Archive for October 29, 2008

So, an Ethiopian and a Coptic are sitting on top of a roof…

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke in an African seminary, huh? It’s not. It’s a true story about one of the sacrosanct sites on earth – the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

For decades, Coptic and Ethiopian Christians have been fighting over the Deir el-Sultan monastery, which sits atop a chapel at the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The monastery is little more than a cluster of dilapidated rooms and a passageway divided into two incense-filled chapels, an architectural afterthought alongside the Holy Sepulcher’s better-known features.

So where does my folding chair and koozie go again?

So where does my folding chair and koozie go again?

And this is why I went to seminary and loved it so – the history.

Jesus was known for rolling with the original “Dirty Dozen”, and among them were a few cats who created global ecumenical movements on their own: Peter, known as the “First Bishop of Rome” (shh… the Pope), Thomas created his own church of MILLIONS in India, John became a revelator and then there’s this Mark fella.

You see, after Jesus ascended to be at the right hand of the Father, Mark wanted a tan. He journeyed south by southwest and ended up in Egypt. The sun, that river, those great pyramids… the only thing missing was a church. So Mark had one built. And that’s where one of those Monks came from. The other? He’s from eh… Brooklyn or something.

Anywhoo, this is how silly religion can be and how absent in the midst of it can become – this century-old polemic is over… wait for it… a chair and whose Arabic behind rests in it.

The quarrel has erupted into brawls — in 2002, when the Coptic monk moved his chair into the shade and too close to the Ethiopians, a dozen people were hurt in the ensuing melee. And today, the Ethiopians claim the fight could result in the monastery’s collapse and even in damage to other parts of the church, one of the holiest sites in Christendom.

Other contentious issues on this sacred site has ignited into fisticuffs from [insert your best game show announcer guy voice here]: who will sweep the steps, what direction a chair should sit, a fire exit and the Church’s favorite, who will take down a ladder. Applause!

And who said Christians didn’t like to have fun?!