When I walked the West Highland Way in Scotland this summer, I couldn’t have known that it’s possible to experience one week of almost non-stop beautiful weather in Scotland. Therefore I had not brought my sleeping bag and had booked some accommodation along the way instead. One of them was the Inversnaid Bunkhouse, a lovely accommodation for hikers with very friendly staff and excellent food. The most interesting point about this hostel was that the building is an old church:
While enjoying dinner inside, the setting sun lit up the stained glass windows. Beautiful!
It made me think of the thousands of churches around the world who won’t be used for worship anymore, as the number of regular church-goers dwindles and Enlightenment finally takes hold, liberating people to decide for themselves what to do on Sunday. (Although the decline in Christian religiosity can’t explain the ever increasing number of Jehova Witnesses knocking on my door.)
Here are some other examples of successful conversions of these erstwhile temples of anti-Enlightenment. The natural choice is of course a bar or a pub. Religion is replaced by beer, but the concept remains the same. People go there to forget their trouble, but all they get is a headache and a hole in their wallet.
Other churches have been turned into fancy apartments, performance halls, kindergartens, pharmacies and mosques.
My favourite example is Broerenkerk in Zolle in the Netherlands, which was turned into a bookstore. Not only does this warm my heart because bookstores are the only stores in which I voluntarily spend more than 15 minutes, but to me this is also the ultimate victory of knowledge over spirituality.