A City Without a Heart

Hofplein, Rotterdam - 1990's

So... now it's a new month, and time for me to start giving you blogs with some real meat to them. I haven't been home all day, but I have had some down time, and I've been thinking about what to write about... much to my surprise, the idea that I decided on writing about was one that I had thought about early on and had dismissed. The more it floated around in my head, the more I liked the idea.

See, the theme of January is change... this month's challenge is going to be harder than last months by far, but I figure I may have it better than other people.

See, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of change is my religion. I'm a Christian, and ultimately, Christianity is about change - about the change to your life when you accept Christ, and how he changes others through you. There are a ton of illustrations used to illustrate the change a born again Christian undergoes - the metamorphosis that takes place between Caterpillar and Butterfly is the most popular one I've ever heard.

But I recently heard a story that absolutely touched my heart... it is by far my favorite illustration of a Christian, and I'd like to share it with you.

Recently, I blogged about a new band called Theoria, that I was VERY impressed with. We went and saw them again a couple days after the first concert and they were even BETTER than when we had seen them the first time. I spent some time talking to the band members and found out that the next concert they were playing was on New Year's Eve in Boise, Idaho. My old youth pastor lives in Boise, so I was like, cool! I found out that they lived only a few houses from the church Theoria was playing at, and told Casey... this was my old youth pastor from Texas, it just seemed like it was a cool little God Wink. I talked to him a bit about the concert and asked him who Theoria was going to be playing with - he told me it was a band called A Rotterdam November. He urged me to check them out on myspace and gave me the link and I did, and fell in love as soon as I heard them. They really are a great band - but, being the curious little chickadee that I am, I wanted to know what the name meant. I mentioned to Casey that I liked the name, and he told me that the explanation behind it was even cooler, and that they had it on their page. I checked it out and was EXTREMELY blown away. A bit of history is needed to help explain the name, so bear with me... unless you're like me and LOVE the history aspect of it.

Rotterdam is a city in the Dutch province of South Holland, and on May 14, 1940, it was bombed by the German army, in hopes that it would force the Dutch army to surrender. The heart of the city was destroyed, and 800 to 900 people were killed. 80,000 more were left homeless. 1 sq mi of the city was almost completely leveled, while numerous houses, ware houses, schools, stores, and churches were completely obliterated. Colonel Scharoo, commander of the Dutch garrison forces, was forced to surrender the city to Germany and, for years, Rotterdam remained a city without a heart.

When Germany was forced to surrender in 1945, rebuilding began. Progress was slow, due to lack of supplies, but "the spirit of Rotterdam pushed on, eyes firmly fixed upon the present and the future." In 1946, Ossip Zadkine was inspired by the city and built a statue which he called "The Razed City," and placed it in an open, barren, city square. But, as they rebuilt the city, the barren city square began to disappear, and now, in 2009, Rotterdam is no longer a city without a heart, but an old city with a new heart.

((PICTURED ABOVE: Left - Oude Haven in 1930's, Right - Oude Haven in 1945))

Hofplien station before the War

So, now that you know all of that, here is the band's explanation of their name, A Rotterdam November:

As it stands today, Rotterdam is an old city with a new heart. This is the analogy for Christians; the enemy’s goal is to destroy mankind and he has been partly successful through Adam’s original sin. However, that is not the end of the story, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, mankind has the opportunity to be reconstructed with a brand new heart. Spreading this message through music, whether directly or indirectly, is the goal and desire of the band A Rotterdam November.

How AWESOME is that??? As Christians, each and everyone one of us is the walking, talking symbol of Rotterdam - old people with new hearts. I'm not sure what it was - maybe it was the reference to World War II, or the idea that the people of Rotterdam were so determined to press on, or maybe just the fact that it is an analogy no one else has ever thought to make before - either way, I was extremely blown away by this story... so much that I got my hands on their album as soon as I could.

If anyone can - I strongly urge you to get their CD, if not for the first 2 tracks alone. Track one is an instrumental entitled "Blitzkrieg" which leads into Track two, "City Without a Heart." The entire CD is amazing, but those first two made my heart weep for Rotterdam, and smile at the thought of the rebuilt city, and the determination of it's people to rebuild. And I was absolutely stunned and moved by the idea of being an old sinner with a new Christian heart... So that is now my illustration for a born again Christian. I love it, it's sooo amazing... and how much more "changed" can you get after a new heart?

I hope I didn't bore any of you with this... like I said, I may be especially drawn into this because of the World War II aspect, but I was absolutely fascinated by this and wanted to share it with all of you. I can only hope that you're as touched as I was. :) So, one of my goal's of 2009 will be to share the story of Rotterdam, and Christ, and hope that I can help create more new hearts.


oh... and... say hi to your mother for me.


Sites of Reference:

Everything but the kitchen sink
Myspace - A Rotterdam November

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