May I wish you all a happy and blessed Timkat season. Timkat, I should explain, is an important festival of the 40-million-strong Orthodox Church of Ethiopia. By common consent, it is one of the world's most spectacular religious festivals. A three-day celebration literally brings large areas of the country to a halt in a season dedicated to elaborate rituals, to feasting and gift giving, pageantry and mysticism. In vast pilgrimages and processions, individual churches parade their tabots —symbols of the Ark of the Covenant.
Philip Jenkins is professor of history at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and author of The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade and The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels.