Edinburgh

I went on an underground tour of Edinburgh today.  The matrix of arched chambers for business and storage is called "the windings" because it goes on and on for blocks underground. It seems that when the North bridge was built they had to do extensive footings, so rather than make the footings solid they made them into caverns for storage and business locations to help pay for the bridge- like an indoor shopping mall only made by hand out of quarried volcanic rock.  Unfortunately the rock leaks water from above every time it rains and the merchants moved out for good after the first 12 years, leaving the space abandoned.  Then the City Council outlawed homelessness because they didn't like the image it gave to the community, so the homeless people moved into the damp caverns- which became so rife with disease that police were afraid to go into them (people could be beaten, imprisoned, or even executed for being homeless so they lived and his underground). The caverns were walled up and forgotten for over 100 years until in the 1970's when someone rediscovered them behind the wall of his student apartment.  Now the  "windings" are open to tourists after being conveniently forgotten as an object of a city'shame. I'm so very glad that the Iowa City Council, County Supervisors, the Shelter House Board, and many others are trying to make the new Shelter House happen. 

The guide said: One of the caverns has a ring of stones where a modern Wiccan coven was meeting until they experienced what many of them are convinced are paranormal (ghostly) phenomena so they were frightened into meeting in another cavern instead.  One of the Wiccan leaders claims to have created a prison for a poltergeist in the center of the ring of stones, so that anyone who steps there risks being attacked by the "imprisoned" entity. In the picture, a skeptic and his spouse walk through the circle (nothing happened).  There are many things we don't understand but when science nails down the facts for us true religion isn't compromised but rather enhanced.

There was a church building built to capture the overflow of worshipers from the Cathedral higher on the hill.  It was built with a central nave and then walls both north and south of that to form the usual 3-part interior.  As the bridge neared completion, however they discovered that the north 3d of the church was in the way so they took that third off, and then they took off the south wall to make the remaining building symetrical.  I plan to worship at the (Presbyterian)Cathedral tomorrow, but first I can have some Hartley jam and jelly on my toast (Hey Sam and Annie!).  Now, that church building(1/3 its original size) has become a private business location, as have many church buildings as congregations here have dwindled and most stay with the old songs and rites of 50-60 and more years ago.  My heart breaks for those congregations who are holding on with white knuckles and not undertstanding the paradigm changes we are going through so swiftly. May God help the church stay relevant, engaged, and reasoning- not fleeing from modern life but transforming it. God help us all.

Peace, John