Traveling in Germany: Historical/Traditional Christian Doctrine From the 11th Century and Its Influence Continues in the 21st Century
From July 8 through July 22 I traveled from Budapest to Amsterdam on a river boat cruise. As always, in Europe, there were cathedrals in every city. Teachings of Christian doctrine, dogma, and beliefs abound in the art and craftsmanship of these ancient cathedrals because the general population was illiterate. They learned through the paintings, the sculptures, the wood carvings, and the stained glass windows in these cathedrals when they came for worship. Wealthy kings and queens and their money and power supported the Pope/The Church and built a theocracy–a government of wealthy royalty who were patrons of the clergy working together to control the illiterate and poor masses through Christian teachings that kept people beholding and loyal to their king/queen/lord and priest. That is an extremely brief summary of a theocracy. I was reminded again of all the ways people continue to use their wealth to influence what is and is not taught by clergy and church leaders, what is and is not considered Biblical/orthodox/correct Christian “belief” today in Christian churches.
Always, I am caught in disbelief at some of the teachings of “the Church–what was the only Church–that we know as the Roman Catholic Church today. Then, I am caught in the disbelief of the ways these teachings are still prevalent in 21st century protestant and Roman Catholic churches today because they are still hidden in our subconscious minds and we fail to examine and question the root, the stronghold of what we were taught as children or when we first embraced Christianity. I experience this because I remember what I was taught about Jews, black/colored people, homosexuality, and women’s places in the home and society from my childhood days of growing up in a Southern Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia. Rejecting those teachings from my parents, ministers, and “Sunday school” teachers began in my teens, and yet those teachings remain as “warnings and guideposts” still today in reminding me of all the ways the words of the Bible have been used and are still used for harm today by powerful leaders.
As again in the U.S. innocent people have been murdered by someone with an agenda against people who are not “like them” my heart aches, and I wonder “How long…how long will we, will I, continue to accept this as “normal”…”the way things are.”
The two photos above are from an entry way to the Bamburg Cathedral in Bamburg, Germany. As our tour guide took us through the city, we heard about these two statues on each side of one of the entries to the cathedral. From its beginnings in the 11th century, this is an old cathedral and the only cathedral where a Pope is buried–Pope Clement II (1005-47)–outside of Rome, Italy. He was the Bishop of Bamburg, loved his home city, and became Pope in 1046 and died in 1047.
Our guide stopped in front of this entry to point out to us the two female statues, one on the left side of the entry and the other on the right side of the entry. Representing the knowledge and wisdom of the church in the left photo is a woman with her staff of justice and eyes open informed by the wisdom of the teachings of the holy church over her head. Representing the ignorance and disgrace of the past–before the holy church–the woman on the right, with her eyes closed, and the holy church above her head, has a figure underneath her plucking the eye out of a “Jew’s” head representing the Jewish refusal to accept Christian teaching–ignorance of the Jews and justification for punishing Jewish people and throwing them out of Bamburg. Throughout our touring of cities in Budapest, Austria, and Germany I saw numerous instances of anti-semitism displayed in cathedrals and enacted in cities with the support of the government and the Church.
Have things really progressed and changed in the U.S. today where leadership–government, business, religious, everyday citizens–refuse to stand up to immoral laws for gun ownership that encourage and legally abet individuals to randomly murder innocent people based on the belief that the ability for Americans to possess guns overrides the lives of people to shop, enjoy a concert, watch a movie in a theater, work in their workplace, worship in their church, or most horrific–attend school? In what ways do our faith communities fail to provide leadership that says, “No more”? In what ways do we fail to elect government officials who will say, “No more”? In what ways do we fail to spend our money that give notice to business owners–large corporations, medium sized businesses, and small businesses–that we will not support business profits that come from unlimited and unrestrained gun ownership?
Antisemitism seems “harmless”–after all I am not Jewish. I am not “black”. I am not Muslim. I am not seeking asylum in another country. I have family members who own plenty of guns and none of my family members have randomly modified a gun they own or used a gun to murder people randomly. I am called to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Divine One. Believing I am not tainted by any acts of injustice makes me complicit in their continuance. Holy Rebels cannot abide with “the way things are” when the way things are is unjust.
Run for local government office, support and vote for candidates who will change the “way things are”, do your homework and purchase from businesses who support changing the “way things are”, those who have been permanently disabled, those who still need help financially from being innocent victims of mass shootings, and those who are struggling with surviving a mass shooting unharmed, have often been named in news stories. My educated guess is that many of them have “Go Fund Me Pages” asking for support due to ongoing medical treatment and therapy. Do your homework and maybe choose one to support. Mainly, do your homework. Learn, listen to the ways the Holy Spirit is urging you to do one thing to change “the way things are”. I am working to that each day.