Thursday, December 28, 2006

Here's a cool idea that won't go anywhere, I betcha.

Everyone knows one reason why the year 1492 is a big deal. We have it drummed into us in school, as well we should. Columbus sailed off looking for China and bumped into the western hemisphere, setting off a process that ultimately leads to me sitting here typing this in Texas, rather than England or France or Germany, or some other friggin' place. The other reason that year is a big deal is that it's the same year the combined forces of Aragon and Castile conquered Granada, the last holdout Moorish kingdom in Spain, ending a 700 year religious war between Catholics and Muslims called the Reconquista, or Reconquest.

Arab Muslim armies conquered East and North Africa in their expansion from Arabia in the 7th century, and then, in 711, they crossed over into Europe at Gibraltar (Gabral al Tariq, or "The Rock of Tariq", named for the general who led them). Over the next few years they steadily conquered all of the Iberian peninsula from the Visigoths, who had settled there after the Roman Empire fell, until they were stopped in what is now southern France in 732 by a sausage eating kraut (kinda French) named Charles Martel. At the battle of Poitiers, the Muslim conquest of Europe was stopped, and Charles was dubbed "The Hammer" for his victory.

Anyway, the Moors set up a huge Muslim kingdom in Spain that eventually broke up into several smaller ones, and these were eventually reconquered, one by one, over 700 years, until Granada fell in 1492. In the process of that, the Spanish became Spanish as we would recognise them today, Spain became a centralized nation-state, and the Catholic faith became synonymous with Spanish nationality and identity.The veterans of this process were then sent to conquer and settle the new world, which they did with much violence and gusto.

So, there is a significant Muslim influence in much of the architecture and DNA of modern Spain, and today, Spain is experiencing a rise in Muslim immigration from north Africa and an expansion of its Muslim population. Also, we all remember the Spanish born Muslims who blew up the trains a few years ago, which led to the fall of the conservative government and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. Supposedly, their motivation in the bombings was NOT Iraq, but the idea of recreating that great Muslim kingdom in Spain.

Now, check out this story. Muslim leaders in Spain are proposing that the Cathedral in Cordoba be made a place where all faiths can worship together.

Spanish Muslims Ask Pope's Permission to Worship in Mosque Turned Cathedral

28 December 2006

Spanish Muslims have appealed to Pope Benedict seeking permission to worship inside a landmark southern Spanish cathedral that was a mosque more than 800 years ago.

Spain's Islamic Board says it is not trying to take over the Cathedral of Cordoba, but wants to turn it into a place where believers of all faiths can worship in the spirit of peace and humanity.

The board says Spain's Catholic Church leaders have turned down its request, and that cathedral guards often use force to stop Muslims from praying inside the church.

The Cordoba cathedral was built as a mosque when the Moors ruled Spain starting in the 8th century.

The building was converted to a Catholic church in the 13th century when Christians reconquered Cordoba.

This cathedral is amazing to behold. You can easily see the Muslim influences, and the sort of pasted on Catholic features. Check it out.

You might be thinking, how lame it was for the Spanish to turn such a beautiful Muslim holy site into a Catholic cathedral. Well, these folks had 700 years worth of issues, and only a hundred years after Cordoba was converted, the Muslim Turks conquered Byzantium, renamed it Istanbul, and turned the largest, most spectacular Christian cathedral in Europe, the Hagia Sophia ("Church of the Holy Wisdom"), into a mosque. So, turn around is fair play right? War is hell, someone said. Dig these pictures of the Hagia. Today it's a museum. Of course, the Turks added the minarets.

And they plastered over the Byzantine images of Christ and added the Islamic calligraphy. Beautiful stuff. I'd love to see it in person, but never had the chance... yet.

My point with all this is that I think this new idea for a multi faith use of these old sites is great, and I hope it happens, but I won't hold my breath. Both sides have convinced themselves that they're downtrodden and under attack, which is ludicrous on both cases. So very few people are willing to make such a huge gesture. Remember when the Pope went to Turkey a while back? Muslim activists were mad at him for his earlier statements about Islam, and said that if the Pope made even the slightest gesture as if he were praying in the Hagia Sophia they'd riot. This is the Popes turn to make a huge positive gesture towards the Islamic world, but who's to say that Catholic lunatics wouldn't riot in Spain if Muslims were allowed to pray in Cordoba?

Wouldn't it be cool if the level headed folks could find a way to finally shout down the idiots and put this crap behind us? What are the odds?


Goddess said...

It never ceases to amaze me how grand the Catholic Church makes all of it's buildings, yet Jesus was born in a stable. Apparently it was good enough for Him, but not for the priests and bishops. When they remodeled our church a few years back, the statues were all purchased in and flown in from Rome and the altar rug was ripped up to make way for new marble floors. *rolls eyes* Funny how the folks in charge are the ones missing the point.

Fathairybastard said...

Yep. There's always got to be some sort of hierarchy. Note that the Moors built this place, and then the Christians took it over and put up crosses.

Christina said...

I find churches and cathedrals, etc., interesting for the architecture and art, not as places of worship.

There is a wonderful Greek Orthodox church near here that has an absolutely stunning, yet not finished, interior, and the congregation has a yearly (hugely popular) Greek food festival to raise money to complete the interior.

I feel close to God outside, admiring nature.

NWJR said...

"My God can kick the shit out of your God."

"Oh yeah? Well MY God has more worshipers than YOUR God!"

"Oh yeah? Well MY God..."

My God, indeed.


DirtCrashr said...

I think Santa Sophia would look better without the pretend missles at each corner.
Do Moslems have guitar-strumming left-wing peacenick preachers at their Mosques? Maybe that's what they need to level the religious playing field, "My Pastor is a bigger Hippie than Your Pastor." Or would that even be an acceptable taunt?

Fathairybastard said...

I don't think they could outdo our hippie priests, though they do have Cat Stevens on their side. That's pretty heavy.

DirtCrashr said...

IN THIS CORNER IN THE RED TRUNKS IT'S THE MAD MULLAH OF MUFFLELETTA! AND...on the Left over there in the Pink-Corner, wearing Rainbow-Trunks is Harold the Singing Metropolitan Pastor!
Hahaha - Who do you think's gonna win the match-up? :-)