For passports (not the iPhone). My wife and kids were in need of passports (E’s had expired) and even though we had applied on April 1st they still were not completed. Lucky for us all their material was in Philly so we got up at 4:30 am, drove to Philly and hit the line by 8:45. At 11 am they told us that they had found their apps and processed them so that we should return at 2:30. At 4 p.m. we had the precious passports and were good to go!
So how did we kill the time in between? Fortunately for us the Philly passport office is located at 200 Chestnut Street, right next to the historical area including Franklin’s Courtyard. There were people in colonial costumes telling stories and playing roles. Some highlights:
- Overheard – A woman 20+ years old, with her older parents, walking past some of the colonial actors: “Dad, look! Pirates! Why do you think they have pirates here?” I weep for our nation.
- The Liberty Museum – This is a very odd place. It is a museum to liberty which is really about libertarianism.
- They praised the downfall of Sadam Hussein with a room on world despots and heroes against tyranny (there was a mock jail cell with a Nelson Mandela display); there were displays honoring those who had been killed for fighting for civil rights, etc.
- Galleries included “From Conflict to Harmony” where children (and adults) could write down names they have been called by others (and names they have called others) and put them in a shredder shaped like a mouth; Heroes from September 11, and my “favorite” the gallery “Voyage to Liberty through Faith.”
- Voyage to Liberty through Faith – This gallery was almost as good as The Holy Land Experience. It is like the illegitimate child of pluralism and secular humanism. The emphasis was upon the three great monotheistic faiths, but all faiths were praised for bringing about peace and harmony in the world. “Liberty” is the sole creed in this museum and so all religions were viewed through this single lens; how did they motivate people to seek liberty and bring it about for others.
- One of the first displays you see is “Dialogue,” a glass chest set where “Jewish and Catholics figures are seen in conversations with one another.”
- But then there was the most amazing discovery in the back of the gallery: the originals (so they said)* of Chagall’s triptych “Moses Receiving the Torah,” “The Crucifixion and the Painter,” and “Abraham Receiving the Angels.” Obviously the point being to show all three faiths represented in art. Copies could be purchased, framed, for a mere $1,000 a piece.
- A photo from my wife’s phone:
(The Pope’s back is to us.)
All in all, the day went well. I was able to keep up on the iPhone hysteria via my BlackBerry and Viigo. Even the mayor of Philly was in line for an iPhone! Now, to finish my conference paper and pack for the trip.
*A quick look around the web seems to indicate that Chagall did several different versions of all of these paintings. It did seem odd to me that the originals were just on display in this out of the way little museum, but what do I know?