So i am now back from from Turkey and what an experience it has been. The first several days were spent in the east of Turkey in Tarsus and Antakya (Antioch).The last few in Istanbul. I’ll post some photos shortly.
Couple of things that I’ll reflect on shortly as an intro:
1. Cave church of St. Peter in Antioch- I am not sure what i was epecting, but it wasn’t what i found. As we ascended this mountain from the old town of antioch, we arrived at this place where the face of the opening looked very normally like a church. Big wall with a sotne door entrance. When you passed through, it was literally, a cave with a few bits of mosaic on the floor. The interesting thing for me was, you could see the evolution of the Christianity represented in the evolution of the cave. From secret cave (with rear escape route from Roman soldiers) to cave with a better floor, to cave with big columned stone face (thus making it look like a “real” institution. There was an steady dripping of water in the corner thought to be the place where the early christians would have performed baptisms (note steady drip of water). All in all, it was an interesting experience. More to come later I’m sure.
2. Excessive religion- I’ve had thoughts for while about the excessivity of religion in the world. Yet this trip some how brought them again to the surface. Not that excess is bad, but that the excess needs to be set in the proper context with the proper culture. One of the things i think can be said about both Islam and Christianity is that at certain times, the excessivity of the faith has felt much more like intimidation than imitation. Christianity, that is the practice of those that follow in the way of Christ, needs to be practiced as the kind of excessive balance between adoration for the way Christ lived and care and recultivation of the creation and relationships we have in our lives. Christianity calls people to be a confessional people and to take up the sign of the cross in such a way that we reaffirm our commitment to the unrelenting imitation of Christ. That we would ever be a people who: love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths; that we would love our neighbors as we love ourselves; that we would love mercy, walk humbly, act justly; that we would love our enemies abundantly more than they would deserve; that we would protect those who can not protect themselves and feed those who can not feed themselves. If faith is to have a place in the age to come, we must re-imagine what it means to have/be excessive with it in the post-colonial age.