Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
I am thinking about when I got truly nauseated by religion that led to a time of my being a kind of evangelical agnostic. For quite a while.
Here’s the funny part. I was in Bethlehem on the exact spot where Jesus was born. Sweet Jesus would have had a fit. There was a huge sterling silver
star to mark the place. (think Judas and silver) I paid money and waited in line to shuffle toward the star. It was backed by dirty velvet curtains. I walked down a few stairs and decided to do what everyone else was doing. I knelt and kissed the star. Ugh. So many mouth smears. Then up and out to be plied with souvenir wares of the visit. I’m telling you, Jesus would have thrown everyone out of the church and proclaimed us Pharisees and it would have been a relief.
Then there was the visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcre that housed the cave/sepulcre where Jesus had been buried. There were three separate entrances for Christians, Muslims and Coptics. Why? Because there had been such bitter fights with only one entrance. Inside, everything was covered with a thick coat of a wax like substance to stop people from chipping off a piece of the stone to take home. Although I was moved through so fast, chipping would have been difficult.
And of course visiting the stations of the cross where Jesus walked was
smack dab in the middle of the bazaar where vendors were more interesting than the guide. People dropped out and back in after buying a rug or two.
I was allowed a very special dispensation when I went to the western wall.
I got to go under the temple in a new excavation. It took very odd twists and turns because it had to pass under a Nunnery and the Nuns would not allow anyone to walk underneath their house and besmirch their purity. I can not even comment on that.
There was a moment that should have been miraculous. There was a call to prayer, church bells ringing and a priest broadcasting by microphone a mass all beginning at the exact same moment. It could have been a lovely moment of religious tolerance. But after all the extreme loyalties I experienced, I swear it felt like advertising.
The depth and passion, each for their own religion was not admirable.
It felt cheap and shallow and a little nuts. And very very commercial.
I had a big spritual pause after my Jerusalem trip.
Birthplace of every religion that thinks it’s the only one.