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The frauenkirche

The church, originally built in the 11th Century, was Catholic until it became Protestant in the 16 Century during the Reformation. The church was rebuilt from scratch as a purely Protestant church in the 18th Century by the citizens of Dresden. It reflected both Luther’s liturgical ideas as well as their protest against August the Strong’s recent conversion to Catholicism with its unique, never seen before single unit of pulpit, altar, baptismal font and organ. The church was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden during WWII. The remaining ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial until the church was finally reconstructed in 2006.

Elisabeth was born in Dresden and lived in the East German city for many years. Her story of the history of the Frauenkirche, including its destruction and ultimate rebuilding from a heap of decaying ruins, is told as someone who experienced the incredible determination of the German people to restore this church. What did the Germans learn from the Frauenkirche, and what are the lessons for the rest of the world.

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THE AZTECS: a LIFE OF SACRIFICE

The Aztecs probably originated from North America, most likely the Arizona area. They arrived in Mesoamerica around the beginning of the 12th century and flourished until 1521. You will learn about the very interesting culture of the Aztecs including their art, everyday life and religion. You will also learn how the controversial practice of human sacrifice was integrated into their culture. The Aztecs held their gods in great respect as evidenced by the large temples they built to honor them. Part of this honoring of their gods was accomplished through the ritual of human sacrifice. The victims where led up the long, steep steps of the temple where the priest would cut the heart out and place it in a sacred bowl held by the Chacmool, a sculpture depicting a reclining figure with its head facing 90 degrees from the front. A Chacmool can be seen holding a bloody heart in the Aztec flyer pictured above. Many of the temples displayed racks of human skulls from the victims of sacrifice. The unusual traditions and religion of the Aztecs were practiced until the invasion and the final destruction of their culture by the Spanish conquistador Cortes.

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borobudur: the middle path

Borobudur is a 9th Century Mahayana Buddhist stupa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Java. It is the world’s largest Buddhist stupa and consists of stacked platforms and a central stupa. The walls and balustrades are decorated with low reliefs that are excellent examples of 9th century Indonesian art. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. The central stupa is empty, in contrast to the other 72 stupas. In this lecture you will tour the stupa and discover how the superstructure corresponds perfectly with the Buddhist cosmology and conception of the Universe. You will also learn some of the basic concepts about the different traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices of Buddhism such as circumambulation…walking clockwise around the stupas. The benefits of this practice are well know to Buddhists and are believed to produce purity, make one good, radiant and wise and lead to enlightenment.

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