An insightful look at the "miracle" that has led to centuries of controversy within Christianity. Every year the "miracle" of the Holy Fire is enacted in front of hundreds of the faithful at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the church built around the purported tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. For centuries, Orthodox Christian pilgrims have made the arduous journey to witness an oil lamp set aflame by prayer alone, proving that God favors them above all other Christians, as well as Jews and Muslims. But the annual ceremony is marked by controversy, with charges of fraud and heresy as religious factions battle for control of the church and their place in Christian hierarchy. Deftly weaving history, reportage, and religion, Victoria Clark has crafted a fluid and fascinating account of how events beginning with the medieval Crusades and European empire-building have slowly led to battles over a lawn chair on the church rooftop. Holy Fire presents the passionate, often absurd, and always political battle waged by various denominations of Christian churchmen for their savior's empty tomb as the microcosm of centuries of wider religious power struggles-all at a time when it has never been more urgent for the West to see itself as others do.

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