Wednesday, April 26, 2006
April 17: A national holiday so much was closed down. We explored a few tram routes out to the Ottakringer and Potzleinsdorf. We walked through some lovely parks that were not crowded. We some saw picking Barluch. Also near the Ottakringer there were a lot of Schutzhause—this are very little cottages with a tiny yard. People in apartments buy them and use them as a “country” get away. They are all lovingly cared for.
April 18: Gave a test and then we walked down to the Graben to go to an Italian restaurant we had seen. I ordered the lunch special which was spaghetti with tuna. Mary had a spinach tortellini with ham on top. We walked around and picked up a few things and looked in some shops. Did a bit of grocery shopping and then went to hear the Chief Justice of the Austrian Supreme Court speak at the university. He gave a talk on the history and role of the court—at the reception afterward I got to speak with him at length and asked him, among other things, if there were any controversies in Austria as in America regarding the politicization of the court. He said there weren’t any issues of the stature of Rowe v. Wade, but that politics still played a role in some court issues. Most surprising was his belief in natural law—I don’t think Senator Kennedy or other Democratic liberals would ever approve him for the US Supreme Court based on this belief. However, I didn’t get to ask him how he defined natural law. Afterward I saw him headed out the door and walking down the street to catch a tram when his cell phone rang and he stopped to answer it. I thought what Supreme Court judge would be doing this?—there would be a limo waiting and probably some security and aides assisting him.
April 19: Finals. I don’t know how everyone will do, but almost all students were interested in the subject material of the classes I taught. They were involved in discussions, attentive, and obviously had some interest in international issues. They were all very respectful.
April 20: Invited out to a home of an Austrian professor of international relations. It is some distance so we took the underground to a station where he parked his car and then we drove about a half hour (past the largest shopping center in Europe) to his home. We met his wife who was a very devout Catholic Christian. It is a lovely home that reminds me of those in suburbia—you could see the vineyards from their windows. We met their children and she told us two Catholic missionaries would also be coming for dinner. We met Joe and Mark (from the US)—they are in a small order (Milejs Jesus). It is a very conservative order and they obviously did not agree with some of the liberal trends in the Roman Catholic Church. They also publish a journal in German which seems interesting. One article was an attack on evolution. I hope to get a copy of this article to read at leisure and compare it to conservative Protestant attacks on evolution. They live by freewill gifts—we were told by the hostess that someone gave them beans so that is all they ate for two weeks. The hostess seems to feed them regularly. She also told us of some nuns who went door-to-door in the village witnessing—actually it seemed more like prayer-walking. Many Austrians would not let them pray for them (although some did)—the most interesting thing was that it was the Turkish Muslims who invited them in to their houses for prayer.
April 21: A beautiful day so took the tram to Kahlenberg just to walk in the Vienna Woods—will grade later! In the evening took a break to go to our favorite Italian Eis stand near the Graben. The lemon ice is the best I have ever tasted, although the strawberry and raspberry is superb as well.
April 22: Another beautiful day. Did our usual weekend shopping because of all the stores being closed on Sunday. Went to Naschmarkt (the giant flea market and food stall market) and looked around. I would like to buy some things, but I have no idea what is real and what is fake. Did buy a souvenir cap—the middle easterner wanted ten Euros but I got him down to 6 Euros. Probably that was too high. For lunch we shared a lamb kebap. For dinner met some of the other faculty and we went to a lovely local café (Neubauschenke) and sat in the interior garden. It is a delightful neighborhood restaurant with great food at good prices. Fish was what most people ordered; two had Barlauch soup and I did order liver dumpling soup—I won’t be getting much of that after we leave Austria. It was so pleasant sitting out – we talked for at least 2 ½ hours and no waiter rushed us to leave when we did. When we got back to the apartment I turned on the TV and we watched the cartoon production of the “Legend of Sleep Hollow” in German. After some channel jumping landed on the BBC channel which I almost never watch because they have sitcoms and I have trouble watching something when I haven’t seen it from the beginning. But tonight the BBC was airing a special on Hillary Clinton—it was fascinating and I am not sure it would air on American TV. I have had the impression that the BBC is rather liberal and certainly pro-Clinton or pro-Democratic and anti-Republican (but this is from only reading certain critics and not really from watching it). However, you couldn’t tell the BBC had a left bias from watching this special on Hillary—she came across as an arrogant, ambitious lady from her time at Wellsley to the present. There were many fascinating interviews with those that new Bill and Hillary. Everything from Bill’s womanizing to Hillary’s drive was dealt with. After watching it, I wonder who would vote for Hillary. I would like to see what the BBC has produced about other US politicians.
April 22: Had our Turkish friend over for dessert. He expressed concerns about how Turkish young people in Vienna are being influenced by the materialistic culture here. Traditions break down in some families. Also drugs can become a problem. He tutors some young Turkish children in math and science and can’t discipline them as he could in Turkey. Didn’t get into too much politics, but it is clear he does not see the Kurds as freedom fighters.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
1. It is a phenomenon I have witnessed since least the eighties inCharismatic/Pentecostal circles. My hunch is that it is part of alarger trend of Charismatics and Pentecostals adopting and adapting popular and successful elements of the marketing and entertainment industries. It is not necessarily orchestrated by leaders, though. It also seems to apply most strongly to larger churches, and those tryingto be "cutting edge" in their approach to ministry.
2. It is all the fault of country music.
3. An interesting phenomenon to me also .... I am a convert to Catholicism from the Anglican communion ..... Canadian Anglicans never clap inchurch, but Romans do frequently here in Canada. I have noticed the practice at Masses televised from St. Peter's in Rome also. It would take someone of longer standing than I in the Catholic church to say whether this is a post-Vatican II practice? Or something Italian which has spread because of the televised clapping in Masses from Rome?
4. I think most churches discourage it. Sheep are not to applaud the shepherd, who wears a robe and a serape (stole.) In my church applause increases, and the conservative fragment grumble but say nothing because conservative fragments never say anything except privately and behind their hands to a small, private clique. Meanwhile, increasingly, the majority of us applaud sermons, parts ofsermons, music, offertory music, joys in sharing joys and concerns (the conservative fragment HATES joys and concerns), nice flowers, nice people.
5. I spent the past three decades as a Baptist pastor and saw the practice of applauding develop slowly. I first witnessed it years ago at informal Sunday evening services in response to musical numbers sung by children. It was clearly intended to affirm the youngsters. When we added a "contemporary service" in the late 1980s, there would be a few very expressive worshipers who would on occasion spontaneously clap briefly in joyous delight. My impression is that it was influenced by those who had experienced Pentecostal-style worship. There was an awkward era when some would clap in response to a musical selection, others would be startled, and some were not sure whether to respond in like fashion. Out of concern that a failure to clap might be interpreted as displeasure, more would join in. Then clapping became a standard response to choir cantatas (where worshippers from both contemporary and traditional services would join together) unless we were intentional in asking the congregation ahead of time not to clap. Our music director, concerned that the focus was getting off worship and toward performance, would sometimes reference it as "a praise offering to God." As worship leaders (i.e, prompters), we would often use thespoken word or lighting or transitional music as a means of limiting applause. We were able to reduce the occasions in which clapping might become disruptive. That's simply one congregation's experience.
6. This is a very interesting subject. Unfortunately, I have only anecdotal information to report. The practice is quite widespread, but its significance varies. I remember a rather lively debate about applauding after the choir's anthem in the United Methodist Church I belonged to in Virginia in the1980s. As I recall the anti-applause party won. I've raised this subject with my History of Christian Worship classes regularly. Most of my students (they are mainly southern evangelicals) see little wrong with the practice. My African American students can't imagine a service without applauding and clearly understand it as a means of praising God and participating in the service. In my limited experience it is rather common to applauding the newly baptized at some point in the Easter Vigil. In many communities it seems to be the assembly's most genuine way of expressing theircongratulations and approval. It is also seems common to applaud the worship leaders at the end of the vigil. I think at every Roman Catholic Easter Vigil I have attended (four churches in four states) the celebrant has asked for the assembly to applaud all those who worked to put the Triduum services together. I know of several large Episcopal churches where it is common for those who linger to hear the postlude to applaud at the end of it. That seems to be mainly an expression of appreciation for the performance. At the United Methodist Church I attend here in Birmingham, children's choirs are almost always applauded, adult choirs receive applause more rarely. In both cases I think the action is largely one of joy and appreciation, not explicitly praise.
7. The boundary between entertainment and worship has always been porous. Think of Christmas carols, originally secular ring dances. It seems to me that some want a greater sense of participation in worship and clapping is something most people can do easily, comfortably expressinge motion with others. As a Presbyterian minister, I have spent many years in churches where applause was unheard of. Except for the singing of hymns (and taking up the offering) the laity were expected to sit passively in the pews, listening. From my perspective it has taken a long time for God's frozen chosen to warm up a bit with things as simple as the passing of the peace, participatory prayer, and, yes, clapping. The factors leading to a freer, more participatory worship style include the influences of the black church, the visibility of pentecostal churches, the liturgical movement's rediscovery of long forgotten but ancient ritual practice, and last but not least, the influences of popular culture, including music.
8. Singers are not performers.
9. Also, "Golden Throat," St. John Chrysostom, complained about clapping after his sermons in Homily I, "Theatrical Worship of Satan": "If any admirable musician come amongst them, they leave all that they had in hand, which often is necessary and pressing business, and mount the steps (in the arena), and sit listening very attentively to the words and the accompaniments, and criticizing the agreement of the two.This is what the many do." Clapping of hands is approval or contempt for theatrical or musical performers: it is never an act of worship.
10. Miss Manners said: If God wishes to applaud in church, He may, but it is inappropriate for anyone else to do so.
Interesting web sites:
Applaud Death, Too. http://mijamagazine.com/APPLAUDING%20LIFE%20&%20Death.pdf
HandClapping to Replace Amen: http://www.piney.com/WinHandCl.html
Worse than Aids? http://cconline.faithsite.com/content.asp?CID=58129
Musical Idolatry. http://www.piney.com/Clapp.html
Seventh Day Adventist Forum. http://everythingimportant.org/viewtopic.php?t=674
One multiple choice question was: "When your dog wags its tail, does it mean it is happy, excited, or bored?"
I also discovered that there are at least 150,000 dogs in this city of 1.7 million (however, the real figure is not known since not all dogs are registered). Also it is estimated that there is 5-10 tons of dog excrement produced daily (I am sure this is a low estimate after spending almost 4 months walking around Vienna).
Q. (Mr. John Barry, Newsweek). What about Rumsfeld? (Then he mumbled something about two of the generals having been in trouble—one of them had to retire at a grade lower.) What is the reason for the current agitation?
A. There’s no collusion. He hasn’t talked to other generals about it. He’s never met the man. Rumsfeld’s responsible. The military accepts responsibility when things go wrong, trying to apply the lessons they learn. What happened in this case? Rumsfeld discarded 10 years of planning toward a true occupation. We needed to take on reconstruction and to control access to Iraq, both from without and within. It was going to take a long time. But Rumsfeld had a cavalier attitude about it, discarding it all as “on-the-shelf, stale old plans,” even though the military is constantly updating its “old plans” so that they do not get “stale.” The assumptions in the plans were dismissed by Rumsfeld as too negative. The problem of no planning was symbolized when General Garner’s group got lost as they made their way into Iraq from Kuwait. Then came the CPA. And Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army. We had communicated with them for years, (promising them their continued existence if they cooperated).
Monday, April 17, 2006
April 11: Went to a student “party” for a professor of some years here whose husband is taking a position in NYC with the UN. She has been a good literature professor from my contact with her and well-liked by the students.
April 12: Foreign policy position papers were due today so a class discussion on recommendations for the president regarding China policy and terrorism were presented. The comments were quite perceptive. There is disagreement with Bush’s policies. Also there seems to be a certain foreboding about the future—students seem to feel the world situation will get much worse before it gets better, if it does.
A very busy day with classes, but also a guest lecturer from Mount Vernon Nazarene University was on campus for a talk on “American Unilateralism.” I have met him before, but I got to know him and his wife much better. After class an older Austrian gentleman who is teaching here felt like talking to my wife and me in the faculty offices. Our conversation got started at 10PM and went to midnight. His father was in an anti-Nazi Austrian political party and the family had to flee to New York after Hitler took over Austria in 1938. He grew up with Henry Kissinger in New York (he thinks power changed him, especially after his wife left him). He also married Joanna von Trapp, the second youngest of the Trapp family of “Sound of Music” fame. It was fascinating to hear the real family stories. Joanna eloped with him—Maria tried to keep the girls from marrying to keep the family singing group together. Also I found out that after the escape in the movie they did go to America for a singing tour, but after the 3 month tour ended Washington returned them to Germany where the father was put into a concentration camp after the family refused to sing for Hitler. They had to escape a second time to America in 1939. Maria sounds like a very strong personality. He went on to become an Austrian diplomat and head of the Austrian diplomatic academy after WWII.
April 13: My wife’s Chinese student had us over to her dorm for a Chinese dinner. The dorm is very clean and quiet. She cooked us a full Chinese meal in the kitchen on her floor. I don’t remember the names of everything but there was mussel and I think scallops. There were a lot of vegetables. Everything was cooked in a pot of boiling water. I liked the “dumplings” which were filled with barlauch, herbs, meat, and eggs. She seemed so happy to do this and was pleased we liked it. Actually the sauce and everything was great, but the mussels I could pass on.
April 14: Tried to do shopping for several days because Monday after Easter is a holiday. There seemed to be fewer people out today, Good Friday. For lunch we bought some sandwiches at Der Mann—Mary had a tuna fish and I had egg and rucola (not sure what the American name is because my dictionary does not give it). We were going to explore a part of Vienna we had not seen, but it began to rain when we got off the tram so came back. Being a slow day we went to Aida and had mélange and torte and then went to shop for kitchen supplies on Mariahilfer Strasse. That night we went a concert/reading at the Minoritenkirche. It was called “Tod & Auferstehung” (Death and Resurrection). A harp and cellist played selections between readings of poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke and others. A male and female reader alternated. The poetry was beautiful and because they spoke slowly and enunciated clearly I could understand most of it. Even though these are secular poets one could clearly hear the story of Christ from the Last Supper to the Resurrection. The church was packed (I didn’t see many tourists) and also warm! The only annoying thing was a woman whose cell phone went off a couple of times—I think Austrians are worse about this than Americans—people were getting annoyed and telling her to turn it off. It was raining hard when we left.
I should also mention a drink we are getting really fond of. The larger grocery store we often try to shop at makes juice and sells it in various size bottles. We like to buy carrot juice and raspberry juice and then dilute it with mineral water. The raspberry juice is not totally concentrate, but when mixed with mineral water it is especially good. Carrots here are sweeter than the US so the carrot juice has a very nice taste as well. Food does seem to be healthier here. Again you don’t see many obese young people in particular.
April 15: Took a tram out to an area of Vienna we had not seen and walked back via Schonbrunn. There was an Ostermarkt (Easter Market) in the courtyard with many stalls set up selling a variety of goods and foods. Hand-painted Easter eggs are popular—they are exquisite and we wish there was a way to bring a dozen or so back, but they are very fragile. Going by one stall, I saw a girl ordering something on rye bread and it looked good (really I was getting hungry). So I ordered Grammelschmalzbrot mit zwiebel for 2.5 E. I know the word for bread (brot) and zwiebel (onion), but I have never had the other two words on any vocabulary list or menu. The man at the counter got two large pieces of rye bread and spread some white stuff on them (which was not the color of butter, but more like a pale cream cheese) and then topped them off with onions. I found my nutritious-conscious wife at another stall and showed her what I purchased and she tasted one slice and told me it was some kind of lard topped with onion. I don’t normally eat lard—in fact I still can’t conceive of eating it, but it was good. I figured out that schmalz means lard, but I cannot find grammel in any dictionary so I will have to ask a local what this is. Finally made it back and for dinner had a normal meal. We happened to bump into two other instructors going into the same restaurant so we had a long evening of conversation.
April 16: Easter: the city is quiet—many people have left for a long holiday. Italian tourists are still here, however.
Weekly Political observations:
· Talked with a Russian who does not like the direction Putin is taking Russia. He wants Putin to be more western-oriented instead of building ties with China and Iran. Also he is concerned about Putin undermining democracy.
· An African told me it is hard to believe Muslims when they say “Islam is a religion of peace,” because their actions don’t support this statement. We also discussed how in less developed nations the extended family is a safety net for people while in Europe that state is trying to provide that safety net. When the state steps in, the family safety net becomes less and less important.
· Cheney is a “Nazi” who can listen to classical music in the morning and kill someone in the afternoon.
· Bush is not intelligent and also has never really faced his alcoholism directly by going through an AA process. He carries himself with a swagger.
· Condolezzi Rice has been accepted into a man’s world and is focused more on power and structure than following the values of her preacher father.
· Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton’s stepfather belonged to communist groups. Hillary is worse than Condolezzi.
· Someone expressed a low opinion of the American church—people do not come to meet Christ, but for personal fulfillment. It is a "me" oriented church.
· A little “corruption” is good in government because it helps little people get things done. In Austria you get things done through friends and contacts.
· Italians like to travel to Vienna and Prague because they crave “order” and like beauty! They are terrible tourists because they are so inconsiderate. They will stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk to talk or look
Monday, April 10, 2006
April 4: Went to another concert at the Evangelical church—heard a harpsichord and a “Gambe” which looks like a cello to me, but maybe a bit smaller. I think some of the musical instruments are slightly different here. Someone was saying a European oboe is not exactly like an American oboe.
April 5: A busy day so we ate out. Mary ordered a dish which consisted of slabs of fried cheese covered in almonds and placed on a salad. I ordered Osterschinken which was a ham steak with a fried egg on top with mashed potatoes on the side. It was almost like an IHOP breakfast. However, Mary’s dish was much tastier than mine. We are going to go back and both of us will order this cheese dish.
April 6: Went to the Leopold museum and saw some of the 20th century Austrian artists.
April 7: Took the tram to Grinzing and then transferred to the bus and got off at Kahlenberg. You can overlook the city and the view is wonderful (except for the haze or smog). You can see the skyline and the Danube. Walked about 20 minutes to Leopoldsburg and saw the old fortifications. John Sobieski’s army was on the heights overlooking Vienna from this point as Vienna lay under siege from the Turks. His army marched down (after a special mass) and defeated the Turks. You could also look west up the Danube and see Klosterneuburg. Came home and met a lady who is teaching ESL and went to another concert at the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church. Stopped for coffee and torte in a little café and enjoyed the fellowship.
April 8: Wanted to go back to Kahlenberg and hike down to Klosterneuburg through the Vienna Woods. Got to Kahlenberg and hiked down the big hill through the woods to the central part of Klosterneuburg—it took about 50 minutes. We passed some lovely homes. Stopped in a little restaurant and order the lamb lunch special. Mary looked at some of the stores and then we headed to the train station to get a ticket and train back to Vienna. Bought some Italian ice cream cones—I had pistachio and amarena (cherry). Came back and went to another organ concert at the Evangelical church. The Bach and Brahms pieces were great, but the organ master’s improvisation was not to my liking. Walked back to the tram past a number of Goths/punks out for the night.
April 9: After church walked back through the Belvedere Palace grounds and stopped at a restaurant advertising “Wiener Kuchen” – it was not one of the best meals we have had. We did see a new church, St. Elisabeth’s, which was several blocks behind Karlskirche. It was one of the more beautiful churches we have seen—a simple gothic style (although the outside had probably been rebuilt because of the bombing in WWII). A Russian theoretical physicist I am getting to know asked me if America was as violent as the films he sees. It is interesting how powerful Hollywood is in giving sexual and violent stereotypes of America. He has never been to the US. He is extremely smart and deals with theoretical issues related to silicon in his research. He said that many of the articles in “Nature” or “Science” deal with the simplistic issues of what is happening and don’t get into the theoretical issues of what is happening in atoms and smaller. I don’t operate at the sub-atomic level.
Monday, April 03, 2006
March 28: I went with them to Schloss Schonbrunn and we toured the apartments which were very interesting, although I think I like the Sissi Museum in the Hofburg better. It was starting to rain. I left them and Mary on the underground to get back to school. They went on to the inner city to see some of the sights. Ambassador Schuelte, the US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was scheduled to speak at 5:30. The room was crowded. The ambassador had worked in the White House and was appointed by Bush to the Vienna post. He spoke on the Iran nuclear situation. They only allowed students to ask questions and he was able to take about 6 questions. I was extremely impressed—his delivery was sharp and crisp—he knew his stuff. Also some of the students were loaded to get him, but he handled very tough questions with ease. A reception followed. One student I talked to wants him to come back and just discuss how he prepared himself to be a diplomat—I think the students, while maybe not agreeing with US policy positions recognized that he was a top-notch diplomat who they needed to learn from.
Afterwards met Mary and our friends and we went to the Volksoper to see “Nicht Nur Mozart”—it was modern ballet. The early performances danced to pieces from modern musical compositions; the last performances were based on some of Mozart’s pieces, but the dance movements were still modern. I prefer the more traditional ballet like “Swan Lake.” Ate a late dinner at a Turkish restaurant.
March 29: Mary saw our friends off by taxi and we trust they got to Bratislava for their return flight to London. It was a very rainy day. Wednesday I am in class basically from noon to 10PM so I am not out much.
March 31: Got on the underground and a fellow got on and sat across the aisle from us. I was looking for the right station to get off and somehow Mary must have smiled at him and he said something about the station which I did not hear. He asked where we came from and I said America. He switched to broken English and said he was a Turk. He said Austrians never smile (that is probably why he asked where we came from). He asked me where we were from and thought of cowboys when we said Texas. He went on to tell us that Bush was behind 9/11 because he wanted to get control of oil and have a war. I didn’t argue. While transferring to the tram, got a slice of pizza. I can’t say I enjoy the pizza sold here—Mary’s spinach pizza was good, but I am not fond of goat cheese. Mine was a cheese pizza with egg and pepper. We took the tram to Grinzing which is famous for its heurigers and is full of tourists in the summer. Many heurigers were closed but we walked up to where the Vienna Woods starts and you could see the wine fields on either side. Also there is a beautiful view of the city of Vienna. Went back and headed over to Floridsdorf to go to a church which was having an organ concert of some of Mozart’s work. It was out from the city and was a very simple Catholic Church which was built sometime after the war—it didn’t have a lot of the baroque or gothic statues inside. It was heated which was nice. I saw two nuns in habits—I can’t say I have seen many nuns in habits since leaving Chicago many years ago. And these were the first in Roman Catholic Austria. Also we went by the large mosque near the old Danube.
April 1: It was a beautiful Saturday with a blue sky. After getting some weekend groceries, took the tram to see a church near Alser Strasse—it had been partially destroyed in WWII, but was very impressive. The interior was quite simple. From there we went to UN city by underground. It is a massive complex with apartments for UN agencies. Much of it was closed and also security would have made it impossible for us to get into the buildings. They are all very modern and not attractive. Took the underground back one station and walked along the Danube. It was high and certainly not “blue.” In taking the tram back to the Inner city, we walked through part of the Inner City. Decided to sit and rest at an Eis café where I observed my first obnoxious American tourist—an older, heavy set lady who interrupted a French(?) couple eating by us to comment on their camera lens (which was sitting on their table). Near the Eis café was an Easter market with booths set up on a square. Among the stalls was one with hundreds of painted Easter eggs—they are so beautiful, but would be very difficult to take back. We also saw a Catholic youth rally in the square—they were singing songs very similar to some of those sung in churches back home by youth. Some were even in English. Took the tram home and planned to go to a Chinese restaurant, but when we got there it was closed. So we made a decision to head back to the inner city to find a Russian restaurant we saw some weeks ago. We found out and tried borscht, a Georgian soup which was very spicy and contained some meat and rice (along with loads of garlic); beef stroganoff; and pelmeni (little meat filled dumplings). It was all good. On the way back got some Italian ice cream.
April 2: Met a young Serb today who said Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright are not liked in Serbia because of the bombing in the 1990s, but that Serbs generally like Bush (somewhat unusual). He said some Serbs believe Albright advocated bombing Belgrade because as a young lady living in Belgrade Milosovic had “dumped” her! Ate at a Kurkonditorei for a late lunch—I can’t figure out the name because it means a “Cure Café”—there are a number in Vienna. Had a very good meal.