Monday, November 21, 2011

Surviving the Holy Sepulchre

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem chaos reigns. The territory is carved up into tiny chunks owned by various religious groups and sub groups. Supposedly it is the site of Jesus' crucifixion but most evidence points to the fact that this site along with many other famous Christian sites were selected by various officials and groups in response to pilgrim's need for a substantial physical spot to embrace, visit, worship at. The Franciscans were particularly sensitive to this and cooked up the stations of the cross for instance and the rosary, a kind of portable prayer of course was wildly popular and continues to be so. People buy them here by the dozen to take home.

As we entered the church and our eyes adjusted to the gloom we could see the mobs and mobs of people. As I got my bearings a huge Greek Orthodox priest pushed by me almost knocking me over swinging his incense salver in front of him and literally pushing people over as I suppose he was trying to accomplish his round of prayer and sanctification. I'm surely not the only one of the collaterally damaged who cursed the brute. This piece of real estate is so highly contested that the presiding clergy break into actual fights from time to time. Each group's territorial jurisdiction seems to hang by a thread. It's so bad that the church is falling into ruin because to implement repairs cooperation between the smoldering factions would be required.

Symbolic of the whole mess is a ladder that has been resting against one of the walls for a century and a half...some say it was used to deliver food while one of the groups was under siege..another story is that some brave soul was going to attempt a repair but found the procedure to be even more complicated than the San Diego Building department and gave up. Even removing the ladder is impossible. We felt grateful to get out of there with only minor injuries.

1 comment:

  1. A good example of why I hate religion.
    Sounds really interesting, tho. Can't wait to see photos and hear more stories. I would love to see the "holy" land but hate the idea of getting there. So maybe I can see it vicariously through you.
    Nancy and I miss you on crossword puzzle day.