Churches

Last night while we were strolling through the beautiful, albeit kitschy and touristy town of Zakopane, we came to a church. Helena and Isabel went in, but it looked rather crowded as the people were streaming out and visitors had to wait to get in, in the manner of letting passengers deboard before getting on the Metro. I decided to wait outside, partly because of that, partly because if you’ve seen one church you’ve seen them all (which is even more true of mosques – Istanbul gets quite repetitive after a while), and partly because it was just a light, pleasant drizzle at that point and not the downpour that nailed us before we got home.
But, its presence loomed and dominated my thoughts, and hence this blog. Churches are, indeed, impressive buildings, with all their gold and statuary, and they can be peaceful places of contemplation, with their high ceilings and cavernous inner expanses. Much like a cavern, a church is a quiet place, isolated from the outside world, a haven.
But, they are places of religion so I feel like a hypocrite when I step inside them.
Religion is declining in our times, and I reckon it will disappear from the face of the Earth within a century or two, and here’s why: Christianity, and Islam, are only followed by billions of people today because, up until just a couple hundred years ago, you had to believe in them, or at least say you did, under penalty of death. In those circumstances, I would become a Christian, too.
Today, we’ve gotten past that, at least in the developed world, and that’s the world most people want to live in. Now that we live in a world where it’s socially acceptable to self-identify as an atheist (or agnostic, which is just the politer,less confrontational version), more and more people are doing so, and the percentage will rise with each generation.
Of course, there is still the pull of family, and tradition, and sometimes a church is the only place in town big enough for certain events, so they are popular for weddings, funerals, and political photo ops. The buildings will stand for thousands of years. They were built that way, and that is admirable.

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