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Archive for May 13th, 2008

Holy Land Marketing

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I have been hoping for some down time to really reflect on my impressions of this visit to the birth place of Christianity. Today, it was very hot and muggy, again. We have all had to drink lots of water. Most of the sights that we visited were out in the open, with little shade. So, we finished early to come back to the kibbutz to be refreshed.

I hoped that I would have time to write a more informative post, but here it is — 10:30 in the evening and I need to get some more sleep. I took a nap this afternoon and then downloaded photos. Then it was lecture time, followed by dinner. I almost dozed off in the lecture!! When we signed on for this trip, I think we had a notion that we would be a group of like-minded pilgrims quietly visiting the important sites of the historical Jesus. We are what I would call more progressive Christians, believing that Jesus was a revolutionary person who set out to liberate the oppressed residents of this agrarian and fishing area of the middle east. I believe that he was all about peace and justice in the shadow of an empirical government. We are traveling with two of the preeminent scholars of this notion — Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. The director of our Spirituality Center is married to Marcus. The pilgrimage is sponsored by the center.

Our local guide is an archaeologist and spends too much time (for me) pontificating on types of columns, the life of the Romans and other archaeological facts. One ruin begins to look like another and the constant babble does not give one time to reflect and sketch. Not to mention the busloads of other tourists visiting the same sites. Then, there are the souvenir stands. Even our bus driver has books and dvds for sale.

The boat trip on the Sea of Galilee was surreal. It was already very hot at 8:30 when we boarded our boat. It was refreshing to be out on the water. A peaceful and contemplative trip on the water would have been lovely.

Instead, we were “entertained” by the crew. They raised the American flag and blasted the Star Spangled Banner over the speakers.

They gave us a demonstration of how the fishermen would have cast their nets back in the day – that was interesting.

Now, we had to endure the hawking of a cd of Israeli music, which they blasted on the speakers and sang along with, and a vinyl “Places of the Holy Land” place mat. One guy even got out his drum and accompanied the music. Don’t get me wrong,  it was quite entertaining. Many people got into the spirit and danced and sang along. It was fun, in a way, but not what I had expected.

I am thoroughly enjoying the company of the folks on this trip. They are all interesting and intelligent. We start the day with a 15 minute meditation. The end of the day is another meditation with Taize chants, followed by a short lecture by each of the scholars with some Q and A. The Center has not sponsored a trip here in 10 years, and I think it is clear that things have changed considerably.

Enough about that. What else did we do today? We visited the newly discovered and unearthed site of Magdela, home of Mary Magdalene. It is on property owned by the Franciscan brothers who have it fenced in. Next door is a defunct amusement park – talk about surreal! Crossan said he hoped that the site would one day honor Mary as one of the followers and important historical persons, without putting a basilica over it!

Then we we stopped at the site of the feeding of the 5000. Under this alter is the rock from which Jesus supposedly served the food.

This building had beautiful mosaic floors that had been unearthed.

Next on the tour was Peter’s house, actually his mother-in-law’s. Several of the men could not enter this Catholic run site because they were wearing shorts – Mr C included. I was sorry he could not go in because it was the most interesting of the sites, with layers of buildings from different eras and the ruins on an incredible synagogue. Of course, there was a brand new basilica built over  the ruins of Peter’s house, but the synagogue was open and you could wander through it, imagining another time.

I love this mosaic on the altar in the new basilica.

We topped at a restaurant for a sit down lunch. I had the tilapia from the Sea of Galilee.

Mmm – finished off with Turksih coffee and dates.

I asked for a diet Coke! It wasn’t enough caffiene to keep  me awake. I am finishing this post on Wednesday morning.

Back at the kibbutz, we saw this 1st century fishing boat that was discovered buried in the mud in 1986. It is pretty amazing to see how the poor fishermen of the Galilee put together a boat out of various pieces of tree limbs. It is very fragile and had a metal frame and special atmospheric conditions to conserve it.

I must get put together for another day of Roman ruins? – probably!

Buy This Book

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I interrupt the regularly scheduled programming for a shameless promotion of a book by my daughter, Stephanie and her friend, Maria, in Portland, Me. Click the image to go to Amazon to pre-order. You can bet that I will be ordering several!! I think it comes out in November.

For those who do not know, this book is photos and text from their photo blog, 3191 — there is a link in my side bar. I am so proud of these two for pulling this off. This year, they are doing a year of evenings and perhaps, another book.