Correspondence

Out of the Rubble, A Christian State?

As the Air Croatia plane began its descent into Zagreb, it came to me that I had no idea where I was going. The Chesterton Society conference was to be held downtown at Europski Dom, but the participants were being put up at a Jesuit seminary. In a city of nearly a million, the Jesuits would probably have more than one address. As I was to learn in the coming days, greater Zagreb is riddled with Jesuit seminaries and schools, to say nothing of other religious houses and foundations. Indeed, the city sprung up around the cathedral, and the oldest part—the "Kaptol"—takes its name from the chapter of canons.

Any traveler is understandably anxious about landing in a strange country in the midst of war and political change, especially if his command of the language barely covers ordering a meal. Try as I might, I could not recall even the word for information (obvashtenje), although, as it turns out, the Great I is a universal symbol. My fears were exacerbated by the knowledge that, war or no war, communism or ex-communism, nothing ever seems to get done in the Balkans, except after a long and bitter sequence of missed appointments and broken promises that give victory the taste of ashes.

What part of this mentality is the ancient legacy of the Balkans and what part the residue of communism, I am not prepared to say. Ibm Sunic, who now handles foreign press relations for the ministry of foreign...

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