All hell broke loose at Jesus' tomb yesterday.
Let's lend that event a context. History is a good deal more interesting, I think, when considered alongside modern-day equivalences, or correspondences. Such accoutrements often are termed, "signs of the times" and are bountiful in today's world.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the holiest shrine in Christendom. As tradition has it, the building contains Christ's tomb; Golgotha, the site of his crucifixion, and marks the place when Helena, Constantine's saintly mother, purportedly unearthed the "true cross." Constantine ordered his new church built on the site of a Roman shrine to the goddess Aphrodite, but that story is from a chapter on Greek Exceptionalism.
One might think resident monks from the six Christian sects in charge of their religion's holiest shrine would behave, say, reverentially toward one another. No way! Yesterday, the Armenians and Greek Orthodox came to blows and Israeli police were called in to quell the brawl. Again! On Palm Sunday this year the same two sects pummeled police with palm fronds. A similar event occurred 2,000 years ago when the police of the day were Roman soldiers, you may recall. One could postulate that the undoing of Mithraism and other Roman religions began on that Palm Sunday.
Coincidence or historical correspondence?
For several generations, the keys to the shrine's front door have been entrusted to the care a local family. The monks, who don't trust their brothers in the least, would be tempted, as it were, to lock out their brethren. Consequently, no sect holds keys to the front door. Interestingly, the local family who keeps the keys are Islamic. They lock the monks in at night and then pass the key through a slot in the door the next morning.
Such is the sorry state of Christianity in the Holy Land.
Watching video of the brawl on "Morning Joe," I was thinking "what ifs." What if, for instance, the Northern version of Christianity -- the ancient Celtic version -- had reigned supreme? That was not to be, of course: the spiritual platform for the rise of Western Civilization had to emerge from Roman ashes. Historical symmetry demands such stuff. As much was sadly obvious to astute Celtic Christians when Rome pulled out of Britain in AD 410, eventually giving rise to King Arthur mythology as a Northern type of Christ, or savior figure. Again with the symmetry.
That historical event (Rome's exit), more than any other, marked the end of Roman Exceptionalism and set the stage for future Anglo-American Exceptionalism; for King Arthur and the legendary promise, Rex Quondam, Rexque Futuris (Our Once and Future King), and for peak Western Civilization, to misuse a monetary term.
But not so fast, Western Civ has not peaked.
Western Civilization will enter a new phase this weekend when 20 nations gather to restructure the global financial system and subsequently diminish American economic influences. Like Rome, America may pull back but will not pull out. Rome, after all, survived for another 600 or so years. American Exceptionalism under President Obama will be reshaped as influence shifts to the East (Europe and China).
Perhaps the Armenians and Greek Orthodox monks in Jerusalem never will play well together. No one really cares; it's a quaint sideshow. American and Great Britain will, however, come to love the French and other EU-type Europeans. The survival of civilization as we know it depends upon a new, vibrant Western Exceptionalism. America, as Rome before her, bids adieu to foreign adventurism, empire building, and arrogant hegemony.
Historical symmetry also would suggest a new, Northern and more earth-friendly religious fervor as Christianity is marginalized. We'll see.
As Churchill said to FDR, "It is fun to be in the same decade with you." I hope Sarkozy one day expresses the same sentiment to Obama. If so, hope's still alive for civilization as we know it.