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30 October 2005 @ 03:27 pm
The Truth - after 800 years?  
/rant on

I have just spent the last half hour arguing off and on with my uncle (THE Historian) on the Crusades of all things. I simply told him the show that is coming on the History Channel and he starts his piece. Like I really wanted this....today...with a headache.

*rolls eyes*

He voted for Bush....

The Crusades remain the most misunderstood and misconstrued movement in human history. The Holy Land has been fought over since time out of mind, and has been held variously by Muslims, Christians, Jews, Romans, Persians, Babylonians, Canaanites, and probably people before that whom the Canaanites killed. Yet the Christians are the only people who held the land without taking it by conquest. Roman pagans ran out Second Temple Judaism and destroyed Jerusalem, then rebuilding a city with another name in that spot. Christians of all other lands used the good Roman roads to get there by pilgrimage and many stayed. When the Roman Empire became Christian, the Christians held the Holy Land suddenly without a blow struck. And only because of Christian involvement did Jerusalem receive back its time honored name. However, during the period when Jerusalem was in "Christian" hands (there never has been a "Christian" people or nation, but while Christian people had governance in the Holy Land), Seljuk Turks came in and took the land and Jerusalem by conquest. Apparently they put many people to the sword and were pretty violent at first, but settled down, despite the fact that Christians and Jews had to wear individually identifiable clothing, and were distinctly second-class citizens. Then one of the new governors burned down the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest place in Christendom. This raised the ire of Christians in Europe even more than the Arab conquest. No immediate movement was organized, for Europe was still recovering from the end of the Viking age. But as word came back not only of the laws against Christians (esp. against evangelism, which has been the whole purpose of the Church since Pentecost, when it started), but atrocities -- some real, some vividly imagined -- a large-scale public movement began to free the Holy Land from the Muslim conquerors. The Church, unlike the public at large, was as divided over the Crusades as anything in its history: part of it thought the whole thing was foolishness and should not be prosecuted; part of it thought a good thing to liberate the Holy Land; and part of it, seeing knights were going to fight anyway, should go and fight Moslems rather than other Christians.

In any case, after that point many waves of Crusaders went to the Holy Land, with varying degrees of success. At one time, the Christians had foothold enough to have a king in Jerusalem, and might've stayed but for the brilliant Saladin. The greatest was the Third Crusade; but he homesickness of many of the leaders, and their almost Vietnam-esque halfhearted prosecution of the Crusade, for all practical purposes, ended the Christian hope of realizing a liberation of the Holy Land.

Throughout history, of course, many societies have tried to shape the Crusades to reflect their own propaganda, most especially the Arab world, which would have us believe that the Crusades were not a defensive war; and the Victorians, who lived in a society where again, as during the Crusades, the church and culture were so aligned that the Victorian facade of "morality" unfortunately rubbed off on the Church. In the 20th century, many people who rebelled against "the Church" were really rebelling against Victorianism, and were too ignorant themselves on what the Church actually stood for to tell the two apart. By the modern age of multiculturalism (which is really the reverse of which Victorian imperialism is the obverse), the Church in its 2000 years could do no right in the eyes of the self-proclaimed intelligentsia, and the Crusades were universally condemned.

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