Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Orthodox Church-backwards into the future

Look closely at this picture. What you see is a depository at the entrance of a Georgian church for skirts that has become obligatory for female visitors in some of the churches in Georgia. As a woman you are forced to wear one. You may wonder why, and I have no concrete answer. It is only one of many signs indicating that the Georgian Orthodox Church is heading into the past. I have on occations been asked to leave the church because my shorts were not appropriate to enter the house of God. They have also started to denie photographing inside some of the churches. Once a young clerc started to jump up and down in front of the camera, waving his hands to avoid me taking a photo. Now this obligatory female skirt prohibition in some churches is a more serious thing. It has the flavour of fundamentalism attached to it. Maybe it is a reaction to the modernizing of the Georgian society.

Having been travelling a lot in Georgia, the one thing I particulary appreciate is the Georgian hospitality. It is unique. It is sad to say that I, and many of the Georgians I have spoken with don't feel welcome in the Georgian churches. The contrast to the Georgian mentality is striking, and I really hope the Orthodox church changes it's direction, and don't end up in the fundamentalistic darkness of the middle age. But there seem to be two directions: One represented by young, less educated, and more fundamentalistic clercs/priests, and another more relaxed direction represented by the more reflected ''fathers''. As one, educated old priest answered me when he gave permission to photograph during his ceremony: ''God also loves photographers''. I guess it also should apply to women, and men in shorts.