With 100,000 annual visitors, many of them young, the French community continues the work of Brother Roger, who founded it in 1940 and was murdered in 2005. While the atmosphere evokes a mix of summer camp and monastic cloister, Taizé has a surprising passion to connect its visitors back to their local churches.
C. S. Lewis's Oxford home (which now houses the C. S. Lewis Foundation's Scholars in Residence Program) is not quite public; tours are by appointment only. But several local guides will take you along Addison's Walk, to the Inklings' Eagle and Child pub, the church where Lewis delivered "The Weight of Glory," and the resting places of Lewis and Joy Davidman. Alternative site: Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri in Huémoz sur Ollon, Switzerland.
The Holy Land Experience
This Orlando attraction, with life-size replicas of Herod's temple, the garden tomb, the Qumran caves, and a Jerusalem street market, has maintained a strong kitsch factor since it opened in 2001. That has only increased since the Trinity Broadcasting Network took it over. But medieval pilgrimage sites were loaded with kitsch, too, and you can join early church bishops in complaining about the union of spiritual travel and commerce. What you'll really want to see are its "relics" for Protestants: the amusement park houses the Scriptorium: Center for Biblical Antiquities and the Van Kampen Collection, one of the world's largest gatherings of rare Bibles, scrolls, artifacts, and biblical manuscripts.
A Short-Term Mission
Mission scholars Brian Howell and Rachel Dorr have accurately described how closely the language used to describe the effect short-term mission trips have on their participants—getting out of one's comfort zone, spiritual transformation, suffering—mirrors ancient language about pilgrimage.
A Really Big Conference
Scores of people traveling from across the continent to worship together, experience God, revitalize their faith, and hear great teaching? Sounds like either a martyrs' celebration in the early church or a giant convention today. So, too, with the temptations they both present visitors.
Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, actually has an evangelical relic: the finger of Methodist evangelist George Whitefield. But whenever writers in the early church and Middle Ages talked about holy sites, they inevitably promoted the home team above all other locales. Wheaton has Lewis's wardrobe, Tolkien's desk, Billy Graham's traveling pulpit and grade-school papers, and a giant mastodon. Who even needs Jerusalem?
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