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  1. #1
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    Report from the Holy Land

    An amazing trip. I'm still processing it all. I liked the way that we went, as a pilgrimage rather than, say, tourism or education. We were going to see sites that are at the heart of the Christian tradition. There was time in the afternoons for relaxation and reflection. There were some groups there at the same time who drove to sites about 12 hours each day for two weeks. I think that would be awful, all blending together. The way we did it, we certainly missed some things, but I liked the trade-off. A few observations.

    • Virtually every site we visited is questionable. However, I enjoyed what's known as a "second naivete," which is where you get beyond questioning the fact of something to embrace the truth of it. This is generally my approach to Scripture, but the sites made things very real to me. Even where it was most likely not the site described, it still gives a feel for the context. In some cases, the geography itself is critically important in understanding the narrative, such as Jesus entry into Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives by crossing the Kidron Valley.
    • I was off of most Internet communication for the full two weeks. (I sent one email to a professor and friend concerning one of the sites that is very meaningful to both of us.) I did not miss it much. I will probably be around even less now.
    • The group I was with was amazing and that made all the difference in the trip. It was a group of progressive ministers from DFW. Very diverse: early career and late career; young and old; big churches and small churches; emergent and traditional. I learned a lot from everyone and set the stage for some partnerships in the future. These are people that I will rely on for the rest of my life for advice and support.
    • I don't like the Hassidim very much. I don't think that makes me a racist. Rude. Misogynist. Privileged. The driving force behind the worst oppression of the Palestinians. There were exceptions, such as the lovely man on the plane helping take care of his three children, but not many.
    • Our guides were Arab, one a Christian and one a Muslim. They were lovely people who we got to know very well. We met their families. They were extremely generous out of their poverty. The way they are treated is shameful. The Christian lives on the West Bank, in Bethlehem; the Arab lives in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. People on the West Bank get different license plates, so that they can be easily prevented from entering Jerusalem. For that reason, my guide has to walk through a checkpoint in the wall and then take a bus. Every time he goes through, each way, he has to be fingerprinted, photographed, frisked, and interrogated. It takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half each way. The only way he can come in at all is because he has a permit as a licensed guide. They were followed by the Israeli FBI while showing us around town and they would have been arrested if we had not been with them - just for being Arab. Walking around in the path of Jesus you really get a sense of the role of politics and economics in the narrative of the New Testament. Seeing it play out again in front of our eyes was disturbing.
    • Semitic women are hot. FYI.
    "And if there is nothing that can so hide the face of our fellow-man as morality can, religion can hide from us as nothing else can the face of God." -- Martin Buber

    "You do not like religion; we started from that assumption. But in conducting an honest battle against it, which is not completely without effort, you do not want to have fought against a shadow like the one with which we have struggled." -- Friedrich Schleiermacher

  2. #2
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    THANKS DUDE. I assume this means you are back safe and sound as they say.
    I promise I won't do it again

  3. #3
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    Nice report. What does DFW stand for?
    I am clay.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kilmer View Post
    Nice report. What does DFW stand for?
    Dallas/Fort Worth
    "And if there is nothing that can so hide the face of our fellow-man as morality can, religion can hide from us as nothing else can the face of God." -- Martin Buber

    "You do not like religion; we started from that assumption. But in conducting an honest battle against it, which is not completely without effort, you do not want to have fought against a shadow like the one with which we have struggled." -- Friedrich Schleiermacher

  5. #5
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    Which site, would you say, hit your heart the most?
    Dad's dream: to one day have the lifestyle his wife and children have.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pink Monkey View Post
    An amazing trip. I'm still processing it all. I liked the way that we went, as a pilgrimage rather than, say, tourism or education. We were going to see sites that are at the heart of the Christian tradition. There was time in the afternoons for relaxation and reflection. There were some groups there at the same time who drove to sites about 12 hours each day for two weeks. I think that would be awful, all blending together. The way we did it, we certainly missed some things, but I liked the trade-off. A few observations.

    • Virtually every site we visited is questionable. However, I enjoyed what's known as a "second naivete," which is where you get beyond questioning the fact of something to embrace the truth of it. This is generally my approach to Scripture, but the sites made things very real to me. Even where it was most likely not the site described, it still gives a feel for the context. In some cases, the geography itself is critically important in understanding the narrative, such as Jesus entry into Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives by crossing the Kidron Valley.
    • I was off of most Internet communication for the full two weeks. (I sent one email to a professor and friend concerning one of the sites that is very meaningful to both of us.) I did not miss it much. I will probably be around even less now.
    • The group I was with was amazing and that made all the difference in the trip. It was a group of progressive ministers from DFW. Very diverse: early career and late career; young and old; big churches and small churches; emergent and traditional. I learned a lot from everyone and set the stage for some partnerships in the future. These are people that I will rely on for the rest of my life for advice and support.
    • I don't like the Hassidim very much. I don't think that makes me a racist. Rude. Misogynist. Privileged. The driving force behind the worst oppression of the Palestinians. There were exceptions, such as the lovely man on the plane helping take care of his three children, but not many.
    • Our guides were Arab, one a Christian and one a Muslim. They were lovely people who we got to know very well. We met their families. They were extremely generous out of their poverty. The way they are treated is shameful. The Christian lives on the West Bank, in Bethlehem; the Arab lives in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. People on the West Bank get different license plates, so that they can be easily prevented from entering Jerusalem. For that reason, my guide has to walk through a checkpoint in the wall and then take a bus. Every time he goes through, each way, he has to be fingerprinted, photographed, frisked, and interrogated. It takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half each way. The only way he can come in at all is because he has a permit as a licensed guide. They were followed by the Israeli FBI while showing us around town and they would have been arrested if we had not been with them - just for being Arab. Walking around in the path of Jesus you really get a sense of the role of politics and economics in the narrative of the New Testament. Seeing it play out again in front of our eyes was disturbing.
    • Semitic women are hot. FYI.
    I guess it sounds like a worthwhile trip then...

    I have heard many complain about the Hassidim with some justification but I think that when you feel you are specially blessed by g-d you might feel overly privileged. i.e. they aren't the only ones.
    Last edited by PatsFan2003; 01-29-2014 at 04:04 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pink Monkey View Post
    [*]I was off of most Internet communication for the full two weeks. (I sent one email to a professor and friend concerning one of the sites that is very meaningful to both of us.) I did not miss it much. I will probably be around even less now.
    Hear Ye, Oh Lord my Prayer!!

    Hark, the Herald Angels! -- and all you Heathens, Pagans, Atheists and Infidels! One trip to the Holy Land and Brother Pink Monkey Man has confirmed and offered proof of the existence of God!

    Just kidding, although I have all the proof I need. Tell us more on the trip, BPM. How was the food. How were the local Christians getting along with the Muslims and Jews? How were the markets and bring home goods? Did you pluck one eye out after lusting for these 'semetic women'? Or is that a-okay in the progressive way?

    Oh, any way you could dig up that thread listing the Catholic writers again? I seem to have lost my list and something's come up I need to do some research.
    Last edited by Rear Admiral; 01-29-2014 at 04:22 PM.
    Gang Way!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baked Beans View Post
    Which site, would you say, hit your heart the most?
    It's hard to say. Different ones for different reasons. The one I broke radio silence for was the new excavation and chapel at Magdala. It wasn't even on our agenda, but we added it at the last minute. This professor and friend has done a lot of work on Mary Magdalene, particularly the way that she gets conflated with other biblical women in an attempt to dismiss her claims to any kind of apostolic authority.

    The site was discovered when the pontifical hotel, the Notre Dame, decided to add a location in Galilee. As with all new building projects, they are required to check for archaeological remains before going forward. They knew that the Franciscans next door had a piece of a port on their land that probably extended onto this property, but they didn't expect to find much more. When they scoped it, they found a first century town, thought to be Magdala, on the Via Maris, the Roman road that runs from Caesarea Maritima on the coast to Capernaum on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. This road also runs through Nazareth, meaning that when the Bible says that Jesus traveled between his home in Nazareth and his base of operations in Capernaum, this is the road he would have traveled. Further, during his Galilean ministry, he preached the synagogues in the towns of the region. It so happens that they found the first century synagogue on the Via Maris. It seems almost certain that Jesus preached in that spot and that he first met Mary Magdalene there.

    Perhaps even more amazing is that the Church decided to erect a chapel there that honors the women of the Gospels. It is still under construction, but they gave us a tour. It is magnificent. You enter into the narthex, which is a huge circular room with a baptismal font in the center. There are four small chapels, each with an unbelievable mosaic of a biblical scene that is set such that, if it were a window, the landscape beyond would be the in view. So, the story of Mary Magdalene is set such that the town of Magdala is right behind the mosaic; if you walk outside, you would see the remains of the city right there. The main chapel is set below sea level and the dais is a boat set on green marble steps. The height makes it appear to the pews as if it is floating on the lake outside the windows. Beautiful! But the best thing is back in the narthex. The domed roof is held up by eight columns, each with the name of a woman from the Gospels. However, one of the columns is left blank, as a placeholder for all the unnamed and unknown women of the past, present, and future who work for the Gospel.

    Given mine and my friend's interest in gender equity in the Church, this meant a lot. I wrote her to tell her that I hope to have a picture of her in front of that column some day because of all she has done to bring the Good News to my life and the lives of so many others. She wrote back to tell me that, when she heard I was going, she started thinking that she hadn't been in a while and might like to go back. The next day, she got a phone call asking her to lead a group of ministers to the Holy Land next January. She wants me to go with her and take that picture. I hope that I can.
    "And if there is nothing that can so hide the face of our fellow-man as morality can, religion can hide from us as nothing else can the face of God." -- Martin Buber

    "You do not like religion; we started from that assumption. But in conducting an honest battle against it, which is not completely without effort, you do not want to have fought against a shadow like the one with which we have struggled." -- Friedrich Schleiermacher

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatsFan2003 View Post
    I have heard many complain about the Hassidim with some justification but I think that when you feel you are specially blessed by g-d you might feel overly privileged. i.e. they aren't the only ones.
    Yeah, I was thinking about that, too. On the plane over, they were constantly getting up to pray, which is fine. However, they have to do it at specific times, facing toward Jerusalem, and every time they have to make a wardrobe change, putting on the right robe or the right tassels or something - I never could figure out the logic or pattern. Small aside - they don't seem to be bound by the same carry-on restrictions as everyone else. They each have their usual carry-ons, like a satchel or small suitcase or something, but they also have all those wardrobe changes - coats, robes, shawls, tassels, hats - and a hat case. They rudely push everyone out of the way to get to the overhead compartments first and then take up all the room. With all the praying, they are getting up throughout the 10-hour flight to pack and unpack all their crap and they seem to have no compulsion to avoid bumping their fellow travelers or dropping stuff on our heads. No apologies. Nothing. When we hit Israeli airspace, it's one of their prayer times, so they are all standing up. The pilot comes on to tell everyone to get in their seats and they completely ignore him. He says it again and they ignore him again. The attendants tell them to sit down and they say that they only obey God. Now, bear in mind that the reason everyone is supposed to be locked down when we hit Israeli airspace is because they fear terrorists blowing something up; anyone standing should be suspect. IOW, they are the ones pushing these paranoid fear tactics that "inconvenience" Arabs every day, but they should somehow be exempt.

    All that to say that I know they aren't the only ones. It's just particularly disturbing, given their history, that they would embrace a theology of separation and elitism. I know we have had this conversation on here a lot, but progressives are often accused of a vapid desire for tolerance that makes it impossible to critique people across cultures. However, there are some questions we can ask: Does your faith make you a better person? More kind and compassionate? What would the world be like if everyone were like you? I don't think these questions bode well for the Hassidim.
    "And if there is nothing that can so hide the face of our fellow-man as morality can, religion can hide from us as nothing else can the face of God." -- Martin Buber

    "You do not like religion; we started from that assumption. But in conducting an honest battle against it, which is not completely without effort, you do not want to have fought against a shadow like the one with which we have struggled." -- Friedrich Schleiermacher

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pink Monkey View Post
    Yeah, I was thinking about that, too. On the plane over, they were constantly getting up to pray, which is fine. However, they have to do it at specific times, facing toward Jerusalem, and every time they have to make a wardrobe change, putting on the right robe or the right tassels or something - I never could figure out the logic or pattern. Small aside - they don't seem to be bound by the same carry-on restrictions as everyone else. They each have their usual carry-ons, like a satchel or small suitcase or something, but they also have all those wardrobe changes - coats, robes, shawls, tassels, hats - and a hat case. They rudely push everyone out of the way to get to the overhead compartments first and then take up all the room. With all the praying, they are getting up throughout the 10-hour flight to pack and unpack all their crap and they seem to have no compulsion to avoid bumping their fellow travelers or dropping stuff on our heads. No apologies. Nothing. When we hit Israeli airspace, it's one of their prayer times, so they are all standing up. The pilot comes on to tell everyone to get in their seats and they completely ignore him. He says it again and they ignore him again. The attendants tell them to sit down and they say that they only obey God. Now, bear in mind that the reason everyone is supposed to be locked down when we hit Israeli airspace is because they fear terrorists blowing something up; anyone standing should be suspect. IOW, they are the ones pushing these paranoid fear tactics that "inconvenience" Arabs every day, but they should somehow be exempt.

    All that to say that I know they aren't the only ones. It's just particularly disturbing, given their history, that they would embrace a theology of separation and elitism. I know we have had this conversation on here a lot, but progressives are often accused of a vapid desire for tolerance that makes it impossible to critique people across cultures. However, there are some questions we can ask: Does your faith make you a better person? More kind and compassionate? What would the world be like if everyone were like you? I don't think these questions bode well for the Hassidim.
    Yeah,

    matches perfectly to what my uncle experienced when he served as customs/security/police at Schiphol airport. At least in his time there, these people were the most despised and hated travellers by a very wide margin were the Hassidim, by just about everybody at the airport for that particular reason. They were on a whole other level, even compared to other groups that consider themselves 'chosen' and above the law (like Salafists and so on).

    Same way they seem to be among the primary movers behind Israeli occupation policies and inciting and keeping alive the cycle of violence over there, yet they feel it is the job of other Israelis to die for them, or do the killing for them. Or that its their right to dictate their laws upon the rest of society.
    Al Michaels: "That's the loudest manure chant I have ever heared!"

    Sleeping barely above the sea... and walking under water

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rear Admiral View Post
    How was the food.
    In Tiberias, it was amazing. If anyone ever takes a trip there, stay at the Scot's Hotel. Every night and every morning is a huge buffet. There are probably twenty different salads and appetizers on the table, ranging from roasted beets with feta to little spoons of labneh (thick yogurt) with caviar. Then the entrees include a huge hunk of meat that they slice off a piece of, fresh grilled fish, roasted sweet potatoes, lasagna, lamb stew, and on and on. I gained about five pounds on the trip.

    Once we got to Jerusalem, things went downhill. Lunches were okay, but it was the same thing every time: a rice and cauliflower dish called rus-bi-halib and roasted chicken. I loaded up on the salads and appetizers: hummus, baba ghanouj, tabouleh, fatoush, labneh, zaatar, fried eggplant with pickled onions and sumac, tahini salad, barley soup. And the hotel was terrible. My friend described it as "white people food," but I might call it "old white people food." No offense. Flavorless, mushy crap. Beef stew cooked to within an inch of its life with no salt. Fish cooked until it was leather. Tough, flavorless chicken nuggets. It was awful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rear Admiral View Post
    How were the local Christians getting along with the Muslims and Jews?
    Most of the Christians are Arabs, so they get along better with the Muslims than the Jews. They live together on the West Bank or in the Arab quarter of the Old City and they share a culture even if they don't share a faith. There are some tensions in Nazareth right now over a mayoral election contested between a Muslim and a Christian. Christians have always held the post, but the Muslim won and now their voter fraud accusations. But at least they can agree that they hate the Jews who are building expensive homes on the high hills above the town.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rear Admiral View Post
    How were the markets and bring home goods?
    Here's the way things work: you spend two weeks with your guides and you come to love them and the whole time they tell you not to buy anything because they will take you to all the authentic, quality stuff at better prices in their home town. When you get there, you find that it's the same stuff that everyone else sells, but you are trapped and this is one of your last chances to shop. Also, you do feel bad for the Palestinians, among whom the unemployment rate is about 40%. So you grit your teeth and spend a bunch of money and hope that your guides are getting a cut. I got lots of jewelry for Ms. Monkey. I missed her birthday being on the trip, so I thought that was a good spend. Then I also bought a bunch of stuff at a place in Jerusalem that helps Palestinian women market their handcrafts, such as embroidery and jewelry-making. We had met with the foundation that runs the project and I have a lot of confidence in what they do, so I wanted to support them. I got a lot of textiles: altar-cloths, a shawl for my mother, some needlepoint for my church board members.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rear Admiral View Post
    Did you pluck one eye out after lusting for these 'semetic women'? Or is that a-okay in the progressive way?
    I did not. I don't feel guilty for finding women attractive, no.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rear Admiral View Post
    Oh, any way you could dig up that thread listing the Catholic writers again? I seem to have lost my list and something's come up I need to do some research.
    I can't remember the subject. Refresh my memory and I would probably make the same recommendations.
    "And if there is nothing that can so hide the face of our fellow-man as morality can, religion can hide from us as nothing else can the face of God." -- Martin Buber

    "You do not like religion; we started from that assumption. But in conducting an honest battle against it, which is not completely without effort, you do not want to have fought against a shadow like the one with which we have struggled." -- Friedrich Schleiermacher

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rear Admiral View Post
    Hear Ye, Oh Lord my Prayer!!

    Hark, the Herald Angels! -- and all you Heathens, Pagans, Atheists and Infidels! One trip to the Holy Land and Brother Pink Monkey Man has confirmed and offered proof of the existence of God!


    You are funny, RA.
    "Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed but rather evolved." - Francis Crick.

    "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." - Romans 1:20

    "It's one reason I hate reading what Tyke writes. It just annoys the hell out of me." - Big Pink Monkey

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyke1doe View Post


    You are funny, RA.
    We are snowbound in over here. Got a full two inches and cannot even force open the door! Like everyone else, I blame the politicians! They left us unprepared!!
    Gang Way!

  14. #14
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    Thanks BPM, makes me want to go there even more.
    Dad's dream: to one day have the lifestyle his wife and children have.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pink Monkey View Post
    [*]Semitic women are hot. FYI.[/LIST]
    Useless w/o pics.

    {My God it took 3 days for someone to say that???}
    "Stop doing the wrong things. Stop promoting competition and choice as answers to the very inequality that was created by competition and choice."
    ~ Diane Ravitch, Reign of Error

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