Monday, November 10, 2008

Those darned monks

I've always contended that a lot of the horrors and violence down through the history of the world can be directly tied to religion, and the times, they're not a'changin'. An AP story over the weekend started off this way: "Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity's holiest churches Sunday and arrested two clergymen after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus' tomb. The clash between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks broke out in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection." You can't make this stuff up. The AP said the mayhem ensued when Armenian clergymen carried out a procession to mark what they believe to be the 4th-century discovery of the cross used to crucify Jesus. The Greeks objected, saying the procession could not occur without one of their own monks present, because to do otherwise might give the Armenians some sort of claim to the site. Oh boy. Am I the only one who gets a mental picture of a Greek monk standing beside a velvet rope, deciding who gets in and who doesn't? Free drinks for the hot chicks. Anyway, police responded, and one monk from each side went to the hoosegow. The AP said "a bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead were both taken away in handcuffs after scuffling with dozens of riot police." The report said six Christian sects divide control of the ancient church, and Israeli police sometimes get a call when they fight over turf and control of the site. Some other strange stuff: The Israeli government has been trying for some time to build a fire exit there, in the interest of the safety of the thousands of pilgrims who visit regularly, but the sects can't agree on where it should be built. Also, back in the 1800s, somebody put a ladder on a ledge over the church entrance, and it has remained there ever since because the various monks dispute who has the authority to go up and bring it down. You know what I think would be really funny? What if they found out that the real site of Jesus' tomb is Shlomo's Bagel Shop across the street? Look out, Shlomo!



Blogger Ellipses said...

I like archaeology and history and ruins and stuff like that... but it gets my goat a bit when holy men feud over this stuff... Rather than fight over all the places where Jesus was, shouldn't they be focused on making sure he isn't lonely where Jesus went? The whole "relic" thing didn't become a big hit to Christians until well after they emerged from Cult status... That was kind of the point in the early church... that earthly objects could not rival the heavenly reward. And now, you have MAJOR conflicts throughout history blowing up over where he died... how many people have died in the struggle to control that spot where he died? And is praying in Jerusalem more effective that praying in Tulsa?

November 10, 2008 at 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. It's not about the place He died. It's the fact that He did (and rose again).
And praying in Tulsa (or even Washington, PA) is as good as praying in Jerusalem or anywhere else.
People who get caught up in the relics are missing the point.

November 10, 2008 at 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monk A see, Monk A do.

November 11, 2008 at 11:08 PM  

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