Friday, June 27, 2008

Wednesday I volunteered at a refugee center in Taksim. Atatürk is famous for coining the phrase "happy is he who can say he is a Türk." The converse is that it really sucks if you are not Turkish- especially for Ghanaian, Sudanese, and Sri Lankan refugees who illegally immigrated to Istanbul. However, despite living in poverty and facing prejudice everyday, the refugee children I played with were full of joy and appreciation for what little they did have. Spending the day with them was both a joyful and heart breaking experience.

Sadly, racism extends to indigenous minorities as well, as I discovered playing Tavla with a new Kurdish friend. His people represent over 25 percent of the population of Turkey, yet relations are comparable to pre-civil rights conditions in the American South.

In my limited experience, racism is a cultural transcendent, meaning that it is present in every country amongst every ethnic group. The Bible explains the cause of such evils to be human depravity- the image of God shattered and corrupted. While human and civil right movements may alleviated the consequences of racism to varying degrees, I believe true peace and reconciliation is only possible through Jesus' death and Resurrection.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Tonight's activies consisted of drinking çay with my new friend Elvin while playing tavla and talking about politics and life. I learned a good deal about Georgia, Elvin's native country, and at one point a bunch of dolphins began swimming next to where we were seated along the Bosphorus. Overall a most charming way to pass the time.

Note: Tavla is more commonly known as backgammon in the U.S. and çay (pronounced "chai") is tea, which Turks drink at espresso-like strongness.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Euro 08

After coming from behind in the second overtime period, the Turkey national beat Croatia in penalty kicks to advance to the semi-finals of Euro 08- the farthest Turkey has ever made it in this tournament. Based on a survey of my neighborhood, I don't think there is a person in this city of 17 million people that didn't watch the game. Needless to say the celebration was pretty enthusiastic, ranging from your run of the mill illegal fireworks to semi-automatic firearms being fired in the air. From the amazing view of my friend's skyrise apartment, we could watch the whole city celebrating into the night. Those of my friends who braved the pubs in Taksim (the night life district) said that it could only be described as complete chaos.

Yeah. Football is kind of a big deal here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Back to back nights of crashing at friends' apartments means 3 days of wearing the exact same clothes... pretty gross, but worth it.

While Istanbul is a very expensive city, cherries, peaches, and pistachios are grown locally so they are fresh and cheap. 2 lira bought me about 9 peaches (a kilo). Likewise cherries are going for the equivalent of 1.50 dollars a pound.

In the past week I have been yelled at twice by Turks- once by a bus driver who evidently decided he did not want to drive all the way to my stop, and another time by a street vendor who I accidentally handed 1 Lira to instead of 5.

Petrol is hovering around 3.50 a liter- roughly about about 11 dollars a gallon. Somehow the majority of the population continues to drive.

I am beginning to think more and more in the metric system without going back and forth between feet and pounds in my head... which may prove challenging once I am back in the States.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Tonight I am spending the night in Assos, a surrealistically picturesque town situated along the rocky cliffs of the Aegean sea. Those of you familiar with early church history might recognize the city as where Paul departed for Lesbos from on his third journey. Reportedly he stayed here until Luke met up with him. Also, Aristotle lived here for three years. It is amazing to feel connected to so much history.

Speaking of connected, I write this post from the lounge in my hotel where a bunch of Turks and myself are watching the Türkiye National team play Portugal in the first round of Euro 08. Turkey is most definitely outmatched in this one but we are hoping they can pull it out.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A few weeks ago I blogged about Harold Best's lecture at the 930 for Cultivate Beauty month. that lecture is up here and is available for download. Definitely worth a listen.

I am about to embark on a tour of the seven churches that St. John wrote to in Revelation (all churches that St. Paul had planted on his journeys). While I usually despise doing touristy things I am willing to compromise for this. Pictures and commentary will be posted upon my return.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Summer Reading List

Despite being in a city that is thousands of years old with countless things to do and explore, I have managed to spend a lot of time reading (whether it be on the train, at coffee shops, or before bed).

So far I have finished:

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne and another book by Anglican missiologist Rolland Allen.

Currently I am working on

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller (which I am in a discussion group with friends from church about)

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (in anticipation of the film's release here in Istanbul)

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney (for class)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (for fun)

In a few days I am traveling down to Izmir so I should knock out quite a bit of reading on the 12 hour bus ride.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


The Hagia Sophia. Orthodox church turned Mosque turned Museum.
The Blue Mosque. Two of its six minarets not pictured. Ataturk. This dude is everywhere. Think George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill all rolled up into one quasi-mythological figure.
Roasting Coffee. Eastern Orthodox Cathedral

Crossing the Bosphorus.