The Family That Redecorates Together.
Text Martin Marks Illustration Brian Fee
CHRISTIAN TRADITION HOLDS few places more sacred than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—site of the Calvary, the rock of Golgotha, the tomb, the death, and the Resurrection. Unfortunately, the church itself runs a mere 175 feet wide by 117 feet long, with almost every square inch falling under the watchful eyes of rival pontifical bodies. For most of its history, whenever a door was opened, a chair moved or a staircase mopped, bloodshed usually followed.
After centuries of such squabbles, the Ottoman Empire issued an edict that divided the building among the world’s various churches, freezing these territorial rights, without change, forever. Shortly before this status quo was reaffirmed in 1852, an Armenian monk decided to wash some windows belonging to his ecclesiastical order. In doing so, he placed a small ladder out onto a ledge, which would have been fine, save that the ledge belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church. For 157 years, nobody has dared move this ladder for fear that they may accidentally start a war.
When I first heard about that rickety old ladder, frozen in a purgatory of remodeling and refurbishment, I couldn’t help but think of the Lucite paper towel rack that currently rests on our kitchen countertop. This past August marked the fourth anniversary of its having been removed from our old kitchen wall and placed, without screws, on the pink granite beside the sink. To this day, that Lucite paper towel rack (conservative blue book estimate: $5.00) remains a particular point of contention in our household. Continue reading