Tuesday, October 1, 2013

As seen in Poland

This is my own private Catholic Culture Day here on Kielbasa Stories. I am a big fan of the roadside crucifix. Though not a Catholic, I can appreciate the fact that I live in a Catholic culture and can admire the symbols of the religion (except in my children’s classrooms). It seems that the fashion of our area involves plastic flowers and streamers for stand-alone crucifixes and little or no adornment for crucifixes near a church or chapel building. Our village doesn’t have a real church, but just a chapel in an old building. We also have a large, modestly decorated crucifix. Some smaller communities just have their decorated crucifix (no chapel) with benches around or without. They hold some church services there. Either the parish is responsible for upkeep and decorating or it is passed around the parishioners house by house as it is in our village for cleaning and decorating the chapel. I opted-out. Enjoy.
Readers from other parts of Poland, do you have a different decorating trend in your neighborhood?


czarownica said...

Don't recall any crucifix in my village (Warmia), the one on the church grounds doesn't count, does it?
There were few kapliczki instead. Oh, and 2 monuments - one memorising the fallen in the Great War, and another erected in the 1st anniversary of Hitler's chancellorship...

este said...

Though not a Catholic, I can appreciate the fact that I live in a Catholic culture and can admire the symbols of the religion (except in my children’s classrooms)
I wonder why you object the presence of Holy Cross in your child's classroom? Does it violate her sensitivity?

Chris said...

czar- My village has only the kapliczka cross but the smaller communities on the way have the free-standing crosses. Our village has a monument to hunters esp in memory of the man who started the hunting lodge when my village was German. In the next town, there is a monument to the Russian soldier who freed the town but this story is just fiction. The people decided to keep the monument anyway. There's a new monument on the church grounds dedicated to Pope John Paul II. It is similarly decorated with flowers and streamers.

este- I don't think it violates their sensitivity but it is on their radar. It is a crucifix so it was noticeable for them (starting in preschool) that there is a piece of wood with a figure of a man nailed to it hanging on the wall next to the patron of the school. They know what it is and what it represents for Catholics. It certainly violates the constitution.

I object to the presence of the crucifix in my children's classrooms as it is symbol of the dominance of the Catholic church in an environment which should be neutral in regard to religion.

Este, what's your take on the crucifix in schools?

Anonymous said...

In the east of Poland, schools sometimes hang two crosses one Catholic and one Orthodox, before the war even hung the stars of David in some schools. How told me my grandfather.

este said...

Chris - you should be consistent objecting to the presence of the crucifixes, so roadside crosses shouldn't be accepted either.
I'm a catholic, then I'm not against symbols of my religion in schools.
As for attending religion classes by your daughters, of course you've got the right to enroll them out, but on the other side you have to accept the presence of crucifixes in public places, not only in Poland.

Chris said...

Anon- I didn't know that about the other religious symbols. That's pretty cool actually.

Este- Thanks for writing back.

Regarding my consistency, I consistently don't like crosses in public schools (courts, police stations, tax offices, etc.). Crosses, crucifixes in/at/around church or in place of a church are in my opinion in the proper place.

I view crosses such as in the photographs in a different way especially considering that for some communities the roadside crucifix is their only place of worship. I see your point that I should be all or nothing, but for me there is a distinct and obvious difference between the two. In your opinion of me, you may feel that this is an inconsistency, but I do not.

To be quite frank, being Catholic or not should not be the main factor in accepting the crucifix at school or objecting to it. I have plenty of Catholic friends who object to it as well. I have non-Catholic friends who don't care at all. Is the reason you do not object to the religious symbol at school simply because it is a symbol of your religion? If that is the case, then you are in the fortunate position that your religion is in such a position of authority that it can override even the constitution of the country.

I guess what I am asking is, what does the crucifix at school mean for you?

Chris said...

Additionally, I don't feel that representatives of one religious organization should be supported by the government and promoted at school. I know that many people view the possibility of organizing catechism at school as an expression of freedom of religion. I see and understand that viewpoint but at the same time I couldn't disagree more. For me the ability to opt-out is insufficient. My friend summed it up when she asked, "Why in your fight to protect the rights of your children are you trying to take away the rights of my children?" And there is the crux of the problem. I think that her children have the right to attend whatever religious activities they want, but not at public school and she feels that not going to religia or mass during school hours is enough.

No offense Este, but I don't have to accept the presence of crucifixes in public places. I have to find a way to express myself, work in a positive way for change and co-exist with others. I have to live with it for sure, but I don't have to accept it.

Este, I really see your point. I understand where you are coming from and your justification, but I don't feel the same. Do you see my side a bit?

Some people ask my why I care. Others have told me to go back where I came from (using that phrase and even unaware where I'm from). I care because I have chosen this place as my home. My children are Polish. I'm not anti-Catholics or anti-church or anti-religion. I just feel that religion has its place.

Some readers may be interested to know that I was raised Catholic by my Catholic father. My mother is not Catholic. I attended private Catholic school, with uniforms, nuns and mandatory mass before school every day at 7:00 a.m. I took all sacraments that were available to me. Perhaps I was a peculiar child, but I reached the conclusion that I didn't believe in god by the time I was 11. I was confirmed at the request of my father who is and was aware of my beliefs. I was allowed to be confirmed despite the fact that I expressed clearly in my catechism classes and later to the priest that I don't believe in god and that I wanted only to please my father. I did't shout from the roof tops that I didn't believe but I always answered "The Bible says..." or "We have been taught..." The catechism teacher and priest were pretty cool and respectful about it actually. I did learn all the required material for confirmation to a satisfactory level. Sure I felt like a hypocrite but I didn't have as much choice at 16 as I do now. My father today accepts and even supports my life decisions. He's a devote Catholic, a cool man and a very loving father and grandfather.

So that's a bit about my journey and how I got to be me. It was such a long answer because I'm old and my journey's been long ;)

czarownica said...

Este, what to hang on the wall in public schools in the multi-culti country, such as the UK, where catholicism isn't the only one and even not the dominant religion?

Chris said...

I just saw that I wrote devote instead of devout. Forgive me please.

czar- In the classrooms at my children's school, there's a lot going on on all the walls - school work, art projects, educational posters, etc. One place is reserved for the patron of the school, the eagle and the cross. (Just for those who are not Polish and aren't sure how the cross is presented.)In the UK there's nothing religious I assume. Are there any patriotic elements? We didn't even have a cross in the classrooms at Catholic school. We did have a flag if I remember correctly.

I am the owner of one cross, one crucifix and one eagle. The crucifix was in my house when I bought it. The cross and the eagle were given to me by some of my students. Their office had once been a factory and these were leftovers from the "social room". All three hang in my barn. I look at them as having historical relevance for my house and the old factory. They are also decorative, however, our eagle is in need of a crown.

czarownica said...

In the UK your religious beliefs, same as political ones (can you believe that? No hot discussions at your workplace who you voted for!) are your private and intimate issues. Despite some morons' best efforts to make them public.

este said...

Chris - a lot of thanks for your full response. I understand that you perceive roadside crosses as simply a sign of folk tradition; you accept them from a esthetic point of view. Being in Thailand, you’d see buddhas in a similar way.
For me, being a Catholic is a form of integrity, so it should cover all fields of my life. It can’t be that I say I’m catholic at home, but in outside world I become a secular man. That’s why I prefer atheists to only-at-home catholics, the former are more honest in their beliefs. I’d risk to say that it’s easier to discuss matters with them than with these doubting „we-need-change“ catholics.
I don’t have much free time to follow your blog systematically, but I’ll do my best to stir it up (oh, sounds Polish) with my catholic fundamentalizm 
Czarownica – UK is a nominally anglican/Christian state, then Christian symbols should be present there. Unfortunately, they have a problem with their spiritual identity so religion is treated as a danger to the institutions of a secular state.

Chris said...

It's cool that you feel Catholic and can stand up for your beliefs in all aspects of your life. I am interested to hear that some Catholics are only "at-home" Catholics. I have had more experience with the Christmas and Easter only Catholics.

One thing to remember is that when your Catholic integrity covers all fields of your life, it shouldn't infringe on my non-Catholic integrity. That's my whole issue in a nutshell. My integrity wouldn't allow other people to fund my child's religious education. My integrity wouldn't sit well with the fact that kids from other beliefs miss almost a week of school so we can have a pre-Easter retreat.

I look forward to stirring it up (it's good in English) after all Halloween is coming up.