Thursday, 19 January 2012

Stupid religious behaviour

Orthodox Epiphany baptism of ice. 
Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers plunged into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark Epiphany, during which they cleanse themselves with water deemed holy for the day. Water that is blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure until next year's celebration, and is believed to have special powers of protection and healing. Orthodox believers celebrate the holiday of the Epiphany on January 19.

When clerics attack

In the spirit of holiday giving, Armenian and Greek Orthodox Monks took it upon themselves to exchange gifts, except they weren’t the kind of presents you would normally expect. Around 100 priests hurled brooms at each other in Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity as they were cleaning the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas, which both cultural groups celebrate.

The outburst, broken up by baton and shield-wielding Palestinian police,  came to head as the Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics, who each control a portion of the church along with Roman Catholics got into the scuffle over a ‘turf war.’ The Church of Nativity is believed to be built over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus.

Bethlehem police Lt-Col Khaled al-Tamimi was quoted in Reuters as saying that no one was arrested “because all those involved were men of God” while the BBC reported that the 1,700-year-old church is in bad shape because priests can’t agree on who should be footing the bill for its repair.

These Boots (the pharmacy) were made for walking
Several years ago, a group of leaders from the Chinese church came to England on a holy pilgrimage. They had followed in the footsteps of one of Christianity’s great missionaries in the Far East, travelling for days to worship at the hallowed birthplace of their religious teacher.

When they reached their destination, the church leaders got down on their knees and prayed. “This truly is a sacred place,” they said. Canterbury Cathedral, perhaps? Westminster Abbey, or Stonehenge? Not quite. It was a branch of Boots. In Barnsley town centre.

For Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was home to James Hudson Taylor, the 19th-century missionary credited with taking Christianity to mainland China. And the site where Boots stands was once the Hudson Taylor pharmacy and family home. For his followers, the rows of painkillers and meal deals make for a shrine as worthy as Lourdes. And if a new heritage group has its way, the town could soon see thousands more pilgrims worshipping in the aisles.

Know of any more? Let me know in the comments.

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