Monday, November 10, 2008

When Monks Attack

Why is it that the religions that disagree the most are so often those with trivial differences in theology? You never hear about Christians and Thelemites getting into brawls, for example, or Wiccans fighting Buddhists. Comedian Emo Philips had a routine on this very subject that he used to do back in the late 1980's, and I still find it funny - but it's funny in part because it's so sadly true.

The latest chapter in this saga finds a battle between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of Christianity's holiest sites.

The feud revolves around a demand by the Greek Orthodox to post a monk inside the Edicule - the ancient structure built on what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus - during the Armenian procession. The Armenians refused, and when they tried to march the Greek Orthodox monks blocked their way.

I realize that this likely has great spiritual significance to both sides, but from the outside looking in it seems like a pretty silly thing to fight over. Nonetheless, neither side was willing to budge.

It ended with the arrival of dozens of riot policemen who separated the sides, seizing a bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead.

Both men were taken away in handcuffs.

I guess it's a good thing for all involved that Western monks aren't trained in Shaolin Kung Fu.

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