Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

Tales from Austria Part 1

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Ok, so I decided to split the things I want to post about my trip up into sections. The sections will, of course, have some pictures in them! I want to make you aware of the fact that I have never been in a big city. I’m not used to city life. So if some things seem normal to you but you feel I make a big deal out of it, that’s probably why!

First I want to talk about something that was on my mind a lot there. Religion. Yes, good old religion.

I particularly remember a scene in the center of the city. It was shopping day, and we enjoyed the great weather, some iced coffee we got at a McDonald’s cafe and were just laughing a lot, discussing what we were looking for and so on. We were waiting for the traffic lights to turn green to cross the street, eagerly awaiting the many shops down the road. Suddenly, a voice broke through all the chattering and noise of the city. “Listen to me, the Lord will save you, if you want to, don’t walk away!” he was singing, chanting, shouting. My heart skipped a beat, his voice right behind me, unexpected. I turned around to see the face of this person. An older man, maybe 50, dressed in very ragged clothes, with long, unwashed hair and a beard. His eyes spoke panic, fear, and the urge to save every soul in a mile radius. I turned back around, wondering and shocked. Was he serious? Or mentally ill? He didn’t look decent or nice, he looked homeless, uncared for. The huge mass of the people around me ignored him bravely. Nobody even looked at him. Some people started laughing and giggling, whispering. I focus my stare on the traffic light symbol. And it finally turned green. The masses started moving and so did I, and as we all walked away from him, he yelled out “DO NOT WALK AWAY! DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM HIM!”.I remembered many scenes in my life when I was that guy, when I desperately tried to save others by any means necessary. When I thought standing at the crossroads, yelling out to people who God loved them was what Christians were supposed to do. And on this day I realized how stupid that is. How ineffective. Nobody listens to the screaming madman. Obviously, I didn’t take pictures of this, hah.

Walking down the street, a trend caught my eye in many shops: Jesus. He’s obviously a trend right now. One of the shop-windows displayed a shirt that said “Jesus (heart) you”. Just like the “I (heart) NY” shirts. I looked at it and wondered who would wear it. Which normal, unbelieving person would really wear this and be serious? As if somebody heard my question, my friend Kathy burst out: “I LOVE that shirt! I’m going to get it!”. I looked at her with a huge question mark on my face. “Well, it’s kind of cool and loving, you know…” she said. In we went and quickly found the huge pile of shirts. For just 9 Euros, you could tell everybody that Jesus loves them, looking all decent, no screaming at the crossroads involved. Funky. I wondered how people who so strongly ignore that screaming man, laugh about him, make fun of his craziness, can wear these shirts. It feels like they have split personalities. They want to display faith (because it’s cool?), and yet, they make fun of people who do it their way. Sometimes the world is too crazy and too weird for my small mind. Kathy didn’t get the shirt. It wouldn’t fit. (Picture below: Shopping street. Europeans don’t shop in malls. The streets are lined with small shops, you walk a lot.)

While sightseeing, we visited two of the most important and most popular churches in Vienna. The Stephansdom and the Karlskirche. Both of these churches are roman-catholic churches.

The Stephansdom was impressive and huge, but looked very beat up due to the fact that the dirt of the city had blackened it’s outside. On my picture, you can clearly tell which parts have been cleaned already. You couldn’t really go anywhere near as the cleaning constructions outside took up quite a lot of space. The inside was stunning, but I was very disappointed by the fact that you couldn’t actually walk around in the church. There was a small area for tourists, but the rest was closed and you weren’t allowed to walk around. I would have loved to see the altar up close, but it was much too far away from the tourist area to see. I tried to take a picture, but it didn’t turn out well. The sheer mass of tourists inside didn’t allow you to move around much at all and people tended to push you away if you stood in their way. Look at the huge building with all the statues, the gold, the amazing painting (though far away and hard to see), I couldn’t help but wonder what God thought of this. Did he like it? Or did he hate it? Why would you spend so much money? Why didn’t they give it to the poor? Some people say you can feel God’s presence in all the beauty. I couldn’t feel a thing. We decided to leave after just a few minutes. (Pictures below: Stephansdom outside and inside)

The Karlskirche was even more disappointing. With its promising, stunning look from outside, I was hoping to see a real highlight. But once we stood at the entrance, we realized that you couldn’t just visit it. They actually wanted money – lots of it. 10 Euros for simple entrance to the main church room, every other room and small chapel costed an additional 3-5 Euros. So let me get this straight, they wanted 10 Euros so I could look at the altar? And if I wanted to see more I had to pay more? I decided not to go in there, for one because I didn’t want to spend 20+ Euros on seeing a church, but also because I’m still repelled by faith and churches. I didn’t feel comfortable in the Stephansdom, I certainly wouldn’t feel better in the Karlskirche. I decided to run away from all that Christianity and see something where I could just get my mind off all the church talk. (Picture below: Karlskirche from outside. The stair circle in the middle is actually a pool of sorts, but there wasn’t any water at this point, I don’t know why.)

Next post: Nightlife. Yup, I have something to say about that too.

7 thoughts on “Tales from Austria Part 1

  1. Here’s a song I just thought of while reading your post. Not very fundy, I know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZdiXvDU4P0

  2. I love getting a glimpse of your travels.

    Yes, street corner preachers are an interesting group … in June, my son’s high school graduation was held in a building in our local city, so afterwards everyone was milling around outside on the closed street and sidewalks and a street corner preached started shouting his message so loudly that he disrupted people’s conversations. I went up to him and asked him to stop, because it was unkind and intrusive. Thankfully he listened to me and we could continue our celebrations without that.

  3. Oooo, night life. I’m excited to hear!

  4. Beautiful, intricate buildings that they are still charging for. Hmmm. I wonder if God has ever been invited inside.

  5. It angers me when churches want to make us pay to ‘visit’ them. Yes .. they have overheads but donations is the way to go. It reminds me too much of those money lenders in the Temple…..

    BTW : You are wrong, us Europeans DO shop in malls !! We have a lot of them in Britain and in mainland europe and especially here in Portugal!!! Perhaps you don’t in Germany / Austria ??

    • Haha Britain doesn’t really count! No we don’t have any real malls in either country. The next “mall” type of thing is a two hour drive away from where I live and it’s really small compared to American standards. Come to think of it, I actually went to a mall in Vienna but I was really disappointed because it was so small and there was NOTHING special there, just the standard shops they had in the city center as well and there wasn’t really a point in going there since it was kind of far away from all the city center action.

  6. The malls in Scotland are mainly pretty small. One or two larger ones with ‘outlets’ ie designer clothes that are old season or surplus to requirement that are sold cheaply. Here in Portugal the Malls are quite big too – especially in Porto etc. But I agree – and again especially in the UK – most of the shops are the same as in the High Street. Disappointing really – except that you have all the shops under one roof – and no rain!!! lol!!!

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