The Necklace

I remember to this day the moment I saw it around my grandmother’s neck, although I was a little kid at that time. It surprised me very much. It simply gave my grandmother an air of nobility. It was like it was casting a light upon her sun-burnt face and upon the garments that she would wear for festive occasions, taken out of the chest where she kept them. It was like she was no longer the humble peasant woman that she had been until then, but a grand lady who was getting ready to face the requirements of city life — more precisely, of a wedding that was about to happen in our family.

I followed my grandmother with my child eyes, trying to figure out how an ordinary piece of jewelry could change her so completely. Yet perhaps it wasn’t that ordinary after all. Or maybe my grandmother wasn’t. But from that day on, to me, she preserved the enchantment of that mysterious transformation, although it was a necklace that she would rarely wear, if at all.

I didn’t see her wear it later on any longer, as life carried me away from the events that my grandparents took part in, but I will always remember that wonderful ennoblement, with some of the thrill that Vermeer must have felt in his heart when he painted the “Girl with Pearl Earring”. The only jewel that my grandmother – now gone far away, in the country of the beyond – had, is now lying in a vintage box, as if peacefully waiting for its time, again. And for its Woman.

Laurentiu Dumitru

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“On Europe’s Christian Heritage” – An Excerpt

By Alexandru Paleologu

[…] Huntington is what you call a politologist. […] I wouldn’t give any job to a politologist, because this is the type of person who thinks that they can philosophize without an entire philosophical basis. A politologist is a specialist who lacks width of vision and does not know how to connect things that only seem to be outside of his expertise.

Huntington’s idea – that the Carpathians could become a fracture line that will lead to inevitable conflicts (since the Western world stops at the Carpathian line, and beyond it, the Slavic-Orthodox one begins) starts from ignoring some actual facts. Only Russia, Bulgaria, and Serbia are Slavic-Orthodox. Greeks and Romanians are not Slavs. There is – it is true – a Slavic background among the Romanians, too, which it would be absurd to deny. Whoever denies it is just as passion-driven as the ones who at some point held that we were entirely Slavic. The Romanian people has some interesting “precedents”: the Cumans, the Pechenegs, the Slavs – in addition to its Latin background and perhaps, the Greek-Latin one, too.

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Do Animals Have A Soul?

By Cornel Dragoş

If I say there are other creatures of God, [what I mean is that] some are less wonderful than the soul, and others are like the soul. An animal’s soul, for example, is less wonderful than a man’s soul, and that of an angel is just as wonderful: yet nothing is better than the soul itself. And if at a certain instance, none of these is better, that is the consequence of the sin that that soul has committed and has nothing to do with its nature. However, sin will not pull man down to the point where an animal’s soul would be preferred over the former’s one or even compared with it.”

These surprising words by St. Augustin point out the greatness of human soul compared to that of the non-speaking beings. Yet, what kind of soul do animals have? A nuanced answer by the Holy Fathers in what follows herein…

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Bellu Manor

Bellu Manor is a mid-19th century old Romanian style architecture monument, which belonged to the family of Baron Alexandru Bellu. Originally Aromanians from the Macedonian Pindus, from the town of Pella (birthplace of Alexander the Great), the family settled in Romania around 1780. Apparently, the buildings of the initial complex date back to about the same time — only perhaps a few decades later. The residence in Urlaţi was closest to the Bellus’ hearts.

In Wallachia, the Bellu family made a fortune and became related to important local families of boyars (nobles), such as the Cantacuzinos, Văcărescus, Câmpineanus, Sturdzas, and other old Romanian families. Thus Alexandru Bellu’s grandfather, who lived in the 1900s, married Irina Văcărescu; the family later concluded a matrimonial alliance with Eliza Ştirbei, daughter of Prince Barbu Ştirbei — and the examples may continue.

Romanians Talking about Their Lives before ’89

AUGUST 23

Party instructors would go to factories and schools and would recruit employees or pupils.  Preparations for this day would start two months ahead of time.  The whole show would take place in the Aviatorilor Square, where two tribunes would be set up: to the right, the tribune for Ceauşescu and the Central Committee members and to the left, the tribune for the foreign officials.  The asphalt was marked with chalk, so that you would know where to place yourself.

The convoy would start off in Piaţa Unirii and follow the whole boulevard on foot, until it would get to Piaţa Aviatorilor.  You felt like dying until you got there.  You were not allowed to eat or drink until you finished your march.  Once the marching was over, you could eat and drink.  Continue reading

Preserving Tradition

Interview with PETER RILEY

Poet, Cambridge, UK

maramures_traditie si familie_mic“If Bucharest does not consider preserving Romania’s rural tradition as a treasure of humankind, you may say good-bye to the Romanian specificity within the European Union”

After having travelled to Maramureş once, many foreigners’ lives change unawares.  They become “addicted” to the villages of Hoteni, Bogdan Vodă, Breb or Vadu Izei. Nothing is the same as before. Much more sensitive than the Romanians when faced with values that they themselves have lost forever at home, these foreigners believe that they have found “the meaning of the universe” on the Iza or the Vişeu rivers. While the Japanese, with their kamikaze spirit, buy themselves graves in the Cemetery of Săpânţa, the Americans, the French or the English go out of their way to buy “signs of life” or not miss celebrations that take place throughout the year, such as weddings, nedei [traditional festivities], and Sunday dances. More than once, due to their direct impact, traditional dances have resumed in some villages, traditional dress and customs have been preserved, old wooden houses (otherwise threatened by bad-taste, through the offensive tide of the little gypsum pillars and coloured ceramics) have been left standing. Without any exaggeration, if Maramureş is still the dreamland of a strong traditional lifestyle, this is partly due to the foreigners who love this unique area. Almost every Maramureş family is linked, by invisible threads, to one or more families abroad. When someone is born, gets married or dies in Maramureş, no one could care less in Bucharest, Timişoara or Constanţa. But they are sure to care in Paris, London or Washington. In a way, what happens in Maramureş today will happen tomorrow to the entire Romania, when it gets to be really discovered by Westerners. At least this is what a British poet and his wife, Peter and Beryl Riley, from Cambridge, believe.

“We cannot conceive spending our holidays outside Maramureş any more”

–         How has a remarkable English poet as yourself come to spend his holidays in Romania, particularly in Maramureş?

–         To us, 1993 may be considered as the year of our discovery of the Romanian music, and 1998, the year of our first visit to this country. We were in a pub one evening, in Cambridge, when strange sounds of celestial beauty resounded next to us. We immediately inquired about the magicians who were interpreting those unheard-of tunes. “Romanians from Soporu de Câmpie”, said the bartender. It was an evening unlike any others we had had. Continue reading

Between Berkeley and Dudeşti

By Andrei Pleşu

I hear that a politically-correct version of the Bible has been recently published in the United States: the text has been rewritten to mind all the imaginable susceptibilities that the modern reader might have: it does no longer read Our Father, but Our Father/Mother, to eliminate the “macho” surplus of a (strictly) male God; it does no longer read “the Father’s right [hand]”, so that the left-handed don’t get a complex; the names of the various peoples are no longer mentioned whenever the context is negative, so that national discrimination is not encouraged. Continue reading