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The end at last! This is, like, three months after it happened, but by george, I’ve done it.

I forget when we started that day — I think we did try to leave the house a bit earlier, but then I forgot my camera, which almost defeats the purpose of being in London (to my disordered mind, anyway), so we had to go back and then ride the tube quite a ways until we got to a certain apartment building in north London:

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Pilgrimage to Chartres

I’m going a bit out of order now and skipping (1) Day 3 of London, (2) Regensburg, (3) Dachau the town, (4) Bad Tolz, and, as always, a few local churches, in order to show you the pilgrimage I went on three (!) weeks ago. Time goes fast. And last week I also went to Augsburg, so I’ve got that in the chute as well.

Also news: I finally ran out of my 3 gigs of upload space, so I spent $20 on a 10 gig expansion. Apparently it has to be renewed every year, so I don’t know how long the FULL version of my blog will exist on these eternal internets.

BUT! Chartres Cathedral!

I went there! How? And why?? This you shall learn. Continue Reading »

A preview of delights to come.

Oh! I also forgot to write something at the end of my last post. While we were eating dinner, we looked out the living room windows and saw some boys across the street signalling us from their bedroom window. Boys, actual nine- or ten-year-old boys — don’t get any ideas! They lived in the boarding school houses across the way, and we’d seen them walking off to class in the morning, in their cute private schoolboy uniforms. When they saw us looking back at them, their waving and jumping around in front of the window got more exuberant, and once we started waving, they just couldn’t get over how fun it was. It was super cute, all these little kids in their pajamas, in their shared bedroom, getting frantically excited that the neighbors were waving back at them! But eventually we had to be the grown ups and stop waving, because the kids weren’t going to. Then an adult came in the room, saw the boys pointing at out the window, and pulled the curtains shut…

The next morning, we got up and ready in time for Mass at Blackfriars, also taking some time to plan our Lewis/Tolkien tour for the day. We had to go a little outside the center of Oxford to see their respective gravestones and The Kilns. After getting a lot of rest the night before and taking painkillers, my back improved a lot, and my rest-stops were much less frequent. It was a big relief to be more comfortable! Continue Reading »

So this past weekend, I went to France to partake in that most medieval of Christian pastimes: a pilgrimage… we walked from Notre Dame de Paris to Chartres Cathedral, a distance of about 90-95 kilometers. But I still have other posts to finish, that I don’t want to get completely behind on, so you’ll have to wait a bit to hear about it (or you can, you know, talk to me personally, on email and such. I still have email. And Facebook.)

Until then:

The Germans entering the symbol of France.

I’m compelled to link you to the intro sequence of what is probably my favorite anti-medieval medieval movie of all time: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Disneyfied Victor Hugo could not be anything but anti-medieval, really, but there are still enough great moments in this movie that it remains a sentimental favorite. SANCTUARY! SANCTUARY! Who is the monster and who is the man??

(And if you want to see which classic Latin texts Alan Menken used in his score, check out this cool version of the final scene, which plays the score louder than the dialogue and provides subtitles. Dies irae, O salutaris hostia, and more.)

Part of the northern facade of Chartres Cathedral. If you want to learn more about Chartres, you could watch this documentary (in 5 parts) that I uploaded a few years ago. It has its sillier moments, and downplays some of the more robustly Christian symbolism for a more palatable “world spirituality” emphasis, but that in itself is not uninteresting, and they include lots of cool stuff about how medieval cathedrals were built and why they were built. It starts getting really good in the third section, so hang on through the more blah-blah spiritual-tourism parts.

Okay, now to go back to work on my Oxford post…!

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City of dreaming spires, etc etc! When I first got back I sent an exhausted and rather breathless email to Heidi saying: “London actually exists. Oxford is such a perfect place it makes me feel guilty that I saw it.” And it wasn’t just for effect. I actually felt guilty for finally seeing Oxford, which might tell you a little more about me than about Oxford, but nevertheless. A northwesterner like me can’t really believe these places weren’t just invented for bookish convenience.

We were staying in Katherine’s friend’s apartment, who was out of town for the weekend. The whole place was covered in books, which is exactly the kind of place I like. We got there pretty late at night and immediately went to bed, but when I woke up in the morning and looked out the window, I saw this:

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