Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My diet in Worms

I know that I should always ask prices before I order, but… we’ll see what this costs me.
I’m sitting in a café, I guess you’d call it, in the Jewish quarter of Worms. I made it to the synagogue as it was closing for an hour, so I’m here for lunch. The owner is offering some kind of eggs and potatoes dish (maybe there’s a reason everyone here suggests Italian food for meals?). I’ve a darker beer than I’ve had so far. Black and white tiled floor, two tone yellow walls, modern paintings on the wall for sale. There’s a kitchen in back, I can’t tell how large, but the seating area has seven tables, probably about 800 square feet. American blues music. There are four of us in here and a woman at a table out front.
Martin Luther’s plaque where he made his stand is in a garden that’s currently being used to stage a play or film a movie, so I can’t get in there.
When the official part of the tour ended, I buggered out, not wasting much time. I have a train ticket that leaves in three hours if I stay with the tour. It’ll cost me e8 to stay longer. The tour is ok, but some of the people drive me nuts – the South Carolinian especially. There’s a guy who started knocking Catholicism for building “huge empty churches” and I just walked out of hearing range. Doesn’t he realize the role this city plays in his ability to be Assemblies of God? And the South Carolinian certainly didn’t appreciate that we were in the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe. There’s so much spiritual history here... They feel a need to compare it with Indiana or wherever they are from. I do that, too, but there’s more I hope I have – an openness to something different. I pray Charis and Bekah will appreciate other places and cultures.
Lunch is here, I’m going to eat.
This is tasty. It will certain fill me up. Two more guys just walked in – both long hair and glasses and beards. The owner has the grey pony tail, but no glasses or beard.
The churches are beautiful. In the first, Magnus Church, there are indications that people worship – posters advertising what I’d like to think is a VBS. There’s a lot of gilt – very bright – but mostly brick walls and pillars. They are dark, but so vast as to not be oppressive. I climbed into what I guess is the pulpit in St Martin’s church – powerful to be able to stand where everyone could see. Despite being so high off the ground, it felt more intimate with the pews than standing in the front by the altar.
The place is filling up – two more arrived. I sure smell like smoke now.
I’m remembering one of the many “cafes” we would stumble across in China. I miss traveling.
Oh: I’m in the “Kunstler Café” on Judengasse (that means “Jewish Street” I think) in Worms.
My plan after lunch: tour the synagogue and possibly the museum there. Then to the train station to see when the trains go home. I do want to see the museum (e2) and then probably back to the Cathedral. Actually, I’ll probably go to the Frederick Church before the museum & cathedral. Frederick Church is a Reformed Church and significantly younger than the other buildings here: 1774.  We Americans are so young.
I’m off to explore.

Entry a bit later: the meal, with the beer which was at least e2, came to e8,20. I was happy with the price.
Jewish museum: by 1945, there were no Jews in Worms. For nearly a 1000 years before that, they had thrived here, enjoying special privileges from the Emperor to maintain their trade. The museum felt strange, like remembering dinosaurs or something: here’s a diorama of a seder meal, ‘here’s what their holidays were,’ ‘here’s a menorah which was important to them,’ ‘here’s a torah scroll; notice the fancy handles.’ The synagogue was a bit better except to note that Jews gather to worship every other week, but there is no Jewish Community in Worms.
Frederick Church isn’t an historical site. Someone let me in and was very nice about it, but gently pointed me toward some more historical churches.
There’s a church erected to support Luther in the shadows of the Cathedral. Turns out that was the one completed in its current form in the late 18th Century, though it dates to Luther’s time. The congregation there started pretty soon after the Diet in 1521 and the entire town at many times was more Protestant than Catholic. I read something about a significant moment in the history when the Lutherans and Calvinists joined up to build the church.
The city museum was a neat stop primarily for the “Luther Room” which holds two Luther Bibles. Pretty cool to be there, though I couldn’t read a thing. After I’d seen that, I paid a bit more attention to the rest of the museum and then actually paid attention to some more of the history: Romans built a town here. I walked some of the same roads that the Romans laid. Not far from the current Cathedral was a Temple to Jupiter.
I took the train home with the tour group rather than pay the extra money. I could spend more time here, especially touring and praying in the churches.


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