Perhaps the highlight of my short business trip to London in late January was Westminster Abbey. I had gotten there late on a Friday afternoon—not only just beyond the last tour of the day, but also not ideal for taking exterior shots. The next day, with basically only (part) of a morning to take in the city before flying home, I got off a tour bus and decided that I simply had to explore this historic site at greater length. I did so, for an hour, and only wished I had even more time to linger inside.
The Church was founded in 960, and from 1066 on, every British monarch was crowned here. As I looked around at the astonishing statuary inside, I was not unmindful of the turbulent struggle over faith initiated and maintained by those rulers, and how much their subjects (not just those within that island, but also, for the longest time, Ireland and the British Empire beyond) suffered as a result because of the religious, political, and socioeconomic differences bred by this.
But anyone wanting to come to grips with the history of Western Civilization (and, if you live in the West, you should) should come here; look around at the 3,000 statesmen and politicians, lawyers, warriors, clerics, writers, artists and musicians buried or memorialized within these hallowed walls; think of their individual stories; then imagine the arc of progress, created in stops and starts, they collectively formed. It's impossible to tell all their stories here, but I hope to give a strong sense of at least some of them in future posts on this blog. This church--a place that inspires every kind of awe imaginable--deserves no less.