As we walk through these former hubs of religious and political life in Europe, I find myself remembering my Anabaptist ancestors, who were persecuted by the Church authorities a little further north of here during the 17th century, who gathered in mountain caves as their places of worship, and who secretly baptized followers of Jesus in the wild, muddy rivers that I still see flowing through these hills.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Churches along the Way
I've been thinking about how Catholic Christianity in Europe (the little I have seen so far, at least) is so different from the forms of church I have grown up with. It feels very foreign, like another religion altogether. I can't seem to wrap my mind around it or identify with its practices and beliefs, though I have worked and worshipped with Catholic-based groups without feeling this great of dissonance in the past. When we stop along the Camino to visit towering gothic cathedrals and Romanesque churches, built as far back as the 10th and 11th centuries from beautifully carved stone, wood and stained glass, I feel as if I am in an art museum rather than a place of worship. I admire the holy relics, but in the back of my head, I think that the gold and jewels would have better served the poor. The people who come now are mostly tourists; even the water in the stone baptistries has dried up.