wk 3, entry 4 - LA religion
Buenos Aires Travel Blog› entry 24 of 30 › view all entries
Oh Catholic Church. What a history you have. I call myself a cultural catholic, as opposed to a practicing or supporting one. I go to church occasionally, because it is part of who I am. I do not agree with many things about The Church – some of its doctrines, leaders, and goals – but that doesn’t stop me from finding it very interesting.
I love going to mass. Besides the spiritual connection I still feel there, I find that it is a fascinating place to study people and their culture, and to contemplate what motivates people. Watching the priests, the various lay persons involved in the mass, and then the ordinary church-goers and contemplating why they are all there playing their part – guilt? family-pressure or cultural history? a desperate need or last hope for a cure? dedication to belief?
At the Catholic Center of GT, I am used to the community there, I know a lot of the people there and have a general idea for what brings a lot of students.
Catedral in Plaza de Mayo was a different story. First of all – the edificio! How marvelous and intricate and… wow! It tells so much about the people who made it (or financed it) and the culture of the times. The attention to detail and overpowering display of wealth and even power, so much was done for show. The elegance and aestheticism tell a story of the power and prestige of the Catholic Church at the time and what its goals were, its modus operandi.
The mass was very “old-school,” something I could tell though I understood little of the actual words of the Spanish mass. Some of the more progressive Catholic Churches don’t require you to kneel, but instead can remain standing during the times when you would normally stand. I had no doubt that this was not the case in this church. The boards to kneel on were the most hardcore I have ever seen them – the hardest, flattest wood they could find, only lacking nails to come up from the bottom – to serve the dual purpose of keeping the faithful flock awake and as penance for all their evil sins.
But by far the most striking feature was the pomp and elegance of the church: the magnificent sculptures, paintings on the ceiling, large statue of mother Mary overshadowing a smaller, less impressive, crucified Jesus Christ, and everything laden in gold and various finishings.
Is everyone equal? Not in this church. There were two special reserved spots, decked out in all the best finery, raised up above the rest of the pews, in the front, on either side just in front of the altar. I’m not sure who they would be reserved for, but my guess is for prominent social members who gave a lot of money to the church, or for the president, or for the governor, etc.
A very thoughtful learning, but also spiritual, experience.
Watching the first world cup match right now, and it is
strangely exciting. I’ve never followed
soccer and I’ve never even see a world cup, but being here and learning all
about it has made me fall in love with the game: everyone’s enthusiasm, passion, and
excitement have rubbed off on me, and watching those soccer movies in class
have made me nostalgic for a game that has never been my own. The game between
Game is over now, ended 4 to 2. I wonder how the
I went to the doctor today to get a signed note saying I
have no contagious diseases, required for my Chilean student visa. I called yesterday and made the appointment
and was very pleased with my ability to speak with the office of “turnos” -
almost no problems understanding her or her me.
Today at the clinic was significantly more difficult.
It seems to completely depend on the situation. Sometimes I can get by just fine and carry on conversations, sometimes I feel like an awkward foreigner who doesn’t know any Spanish whatsoever. I think a lot of it has to do with how the person is talking to me - some people are better at speaking with foreigners. Sometimes they slow down and enunciate more clearly. Some people, annoyed that you didn’t understand them and asked them to repeat themselves, repeat the same thing, faster and less clear this time because they are annoyed. This seemed to happen today with the lady at the main desk of the clínica médica. I tried to figure out why I was charged ARG$100 instead of the ARG$70 I was quoted yesterday, but I never did entirely understand why though I asked her to repeat herself and explain more clearly. Oh well, I got the note, and that’s what’s important.
One thing that surprised me was the cleanliness and
efficiency of the clinic. Maybe it is
just because it is an expensive, private clinic, but it was much better than
any clinic or hospital I’ve ever visited in the
I sat down, she asked me if I had any contagious diseases, I said no, she filled out a piece of paper and signed it, handed to me, and I was out the door. Beautiful! My appointment was at 10:45, I got there about 10:30, and was out by about the time my appointment was supposed to start, now that is efficient. So surprising. I was really prepared for a third-world clinic experience, dirty and with long lines of desperate looking people, taking hours for me to be seen.