Important Sites of Religious Pilgrimage

A BBC travel article in 2012 named 10 must-see pilgrimage locations around the world. You might have heard of the pilgrimages before, or simply learnt the famous religious story in class and can now discover how a village or town in 2018 can allow a religious person to feel closer to their faith by visiting a place written about in their holy books.

Lumbini
Location: Rupandehi, Nepal
Religion: Buddhism
Significance: birthplace of the Lord Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Buddhism has interesting ideas which we can reflect on when thinking about whether we are at fault for our suffering and if we should take care in our actions so not to harm others or ourselves.

Lumbini

Vatican City
Location: surrounded by Rome, Italy
Religion: Catholicism
Significance: home of the Pope and centre of the Roman Catholic Church. Currently Pope Francis is the man at the Vatican! He often brings to the world’s attention things we learn about at school, such as Christians being persecuted and the need for Christians to pray for them; how Christians should show mercy and compassion to refugees like the Rohingya Muslims; and that if you are fasting during Lent you should still be kind to others to be a truly just Christian.

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Wittenberg
Location: Saxony, Germany
Religion: Protestantism
Significance: birthplace of the Protestant Reformation. It was here in Wittenberg that the monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of  Castle Church in 1517. Unfortunately during the Seven Years’ War, much of Wittenberg was destroyed, but Castle Church was rebuilt in the 1800s and the text of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses was inscribed into the church’s front doors. Inside the church you will also find Luther’s tomb. There are some great Martin Luther raps; film clips; animations; and mini documentaries you can watch or sing along to to help you remember the facts!

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Western Wall
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Religion: Judaism
Significance: the holiest of Jewish sites. The Western Wall made headlines in May 2017 when the US President Donald Trump visited it and prayed there, and female journalist were kept in a penned off area behind male colleagues. It is a place where awe and wonder fills Jewish pilgrims minds and hearts.

Orthodox Jewish men praying in the  men's section, Western Wall (Wailing Wall), Old City, Jerusalem, Israel.

Turning Rubbish Into Fuel

They are environmental debates which rage on: how should we dispose of our rubbish and how should we create electricity?

The Italian city of Rome is currently sending its rubbish to a waste-to-energy plant near the the Austrian city of Vienna. The rubbish is travelling by train up through Italy and across the Alps through Austria. The special deal came about because the EVN thermal waste utilisation plant in Austria has spare capacity, as in it is not being worked at 100% capacity and needed some extra rubbish. Rome was looking for somewhere to get rid of its rubbish in a greener way which lead to this special deal.

The Science Channel has a short video which explains how rubbish can be turned into energy using the example of trash from New York’s St Patrick’s Day being burnt and turned into electricity.  Going back to those trains of rubbish it may seem counter-intuitive to carry rubbish over 1,000km (620 miles) before disposing of it, but it is part of efforts in the European Union to make cities reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. “It is not crazy,” insists Gernot Alfons, head of the EVN thermal waste plant. For him it is an environmentally friendly solution and the rubbish trains are key. “The other alternative would be to put this rubbish into landfill, which creates a lot of methane emissions that create a lot of impact in terms of CO2 emissions. It is much better to transport this waste to a plant which has a high energy efficiency like ours.”

In Norway they developed another clever use of rubbish landfill sites by collecting the dangerous methane which is emitted from the rubbish and turning it into electricity. Even some British cities sent their rubbish over to Norway to be dealt with in their incinerator plants.

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There are green, environmental issues which should not be forgotten with this energy source: byproducts include bottom ash, which is sorted for metals and then recycled as fill for road construction or other projects, and fly ash, which is toxic and deposited in a landfill certified to handle hazardous materials. Meanwhile air emissions are cleaned through a series of scrubbers and filters and come out “far under what’s actually permitted,” in terms of air quality laws.