Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coliseum, Vatican Museum and more - Second Day in Rome

The crowds were just beginning to formed as I left the Coliseum and took this picture from the hill opposite.
I was at the Coliseum before it opened and so I beat the buses and the crowds. I spent about 2 hours wandering, listening to my audio-guide, taking pictures and just being amazed at what they could
build almost 2,000 years ago and what they did in this place. One thing they did not do here was to use Christians to fight animals etc. But the gladiators and wild beasts by the thousands were killed here. The way they built an amphitheater that could hold somewhere between 50-75,000 without modern technology
and equipment amazes me.

After the Coliseum it was up to the "upper city"man-made elevated area called Palatine Hill and also the Forum (downtown area of temples etc.). Because of what I've had the privilege of viewing in the past in both Israel, Jordan, Greece and Turkey I was not awe-stuck at the many ruins but the number and size of them is still impressive. 

The one carving I was determined to see here in Rome was that of the Menorah that had been taken
from the Temple in Jerusalem. I found it on the inside of the Titus Arch and I just had to wonder if it is still residing somewhere in the basement of the Vatican Museum? The money in gold and silver that the Romans took from Jerusalem was used to help restore Rome and probably begin to build the Coliseum too.

I spent some time in various museums and in one I found an altar.
I leave for Athens, Greece tomorrow afternoon where I will see again the "altar to the unknown god" that Paul spoke of when he visited that city. I was surprised to find in a
Museum an altar in Rome by the same name. I'm so glad I know the knowable God and His son, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Once again (see my previous Facebook posting: "What amazes me is that when I travel in the Middle East and Europe I am often spoken to on the street by native speakers who expect me to respond. Today it happened twice, questioned by two people on the streets who apparently wanted me to help them in some way. What amazes me is that I am obviously a pale, but scruffy (I haven't shaved recently) older Canadian who speaks, I'm imaging, with a soft Texas accent now that I've lived there for 18 years. Why would they think I'm a native?") I was able to be of little assistance to the people who greeted me in Italian and, I assume, asked me for directions or my help or were perhaps just being friendly. I am learning that if I put an "o" or "i" on the end of some words I think I sound Italian but it doesn't help at all.

Off to the Vatican and specifically the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. I'm not great at appreciating art (painting, wall hangings, carving, handworks, and sculpture) but it's hard not to be impressed with what I saw. I think the disturbing thing to me was the amount of money the Catholic Church has spent on items that don't further the gospel (in my opinion) and the
many times it seems like the Catholic Church compromised with society and adapted and adopted non-biblical thinking into the teachings of the church if I interpreted what I saw correctly. Obviously, I'm not a church historian or theologian but these were my personal reactions. 

The Sistine Chapel was remarkable, though unmoving for me. I know I have just offended all of you art lovers out there but I'm sorry, I'm just not "into" it!

 I did, however, appreciate the various archeological items from Nineveh, from Nebuchadnezzar, Assurbanipal, Sargon and others mentioned in the Scriptures. Also two very small pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls (not as impressive as seeing the Scroll of Isaiah in Israel but still neat.

I also enjoyed seeing the pottery from the area around Jericho in Israel (called Palestine in most museums since this was the common term until it became associated more recently with Arabs in the land. I actually have a couple authentic examples of these pots (perhaps 4-5,000 years old) in my office so come by and see me sometimes and I'll show them to you so you won't need to come all the way to Rome to see them!
By now I was exhausted since I tend to do a lot of walking (and quickly my wife will remind me) and I hadn't eaten much and it was 4 pm. It seems like everyone I saw (OK a slight exaggeration) were in couples and so I had a hard time stopping at a street-side cafe to drink coffee and eat Italian food. So it was Burger King for me today! (I'm not too adventurous you might notice in the food area. I did have some excellent spaghetti tonight with something on it that was wonderful so I feel like I haven't dishonored the Italian people now).

Tomorrow I'm here til early afternoon so I have the catacombs on my schedule for the morning. The ones I was planning to see I discovered at closed on Wednesdays so I've found two others that I think I can find my way to by metro and bus and a walk. I can't wait.

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