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Temples Come and Temples Go

August 27, 2010

Descending the Cairo Side a novel of the traveling life

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Religious wars have dominated human affairs ever since people first discovered the intricacies of faith.  The victors in these wars typically build their new and improved structures over the foundations of the old.  A debate exists over why this is so.  Some say, sensibly, that tearing down the loser’s house of worship and replacing it with the winner’s version is a cool demonstration about who exactly won the last skirmish.

1) A classic example of “winner takes all” – the Cathedral in Mexico City, former site of the principal Aztec temple.  On this occasion, at least, the victors replaced a dreadful culture of bloodlust with something a bit more humane

The New Age types counter with an interesting concept, that sacred ground, once recognized as such, will be used over and over again, its inherent sacredness determining the usage.

2) The Duomo in Ancona, Italy: here a Christian church stands on the site of a Roman temple to Venus

For whatever reason, this rule almost seems to be hardwired into human behavior.

3) A nice twist: in the Nile Delta of Egypt, a Greco-Roman temple obscures the pharaonic ruins underneath. Photo by Ken and Peg Herring

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2010 4:23 pm

    In my observation, in most of the cases, its is only the Abrahamic religions (especially Christianity and Islam) that do this. This might have to do with the thirst to propagate these religions. I’m trying to read more and correct myself. 🙂

    • December 18, 2010 5:02 am

      The idea that Abrahamic religions are most prone to building places of worship on top of each other and over older sites may seem to be true only because most of our media is Western-based and therefore reflects Western issues and biases. Cham towers in Vietnam were certainly constructed over previous holy sites of animistic cults, to name but one example, and I have no doubt there are many more. (Bodnath in Kathmandu Valley comes to mind as well, as well as various Roman temples throughout the Middle East (such as Ba’albek) and North Africa (Timgad and Cherchell).

  2. August 27, 2010 8:16 pm

    Religious wars.

    Or people using religion for their own goal(s). Power hungry couched as religion.

    James 1:27 NIV •
    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    So here is ‘true religion’, utterly and completely different from that in common usage or commonly understood byt most people dead or alive. After all, it is His definition, not ours.

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