Sunday, November 13, 2011

If I Went to Church

SANTA ANGELA
DE VERA CRUZ
If I went to church, and if I wanted to experience "God" in a variety of settings, I would never run out of places of worship in Sevilla — especially Catholic churches.  Every street seems to have at least one church, small or large.

But, I'm not a believer.  I was a bit of a believer in my own family's religion when I was a child, simply believing what I was  told.  But, I apparently asked too many questions and, by the time I reached my teens, my faith had faded.  When I was in my 20s, I would usually describe myself as an agnostic, but if I had been pressed to explain what I believed, I wouldn't have been able.

I have grown into a strong non-believer.  I won't describe myself as an atheist, because that also requires a certain strength of conviction. And I'm still not really convinced of anything. But, I am not comfortable (to say the least) with organized religion and will only accept that, maybe, just maybe, there is some other kind of energy in the universe... not God, just something else.  Then again, maybe not.

Sometimes, I envy others (I know, I know; it's a deadly sin) the power of their religious convictions, if for no other reason than the fact that being a member of a church enables you to meet, connect, and share community with people more easily.  This is especially useful when you're new to a place and feeling a bit disconnected and lonely, as at times are we.

INSIDE SANTA ROSALÍA, THE LITTLE CONVENT CHURCH NEXT DOOR.

My intention here is not really to share my religious beliefs or to argue against those of anyone else.  It's just that, as I mentioned, Sevilla is filled with churches and religious history.  The history of religion in Spain is very troubling.  But it remains fascinating.  And the work — the architecture, sculpture, paintings, and more — created over the centuries to honor Sevilla's religious and political history can be majestic and inspiring, whether you believe in a greater power or not. 

It's also a comfort to know that so many talented artists and artisans have had gainful employment over the centuries.

THE CHURCH, BASILICA, AND PLAZA OF SAN LORENZO (TAPAS ON THE RIGHT). 
JUST UP THE STREET, AND A HUB DURING HOLY WEEK IN APRIL.

A VERY POPULAR PUBLIC SQUARE.  UNUSUALLY QUIET WHEN I TOOK THESE PICTURES.

SAN LORENZO'S BELL TOWER, RINGING AS I TYPE.
THERE'S A VERY TRENDY (AND GOOD), TAPAS BAR IN THE WHITE BUILDING AT LEFT.

LOCALLY CREATED CONTEMPORARY MOSAICS ON ANOTHER NEARBY CHURCH.
I THOUGHT THE ONE ON THE LEFT WAS A BIT CAMPY.

14 comments:

  1. I always love visiting local churches, even though, like you, I'm not religious to say the least. But I do love the feeling of peace I usually find being surrounded by all that history.

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  2. As a devout non-believer myself, i will admit that one of my favorite quotes [from Mark Doty] is: 'I am not, anymore, a Christian, but I am lifted and opened by any space with prayer inside.'

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  3. Bob:
    I had never heard that quote and now I will never forget it. Thanks!

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  4. Now I can leave a comment.....must have been a glitch at my end.
    I love churches too.....always have. I thought when I was an alterboy, I was very close to 'god'.
    Things changed on that front but I still like the peacefulness I find in some churches, especially the older ones.
    Great shots of some these churches in your city.

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  5. Jim:
    So glad it's working!

    I could fill pages with photos of churches, but, my mother's voice plays in my head -- from when the perpetual college student was here in the late '90s with a school class (at the age of 71)! She had a ball in Spain but still complains that some days all they did was visit churches.

    I also like the peacefulness I find in some old churches. Plenty of opportunities for that here (as my mother would tell you).

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  6. Don't get me started on religion.

    However, the buildings are something else, and I love that quote from Steve.

    I really enjoyed that mini-tour. Thank you!

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  7. Very inviting! The colors of the city are amazing!

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  8. On a closely related topic:-
    As all those Churches start crumbling with time (I've no doubt some are already in a poor state) their maintenance costs are going to reach astronomical levels. Pity really, even though there must be more Churches in Sevilla than there need to be for their reduced congregations. I'm not sure if it's the Church or the Government, or a combination of both, which picks up the costs - the former's funds must surely be being depleted with the fall-off of attendances - and the latter, well, should the taxpayers contribute to this expenditure in these financially stringent times? (I leave that as an open question.)
    A current problem in England, which has only started in the last few years, is the stealing of lead from Church roofs, in order to sell onward and 'earn' some money. (Also being stolen from beside railway tracks!) This is is now happening on quite an alarming scale. I don't know if the same problem is also occurring in Espana, or if Church roofs have a similar construction making them vulnerable to this worrying development, which, as I say, is quite new.

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  9. Pear Tree Log:
    Thanks for coming along. I promise plenty of tours in the future and will definitely hold the religion.

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  10. Walt the Fourth:
    You're so right about the colors. I hadn't really thought about how varied they are here.

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  11. Raybeard:
    They definitely do require a lot of upkeep and some show great need. I haven't heard about that kind of stealing going on here, and I don't know what the roofs are made of although lead seems unlikely. Can't believe that goes on in England. Desperate times or just some bad apples!

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  12. I share your sentiments regarding religion as well as regarding the art that it inspired. Leon and I were recently re-awed by the pictures we took of San Pietro in Roma and the Duomo in Firenze. And to think when they were built.

    And I too sometimes envy those who have faith without hubris and the connections to community that they find in religion. Neither atheist nor agnostic are terms I identify with. Recovering Catholic used to be cute but now I am more of a ... lone traveler.

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  13. FDeF:
    I'd suggest we start a Church of Lone Travelers... But there we are with organized religion yet again. So, blog bless, us every one.

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