Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Geneva, Switzerland

To tell the truth, we've rather tired of "seeing the sights" in tourist cities.

I know... It sounds crazy, doesn't it? We don't expect you to feel sorry for us. But you get tired of seeing repeated pictures of "sights" in this blog, too, don't you? Life consists in more than seeing the statues, buildings, mountain s, or what-have-you that the quasi-democratic process of tourism labels as worthy of visiting. And as our life is currently lived on the road, seeing the "sights" has become a smaller, and more optional activity than it might be if we were on a long-planned, much-anticipated, one- or two-week vacation.

At some point during our stay at each location, we do try to ramble around and see whatever "sights" we happen across, but we aren't very rigorous about it anymore. If something in our guidebook specifically appeals, we make an effort to seek it out. If not ... well, the ramble carries as much interest as the things we might see.

So this was our ramble through Geneva. Geneva prides itself on its Reformation roots.
Case was interested in visiting the "Museum of the Reformation, which is located next to the Cathédral St-Pierre, so we started there. Unfortunately, on our bus ride into town, we discovered we'd neglected to bring money for the entrance fee -- so we didn't get to visit the museum's exhibits. Rather, we satisfied ourselves with a visit to their courtyard and bookstore.

A scan of the museum's self-published history of the Reformation revealed that, at least according to the authors, John Calvin and Geneva were central figures in the Reformation. All-in-all, we got the idea that the museum exhibits took a Geneva-centric approach. That had not occurred to us before, although we've since learned that Geneva has been termed "the Protestant Rome".

So now Case is interested to read more about John Calvin, Geneva, & Reformation history. We'll add that to the biography of Luther (from our Wittenberg visit) that is on his list -- Jolene foresees more books for our library at home...
We moved on to St. Peter's Cathedral -- quite lovely -- where John Calvin preached from 1536 to 1564.
The ceiling of the side chapel was especially enthralling. (Click on photo to enlarge.) We felt that, in its way, it rivaled the Sistine Chapel -- certainly, it felt more peaceful and accessible.
Walking downhill from the Cathedral, we happened across this city park ...
... and its Reformation Monument. The central figures in this 325 x 30 ft edifice are:
  • Guillaume Farel — first to preach the Reformation in Geneva
  • John Calvin — leader of the Reformation movement and spiritual father of Geneva
  • Theodore Beza — Calvin's successor (who emphasized Calvin's doctrine of predestination)
  • John Knox — Scottish preacher, friend of Calvin, and founder of Presbyterianism in Scotland
(If you haven't heard -- as we hadn't -- of Farel or Beza, or you thought -- as we did -- that Luther and Zwingli were at least as prominent Reformers as Calvin & Knox, you might be interested in reading more about the monument.)
And here, I suppose, is a would-be reformer. (Looks too happy. Needs to work on a sterner, more austere frown. Plastic surgery on nose might help, too. See below.)

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