We wandered in to this Catholic church yesterday. It is one of 30+ churches in Antequera...a town of 40,000. It was built in the 1600s. There was a woman manning the door and collecting €1 from anyone who came to visit. In talking with her, we learned that this is one of many churches in Antequera that are no longer in use. "Its not a church any more, just a museum of sorts. There weren't enough people in the congregation to keep it going and not enough money to run a church. No more weekly services. You can pay to have a wedding here. But the only mass they hold is on Easter morning, only for tradition," she explained. "It was still open when I was a young mother. But it just slowly died. Now it's just for tourists to see. That's why I'm here - to let the tourists in."
This is what is happening all over Europe.
"Religion - Many Europeans are proud of it. Some think it is too bad. However, both agree: Europe is a secularized continent. Europeans do not go to church anymore, they do not believe in God anymore, and they do not seem to be religious at all. Are these assumptions true?” To find out more, go to the European Values Study at www.europeanvaluesstudy.eu
“It is obvious that a vast majority of all the Europeans nominate themselves as religious persons. There are even more people who consider themselves as religious as there are people who attend church. It is a kind of 'believing without belonging'. People pick and choose religious beliefs, doctrines and practices and they are mixing and matching them, as they would select food in a cafeteria. Sociologists talk about this trend as a 'cafeteria religion', or as 'church-free spirituality'. Europeans remain religious, their approach is eclectic, and they borrow ideas from several traditions. Meanwhile many institutionalized churches, especially in the West, are running empty.”
Some other findings regarding Spain:
· While a majority of Spaniards believe that there is a god or supreme being, only 50% of Spaniards felt that God holds any importance in their lives.
· Only 10-19% of Spaniards feel happy with their life
· In studies related to tolerance, people in the European South would rather have criminals and heavy drinkers for neighbors than Roma people (Gypsies) - a population that numbers 1 million in Spain. Among the 12 categories given, only drug addicts outranked the Roma as unwanted neighbors.
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the princess Sarah (13) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in el campo in Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!