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Culture & Religion

CROSSROADS/ The Passion for Culture, the Thirst for Meaning

The passion for culture, the search for knowledge, the thirst for meaning. These are the main  interests of the Crossroads Cultural Center, a place that is open, where friendship can develop and where roads meet in a time of change.  


“It is the presumption of old age that reality is shaped by our ideas. The experience of the child is wonder in front of something that is completely given, always new, unexpected and appealing. Life is either the continuous, exciting discovery of something that was unknown, or it is an inevitable slide into boredom” (from the Mission Statement, published on the Crossroads Cultural Center website).

The New York Encounter, a cultural festival that took place in Times Square, January 16-18, was organized by the Crossroads Cultural Center, an initiative that was born five years ago out the shared passion of four friends who belong to the lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation. During the New York Encounter, Crossroads organized a presentation on the history and work of the cultural center.

Angelo Sala, one of the original four founders, told of how they decided to meet after discovering that each of them, simultaneously, had a similar strong desire to communicate the passion for culture they had first encountered at the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, held annually in Rimini, Italy. For five months, the group met regularly, at a Starbucks coffee shop, because there was no other place to meet. They discussed every aspect of the endeavor, from the name to the logo for the new cultural center.

The name “Crossroads” communicates that the center is a meeting point, a place that is open, where friendship can develop and where roads meet in a time of change. The logo was adapted from a painting by Piet Mondrian, “Broadway Boogie Woogie,” exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; they chose this painting because it expresses the theme of the open meeting place of roads, and because it is a local painting that depicts the place where the new cultural center would be born.

Five years after the first Crossroads event was presented, the cultural center has organized over 130 public events, in New York, Washington DC, Houston, Chicago, New Bedford and other cities. Sala emphasized that speakers and topics are chosen based on how he and his friends are struck by reality and never according to a preconceived idea. Crossroads activities can be categorized by four main areas of interest:

1) “Human Affairs”: these presentations concern current events, “because what happens always contains a suggestion, a hint that affects or may change our lives”;

2) “Memory and Identity”: an exploration of our cultural heritage, “because the fabric of our life is woven from all the events that happened before us”;

3) “Beauty Will Save the World”: a title taken from a quote by Dostoevsky, which expresses “the wonder and attraction at the origin of human experience and the adventure of knowledge”;

4) “Meetings at the Crossroads”: opportunities to encounter particular people, “because every human being is an irreducible novelty... regardless of any cultural, religious or social boundary.”

In addition to public events, the Crossroads Cultural Center offers a blog, called “Paper Clippings” and an extensive reading list on its public website, and traveling exhibits that may be used in other cities.