Pilgrimage to a land of arguments

Israel is where you can encounter the physical reality of religion.

In one short trip, I prayed at the spot where Jesus was born, stood at the foot of the mountain where he fed the 5,000 and touched the rock into which his cross was planted.

To all those atheists who say “Jesus wasn’t even real”, I’ve been to his house – an unassuming little place in Nazareth where the Biblical stories and archaeological evidence cohabit.

Seeing all those wonders requires elbows of steel.

The queues of Orthodox pilgrims were not unlike those that sprang up when the first McDonald’s opened in Moscow: thousands of old Russian women pushing and shoving their way to the front in a frenzied dash for a taste of the divine.

Yes, I may have swung the odd punch, but only ever in self-defence.

What’s equally striking is the physical reality of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

A trip to the Western Wall in Jerusalem is instructive.

Jews believe that this is one of the walls of their sacred Temple and they come here from all over the world to pray, pushing their handwritten petitions into the cracks of the warm, smooth stone.

Jews were barred from the site until 1967, when they captured the Old City during the Six-Day War (you can still see the bullet holes).

They formalised their ownership of the Wall by bulldozing the 770-year old Moroccan Quarter that stood in front of it.

It was a horrendous piece of vandalism, but all in keeping with the history of the Holy Land. Continue reading.

Source: The Catholic Herald

Image: The Atlantic/AP

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