Where to Begin?

Well now, I’ve been back for a few days now and I’m trying to decide what to do with two blogs. Obviously most thoughts that I have at this point will still have to do with my European experiences–which certainly provoked a lot of thoughts–so where do I post those thoughts? Well, I’ve decided that the travel blog will be left for pictures at this point, and you can get used to hearing my ponderings about bigger questions and such on here.

So, here’s a small passage copied from my journal that can springboard into a whole bunch of areas. It was written after spending a day in beautiful Barcelona and being awed by how great a city can be built. I’d be interested to hear what anybody thinks…

I keep asking myself the question: why can’t we North Americans build cities and culture like Europeans? And yet, although they are vastly superior to us culture-wise, they also have a spiritual pverty here that is far from good. Which is better? Would it be possible to have both? Or am I just longing for a utopia reserved for the age to come?

5 responses to “Where to Begin?”

  1. Are we really that much more spiritually prosperous? I wonder. Maybe we at least have more people trying (and earnestly trying) to be spiritual?

    Isn’t the culture they have mostly the product of history – something we don’t have much of here in North America. Interestingly, their history and therefore culture is largely founded on Christian roots……..I dunno what I’m saying.

    Good night.

  2. Overall, I’d say that we’re more spiritually prosperous in North America, primarily because we don’t have as lenghty and as tarnished a religious history as they do. (Although we’re well on our way)

    And yeah, your observation was the one that I kept making as we went throughout Europe: this is the cradle of “Christian civilization”, and yet there’s so little that remains genuinely Christian here today.

  3. Yeah, it’s strange eh? The birthplace of Christianity (middle east) has very few churches, and a large portion of the area is Muslim.

    Most would probably agree that Christianity’s centre has shifted into the southern hemisphere. I wonder whether America will become just as secular as Europe. Or maybe we already are and just aren’t comfortable admitting it!

    “Yeah, I go to church, believe in God, but I actually worship money more than anything.”

  4. I would really like to hear about the context of this journal entry and what your trip was like, because I have to admit that an incredible amount of disagreements welled up in me after reading your post.

  5. Cam: you’re spot on that the real heart of the church is far away from the Western world. I’d say that Europe is further down the path of secularization (which isn’t always a bad thing) than N.America is, but we’re not that far behind.

    Karin: hmmm, I don’t know how to sum up my trip, but I’m glad that my journal snippet was provocative to you because it was supposed to be.

    But here’s some context: I’d just been in Spain (the first part of the trip) for about a week and I couldn’t stop making comparisons between it and home, and home was definitely coming up short in my experience. Any average street or square in Spain would have been the centrepiece of urban life in most N.American cities. There was beautiful art and architecture in abundance and N.America just felt culturally impoverished in comparison…

    And yet, the spiritual climate there was pretty apathetic. Spain is largely Catholic, but only nominally. After the reign of Franco a generation ago–who intertwined a very conservative Catholicism into his rule–people have a mostly apathetic attitude towards religious matters. Oh, and then there’s the previous centuries of tumultuous religious history that makes true faith a difficult thing to find both here and in the rest of Europe.

    The only main difference between there and here is simply that we don’t have as lengthy a history, and our religion has been somewhat less intertwined with the state than it was in Europe.

    So, I don’t know if that helps you to understand where I was coming from any better, but there it is. I’d be interested to hear what disagreements you had if you feel like sharing them, either here or via email.

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