Thursday, July 9, 2015
Today was an interesting day. After breakfast (cereal again; no one get excited), I headed out to find the Oxford train station. I got a little turned around, but eventually got there OK. I picked up my tickets both for my journey into London tomorrow and Monday’s journey to Birmingham (where I’ll hopefully meet up with Joshua Brown). The people were all friendly and understanding of my ignorance of how to do any of this. Right after this, I wandered into the admissions office at Oxford, and they were both knowledgeable and helpful with questions about their doctoral program in philosophy.
After a very brief lunch, we headed off to the bus to go to the Kilns and the home of C. S. Lewis. We had to eat so quickly and leave that we accidentally left Dr. Eccher behind (as he was not present when we started to leave—in his words, “I was gone for 90 seconds, and it was like the Rapture happened!”).
While we were waiting for the bus, an older gentleman asked where we were going. When Dr. Keathley responded that it was to the Kilns, he responded “Oh, I live out there. Why are you going there with such a large group?” When Dr. Keathley answered that it was to see the home of C. S. Lewis, the man replied, “I do not like C. S. Lewis!” and turned away. Later, he would describe our group as a “disgrace” for “filling the coach” before it actually happened. Some people are insistent on being angry about something or other. Dr. Keathley happened to remark to us: “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country…”!
The Kilns was an excellent place. It was not a large house; in fact, one could be in and out in a few minutes. But it was fun to hear the history that surrounded it and how an American couple bought it (who now live there). After dinner, we walked around town, just taking it all in (there was a group of five altogether). After I headed back to my room, eventually four of us guys found our way into my room, where we sat around drinking soda or water and talking philosophy, theology, and distance learning at SEBTS. These guys have a desire to serve God, and to do it with their minds. It was a fun time!
Friday, July 10, 2015
London is truly one of the world’s great cities. With people coming from around the world to see it, you can’t help but notice all of the different types of people and languages around you. Today was one of my London days (this time I was on my own). I first arrived at Paddington station, where I got an all-day tube pass and hopped on. It’s pretty easy to navigate, which is good for a person like me. I got off at Marylebone station and walked the five minutes or so over to Baker Street, where I was one of the first that morning to enter the Sherlock Holmes Museum! Located at 239 Baker St. (since Baker St. ends just another two or so shops away), they are recognized as the official museum for the great detective. The whole thing cost £15 and I got through it all in 30 minutes at most, but it was still worth it. The employees were dressed in Victorian-era clothing, and the house almost seemed to be “preserved” from the stories, as if he really did live and these were artifacts of his time in London.
I had received some advice to head to Regent’s Park across the street, so right after the museum I did so. It’s like London’s version of Central Park, and it is large and beautiful. After asking a local for directions, I made my way to Primrose Hill. From this hill, you can view the entire city in the distance. It was a warm and clear day, and so that only added to the atmosphere. From there, I wandered until I got to a bus stop and travelled to another tube station, looking for lunch. I found this nice Italian place—for those who say there is no good food in England, I suggest they haven’t been there in a while! The pasta and sauce was good, and they seemed to be Italian people making the food, so good enough!
From here I needed to get around to the London Eye pier. I was walking on a bridge area to see what I could when I noticed a Jehovah’s Witness. I couldn’t pass it up. I introduced myself to him, and asked if I could ask him some questions. Now unfortunately, JW’s tend to go into “rote-memory mode” when you ask them questions. I pressed him on whether Jesus is God, and while at first he did not answer, he agreed that if God is the most excellent and powerful being there is, then Jesus is not God (since Jesus is “a god” in a lesser sense of being a spirit). I told him that was a major sticking point for me (I try to put the onus on them to convince me). He responded with a question for me: When Jesus died, who ran the universe? That seemed easy enough: it would have to be God. “But,” I added quickly, “I don’t think this is a problem for me, because, after all, it wasn’t like Jesus ceased to exist—they killed his body, not his spirit.” Add to that the fact that Jesus and the Father aren’t the same person, and I don’t see this as being much of an objection. At that, he was polite, but just shut down. There was no rote response for him for this situation. I thanked him for his time, made a book recommendation, and moved on. He seemed very confused, and I felt bad for him.
I went to the river cruise where I was joined by many British schoolchildren. We went up and down parts of the Thames receiving very interesting facts about the city and buildings (for instance, London was established by the Romans, and they called the city “Londinium” and the river “Tamesis.”). It was about 45 minutes long or so, and well worth it. I went straight from this to the London Eye itself, where I had a guide with my group of disparate individuals. This was amazing, with the great views of the city at every point.
I grabbed dinner at a pub, where the bartender (this is from whom you order your food in a pub), upon finding out I was American and new to London, couldn’t wait to pour me a British beer. She was a little disappointed when I said I was refraining from alcohol, but would love a Coke (it felt a bit like having a child proudly ask you to look at her school art project and slapping it away instead!). I had a fish-and-chips sandwich, where they had mushy peas on it. This is not nearly as bad as it sounds and looks. Basically, if you’re OK with peas, you’ll be OK with this. I met an Irishman who was down on his luck. I’ve lived in places with plenty of homelessness before, so I also know when you’re being “sold,” and I wasn’t quite fooled. However, I did want to share the Gospel with him, so I did give him a few pounds. He seemed dismissive of the Gospel (“Yeah, I’m a Christian”), and once he figured out I wasn’t going to give him any more (or my tube pass), he quickly exited the pub.
That was about it for my day; I hopped on a train home to Oxford, where upon arrival, I was hanging out with Danny on the night scene (just observing from the outside, mind you). It was a cool evening and a great way to end the day. Stay tuned for the next day in London!