November 09, 2008
Now Hear the Nerds of the Lord: Monks Battle in J'lem
Not since the pocket-protectors flew maniacally in my high-school Chess Team intramural conflict between Star Trek and Star Wars clubs have I seen such a significant Battle of the Nerds (I was Trek). In Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre, alleged tomb of Christ, Greek Orthodox and Armenian monks have been busted after exchanging hard blows (no relation to child sex scandals, btw).
The monk, who gave his name as Serafim, said he sustained the wound when an Armenian punched him from behind and broke his glasses.No word on his Rubik's cube, but the monastic mayhem is all part of the long-runnning turf wars of Christian sects over a site that even the big JC walked out of after only three days (theologians debate still what happened to the 30-day deposit). This conflict is dwarfed by the larger mostly Muslim Arab versus mostly Jewish Israeli contentions over the whole city, but could conceivably outsize it in being even stupider. On the other hand, such intra-Xtian things did give us the Crimean War which produced Tennyson's great Charge of the LIght Brigade.
My sources tell me that the fight may have started when the Greek Orthodox monks were heard laughing distressingly loudly during some dialog from a DVD of Woody Allen's "Love and Death":
Sonja: Boris is trying to commit suicide - last week he contemplated inhaling next to an Armenian.
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After reading horrors redolent of the crusades like this, one can readily understand and provide full moral support to current unofficial, but effective, Iraqi endeavours to ethnically cleanse the few remaining Christians – oops, I forgot where I was for a moment – Xns, from Iraq.
Posted by: Ahem at November 11, 2008 07:29 AM
Hey, I saw the stat about Iraqi Xians being killed, and they fall in line with their general proportion in the population. There doesn't seem to be evidence supporting a targetting specific to Xians by terrorists. The (relatively disproportionate) coverage is probably related to their sensitive status as a minority and/or Christians in a Muslim majority population.
However, there does seem to be a significantly greater rate of displacement among the Christian population (about 50%, which is pretty shocking).
Posted by: Tom Scudder at November 11, 2008 02:14 PM
I wasn't aware of that rate. Not that I'm trying to dismiss any possibility here. If there's a specific targetting, it is terrible indeed.
I'm trying to avoid jumping to conclusions though. There are already too many erroneous ones obfuscating real issues in the region.
I'm wondering if, this greater rate of displacement is:
1) noise inherent to small numbers (relative to the general population).
2) Or, if minority status confers a greater sensitivity, self-awareness, and mobility.
3) I would also examine their initial concentration in conflict areas relative to the general population - I remember if memory serves many of them were in Mossul.
(my unfounded hunch would say it may be a mixture of all that and more).
While the Ultimate Monk Match may make for interesting copy (as here at 'Aqoul) - apparently this is par-for-the-course at the HS (Holy Sepulcher, not High School; regardless of how the monks act) - the "turf" disputes over often-trivial customs and privileges, many of them centuries-old can be amazingly bitter. My favorite tidbit (from the BBC piece on the Brawling Brothers) was the picture of a ladder stuck on a ledge above one of the doors of HS - it has been there since the Nineteenth Century because no one can agree on who has the authority to take it down!
On a slightly more serious note, though: apparently the Holy Sepulcher has severe structural deficiencies, especially on the roof - Israeli archeologists and engineers have been sounding the alarm for years - but the problem can's be fixed for a couple of reasons: 1) No one (even after centuries) is precisely sure exactly who has responsibility for the whole place, and 2) there is a "colony" of Ethiopian monks living in structures built on the roof (since the 1850s), who refuse to move for fear their Coptic rivals won't ever let them back.
Posted by: Jay C at November 11, 2008 07:45 PM