Sunday, March 16, 2008

Foggy Day Ruminations

Foggy day in Copenhagen - made me feel like I was in London, yet it was very beautiful. I woke up this morning for a walk (Copenhagen is often at its prettiest early when most are asleep and you can appreciate the city without all the people) and decided to attend the English Church services on this Palm Sunday. Quite interesting to learn about those last days of Jesus (pbuh).

The church did the reading of this gospel with various people, so that there was a different voice for each role, i.e. one guy played Judas, one woman played Pilate's wife, a group of old ladies playing the crowd etc. As they read, I could feel the emotions in the voices and it vibrated in me. I was angry at the Disciples for running away, I was frustrated that Pilate ignored his wife and I was befuddled by the betrayal of Judas. Also, I was mad at the temple leaders and mob (made of Jewish people) who wanted Jesus (pbuh) dead. This made me remember something I had read about before WWII. How Jews in Poland would disappear or lay low during Easter because they would often be targeted. I could see how this story kind of raises that fervor of the ignorant and given the right sermon or church leader fueling that rage - one could leave the Church very mad (you know the same kind of people who stampede or think all Muslims are guilty for 9/11 and should be watched).

Living in Europe, I am reminded so much of how despite claims of liberalism, these countries are quite religiously intolerant in that they don't really work to learn about other faiths or integrate very much, i.e. the white Danes hang with the white Danes, the Muslims hang with the Muslims, the people of Asia hang with the people of Asia; and those in the minority don't feel a part of Denmark. Its a sense of us vs. them syndrome.

Unlike what I feel in America, where everyone is an American, regardless of religion and where we work so hard to honor all religious traditions (i.e. wishing Eid Murbarak on the television). Perhaps because everyone in America is an immigrant from somewhere, there is a group mentality, similar to what I see here in the Exchange program, were we all bond together no matter which part of the world we are from, because of this shared experience of being foreigners in a foreign land. Maybe its Pollyanna-ish but I think of us Americans as saying, "yes we are different but we are all in this [life] together."

What I mean to say and am doing so poorly, is that unlike in America where people would leave the church and I don't think they would go and desecrate the Jewish temple down the street, I DO think they might do that still in Europe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's interesting to hear - I think it's easy to get caught up in everythng wrong with America and forget that other Western countries have their areas of intolerance and hatred too.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Molly Malone said...

i would've really loved to have heard that reading. Palm Sunday services that i remember only involve a single reader of scripture, not a dramatization. as i love drama, i'd love to see that.

that's interesting about the Jewish population laying low in the old days. very sad, too. i think you're right about America. where we have had (and still have) problems with cross-cultural communications, i do think we live for an ideal that is predicated on our understanding and respecting our religious and ethnic variety.

i seem to remember hearing a nationalized american say once that europeans are nostalgic for their past, and americans are nostalgic for their future. and i really love that: it means we're bound by an upcoming ideal to strive for, not a yesteryear to cling to.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous JoeInVegas said...

Americans are also guided by labels, but not the religeous ones you see there. Here it's black or white or Asian, what accent you have, what country your ancestors were from. It's still intollerence just based on 'somebody that is different than me'. Sad to see that so many people are like that. I try not to be, and the best thing you can do is try your hardest to be open minded yourself. Provide an example.

2:07 PM  
Blogger mommanator said...

It's true Va Gal, but unfortunately there are still those zealous ones in the US. Fortunately not as many as yerteryear!
One day I pray we all live together in Unity! but doublt I will see in my lifetime!

9:09 AM  
Blogger my mind wanders said...

My family and I experienced a bit of what you are talking about this summer on a trip to England. My sister and I were shocked to be honest, about the blatant racism - some didn't try to hide it - came right out and said things that they could never get away with in America and not be looked down upon. It's interesting. While I think this topic is of particular interest, especially how race is front and center in this current US political debate, it is nice to remind ourselves that we are not the only ones with these problems and it is in everyone's interest to try to work toward total equality and social justice. We don't live in a perfect world, but we can do our part. :-)

6:33 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

I think you said all of this beautifully.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Virginia Gal said...

Citizen of the World - yes it is true we always get caught up in what is wrong with our country, I'm totally guilty of that - but sometimes it takes leaving the country for a bit to realize how lucky we really are. I'm definitely proud to be an American.

Molly - I LOVE that idea that we Americans are inspired by the future, it gives me hope. Yes I thought of you during that Palm Sunday reading - I knew you would have loved it!

Joe - so true, so true, it isn't all perfect in America either, as we are currently seeing with the Obama Reverend issue. I agree, if we live what we want others to be, it is the best way.

Mommantor - as we say in Islam, InshAllah you WILL see it. : )

Mind Wanders - yes it is shocking what these Europeans will say, they are so NOT pc in some regards, crazy, no? I think you are right we don't live in a perfect world but we can do our part, its nice.

Merci - thank you (I smile).

7:44 PM  
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