Monday, April 09, 2012

Reflections on Passover and Easter

I've got to say that with having just returned from Israel, the Easter/Passover story hits home in a new and different way - particularly the Easter part. I'd been to Israel before, but this time we toured areas that had more significance to Christians, including the Basilica of the Assumption and Church of the Holy Sepulcher as well as the place on the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized.

To think that you were walking along the same basic places where the events and people who make up the Canon of Christianity is mind boggling when you really think about it. It's no wonder that some people get spellbound and bound up in the religious fervor of their trip to the Holy Land - where each step puts you in direct contact with the ground where everyone from the Jewish kings of Israel/Judea lived, the prophets made their pronouncements, and Jesus lived. There's such a level of spirituality that it's hard for people to understand if they've never been there themselves, but at the same time is a draw for so many to come and make pilgrimages.

I was particularly impressed with the Holy Sepulcher and the way that each divergent stream of Christianity has taken to occupy a space of the Church - to the point that repairs of key portions are not done because paying for the repair means one can claim ownership - occupation and power. Each group controls a different portion, and even the steps outside are a bone of contention - the final step is just an inch or two above the rest of the courtyard, but one group claims that final step is the courtyard itself, while the other claims it to be part of the steps.

That's just one church - and one religion (though different sects abound within). Now multiply that by the three religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) that claim Jerusalem as their own holy cities - and you begin to get an idea of how convoluted the entire notion of a peace process is.

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