Sunday, October 21, 2012

Angels in Culture

I went to an event today called "Angels in Culture," which was not at all what I thought it would be. From its poster, I expected a discussion of the role of angels in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, with visits to the appropriate buildings to see the angels (or the lack thereof) within holy spaces. The event was nothing like that.

Instead, it consisted of a cookie-cutter six feet in diameter, singing children, and walking in a group of fifty plus all throughout the city. Turns out the whole thing was arranged by a sculpture artist and a woman's group dedicated to inter-religious dialogue.

Here's the sculpture. See the angel?
I arrived at the mosque (I didn't realize there was a mosque in my city, but indeed there is) early this afternoon and heard a reading from the Koran and brief homily, all in German. Then the sculptor put his sculpture on the ground and had the children in the audience help him fill it with some sandy/salty/grainy substance. We lifted the form away and left a temporary shape outside the mosque's main entrance. A girl's choir sang a song in German and a song in what I presume was Arabic, and we heard from the mayor. I'm not entirely sure how she got involved, but I thought it was really cool that the civil government was getting involved in both the event and its purpose. While there has always been immigration to Germany, in the last ten or fifteen years Germany has become home to a number of immigrants from a variety of Middle Eastern countries, especially Turkey. In fact, Germany's two street foods are sausage (of course) and a Turkish dish called döner kebabs: shredded chicken or lamb in a pita with lettuce, onions, peppers, and a yogurt sauce. As a result of increased immigration, a major discussion in Germany is what integration in German society looks like, and that has sometimes led to cultural tensions.

We repeated the form-filling performance at the cultural center, synagogue, main Protestant church, main Catholic church, and "alternative" Catholic chapel. I don't know what alternative means there. It was an interesting experience with the occasional really funny moment - a group of children turning the angel outside the cultural center into a pile of sand and making a castle out of it, for example.

In other news, I discovered peanut butter yesterday!

Pretty pretty pretty
It's not quite American peanut butter, but it reminds me of home and is very comforting. I'm keeping it for a snack when I need a taste of the US.

Finally, a report on my cookies. They never set, remaining vaguely liquid and gloopy even after a time in the refrigerator, but are delicious eaten with a spoon. I'm told that I used too much milk. Let it be known, I should have put in 1/2 yogurt rather than a full one.

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