Well, the British Museum had an exhibition on the Haj and I decided to toddle over to see it.
It was a cold cold day, a day or two after some serious snow fell. But not much point in telling me to stay off the grass, is there, what grass?
The show was piled up in the corners while starting to melt. Then I popped inside and right inside the entrance, to the right, in one room, was this exhibition on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
This church has a fascinating history and made me chuckle a bit. The various sects regularly fight over trivial matters inside the church and then a whole swathe of other Christians ranging from Anglicans to protestants believe that Jesus wasn't buried here at all. Go figure. Plus because the idiot monks and priests cannot agree, the keys to the church are actually kept by a Muslim family.
Did you know the church stands on an ancient temple of Aphrodite or Venus around 135AD. The church was constructed on the instruction of Emperor Constantine I and his mother, Helena started the church in 326AD. Apparently the true cross was found here during the excavation. Heh, yes.
People should remember that actions have consequences. The church was destroyed by the Fatimid Caliph Al Hakim Allah in 1009. And this destruction directly lead to the first crusade in 1096 despite an agreement with Al Hakim’s son to rebuild the Church in 1048.
But this ridiculous state of affairs is extraordinary. I quote from the wiki site.
On a hot summer day in 2002, a Coptic monk moved his chair from its agreed spot into the shade. This was interpreted as a hostile move by the Ethiopians, and eleven were hospitalized after the resulting fracas
A less grave sign of this state of affairs is located on a window ledge over the church's entrance. Someone placed a wooden ladder there sometime before 1852, when the status quo defined both the doors and the window ledges as common ground. The ladder remains there to this day, in almost exactly the same position it can be seen to occupy in century-old photographs and engravings
What would Jesus do? I do believe he would walk in and kick the backsides of all these monks and priests out of the Church and return it to an open state. Bah, what a bunch of idiots and morons.
Which was the same situation with the exhibition as well. There are old photographs, there are diaries, there are carpets, there are the Kaaba coverings, etc. etc. but frankly it left me cold. The video was interesting, some of the photographs were good, but the exhibition did not talk to me. For an intensely personal experience, the Saudi’s have made it into an industrial scale job. the sheer numbers, the trains, the regimented process, the surrounding massive skyscrapers, the sheer sameness of it has converted what was previously a dangerous, painful, seriously uplifting experience into something that has become a tourist experience, a package tour.
I have read accounts of how people went on pilgrimage to Mecca, from India, from Morocco, from Indonesia, they would travel for months and years, they would suffer privatisations, they would weep with joy, they would burn from the sun and be thirsty. They would appreciate the story of Hagar running between the two hills. Now? there are frikking taps. Waste of money frankly.
I found the roof more interesting and thought provoking. No?