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Default Greetings from the Middle East

April 17th, 2009, 09:08
I just got back from ten days in Lebanon. Wonderfully complete communications blackout — my hosts only had dialup pay-as-you-go Internet on a 15-year-old computer, so I went cold turkey. Instead I kept what my wife calls an "off-line blog," also known with the quaint old term "diary." The country being what it is, there was a lot to write, starting with the story of the grocer across the street who lost everything on the stock market, entered a seminary, and is now repenting his sins in Rome. ("The lucky pig," as the people who told me the story always added.)

If anyone's interested, I could clean up those notes and post a few of them here — I got to talk to some people with fairly interesting perspectives on the country, so there's a fair bit of stuff there that goes beyond personal stuff.
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April 17th, 2009, 10:27
You are going to hear this sooner or later anyway, so it might just as well be now: it would be great if you can share some of your experiences! In particular for the unlucky bastards who never went to Lebanon themselves, yet, like me…

On a side note, I think I will enjoy your perspective, judging from your other posts.
Last edited by coyote; April 17th, 2009 at 16:35.
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April 17th, 2009, 11:29
That would be interesting, your posts are a lot of things PJ but never boring
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April 17th, 2009, 11:44
Yep, start a new thread for it and let's hear what's really happening there.

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April 17th, 2009, 12:00
Definataly interested here
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April 17th, 2009, 12:06
Agreed, I'm interested.
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April 17th, 2009, 12:12
Okay, will do. I'll start later today.
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April 17th, 2009, 12:50
Sounds good. Quick question just out of curiousity, what is the major religion there? I thought it would of been Islam.

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April 17th, 2009, 13:32
There isn't one, which is sort of a problem. The two biggest sects are Shi'a Islam and Maronite Christianity, which together account for maybe two-thirds of the country; Shi'ites are more numerous but poorer, and the political system is rigged to favor the Maronites.

The rest is split between Sunni Islam, Druze (an offshoot of Isma'ili Shi'ism with some Buddhist notions thrown in), and Orthodox Christian, with a huge mess of smaller minorities, including Protestants, Armenian Christians, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Melchites, Alawites, Baha'i, and what have you thrown in. There's even a small Jewish community still living there, and a much bigger diaspora.

It's not an even mix, either; more like a patchwork quilt with religiously homogeneous villages, towns, and neighborhoods next to each other and only sometimes in bigger, contiguous blocks. That's rather a lot of religious diversity for such a small country, which is probably one reason they can't seem to stop fighting each other.
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April 17th, 2009, 13:52
Thanks, PJ. I had no idea there were so many different sects there.

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April 17th, 2009, 16:07
Please do post your experiences, and hopefully you took some pictures as well. This is the only way I'm ever likely to see or hear anything comparable to visiting the area myself, and I enjoy vicariously traveling.

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April 17th, 2009, 18:54
Okay, I'm posting the first installment in a new thread as per Corwin's request. There are pictures, too, but they'll have to wait a bit as my photo-editing computer is in the middle of our home improvement mess, which is at a pretty intolerable stage right now. I'll see if I can put up a few later anyway.
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