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To my right, the Al-Aksa Mosque, an immense structure fronted by colonnades that was completed around 705 C.E., some seventy years after the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land.
To my left, the even vaster Dome of the Rock, built around the same time, its gold crown towering giddily skyward.
Religiocultural imperialism: something not in evidence in America, with its relatively short, simple history of democratic Christians sweeping westward; but seen and felt here, two huge, alien structures gazing at me on “my” Mount. Here, the First Temple was built by King Solomon a millennium and a half before the Muslim takeover of the city. Here, Israeli troops triumphed in the Six Day War amid cries of “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”
NOW, IN THE CALM morning, you could see the cops and guns; but the greater sense was of peace, of light pouring down from the blue, even huger dome overhead-indiscriminate light falling on Muslim and Jew, Arab and Israeli, on the knot of South Korean Christians listening to an explanation under a cypress, even on the stray cats that seemed to have adopted the exalted place as their home.
All it would have taken to break the calm, maybe start a riot, was me praying. Because of that possibility — that a Jew, or Christian, might pray here or otherwise express himself religiously — there was a need for an armed presence, stringent rules, careful interrogations at the checkpoint. As it happens, praying in public isn’t my thing; but never before was I in a situation where doing it could mean getting arrested, setting off a tinderbox, or both.
I stayed there only a little while, but long enough to realize that it was all there, all I needed to know on earth: the sun that streamed down with equal generosity on everyone and everything, the peace that embraced the whole creation; the presence of people, scions of different religions, who were ready to share the place, who didn’t mind the notion of others praying there and thought there was enough room for all; and the presence, imposing and threatening, of a different religion that hasn’t yet made that turning, that — ironically — enforces its grip over the spot via the borrowed guns of the state that’s supposed to be the sovereign.
I knew, in a way I never had before, that all that’s needed is that turning — you pray to your God, I’ll pray to mine, maybe it’s the same God anyway, why fight over it — for civilization to emerge from barbarism, for a decent life instead of fury and blood.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?