Borgo sansepolcro

My wife and I stood outside the Church of Sant’Agostino in the northern Tuscan town of Borgo Sansepolcro. It was Palm Sunday, a brilliant spring morning. It is a medieval church in a walled city, dating from the thirteenth century. This is the home town of Piero della Francesca, whose fresco Resurrection is one of the world’s great art treasures. We are strangers in the neighborhood.

—I can’t go in there.
—Why not?
—I don’t know what to do.
—Of course you know what to do in any church in the world. Go to a pew, kneel and pray.

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Church and church

In this post we use a peculiar convention in capitalization: Big C Church refers to the non-profit corporation or a collection of them, duly constituted under the laws of the state. Small c church refers to the body of Christ, which needs no dignifying, and lives with or without states.

Sociological studies of religion closely resemble the demographic studies that underlie commercial advertising. This supports a temptation which is ever present in the Church, to become one of the elements of culture, rather than stand over against it. Christian behavior turns into ordinary good social behavior, and Christian ethics turns out to be whatever one’s peers admire.

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Castello di Matese

In 1996 my wife and I made a trip to Italy. For a few days we drove with no destination. When we came to an intersection, we took the smallest road offered. This landed us one night in northern Campania, a village called Castello di Matese. Nobody spoke English. A stationer explained, the place was too small to put on a map. It was the off season; nobody was in the hotel.

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