Monday, March 21, 2011

Church and State

Researching the meaning of a dream—yes, a dream—Brigitte came across this image on the Internet. It represents St. Mary’s Church and the town hall of Stadt Usedom. She called me to see what she had found.

What prompted me to reproduce this image is that barely perceptible separation between church and state. Acts speak louder than words, and this proximity, in this old town in northern-most Germany, signals how things once were.

Usedom is a small town. In German Stadt means both city and town. The town hall is called a Rathaus, thus Council House. Usedom is part of one of the German states called Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

What equally prompted me is the odd nature of dreams. They rise up from the greatest depth of time—and space? Brigitte related the dream early in the morning. It was about a funeral and difficulties finding something black to wear. And then she said: “All this was taking place in a place called Usedom. Ever hear of a place like that?” — Ever ready to help interpret dreams, I offered: “Maybe Xanadu. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree. There is a dome in there—and Xanadu has a useful U.” — Brigitte looked rather doubtful. But later on, after getting up, she asked another and more useful oracle, Google. Well. Usedom actually exists. It is the more inclusive name of a large island in the Baltic Sea (see more in the next post). Brigitte spent her summer vacations on the shores of the Baltic in her youth. The name was there, somewhere, in her oldest memories, but the route by which it surfaced now is a mystery.

Church and state? Well, the parliament (Landtag) of West Pomerania embraced Christianity in 1128. Soon after that Usedom Abbey was established and built on the island—and the little town of Usedom aggregated into a settlement quite near it. And its people went on, building too, a church and, cheek by jowl, a Council House.

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