I down with the pew
A Room with a Pew: Sleeping Our Way Through Spains Ancient Monasteries by Richard Starks
I accidentally deleted my review. Agh.
The authors make a trip across Spain, staying in Monasteries along the way. They write about the monks and nuns they encounter, the buildings, the history and some interesting local flavor along the way. They (or he) seem to be seeking and questioning faith, but dont expect a conversion story. Ultimately they seem more puzzled and amused by Christianity and its practices, though they are clearly both enamored and awed by history - which helps balance it out a bit. Several times the author(s) express amazement and honor in being able to view the artifacts and relics in places they visited. Just not quite the same feelings on the idea and practice of faith.
It was interesting to see some of the differences between orders. It is clear a common theme between them all is generating income - some doing so in a wholesome way, some pandering to tourism - and bringing in new recruits to the orders. I think it should be considered that while some might find the Atheistic perspective and sometimes flip humor to be offensive, that the book does at least promote travel to monasteries in Spain, thus bringing struggling institutions some publicity and income, and therefore perhaps helping insure their survival. Though theres a touch of irony that this very thing offends the authors, who were put off by one monastery with too much traffic/tourism.
I feel the book really would have benefited with an insert of pictures of the places they stayed. Im not an architecture buff, but I looked each place up and was impressed at how vast the differences were, the styles in architecture, and the locations of some of these places. Very interesting.
Monastery 1: http://www.monestirvallbona.cat/Home....
Monastery 2: http://www.monlora.com/santuario.html
Monastery 3: http://www.monasteriodeleyre.com (go to Hotel Restaurante then Galeria de Imagenes)
Monastery 4: http://www.monasteriosantotomas.com/
Monastery 5: little fuzzy on this one
Monastery 6: http://www.monasterioescalonias.org/e...
Monastery 7: http://www.clarisas.marchena.net/web/...
Update - the author shared that due to economic reasons, they were not able to add a photo insert to the book, however, there is a youtube video they posted promoting the book and monastery travel. Its fantastic and will help give more sense of place. Take a look!
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