Friday, February 09, 2007

Lutheran Romani?!

I can hardly deny that I am both narrowly educated in matters of the world and painfully naive as to my own families' cultures. I mean I don't know very much -- say, compared to Sister Dash, who's a fiend on her Swedish identity -- about my Norwegian and Icelandic heritage, let alone my Bohemia-Czech-Slovak-Polish side. So I was surprised and delighted to run across this article about Lutheran Romani (otherwise known as "gypsies") in Transylvania/Romania.

Now, I have no personal investment in Transylvania (although I'd really like to master that "Dracula" accent!), but the Romani (or Romany) are another matter: A family legend, presumed factual, is that the Penas family ended up in Bohemia because their gypsy travels brought them there. There is support for such a story, too. For example, my Fulbright-Fellowship-winning uncle was unable to trace the family back in Bohemia and Eastern Europe much beyond the days before they moved to the States. And our name is a Greek-related name, meaning "poor" (when Jesus says "blessed are the poor" the word translated "poor" is "penas" -- pronounced "pen-ace," which is how some in the family tree pronounce it): I had a Greek doctor in Illinois who took great delight in greeting me in Greek and addressing me as the "beggar," because in modern Greek our patronym refers to the gypsy-beggar. So there is circumstantial evidence that there is "gypsy blood" in these, my veins.

Now I find out that some maybe-distant cousins are fellow Lutherans. How exciting is that? For me: quite!


Troy said...

That is fascinating! I wonder if anyone has researched and written the history of Romani religious adherance and experience?

Daniel S. said...

Dearest Dwight-
It has been nearly three weeks since a new post. Nothing on Lent, nor anything on the two month review of the new "worship resource." What gives, brother? I'm getting hungry for words of insight and controversy...

Dwight P. said...

Daniel, never fear: As the next post indicates, I acknowledge my waywardness and promise to turn back. I'm thinking the Ash Wednesday rite per ELC would be a good place to start. What a mess!