Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Denise and I just got back from Kosovo. (I'd be rich if I had a nickel for every blog post that started like that.) Anyway, we were there to see the glory of Serbian church architecture, the handsomely exquisite Gracanica, and the experience was profound enough to alter our now matching (yes, it's disgusting) facebook profiles pics.

Now, lest you think that I've violated an implied rule of the North American Churches blog (only cover churches in North America), think again! The trip to Kosovo was only to prepare me for a visit to the North American Gracanica, located near Chicago. (There's also a copy in Belgrade that I saw last year.)

The copies are necessary because it's quite dangerous for Serbs (and until recently, anyone) to visit the church. As our guidebook put it,
"The enclave is under heavy KFOR protection, and unless you have personal contacts there, it is unwise to make any attempt to visit it."
While we didn't have any contacts, we did find a much cheaper plane ticket out of Prishtina, and therefore figured it was at least worth a try to visit the place. The gamble paid off, as the situation has cooled down considerably, and aside from the barbed wire and guards, it was a regularly functioning monastery church. The inside is glorious, and though I'd like to have more pics, the nuns asked me not to take pictures within, and who am I to disobey a nun?

The lessons for North American Churches blog? A renewed charge to keep visiting churches, spurred on by the sobering reminder that we don't need to pass barbed wire and machine guns to do our work, for which photos are rarely an issue. Furthermore, a reminder that so much (all?) of the best New World churches owe an incalculable debt to the Old.

Press on!

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