No place like the Holy Land . . .

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by Neil Godfrey

Religious practice in the Land of the Bible tends to encourage exclusivity and discrimination rather than love and magnanimity. There is no place like the Holy Land to make one cynical about religion.


In this land of turbulence and wars there have always been oases of tranquility and peace where monks have been able to hide themselves away, never bothering with the worldly events taking place outside their door. This perhaps was the only saving grace of religion in the Holy Land.


Both quotes come from Raja Shehadeh, Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape — Winner of the Orwell Prize 2008. (pp 141, 154)



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Neil Godfrey

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8 thoughts on “No place like the Holy Land . . .”

    1. Hoo boy! Yes, yes, we all know the hypocrisy of clerics ever since Chaucer. But give a guy a break when he discovers a refuge from all of that. At least his cynicism about religion in the holy land has not closed his mind utterly to all of those on the other side. He has not let the cynicism destroy him, obliging him to judge everyone through cynical stereotypes. Click the link on the author’s name if you want clues about where the author is coming from. Those quotes are from a chapter in which Raja Shehadeh is describing his personal journey of confrontation with violence, injustice, oppression, you name it . . .his walk culminates at the monastery of St George of Koziba which becomes a metaphor of quiet release and acceptance of what cannot be changed without himself becoming no better than the evil that is steadily obliterating his world.

      screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-5-16-38-am Monastery of St. George of Koziba

        1. Nor do I. And Raja is not saying you should, either. He is not religious and is not promoting the monastic life. I am sorry I have not conveyed the point well for everyone.

          Ironically it was the walks in nearby woods where Raja and others used to find peace and meditation that were being taken away from him and his communities . . . . it was an irony that he happened to find an escape from the destruction and hypocrisy that was robbing him of his homeland that in such a unique spot.

      1. As far as I understand cynicism, it is how a rotten person convinces himself how rotten most other people must be. The fact that a few people are rotten doesn’t directly make anyone cynical, although it might make a few rotten revenge seekers, and later from there…

      2. This isn’t the first time I’ve read you reference “the hypocrisy of clerics ever since Chaucer”. Seems rather arbitrary; what about, say, Lucain?

        1. My apologies for being so stuck at Chaucer. I know with just a wee bit more effort my brain would have taken me at least as far back as LucainLucian!

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