Around the World Pic: Statue of Romulus and Remus in Rome

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I love Roman and Greek mythology. I can’t say that it’s really my forte (pronounced fort whether you believe it or not), but I do enjoy it thoroughly. Do you? What’s your favorite story?

Anyway, my friend Jennifer and I visited a number of museums as we traveled around western Europe, and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to visit these museums with. As an art historian she has a way of making art very relevant for me in a way that it otherwise might not have been. How? By relating it to the history and religion that I’m familiar with, of course.

In Rome, she took a picture of me with this statue, which we both remembered from our high school Latin text books. Yes, it is Romulus and Remus, the abandoned twins, being suckled by the she-wolf that saved their lives. I’ll let you guess as to which of the two founded the ancient city of Rome…yes, that’s right – ROMulus.

I love statues. I think they look better in homes than paintings. I wish I could have this one. It’s so bizarre.

Have you been to Rome? Have you seen this statue? What did you think?

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Around the World Pic: Thuy, Peter and I at the Berlin Wall

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This Around the World pic is dedicated to the girl you see on the lefthand side of this photo. Her name is Thuy, and she rocks. She’s an old college friend of mine who happened to be traveling in Greece while Peter and I were traveling in Europe and she decided to meet us in Berlin, Germany for a day, before the three of us moved on together to Amsterdam.

Why is this picture dedicated to her? Because she’s visiting me in San Francisco right now! As a med-student in San Diego, she finally resides somewhere near me and so we’ve been able to connect four times already since I’ve moved out here. She’s come here to celebrate New Years with me. Awesome!

This picture is the three of us standing in front of the Berlin Wall, perhaps one of the most divisive – and now uniting – symbols in the entire world. Berlin was a really cool city and it’s a shame that we were only able to spend a day there. We did have lunch at an insanely expensive TGI Fridays.

Have you been to Berlin? To the Berlin Wall? What did you think?

And, oh yeah – HAPPY NEW YEAR. May your 2009 be filled with health, happiness and success.

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Around the World Pic: Texas Honkey Tonk Cantina in Tallin, Estonia

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Oh, the memories of the Honkey Tonk Texas Cantina in Tallin, Estonia. Tallin, by the way, is a magnificent little capital on the Baltic. We ended up spending three days there, which was most unexpected considering the speed with which we had been moving.

One day, as we were walking around Tallin, we stumbled upon this little gem. Tallin, Estonia – Honkey Tonk Texas Cantina. What!?! we cried, before shoving our way inside and demanding a table.

We enjoyed wings, quesadillas, and a variety of other hilarious tex-mex food that was entirely out of place in Estonia. We decided, too, that we would speak like hicks the entire time we were there, figuring that these random people on the Baltic wouldn’t understand our English, much less our ridiculous accents.

As it happens, Estonians, because their language is so obscure and useless worldwide, all speak relatively perfect English with little or no accents, and when we spoke like jackasses – a charade that we insisted on maintaining through the duration of our meal – they knew exactly what was going on. Yeah, we were idiots.

Have you ever been to Tallin, Estonia? Are you aware of this hilarious restaurant?

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Around the World Pic: Jewish Cemetery in Prague

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During my European travels I went to a lot of Jewish sites, a lot of churches, and any Mosque that I was fortunate enough to find. I love going into religious building and locations around the world. One thing that’s always easy enough to find is the Jewish cemetery, because all the Jews are always buried there since the community was only given one small plot of land for such things.

The particular cemetery in the photo I took above is located in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic – and it’s right in the middle of the city.

In this Jewish cemetery, as in others throughout Europe, people were buried one on top of the other, separated by approximately 6-18 inches of dirt. Then their tombstones were places one in front of the other. Why? No space for all the dead people! When you walk around the cemetery this makes for a particularly interesting look as tomb stones many hundreds of years old are leaning on each other and crammed together in ways hardly seen in more ‘modern’ graveyards.

Of additional note is the fact that this cemetery is filled with very important Jewish rabbis and wise men because Prague was a huge Jewish center both as a community and a place of learning. People went to Prague from all over the Jewish world to learn with its scholars and rabbis and to see a place of such renown. People stood at the graves of many of these famous men and prayed.

Care to share your experiences with us about visiting different cemetaries?

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Around the World Pic: Canyoning in Beautiful Interlachen, Switzerland

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Canyoning was one of the most intense things I did in four months in Europe. I was in Interlachen, Switzerland, the extreme sports capital of the world. Day 1 I went Alpine White Water rafting. Day 2 I went canyoning. After this 750 foot descent down waterfalls and into canyons day 3, when I went skydiving, was a piece of cake.

What an incredible three days.

Have you been to Interlachen? Switzerland? Have you been canyoning? Did you love it?

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Around the World Pic: A Statue of Jesus with a Jewish Prayer on a Prague Bridge

When I first went to Prague I thought this statue was incredibly fascinating. It is a statue of Jesus on the cross but around him are the words, in Hebrew, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord of Hosts.” These words are part of an important prayer uttered by Jews every day the world over. They, under no circumstances, refer to Jesus, and so finding this statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague was a bizarre discovery for me.

As it happens, these golden Hebrew letters were part of a humiliating punishment assigned to a Jew at the end of the 17th century who’d been accused of blasphemy. He was forced to pay for them, and it made it seem that when the Jews said this prayer, they were referring to Jesus.

Needless to say, my love of European history and studying Jewish-Christian relations, made stumbling across this statue a wonderful treat.

Plus, a friend of mine stripped down to his boxers right here and planned to jump over the edge before something (Jesus?) compelled him to stop, because the river was likely more shallow than he imagined.

Have you ever been to Prague? Have you seen this statue? What’d you think?

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To read about Jesus’ connection to King David in the book of Matthew because of Hebrew lettering, click HERE.

The French Finally Get Something Right by Allowing a Woman to Sue the Church of Scientology for Fraudulent Practices

No, it’s not often that I like anything done by the French government, but finally, they’ve got something right. Let’s just hope that they can keep it that way.

Currently, in France, Scientology is not on a list of recognized religions and it is considered a commercial enterprise. Indeed, it is. The ‘church’ sells numerous products, makes outrageous and false claims about what they do, and only really cares about money.

After a woman gave the church nearly 20,000 Euros for illegally prescribed drugs, courses, books and counseling with an e-meter (that nonsensical device with no scientific backing), she finally realized (guess she wasn’t that bright to begin with) that the stuff was hocus pocus and is suing Scientology for fraud. Good for her.

Scientologists protest because they insist that they have already been cleared of similar charges. Shouldn’t they take a hint considering how many people are pissed and consider this fraudulent nonsense? Well, they probably have – it’s the people who keep joining Scientology that don’t get it.

In any case, I hope this woman sues successfully and wins, because Scientology is a scam that deserves to be shut down. At least booting it out of France and requiring it to give money to people will be a small start.

What do you think about suing Scientology?

To read about more Scientology in the news click HERE, which will lead you to South Park episodes about Scientology.

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