Thursday, August 08, 2013

Frontier mentality

I noticed a rather odd story on the BBC site yesterday it highlights the abnormal rate of church construction in Romania at the moment and contrasts this expensive hobby with the generally dire and cash strapped state of the economy there. I visited Romania in 1986 a few years before the collapse of the Ceausescu regime, it felt to me like a very grey and sinister country. I remember being struck by how there was a feeling about the place of being at the edge of Europe, a frontier between a familiar culture and the heathen darkness of Asia. This feeling was undoubtedly implanted by stories of Vlad the Impaler and his quest to defend the extremities of Christendom against the Ottoman hordes which are laid on thickly throughout the tour of Bran Castle (of Dracula fame) near Brasov which is near where I was staying.

Perhaps this desire to re-establish Christian traditions so vigorously is a reaction to the threatening spectre of an expanding Islamic influence from the East again or is maybe a knee jerk reaction from years of being oppressed under an atheistic communist dictatorship, whichever is the case it seems to me like Romanians could probably better spend their money building a few roads and hospitals before they fill elaborate buildings with credulity and candle smoke. Of course private Romanian citizens should be able to spend their cash however they like though I do hope none of the charity that secular countries like the UK donate to them ends up as concrete narthex foundations otherwise Daily Mail readers will start referring to Eastern Europe as "bongo bongo" land...

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