Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rimini, Saturday and Sunday

Rimini, Saturday and Sunday

Just to fill you in, I arrived in Rimini on Saturday evening after dark. The bus dropped us off at the central train station where Paolo from the Hotel Monica picked up our bags. We took a bus to the hotel, past about 5 km of tourist and souvenir shops. The entire town is packed with holiday-makers, and they apparently require no sleep.

The next morning I took the bus(es) from the hotel to the exhibition centre where the Meeting is being held, along with Lisa, Josh from Perth, and John and Hilary Tang from Malaysia. (I had planned to upload photos of everybody, but ...). We got here a few minutes late for the big Sunday morning Mass, and I watched on a screen outside. I suppose watching Mass in Italian on a screen counts for the Sunday obligation? They distributed the Eucharist all the same.

After lunch with the Tangs I went off alone for a couple of hours to size up the Meeting. It is huge, spread out over an exhibition area about 3 times the area of the new Melbourne Exhibition Centre (Jeff's Shed). There are many large lecture rooms, and many exhibition booths, connected with the aims of the Movement to greater or lesser extents.

And it is crowded. I mentioned later to one person that it might be less crowded on Monday. She said it gets worse.

I took in a couple of visual exhibits. The first was an exhibit on the desecration and looting of Churches in Turkish occupied Cyprus. Meanwhile, mosques on the Greek side are renovated with taxpayer funds. A bit depressing and angering. It reminded me of the Pope's Regensburg speech, and the Byzantine emperor he quoted, who asked why there was so much violence in Islam; a question that still demands an answer 800 years later.

The second was an exhibit on the story of the Tower of Babel, one of my favourite Bible stories, and its relationship to the Jewish enmity towards the Babylonian empire. An interesting fact: the Romans identified God with light, while the Middle East identified God with height.  Hence the Jewish 'most high God'.

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