The Long View

holy mtThe tragic conflict in Syria had me thinking about a 1998 book, by the  English writer William Dalrymple, based on a much earlier book. In the year 587 , John Moschos, a Syrian monk, and exact contemporary of Mohammed,  walked from Palestine to Egypt, and later Syria and Turkey, visiting centers of monastic culture, and wrote about his travels in a book called The Spiritual MeadowFourteen hundred years later, Dalrymple set out to follow those footsteps, and wrote From the Holy Mountain, recording the vanishing evidence of a civilization.  It’s a terrific example of the English travel history genre. Dalrymple stayed for a while in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, a continuous urban center for six or seven thousand years, and visited the 13th century souk, the largest such covered market in the world. An Armenian businessman told him: “After Assad’s death or resignation no one knows what will happen. As long as the bottle is closed with a firm cork all is well. But eventually the cork will come out. And then no one knows what will happen to us.” That was fifteen years ago, and a different Assad.  Last year the Aleppo souk was largely destroyed in fighting.  As the world now knows, chemical weapons killed many hundreds on the outskirts of Damascus. The practice of fasting has been observed by all peoples in this part of the world for millennia. It is part of the Yom Kippur observance this week; Pope Francis called last week for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria.  One could do worse, much worse.

-Mel Nezzo

Published in: on September 10, 2013 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://cincinnatimercantile.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/the-long-view/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: