Blog Observations: The Communist Era And It’s Aftermath

Religion, Culture, Politics & History

Going through all these countries and getting off the ship and going into town and talking with the local guides and the local people in the streets gives a perspective unavailable by just reading about it … or especially by just watching the soundbites on CNN.

Thousands of Icons and frescos adorn the interior of this church

The first thing I noticed was the difference between Turkey and Romania, right next door.   Turkey is 99% Muslim, whereas Romania is 85% Greek Orthodox.  The countries developed along with their religions and when politicians, dictators, kings and conquorers tried to take over a land and force a religion change … it never worked out very well.

Orthodox Church Exterior.

Forced conversions usually lead to heretical versions of the original … plus wars, persecution and human misery.

In Bulgaria, the Ottoman Turks took over and the country was Moslem for 500 years, but there was always a remnant of Orthodox Christians.  Rather than totally outlawing the religion, the Christians were taxed extra and forced into less desirable occupations.

The Circle of Life Fresco with the 12 Zodiac signs and the wide trail to Hell.

Also they were not allowed to build cathedrals or buildings that look like churches.   This rule applied to the outside of the buildings, but not the inside, So we went to a church that looked like a warehouse on the outside … but it had over 4000 icons and frescos on the inside.   You can “see” most of the Bible in the pictures.   These icons and frescos transmitted the faith from generation to generation through all the centuries when few people could read the written scriptures.   See photos.

In that church tour we were treated to an acapella choir who did Gregorian music.   And a “church lady” who explained many of the icons and frescos to us.   She was very good and with her explanation, you could see many of the familiar Bible stories.

The one thing that seemed to be missing,  was the New Testament doctrine of grace and forgiveness.   Perhaps it’s just a difficult concept to put into a painting.   Think about it,  How would you paint Grace without any words or captions?

But the church lady’s conclusion from the icons was that you need to work hard to be good and if you did, you would go to heaven and if not you would go straight to Hell …  (See the circle of life photo … which doesn’t leave room for the Biblical understanding of redemption and grace for all the prodigals who fall short of perfection … (like me.)


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