A year or so ago I met an opera singer from Iceland named Halla (for the story, scroll back to October 2012), married to Paolo. They own a cute little coffee bar called, Pulcinella only three blocks from my B&B. This is the only place with reliable, open internet (I am working here at this very moment)!!!
After a few visits I became friends with both, Halla and Paolo and learned that Halla was a Lutheran and a believer. At first I was trying to determine if she identified with Protestantism, her Lutheran heritage or Jesus. Whatever, she has been forthcoming in her Christian convictions.
On Saturday she invited me to a little party at her house in the country on the following Monday
evening. She explained that it is a kind of custom to celebrate the end of autumn and the coming of winter by roasting chestnuts (castagni) and drinking a heavily spiced and flavored, hot red wine. (You have no idea how rich – and delicious – this can be with raisins, almonds and cinnamon). I was unprepared for the rich combination and after eating several cream filled coronetti during the morning this mixture hit me like a ton of bricks. Within a minute of my first sip and nut, my stomach was acidic but yet people continued to bring me EXOTIC treats of various kinds. Feeling ready to explode and desperate for a Zantac, I had to leave early by catching a ride with Andrea a giornalista (Journalist). It was well worth leaving when I did. Though Andrea did not speak much English, I carried the conversation in Italian with many agreeable positions between the two of us. Let me just say that he caught my drift.
It was a lovely group of people and though I can speak Italian reasonably well, I had great difficulty understanding much of what was being said to me. Halla was quite bold in introducing me to her friends and clearly used my visit to introduce the idea of Christian faith to her friends who did not know how to respond. In one instance, the person resorted to talking about the immaculate conception and ascension of Mary. Obviously, this presented too much of a hill too climb with a language barrier but Halla’s daughter who bares the biblical convictions of her mother and completely on my side, did her best to explain my points in fluent Italian.
The truth is this. Most Italian Catholics are like Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. They know nothing beyond what they have been told by the Priest, the Imam, an Elder or Bishop. When confronted with the direct simplicity and sensibility of the gospel, they can see it but have no idea of what to do next. They are the very worst at deciding anything and consider almost everything having to do with religion only a private opinion. To become a bible believing Christian would eliminate their Italian identity, something very few are willing to do. One thing for sure, few Italians are willing to separate from the pack and go it alone. There is almost no concept of individualism. Identity is bound up in one’s cultural heritage. To become a Bible Christian is to become a straniero (foreigner). Evangelical faith is the reilegion of gli immigrati (immigrants).