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Europe: Reformation Switzerland and Renaissance Italy
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Journal 5


October 1


It’s after dinner and darkness is slowly shadowing the hills. Tiny lights
from the village below, Frenkendorf, are starting to pop through the trees
at me. How peaceful this place can be.

We were talking in class today about 24-hour stores that are scattered all
though the U.S. I found it interesting that so many members of our group
viewed 24-hour convenience as a necessity of life--a good thing.
Katie made a good point about how Americans choose to live their lives.
Americans are a go, go people. We schedule ourselves tightly and are
always on the run. The Swiss may indeed be rigidly on schedule and
incredibly organized, but in attitude and lifestyle they seem much more
laid back. They don’t rush anywhere. On the streets of Basel I hardly
ever see people running anywhere. On the streets of our cities I have to
be careful not to be knocked over by people power-walking or running to
their destinations. Although tightly scheduled and organized, the Swiss
seem to be able to stop and smell the flowers. Perhaps that explains why
so many buildings have flowers and are a pleasure to see. The people have
the time, take the time, to stop and notice. They perhaps find freedom in
a schedule where we remain “flexible” and often find that we have no time
at all.

I know I’ll be leaving a piece of my heart in Switzerland and its soaring
mountains, teal green lakes and ringing bells. This place may be very
different from home, the people and their ways may be foreign, however, my
love for beauty, culture and history and my need to see and understand the
world makes this small, green mountain county appealing.

I also love the history of Switzerland. Just this afternoon in my reading
I discovered that Ulrich Zwingli [Protestant reformer in Zurich] preached
to over 600 people in a church that I stood in only two weeks ago. People
of strong conviction lived in this land. They died in this land and
desired the truth. Unobscured, undeniable biblical truth. These people
dedicated their lives to deeper understanding. This is a challenge, to
strive for deeper understanding calls for unselfishness and a willingness
to change. Is that a step I am willing to take? Zwingli and others were
full of ideas and radical teachings. I struggle between admiration of
their teachings, wisdom and leadership abilities and being angry with
their pride, piousness, and cruelty. In the end I am left with the
question, am I willing to take the same step they took? Am I willing to
engage in biblical reading and instruction to gain deeper understanding
and apply it…let it change my life?

--Beth Risser