This really is worth reading: Nir Rosen Reporting on Martyrdom and Chaos in Iraq.
Mind you, I worry about The Poet’s web surfing sometimes. So much of it strikes me as depressing, especially when done at 4am…
I see Nir Rosen is associated with something called the New America Foundation. Now I find it prudent when I see something like that, about which I know nothing at all, to check for credibility. Let’s face it, I could call this blog the New Australia Foundation if I wanted to. A good place to look is Source Watch*, and that indeed confirms the NAF is kosher and even fairly conservative, being not unconnected to the Atlantic Monthly, though not directly. You may find Rosen’s biography on the NAF site. In the light of recent events in Israel, his 2002 article (he was only 25 when he wrote it!) on Counterpunch Revisiting Israel: The Broken Home makes for poignant reading.
I stopped by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Christians believe that Christ’s body had been placed there when he was taken off the cross. Faithful Christians could be seen in the dim light, kissing stone, pictures and nearly everything else. I walked up to the entrance for the Al Aksa mosque, from where Muslims believe Muhammad rose to the sky. Israeli soldiers barred me from entering. It was closed to tourists. This was the Temple Mount for devout Jews. Here, they believe the Jewish Temple had stood. And would one day stand. Finally, I made my way to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest sight. It was allegedly the last remaining wall of the ancient Jewish Temple. Hundreds of Orthodox Jews clad in black swayed by the wall. The wall did not seem that big or impressive. Large worn out yellow stones with a few brown bushes growing out of the cracks.
It seemed odd to me, to invest rocks with sacred qualities. Even if there was a god, would his presence be in a rock? Could a wall ever be holy? Wasn’t it the idea that was supposed to be holy? How can you kiss an inanimate object in reverence? An icon, a wall, a rock? How can you kill or die for a rock? If there were a god would he want you to? I, who reject religion as absurd and backwards, can at least differentiate between holding ideas as sacred, and being truly religious, by acting in accordance with ideas through a genuine belief, and merely going through the acts, the formalities, the rules. Cross now, bow now, kiss this, say that. It’s like military marching drills, a way of achieving conformity and unthinking obedience.
* When that yields nothing, Wikipedia is the go — with due caution, though I have generally found it worthy of consideration and often quite excellent. See, for example, Lew Rockwell, a source The Poet sometimes uses — it is where that “Battle Hymn of the Republic” entry yesterday came from — but I do not always trust.