simon j logo
websites   projects   writing   speaking   blog    
  here and now  
Hi and thanks for landing here. It might seem a bit backward, but I decided to start blogging only because I've been enjoying Twitter so much. While I love the 140 character limit of tweets, I realised that a blog would give me a place where I could have the luxury of saying a bit more. I've also set up here because I have a blogging project in mind... but more on that later.
Right now my face is stuck in the following books...
Paradise Lost   Bring Up the Bodies  
Forest Church   The Geometry of Type  
advertising  art  Bible  books  cartoons  church  design  Facebook  icons  internet  Istanbul  JC  kitsch  London  movies  music  offence  overheard  pictures  poetry  politics  Pope  Qur'an  random  science  technology  theology  travel  TV  Twitter  typography  writing 
Seven churches 2013
Bach pilgrimage 2012
Flying to Byzantium 2010
April 2014
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
Photo of St Polycarp Church, Izmir
Smyrna on a dead speakerphone

Posted on 23 April 2013, 2:42

Seven churches: Intro Pergamum Thyatira Smyrna Laodicea Philadelphia Sardis Ephesus Patmos

My set of pics for this post: Smyrna

We knocked off two of the seven churches of the Apocalypse yesterday – Pergamum and Thyatira – but we’ve been staying in Izmir, which is ancient Smyrna, another of the churches. The trouble with Smyrna is that it was never abandoned to become a ruin, but instead became a busy port and the third most populous city of modern Turkey. So there’s not a lot of the Roman town left on the ground.

Our guide, Seher, had given this some thought, though, and took us this morning to a living church, St Polycarp’s on Necatibey Boulevard, just a few blocks from our hotel. It’s a Catholic church, one of the oldest in Izmir, and has a splendidly ornate interior. However, ‘I don’t think we’ll be able to go inside,’ Seher told us, ‘as you need to make an appointment many days in advance.’

This sounded a bit odd for a church, and when we arrived there was a speakerphone on the metal gate which picked up and then went dead when we buzzed.

On the immaculately painted church wall I spotted some large graffiti in red paint and wondered whether that could be a clue about why the church is security conscious. A church member came up to us on the pavement and gave us some embroidered crosses which he and his wife had made – and this sweet gesture more than made up for the unresponsive speakerphone.

The church is named for St Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John back in the 1st century and was martyred here in Smyrna around the year 155. I’ve always loved his heartfelt and spirited answer when he was challenged by the local Roman proconsul to swear by Caesar: ‘Eighty-six years I have served him and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my king and my saviour?’

The proconsul’s response was to have Polycarp burned alive.

In the letter to Smyrna in the Apocalypse, Jesus says, ‘Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.’ It’s clear that St Polycarp lived those words. They could have been written for him.

Like everything in John’s Apocalypse, Jesus’s words are sharp and challenging, whether you’re a Christian living comfortably in the West, or the church of a minority faith on Necatibey Boulevard with a speakerphone that goes dead.

click to post about this on facebook   click to bookmark on delicious   click to post about this on reddit   click to post about this on twitter   Tweet this

Thanks, DK. I do hope Paul drank snakebite. I don’t remember Martyn Lloyd-Jones ever mentioning that in all his sermons on the Apostle.

Simon, Tue 23 Apr, 23:25

Keep blogging Simon… even with a slow internet connection it’s a great snapshot of history brought to life. I wonder how Paul would have described it… I have endured snakebite, shipwreck and iffy internet connection!

David Kratt, Tue 23 Apr, 13:54

Thanks, Tom. It’s just beginning to dawn on me what an amazing trip this is. We’re currently on a really iffy internet connection in the mountains of central Turkey, but hopefully it’ll be easier to post things later today. It took ages to get this online last night!

Simon, Tue 23 Apr, 09:56

Really enjoying the blog!

Tom Barrow, Tue 23 Apr, 04:54

Add your comment



Your comment

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Please note that all comments are read and approved before they appear on the website... sad but true

      Follow me on...
    follow me on twitter follow me on facebook follow me on pinterest subscribe to this blog via rss
    contact   about