Exotic, yet familiar

Our congregation is entering the fourth year of a five-year capital funds campaign. That campaign was preceded by a one-year drive that also functioned as a feasibility study for the five-year drive. As we have been doing the work funded by the campaign, we have discovered another need for our building that is quite expensive and so have had some conversations about the best ways to pursue the installation of a fire suppression system for the building. We have had several serious conversations about donor fatigue. It is, frankly, not an issue about which I have much concern. Our fund-raising efforts have been low pressure and, for the most part, low key. Our people have been generous and the campaign has gone smoothly. Income to the fund has been steady. Furthermore, I can cite recent examples in our community including a congregation that ran a five-year campaign followed by a second five-year campaign followed by a two-year campaign, all without a break. 12 consecutive years of intense capital funds raising. The initial project grew from a 5 million dollar estimate to over 12 million in that time.

That’s nothing compared to the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Cologne, Germany. In 1164, the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel, acquired the relics of the Three Kings which had been taken from the Basilica of Saint’Eustorgio in Milan, Italy. To properly store the relics, he proposed a building in the then-new Gothic style of architecture. After a period of fund raising, the foundation stone was laid in the summer of 1248 and construction began. The eastern arm was consecrated in 1322 with a temporary wall so it could be used as construction proceeded on the rest of the building. Work halted on the building in 1473, with the south tower complete to the belfry level and a crane above it. The crane remained in place for the next 400 years. That’s right, after 225 years of construction donor fatigue set in for the next 400 years. A little work was done on the nave, but that work was ceased during the 16th century. Work finally resumed in 1842 and continued to completion in August 1880. It took 632 years from the laying of the foundation stone to completion of the cathedral.

The cathedral is near a major bridge and its twin towers provided a lear navigational aid for bombers during the Second World War. The cathedral suffered 14 hits from bombs. While most of the rest of the city was flattened during the war, the cathedral continued to stand, though it was damaged. In the post war period some repairs were made with low quality bricks and the shattered transept window was replaced with plain glass.

That was pretty much the way the cathedral looked when I was privileged to visit in the summer of 1978. Since that time the temporary brick repairs have been replaced and a new transept window has been installed. The 770-year old building is an amazing and beautiful structure that continues to tower over the surrounding neighborhoods.

cathedral mcdonalds
And, for the record, it is right next door to a McDonald’s restaurant.

There, as they say, goes the neighborhood.

Nonetheless the cathedral is a world heritage site and a place that is well worth a visit. It is and amazing building.

There are other feats of human construction that I have not seen that I’d love to see. Take for example the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza. I’ve seen the pictures of these structures, surrounded by desert, with tourists riding camels. Like the cathedral, however, my vision may be a bit romantic. Giza is a city of millions of people. There is a Pizza Hut a quarter of a mile from the Great Sphinx with expansive views of the site. Nearby is also the Oberol golf course and a hotel with lush green lawns. It is hardly the desert scene I imagine.

I don’t know what it is about American fast food restaurants, but they certainly aren’t American any more. You can travel thousands of miles around the world and encounter the same brands as you’ll find right here in Rapid City. We are planning a trip to Japan this summer and I’ve heard that Starbucks cafes are as common in Tokyo as they are in Seattle. The same can be said for Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Arby’s, Wendy’s and a whole lot of other restaurants that we see here. I can’t imagine eating any of those foods with chopsticks. I also do not plan to patronize any of them during our visit. When I travel, I prefer to have new experiences and eat new foods, thank you very much. I’m going to seek out some unique Japanese foods, like Kit-Kat bars in green tea flavor. They also have other flavors of the US cookie/candy treat: strawberry cheesecake, apple vinegar, sweet potato, wasabi, sakura, coco banana, lemon, sweet corn and grape. I’m of the belief that it will be way better than eating a big mac while viewing a cathedral or munching on pizza with a view of the great pyramid.

Airline travel has enabled us to visit places that are very far away and the interchange between cultures and the rise of global companies means that there are all kinds of cross-cultural sharing. Some fear that the ways in which the global economy operates means that we are losing the unique character of individual cultures and regions of the globe. Check it out. I bed you wear socks that were made in China. Most of the people on this planet do. And that is not all. Try to buy dried apricots that come from some place other than Turkey. We’ve become used to having access to products from around the world and some places have small corners on certain segments of the economy.

Still we travel to experience something new and so I plan to avoid USA brands while we visit Japan. After all, I’ll be looking for Wasabi Kit-Kat.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!