Clergymen Brawl With Broomsticks


 We had to share our desks at school when I was a child.

Sometimes this went well, but sometimes we would draw a line in the middle and become overzealous about our boundaries. Sometimes we were charitable, but sometimes we ended up in a turf-war!

But then again, this was when I was eight years old…

It was only about a week ago that I blogged about Christopher Hitchens. In one of his interviews he was angrily explaining how he consistently views religion as a system imposing a dictatorship over our minds and behavior – more importantly, how this theocracy punishes us for not following it.

So, it was ironic that the attached article was sent to me in the spirit of mild absurdity and humor.  Regardless of the religion, the scene is beyond ludicrous – it is ridiculous! Or, do I have that backwards?  In any event, it is very funny if you don’t think more deeply about all its implications.

However, when I read it the second time, I got angry. After all, is this how I want to experience my religious leaders?  Is this the brand of anger-management I want to see in my moral leadership?

More to the point: If I were a religious Christian, Jew, Moslem, Greek Orthodox or Buddhist, would I want my clergyman to take up brooms to fight off other clerics stepping on [our] church’s territory in preparation for Christmas, which is supposed to be about love, brotherhood, and peace on earth?

What would Jesus say?



Clergymen Brawl With Broomsticks

Associated Press

European Pressphoto Agency

Armenian clergymen scuffle with police and Greek Orthodox clergymen during the annual cleaning of the Church of Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank—A brawl has erupted between rival clergymen participating in an annual cleaning ritual at the church built at what Christians regard as Jesus’ traditional birthplace.

Armenian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox clergymen screamed at each other and beat each other with broomsticks during Wednesday’s cleanup inside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

They were tidying up the church ahead of Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January.

The two denominations each control sections of the church and fiercely guard their turf. The violence broke out when the sides accused each other of crossing into each other’s territory. Similar fights have taken place in past years.

Palestinian security forces broke up the melee, and no serious injuries were reported.

The Church of the Nativity is built in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on the site where Christian tradition holds Jesus Christ was born, and it is a major attraction for tourists coming to the Holy Land.


About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Clergymen, Impulse Control, Religion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Clergymen Brawl With Broomsticks

  1. Cameron Ashby says:

    With all that you’ve experienced, and know, I genuinely wonder why this story of a broomstick brawl between these (“beatific”) old boys disturbs you, even has you angry? I mean, you’ve written so well about the many contradictions which we all possess. So, I really wonder, what arouses you concerning this tiny and transitory blip on the radar?

    I also relished the freshness, even tenderness, in your fully felt tribute to Christopher Hitchens as an imaginary twin. For me, that piece of word-smithing appeared to reveal new facets of both your gifts and sensibilities.

    My guess as to what Jesus would say… After he blessed them with loud guffaws, side-splitting laughter, and while wiping his nose, still chuckling, he’d pick up a broom then gently state, “Let’s get back to work pilgrims. This place is a bloody pigsty.”

    • rachel bar says:

      I don’t think that it was about my anger, as much as my disbelief. It seemed so infantile, that to some extent I would even prefer guns or knives (not really).

      It is especially because I think of Hitchens that this blip is so symbolic. It is the trivial that demonstrates the essence.

    • rachel bar says:

      @Cam, I just reread my blog, and I did say that I was angry! You were right. Well! Did Freud say that women are inconsistent? Today I only shake me head in disbelief.

  2. Barbara Cooper says:

    I guess my comment is that clergymen (and women) are just people like you and me. Well maybe not like you and me, Rachel, because we don’t exalt them like many do. I have worked in too many churches and synagogues to ever put clergy up on a pedestal. They seldom walk the talk and thus make me think of the old adage, “Those that can, do and those that can’t, teach”. They preach the things that THEY most need to learn. As to what Jesus would do? Well, I think he would just sigh and wonder when humans would get it. There has always been so much tsuris on this planet in the name of God and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. More’s the pity.

    • rachel bar says:

      I think that whenever anything happens in the Middle East which does not involve Israel, I feel relieved.

      The image of the clergymen was so pathetic that I just had to share it.

  3. Martha Carr says:

    Thank goodness it was only broomsticks!

  4. Dalia Kenig says:

    I share your sentiment about this story Rachel.These clergymen are so disconnected from the teaching of Jesus that it is sad and funny in a ridicules way. Organized religion has to do with a lot of politics and power and ritualistic behaviors rather then spiritual ideas and real practice…
    I go to the local park, this temple is open to all, no fees for high holidays, Christmas and other holidays of any religion and everyone who wants to help clean it up is welcomed….

    • rachel bar says:

      I love your observation about the local park, Dalia. It is so often that I/we feel more spiritual and connected to the universe while we’re in nature. How profound to call it “a temple”. Thank you, it is my temple as well!

  5. Hmmm….Well, What would Jesus do? Probably join in and strike them all for their behavior. Then once he have finished the job and sent them to their sides, snicker and think “spare the rod and spoil the child..Well that didn’t work”

    I hate to say it , but is often good to see leaders, act as the common folk…removes the pedestal and makes them approachable. Often the pedestal is the only reason we see and often is the reason we remain blind.

  6. Mo Brock says:

    I’m leaning toward the funny side, but maybe I’ll catch up with your process upon further reflection.

    At least right now, I’m thinking that all brawls which cannot be solved with reason, that is, those that rely, in the end upon belief should be decided with broomsticks.

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