Echoes Through History

Over the passage of time, history has a way of duplicating events—not exactly the repetition of events but giving forth variations on a plot line with a different setting.

We would hardly think, for example, that recent events in the United States today would have anything in common with the militaristic religiosity that propelled the Crusades of the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries which brought needless distress to Europe and the Near East.  At that time the western powers (hard-line church politics) cast covetous eyes toward Jerusalem, ostensibly as a point of pilgrimage to the alleged tomb of Jesus.  But the Muslim brand of spiritual understanding, although giving recognition to Jesus, did not relish the idea of foreigners overrunning their territory and digging around for a legendary but unconfirmed burial site.  So the Caliph, al-Hakim, called “the mad” in western cultures, barred further pilgrimage passage through the territory.  Christians were whipped up by the pope and priests to wax indignant, hateful and belligerent (as right-wingers in the U.S. are today), and the barring of access to Jerusalem was assessed by the church and Europeans as “persecution.”

Around the year 1090 profound religious fervor permeated all sections of the European population, the Muslim nations were arming themselves, and countries such as France and Germany were impoverished.  Thus in 1095 Pope Urban II exhorted Christendom to take up arms and march to take Jerusalem by force, and the stage was set for seven bloody Crusades stretching over three centuries.

The motivation for the Crusades was always claimed to be religious, of course, but the results just happened to bring wealth and prestige to the church.  This tended to disenchant many gentle Christians who believed that enriching spiritual understanding was supposed to be the foremost function of the church.

As unalike as these time-separated scenarios may seem to be, there are many incidents of today that parallel the Crusade times—not the least of which is the boisterous religiosity that has increasingly infected the governing of the USA through the last few decades.  Add to this that today the Near East region is disenchanted with foreigners overrunning their territory in pursuit of oil to satisfy the high priests of commercialism.

Like the propaganda-inspired Dark Ages crusades where only the high politicos of the Catholic Church gained materially, today the only ones that really gain anything from the bloody and costly intrusion upon  foreign nations are the high priests of corporate commerce.  Let us hope that their lust for material accumulation does not last for over three centuries as did the Crusades.

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