Last weekend the parents and I drove to the Sinai peninsula to root around St. Catherine’s Monastery, at the base of Mount Sinai, where Moses first foisted a jealous god on his tribe, one that took it personally if you snuck in a little devotion to Baal on the side.
Getting there was like driving at high speed through the set of Star Wars, with camels that make Wookie noises and Bedouins as extras. But the one word that crops up again and again to describe the landscape is “biblical”. Coincidence, or…?
Dad and I climbed up to the top of Mount Sinai at night under the recent full moon, and saw the sunrise from the summit. We were not alone–about 500 pilgrims and tourists had the same bright idea, and at the top there was plenty of un-Judeo-Christian-Muslim jostling for prime viewing spots. But at least Moses is one thing all three major religions can agree on. Pity, then, that archeologists think if he ever did climb a mountain it was not anywhere near this one. But I am of little faith.
The monastery is something else. It houses perhaps the most impressive collection of Byzantine icons and manuscripts in the world, the result of an uninterrupted occupation by Greek Orthodox monks since the monastery was founded in 527 AD by Roman emperor Justinian. Last year, the monastery decided to open up a couple of rooms to the public, and instantly created one of the best small museums in the world. The Metropolitan Museum gladly did the curating.
I was allowed to see the library. One monk is in the process of digitally photographing every manuscript it owns, using ultra-high end equipment. It’s all controlled by a G4 Apple Mac. Hallelujah.
[Wed, Aug 28 2002 – 16:10] Charles Kenny (www) (email) Went to Mt. Sanai last year with Pamela. Took Camel part of the way up, but it began to get frostbite, so we got off and walked the rest of the way in driving rain. Couldn’t see anything at the top because of the fog. Stupid fucking desert. Oh, and the monastery was shut.
[Wed, Aug 28 2002 – 21:11] Matthew (email) what would the world be like if it didn’t have charles kennys in it? a sadder place, i say.
[Thu, Aug 29 2002 – 05:34] upPINGton (email) certainly there would be fewer stupid jokes. red t-shirt manufacturers and their families would be poorer. fewer starving villagers in mozambique would have high-speed internet access, though presumably the world bank would have sent over somebody else to do that job. i would have one less person at my stag party this weekend. net net, i believe his contribution to the world is marginally positive.
this is an interesting idea. i am going to do this exercise for all my friends.
[Thu, Aug 29 2002 – 10:25] Felix (www) (email) I think all couples should go through this exercise before they have children. After all, parents are the best predictors of their children’s outcome. Does the world need another giggly American blonde? Would it get on fine without another journalist writing about journalists? (I refer, of course, to my own situation here; YMMV…)
[Thu, Aug 29 2002 – 12:44] upPINGton (email) giggly blondes, yes, definitely. self-referential journalists (are there any other kind?), mmm. err let me think. no, only kidding, of COURSE we need more of THEM. oh yes. much more than giggly cute blonde chicks
just did matthew: fewer papier-mache tea pots, italian shoe makers would be poorer, i’d have to wear my poor old dead grandpa’s tweed coat and have a chance at kimmy, stefan would have an EVEN bigger head, more dishwashers would clog up, less food past its sell-off date would be consumed, plastic shrink-wrap makers would suffer and more limes and lemons, once cut open, would dry up, ceteris paribus increasing demand for citrus products.
[Thu, Aug 29 2002 – 14:44] Matthew (www) (email) impact of no more eurof: many domineering women would feel suddenly, and inexplicably, emasculated; telecoms investors might actually make some money; gin sales would plummet; lemons and limes would be spared from a miserable life, all dried up and shrivelled and not at all self-sealed; kimmies would be safe from gropers masquerading as two-toed sloths; we predict no discernable impact on the fashion industry whatsoever.
[Fri, Aug 30 2002 – 02:57] upPINGton (email) one less person to point out his foibles