I wasted an hour th?s morn?ng mess?ng around try?ng to get photos uploaded to the Blog. Gave ?t up–?t takes far too long, and there ?s too much to see and do here!
Our f?rst stop th?s morn?ng was to the Dolmabache Palace–the last palace of the Ottoman Emperors and the home of Attaturk after the revolut?on. The place ?s an extravegant example of As?at?c Baroque bu?lt ?n the m?d 19th Century by the 31st Sultan. It ?s breathtak?ng. The name ?s s?m?lar to “Dolmades” wh?ch means “stuffed or f?lled v?ne leaves” as ?t was bu?lt on a “f?lled ?n” sect?on of the Bosphorus. It has 256 rooms, the greatest of wh?ch ?s of the same proport?on of some of the very large mosques we have entered. Absolutely spectacular. It says someth?ng about the Turk?sh revolut?on wh?ch was part?ally fought aga?nst the extravagence of the last Ottomman Emperors that the?r leader and found?ng pres?dent, Attaturk, should dec?de to take up res?dence here also.
After that we went off to the headquarters of Samanyolu Internat?onal Broadcast?ng Company, a local TV broadcaster wh?ch has 5 channels locally and ?nternat?onally. We had lunch there w?th the ass?stant d?rector and some of h?s men (a huge lunch as always–all the d?shes were set before us and we began hoe?ng ?n–only to f?nd that the ma?n course was st?ll to come!) before be?ng ?nterv?ewed for one of the?r programs and g?ven a tour of the stat?on. I had a my photo taken w?th a famous Turk?sh Celebr?ty Chef on the set of h?s TV k?tchen, and had a d?scuss?on about cook?ng w?th h?m.
Wh?le one of our tour members was be?ng ?nterv?ewed about Gall?pol? (he ?s a school teacher for whom th?s ?s a deep ?nterest), one of the journal?sts sa?d to me: “Do you know Bernard Lonergan?” Que? D?d I hear correctly? Yes, I d?d. Th?s man was do?ng h?s PhD at Marmara Un?vers?ty on “Sc?ence, theology and d?alogue ?nCr?t?cal real?sm”! Who’d have thought! I was ?n heaven for the next three quarters of an hour as we d?scussed ph?losophy and theology together. He sa?d that “our common enemy ?s athe?st?c pos?t?v?sm–?t destroys fa?th and makes eth?cs ?mposs?ble”! My k?nd of guy! He ?s do?ng h?s thes?s from an Islam?c perspect?ve wh?ch must make ?t qu?te un?que ?n the world. has a fr?end who ?s a bus?nessman and ?s also do?ng h?s PhD ?n the “Theolog?a Negat?va” of Islam!
We have p?cked up from them a Turk?sh product?on about Gall?pol? (wh?ch ?s a very ?mportant event ?n the l?fe of the Turks also, as ?t led to the Revolut?on I ment?oned above)–5 DVDs from var?ous perspect?ves ?nclud?ng a ch?ldren,s cartoon. All ?n Turk?sh–Emre w?ll need to translate ?t for us.
After th?s we headed down to Üshküdar (by the way, there ?s a key on th?s keyboard that actually types a “ü”–one benef?t of an otherw?se confus?ng arrangement) wh?ch ?s on the As?at?c s?de of Istanbul. We had apple tea at a cafe wh?le wa?t?ng for our tour boat. The tour of the Bosphorus was a l?ttle l?ke a cru?se on the Sydney Harbour Br?dge w?th the except?on that the Br?dge was the one cross?ng the Bosphorus from As?a to Europe (about the same s?ze as the Sydney Harbour–perhaps a l?ttle longer)–and there were palaces and mosques all dotted along the edge of the water.
We then v?s?ted h?gh up on a h?ll the publ?sh?ng house of the Kaynak Group of Publ?shers. These people belong to the Fetullah Gulen movement and publ?sh books ?n at least 15 d?fferent languages throughout the world. They gave us half a l?brary each to br?ng home!
After th?s we made our way to our even?ng d?nner. It was hosted by a local fru?t and nut merchant w?th a 140 year old bus?ness that trades all over the world: Met?n Palanc?. H?s v?lla was h?gh on a h?ll overlook?ng the Bosphorus Br?dge (four stor?es h?gh). Th?s man was the very model of a modern Ottoman gentleman–?t was as ?f we had arr?ved on camels at the palace of a She?kh. H?s hosp?tal?ty was amaz?ng. H?s gardern was beaut?ful w?th many flowers–and canar?es ?n cages. We compl?mented h?m on h?s garden and he sa?d “It ?s not perfect–there are flowers m?ss?ng–but now you are here and ?t ?s complete!
Many members of PASIAD also turned up (about twenty) ?nclud?ng a local scholar and educator Ibrah?m Kocab?y?k, and h?s Em?nence Mehmet Al? Sengul who was ?n Melbourne for the open?ng of APCID w?th Card?nal Murphy-O’Connor last year. It was grat?fy?ng to be remembered by h?m. The food was wonderful and cop?us as usual, ?nclud?ng REAL strawberr?es–the l?ke of wh?ch we have not seen ?n Austral?a for many a long year–huge and red AND FULL OF FLAVOUR!
My conversat?on at my table, w?th Hakk? from the Stock Exchange and Husey?n from PASIAD and two other gentlemen Yusuf and ?, was enthrall?ng. These men were all bus?nessmen, but the?r real love was the?r fa?th and they were full of quest?ons about Chr?st?an?ty. Hakk? had bought a b?ble ?n Walmart ?n the Un?ted States and had read some of ?t and asked about the letters of St Paul that were “added to the Ing?l/gospel”. A long conversat?on on the scr?ptures were followed w?th a conversat?on on the nature of Chr?st–emphas?s?ng that we are monothe?sts. They were taken w?th my suggest?on that Chr?st ?s a “m?rror of God”, and even more exc?ted by the ?dea that he ?s an “?con of God”. I answered quest?ons about Judgement Day and the Second com?ng of Jesus (wh?ch they also look for)and the d?fference between Cathol?cs Protestants and Orthodox. Dur?ng dessert, Husse?n sa?d that “we were eat?ng sweets and l?sten?ng to sweets!”
Afterwards we went upsta?rs to the covered-tent-l?ke rooftop enterta?nment area for more conversat?on and to v?ew the Bosphorus Br?dge l?t up w?th a l?ght d?splay of many d?fferent colours.
It has been Ch?ldrens Day here ?n Turkey today–a publ?c hol?day. We felt at the end of the day l?ke ch?ldren who had been g?ven a real treat!