Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cyprus wrap-up

I'm in Greece now for some more research at Mount Menoikeion. I constructed a website (with much assistance) over the semester to convey what it is we're up to. Please feel free to check it out. Below is my Cyprus summary in the form of a credit card commercial:

Listening to extensive reflection on Orthodox/Catholic relations on the flight over to prepare for an intelligent, conciliatory western encounter with Orthodoxy? Free (thanks to Nathaniel).

Arriving at Larnaca at 3am due to an extreme delay, renting a car and traveling straight into the mountains to the church of Panagia tou Araka (my dissertation focus) just in time to get there, after a treacherous mountain pass, for the Pentecost Monday liturgy? A good bit of euros (car rental is not cheap, but bargaining seemed to work).

Getting to see the famous icon at Kykko monastery, and realizing that devotion to the Virgin is far from a distraction - but may in fact be an essential supplement - to a rightly ordered Christian faith? 6 euros for a reminder icon at the gift shop.

Seeing how the Late Antique Dionysios mosaics at Paphos are brilliantly appropriated by the roughly contemporary Christian mosaics at St. Paul's church which proclaim Christ as the "true vine;" and then enjoying a sip of that wine at an Anglican eucharist in that same church? A decent sum of euros (hotel).

Seeing how not only Dionysius, but the Aphrodite cult at Palea Paphos is also appropriated (and thoroughly cleansed) by the Church of the Virgin on the same site, built with some help from the ruins of Aphrodite's defunct temple? 3 euro (entrance fee).

Seeing the famous twelfth century frescoes in the cave church of Neophytos and grasping the parallels of his life to the life of that first monk St. Antony? 2 euros (entrance fee).

Getting to see the tomb of Lazarus at Larnaca? Too many euros (again, those hotels).

Fresh orange juice from the once feudal groves outside the Lusignan castle of Kolossi? 1 euro.

A bag of oranges from the same place? 1 euro.

Realizing, thanks to an innovative modern icon exhibit held within the Venetian gates of Nicosia, that Greek Christianity (far more visually sophisticated than the American kind) has many things to teach Manhattan about contemporary art? Free.

Going back into the Troödhos mountains to see a few more of the stunning painted churches peppered throughout? Too many euros (gas!).

Walking through the Nicosia border, the world's "last divided capital," without incident? Free.

Seeing the stolen, but finally salvaged Kanakariá Virgin mosaics from northern Cyprus at the Byzantine museum in southern Nicosia? 3 euros (museum fee).

Seeing Mt. Athos from a plane and realizing it has long trumped Mount Olympus? A reasonable sum of euros (plane ticket).

Being outside of the U.S. for an extended time during a Presidential campaign season? Priceless.