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Buddha and the Art of Motorcycle Breakdown

Buddha and the Art of Motorcycle Breakdown

“I’ll meet you at the door,” were my Buddhist friend’s instructions. It was the 60th birthday of Buddhist monk Bhante Seelawansa at Palais Eschenbach in Vienna, so you would have thought he’d show up. I hovered at the entrance, trying to look as if I belonged. Suddenly, one of the hosts approached, with a smile […]

Cathedral Curiosities History Lines St. Stephen’s

Visitors seem well-versed in the lore of the Stephansdom. They know roughly where and what it is: a 900-year-old cathedral in the city centre dedicated to the first Christian martyr. But all too many make a beeline for the interior. In so doing they miss some of the building’s more curious features.   A pagan […]

Helmut Schüller on God’s Mysterious Ways

Helmut Schüller on God’s Mysterious Ways

“God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform!” my grandmother would tell me, quoting the poet William Cowper, in moments when my curiosity had stretched too far. She liked to retreat into literature to avoid unpleasantness and keep ‘unmentionables’ where they belong. I have wondered what she would have had to say about […]

Forgotten Armenian Treasures

Forgotten Armenian Treasures

There is nothing special about Mechitaristengasse in the 7th District, indeed few people seem aware of its existence. But look again at the door at No. 4, adorned with a sculpted bishop’s mitre. It marks the entrance to the Mekhitarist Armenian Monastery, one of Vienna’s least-known places of worship.   Venice to Vienna It’s always […]

Kung Fu Weeks in Vienna

Kung Fu Weeks in Vienna

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Shaolin Temple Austria – the largest of its kind in Europe – offers a free two-week program on Kung Fu, meditation, and health, as well as lectures on nutrition and meditation, and courses for children and families. Shaolin has its roots in the 1500-year-old temple in China, and […]

Buddhism meets Science

Buddhism meets Science

Scientists and clerics seldom work together, and often freeze in gridlocked opposition. Not so when Tendzin Gyatsho, the 14th Dalai Lama, came to Vienna in late May to meet distinguished professors from several scientific branches. In a remarkable seven-hour discussion at the Audimax of the University of Vienna, His Holiness took on the vast subject […]

Worlds Apart? The Many Jewish Viennas

Worlds Apart? The Many Jewish Viennas

The synagogue on Seitenstettengasse is well-guarded, and not just by the Austrian police. Built into an apartment block, it is almost entirely hidden from view. Visitors’ peaceful intentions are tested in lengthy interrogations by two plainclothes security guards, former members of the Israeli army. Though they smile, the process is far from reassuring. Still, their […]

Making a Prophet

Making a Prophet

Even as an atheist it’s hard not to think the authors of the Bible were on to something: “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” In Vienna this is no less true than in Jesus’ Jerusalem, or any other city for […]

Book Review: Robert Whalen’s Sacred Spring

Book Review: Robert Whalen’s Sacred Spring

The ‘Sacred’ in Ver Sacrum The role of religion in fin de siècle Vienna would seem a closed case. As society escaped the grasp of the Church and the political landscape turned increasingly secular, one could safely assume that artists – the intellectual prophets of the changing times – had renounced God as an authority […]

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