sonja and i took a lovely 14th anniversary trip to london without kids to enjoy theater, food, walking, and mainly each other.
remarkable to me was (with all apologies to the brits and with due notice that this is a view from across the pond) how unspiritual a visit to the famous westminster abbey was. obviously the place is a marvel, and not least for its age and role in the history of the country. but i have never experience such a monument to the intertwined power of religion and the state as i felt there. if i ever doubted what the constantinian era was, i now have a bodily feeling to accompany my academic ideas.
oddly, one of my most religious experiences was at the british museum, its own monument to the power of empire, where i saw a tile mosaic from the early first century (that's right, as in during the lifetime of st. paul) that depicts jesus as christ. it is surely one of the oldest existing graphic representations of christ. here it is.
and on palm sunday, we had a lovely experience at the old parish church in old london, st. giles, cripplegate. they had a real donkey to lead the children and prisoners in our parade of palms. the priest made a key point about the donkey not being an animal of regal importance, and not what a powerful head of state would be found on when making a grand entrance to the city. indeed, however, she pointed out that it was not at all jesus' intention to make such a powerful entrance, but to denote other things, things related to my reaction to westminister.
it seems to me that in the us our relative independence from government is a huge benefit in many ways, not least of which is it is not so easy to be in bed with the powers that be even if some in the church are trying to accomplish this through connections with george bush. but while we may have delusions of power, our lord resolutely rejected the temptation to lord it over others, and instead, taking the form of a servant, humbled himself. because of the repeated grabs for power whether through medieval christendom or through contemporary conservative christian attempts to gain political power, the church finds itself repeatedly having to relearn the lesson of the donkey.
anon, and +peace