We visited the main Nazareth churches: the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Church of St. Joseph, and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Each church was splendidly arrayed with vivid paintings and sculptures and highly stylized pillars. The vast recesses of the Basilica of the Nativity were an unexpected awesome spectacle.
Protestant fundamentalist ministers—from Jonathan Edwards (“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) to the jeremiads of Jeremiah Wright—have been notable and notorious for their vehemently passionate sermons. While my wife and I—while eating at the Nazareth Restaurant—heard what sounded like a hell, fire, and brimstone harangue during an outdoor Friday noon Muslim religious service half a block away. The ceremony began quietly with a few moments of melodic chanting. But then the religious leader began a furious half-hour diatribe. His tone was so strident—and possibly mean spirited—that my wife and I initially feared that the violence in his voice might stir up some violence in the streets. But a nearby Israeli riot-control cop showed no concern at all—he just listened to the ranting for a while and then moved on. So we figured that it was safe enough to stay put and finish our meal. Still, it was unnerving (even as bystanders) to be subjected to such a loud, relentless verbal onslaught. When the speaker finally ended his tirade, the crowd slowly and peacefully disbanded. Amen to that!