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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Celebrating the Reformation: The Huntington Library, Part III

Is The Huntington a library, an art gallery, and a botanical garden?

Yes to all three. Here's a link to Part I, highlighting the Chinese themed garden and Part II, highlighting the Japanese themed garden. This post will focus on the Huntington Library (above). I'll finish out with a fourth and final post later this month focusing on The Huntington's art collection. 

Don't expect to to check out books like a traditional library. The Huntington Library consists of an incredible collection of priceless, historic books and manuscripts. 

On display, front and center, an an original Gutenberg Bible. Of the 170 or so original copies printed, less than fifty survive today, eleven of which are in the United States. 

According to The Complete Pilgrim"The Huntington Library is the only institution on the West Coast of the United States to own a Gutenberg Bible, and its copy is one of the best. The Huntington copy of the Gutenberg Bible is a complete edition on vellum, one of only five in the world and the only one in the United States outside of the Library of Congress."

Regardless of your religious faith or background, the Bible is - without question - the most influential book in Western Civilization. It's difficult to fully understand Western Civilization without at least a partial understanding of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (often referred to as the Old and New Testaments). 

The Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, were written in Hebrew (with a small portion in Aramaic); the Christian Scriptures, the New Testament, in First Century Greek. 

The Bible is really a collection of sixty six different "books" written by 40 different authors over 2500 years. If you've never read any portions of the Bible, I'd suggest starting by reading one of the four gospels - the historical accounts of the life of Jesus. The names of the gospel's refer to the authors. Matthew and John were written by eyewitness. Mark was written by an early follower of Jesus, and companion of St Peter, who was also an eyewitness. Luke was by an physician who interacted with a number of eyewitnesses. 

Speaking of eye witness accounts, I've enjoyed the work of Los Angeles based homicide detective J Warner Wallace. For years an agnostic, Wallace took the time to read through the four gospels for himself. Initially skeptical, as a "cold case" detective, he was so convinced by the historic reliability of these eyewitness accounts that he became a follower of Jesus Christ.

A group of visitors enjoying a close up view of The Huntington's Gutenberg Bible. 

Time Magazine consider Gutenberg's printing press the single most important event of the past 1000 years. No argument here. The printing press created an explosion of knowledge and information throughout the entire world. 

Leading us on to The Huntington's "The Reformation" exhibit.

The Protestant Reformation is generally considered to have begun on October 31, 1517 when German monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis on the door to the Wittenberg Church, questioning the abuses and practices he saw within the Medieval Church.

An original copy of Bible Protestant Reformer Martin Luther's German translation of the Bible. While the original Gutenberg Bibles were in Latin, what followed were translations in German, English, French, Spanish and multiple other languages. 

Today, thanks to the work of organizations like Wycliff Bible Translators, there are complete translations of the Bible in over 1000 different languages. 

The Huntington also has an original copy of a Tyndale Bible. This is what the Pilgrims, coming to America, would have used and read. 

Speaking to a cleric, William Tyndale stated his intention to "cause the boy who drives the plow to know more scripture than thou dost." Tyndale paid for this conviction with his life. He was deemed a heretic, killed, and burned at the stake in 1536. 

The Huntington also has copies of the John Wycliff's English translation of the Bible. Unlike the printed Gutenberg Bible, or Luther's German or Tyndale's English translations, the Wycliff Bible (translated between 1382 to 1395) was written by hand. 

Wycliff's Bible was translated into Middle English. This is much closer to what Geoffrey Chaucer than William Shakespeare. 

Here's what a section of the Gospel of John looks like in 14th Century Middle English: 

For God louede so þe world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, þat ech man þat bileueþ in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.

Here's what the same passage, John 3:16, looks like in modern English: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Speaking of of Chaucer and Shakespeare, back in the main hall, The Huntington also has original copies of the Chaucer's Canterbury Tales ...

... Shakespeare's works (yes, he was a genius) ... 

... Polish astronomer and mathematician Nicolas Copernicus's "On the Revolution of Heavenly Bodies" (in Latin). 

... and Thomas Jefferson's United States Declaration of Independence. 

Really, something for everyone. 

A final view of the main reading room. The library is much - much - more extensive than just this one room and the Reformation display, containing an incredible nine million historical items. Here's a link to their collections.   

Next time, we'll finish out with a tour through the art galleries and home of Henry and Arabella Huntington. 

© 2019


Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Trip to Japan: Huntington Library and Gardens, Part II

This time last year, my extended family and I spent the day at The Huntington Library and Gardens. Here's a link to Part I, focusing on The Huntington's 12 acre Chinese Gardens. Next to the Chinese Gardens is the historic Japanese Garden. 

The 9 area Japanese Garden was completed Henry and Arabella Huntington in 1912 as part of their original estate, and features an authentic five room Japanese home. 

More water features. Love the waterfall. 

Aside from perhaps a rainy day, there's no bad time of the year to visit. These photographs were all taken during our visit in early January (sorry rest of the country). 

These gardens are all part of the original 120 acre estate, and are now over 100 years old - an eternity for anything in the Los Angeles area. 

The Japanese section also features a Zen Garden, which - along with the bonsai collection - was added in 1968. 

A small part of the bonsai collection. 

The Huntington has hundreds of bonsai trees and plants in it's collection, with 75 or so out at any time. The plants are continually rotated, meaning most any visit will be different. 

According their website, some of their bonsais are estimated to be an incredible 1000 years old. Wow. While the majority significantly younger, The Huntington boasts one of the  of the largest collections of bonsais in the United States. 

More water features, this just outside of the Japanese garden. 

My kids and their cousins along a bamboo pathway. As teenagers, they - understandably - wanted to explore on their own. 

Back at the Japanese Garden, the famous Moon Bridge. 

The bridge was part of the original 1912 garden. The garden was part of the original estate, which was opened to the public in 1928.

A final view. More next time. 

© 2019


Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Trip to China: Huntington Library and Gardens, Part I

The Huntington Library and Gardens in a privately owned 120 acre botanical garden and art museum located in San Marino, 12 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. 

This time last year, we were back in the Los Angeles area. My wife, teenage kids, and I took time to enjoy The Huntington along with my extended family. Above, obligatory group photos just inside the entrance. 

First stop: the 12 acre Chinese Garden. 

The Chinese Garden opened in 2008. It's been at least twenty years since I'd been to The Huntington, so this was the first time I had seen it. 

The garden's Chinese name is Liu Fang Yuan, which translates "The Garden of Flowing Fragrance." 

Artisans and architects from the Chinese city of Suzhou spend six months working along the Southern California team in the creation of the of the garden. 

Apparently, Liu Fang Yuan is the world's largest Chinese garden outside of China. Even if you're not "into" Chinese culture, it's very impressive. 

Here's a view from behind one of the garden's waterfalls. There are some beautiful water features, including the "Lake of Reflected Fragrance" and "Pond of Reflected Greenery." 

My kids, in between their two cousins (center). 

My niece and nephew, plus their older sister and parents, lived in Shanghai, China for five years. In that sense, it was especially fun to visit. 

San Marino is located in the San Gabriel Valley, which has a huge and vibrant Chinese-American community. Here's a link to a previous post on a visit to nearby Monterey Park, highlighting the extensive Chinese-American influence in the area. 

The political changes in China over the past 2-3 years are another issue, and should be of concern to those of us in the West.

The Chinese government has built massive detention facilities in the western province of Xinjiang, and are currently detaining one million ethnic Uighur Muslims under the guise of "re-education." Elsewhere in China, churches have been closed and bulldozed, Christian leaders have been imprisoned.

While the current administration's "trade war" might be making the news, of greater concern should be the increasing repression occurring in China. 

The relative freedoms that the Chinese have enjoyed over the past couple of decades are quickly disappearing, with a new and aggressive reassertion of the Chinese Communist Party. China's new "social credit" system sounds like something out an episode of TV show Black Mirror. 

Many of these changes, or at least awareness of them, have occurred in the past twelve months since our visit to The Huntington. While this blog generally keeps a light and optimistic tone, the current direction of the Chinese government is taking is sobering. Friends living long-term in China have described it as a return to the culture revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. Here's a link with more info. 

Obligatory family photo. Since we took this photo last year, my son has since started as a Freshman at San Diego State University, my daughter is a High School Junior. 

A few photos on our way to the next stop, the ajacent Japanese Garden. 

Here's a link to The Huntington website.

More next time. 

© 2018


Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Last Bookstore: 5th & Spring, Downtown Los Angeles

I thought I'd finish out 2018 with a final post featuring The Last Bookstore. 

In January of this year, my wife, teenage kids, and I - along with my in-laws - were in Downtown Los Angeles, to go ice skating and grab dinner.  

We had some time before skating, so my son and I walked over a few blocks from Pershing Square to The Last Bookstore. 

The Last Bookstore is located on the corner of 5th and Spring Streets.

The entrance is located off of 5th Street. 

The bookstore occupies a former bank, and at an incredible 22,000 square feet, is apparently California’s largest book store. 

Incredible selection of vinyl records as you walk in. 

Lots and lots of different categories upstairs. Let's take a look. 

View from the second floor of the main entrance area. 

The Last Bookstores very famous, and very photographed, tunnel of books. 

So cool. 

Another view of the outside. 

Apparently, the tunnel of books is a huge Instagram magnet. Got got started blogging ten years ago using Blogger. Meanwhile, my 19 year old enjoys Instagram, my 16 year old Snapchat. 

People were walking around taking photos. 

More photos. Which is what we were doing, too. But next time I'm back, I'd like to buy a book - or two or three. 

Love this place, but I'm also aware that it only stays in business if people like me actually make a purchase, not just take photos. 

My son, at time a High School Senior, posing for an obligatory Instagram photo. 

The bank's old vault is used to house horror (and I believe crime) themed books. 

The second floor has a small section dedicated to artwork, apparently for sale. 

There are also several small sublet spaces for featuring local art and other niche products. Really great.

Yet another creative use of books.

Another look at the main entrance area.

While I'm generally not a fan of people brining their dogs into stores, it really seems to fit the vibe of Downtown Los Angeles. Plus - and this is important - this is the dog owner's neighborhood, not mine.

Lots of big, comfy chairs.

A final look inside in the main entrance area. I like the way the effect the lighting makes, which was just accidental. 

I came across this outstanding video on The Last Bookstore on Vimeo. 

Worth watching. 

We were pressed for time - I hope to come back sometime soon. 

We walked over to Pershing Square to go ice skating. Here's a link

We didn't make it to Downtown Los Angeles this Christmas break. Too bad. We're tentatively hoping to get down to both the Rose Parade in Pasadena, plus maybe the Huntington Library, and ice skating Downtown the first couple days of January 2020. We'll see if that happens.

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, located in the (1914) Spring Arts Tower on the corner of 5th and Spring. Their tag line is "What are you waiting for? We won't be here forever." 

Here's a link to their website.

Happy New Year from Experiencing Los Angeles. 

© 2018