Barcelona and the New Republic

In the Spanish civil war, the Communists and the Capitalists sided with one another against the Fascists.  The Fascists won, and led to a repressive regime that lived in relative peace without freedom until the death of Franco.  Spain, as a result, did not see the subsequent battle between the Communists and Capitalists, which was to define the latter half of the 20th century. They lived in a bubble of needs met and few aspirations attained, with true liberty – religion not least among them – thwarted.

But Franco did not stop the positioning.  He had to, after all, meet with every man’s fate and die.  And so the cold war lived in muted form, to the satisfaction of those who run cold – the communists – as opposed to those who run hot – the capitalists.  But in certain places the dream of the republic lived.  It would come to live in the hearts of former communists as well as capitalists, as the fate of a government of central command was realized in the USSR, not only Spain.

There are still those inclined to socialism, and sometimes they are in the right.  Nevertheless, the will of the people is freedom – civil and economic – and there is no place in the world where this will is stronger than in Barcelona.  Catalonia has been reluctantly paying dues and homage to Madrid for too long, and it is time for Madrid to realize that they really ought to be more like Barcelona.  I have been here for a short time, and I can tell the city is alive and open unlike any I’ve seen.  Despite occasional opposing forces at play, it is a city ready to shine to the world.  Madrid, you should play along – you have something to learn and gain.

Should the Pope offer St. Maria’s of Alhambra to Islam?

On a plateau over Granada, Spain stands Alhambra.  It is a grand palace and former settlement of the Moors.  It is today well preserved in its full history, but its history is still alive.

Inside the grounds of Alhambra is a church.  It is a nice church, in the renaissance style, but it’s history is not so nice.  Alhambra was a Moorish palace and settlement, and where the church of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion stands once stood a mosque.  That mosque was torn down and in its place was put the church.  It was common practice throughout Andalusia, Spain to convert old mosques to cathedrals.  The major cathedrals of Andalusia were once mosques.  But tearing down this mosque and building in its place a church, on the grounds of Moorish Alhambra, was a clear show of power by Catholic rule, and no mere convenience.

In The Alhambra Trinity I address – in literary and indirect form – some reasons for turning St. Maria’s of Alhambra into an offering of peace.  What I do not address directly – though it is an underlying current – is its historical significance as a symbol of religious struggle and the domination by Catholicism in Spain.  As such it holds a unique place for potential as a symbol of peace as Spain enters an age of religious diversity and tolerance, but I do not believe the proper action is to convert St. Maria’s to a mosque.  It should instead be made symbol of interfaith peace and not a symbol of triumph by one side over another – diplomatic or otherwise.  A place where all people of faith are welcome, including those of the Jewish faith, who have a long history in the region of Granada, and also worked on Alhambra.

To that end I, a Catholic, suggest it be converted to a place where all faiths can practice together, though in a unique way.  I realize that the suggestion of re-architecting a renaissance style church in Europe may fall on deaf ears.  And some may look at this approach as opening a can of worms, but I look at it as the most supreme offering of peace that the Church can make.  And peace should be the goal of all faith, Catholic, Islamic, Jewish or otherwise.