Friday, June 19, 2009
The other day I went to Jerusalem, inter alia to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, which according to Christian churches/belief is considered to be the site where Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross (i.e. Golgotha). The visit was a vivid example of practised bigotry. In theory this site is shared equally by three Christian churches (which after all are based on pretty much the same principles of belief): the Armenian, Greek Orthodox and Catholic. Visitors are being led in small groups to the inner sanctum of a small tomb where relics of Jesus are supposed to be held. At irregular intervals these visits are interrupted by either an Armenian, Catholic or Greek Orthodox priest who chases the visitors away, enters the sanctum and leaves a few puffs of incense. This scene is usually followed immediately by the appearance of another priest of the Christian denomination other than the one that has already left his mark, to chase the visitors away in order to storm the inner sanctum and leave a few puffs of incense from his incense [Weihrauchbehaelter]. This only lasts for about a few minutes before the third priest arrives and – you’ve guessed it – chases the visitors away, enters the inner sanctum and leaves his incense there. I could not be helped to be reminded of three dogs that jealously run around the same neighbourhood to make sure that their urine mark is the one that sticks out… And later I read in the guide book that the three Christian churches cannot agree on who is managing the site so that a Muslim family holds the keys to the church and opens the church in the morning and locks it up at night…. It is easy to see how religious conflicts between the major religious denominations come into being and persist for centuries when even three Christian churches cannot agree on the basic principle of sharing and act in a very childish way – and if I may add - not in the sense of what the Christian belief is about… It seems to me that Jerusalem (only Jerusalem?) is full of people who consider “their” religion the one and only religion, and the only one offering a path to God and to a decent way of life.