The Little Shop of Ethics

As previously written in this blog, I have begun exploring the canton capital of Schaffhausen and started this discovery by wandering about willy-nilly seeing where my impulse and feet would take me.

Webergasse (Weber Lane) is a short street from Vorstadt (the main pedestrian street) and Bachstrasse (Stream Road), a main road leading north out of town.

On this lane is a small world of variety.

At #14 stands the Little Shop of Ethics whose logo gives you a clue as to their ideals and business philosophy:

“No muh (moo: cow talk), no mäh (baa: sheep talk), no oink (swine talk) – no pain!”

(It does strike me as interesting how different languages assign different sounds for the same animals.)

At this vegan shop, with a branch in Schaffhausen and another in Winterthur, the Little Shop of Ethics offers shoes made from artificial leather, clothes and groceries environmentally friendly and life-enhancing.

(The Jains would approve!)

The owner/operators strike me as appropo for a place like this…

Hippy in style, friendly in attitude.

Down the street Buchhandlung Fass (Fass Bookshop) offers GPS maps, boardgames, travel books on “faraway places with strange-sounding names”(like Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Bora Bora), Swiss literature (like Robert Walser, Dürenmatt, etc.) and great titles like Bohemia by the Lake of Constance: Literary Life (1900 – 1950).

I love bookshops!

Nearby Webergasse, other discoveries…

In the Middle Ages, Schaffhausen didn’t only have the parish church of St. Johann, but three monasteries as well.

Two of them, Allerheiligen (All Saints) and St. Agnes, belonged to the Benedictine Order, the first for men and the second for women, but working in close co-operation with one another, playing an important role in the political, spiritual, economic and cultural life of the city.

In the 13th century a third monastery appeared, the Barfüsserkloster.(bare feet cloister)(hippies, if you will, of the Catholic Church!)

The Stadthaus (city house), now the seat of the city government, was where these “hippies” established their monastery in an area of downtown that had been primarily residential.

They belonged to the Order of Friars Minor, founded by Francis of Assisi in 1209.

The monks pledged themselves to an ideal of poverty, which is why they were known as “minor”.

They soon won great respect, at the cost of the Benedictines, and attracted many endowments.

Ironically their charity fueled their prosperity.

Continuing along Stadthausgasse, formerly known as the Brudergasse (Brother Lane), crossing the Kirchhofplatz (churchyard square), and turning left, one finds a shaded wee park, the garden of an old people’s home and the former location of St. Agnes.

Inside the golden agers’ cafeteria one can still find parts of the Romanesque church.

Stop awhile.

Have a cup of tea.

The reformed parish church of St. Johann has suffered the fate of the city of Venice, the Tower of Pisa, and Winchester Cathedral…sinking.

The church was originally surrounded by the city cemetery but the rise in the level of the cemetery resulting from constant burials meant that the church sank about two metres every century.

This sinking and the great city fire of 1372 resulted in the church having to be rebuilt.

What I find interesting is that it took until 1425 to complete the church roof, so until then the church was open to the sky and people could climb the tower as a look-out and observe the weather.

I like to imagine a night-time service with stars reflecting the glory of the heavens whilst being comforted by holy writ spoken by a reverent leader.

I especially like the motto of the church which I think very aptly describes many religions in general:

Deus spes nostra est.

God is our hope.


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