[Philosophical TANGENT about Getting Older]Is this one of the signs of that dreaded disease of Adultism? I'm not sure how to feel about that. I sum up before my childhood and adulthood with this sentence: I didn't feel like a kid then; I don't feel like an adult now. It's sadly accurate. Even though this year, I'll be older than Batman's canon age (and yes, the implications of that freak me out), I still think of adults as being people like my parents: people who have worked jobs that didn't pay minimum wage, people who have their own cars and houses, people who manage to more or less pay their bills on their own. Yeah, I still totally relate to the Cracked article 5 Reasons You Don't Miss Your Twenties When They're Over. Even though I'm out of my twenties, still relate to the whole "Grown-ups see you as a kid, so they don't take you too seriously, but you can't hang out with actual kids because your worldviews are miles apart and you come across as a creeper" thing. [/TANGENT]
Anyway, I'm here now. I'm still thinking about last week, where I proposed that Unnamed Jewish Female Soldier and Unnamed Injured Jewish Soldier be promoted to the League of Awesome. They are only onscreen for a bit and only get a few lines, but in their brief appearance, they totally pwn Judd and Vicki. Plus, the whole being will to stand and die for their beliefs is pretty damn awesome. So I feel they deserve membership, but part of the terms of their membership, is that they be given names. So below, I'll set up a long discussion about naming them. Again, I've set up brackets for those going "Get to the book, already!"
[TANGENT about names for Potential League of Awesome members]
I wanted to avoid falling into Ellanjay's trap where said Jewish characters might as well be named Jewy Jewberg, but at the same time, did want to make nods at their heritage and honor some of the badasses of the Old Testament. For Unnamed Injured Jewish Soldier (UIJS), I considered David, for the obvious David vs. Goliath references (in this case, the authors are Goliath), but thought that seemed a little obvious. Also, considered Jonathan, because in the very least, he and David had an epic bromance going.
But ultimately, I decided to call him Elijah. Because Elijah is awesome, so much so that you wish he had a book in his name. I'm thinking in particular of the infamous passage, 1 Kings 18:20-40, which has the showdown between him and the prophets of Baal. Always liked the snark in that passage, where as the prophets of Baal try and try to get Baal to do his thing, Elijah gets all snarky, being all, "Shout louder! Maybe he's away or on the toilet and can't hear you." As a fellow snarker, I appreciate good, well-crafted snark, so for that reason alone, I name UIJS, Elijah.
But I also nominated Elijah, because I really liked the chapter that came after 1 Kings 18. For those not in the know about the Old Testament, Elijah celebrated a great triumph in chapter 18, proving the might of the Hebrew god. Yet at the beginning of chapter 19, he's forced to flee for his life, because he just effed with Jezebel, and again, for those not in the know, you really shouldn't eff with Jezebel.
So in 1 Kings, Chapter 19, Elijah flees into the wilderness and is so exhausted and beaten down that he begs God to kill him. All this despair after the great triumphant tone of the previous chapter...the contrast speaks to me. Yet God doesn't lambaste Elijah, chew him out for being weary and depressed; God takes care of him, giving Elijah food and water so he might regain his strength, so he can do what needs to be done next.
There's a part, 1 Kings 19:11-13, that I always found hauntingly beautiful. As a writer, I know how to recognize good writing, though I have a harder time talking about it. It's easy to point at bad writing and say "X is bad and here's why," but it seems harder to say anything about good writing, except that it is good. Suppose that's the reason why movie critics are always so much more entertaining when they rip into a bad movie, than when they praise a good one. Totally with Dave Barry: One of life's little pleasures is watching a really good critic go to town on a really bad movie.
Anyway, here's the passage:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Like I said, I can't explain why exactly I just love this passage so much and maybe y'all don't see it the same way (because people often have different tastes), but it just speaks to me.
In fact, if any of you are taking care of a relative or a friend, who is suffering, either as a result of mental illness or grief, I tell people that doing some of the stuff in 1 Kings 19 really helps. Don't criticize, don't tell them to "Cheer up!", don't try to offer any explanations; just feed and take care of the suffering, be there when they feel like absolute shit. When they're ready to talk, just listen. As someone who has struggled with clinical Depression in the past, I speak from experience when I say, those little gestures go a long way.
As for Unnamed Jewish Female Soldier (UJFS), I freely admitted it only took me five seconds of thought with her. Decided to call her Yael, which is the Hebrew form of the name Jael. According to sites where they list the meanings of names, Jael is supposed to mean "Mountain Goat," but a more accurate definition would be "badass mothereffer." Don't believe me? Clearly you haven't read chapter four of Judges. Jael only appears in that chapter, but she is so awesome that you start to think that the reason she didn't make more appearances, was because she makes Misogynists feel all uncomfortable and such. So I'm calling her Yael, though if anybody objects, I'm proposing Deborah as a second option.
In fact, every time an RTC uses the quotes from Paul (quotes from letters that Paul probably didn't write), talking about how women shouldn't have authority over men or be allowed to speak in church, I think of Deborah and Jael. Often wonder what they'd say if I pointed out that Deborah clearly had no problem :gasp: speaking and criticizing men, giving advice on strategy to Barak, who was a general, and Jael exercised authority over men, by driving a tent spike through a guy's head.
tl;dr, decided to call UIJS and UJFS, Elijah and Yael. Haven't thought of surnames. If anyone wants to take up that challenge, feel free. Just, like I said, I have no problem with honoring their religious/ethnic background, but don't go out of your way to make their names SuperJewish, the way Ellanjay do. I did think about adding the other Unnamed NPCs, fighting to defend their sacred sites from Nicky and refusing to :gasp: abandon their faith, no matter how much Judd and Vicki (and the authors) want them to, but decided I'd just narrow it down to Elijah and Yael, because they were the only ones who actually had lines. [/Insanely Long TANGENT about Names]
Sorry about that. Now I'll finally get to the book. Again, I like to think my tangents are at least interesting and add to the discussion.
Anyway, this week, like next week's snark, is mostly action scenes, which like I said are hard to snark because they are really, really dull. Even watching paint drying would be better because you can maybe get high off of the fumes. But this...again, you can't actually care or get worked up about these action scenes, because even if you didn't peek at the wiki to discover which characters are alive when TurboJesus shows up, you know exactly how it all ends: TurboJesus falls, everyone who doesn't matter, dies. Bad things only happen to NPCs and Butt Monkeys, never to Our Heroes. Knowing all that just makes action scenes dull as hell, just page after page of action verbs for me to flip through. Again, sorry for the summarizing, but I can only do so much.
Anyway, Judd and Vicki make sure the new believers have every sacred tenet of RTCianity down (like "Thou Shalt Do Nothing To Stop Evil Forces from Destroying the World," "Thou Shalt Sit on Thine Asses and Wait for TurboJesus to Do Everything For Thee," "The only good deeds thou shalt do, is to convert others, so they may sit and wait," and "Thou Shalt Not Think of All Those Burning in Hell Because the Latest Act of God killed them.")and we get this explanation for why Nicky is using horse-drawn cavalry (even though again, use of horses in war, mostly went out with WWI). I'll post a quote, so we can enjoy the "WTF?!" together. Because I'm that kind of person.
“The rabbi said it is true,” a newcomer said. “Something from Zechariah about God striking horses and riders.”
“Where is the rabbi?” Judd said.
“I didn’t see him. I was just told about—”
“Where do you think he is?” Judd interrupted.
“Someone said he was near Herod’s Gate, but don’t go unless you want to hear more about Messiah.”
The "Something from Zechariah" that they're referencing is Zechariah 12:4, which goes like this:
On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the Lord. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations.
Ellanjay probably like Zechariah much more than one of those filthy commies like Amos, what with his constant laying into people who live comfortable lives of luxury, while the majority suffer in appalling poverty. Zechariah is more esoteric in language and tone than Amos, which they like because they can stretch out all that metaphorical language and make it so Zechariah says what they want him to say, neither more nor less. Amos is much more problematic. By his own admission, Amos was a pruner of sycamore and fig trees before being called to prophesy on behalf of God. So Amos likely didn't have a huge amount of education, so his text is more plain-spoken, making it harder for Ellanjay to dive behind metaphors and weasel out of Amos's words, which can be summed up by the song "Downpressor Man." Decided not to provide a link. I like both Peter Tosh's rendition and Sinead O'Connor's so I'll let my readers google and choose.
Even still, while I don't claim to be an expert on Zechariah, chances are pretty good that he was obsessed with the Social Gospel. Because the Old Testament prophets in general were kind of obsessed with it, both Major and Minor. Pretty much each book says "Share the wealth and stop oppressing those less fortunate than you. Do what you're supposed to do: Love God, take care of widows and orphans, and don't be assholes towards each other."
So yeah, because Ellanjay believe in a literal reading of scripture, that's why there are horses there. Because this series, like I keep saying, gives me nothing else to think about, I'll now indulge in the kind of hair-splitting/nit-picking that I've become known for.
[Long TANGENT about Horses] Can't help but wonder what kind of horses Nicky is bringing to this fight. I'm sure if I were to say this, point-blank, to Ellanjay, they'd be like, "There are other kinds of horses?" and I'd roll my eyes. Probably the only ones they've heard of are ones used in Horse-racing, which tend to be Thoroughbreds. But Thoroughbreds are more designed for racing around a closed track, show jumping, dressage, or polo. So I wonder how well said horses would do in war.
Because, and this is a gripe I have towards anyone who writes fantasy or historical fiction, you can't treat horses like Lamborghinis, where you just shift into gear, go 70 miles, and reach your destination in a few hours. Horses are living creatures and as such, they have physical needs. Horses need to eat and sleep. They need water. While they can run pretty damn fast (25-30 miles at a gallop or 40-48 kilometers for those into the metric system), horses in general were designed for short bursts, sprints rather than marathons. So they can't maintain that speed for long, and if they're going over rough terrain, instead of, say a carefully prepared race-track, they can maintain that speed for even less. They are animals, so they will eventually get tired and if they aren't able to go on, they won't. They will rebel and refuse.
I don't claim to be an expert on horse breeds, but I imagine the horses Zechariah was writing about, were probably quite different from thoroughbreds. Like I said, thoroughbreds were bred to perform in tightly controlled arenas under strict conditions. Spoiler alert: warfare in general is seldom conducted in tightly controlled arenas under strict conditions. People, who are trying to kill each other, will use whatever advantage they can get.
So I imagine that the horses Zechariah was writing about were warhorses. Another horse fact: Brave Hero can't just borrow some poor farmer's horse and ride into battle, sword held high. Horses are very easily spooked and their natural instinct, when they are spooked, is to GTFO in the other direction. A horse doesn't have many natural defenses except for speed and they know it. So if you want to use a horse in war, they have to undergo years of training, so they will stand and fight, and not freak out at all the noise of battle.
Since Israel is a desert area, the horses would be the type bred and trained to survive long on very little water (though they will eventually need it) and to keep their footing on sand.
I know, I'm lecturing and harping about stuff that nobody but me cares about, but like I said, the series gives me nothing else. So I find myself thinking of other animals and wondering whether they would better suited to the Jerusalem battle.
Genghis Khan conquered Asia (with the exception of Japan) using some 700,000 men on horses. Supposedly said horses were mares, so not only did they provide a mount for a rider, the rider could drink the mare's milk to keep going. By all accounts, the Mongols' horses were very hardy creatures, able to survive on very little, which worked both on the Mongolian Steppes (which are generally rocky with feed often hard to come by) and when they went conquering, because the Mongols didn't have to carry much feed with them. Their horses could mostly take care of themselves.
But y'know Ellanjay would probably have everybody on stallions. For those not in the know about horses, most of the horses used either in day-to-day life or battle throughout history, were mares or geldings (aka neutered stallions). Stallions are big, ill-tempered, and hard to control. So like with most livestock, you kept one or two around for breeding purposes and neutered or killed the rest.
Camels would probably be much better suited for the Jerusalem fight, because they are desert animals; they'd be perfectly at home there. They don't need specialized feed, can go for ages without water, and handle the terrain fairly well. But camels are famously ill-tempered and hard to control. And while they may work for transport, I'm not certain how they would do in war. If a fellow geek knows anymore, feel free to educate in the comments.
While many, thanks in part to Hollywood westerns, envision the pioneers setting out in covered wagons pulled by horses, in reality, the pioneers utilized oxen and mules. We'll ignore oxen (just know that they're big, dumb, but strong, able to endure long travel on very little), because they're suited for pulling heavy loads over long distances, rather than war. But I do wonder about mules.
Horses require specialized feed, which is hard to find. You can't just point them at grass and say, "Durr...eat that," because odds are, they'll eat something that will make them sick. So you will have to provide feed for them. Plus, horses are about as domesticated as dogs. In their eyes, humans are master; therefore I obey humans. They will more or less obey whatever orders you give them; if you signal them to go forward, they will go forward, even if doing so, sends them over a cliff.
In those areas, mules have horses beat. Mules aren't as choosy in their diets and that idiom "stubborn as a mule?" It's completely true. If they're not sure of their footing, they won't move, no matter how much their rider yells and shakes the reins. They'll be like, "Nope, not going to do it. Sorry."
[/Insanely Long TANGENT]
I am so sorry for the previous. In addition to all the above about the limits of draft animals, I find myself wondering about the bean-counters in Nicky's organization. Ellanjay make it seem like Nicky conquered and ruled the world with just a handful of people, but basic knowledge dictates that there would have to be a massive bureaucracy to deal with all this. Someone who makes sure stuff that needs funding, gets funding in all that. I often amuse myself thinking about some poor nebbish CPA in Nicky's organization, going over all the spreadsheets and budgets and such, being like "Now why have we earmarked so much for pig-breeding? Shouldn't we invest more in bottled water. Given the disasters that keep happening, it'd probably be more responsible."
Because the pig ride alone...I find myself wondering how long had Nicky been planning it, how much money did he funnel into eeeevil GMO-type organizations, so they could breed and engineer a pig, able to be ridden (full grown pigs are pretty big, but they're bred for eating, not riding) with nostrils the size of your fist.
But I also wonder how much of Nicky remains. I know after he was killed, Satan completely took over his body, but do you ever wonder if some part of Nicky remains, futility trying to explain that said tactics hadn't worked since the Bronze Age and probably not even then?
All right, back to the books. A speech of Nicky's is blasted in over bullhorn. Why bullhorn? Because his military setting up speakers and blasting music at those trying to defend Jerusalem WOULD ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE! and as a villain in Christian Fiction, having his actions actually make sense is against the rules of the genre.
Said speech, just like the one the defenders in Petra watch later on, is all Nicky being peacey, McPeace-Peace, though it doesn't make any sense. Isn't Satan running things now, so wouldn't "Kill those mothereffers!" or some RTC equivalent (you can slaughter people by the millions in graphic detail, but heaven forbid anyone uses even mild profanity in Christian Fiction) make more sense?
It's something both me and Fred keep running into. If this was any other series, one would assume that Nicky preaching peace out of one side of his mouth, while doing stuff like nuking nine cities, would be proof that he's a hypocrite or maybe following in the mold of tinpot dictators everywhere by doing his own variation on, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, and all that. Get everybody fired up with dreams of a Utopian future, one that will only come if everyone bows their heads and works together, and if those people who stand in our way, stop standing in our way. And while we do not enjoy slaughtering all those people, they were standing in the way of a great and glorious future and refused to move. So we had no choice.
But Ellanjay aren't George Orwell and the tone/implication we keep running into in this series isn't "Nicky is a monster because he preaches peace while trying to kill everyone who looks at him funny" or "Nicky is a hypocrite"; series keeps making it clear that Nicky is a monster, BECAUSE HE PREACHES PEACE. They'd be okay with the slaughtering of innocent if he was doing it in the name of the right belief system (RTCianity, natch)but the fact he does it in the name of his incredibly poorly-defined belief system is what makes his slaughtering wrong.
In fact, Taylor "He's Alive and Awesome, Dammit!" Graham remains the only character to point out the gap between the GC's words and actions as he does in in this post:
"I know you all want to tell people about Jesus and do good stuff so God will like you and all that. I've told you before, if that rings your bell, go ahead. But I've seen what the GC does to good people. They're destroying everything I know and love. They talk peace, but they're armed to the teeth. They talk freedom, but they send people to prison. Oh, sorry. They call them reeducation camps."
In any series, the character who says stuff like that would be a heroic character. In this one...
That and they believe if you are in favor of peace, which most people, even military men are (again, probably General Patton and MLK, Jr. would say that peace is a good thing. They'd just differ when it comes to means of achieving it), YOU ARE ON THE SIDE OF SATAN! YOU WANT TO ALLEVIATE THE SUFFERINGS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE AND KEEP THEM FROM DYING NEEDLESSLY! OR IN OTHER WORDS, YOU WANT THE WORLD TO IMPROVE, RATHER THAN DEGRADE INTO CHAOS UNTIL TURBOJESUS COMES BACK! IN IMPROVING THE WORLD, YOU MAKE IT HARD FOR PEOPLE TO SET UP THE CONDITIONS FOR JESUS'S RETURN! THEREFORE, YOU ARE IN LEAGUE WITH SATAN!
:deep breath: Again, you often wonder if Ellanjay aren't terrified to find themselves in Amish country, positive that all those horse and buggies are secretly packing Uzis and RPGs. Those men with their beards and women with their prayer kapps, may look peaceful, but they are all secretly violent psychos, just waiting for an opening. Christian Pacifism is a central tenet of the Amish's faith, again, making the popularity of Amish lit among RTCs, (who are opposed to peace because peace makes it so Jesus won't come back), somewhat inexplicable.
Anyway, Nicky says his speech, the defenders are all "Nuts!" to Nicky's "Surrender and I won't harm you," and the section ends with Judd and Vicki watching Token Jew stand on a wall and convert some NPCs.
There are bits here and there with Lionel, but even less happens, so I'm going to just ignore them and stick with Judd and Vicki.
Well this happens:
A kerthunk sounded some distance away, and Judd instinctively ducked. A shell struck the building behind him, sending debris flying. He stayed on the ground, coughing and waving a hand. When the dust cleared, he saw a hole the size of a small car in the wall behind him.
The hole was right next to the stairwell.
“Vicki!” Judd screamed.
Because I'm that kind of person, I'll spoil it for you. Vicki isn't dead, just badly injured.
“Over here,” Vicki said, coughing. She lay on the floor with a stone on her leg. “I tried to move it.”
Judd’s heart beat furiously as he struggled to free Vicki. The stone wouldn’t budge. He snagged a gun propped against the wall and used it to pry the stone up a few inches, but Vicki’s leg was still pinned. He was afraid the stone would fall and injure her worse if he tipped it farther. His arms ached as he yelled for help.
A young rebel came toward them from the other side of the tunnel. He put his gun under the stone, and together he and Judd lifted it enough for Vicki to scoot out. The stone crashed to the floor with a tremendous thud! “Thank you,” Vicki said, holding her leg.
I could quibble, point out that a rock the size of a small car (even if it's not the same weight of a small car) would probably do a lot more damage to Vicki's leg, than what's seen later on. But I've quibbled so much lately.
If you're wondering, I highly suspect this was put in both for padding purposes (because Ellanjay are all about padding), but also as an excuse to allow Judd to be all manly and martyrrific as he runs around carrying Vicki trying to get help for her.
For all my readers wondering, if you're ever injured or in any kind of life-threatening danger, don't accept help from Judd. If you're in a plane crash and Judd comes by to help, douse yourself in gasoline (or whatever fuel is used in planes) and get it over with. Because not only could an amateur with the most basic knowledge of first aid poke holes in this, A GODDANGED FIVE-YEAR-OLD WHOSE WORST INJURY WAS A BOO-BOO ON THEIR KNEE WOULD BE ABLE TO POKE HOLES IN THIS.
I'm dead serious. Probably the only reason Vicki didn't die was because an NPC was onscreen and did some basic first-aid stuff to treat her. Another quote:
Kneeling, the young man took out a knife, slit Vicki’s pant leg at the bottom, and tore it until he reached her kneecap. Judd gasped at the gash in her leg.
The wound was to the bone, and blood gushed out. The young man unzipped a pocket on his jacket and pulled out some gauze and antiseptic. He poured it on the wound, and Vicki yelped in pain. When he had wrapped her leg, he said, “It doesn’t look like it’s broken, but someone should look at it soon.”
When you need an NPC to do the basic steps of "Examine, Clean, and Dress the Injury," you know Judd really is a dumbass.
Though I tried to resist doing more quibbling about the rock size, but in all likelihood, a rock that big, most definitely would have broken Vicki's leg. But if we were going for realism, what should have happened next is NPC gives Vicki something to bite down on and Judd holds her hand, as NPC cuts off her leg in order to free her.
I suppose I should say that Judd shouldn't run around being all martyrrific and carrying her. Unless you have the means to move and transport an injured person properly (as in keep the neck perfectly still and such), basic first aid is "Leave them where they are, unless doing so, puts them in immediate life-threatening danger." Like if a car is stalled on the tracks, driver's unconscious, and you hear a train coming, it's okay to move them. Injured driver would be in worse shape if they were hit by a speeding train, than any damage a rescuer might cause by moving them around.
But okay, this is taking place in the middle of a warzone, so I'll let Judd off the hook for moving Vicki around. And maybe there was time enough and they had the equipment to move the boulder so Vicki doesn't have to live out 127 Hours like Lionel did that one time. But I will say that as cool and heroic it looks, having Judd spend the ending of this chapter and the majority of the next, running around, while carrying Vicki, I will point out that Judd could probably easily find something to serve as a makeshift stretcher/wheelchair until he gets her to a hospital or maybe some other RTC could help him carry her. Because even if we assume Vicki is on the petite end of the spectrum and weighs a hundred pounds, tops, carrying an injured hundred pound human is the type of activity that will exhaust even an elite athlete pretty quickly. To make things more complicated, Judd isn't just standing there, holding Vicki; he's also running around through a freaking warzone while doing so.
But I think it's safe to assume that this little bit with Vicki being hurt was put in to pad the series out, give Judd a chance to be all manly and martyrrific (because really of the YTF, Vicki's done most of the heavy-lifting of racking up converts and getting everyone together, while Judd's been flying around Europe and the Middle East doing diddly), and maybe to dissuade snarky readers such as myself who keep pointing out that Judd has shown considerably more chemistry with the male characters than with his designated love interest. "Judd is being all manly and strong, and protecting his woman! Therefore, he can't be Gay!" they protest. Because everyone knows that Gay Men are all sissies and flaming queens and not, y'know, dudes who find love in their own locker room. Therefore, since [Insert Historical Figure Suspected to Be Gay Here] wasn't a flaming queen and did marry a woman and sire children with her, said historical person can't be gay. Because Gay Men are incapable of performing with a woman and apparently don't produce semen, so that proves said historical figure can't be Gay. That and the Gay didn't spring into being until Roe v. Wade, so the idea of a Gay Man existing before 1973 is unpossible!
For those of you wondering about the above paragraph, why I focused on Gay guys and didn't mention Lesbians, I did so because the Christian Right generally is far more obsessed with Gays than with Lesbians. They tend to subscribe to the mindset that women don't :gasp: seek and enjoy sex like men; they do it for their man because they love him and because they want to have babies. Since the only way of having babies is through the heinous act of sex, they suck it up and deal.
So that's about it for this week. Token Jew's dead, for those of you who really cared. Since most of us want to kick him in the ribs half-a-dozen times, I'll assume you don't. Again, sorry for the long-ass tangents that were a helluva lot more longer than actual book-related stuff, but again, I like to think they were at least interesting. Though one last ramble before I hit the road:
[Ramble] I still think the best thing Nicky could do with the idiots in Petra, is to just leave them alone. Surround the place and tell his guys "Shoot if anyone shoots at you or tries to leave, but otherwise leave them alone." Initially the Tribbles will be all "OMG! What do we do?" but as the initial shock wears off and the evil Satanic Army doesn't do their part to give them a common enemy by attacking, I think the Tribbles would fall into doctrinal disputes and take themselves out for Nicky. I base this on a quote from Mark Twain's "Letters from the Earth" one of many books that Ellanjay should read but won't.
“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.
Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”
Interesting quote, but I find myself thinking that Mark Twain probably would have gotten the same results if he had put in different Christians from different denominations. Because as Fred's post points out, the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are :gasp: in the hands of filthy Muslims, because the Muslim leaders, who controlled the site in the 12th century, got tired of all the various sects fighting each other for control of that church. So Saladin, the guy in charge, bestowed the keys into the hands of two Muslim families who have taken care of them since, passing them down generation to generation.
But that still didn't stop the various Christian sects from fighting with each other. So in an attempt to further curb the violence, a Sultan passed what is called the Status Quo rules, basically saying that each sect has their own place and the members of said sect can move the stuff in their area around, but not the stuff in the other sects' areas, and the areas held in common, if you want to make any repairs or do anything to those areas (even just fix a window that won't close right or something minor like that) you have to go to each sect and get unanimous approval. This makes upkeep of the Church a real pain in the ass, as you can imagine.
But even the Status Quo rules haven't solved the problem of sectarian strife. According to Wikipedia
On a hot summer day in 2002, a Coptic monk moved his chair from its agreed spot into the shade. This was interpreted as a hostile move by the Ethiopians, and eleven were hospitalized after the resulting fracas.
In another incident in 2004, during Orthodox celebrations of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a door to the Franciscan chapel was left open. This was taken as a sign of disrespect by the Orthodox and a fistfight broke out. Some people were arrested, but no one was seriously injured.
On Palm Sunday, in April 2008, a brawl broke out when a Greek monk was ejected from the building by a rival faction. Police were called to the scene but were also attacked by the enraged brawlers. On Sunday, 9 November 2008, a clash erupted between Armenian and Greek monks during celebrations for the Feast of the Cross.
So I stand by my assertion that if the people of Petra weren't able to unite in their hatred of Nicky, they would quickly devolve into fights over dogma and the stones won't be the only thing that's red in Petra. [/Ramble]