No Spiritual Disneyland, Please

30 Jul

What do Disneyland and the Coliseum have in common? They were images used at two-day conference on the fate of Christians in the Holy Land that was held in London earlier this month, co-sponsored by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols.

Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, noted that, because of the dwindling number of Christians, the Holy Land is becoming a “spiritual Disneyland” – full of glittering rides and attractions, but empty of its indigenous Christian population. French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, representing Pope Benedict, said, “What we have to avoid is that the Holy Land becomes an archaeological and historical site to be visited like the Coliseum in Rome. We cannot even think that Bethlehem or the Holy Sepulcher should become museums with entrance tickets and guides who explain beautiful legends.”

Why do we care about Christians in the Holy Land? John Allen boils it down to two points: first, their survival is critical to Christianity’s identity; second, it’s a key to peace in the region, and therefore to peace in the world. Read his article in the National Catholic Reporter.

3 Responses to “No Spiritual Disneyland, Please”

  1. Jennifer July 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    You know, I hadn’t considered that things are really this bad. Yes, the survival of Christianity in the Holy Land is central to our identity as Christians in the rest of the world and it would be truly terrible were these Christians to disappear. However, doesn’t this also give new meaning and hope, in a sense, to us as Gentiles? Remember back in Acts when Paul & Peter argued so vehemently about who Christianity was truly open to, with Peter thinking you had to still be a ritual Jew in order to hear the word of Christ, and Paul saying no, it really isn’t ritual that’s important; rather faith & attitude. Of course, eventually they were able to “make nice” & be friends with each other. The point I’m making is, even if the Christians in the geographic locale of Jesus’ birth were to disappear, I will still be a Christian. Seems like Paul had the right idea, doesn’t it?

    • Father Rob Waller July 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

      Absolutely, Jennifer, our faith is not attached to a place or any particular piece of real estate. The new covenant is grounded in a person, Jesus Christ, not in a land, not even the Holy Land. At the same time, God chose to come among us in a particular time and in a particular place. The places in the Holy Land give a certain specificity and historicity to our belief in God-become-man, and the present-day Christians continue to be the living Body of Christ, the “living stones” in the Holy Land. Let’s continue to hope together that all the people of the Holy Land (and the entire Middle East) will eventually, as you say, “make nice” and be friends with each other. Stay in touch. Father Rob

  2. Aimee Baer August 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    Amen.

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