church – but when you look closely, you see that behind the façade is only an empty cement floor. The interior of the church was destroyed a few years ago by a tornado – a rare phenomenon in this land.
For me, this outside without an inside depicts the nature of Roman Catholicism here. It is supposedly the dominant religious expression of Panama, but it is basically a front, with little of substance behind it. Parishioners may attend church on the major holidays, such as Easter and Christmas; they will turn out for the big parades down the main streets on certain saints’ days, and they may seek the services of the local priest for baptisms, weddings, and funerals. But otherwise, they have little real involvement with this denomination. For the Ngobe Bugle people in particular it is at best a veneer – a reflection only on the surface of the waters, and their ancient traditions continue to persist beneath this seemingness put on, no doubt, just to satisfy these invaders of their ancient land now, for a time, their vaunted overlords.
* * *
As they come to me to be written, new chapters will be added to this blog, so stay tuned! But the blogs up to a certain point are now chapters are now in a book.
So, to read more, you need the book A WRITER IN PANAMÁ.
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