next stop after Germany. Why Prague? Prague seemed kind of like the ultimate destination for someone looking to soak in the deep history of Europe. Unlike many other ancient European cities, Prague was not destroyed in either world war. The buildings in and around the old city center are ancient and magnificent, steeped in the history of numerous oppressive regimes, both Czech and foreign. The city is popularly known as the most haunted city in Europe, partly due to its legacy of inventive torture techniques. A mix of old and dark with new and bright also makes Prague one of the most romantic locations in Europe.

In general though, I wanted to go to Prague so we could grow in our understanding of human history: how can a place like Timu where we live with the Ik and a place like Prague exist in the same world, in the same universe? Why in Timu are there buildings of sticks and straw that last five years, while in Prague massive buildings of stone last centuries and millenia? The main reason we do what we do in Timu is to help the people flourish spiritually, but a resultant and related goal is to help the people prosper in ways that the Czech people of Prague, for example, have prospered: education, enlightenment, science, technology, healthcare, architecture, cuisine, music, art, environmental awareness, etc. So it's a fascinating thing to go from Timu to Prague in two weeks and let our senses take it all in and our brains try to process the causes, effects, and differences between the two places.

This is my lovely wife Amber in front of the fountain at Hotel Braník where we stayed:


This is a picture of Charles Bridge over the mighty river Vltava:

Here a street musician plays a single metal drum that emits different notes depending where it is struck:

The city from one of the high places near the Castle:

The Castle, which today serves both as a touristy place but also as government offices:

Here is the Cathedral (sorry, I'm not good with names...) inside the Castle walls:

Inside the Cathedral:

Amazing stained glass windows:

The Cathedral and a clock tower:

The different kinds of cobblestone streets and sidewalks; we walked miles and miles on such stones.

View of the city from just outside the Castle:

Yours truly having a delightful time:

Goulash in a bread bowl; yuuum, so good!

'Dumplings' and meat, another Czech specialty. We found the German and Czech cuisine quite hearty: lots of bread, meat, and cheese!

Picturesque old buildings in the Old City Square:

Terrill posing with Lenin at the Communist Museum. The Czech people were 'liberated' by the communist Russians, only to be enslaved by them and their own communist party for forty miserable years:

An interesting quirk of the Prague Communist Museum is how they use humor as anti-Russian propaganda. I have to admit, some of the stuff was pretty hilarious, but only until you think of what took place back in those days. All the plaques in the museum were written in six major European languages...except Russian! These people have a sense of humor...

A Russian doll with a Czech anti-Communist twist:

The Castle and Charles Bridge over River Vltava at night:

After five days in Cologne and three days in Prague, I was ready to reconnect with nature. So I went exploring and found this rock to climb:

And here is the view from the top of the rock:

On the last day we visited a museum of Czech inventors. You'd be amazed at how many common modern-day inventions are credited to Czech people. A smart bunch of people:

So did we get answers to our deep questions in Prague? Only partly. People are people. The Ik are not fundamentally different than the Czech. The Ik have architecture, cuisine, music, philosophy, religion, education, art, history...all of their own kind and to their own degree. But they have not yet even come close to what one might call the upper limits of human flourishing in all these areas. What is the spark that ignites a people to progress to that upper limit? That's the question I still wrestle with. As a Christian, I might suggest belief in God and Jesus is the spark. But today, in a so-called post-Christian Europe, the human gifts continue to flourish. But are they living off the legacy of a Christian past? Perhaps a personal walk with Jesus is a way of life, regardless of what stage of 'human development' a people finds themselves in? There are no easy, simple answers here. What do you think?

2 comments:

Cassidy said...

My friends, oh how I love your blog and your thoughtfulness. Prague has been on my short list of cities I would like to see for the past 10 years or so. I look forward to having you over for chai and seeing some photos and hearing stories.

The Reeds said...

So glad for your post and for your visit. It is such a sharp contrast between the two and a little startling to go quickly from one to the other... You looked like you enjoyed it which makes me so happy. Hope you liked the svickova- just seeing it made my mouth water!