You might not be familiar with me, but I'm a rock. Well -- I don't like to brag, but I'm a boulder, really. Once, I was the tip of a mountain, but mostly I've been paved over. And -- I didn't ask for things to be this way -- but, as rocks go, I'm a pretty damn significant one. I am the rock upon which the foundations of three major religions rest.
I usually try to avoid the conversation, because it gets awkward, fast. But what better time than Holy Week to bring this up?
I live in Jerusalem -- which I know you've heard of. It's the ancient city in Israel holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims. All three have fought over Jerusalem over the centuries. In the modern era, it's mostly been a conflict between Jews and Muslims.
This is where I come in.
You've probably heard about this one -- Christians and Jews talk about it all the time. It was in the Old Testament and the Torah that Abraham was married to Sarah, who couldn't conceive. That's what we'd say now, but of course, in the Bible they prefer the term "barren." In any case, God came along -- and suddenly, Sarah was pregnant!
At long last, they had a son, named Isaac. Then to test him, God decided that Abraham would have to kill him. (God's like that sometimes.) Abraham took Isaac outside of town -- well, that was back when I was still a mountain, -- and was about to kill him, when an angel said, Nevermind! God was just testing! There happened to be ram nearby, caught in some thorns, and the angel said it was OK to kill the ram instead.
Yeah, so -- that mountain? That was me.
Even before that, God decided to give Moses the stone tablets that contained the Ten Commandments. You know, the Thou shalt not's that still stir up so much controversy. Moses -- what a star! To be chosen by God like that!
Moses and the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert, in search of the Promised Land, carrying the tablets with them in a special golden trunk -- the Ark of the Covenant.
Well, we all know -- Moses died before making it to the Promised Land. But the Ark made it to a temple, the First Temple, built by King Solomon in Jerusalem. Which was built upon the tip of a mountain.
That tip of a mountain? Actually, it's a rock now. A boulder, really. That was me.
That temple got knocked down, as did the Second Temple to follow. Raiders of the Lost Ark, not withstanding, the Ark of the Covenant has never been found. (I swear to God I don't know what happened to it! And no, I've never met Harrison Ford.)
But to the Jewish people, you've got to understand -- those temples, and the Third temple prophesied to be built upon the same site? To them, that's of extraordinary religious significance.
To Christians, for whom the Ten Commandments still make up the backbone of morality? What a star for them, too.
Now let's talk Islam. One day, the Prophet Mohammed was at home in Mecca when the Arch Angel Gabriel appeared, with a magic winged horse. First, they flew to Jerusalem. From there, Mohammed and the magic flying horse took off to the heavens and met God.
Of course, for that sort of flight, you need to get a good running start. Off the tip of a mountain. Off a conveniently-located boulder.
Can you believe it? It was the same rock! And yeah -- that was me.
Mohammed -- what a star! To be chosen by God like that! Understandably, Muslims think Jerusalem is of extraordinary religious significance. And so am I.
So yes, I have to say -- I'm flattered that so much history is associated with me. Oftentimes, I'm overwhelmed by the faith and love of good people, whose interpretations of the Torah, the Bible and the Quran lead them to do unto others as they would like others to do unto themselves.
But the rest of it.
Thousands of terrorist attacks over the years, by those who believe Islam is being oppressed by the U.S. and other allies of Israel? And the military response to those? That's all because of me. Thousands of air-strikes and attacks by Israel on Gaza and other Palestinian targets, not necessarily part of the seven(!) individual wars and myriad mini-conflicts to wrack the region in the modern era?
That too, is all because of me.
Pick up a newspaper. Are you baffled by the talk of potential Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear sites and how they link to question of the U.S. funding Syrian rebels?
Peel away enough layers, and that, too, is because of me.
With no exaggeration, humankind has literally spent centuries fighting over the same rock. I try not to get too bummed out about this, because I know it's not my fault. But at the same time -- I can't help but feel partly to blame for a never-ending stream of tragedy.
I understand that we're talking about tribal culture, with ancient scribes whose geographic understanding was limited by how far they could get on foot. And sure -- in Jerusalem, I'm a convenient landmark. But did God really have to base elements of the foundation to every tradition of faith in the region on me??
Talk about a lack of imagination on the part of the Creator!
And Christianity doesn't get away scott-free. The Crusades, anyone? Luckily, I'm not even the faintest bit round -- here's a photo. Otherwise it'd be just my luck to have been rolled in front of Christ's tomb.
I know. I'm sorry. What's more tacky than a celebrity complaining about the writers? But honestly, I'm exhausted. If it were up to me, I'd be no more than a molehill. I'd be a patch of sand -- there'd be so much less responsibility.
It's absurd. It's the height of human folly.
Because in the end, I'm still just a rock.