Pillar of Fire

Pillar of Fire

An exit on the nearby interstate announces Zarephath as its main attraction, but that is a tease. The community, unincorporated and insular, is astonishingly easy to miss. The bulk sits off a main road on a strip of land tucked between the Millstone River and the D&R Canal. According to the 2010 census it is home to 37 permanent residents, although that seems generous. The primary resident remains Pillar of Fire International, a small Christian sect, headquartered there for about 100 years. Most structures are directly related to it – a couple of chapels, a handful of ministry buildings, and a few shuttered ones which once housed its evangelical college. A very modest assortment of homes and outbuildings also dot the area. For such a wisp of a community Zarephath (and Pillar of Fire) has faced mighty struggles. Hurricane Irene blew through in 2011 conspiring with the river and canal to engulf everything in 14 feet of murky water. There is a sketchy past association with the Ku Klux Klan, since denounced. Still, despite hardships, history, and the press of modern life Zarephath endures as much as a testament to the power of persistence as to the power of faith.

Main Building

Main Building

reflections on the Life Center

reflections on the Life Center

canal house

canal house

reserved

reserved

chapel

chapel

green space, abandoned college building on right

green space, abandoned college building on right

Charlottenstraße 4

Charlottenstraße 4

The image above and the next two come from my book, Surface Mono: Berlin, a collection of black and white photographs taken in Berlin over the course of several days this past May. The last three images were considered for the book, but not included for reasons far too trivial and dull to elaborate upon.

Berlin is a fascinating place. As you can imagine they are dealing with a lot of nasty 20th century history. The balance they are striking between acknowledging their past and dealing with their present is intriguing. For instance, before the Berlin Wall came down the physical differences between East and West Berlin were obvious. Not anymore. Until you see photos of how it was (and those exhibitions are plentiful) it is difficult to imagine a wall once where you are standing and people were shot trying to get over it. 25 years is not that long ago. Walking the streets and looking at pedestrians I constantly had the thought, “He (or she) was probably living here when the wall was up. How strange for them.” I imagine that recent scar partially explains Berlin’s subdued face. For such a large city the streets are unusually quiet and serene. Sure there are pedestrians and bicyclists and traffic. Yet, to hear a siren or car horn is physically jolting. Who would ever expect that in a city with 3.5 million residents? Like I said, a fascinating place. If you ever have the opportunity you should visit. Or if you don’t have the chance (or cannot wait to see more and more and more) a lovely photo book could be just the ticket. Just saying.

Pariser Platz

Pariser Platz

Leipziger Platz

Leipziger Platz

Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude

Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude

Siegessäule

Siegessäule

Berliner Philharmonie

Berliner Philharmonie

So if you look to the left…

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…you will notice this nifty badge displayed under the heading “Blurb Store.” See it, that large white rectangular shape with stuff inside its borders? The image looks suspiciously like a book cover, doesn’t it? Then come the words “By J.V. Brennan” which are placed a bit too far underneath it. Below those words and to the right is the Blurb logo, a blue irregular hexagon with the word “blurb” prominently etched within. Following along? I suspected as much. Well, all that is fine, quite lovely and the like. But the most important part of the badge sits on the extreme lower left, the orange letters “Book Preview” which rest there like a delicious bit of chocolate waiting to be savored.

You are savvy; you have been playing on the interwebs for a long time now. You know all about different colored words on a web page. You know what happens if you hover that screen arrow of yours over them. You know how the screen arrow turns into a hand with an index finger pointing upwards. You know when that happens something magical is suddenly within your reach – the possibility of travel to new, exciting, and unknown interweb destinations! Who doesn’t love a bit of travel, especially the mysterious kind? You are staring at that iconic hand and finger and you know you want to go to the Land of Book Preview, you must go the Land of Book Preview. Nobody is stopping you, so go. Now seems like the perfect time. Enjoy your trip and remember to keep your seatbacks and tray tables in the upright position on takeoff and landing.

P.S. – You could simply click here to experience the journey again! (More different colored words.) You’re welcome.