Saturday, February 20, 2010

Knights Templar, Old Tables, and Mosques

Above: This is what I dress up like when everybody is asleep. Can't help it.

Thursday we went to Middle Temple. Middle Temple is where the Knights Templar were located. The Knights Templar were pretty much wicked awesome fighters that were sworn to poverty. So they got powerful by protecting people's money. They went international and were loyal to no crown, so eventually one of the kings (France, I believe. France would) plotted against them and they were brutally murdered. But you know they put up a fight worthy of a Mel Gibson movie. The building was pretty cool. The dining hall had to be restored after a bomb blew through it in WWII (I stood on the spot they found the bomb on accident). Lunch was crazy good and we got to sit at the main table. This table has been in the building since the 1500s. It was cut from one giant tree (English Oak, I presume) and then floated down the Thames. I thought about sticking my gum under it, just to be funny. But I didn't. Because I'm an adult. Kinda. After lunch we went to Charles Dickens' house. Long story short, it was boring. It was the place he lived before he was famous--he wrote Oliver Twist and other novels there so I wasn't all that blown away with it. I mean, once you've moon walked over a man's grave what's left to care about?

Friday we had classes. Then Dave decided it would be cool to take us all to the London Central Mosque, because we had spent the class period talking about Muslims. The Mosque was beautiful and our guide Omar was fantastic, but I was stuck in the back of the group and could not hear a thing to save my life. When he turned our way and I sat way forward I caught this much: all of the prayers are dictated by scripture and each person says the same one, and they use domes in their buildings because of pure practicality. I did, however, have great seats for watching the prayer. I'm not sure which prayer it was, but it was close to 3pm if that means anything to you. It got very quiet, and everybody prays in rows. A man in a white robe speaks periodically and everyone bows at the waist, then prostrates on the ground, then kneels, then prostrates again, then stands. It repeats four times if I'm not mistaken. I don't know much about the religion at all (still couldn't hear), but it was a wonderful experience.

Today I spent a little more time at the British Library. I finally forced myself to go into the Humanities reading room, which is pretty posh. The seats are huge and cushioned and you get tons of desk space and a sweet lamp. I successfully tracked down the Westminster Review and ordered the issue (July 1852) that most likely holds the article I'm trying to find, assuming it exists. Not gonna lie: it's kind of fun to work giant old-school archive collections for pieces of writing that don't exist in your own country. After twenty years of education, I'm finally fully enjoying my education. I guess London will do that.

Tomorrow is church. If you read this, send money.


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