Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Life of Mary of Egypt - An Alternative Retelling

A recent article about religious leaders in Jerusalem uniting to call for a crack down on an "immoral" display of homosexual behavior led to this reflection on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt.

Who knew the Jerusalem Post had archives going back to the fifth century?


The Jerusalem Post
September 3, 487 AD

JERUSALEM - In a rare show of unity, religious leaders from the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches came together today to oppose what they called a "spectacle of immorality" that occurs in Jerusalem each year in conjunction with the Feast of the Veneration of the Holy Cross. It is a well-known fact that, together with the waves of pilgrims that sweep over the Holy City for the annual festival, comes a stream of more unsavory characters:actors, jugglers, magicians, and prostitutes, who come to entertain those who transport and feed the pilgrims, and occasionally, even some of the pilgrims themselves. In a coordinated effort, both churches announced a general embargo on prostitutes, troubadours, and "other funny-looking people" throughout the period leading up to the festival, which draws tens of thousands of travelers from all over the world. Those suspected of engaging in "immoral" behavior will be immediately arrested and deported from the city.

"This is the Holy Land, not the harlot land!" exclaimed His Beatitude Gregorios the non-Chalcedonian Patriarch of Jerusalem. "If we let people who follow the wrong way come here, we will lose this city... and there'll be no holiness left here. We will stop it!"

"Every year, we are overrun with these immoral people, both female and male prostitutes," agreed His Beatitude Georgios, the Chacedonian patriarch of Jerusalem. "We know from the Holy Scriptures that God created Adam and Eva, not Adam and Stephanos!" He paused for a moment, looking confused, then said, "Where did that come from?"

The Jerusalem Post conducted an exclusive interview with a young woman who was arrested on suspicion of prostitution in Gaza when her boat came into port, and who was scheduled to be deported the following day. The woman's name was Maria, and she had arrived with a ship from Alexandria; she herself admitted her behavior with the sailors at sea, "There was no kind of perverted and unspeakable lust that I did not perform with them."

JP: "Why did you come to Jerusalem?"

M: "I came for the good time, you know?

JP: "Is that all?"

M: "I... well, I wanted to see it. I've heard so much about it and, I don't know. I felt... called, somehow."

JP: "Do you think you'll ever be back?"

M: "Me? No! No, I've had enough of these bigots. I'm going back to Alexandria, where I belong."

JP: "And what will you do there?"

M: "Live hard, drink up, die young! What else is there?"

In other news, a riot in Jerusalem yesterday left three people dead and scores of others injured when an argument broke out among religious factions over whether "who was crucified for us" should be added after the words "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal" during a public prayer service for the cleansing of the Holy Land from immorality. Spokesmen from both the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches declined comment on the incident.

No comments: