Thursday, November 10, 2005

They Should Make the Plane Out of the Black Box!

Checking out my recent hits I noticed this one, from a Google search: what is inside mecca's black box?

Inside the Black Box is a big, shiny pile of No One Knows. But my guess - a meteor. A rock that fell from the sky into the vast and barren desert. An artifact of Arabian pre-Islamic paganism grandfathered into Islam. Theologically speaking why would Muslims care about a pre-Islamic shrine? They shouldn't. But Muhammad (Mohammed, Mahomet, etc) compromised with the pagan locals and made up some reason to keep the Ka'bah or Kabba. The locals recognized the supremacy of Islam and, more importantly, the political supremacy of Muhammad, and in return they got to keep their quaint little pilgrimage box and all the money it generated during the pagan holidays, which were also coated with a vaneer of Islam to make them respectable.

The same sort of thing happened in Europe as Christians converted the barbarian tribes. The missionaries let the locals keep some of their more important shrines, relics, festivals and heroes, but covered them with a fresh coat of Christian paint. The demi-gods and warriors were the priests rebranded as saints, for example. The difference here is that the Christians admit it and are not threatened by their own history.

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