Yesterday afternoon I launched into a walking tour on my own and saw a bunch of priests coming out of a local church…so I went in and stayed for mass. Typical, right?! I think the priest and I were the only ones signing the hymns. I did go forward for communion, which I received from a woman (!) wearing jeans. Nice. I kept thinking that this is Pope Benedict’s home diocese (no sightings, though).
I noticed a significant number of Muslims in town, including women in full burkas. As I was leaving mass, I ran into a small demonstration by a nationalist group protesting plans for to build a mosque near the Old Town. Fear is everywhere, not just in the U.S. I spoke with one young Muslim woman, who said, "it's simple…they hate Muslims." Germany has long struggled with Turkish "guest workers," but this is a whole new level of immigration and reaction. (Glad our Muslim neighbors in Fort Collins didn't have to contend with this.) Cameron's comment via text was, "silly white folks…"
This morning I wandered into a way-too-Baroque church near where I’m staying…way over the top. It was built by two wealthy brothers, and after seeing a notice about an organ concert tonight, I wandered inside.
Imagine the cost of creating all of this! (And then think of how modern Americans invest in their buildings: the World Trade Center, the Transamerica Building, the Sears Tower…not for public use, but for commerce…that is our cultural legacy every bit as much as this church given by local merchant brothers.) At least they kept artists and builders employed and created a public space that some find transcendent. What are the motivations — soli deo Gloria or to glorify me and my achievements?
And one more image: in the Mariahilf Church (bombed out in WWII), a memorial to soldiers killed in the two world wars was fairly creepy, especially their helmets…and no memorial to the Jews who were killed nearby at the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Where was (and is) God in all this?
Does God need intolerance of people who see her differently than I do? Does Christ need more gold leaf and silver?