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22 March 2008

monks punch each other out, somebody calls the cops at Jesus' tomb in the Much Too Holy Land

Fired Up: For centuries, Orthodox Christians have gathered each Easter at Jesus’ final resting place to celebrate the Miracle of the Holy Fire, but concern is high that a turf battle may mar this year’s ceremony. (Getty Images.)

Well, here is Agence-Vleeptron Presse merrily shining its profound illumination on another Earth religion about which we are pathetically ignorant. re Christianity, we get pretty worked up at Christmas over the near-impossibility of pilgrims getting to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. That totally sucks, Israel needs to straighten up and fly right about that, and the whole Separation Wall.

For most Western Christian denominations -- Roman Catholics and Protestants -- Sunday is the celebration of the end of Jesus' life, and His resurrection.

A-VP is very sorry to report that there is trouble where His tomb is believed to be, too. No gunfire or explosives, but hard feelings and, apparently, fistfights between different groups of monks. (I have never seen monks or nuns fighting. Baseball players a few times. But not monks or nuns.)

Which brings us to our strong editorial belief that the Holy Land is just much too damn Holy. They should de-Holify it to about the Holiness Level of Bruges, Belgium, or Pittsburgh. People get bent out of shape about God there, too, but not too many people, and they keep the violence down to a dull roar. There are people in Pittsburgh who believe God is specifically commanding them to do violence to other people, but they are referred to a clinic, rather than becoming popular leaders and heroes.

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The Jewish Daily Forward (NYC USA)
Thursday 20 March 2008


Christian Rivalry Burns
at Site of Jesus’ Tomb


Monks Trade Blows Over Turf in Church of the Holy Sepulchre

by Nathan Jeffay

Jerusalem -- With big egos competing for sacred space and urgent claims that a miracle is imminent, Jerusalem’s latest religious conflict has all the makings of a classic Holy City conflagration. All, that is, except for the cast of characters: There is not a single Jew or Muslim involved.

Tensions are so bad between two of the six Christian denominations that share control of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — by tradition the site of Jesus’ tomb — that some fear priests and pilgrims may come to blows over Easter.

The high point of Easter celebrations at the church is a ceremony known as the Miracle of the Holy Fire, during which candles are said to be lit by the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit in the shrine reputed to contain remains of the tomb. The event takes place on Orthodox Easter Saturday, falling this year on 27 April. It typically attracts thousands of pilgrims.

The question of who enters the tomb to receive the fire is an ongoing cause of friction among the church’s resident sects, and this year tensions have been exacerbated by a series of physical altercations, here and in Bethlehem, that left monks and priests variously hospitalized, arrested and banned from the church.

For years, the patriarch, or religious head, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate entered the shrine together with a priest from the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate. In 2002, however, the Greek prelate declared that his denomination alone could enter the shrine to receive the miracle.

The pronouncement caused fury among Armenians, who continue to insist that both should enter. Every year since has seen a standoff between the two sects outside the shrine.

Leaders of other denominations that share control of the church have tried mightily to mediate an agreed procedure. Each year, however, the prevailing practice has been the same one used to allocate the last seat on a subway: an unholy scuffle. On the subway, such tiffs rarely cause more than a muttered curse. But this is Jerusalem, where every argument is a potential holy war. Compounding the tensions is the fact that the battleground is the holiest of Christian shrines, during a most sacred ritual in which God Himself is believed to bestow a gift directly on man.

To the Armenian church, the attempted exclusion amounts to being told that Armenian Orthodox clerics may communicate with God only through the superior Greek Patriarchate, said George Hintlian, an Armenian historian who served for 25 years on the patriarchate’s restoration committee. “This is why we expect to go in together,” he said.

A spokesman for the Armenian Patriarchate, Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, described his sect as “an independent and equal church to them [the Greeks] in the holy places. We are not inferior to them, and demand restoration of our right of several hundred years’ standing.” The Greek Patriarchate declined to comment.

Given these tensions, every year “there is danger of violence and actual bloodshed at the ceremony of the Holy Fire on Easter Saturday,” said Jerusalem lawyer Shmuel Berkovitch, an expert on holy sites who is often called in to mediate between the denominations. This year, however, the risk is heightened because of recent clashes between the two warring denominations, he said.

When tensions flare, it is usually connected to the fact that the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, supposedly the birthplace of Jesus, are elaborately divided up between different denominations, each of which jealously guards every square foot — and occasionally seeks opportunities to expand its domain. The current rules for shared governance were put in place in 1852 by the Turkish rulers of Palestine.

In addition, there is common territory, where nothing may happen — not even cleaning — without the consent of all parties. For this reason, the same wooden ladder seen in 150-year-old etchings of the church still sits on a windowsill by the entrance, as nobody has the authority to take it away. The same stalemate explains a stench that tends to emanate from the toilet during pilgrimage season, and the absence of a fire exit.

Last month, an Armenian monk and a Greek monk traded punches in the Holy Sepulchre. The Armenians were holding a procession that needed to pass an altar controlled by the Greeks. An Armenian monk asked Greek pilgrims standing there to step back and clear the path.

Greek monks gathered to object that the Armenian cleric was undermining their authority, and an argument followed with Armenians who rallied round their colleague.

“One monk from each side attacked the other,” said Shmueli Ben-Rubi, spokesman for Jerusalem police. “Somebody called us to say that two monks are fighting, beating each other.”

He said that no injuries were sustained, and both monks were arrested. “They were soon released. We regard it as a mutual attack and are still investigating, seeing what we can do. When we have finished investigating, we will see if we are going to press charges.”

Meanwhile, the monks in question were banned from the church until last week, he added.

The incident came on the heels of another clash at the Church of the Nativity last year, arising from a case of unauthorized cleaning. According to the Turkish rules, tidying up constitutes a declaration of ownership. Tensions flared in December when Greek priests tried to clean an Armenian-run area. The Armenians deemed it a “serious issue,” fearing it could lead to future claims to the “territory,” Shirvanian said.

The two sides hit each other with brooms, and seven Greeks and two Armenians were hospitalized with minor injuries.

With these clashes fresh in the minds of the two sides, Berkovitch predicts that both parties will be more determined than ever to get their own way over the Holy Fire. “Anything to inflame the already-high tensions before Easter is very bad news,” he said, adding: “There will be tension until the last minute.” Ben-Rubi confirmed that there will be a reinforced police presence, at least partly due to interdenominational tensions.

Leaders of the Franciscans — the Catholic order that, under papal decree, acts as the sole caretaker of most other Christian sites in the Holy Land — are also worried about the situation at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

“There are lots of tensions between Greeks and Armenians,” said Father Athanasius, one of the highest-ranking Franciscan clerics on the scene. “Tensions are higher than they were last year, and I don’t know what will happen.”

- 30 -

Copyright © 2007 Forward Association, inc.


4 comments:

patfromch said...

I must say that for some strange reason I feel sorry for those poor people. I do not want to sound arrogant. I for one would be dead ashamed if I were a part of one of the factions. A gang fight between frateres in christo at one of the most important sites of the Western civilisation (at least for them)! My word, shame on them !!

(It also proves once again that organized religion is overrated and useless, but that is a completely different story. i am going to translate this story for SweetiePie, wonder what she thinks)

Vleeptron Dude said...

Vleeptron has tried to warn you about your blasphemous comments before, but now you have really screwed the pooch ( = got so betronken that you had sex with the Saint Bernard) and Vleeptron must read the Anathema over you.

It took me a long time to find it, we haven't read the Anathema against anybody since Spinoza in 1656.

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The members of the council do you to wit that they have long known of the evil opinions and doings of PatfromCH, and have tried by divers methods and promises to make him turn from his evil ways. As they have not succeeded in effecting his improvement, but, on the contrary, have received every day more information about the horrible heresies which he practised and taught, and other enormities which he has committed, and as they had many trustworthy witnesses of this, who have deposed and testified in the presence of the said Pat, and have convicted him; and as all this has been investigated in the presence of the Rabbis, it has been resolved with their consent that the said Pat should be anathematised and cut off from the people of Israel, and now he is anathematised with the following anathema:

"With the judgment of the angels and with that of the saints, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and of all this holy congregation, before these sacred Scrolls of the Law, and the six hundred and thirteen precepts which are proscribed therein, we anathematise, cut off, execrate, and curse PatfromCH with the anathema wherewith Joshua anathematised Jericho, with the curse wherewith Elishah cursed the youths, and with all the curses which are written in the Law: cursed be he by day, and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lieth down, and cursed be he when he riseth up; cursed be he when he goeth out, and cursed be he when he cometh in; the Lord will not pardon him; the wrath and fury of the Lord will be kindled against this man, and bring down upon him all the curses which are written in the Book of the Law; and the Lord will destroy his name from under the heavens; and, to his undoing, the Lord will cut him off from all the tribes of Israel, with all the curses of the firmament which are written in the Book of the Law; but ye that cleave unto the Lord your God live all of you this day!"

We ordain that no one may communicate with him verbally or in writing, nor show him any favour, nor stay under the same roof with him, nor be within four cubits of him, nor read anything composed or written by him.

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But it doesn't say anything about e-mail or the Internet, so you can keep sending e-mail and posting on VleeptronZ.

Yeah, thanks for reminding me that the Ramones are mostly dead. Bummer. Are you still going to see Slut?

PatfromCH said...

Objection, M'lud !

1. The Anasthema, Excommunication or simply church ban only applies to members of the Catholic Church. As a Protestand I have not recieved the Holy Communion, i can therefore not be excommunicated, the Anasthema cannot be put on me.

2. Spinoza was jewish, see 1 for details.

3. Ciudad de Vleeptron guarantees Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion.

4. Blasphemy means to take the name of God in Vein, making fun or ridicule the Church as an institution, denying the accuracy of the Bible etc etc. Merely stating that adult men who beat the living daylights out of each other like Hooligans at a soccer match is not Blasphemy, just a disgrace to theier own fraternity and basically a crying shame.

5. Questioning or even denying the existance of a Divine Being has nothing to do with Religion or Scrptrures and therfore cannot be considered
Blasphemy.

If there are no further questions, M'Lud, I rest my case.

Vleeptron Dude said...

1. & 2. Okay, look, I said I searched this mess of a Buro for an hour for an Anathema, and this was the only one I could find. I was surprised at how few Anathemae there are in this house. I will endeavor to fix this, maybe website of International House of Anathemae,

Yes, this is what the rabbis of the Portuguese Synagog in Amsterdam said over (I don't think he was there in person) Baruch/Benedict Spinoza. But it's the only Anathema I could put my copy & paste on.

If you got a Roman Catholic Anathema, please e-mail it to me, in any lingo. Thank you for the clear and simple explanation of why you cannot ever be excommunicated. Much of the theology of Christianity flies over my head or its nuances and subtleties elude me.

I am particularly confused about The Elect, and how the Universe knows in advance they will go to Heaven, and rewards them with new Porsches and BMWs as an outward sign of Grace. (cf Max Weber, "Protestant Ethic & Rise of Capitalism")

Also I am largely clueless about the big barfight between Faith and Good Works. (I have $25 bet in Las Vegas on Good Works, very excellent odds, but I think this is considered the Long Shot Hail Mary Miracle-Based bet.)

This gimmick about "Hahaha you cannot excommunicate me!" -- I admire this very much, very independent, very schweitzer (sp?).

There is a Sherlock Holmes story about a woman forced to marry against her will, and the Villain has a buddy who once was an ordained clergyman, long since de-frocked. But as he cackled at the forced wedding ceremony in the woods which Holmes interrupted with gunfire, once he had been ordained, and this was a Magical Power from Heaven which could never be revoked or cancelled. So he was still theologically free to perform perfectly valid weddings in the eyes of Heaven, whether the bride said Yes or some other answer. He hadn't shaved in a few days and reeked of absinthe.

3. Hmmm, that is indeed how the Constitution of Vleeptron + 4 reads, everybody can say whatever they like up here.

I've just never read an Anathema over anybody before, and it seemed like it might be a Fun Thing to do of a Saturday afternoon. I have also never said "Wash that one and bring her to my chamber," or "Off with his head!" These are Speeches that once made the Past such a colorful and thrilling place, and now very few gazillionaires and the Sultan of Brunei can say these kinds of things. The world is a much more gray and colorless place today.

Oh, also of course, except for William S. Burroughs, nobody says today: Put this apple on the defenseless person's head while die Freischutz shoots deadly projectiles toward the apple. Burroughs and his late wife would consume great amounts of alcohol at parties, and at a party in Mexico City, they decided to do their famous "William Tell" trick, with Burroughs on the .38 revolver.

So I confess, I just read the Anathema (and the wrong version) because I've never had a chance to do that before, and I was bored.

I'm hungry now, 4. and 5. will have to wait. This is getting to be as long as The 95 Theses.