The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Druze -- Caught in the Middle

During the early days of the civil war in Lebanon -- a conflict that tore that nation apart for 15 years -- I remember hearing about the Druze, but really didn't know anything about them. I had just assumed they were some obscure Eastern Christian sect until, years later, I met one at a business meeting I was attending and spent some time talking with him about his religion. He was a native of Lebanon who, along with most of his family, had made his way to the United States to avoid the carnage and chaos of civil war.
Scenes of the Civil War in Lebanon (1975-1990
He wasn't particularly open about what it meant to be a Druze, and I soon discovered why. The Druze are not, as I had assumed, Christian, but are actually descended from a form of Islam with some gnosticism thrown in. I remember being told that the only way to be Druze is to be born Druze. And like the early gnostics some few are considered enlightened and only these really understand what the religion is all about. And apparently they don't talk much about it, even among other Druze. It's all very strange, especially in this day and age.

That meeting a dozen years ago was my sole Druze encounter. Since then I've occasionally wondered about the sect and how they've fared in recent years. And so I was particularly pleased to come across a fascinating article by Michael Totten describing the Druze who live in Israel. The are truly a remarkable people. Click here: The Tower of the Sun. It's well worth reading.

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