December 28, 2011

Monks fight — hurling brooms — at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Greek and Armenian monks had a territorial dispute "along the border of their respective areas" in the church built over the place traditionally held to be the site where Jesus Christ was born. (Video at the link, shows brooms flying an Palestinian security forces breaking up the Christians.)
A fragile status quo governs relations among the denominations at the ancient church, and to repair or clean a part of the structure is to own it, according to accepted practice. That means that letting other sects clean part of the church could allow one to gain ground at another's expense.
Apparently, fights like this have been going on "for centuries" and have resulted in the church falling into ruin:
Although the roof has needed urgent work for decades, and leaking rainwater has ruined much of the priceless artwork inside, a renovation has been delayed all these years by disagreements among the denominations over who would pay.
What a shameful embarrassment.

31 comments:

Alex Ignatiev said...

The fact of the matter is that as long as the PA can score points by manipulating the various factions, they will do so, and my Greek and Armenian brethren will happily cooperate, because the only thing the Greeks and Armenians in Jerusalem hate more than each other is the Israelis.

garage mahal said...

So Palestinians are the peacekeepers breaking up fights between militant Christians, and also breaking gridlock and a brokering a deal to fix a roof on the church? LOL

Alex Ignatiev said...

It's a lot more complicated than that. The PA has been engaged in shenanigans with the various Orthodox denominations since the 1990s.

がんこもん said...

This is sadly nothing new to anyone who has studied the history of the Christian response to Islamic aggression. The two most infamous instances are the Third Crusade (1189-1192) where the personal jealousies of the leaders derailed the attempt to retake Jerusalem and the Fourth Crusade of 1202-1204 that ended in the taking of the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. The 1204 sack permanently weakened that city, enabling the Turks under Mehmet II to take it in 1453.

Intra-Christian rivalries in medieval times often roused fiercer passions than the enmity for the Muslims. Very similar to how modern leftists will often engage in more violent rhetoric against conservatives than they do against real enemies, such as....errr...fanatical Muslim terrorists. The more things change, the more they stay the same. *sigh*

Amartel said...

They can have their petty territorial squabbles, debase a great religion, and be useful idiots for the Palestinian cause, all at the same time. Useless Idiot Trifecta!

Andy R. said...

Yeah, but this kind of Christian infighting led to the famous ladder at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, perhaps the most entertaining part of the visit for an atheist like myself.

ricpic said...

The building doesn't count. What counts is that the beliefs of these monks are strong enough that they come to blows over them. Of course advanced sophisticates who believe in nothing find such displays to be distasteful, tsk tsk.

John Burgess said...

How does this tie in with contemporary Islamism or Palestinian politics? These monks have been at each others' throats for centuries!

Battles over the Church of the Nativity are notorious and have been reported upon, if anyone bothered to pay attention.

The Crack Emcee said...

What a shameful embarrassment.

Oh please - the only shameful embarrassment is expecting anything more.

It's not like there's any logic involved,...

somefeller said...

This church should be handed over to the Episcopalians. It will be repaired in a tasteful manner and there will be a nice cocktail party to celebrate the completion of the renovations.

YoungHegelian said...

I believe that it was the orthodox theologian John Meyendorf who said that Orthodoxy was the right religion given to the wrong people. By that he meant the various ethnic groups of Eastern Europe & the eastern Mediterranean.

Some years ago, the Roman Catholic Church sponsored yet another one of its ceaseless attempts at reconciliation with the Orthodox. At the conference, there was one big problem: the Antiochenes & the Armenians refused to sit at the same table as the Greeks!

I love the beauty and theological traditions of Orthodox Christianity. But the Orthodox themselves make me so happy to be Roman, in spite of all the Roman Church's myriad failings.

Peter said...

"Intra-Christian rivalries in medieval times often roused fiercer passions than the enmity for the Muslims."

Haven't heretics always more threatening than heathens?

Thomas said...

Silly monks. They should let Americans pay for the new roof. We'll do it without making any claim. Theological or otherwise.

kcom said...

I was struck by the fact that the PA police swarmed into the church and started whacking monks with billy clubs.

Question 1: Were the police (presumably, but not necessarily) Muslim? Or do Palestinian Christians get that special role?

Question 2: If they were Muslim, take a flight of fancy and imagine the reaction if a group of Christian policemen stormed into a mosque and began beating Muslim clergymen (for whatever reason). I wonder how many people would die in the ensuing protests. I wonder if, in this case, there will even be ensuing protests. Somehow, I doubt it.

edutcher said...

Since the Moslems were only involved to separate the Christians, no fatalities.

As kcom suggests, any other scenario would probably entail casualties into the triple digits.

LarsPorsena said...

60 years ago 20% of the population was Christian. Today 2%. 20 years from now probably 0% except for a couple of dozen truculent monks.

Moose said...

"What a shameful embarrassment."

Pretty good analogy for the state of Christianity in general...

Anna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

Yep, I could see Jesus in a broom fight over something like this. He was all about that you know. He was a real territorial Pit Bull that guy. What better way to honor him.

Someday I will learn more about him like these learned holy men have, so I can understand this.

Anna said...

http://tinyurl.com/csjd6wq

Chip S. said...

I figured that you'd just created the "cleaning" tag for this post, so I clicked on it to test that conjecture. Turns out there are some excellent posts here under that tag.

Who knew cleaning could be so interesting?

As recently as yesterday it would've motivated me to order some wet wipes thru the Althouse Amazon portal.

Ann Althouse said...

"I figured that you'd just created the "cleaning" tag for this post, so I clicked on it to test that conjecture. Turns out there are some excellent posts here under that tag."

Thanks. That really is one of the best old tags, with a nice diversity, going all the way back to the second day of this blog.

Palladian said...

ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς

Pogo said...

Jesus swept.

David R. Graham said...

Christianity is not a religion. It is a calling to Religion. Christianity is not a faith. It is a calling to Faith.

Habit does not make a monk nor vestment clergy or prelate. Neither does vow or investiture.

The church is a corpus mixtum. Very many members of the church do not belong to the church. Never take a professed "Christian's" profession as the truth. They would not know if they are or are not and if they profess to know they lie.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Once Constantine made the Catholic Church official, he probably figured he'd be invited for midnight Mass and get Easter presents, but no he got dragged into theological disputes. Jesus Christ was God but in what sense? The Armenian language would have Constantine's suggestion, the Nicene creed, seem like 2 natures in one person so they wouldn't go there. The chose a different 2 identities solution called Dyophysite. Wars between the Byzantine Roman Empire and the 'heretics' weakened both, destroyed Christian buffer states. There was also another side to the Christ nature dispute, Miaphysite, more Egyptian, Alexandrian. Mohammed was aware of the bickering and proclaimed 'God is one; there is no Son.' His armies faced a weakened Christendom and the roof fell in, so to speak.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"A fragile status quo governs relations among the denominations at the ancient church, and to repair or clean a part of the structure is to own it, according to accepted practice."

This is sound union practice in the modern era, no?

Simon said...

Gentlemen! You can't fight in the war room!

Simon said...

Incidentally, an observation about "the church [being] built over the place traditionally held to be the site where Jesus Christ was born." That's true. But it bears noting—it often escapes formal notice because it used to be obvious to everyone, and has thus fallen into obscurity, it seems to me—that the Church of the Nativity was built on that site because the birthplace is remembered through tradition. That tradition was attested to by several sources by the second century, and a basilica has occupied the site since AD 333. I sometimes think that skeptics hear things like "traditionally held to be the place of..." and infer a kind of mythic, legendary quality to the locations of things like the Nativity and the Holy Sepulchre, as if they can't quite believe that these places are real. (And perhaps for good reason: To the extent they connect abstract stories to concrete places, imagine the cognitive dissonance of the unbeliever stripped of the cosy comfort of being able to think the events and places themselves mythic!) But such places were built because the sites venerated for the events that took place there, and the time between the three isn't as much as some might imagine.

Simon said...

One might also observe that this sort of ridiculous squabbling, by the way, is precisely why if there wasn't a (need for a) visible Church with a visible hierarchy, God would have invented one. And so He did.

Simon said...

@Pogo LOL

YoungHegelian said...
"Some years ago, the Roman Catholic Church sponsored yet another one of its ceaseless attempts at reconciliation with the Orthodox."

She never ceases to call home her scattered children.