One qualifier to this excellent article: Poland’s demographic identity as an almost exclusively Roman Catholic country is, of course, a relatively recent development. As Norman Davies points out in Heart of Europe, prior to the Second World War Poland’s population included substantial minorities of both Orthodox Christians and Jews. Ironically, Hitler and Stalin are the ones who made the Poland of today the almost exclusively Roman Catholic country that many “traditionalists” defend.
Your description, Mr. Berger, sounds more akin to regular, petty generational friction than the encroachment of this ‘european secularization’ you speak of. Polish culture and more important history has been too closely linked to Catholicism to be extricated cleanly.
From 1683, Sikorski’s martyrdom, the Home Army’s last stand, the trials of the three partitions, to Katyn, popular Polish culture has imbued these defeats, disasters and the occasional triumph in a religious manner. Poland is either Job or as Mickiewicz would have it, Jesus suffering on the cross for the sins of mankind.
These kids sounds like a flashmob needling their square elders; it’s an adolescent knee-jerk reaction to cultural conformity. Perhaps, similar to the phenomenon of black metal in the Scandinavian world. Do these bands and their followers really dream of sacrificing their lives and murdering others to propitiate before the dark godhead of Lucifer? No. Hope not. They just live in a culture with such terrifying aphorisms as ‘the exposed nail gets hammered’ and “worshiping” the devil is guaranteed to irritate almost everyone.
In reference to your blog on religion in Poland, it is true that Poland is undergoing Europeanization, which will mean a drop in piety, that has already been observed, and a transformation of religion as it is lived. The Church will only have partial control over the process, just like the “defenders of the cross” are a grassroots movement that the mainstream Church has little influence over.
However, if the counterprotest seems modern, despite its form it also has old roots. Polish Catholicism, as Krzysztof Michalski has pointed out commenting on the incident, has a long tradition of anticlericalism that was put on hold during the Nazi and Soviet occupations, as well as JPII’s reign, What is significant, the current anti-clericalism is as of yet unchannelled politically. When the post-communist party attempted to organize the protest against the “defenders,” it failed.
Christopher Garbowski in Lublin, Poland