Category Archives: things Central European

Hearts Grown Brutal

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I am reading this book alongside The Bridge on the Drina (yesterday’s post). This is a different kind of book.

The subject is broader – Yugoslavia, not simply a town in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Its about a family, not the changing culture surrounding a bridge over 300+ years.

While yet unfinished. I’ve gotten far enough to know some of its value. That is, how the broader international issues impact individuals, namely the collapse of two empires after WWI, which created a vacuum, into which flowed more brutality through WWII, post war oppression and the wars that broke up Yugoslavia. This is not really new brutality, but the methods are more modern and more widely reported… yet largely ignored by the outside world.

Which raises the question: How have we become desensitized over time to brutality?

How desensitized are we?

What should we do about it?

How does the Gospel inform us and change us?

How does that change affect what we do about injustice?

I guess what I’m asking is, have our hearts grown brutal?

If so, we need to seek God’s change in our hearts.

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Filed under culture, from the Balkans, seeking understanding, things Central European

The Bridge on the Drina

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Been working on this since early September or so. It is deep. It is, for me, one of the richest, most thoughtful books I’ve read. Ever.

Look at the top of the picture of the book. Yeah. Nobel Prize for Literature. I don’t even know what that takes.

If you EVER want to read a single book that will give insight into the Balkans, read this. But, its not a popular page-turner. You have to stop and think along the way, sometimes deeply, other times you just have to stop and take a break. So if you take this on, give your self time.

But be warned. There is extreme brutality. The author did not shy away from describing graphic horror. As a Yugoslavian (what does that even mean to readers today?), he knew the need to describe the brutality that existed back then, in recent history and that continues today in more subtle ways.

I once went to the monument park in Mohacs, Hungary where there are wood carvings depicting humans impaled after being defeated by a superior Ottoman army. I now have a better understanding of what took place there and, more importantly, I have a better understanding of why the anti-Turk atmosphere existed when I first began visiting Hungary 16 years ago. That attitude seems to have subsided since today there are Turkish eateries every two blocks in Budapest.

I also learned how deep is the wound is between Serb and the converts to Islam.

It is all very, very complicated. And I guess the main thing that I learned is how dark those Drina river valleys are and how deep is the need for the true Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel of Grace, the Gospel of forgiveness in this region.

Tomorrow, I will introduce a book that is more contemporary, but the region is the same.

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Filed under culture, from the Balkans, seeking understanding, things Central European, travel notes

Follow up on Hungary

Yesterday’s post gives me the opportunity to link you to a couple of articles that have been put forth in the last weeks…

First, another man’s “take” (from the blog “Eastern Approaches”) but again worthy of consideration and information…  CLICK HERE to read “Hungary and Britain”

Next, from the New York Times on a new opera with a political punch… CLICK HERE

Thoughtful comments are welcome…

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A Hungarian Commemoration day – October 23

This is a guest post and is one man’s “take” (author will remain anonymous, used with permission) but I thought it useful and thought provoking…

Today, October 23, is a Hungarian national holiday. It is the 57th anniversary of their uprising against the Russians in 1956, which was the first forceful opposition to the Soviet Union’s domination of Eastern Europe after World War II. After a couple of startling weeks of freedom from oppression, it was crushed by the Red Army. Hungarians do not celebrate, they COMMEMORATE the students, workers, and ordinary people who fought against Russian tanks with homemade or confiscated weapons. From a population of 10 million people, a couple thousand were killed. Tens of thousands were wounded. Hundreds were afterwards executed or deported to Siberia. Two hundred thousand more escaped to the West.

Unfortunately, all these years after the Revolution, and over 20 years since the change from one-party rule to democracy, talented and motivated Hungarians still want to leave the country. The political, social, and economic systems still have debilitating problems, many of them self-inflicted.

How will this change? Political power will not do it; the political elites are insulated from the public. Financial power will not do it; the common people do not command enough of the money, and this is a relatively poor nation. Social power will not do it; the cultural fabric is not strong enough; Hungarians do not know how to be good neighbors to each other. The only power remaining is the power of God in the churches, but most of the churches are unfruitful. They need revival as much as their country needs reform. But first the churches must get off their own agenda, turn from their self-centered ways, and think beyond their walls (God-style!).

+ Please pray that believers will examine themselves, realize their persistent sins, and turn away from self-centeredness, inconsequential living, and lack of faith. Please pray that passages like 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Daniel 9:4-19 will lead to repentance (change!) and awakening (hope!) instead of regret and despair (the normal Hungarian result).

+ Please pray that believers and churches in Hungary will LIVE IN JESUS and start to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the lives of their neighbors and neighborhoods —instead of being disregarded as people who have trouble distinguishing real life from fairy tales.

+ Please pray that we followers of Jesus do our own confession, repentance, and growth in God. Please pray that God the Holy Spirit will enable us to be confident witnesses of the power of God among us: Emmanuel, Jesus the Messiah.

Now, you may not agree with all that this writer said, but I think that his observations are worthy of consideration, and perhaps comment…

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Filed under culture, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings, things Central European

good neighbor

My neighbor in Bp is a retired fellow in his sixties. As I returned to the flat a while ago, he was out on his balcony and saw me coming up the street.

Nearing the top of the four floors of stairs, I heard his door unlatch.

We greeted one another, told him where I’d been and complained about the heat here in the Jewel on the Danube (its 94!) …thankfully I had little to complain about regarding weather on this trip to the bottom of Africa. I asked how he and his wife are and that was about it. I hauled my shrinkwrapped backpack inside.

Then, while I was checking this and that in the flat and there was a knock on my door, there stood my neighbor, with a bottle of bubbly mineral water. That’s a good neighbor. That’s a blessing.

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Filed under experience, things Central European, travel notes

travel plan

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“a little bit of Budapest”

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