Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014


I have just finished reading 'Jerusalem The Biography' by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This follows hard on the heels of reading 'A History of Christianity' by Diarmaid MacCulloch. As an author myself I must congratulate both on a good job, well done.
What have I learnt from reading these necessarily very long books? As an atheist I wanted to understand how religion has shaped our world, what impact it has on current history, what can be learnt from the past and how it may shape the future.
The first thing that strikes a reader was the sheer violence used by the warring factions in Holy Wars despite the almost universal messages of Abrahamic religions of love and tolerance. In particular, the savagery employed to gain control of the strategically unimportant Middle Eastern land over three millenia is truly demoralising. It goes without saying that throughout this sad catalogue of hatred, slaughter and general inhumanity, each protagonist felt they had God on their side.
As the fighting continued the pressure on the combatants was increased by their need to honour those who had fought before them for fear that any backsliding would be considered a betrayal of their forefathers. It is happening in Jerusalem now where a fragile state of co-existance is maintained for fear of upsetting one or more of the tribes whose memory extends back further than their collective will for peace. Nobody wants to compromise for fear of being deemed treacherous. All such notions as 'Love thy neighbour'count for nothing in the face of zealous partisanship.
The one thing missing in both books was the complete absence of the principle cause of so much violence and bloodshed; Yahweh, God, Allah. Despite numerous appeals and prayers, not once did he seem to interfere with proceedings. Ignoring this apparent indifference on the part of Lord, He has 'previous',the various factions seem determined to be in position for either the 'Second Coming' when God will fulfil his apocolyptic promise to raise the dead for the 'Day of Judgement' or Solomon's Temple will be built for the third time.
I'm not sure of the beliefs of the authors, but Sebag Montefiore comes from a well respected Jewish family with a long association with Jerusalem. in his preface the author recognises a profound human need for religion that often blurs myth with the truth and Jerusalem has tragically evolved as a melting pot for all three faiths.
What of the future? more of the same I'm afraid; violence and bloodshed unless by some miracle, the players in this tragedy suddenly realise that in the twenty-first century, mankind no longer needs a God of any persuasion. Open up all the synagogues, churches and mosques for all to venerate Moses, Jesus and Muhammad as MEN.

As far as Blakes hymn, Jerusalem goes, I have to say that that as it stands at the moment, this benighted, God forsaken City is the very last place on earth one would want amongst the dark satanic mills of England.

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