Loc: Long Beach, CA
To this day, entrance processions into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are preceded by a contingent of "Turkish" guards with huge poles which they pound loudly on the stone pavement of the church as a warning. It might look odd to see a Christian procession being led by a group of Muslims... until you learn what their purpose was. During the Ottoman Empire, the Turks "chaperoned" the various Christian denominations (who each had their own special spot inside the church) in order to keep them from fighting with each other. The competition for rights and access has always been fierce. These days, various areas of the church built by Constantine are claimed by: Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Egyptian Copts, Roman Catholic Franciscans and I think there was one more. This infighting has been going on for centuries.
I witnessed a humorous version of this once when I was there in 1971. The Greeks were holding a liturgy on one side of the tomb, and the Copts were holding their own liturgy on the other side... each within easy hearing of the other. Both camps tried to out-sing and drown out the other. And they were laughing at the competition... at the discomfort they were each causing the competing branch of Christendom. Funny, yes... but a sad, sad commentary.
I remember a story about one of the early church councils (I believe it was the Council of Ephesus, where Mary was declared theotokos, Mother of God), in which the issue was decided by one group of participants fighting the other group, and winning the argument by trampling the others into silence.
_________________________ MACTECHubi dolor ibi digitus
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