The limestone bench is still there …


"Researchers have continued their investigation into the site where the body of Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have been buried, and their preliminary findings appear to confirm that portions of the tomb are still present today, having survived centuries of damage, destruction, and reconstruction of the surrounding Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.

The most venerated site in the Christian world, the tomb today consists of a limestone shelf or burial bed that was hewn from the wall of a cave. Since at least 1555, and most likely centuries earlier, the burial bed has been covered in marble cladding, allegedly to prevent eager pilgrims from removing bits of the original rock as souvenirs.

When the marble cladding was first removed on the night of October 26, an initial inspection by the conservation team from the National Technical University of Athens showed only a layer of fill material underneath. However, as researchers continued their nonstop work over the course of 60 hours, another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface was exposed. By the night of October 28, just hours before the tomb was to be resealed, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact."  National Geographic Society


Having been in the edicule many times, including once on the company of a Chief of Staff of the IDF (Amnon Lipkin-Shahak), I find this very interesting. 

The basilica of the Holy Sepulchre is a purpose built building constructed in the time of the Kingdom of Jerusalem to cover the sites of the rocky knob of Golgotha and the nearby site of the "rock cut tomb."  There had earlier been a much larger church built in the time of Constantine the Great.  This had been destroyed by the Fatimid Caliph Hakim the Mad who was the Shia ruler of Egypt and Palestine.  Hakim had also destroyed a previous version of the edicule by having workmen break it down with sledge hammers.  That being the case there was little expectation that anything would be left of the tomb itself.  This is a massive surprise.

There is a rival tomb site outside the medieval walls of Jerusalem.  Evangelical Christians find the basilica to be too medieval for their taste and prefer the other site.  I find the archaeology that supports the basilica as the site of the crucifixion and entombment to be convincing.  Much of it was done by very competent and well trained Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land.  In recent years a lot of secular European scholars have been involved and they seem to be unanimous in accepting the basilica as the correct site.

At the time of Jesus the site was a quarry just outside the walls of the city.  Several hillocks of stone had been left standing in the quarry because of the poor quality of the stone in them.  Some of these had been made into stone tombs for well off Jews.  There were also more tombs carved into the perimeter of the depressed area that was the quarry.  Those are still there and I have explored a good many of them.  One of the existing tombs is said to have been donated by a sympathizer for Jesus' burial.  One of the stone hillocks was used by the Romans for crucifixions.  For this purpose they cut square shafts in the top so that the butt of a cross could be put in them.  Fifty years or so after the death of Jesus the walls of Jerusalem were expanded and the site was then within the walls.   After the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, Constantine built his immense church on the site.  In the process, the stone walls of the tomb were trimmed back as was the hill of Golgotha.  That was done to make the site more convenient architecturally.  A small building was put up over what remained of the tomb.  This was the first of four edicules.

The basilica was under the sole control of the RC Church and the Franciscans from the time of the Ayyubids until the Ottoman government decided in the 18th Century to divide control among its various Christian dhimmi populations.

I am a member of the papally protected order of chivalry that is entrusted with the welfare of the basilica and other Christian interests in Holy Land.  pl

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63 Responses to The limestone bench is still there …

  1. Trent says:

    From July of 1993 to late June of 1994, I was in this church once or twice a day as it was on my route to school. If you’re Christian, or even if you are just fascinated by religion as so many SST’ers are, the church is beautiful for its architecture, location and importance. But it’s also a fantastic place to begin to understand the “religious zoo” that is Jerusalem. The key-keeper, the Greeks, Copts and Armenians, the poor Ethiopians on the roof, the graffiti chiseled into the walls, the money changers in the courtyard!

  2. divadab says:

    For consideration:
    It is indeed interesting that a major effect of the civil strife in Iraq, Egypt, Syria caused by US and allied invasions and fomentations and arming of jihadis has been the near-destruction of the Christian populations in these countries.
    Is “our” Empire being run of by and for people who are hostile to Christians? How is this? How did it happen? How are foreign entities, traditionally hostile to Christendom, controlling US foreign policy? Is the USA not only not a Christian nation, but actually the enemy of Christians and Christianity?
    Very strange times, very strange bedfellows, indeed.

  3. David Lentini says:

    That being the case there was little expectation that anything would be left of the tomb itself. This is a massive surprise.
    Like so much of the physical evidence that supports the existence of the Divine Christ, I find the surprise only momentary. And then the implications sink in.

  4. esq says:

    Why don’t evangelicals like medieval churches? Just curious. . .

  5. turcopolier says:

    They remind of Catholicism. pl

  6. oofda says:

    Excellent news- thank you for passing this on. In this dreary election season, this is a great ray of light!!

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Those Christian communities are not Evangelical or Protestant. Their demise suits the Protestants, in my view.

  8. steve says:

    In my very strict evangelical upbringing we were taught that Catholicism was a cult. Anything Papist was to be avoided. Now, having left that brand of religion, I find those old churches moving for both their beauty and history. To be fair, I think most modern evangelicals have come to appreciate those churches, at least for the aesthetics.

  9. turcopolier says:

    In the Catholic Church of pre-Vatican 2 days when I was raised up, evangelicals were thought to be an anarchic rabble. pl

  10. Pat Lang,
    Quite a find! It is interesting how often archaeology confirms legends and traditions.
    I’m reading Vol. 2, “The Kingdom of Jerusalem”, of Runciman’s “History of the Crusades”. Squabbling and intrigue among the Crusaders, but also among the Moslems, unlikely alliances, the Byzantine emperors looking after their interests and, also, trying to inject some sense into the situation. Pretty similar to the current situation.

  11. b y o'carbon says:

    Please accept a first time post from a recent discoverer of the site. As a liberal Presbyterian of puritan, Calvinist roots, and one who is happily married to a beautiful Catholic woman, I find that often times Christian mindsets are vastly different between Protestants and Catholics.
    Protestants are still iconoclasts at heart, ready to smash the graven images. And the more liberal theologically, the more the religion is detached from the earthly significance of physical objects. Catholicism, on the other hand, appears to be a much more earthly faith, with history and art much fully intertwined in its religious practices. In our house, for example, my wife has her “Catholic Wall”, ordained with crucifixes and saints, a work of art, and then opposite it I have my preserved my “Presbyterian Wall”, white, bare, simple, meditative (and much more inspiring in my likely twisted opinion.)
    There is much good about each point of view, one steeped in tradition, the other tradition minimalists, but each finding common ground in the shared faith.

  12. Henry J. says:

    CNS News today:
    2003, Christians in Iraq 1, 400,000 — 2016, Christians in Iraq 275,000

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The neo-Salafis of Christianity?

  14. divadab says:

    Speaking as a Protestant of the Celtic Calvinist variety who attended St Columba at Christmas and Easter – that does not represent my view or in my opinion the view of any sensible Christian.

  15. Dabbler says:

    For the most part, but I don’t see the current Byzantine Emperor injecting a lot of sense into the current situation.

  16. Cortes says:

    Fascinating. Thank you.
    For what it’s worth, one of the most interesting novels I’ve ever read, Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita ” written in the late 1920s in the USSR, has very moving sequences about the trial of Christ and its effect on Pontius Pilate. The bulk of the book is a ferocious satire on emerging bureaucratisation.

  17. Earthrise says:

    I got the hint that divadab was referring to the Tribe in his question. It would make sense if this was true, as the Christ was an earthquake in their cultural history. He had the nerve to offer Heaven to the Goyim, in effect the Christ tried to put Talmudism back in it’s bottle. And now the Neo-Jews are trying to erase all trace of Christianity from the ME, so they can tell future generations a different story. This wouldn’t be the first time, the Roman Catholics destroyed all the ancient libraries and instituted a 1000-year Dark Age to cement their reign. It failed, and so will Zionism.

  18. elaine says:

    divadab, Like you I’m also very displeased with both the US gov & the Church at large’ failure to speak out & to offer assistance to the Christians of the ME. I brought up my concerns with one of my parish priests, who gave me a smarty pants pc little lecture about how we just want to help all the non-combatants..& some razzel dazzel about the story of the Good Samaritan, intimating the Church is like the Samaritan. I view the Church @ large in this matter as much more like the 1st traveler in that parable but I kept my mouth shut, not sure why. Perhaps they can
    play duel roles?
    I have also written & called my elected reps in DC reminding both the UN & the house of reps have voted there is a genocide being conducted against the Yazidi Kurds &
    Christians primarily in the Nineveh plane…I may as well talk to a wall.
    I read recently a federal judge asked the Obama administration about the very low
    percentages of Christian refugees being allowed in from Iraq/Syria…he may as well
    talked to a wall too. I could postulate more about what is really going on globally
    but I would even bore myself. None the less thanks for your comments maybe I’ll rachet up my remarks to the Church@large & my elected reps. When the Paul Ryan types
    go on about ‘we don’t have any religious litmus tests’ I’ll pound them a bit more
    on the genocide angle & who started this whole upheaval going in the 1st place…
    however for that to work they would have to be capable of shame & I don’t imagine
    many in the DC club function that way.

  19. elaine says:

    All, I subscribe to The Biblical Archeology Review & highly recommend it.

  20. turcopolier says:

    “the Roman Catholics destroyed all the ancient libraries” bigoted nonsense. What do you think was going on in the great universities founded n the Middle Ages as well as in the monasteries like Cluny? pl

  21. jld says:

    I think Earthrise refers to the destruction of the Alexandria library by Christian bigots and murder of Hypatia, though that was one vandalizing among many, the latest being by Muslims in 642 AD.

  22. turcopolier says:

    by O’carbon
    Presbyterianism has always been somewhat puzzling to me. Basically Calvinist it seems to lack the courage of its convictions and to have evolved in the direction of social activism rather than a theologically based religion. I have heard Presbyterian ministers admonish a groom at the wedding to remember that his wife did not really need him as well as a chaplain of that denomination preach a sermon on Easter Sunday without mentioning the name of Jesus, a good trick. What do you meditate on before your unadorned wall? What would be the difference in content between Presbyterianism and Unitarianism? pl

  23. BabelFish says:

    I have personally bridged the ground between Catholic and Protestant faiths. I found the suspicions and outright misunderstandings in both directions to be sad and almost never founded in fact. I would self-classify as an iconoclast. Was that the real reason for the change? I can not say, even after much thought on the subject.
    I rejoiced in the news of this discovery. To those who listen to the quiet voice of their faith in the screaming cacophony of our modern world, this an offer of a rare touch of ‘real’.

  24. Tom says:

    Sir, When I started this piece I was afraid that you were going to mention yet another desecration of a holy place. So glad to see with which respect you write about the find and equally glad that you are a member of the papally protected order of chivalry that is entrusted with the welfare of the basilica and other Christian interests in Holy Land. For me that is a piece of good news today

  25. turcopolier says:

    He said “all.” He also said that Catholicism suppressed knowledge to “consolidate its power.” Rubbish. Is he aware that the Roman Empire collapsed because of bad government and barbarian in-migration. In that collapse the Church saved whatever could be saved in the West. And don’t try to feed me the baloney as to how Islamicate civilization saved classical literature. The great centers of Islamic learning in Spain, Syria, Iran and Central Asia were always places peripheral to the central authority of the Umma in Baghdad in the Abbasid Caliphate and its successors. These authority centers turned to pietism and revelation as the sources of worthwhile knowledge early on. pl

  26. Cortes,
    It is an extraordinary book.
    I don’t want to quibble, but have been looking at the background recently – in part because, as I would never have imagined when I first read it decades ago, so much is relevant to contemporary events.
    Work on the novel actually started in 1928, and Bulgakov had not finished when he died in 1940. So much of it was written at the height of the Terror.
    It follows on from an earlier Russian presentation of one of the great themes of Christian civilisation.
    The confrontation between Christianity and the pagan Roman Empire had already been reworked by Dostoevsky in the legend of the Grand Inquisitor in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, which is among other things an anticipation of the dynamics of the Russian Revolution.
    When Bulgakov, who had stayed in Russia through the Revolution and its aftermath, but was ‘White’ through and through, returned to the theme, he had every reason to link contemporary events to ancient history.
    So Pilate, as imagined by Bulgakov, combines elements of a Stalinist official with those of the ‘White’ hangman-general Roman Khludov from Bulgakov’s phantasmagoric play ‘Flight’, completed at around the time its author started on ‘The Master and Margarita’ – which deals with a group of ‘Whites’ retreating through Crimea and ending up in Istanbul and Paris.
    The figure of Khludov, who talks obsessively to the shadow of a soldier who has spoken out and he has had hanged, and eventually returns to Russia, is based on upon an actual historical figure – General Yakov Slashchev, who had held the Crimea for the ‘Whites’ against overwhelming odds in the winter of 1919-20, using methods like those of Khludov, and did indeed return to Russia.
    The ‘Yeshua’ of the novel has, I think, elements of a traditional Russian ‘holy fool’. The strangeness of the story comes from the fact that Pilate needs him, and desperately wants to avoid crucifying him – but knows he will be denounced to Tiberius by the High Priest if he does so, and so confirms the sentence.
    A kind of ‘leitmotif’of the novel is the notion that, as Yeshua and and other characters say throughout its course, cowardice is the greatest of vices, or sins – the way the thought is expressed, and the translations, differ.
    The antithesis between Christian and ‘Roman’ values is also central, in another way, to Arthur Koestler’s novel of the Terror, ‘Darkness at Noon’, finished in the same year as Bulgakov’s – which is prefaced by quotations from Dostoevsky and Machiavelli. The title if, of course, a reference to the crucifixion.
    Another common feature of the two novels is that at the centre of both is the relationship between members of the old intelligentsia, and the new élites created by the Revolution. In Bulgakov’s novel, you have the bad teacher, Berlioz, the good teacher, the Master, and ‘Ivan Homeless’, who, in different ways, is a pupil of both.
    In Koestler’s, you have the arrested ‘Old Bolshevik’ Rubashov, his former comrade Ivanov, who begins his interrogation, and his subordinate the ‘new man’, Gletkin, who takes over after Ivanov has been shot.
    One thing that Koestler, like Orwell after him, got wrong was in imagining that a ‘totalitarian’ state could erase the past. As Bulgakov, a greater writer than either, well knew, and has became vividly apparent after the collapse of communism, the past had always been there, under the surface. I may return in toxic forms, but can return in benign ones.
    And implicit in the nature of the revolt against Christianity – which was central to Marxism – was the possibility of a return to it. That Gletkin’s grandson might read ‘The Master and Margarita’ would I think have seemed difficult for Koestler to imagine, but I think would not have particularly surprised Bulgakov.

  27. oofda says:

    And interesting to note that others consider evangelical Christianity as a cult. Have lived and served in Russia, I recall the Russians considered Baptists as a cult. As the Russian Orthodox Church regained its position, this view seemed to harden among the populace. They drew upon the schism between Rome and Constantinople in an ‘us against them’, Orthodox vs. Catholics. I had numerous Russians tell me that they consider me, a Lutheran who attended Anglican divine services in Moscow, as a Catholic. It was as if the events of 500 years ago (anniversary this week) didn’t occur. Their ranking scheme was Russian Orthodox, other Orthodox, Catholic (including the liturgical Protestants), then evangelical Christians- and then Baptists, who were deemed to be a sect. As they say, depends on one’s point of view.

  28. GulfCoastPirate says:

    PL wrote: He also said that Catholicism suppressed knowledge to “consolidate its power.” Rubbish. Is he aware that the Roman Empire collapsed because of bad government and barbarian in-migration. In that collapse the Church saved whatever could be saved in the West.
    Interesting thread.

  29. divadab says:

    As far as I can see, the main beneficiaries of the destruction of the Christian communities in the middle east appear to be Muslim. I think Israel benefits also from the chaos within their regional rivals. That the US government is actively complicit, really the main operator in this regard, is sickening.

  30. divadab says:

    Every organized religion which is comprised of a congregation of faithful believers is a cult. By definition. That the word “cult” has been imbued with pejorative connotations in popular usage is IMHO stupid and wrong.
    Christianity was invented and promoted as an imperial religion by Constantine as a means of uniting the empire in a common cult. The previous many-God-system institutionalized social divisions among the many cults.

  31. divadab says:

    Thank you Ma’am. Note that most of the immigrants to North America from the Levant and greater middle east have been Christians fleeing from war and chaos caused by the USA and its proxies.

  32. turcopolier says:

    The relationship between Muslims and the minority Christian communities was fairly stable until the Sunni revivalist wave that arose twenty odd years ago. the Israeli government has always treated the Christian population of Palestine as a rival and dangerously likely to attract Western sympathy like yours. It is true IMO that the US has been completely indifferent to the fate of Arab Christians. pl

  33. LeaNder says:

    Henry J, this on the surface looks like what I tentatively call Babak’s seemingly irrational element. From my own limited nitwit perspective. 😉
    “The crux of the biscuit”: Their demise suits the Protestants, in my view.
    Question: Who are the Protestants? Surely not something that could be easily squeezed into Babak’s two theses about the two central ‘cultural spheres’. They didn’t exist in those times. But what else?
    … Seems there is no doubt there are forces in the region that religiously are not tolerant. I shouldn’t trust concerned reports? Kerry? The Knights of Columbus? … Referring to the 278 page report linked in your article.
    Personally I don’t trust–I have to admit–the, according to tyler, sure future ‘baroque emperor’* of something one could no doubt call the ‘dominant protestant power’. Or his quizzical foreign policy outlook, except for a few ‘rational elements’.

  34. turcopolier says:

    “The Knights of Columbus?” Ah, now there is a sinister group. You do know that this is a social club created to keep Catholic workingmen away from the Freemasons? pl

  35. JLCG says:

    I have just arrived at the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in the book Les Derniers Jours by Michel de Jaeghere. It is a thick most informative book about the last two centuries of the Western Roman Empire. I don’t know whether it has been translated. It is a mine of information.

  36. LeaNder says:

    divadab, admittedly whatever I read about Calvin, didn’t really attract me. Was it biased? I was attracted to one aspect of Luther at one point in time, shifting to Protestant religion classes in school without formal allowance at that point. “Celtic Calvinist”?

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Under George Bush, the United States Government had hired the Jewish Agency to help de-populate Iran from religious minorities; among them Assyrian and Chaldean Christians as though they were a separate group.
    A few months ago, Ayatollah Khamenei, per his usual custom of meeting the relatives of the war dead, visited the family of an Assyrian soldier who had died in the Iran-Iraq War.

  38. LeaNder says:

    my “Presbyterian Wall”, white, bare, simple, meditative
    triggers a chain of association. But let me give you two basic random links from the top of my head. Needs knowledged and interested Wikipedians. In the larger iconoclast events.
    Images and religion have a long tradition in Monotheism, buried in history, but my guess is rooted in the same source:

  39. b y o'carbon says:

    Today’s Presbyterian Church, at least as embodied by the PCUSA vs. some of its more conservative offshoots, embraced liberal theology back in the 1920’s. See, for example, “The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists and Moderates” by Longfield (William Jennings Bryant and the traditionalists vs. the forces of ‘modernity’, with the traditionalists losing.) It has never, however, been able to clearly define itself since. It is a church composed of typically politically and theologically moderate, middle to upper middle class congregations with a politically and theologically liberal, social activist clergy. Its attempt at keeping a big tent to embrace all results in only a muddled message, and when the adults in the congregations lose control, its radical elements then become its most vocal.
    The Presbyterian Church remains firmly Trinitarian, but it emphasizes a purely spiritual interpretation of the Trinity. And a white wall is void of all the entrapments of traditions and histories, allowing one to focus on how best to live the future.

  40. divadab says:

    Leander – Calvin holds little allure for me but rather for my ancestors who rejected State-imposed religion in favor of simple communal protestantism – a return to basics. My main objection is the doctrine of predestination which to me is based on circular reasoning, as is much argument proffered by literalists. But I admit to being a tree-hugging dirt worshiping Heliophile.
    Celtic calvinists? – Welsh methodists, Scottish Reformers, Breton Huguenots, and Irish Presbyterians – descendents of the makers of the great menhirs, passage tombs, and most importantly, great solar ritual centers of the Celtic Atlantic neolithic such as Stonehenge.

  41. Laguerre says:

    Excuse me for quibbling, but the circular building around the Tomb, called the Anastasis, is of Byzantine date, perhaps even of St Helena, who discovered the tomb. Though no doubt much rebuilt since. It was the basilica to the east which was destroyed by al-Hakim, and then replaced by the Crusader Church.
    What surprised me was that the original limestone bench had remained covered by builder’s rubble for so long.

  42. Castellio says:

    To me that’s an odd comment. In what way are Muslims beneficiaries, do you think?

  43. Laguerre says:

    By the way, al-Hakim is generally recognised to have been mad. He ended up by disappearing, thus allowing his Druze followers to claim he would return. He forbad women to go out in the streets. When that didn’t work, he forbad shoemakers to make outdoor shoes for women. The destruction of the Constantinian basilica was not because of “Islamic oppression”, but because of a particular mad man. It has survived pretty well since.

  44. elaine says:

    I think you’re basing you findings on outdated stats. Since the vile
    upstart of ISIS a tiny % of refugees entering the US & Canada from the MENA have been Christian, Yazidi Kurds, or Shia Muslims. The judge who recently questioned the Obama administration on this matter is Daniel Manion, US Court of Appeals 7th circuit. CNS news & WND have also tried to keep up to date data for their readers.
    Your latest comment confuses me on several levels.

  45. divadab says:

    Sir – not sure what your objection was to my reply to Leander about celtic calvinism but I would like to reply and not leave the question hanging – I respectfully request you post it.
    Thanks for the lively interchange on taboo topics. Religion more usually divides people than unites them and so I seek – Ecumenism!

  46. turcopolier says:

    I believe it was LeaNder who did not understand “celtic Calvinism.” pl

  47. LeaNder says:

    Wasn’t my intention to suggest they are sinister, Pat. They simply seem to have been involved in a report for Kerry, linked in the article Henry J. suggested above in response to Babak above. That was the comment that sent me into ‘meander valley’.
    Genocide against Christians in the Middle East
    A report submitted to Secretary of State John Kerry
    by the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians

    Henry J’s link:

  48. LeaNder says:

    Sorry, divadab, nitwit question.
    I was indeed struggling with Celtic between language and the history of Calvinism in the larger religious struggle in England. Is this why you call it “Celtic Calvinism”, to stress the tradition? …
    Here is my problem, religion, language, region, (politics):
    You could also be American with roots in that tradition or some type of historical awareness. Presbyterian?
    Look, I was simply curious.

  49. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, divadab, it simply caught my attention.
    I thought it must be a more humorous reference in the end. But only after admittedly struggling with the term and possible connotations.

  50. A very interesting thread, with its information on differences in perspective. If the story of Jesus’s interment is true, what else might be true? As David Lentini notes above, the implications are profound.
    Something that may help bridge differing interpretations of the essence of Jesus’s message is the following piece which really impressed me when I first read it. It is about the views of Billy Graham, a leader of the Baptist “cult”. Strangely, it appeared in the supermarket tabloid publication “Weekly World News”, generally a lowbrow satirical publication. My own faith journey has crossed various boundaries within American Christendom, from Methodism to Unitarianism, and now (thanks to the influence of my spouse, who is my biggest blessing) a happy participant in the choir of a Catholic parish. If one broadens Graham’s suggestions just a bit – from daily prayer to “prayer or meditation”, and from Bible reading to include devotional, inspirational, and philosophical readings from the wisdom tradition of the seeker’s choice, it seems to me it would be acceptable even to agnostics who don’t believe in the afterlife, as a guideline to living in a fully human way.
    from The Weekly World News, 1998:
    In a review of Reverend Graham’s writings, sermons and interviews, five themes emerge – five principles that he believes every human being should strive to live by in order to join God in Heaven. They’re based on the Bible and on Reverend Graham’s own experience. Here are the five ideas Billy Graham stresses over and over again in his written and spoken words. Practice them in your daily life and Heaven is definitely in your future.
    Pray regularly
    Reverend Graham has often said that too many people use prayer as a last resort – praying only when they need God to get them out of a jam. But as long as people think of God as some kind of errand boy or lifeguard, Heaven will always be out of reach. Jesus tells us God wants to be our friend. You wouldn’t treat a friend that way. You want to spend time just talking and listening to your friends, enjoying their company. God wants us to visit Him regularly – for no other reason than that we like Him and He likes us. So it’s important to spend time in prayer every day, even when things are going well.
    Love others
    This doesn’t mean we have to “feel” loving toward everyone all the time. We are human and sometimes other people are going to upset us. The point is that we should act in loving ways – even to people who aren’t very lovable. Remember Jesus said that if we’re only kind to people who were kind to us, it means nothing. Even people who don’t have God in their lives do that. The thing that sets believers apart is their willingness to try to love even difficult people.
    Read the Bible
    Reverend Graham says even he has not done as much Bible reading as he feels he should have. “I wish I had studied a great deal more. I wish I knew the Bible better than I do,” he said not long ago. But he says it’s never too late to start. He says that studying and reading the Bible can not only lead us toward Heaven, it can also help us get more enjoyment from our lives on Earth.
    Resist temptation
    The charismatic evangelist admits that in the past he spent too much time railing about hellfire and damnation. “I was too emotional in my early years,” he says. Nevertheless, yielding to temptations of the flesh can give the Devil a grip on your life and pull you away from Heaven. When asked how he has managed to avoid the indiscretions that have brought down other, weaker evangelists, Reverend Graham says one prayer always works: “Lord, help me RIGHT NOW!” God will help us resist temptation if we ask Him.
    Be humble
    Always remember, if there’s good in your life it’s God who put it there. Taking credit for God’s kindness will only separate you from Him and His Kingdom. To be humble is to be teachable. We all have a lot to learn. And an openness to learning more about God is consistent with citizenship in Heaven.
    Of course, no one can practice these five things perfectly. Reverend Graham freely admits that even he has fallen short of the mark many times. But doing your best to practice these principles will ensure you a place in Heaven.
    [end of quote from Weekly World News]

  51. divadab says:

    If your neighboring community of Christians is forced to flee for their lives, as has happened in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, all the more for the Muslim communities. Note the Christian communities of these countries and Syria are the oldest such communities in the world – they are generally more prosperous than their Muslim neighbors and have the means to flee.
    One exception – the Copts of Egypt – who are an oppressed minority who I am told by colleagues who ran a business there in the seventies were the people who did the work as the 2IC’s while a Muslim ran the show.
    Of course generalized chaos and destruction makes everybody in the region worse off – I’m talking about long-term demographic trends.

  52. divadab says:

    I’m talking about a 40-year period. SOmetime you might want to do a tour of the middle-eastern communities in places that receive immigrants – California, Michigan, Ontario, Canada – Egyptian Copts, Lebanese Maronites and Orthodox Christians, Iraqi Assyrians and CHaldeans, Palestinian Christians – who arrived in much larger numbers than their Muslim neighbors because they were being persecuted and had the means to leave.

  53. divadab says:

    No worries – happy to answer – all the varieties of Celtic Protestantism I noted above are in my heritage, as well as Catholicism (my great-great-Uncle was a Bishop). IMHO the intensity of Protestant-Catholic rivalry in the Celtic tribes is because other than their religion they are historically the same peoples divided by social organization and ideology.
    It took various empires over 2,000 years to subdue the Celtic tribes – my own most recently in 1745 when the Clan Chief sent out the war call and mustered 3,000 men in support of Prince Charles Stuart at Culloden. within a month half were dead and the tribe scattered and dispersed as imperial shock troops. That memory lives in my family’s oral history.

  54. divadab says:

    Yup – I was concerned that my reply had not posted after several hours – thanks for doing so.
    And thank you for your labors in maintaining and moderating this site – and attracting a diverse and intelligent group of commenters. I have learned a lot from the community and hope to contribute from time to time in my own small way.

  55. turcopolier says:

    Old people take naps. pl

  56. Seacoaster says:

    Longtime lurker here, I am headed to Israel and the West Bank next week with family. Any books you would recommend bringing along or underappreciated sites to visit?

  57. divadab, LeaNder,
    As someone whose roots, on his father’s side, are very much in the world of ‘Celtic Calvinism’ – on my mother’s, in the lost world of Anglo-Catholic socialism – I think it is important not to simply a very complex history.
    It can sometimes be a problem with people who immigrated to the United States that their perceptions of the countries from which they came, and those of their descendants, become stuck in the past.
    In relation to the Scots, some certainly became ‘imperial shock troops’. Others ran the Empire.
    A good account of how some parts of British society used to operate quite well comes in an hilarious account by the philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner of how in the late ‘Thirties, as a not long arrived Jewish refugee from Prague, he was given a scholarship to Balliol, one of the most famous of Oxford colleges.
    The Master at the time, Sandie Lindsay, was a Scot whose first degree was at Glasgow. His recruitment principles – not oriented towards creating the kind of ‘imbecile clerisy’ we have now –were accurately described by Gellner:
    ‘Lindsay practised Portuguese colonial policy, that is keep the natives peaceful by getting able ones from below into Balliol. Balliol he wanted to be one-third upper-class, one-third grammar-school, and one-third Scotsmen and foreigners. In his view the upper-class were to teach the others manners, and he used the grammar-school to introduce some brains into the upper class. He put it as brutally as that.’
    (See .)
    One could multiply examples. The classic novels of imperial ‘derring do’ were written by another Scot who went to Oxford on scholarships, and had a distinguished career as an administrator and Tory politician, John Buchan.
    In the real world of intelligence, a pivotal moment was the appointment of the Scottish physicist cum engineer Alfred Ewing as Director of Naval Education in 1903. He was instrumental in the recruitment of the ‘professor types’ into cryptanalysis, and the creation and running of Room 40 in the Admiralty in the First World War – out of which Bletchley Park came.
    (The King’s College, Cambridge connection, which brought ‘Dilly’ Knox and Alan Turing to Bletchley Park, came from Ewing.)
    As to Wales, the history is very different. There is, obviously, no parallel to the Scottish Enlightenment. The development of Welsh education in the second half of the nineteenth-century, however, was spectacular – and intimately bound up with the role of coal, iron and steel in South Wales.
    A pivotal figure in the process was the great entrepreneur David Davies of Llandinam, who was instrumental in 1884 in the creation of the port of Barry, to export the ‘steam coals’ which were then the only fuel which could generate enough pressure to power a warship or an express train. (It was my father’s home town.)
    Himself a totally self-made man, who started with nothing, he repeatedly lectured his fellow-countrymen on the need to get education in English.
    (See .)
    And they did. In Barry, Major Edgar Jones created one of the greatest of the Welsh ‘County Schools’.
    The history of his family is an interesting case study. His girlfriend and fellow-student at University College Aberystwyth, Annie Gwen Jones, went out after graduation to tutor the granddaughters of another great Welsh entrepreneur, John Hughes, from near Merthyr Tydfil, who had – quite literally – created the Donbass. (Donetsk was, originally, Yuzhovka.)
    Decades later, their son Gareth would go from Aberystwith to Trinity College Cambridge, from which he graduated with Class Honours in French, German and Russian. At the height of the famine caused by collectivisation, he would walk through the Donbass, and produce the only significant on-the-ground reporting on it in the Western press.
    I must declare an interest in this, as my grandfather was an early pupil of Edgar Jones, and later a close colleague, in charge of education in the local authority.
    It was a culture which was imbibing the latest in ‘advanced’ thinking and writing, but was still deeply rooted in the ethos of nonconformist religion, in particular Methodism – which was indeed, in Wales, largely Calvinist rather than Arminian.
    My grandfather much disliked Welsh linguistic nationalists. In the same year as he was commissioned into the Royal Navy, he gave his son the name of a (fictional) Anglo-Saxon king.
    Politically, sectarian Protestantism can lead in all kinds of directions.
    It can easily engender millenarian fantasies. It can also produce a belief that the proper rule is by an ‘aristocracy of the godly.’ Another direction in which it can develop is in some ways deeply conservative – to a belief that civilisation is always a precarious venture, and catastrophic collapse an ever present possibility.
    One finds this in Buchan, as in greater writers deeply influenced by Calvinism, notably Melville and Kipling. Although I grew up in England and identify strongly as English, that pessimism is a part of my father’s tradition to which I still hold strongly.

  58. LeaNder says:

    That memory lives in my family’s oral history.
    That’s pretty impressive. But please consider me puzzled. Really hard for me to understand. No change to find that single political outside event that shaped oral traditions in my family. Not enough time for such historical reflections? … On the other hand, it’s pretty easy for me to grasp the military tradition in Pat’s family…
    IMHO the intensity of Protestant-Catholic rivalry in the Celtic tribes is because other than their religion they are historically the same peoples divided by social organization and ideology.
    Meaning? Tribe is stronger then e.g. “the Kirk” (notice random choice)? I wonder why you sort out Bonnie Prince Charles’ failed attempt as such a relevant orally delivered family matter. Maybe I should read up on the nexus religion and power in the UK beyond Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit all the way back to the Celts.
    Consider me even more puzzled now.

  59. turcopolier says:

    “other than their religion they are historically the same peoples divided by social organization and ideology” In England maybe yeas but in Scotland the Highlanders who were more Celtic tended to be Catholic and the Lowlanders who were more Germanic tended to become Protestant. On the Continent the Croat Catholics and the Serb Orthodox were also basically the same peole with the same language. pl

  60. Trent Smither says:

    Jerusalem, Old City:
    1. the Wall, Friday before sundown to see the yeshiva boys come down to start Shabbat.
    2. Austrian Hospice, for dessert or beer.
    3. wander around the Armenian Quarter when you need a break from the noise and intensity of Jerusalem.
    4. we used to sneak up onto the ramparts of the wall around the Old City, but I think there is also paid admission. Worth it to get a sense of scale and proximity.
    5. there used to be two Armenian bars right inside Jaffa Gate (on the right as you enter the Old City) which were oddly tourist-free. Good places to relax.
    6. New Gate as a stress free entrance.
    Tomb of the Patriarchs
    Outside of Beersheva is a geological weirdness called the Maktesh Gidol and Kitan (the big and small craters). The town of Mitzpeh Ramon isn’t much more than the hostel, but if you like to hike, this is (or at least was) an under-the-radar spot. Aside from the astounding colors in the sand and mud (purple!) you can also see golden eagles and fantastic ibex.

  61. Seacoaster says:

    Much appreciated sir, thank you.

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