Recap: Tallinn, Helsinki, Klaipėda

A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed several days of travel, as well as some fun times home in Klaipėda.

The last weekend of July is the Lithuania Sea Festival in Klaipėda. Hundreds of tents and temporary shops were set up in the downtown area, selling all sorts of things. We didn’t go intending to buy anything, but discovered some pieces by local artists that we decided to purchase. Friday evening, we attended a musical adaptation of Mobis Dikas–see if you can guess which sea-related novel that is…

On Saturday, we drove eight hours to Tallinn, Estonia. We arrived later in the evening and checked in at our airbnb, and then went out to the Old Town where there was a choral festival going on. It would be light until well into the night due to the latitude, so we enjoyed some pizza while listening to some music.

On Sunday, we got up early to climb hundreds of steps to the top of St. Olav’s Church, which is currently a Baptist congregation. It happened to be St. Olav’s Day, and we sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” in Estonian. We then walked over to the Lutheran Church, and participated in the divine service (Daniel proceeded to brag for the rest of the day that he had drunk wine in Estonia!). We explored a small fortress and some museums, and enjoyed Indian food for dinner. (We’ve realized that most of the traditional/national dishes in this part of the world are variants on the same theme of sausage, cream, potato, heavy breads–so now when we travel to big cities, we just try to find good food of any sort.)

On Monday, before my mid-day ferry to Helsinki, we managed to visit the beach, the synagogue/Jewish community center, and enjoy a Turkish meal.

Here are some photos from our Tallinn trip, and the ferry ride:

As Corrie and the kids headed south to spend two nights in Latvia, I got on the ferry and arrived in Helsinki mid-afternoon for the opening ceremonies of the combined meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and the European Association of Biblical Studies. The papers I read at the conference on Genesis 35-50 and 1 Cor 8-11 are now posted.

*I was pleased to meet several folks teaching at small seminaries/colleges/schools of theology in the Nordic countries. I have the impression of these countries as quite secular, but it was wonderful to hear of good work being done in these schools to train faithful ministers–within the state-sponsored Lutheran churches, and beyond.

*We heard a lunchtime plenary session with the Chief Rabbi of Finland, a young fellow in his late 30s. He spoke about the difficulties of the Jewish community as traditional practices such as circumcision and kosher slaughter clash with progressive European values.

*Helsinki was quite hot, temperatures exceeding 30ºC most days we were there. The University of Helsinki buildings are well-built to keep out drafts, which serves them well the rest of the year, I’m sure–but we were baking in there. Here’s to next year in Bangalore…

*Reindeer soup is quite tasty. However, food in Finland is shockingly expensive…

*Thursday evening, a professor of music at the university performed a concert of tango music on piano and bandoneon with a string quartet. Apparently, Finland is quite taken by tango music, and dancing is popular as well. The concert was held in a unique building called the Temppeliaukio Church, a church carved out of a rock.

On Friday, Matthew and I flew back to Palanga and were met at the airport by Corrie and the kids. Preparations began for our Sunday-Monday post-conference seminar at LCC on “Biblical Scholarship in Secular and Post-Secular Societies.” You can read more about the conference here. While we enjoyed the papers, my personal favorite aspect of the conference was bringing my Doktorvater, Louis Jonker, to see LCC and our work here. The photo album below contains a video photo-collage of the visit and our tour around the city.

Here are some photos from Helsinki, including my presentations, the Rock Church, and our one-day conference in Klaipėda:

About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, transplanted to Pennsylvania...lived and taught in Eastern Europe for six years…Old Testament professor, ordained minister, occasional liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth.
This entry was posted in Bible-Theology, Giffones in Lithuania, Research, Travels and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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