Intermission: Monasteries of Romania #1
Part One: turrets and frescoes
By some measures, Romania is the most religious country in Europe. By pretty much all measures, the Orthodox Christian countries of Eastern Europe take their faith more seriously than the Catholic countries further West or the Protestant countries which mainly lie around the continent’s fringes. I should really say ‘former Protestant countries’ because, as I have written here in the past, these countries - including mine, Britain - are now post-religious. Faith has been replaced by politics, ideology, activism or the material and technological idolatry which we call ‘progress.’
All of which means that I have until recently never seen a real Christian culture, of the kind my country used to be many centuries ago, and my adopted country, Ireland, used to be until more recently. I’ve seen flourishing religious cultures alright, but they’ve always been outside my home continent: Buddhism in Ladakh, Islam in Morrocco and Indonesia, Hinduism in India. I thought you had to go to places like that to see this thing called ‘religion’ in action. Here in the West, in my experience, most monasteries which remain are either picturesque ruins, or home to perhaps two or three ageing brothers or sisters, still keeping the faith in a country whose people have walked away.
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