Category Archives: Pilgrimage

A delayed “If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem…”

By the Waters of Babylon, Hebrew exiles vowed never to “forget thee, O Jerusalem…”

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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

This blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (See John 6:37.)  The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance (John 10:10.)   The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12.)  The fourth – and most overlooked – is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with anopen mind.  See Luke 24:45:  “Then He” – Jesus – “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

And this thought ties them together:

The way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is – as noted – to read the Bible with anopen mind.  For more, see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.

In the meantime:

I just reviewed some “posts to be done” from a few months ago – and ran across this. As noted in the first ‘graf, it’s from the first week of last May. (I was about to fly to Israel for three weeks.) But I didn’t publish it then, so I’ll do that now. Accordingly, here’s that first pre-look at my planned Israel trip, and Psalm 137, “the middle of the Bible.”

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As told in “On to Jerusalem,” this upcoming May 10th I’m flying to Jerusalem for a two-week pilgrimage (As part of a local church group venture.)  To that end, I’ve been listening to some lectures-on-CD, The World of Biblical Israel | The Great Courses Plus.

On a related note, I connected to a Jerusalem Post article, If I Forget Thee, Oh Jerusalem:

There is an almost natural magnetic draw to Jerusalem that stirs within us a special emotion. For millions of people around the world the heart of ancient Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, symbolizes spirituality and mysticism, a place of prayer and miracles, the centre of the world and a holy portal to God.

Note the “spirituality and mysticism” part, which mirrors one frequent theme of this blog.  The point is:  That title in the Jerusalem Post article refers to Psalm 137:5-6, which reads  “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”  (That’s from the King James Version. You know, the one God uses?)  

Which just happened to tie in with the Biblical Israel course, as described below.

See for example Psalm 137 – Wikipedia, describing “Nebuchadnezzar II‘s successful siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC.” One result? The people of Judah ended up “deported to Babylonia, where they were held captive until some time after the Fall of Babylon (539 BC):”

In English it [Psalm 137] is generally known as “By the rivers of Babylon,” which is how its first words are translated in the King James Version…  The psalm is a communal lament about being in exile after the Babylonian captivity, and yearning for Jerusalem.  The psalm is a regular part of JewishEastern OrthodoxCatholicAnglican and Protestant liturgies.  It has been set to music often, and was paraphrased in hymns.

So anyway, Professor Chapman focused first on Psalm 137 as the story of how that Hebrew Remnant – those Exiles – created the final version of what we know as the Old Testament.

That is, the Old Testament – as we know it today – did not exist before the year 586 B.C. Again, that was the year most Judeans were taken from their homeland – after the horrors of the Babylonian conquest – and suffered a “death march,” 800 miles to Babylon.  “After this defeat, they compiled, edited and shaped” their collected national stories into a virtual library.

Eadwine psalter - Trinity College Lib - f.243v.jpg
Psalm 137 in the Eadwine Psalter (12th century)

And again, according to Professor Chapman, Psalm 137 (at right) constitutes both the mid-point – the very middle – of years of Ancient Jewish history and the very middle of the Bible itself. 

In turn Psalm 137 was written at just the time when the books of the original Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament – were collected, edited and redacted.  And it all came to be because of the Exile, that “national disgrace.”

In other words, before the calamity of the Exile, many books (in the form of scrolls) existed, but “here is where they were first collected into what we know as the Old Testament today.” That idea was mirrored in the Babylon captivity link at Psalm 137:

This period saw … the emergence of the central role of the Torah in Jewish life.  According to many historical-critical scholars, the Torah was redacted during this time, and began to be regarded as the authoritative text for Jews.  This period saw their transformation into an ethno-religious group who could survive without a central Temple.

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Which is about as far as I got: The story of how the Old Testament as we known it finally came into being. And it might never have occurred but for this humiliating “national disgrace” for the Children of Israel. (On that note see The Blessings of Trials – Crosswalk.com.)

But in the meantime we’ve moved on to the Season of Advent. See 2016’s On Andrew – “First Apostle” – and Advent, and On Advent – 2015, which described the Season of Advent:

Advent is “a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.”  The theme of Bible readings is to prepare for the Second Coming while “commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas.”

And it should be noted that in some of the readings for the Season of Advent, Jesus tells the Parable of the Budding Fig Tree.  (Not to be confused with the barren fig tree):

“Look at the fig tree and all the trees;  as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near…”

In doing so Jesus quoted Isaiah – twice – as well as the Book of Daniel.  See also Jesus and messianic prophecy.  The main point Jesus was trying to make?  “Beware, keep alert;  for you do not know when the time will come.”  And also, “What I say to you I say to all:  Keep awake.”

Which is pretty much what the Season of Advent is all about…

And that “High Holy Season” always starts with the Feast of  St. Andrew – “the First Apostle.” That posts and others cited in it noted that while Andrew was “one of the four disciples closest to Jesus,” he seems to be the least known about. Which is ironic because Andrew was one of Jesus’ the first followers. In fact he “followed Jesus before St. Peter and the others,” and so he is “called the Protoklete or ‘First Called’ apostle.” 

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 St. Andrew, “the First Apostle,” and his x-shaped cross or saltire*

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The upper image is courtesy of Psalm 137 – Wikipedia. The caption: “‘By the Waters of Babylon,’ painting by Arthur Hackerc. 1888.”

The lower image is courtesy of ncregister.com/blog/st.-andrew-apostle-11-things-to-know and share, which included the full text of St. Andrew’s words before he died, showing “a very profound Christian spirituality.  [He] does not view the Cross as an instrument of torture but rather as the incomparable means for perfect configuration to the Redeemer, to the grain of wheat that fell into the earth.  Here we have a very important lesson to learn: Our own crosses acquire value if we consider them and accept them as a part of the Cross of Christ…”  See also Andrew the Apostle – Wikipedia.

About that “saltire” see St Andrew … 5 facts you might have known:

Legend has it that he [Andrew] asked to be tied to an X-shaped cross because he did not feel worthy of dying on the same shape of cross as Jesus.  The shape has been represented by the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire, since at least 1385.

As to the Feast of St. Andrew beginning the new church year, see Anticipating Christmas, Beginning with Saint Andrew.  Or see St. Andrew, from the Satucket website:

Just as Andrew was the first of the Apostles, so his feast is taken in the West to be the beginning of the Church Year…  The First Sunday of Advent is defined to be the Sunday on or nearest his feast (although it could equivalently be defined as the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day).

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As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…) Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.”  See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by“learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.  As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)

Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.” See Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by“learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.”  Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”    In other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.”  See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001.  The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.” 

http://www.toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg

Re: “mystical.”  As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.”  See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism.  (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)

For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?

On Saints James, Luke – and the lovelies of Portugal

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, ocean, sky, outdoor, nature and water

A beach-view, northwest of Porto, along the coastal alternative to the Camino de Santiago …

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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

This blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (See John 6:37.)  The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance (John 10:10.)   The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12.)  The fourth – and most overlooked – is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with an open mind.  See Luke 24:45:  “Then He” – Jesus – “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

And this thought ties them together:

The way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is – as noted – to read the Bible with an open mind.  For more, see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.

In the meantime:

It’s been a month since I got back from last September’s 160-mile, 19-day hike on the Camino de Santiago that runs through Portugal. See Just got back – Portuguese Camino! Which means it’s time to start moving on from that pilgrimage and back to this blog’s main themes.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorBut first, a tip of the hat to the lovely ladies of Portugal, including the one at the top of the page. (Via telephoto on our first day’s hike, from Porto up the 10.8 miles to Cabo do Mundo.) And to the lady Camino hikers we saw going out of Porto Itself, as shown at right. (Which just goes to show that a true pilgrimage doesn’t have to be all “raw experience … hunger, cold and lack of sleep.” See “I pity the fool!” From March 2015.)

Which brings us to the more recent Feast Days this October. For instance, the October 18 just passed was the Feast Day of St. Luke. For starters, you can see more on him in 2014’s On St. Luke – physician, historian, artist, or On St. Luke – 20. (Or – from 2018 – On Luke and the “rich young man.”) Then too Wednesday, October 23 is the Feast Day for James, brother of Jesus.

About which there seems to be some confusion, not least of all on my part. He’s sometimes confused with James, the son of Zebedee, also called James the Greater, “to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus (James the Less) and James the brother of Jesus,” also known as “James the Just.”

See On St. James (“10/23”) – and the 7 blind men, which clarifies some of that confusion on my part. (When I confused “Brother of Jesus” with “St. James the Greater,” whose feast day is July 25.) And among other things, James the Greater is considered the “patron saint of pilgrims.”

Saint James the Just.jpgWhich would have brought us back to the topic of such pilgrimages, if this James had been “the Greater.” As for the confusion, see The Men Named James in the New Testament – Agape Bible Study. That site listed the following men named James in the New Testament:  1) James the son of Zebedee and brother of the Apostle St. John (James the Greater);  2) James the “brother” of Jesus (whose Feast Day is October 23);  3) the Apostle James, “son of Alphaeus;”  and 4) James, the father of the Apostle Jude. Other sources indicate there were as many as six “Jameses” in the Bible.

So anyway, this “October 23″ James is considered the author of the Epistle of James. (He’s portrayed in the icon above left.) Other books – the Pauline epistles and Acts of the Apostles  – show him as key to the Christians of Jerusalem.

When Paul arrives in Jerusalem to deliver the money he raised for the faithful there, it is to James that he speaks, and it is James who insists that Paul ritually cleanse himself at Herod’s Temple to prove his faith…  Paul describes James as being one of the persons to whom the risen Christ showed himself … and in Galatians 2:9 Paul lists James with Cephas (better known as Peter) and John the Apostle as the three “pillars” of the Church.

There’s also confusion on how he died. “According to Josephus James was stoned to death by Ananus ben Ananus.”  But “Clement of Alexandria relates that ‘James was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club.’” Either way, he was important.

Then there’s St. Luke, from last October 18. On that note, I’ve written before on Bible study as a great way to “develop your talents.” See for example December 2015’s Develop your talents with Bible study. Which brings us back to Luke the Evangelist.

The noted Catholic writer Garry Wills – in his book What the Gospels Meant – noted that Luke wrote the longest of the four Gospels.  He added that Acts of the Apostles is almost as long, and that these two of Luke’s books together “thus make up a quarter of the New Testament.”  (And they’re longer than all 13 of Paul’s letters.)  He said Luke is rightly considered the most humane of the Gospel writers, and quoted Dante as saying Luke was a “describer of Christ’s kindness.”

Thus Luke’s Gospel was – to Wills and many others – the most beautiful book that ever was.” Which means Luke’s version of the Jesus story is one we should pay special attention to.  And especially to being “humane” and active practitioners of “Christ’s kindness.”

We could use a lot more of that Christian kindness these days…

But – again speaking of developing your talents – Luke wasn’t just a great writer.  He was also – according to tradition – an artist of note.  Beyond that he was said to be the first icon painter, and to have painted the Virgin Mary and Child, as shown in the image below.

So here’s to Luke as a prime example of Scripture-study to develop your talents.

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File:Maarten van Heemskerck - St Luke Painting the Virgin and Child - WGA11299.jpg

“Saint Luke painting the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child…” 

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As indicated in Just got back – Portuguese Camino, I took the photos of the ladies in Portugal.

The lower image is courtesy of File: Maarten van Heemskerck – St Luke Painting the Virgin, and/or “Wikimedia.”  See also Maarten van Heemskerck – Wikipedia, which noted that the artist (1498-1574) was a “Dutch portrait and religious painter, who spent most of his career in Haarlem,” and did the painting above in or about 1532.

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As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…) Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.”  See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.   As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)

Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.”  See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.   Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”     http://www.toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpgIn other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.”  See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001.  The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.” 

Re: “mystical.”  As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.”  See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism.  (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)

For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?

Just got back – Portuguese Camino!

Image may contain: one or more people, child and outdoor

A not-so-typical scene on the Portuguese Camino – early on along the “Coastal” alternative…

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Image may contain: drinkI just flew back from Lisbon in Portugal. “And, boy, are my arms tired!” But seriously, I did just finish a 160-mile hike on the Portuguese Camino. I flew to Lisbon on August 28 and flew back on September 25, and so technically was gone a full month.

During which I greatly enjoyed the local Iberian beers, including Mahou (at left), Cruzcampo, Sagres and Super Bock. See Beer in Portugal – Wikipedia, noting the “long history, going as far back as the time of the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, where beer was commonly made and drunk.”

My Utah brother, sister-in-law and I started in Porto, then hiked “back” up to Santiago to Compostela – again. (My brother and I hiked the Camino Frances in 2017, and so came in to Santiago from the east, not the south, like this time.) I wrote about that then-upcoming pilgrimage last August 2d, in St. James – and “my next great pilgrimage.”

In 2017 … my Utah brother and I hiked (and biked) the most popular “Camino,” the French Way… But a month from now – September 2, 2019 – my brother and I will start hiking the 140 or so miles, from Porto “back” up to Santiago.  Via the Portuguese Way, and this time we’ll be joined by my Utah sister-in-law.

But first a note. While in Portugal – then Spain – I posted pictures on Facebook. They were pictures I took with the same $50 tablet I used on the Camino Frances in 2017.

But this time I also took a lot of pictures with a Canon camera that was much easier to operate. And on getting home I promptly cut down the number of “Canon” Camino pictures to 591. So I’ll do some future posts featuring pictures from my Canon camera. (Some of which are a lot more spontaneous – interesting – than the tablet.) But getting back to that $50 tablet…

Posting pictures on Facebook with it wasn’t too bad, but writing commentary was a real pain. For one thing I seem to have fat thumbs. For another, the tablet had “autocorrect,” which had a serious problem with foreign names. It kept changing the “de” or “do” in a lot of Portuguese names to “Dr.” Every time. See also another example in an early post from Portugal:

Good morning from Cabo do Mundo. (BTW, autocorrect is having a hissy with these Portuguese names, plus my colloquialisms.) Ready for another 10 mile hike. Slept through the night. “Cozy quarters.”

No photo description available.Which brings up an early-on collection of “estampas.” The photo at right shows the stamps in my credencial as of September 6, four days into the hike. The “cozy quarters” note referred to our first night’s lodging on the hike. (A tiny two-rooms and a kitchen place, where my brother and I shared the “parlor.”)

That came after this post: “First day’s hike is history. West through Porto – with shady spots and sidewalk cafes – and out to the coast. Then north. Made Cabo do Mundo, 10.8 miles. Nothing too sore. Good first hike.”

That last referred to the first day’s hike. Nice thought, but it turned out to be misleading.

I learned it’s not the first day – or even three – of hiking that wears on your feet. It’s the pounding from day after day hiking with a 15-pound pack. And it’s my humble opinion there’s no way to train in advance for that – except to do the same constant hiking at home, day after day. A long hike once or twice a week won’t do it. It’ll help, but you’ll still have to go through the agony of getting your feet accustomed to the constant pounding. Day after day.

Another note. Remember how we used to peel our skin off after a bad sunburn? Back in the old days, when we were young and before today’s fancy-schmancy creams and lotions that prevent such peeling?  Something like that happened to the soles of my feet once I got home. By the time we reached Santiago the soles of my feet were like shoe-leather, tough, blister-over-healed-blister and callused. (Or “cayused,” as one cute Farmacia lady said.*)

But then in the week or so since I’ve been home, I’ve peeled off several layers of tough, leathery skin. Apparently the affected parts of the body – like the soles of your feet – also go through a process of “decompressing,” just like you do mentally after such an adventure.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, tree, house and outdoor

Moving on, here’s a picture of my brother and sister-in-law heading back home after dinner, September 4.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First some notes I made after getting to my hotel in Lisbon.

It came after another red-eye flight, just like the one I made to Tel Aviv and Israel last May. And one thing I learned early on in the trip was that the internet lied about cheap Portuguese taxis. (Bonjour!)  Instead of the four-Euro ride to my hotel like I’d been led to believe, it was more like 15 Euros. Which wasn’t that bad, for one ride anyway. But luckily I got hooked up with the Metro.

I took the Red Line from the Aeroporto and got off at Saldanha station. My “Hotel Alif” was right across from Campo Pequeno. It’s a famous bull ring togged out like one of our football stadiums, but with lots of restaurants open on weekdays. (That first day I got yelled at for cutting through one restaurant, getting acquainted with the area. Then the next night I went back for dinner and got served by the same waiter.)  Next day – Friday, August 30 – I did some touristy stuff, including a visit to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (“Monument to the Discoveries”).

It was a lifelong dream. (Or at least since 1979, when I made my first trip to Europe and couldn’t make it to Lisbon.) For a nominal fee I took the elevator to the observation tower, where I met three young ladies from Australia. (I could understand what they were saying, mostly…) Also the Museu de Marinha, a few blocks up from the Monument. (After stopping to enjoy a “Sagres.”)

On Saturday, the 31st, I took a train up to Porto, met up with brother and sister-in-law, and spent a day sightseeing, before heading out. And now for some flavor of that first-day hike:

We hiked west along the Douro River, along the Porto side, then hit the Atlantic Ocean and swung north. It’s the lesser traveled scenic alternative for the Camino Portuguese. Lots of beachside resorts, bathing beauties, and of course some old pot-bellied guys in speedos.

So again, I’ll be doing more posts in the future on this adventure. But in the meantime there are the main themes of this blog. Like the Liturgical year‘s Feast Days. The most recent Feast Day was St. Michael and All Angels, on September 30. For more on that feast day see On “St. Michael and All Angels.” And while I hiked the Camino in September there were two other Feast Days. For more on those and St. Michael see On Holy Cross, Matthew, and Michael – “Archangel.” (Holy Cross Day, 9/1419, and St. Matthew, 9/21/19.)

But in closing, here’s a camera-photo from the first day’s hike out of Porto. I’m always interested in my fellow peregrinos, including how they adjust their packs. Then too, in a future post I’ll include more camera shots of some not-so-typical scenes on the “Coastal” alternative…

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I took all the photos in this post.

Re:  “Cayused.” It happened first thing one morning on the hike. We stopped at a Farmacia, as my sister-in-law wanted something like Band-aids for her blisters. She looked at one brand in Portuguese, but the lovely clerk said “those are not for blisters, they are for – how you say? – cayuses.” Which is how the Portuguese pronounce “calluses.” It was very cute, and very memorable…

St. Mary, “Virgin,” and more on Jerusalem…

Sassoferrato - Jungfrun i bön.jpg

Mary (mother of Jesus) responded to the Holy Spirit’s call “to set out on a mission of charity…”

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Thursday August 15 was the Feast Day of St. Mary the Virgin, as celebrated in the Episcopal Church.   See August 2014’s St. Mary, Mother, and also Mary (mother of Jesus) – Wikipedia:

She is identified [as] the mother of Jesus through divine intervention.  Christians hold her son Jesus to be Christ (i.e., the messiah) and God the Son Incarnate.  Mary (Maryam) also has a revered position in Islam, where a whole chapter of the Qur’an is devoted to her, also describing the birth of Jesus. . .   [She] is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the Church.  Christians of the Catholic Church[,] Anglican Communion, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and the Theotokos, literally “Bearer of God.”

There’s more on Mary in the August 14 post.  Meanwhile, in getting this post ready I found a draft-post on my recent three-week pilgrimage to Israel, starting with my second full day in Jerusalem. (May 13. See too On my first full day in Jerusalem.) But since I’m starting another overseas pilgrimage in under two weeks,* I should probably get this one out of the way.

For starters, we arrived Saturday night and the driver from St. George’s got us quickly through the dreaded Israeli security at Ben Gurion airport.  But then had a tough time finding my lodging on Al-Isfahani Street.  Later, after settling in my new room, at 4:10 that morning I heard what I took to be an explosion.  It was actually a cannon, marking the start of another day of Ramadan.  (The idea is to give people a chance to eat and drink before the all-day fast.)

That Sunday I wandered Jaffa Street and found a great place to eat, the BeerBazaar.

hasmon1About noon Monday I hooked up at the St. George’s Pilgrim Guest House and met up with my fellow course pilgrims. (Including the nine I flew over with.)  Tuesday featured lectures, orientation and a walk to the Pool of Bethesda in the Old City.  On Wednesday we visited the southeast part of the wall around the Old City.  (The “City of David,” from where we could look east across Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives.)  We slithered through Hezekiah’s tunnel – shown at right, it’s very long, dark and damp – and came out at the Pool of Siloam.  Then we visited the Hasmonean tombs.

That afternoon I took off.  The group was scheduled to visit the Holocaust Memorial.  However, I was familiar with that episode of man’s inhumanity to man from my youthful studies in Judaica (Including – in 1969 – considering the Israeli Army as an alternative to the draft.)  So I wandered back to Davidka Square  – and the liquor store I found Sunday.  I got a bottle of Sommelier, for some brandies-and-water back in my room at night.

Thursday May 16 we visited Ein Kerem, the Church of the Visitation and Mary’s spring.  After lunch at the “Tent Restaurant, Beit Sahour,” we visited the Church of the Nativity and St. Jerome’s chapel and tomb, both in Bethlehem.  The church was both packed and crowded.

There we stood a long while, waiting to do a hump-through-a-tunnel extension of the tour.  It was then I noticed a fellow pilgrim in danger of getting stressed out by all the crowds and noise.  So I did a Good-Samaritan thing – kind of – and persuaded him to join me at the garden restaurant next door – and have a prophylactic Taybeh (Palestinian) beer.  I wrote later:

In situations like this you have to pick your battles.  It’s always seemed to me that finding a spiritual “pilgrimage” breakthrough usually comes in relative solitude, not when you’re surrounded and jostled by hordes of hot, sweaty and pushy “fellow travelers.”

walledoffmurraySpeaking of which, the theme of the Visitation to Mary was “Mary responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to set out on a mission of charity.”  But I didn’t see a whole lot of charity in the visit we made at the END of the day.

That is, we ended the day at the Wall of Separation, also known as the “Israeli West Bank barrier.”  And in a bit of sarcasm – or irony – we stopped at the “Walled Off Hotel.”  (Shown above left.  Luckily, the hotel included a bar, where I enjoyed another Taybeh Palestinian beer.)

See Banksy′s hotel with ′the world′s worst view′ opens in Bethlehem, which said this:

“With a play on words on the luxury Waldorf Astoria chain, this place is called the Walled Off Hotel, because it was built almost immediately next to Israel’s separation wall in the Palestinian-ruled city where Jesus Christ was born.”

Which of course would be Bethlehem, where Jesus was born and “God’s love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, compassion, and glory” were expressed in Him.

But seeing the Walled-off Hotel in His birthplace, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Later that night I had a first experience doing wash-and-wear clothes in the shower, then taking them to the rooftop terrace to hang them out to dry.  During the day it gets “hot as Gehenna” in Jerusalem, but at night it’s generally quite pleasant.  Cool and breezy, “Up on the Roof…”

Then I had my shot or two of brandy and water.

Later still I did some reflecting on the day, and especially the last visit.  I was tempted to conclude that the road to both freedom and spiritual enlightenment seems to be littered with dumbasses along the way.  But hey, that wouldn’t be Christian…

And for those thinking that my free-time was focused ONLY on swilling beer:  I was also doing a weekly overseas alternate exercise program.  (In what free time we had.)  Specifically, a week’s quota of two hours of yoga (1.86) and four hours of calisthenics (3.8), for a total of five hours and 40 minutes.  Plus 500 half-pushups (making adjustments for being old), and 1,000 (that’s ONE THOUSAND) ab crunches.  So I wasn’t ONLY swilling beer in my spare time…

That covers the Jerusalem visit to Friday, May 17, when we visited the Judean wilderness, the Jordan River and Jericho.  (Modern and ancient Jericho, Tel es-Sultan.”)  I’ll be writing more on my visit to Israel from that point on, but first I have to get ready for my visit to Portugal…

Where hopefully I won’t find any “Walls of Separation…” 

*   *   *   *

wallsep1

That look about says it all…

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Mary (mother of Jesus) – Wikipedia.

The Mary’s image at the start of the main text is courtesy of Mary’s Spring Ein Karem – Image Results.

The quote on Jesus, Bethlehem and “Walled-of” is from Deep Significance of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Re:  “Overseas pilgrimage in under two weeks.”  I fly to Lisbon on August 28.

I took the photograph at the end of the main text.  (“Lower image courtesy of…”)  A fellow St. George’s pilgrim took the photo of the Walled-off Hotel, left of the paragraph beginning, “Speaking of which.”  I also took the photograph of that “Hasmonean tombs” slither-though. 

St. James – and “my next great pilgrimage…”

Camino Portugués – one of many Camino(s) de Santiago – that will be “my next great adventure…”

*   *   *   *

Last Thursday, July 25, was the feast day for James, son of Zebedee, one of the Twelve Apostles.  Tradition adds that he was the first apostle to be martyred, some time around 44 A.D.

He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle.  He is also called James the Greater or James the Great to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus.

For more on this James see Wikipedia, or the post St. James (“10/23”) – and the 7 blind men (Illustrated at left.)

That post noted that October 23 is the Feast Day for another James, the brother of Jesus.  Which can be confusing.  (Not least of all because there were as many as six or eight “Jameses” in the Bible.)  Again, “James (’10/23′)” and see also “Hola! Buen Camino!”  (From October 2017.)

[I]n case you’re confused – about the number of “Jameses” in the Bible –  there are at least three men named James in the New Testament, and possibly as many as eight.  (See “BIO of Philip and James…”)   In that list, James the Just (“Brother of Jesus”) is listed third.  James the Less – possibly the “son of Alphaeus” – is listed second.  Listed first is St. James the Greater – “for whom the Camino de Santiago* is named,” and who is in fact the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.  Which is something I mentioned in my last post, On a pilgrimage in Spain.

Which brings up my next pilgrimage.  In 2017 – and as noted in the paragraph above – my Utah brother and I hiked (and biked) the most popular “Camino,” the French Way (In my case, to Santiago de Compostela from Pamplona. where among other things we drank at the Café Iruna of Ernest Hemingway fame – a “whole ‘nother story.”)  But a month from now – September 2, 2019 – my brother and I will start hiking the 140 or so miles, from Porto “back” up to Santiago.*  Via the Portuguese Way, and this time we’ll be joined by my Utah sister-in-law.

On a related note see Feast of Saint James the Apostle in Spain – timeanddate.com:

Many people in Spain celebrate the life and deeds of James, son of Zebedee, on Saint James’ Day (Santiago Apostol), which is on July 25.  Saint James was one of Jesus’ first disciples.  Some Christians believe that his remains are buried in Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Map of GaliciaThe article noted that July 25 is a public holiday in “Basque Country, Cantabria, and Galicia, where it’s a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.”  (A side note:  The “autonomous community” – or province – of Galicia, seen at right, is in northwestern Spain, and that’s where Santiago de Compostela lies, as the “provincial” capital.) 

The article added that:  1) according to Christian tradition this James may have traveled to the area now Santiago;  2) this James was beheaded in Judea in 44 CE, but also that 3) his disciples carried his body by sea to Padrón, on the Galician coast.  Then they  buried his body “under what is now the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.”

Which is why it’s popular as a hiking-slash-pilgrimage route.  On a related note, see On Mary of Magdala and James the Greater, Saints.  Aside from noting – again – that this “July 25” James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims, the post also cited 2016’s St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts:

The point being that I’ve gone on a few pilgrimages in my time, and am fixing to go on another one this September…  And in the Sluts post, I noted that in the spiritual literature of Christianity, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to “the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude…”

Another side note:  It’s better to hike the Camino – in Spain or Portugal – during a month like September, as we did in 2017 and will do again this year.  It’s less hot and “touristy.”

See also “On to Jerusalem,” a post about last May’s pilgrimage to Israel:

[A] pilgrimage can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.  [Like] hour after hour of butt-numbing, back-aching canoe-paddling[, for days on end.  Or during the 2017 Camino trip where] the chief ordeal was hour after hour of hiking, much of it across the dry and dusty Meseta of northern Spain.  Which meant sore achy feet and blister upon blister…  So the question for the upcoming trip to Jerusalem:  “What part of the trip will help me ‘find a sense of my fragility as a mere human being?’”  And “What part of the trip will be ‘most chastening, and also most liberating?’”

And which are some pretty good questions for my upcoming nine-hour flight to Lisbon, and from there to Porto, where three American pilgrims will hike north to Santiago…

So stay tuned!  I’ll be posting “further bulletins as events warrant!”

*   *   *   *

Calvin and Hobbes

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Portuguese Camino De Santiago – Image Results.  The image is accompanied therein by a page “Camino de Santiago – Portuguese Way,” put up by “REI,” that is, Recreational Equipment, Inc.  See also Camino Portugués – Camino de Santiago.

Re:  On “St. James the Greater.”  As noted in the main text, that post included some regrettable errors about which “James” was involved.  On that note, and according to Wikipedia and other sources, “In the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. and Lutheran Church, James, brother of Jesus and martyr is commemorated on October 23.”  But again, the Feast Day for James the Greater is July 25.

On the “Santiago.”  Iago is the Spanish form of the name “James,” itself a variation, a “a modern descendant of Iacobus, the Latin form of the Hebrew name Jacob.  James is a popular name worldwide, but it is most commonly seen in English-speaking populations.”  Other Spanish variations include “Yago” and “Diego.”  Thus the town of “Saint Iago.”  James (name) – Wikipedia.

Re:  Miles from Porto to Santiago.  Google Maps had three routes, with two going through Pontevedra, as we will.  One of the two routes is 134 miles, the other 141.

Re:  John Steinbeck and “sluts.”  The “sluts” at issue were mentioned by Robert Louis Stevenson in his ground-breaking 1879 work Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes.  It was considered a “pioneering classic of outdoor literature,” and it inspired Steinbeck‘s 1962 book, Travels with Charley.

Re:  My last-May trip to Israel.  See On my first full day in Jerusalem, and “Back from three weeks in Israel.”  See also “If I Forget Thee, Oh Jerusalem,” for some pre-trip research I did in April.

The lower image is courtesy of James, son of Zebedee – Wikipedia, with the full caption, “Saint James the Elder by Rembrandt[.]  He is depicted clothed as a pilgrim;  note the scallop shell on his shoulder and his staff and pilgrim’s hat beside him.”

On a wedding in Hadley – and John, Peter and Paul…

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist-Caravaggio (1610).jpg

Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, meaning you sometimes have to “pay the price…”

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Some two weeks ago or so I got back from three weeks in Israel(A post followed by My first full day in Jerusalem.)  Then right away I had to make a dramatic transition:  From free-wheeling world traveler to “weird uncle of the bride.”  Which is being interpreted:

Town Hall and First Congregational ChurchAfter my adventures in Tel Aviv – getting lost hiking to the train station, taking the wrong train (away from the airport) and going 26 hours without sleep – I had to begin preparing for an 1,100 mile road trip up to Hadley, MA.

There my “favorite niece from Utah” was getting married.

*   *   *   *

There will be more on that happy event later, but first…  It’s time for me to remember the main theme of this blog, “exploring the mystical side of Bible reading.”  Which means in large part remembering the particular liturgical feast days, either coming up or just past.  In this case, the feast day for two saints, Peter and Paul, is coming up tomorrow, June 29.  And the feast day for the Nativity of John the Baptist, happened just last Monday, June 24.

For fuller treatments see Nativity of John the Baptist (2015)Peter, Paul – and other “relics” (also from 2015), or John the Baptist, Peter and Paul – 2016.  But here are the highlights:

One key for John the Baptist:  He became that voice crying in the wilderness, as noted in Matthew 3:3:  This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’

http://www.dralionkennels.com/images/newsflash.jpgWhich is another way of saying John the Baptist served as precursorforerunner or advance man for Jesus.  (As in,News Flash:  Jesus is on the way!“)  Or as it says in the Collect for the Day: “your servant John the Baptist … sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior.”

The Collect added that we too should follow John’s example, and “constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake.”  (See Nativity of St. John.)  On the other hand we need to remember that doing that sometimes meaning “paying the price…”

As illustrated in the painting at the top of the page…

http://www.canvasreplicas.com/images/Two%20Scholars%20Disputing%20Peter%20and%20Paul%20Rembrandt%20van%20Rijn.jpgThen Peter, Paul – and other “relics” tells how these two apostles got martyred near the same time, and about the “translation of relics.”  (Which here meant moving – temporarily – “the remains of the two apostles” to keep them from being desecrated.)  But the main point is this:  Even though Peter and Paul came to argue vehemently over certain points of doctrine – as shown at left – they still worked together to spread the Gospel.  Which led to this thought:

Some Christians seem to think they have to be all “nicey-nicey,” all the &%#$ time, with each other and with non-Christians.  But the Feast of Peter and Paul goes to show it’s okay to have differences of opinion, or even “squabble” from time to time…

And that for that matter, it’s okay to argue with God too…

*   *   *   *

And now for that “favorite niece from Utah” getting married.  For a fuller treatment of the  1,100-mile road trip by which I got up to that happy event, see On a wedding in Hadley(From my companion blog.)  But again, here are some highlights.

One highlight involves the photo between the main text and notes below, of the wedding rehearsal Friday, June 21.  The father of the bride is practice-walking his daughter down the aisle made by two rows of chairs inside the massive tent in the front yard of the parents of the groom.  Although the bride-to-be’s looking back could be interpreted as having some deep symbolic meaning, that definitely wasn’t the case.  And the “cherub” seen in part just ahead of the father-and-bride belonged to one of the bridesmaids.  (So no hidden meaning there.) 

The Light That FailedBut of course all that was preceded by getting down to work on Thursday.  While the main wedding party worked on “favors,”  I helped by staying out of the way.  (As in “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.”)  And by reading a first (1908) edition of Kipling’s “The Light That Failed.”  (Another version shown at right.) 

But I made up for it on Friday, by helping set up a tent-full of tables and chairs.  Then the wedding rehearsal finally started.  (A good bit after the scheduled 6:00 p.m. start time, but then the happy couple was definitely “not hung up on that deadline thing!”) 

Then came the final preparations, all during the morning and early-afternoon of Saturday, wedding day, June 22.  Then came the count-down:  4:52 p.m. “It shan’t be long now!”  Then the Officiant getting some last-minute instructions, as shown by a photo in the notes below.

And finally – at or about 5:43 p.m. – it became official.  They were married!

And then – It was TIME TO DANCE!

(As shown by a second photo in the notes below.)  

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rehearsalwalk

Wedding rehearsal.  (No “body-language hidden meaning…”)

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, (Wikipedia) by Michelangelo Marisi Caravaggio (1571-1621) “circa” 1621:  “His paintings combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting…”

lastminuteinstructionsThe Wikipedia caption for the Hadley MA image is “Town Hall and First Congregational Church.”  The “Officiant getting some last-minute instructions” photo – which I took – is shown at right. 

The Peter-and-Paul image is courtesy of canvasreplicas/Rembrandt.  See also Two Scholars Disputing by REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn.

Re:  The “(1908) edition of Kipling’s ‘The Light That Failed.’”  The future in-laws had quite the book collection in their lovely home…

I took the lower-photo image on June 21, 2019.

*   *   *   *

dancepicAs noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  But first, my “time to dance” photo-image is shown at left.

Back to the four main themes

The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)

The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind.

For more on these themes, see the end-of-notes for the most recent post…

On my first full day in Jerusalem…

 The BeerBazaar – on “Etz Hayyim 3,” in Jerusalem – where I got my first real meal that day…   

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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

This blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (See John 6:37.)  The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance (John 10:10.)   The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12.)  The fourth – and most overlooked – is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with an open mind.  See Luke 24:45:  “Then He” – Jesus – “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

And this thought ties them together:

The only way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is – as noted – to read the Bible with an open mind.  For more, see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.

In the meantime:

SGtower2My last post – Back from three weeks in Israel – discussed just returning from 18 or 19 days (depending on time-change calculations) in the “Holy Land.”  I’d taken part in a course at St. George’s College, the “Palestine of Jesus.”  The photo at right shows the bell tower, looking west from the balcony of my room.

But that last post talked about the end of the trip.

It talked about the most recent ‘cluster’ – half a word – part of the pilgrimage.”  (The day I flew home – Wednesday, May 29 – which began by “getting lost in Tel Aviv,” then spending 26 hours without sleep – for reasons including the time change – before I got back home.)

This post will detail the beginning of the trip, from the time I arrived at Ben Gurion airport.

I flew over with a group of nine – of the 20 or so people from our local church.  (All told there were 40 people in the “Palestine of Jesus” course, from other places like Australia, Canada and England.)  For starters, we’d all been prepped to expect the worst from the vaunted Israeli airport security.  But lucky for us, the College sent a shuttle driver, complete with a sign, “St. George’s.”  From there the driver waltzed us through security and on to our shuttle bus.

There was a bit of a problem finding my lodging.  (We got there the evening of Saturday, May 11, so I’d had to get lodging for the two nights before the course started, on Monday evening, May 13.)  The driver found Al Isfahani Street all right, but had no clue as to the whereabouts of “Herod’s Guest House.”  (Near Herod’s Gate, at left.)  But he eventually called the number on my reservation sheet, and shortly after that the proprietor met us and walked me “home.”  (The sign was pretty well hidden.)  Once settled, I wandered up and around to the namesake Herod’s Gate, looking for a cold beer, but had no luck.

Then came these thoughts – from the middle of the night – which I posted on Facebook:

Greetings from Jerusalem.  It’s 4:14 a.m. Sunday morning here, 9:14 p.m Saturday night back in ATL (Atlanta).  I just heard what sounded like an explosion outside my hole-in-the-wall guesthouse on Al-Isfahani Street at 4:08 a.m.  I’ll have to check that out later…  I’m suffering a bit of jet lag.  I went to sleep pretty quick, about 10:30 p.m. local, 3:30 in the afternoon on my body clock.  But then I woke up at about 2:30 a.m. local, and have been awake since.  SO ANYWAY, it’s been quiet since the 4:08 explosion, 22 minutes ago.  (And BTW, I’m about a block away from the local police station.)  So I’m gonna try and go back to sleep.

Later on I woke up at 10:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ATL time), after finally getting back to sleep.  Then I wandered up Saladin* Street and eventually found out where I’m supposed to be Monday evening.  (The Pilgrim Guest House that is, not the Cathedral or the School.*)

But I had a tough time finding a place to get a snack, or coffee – nobody seemed to speak English – but did stop at one little shop and got a “Tapazina Mango soft drink.”  Then I headed out “No’omi Kiss and Ha-Neviim” streets.  I was trying to find the bars I’d located – before I left – on Google Maps.  And hopefully some place to eat that “talked American.”

I wandered around – starting near the Old City and on up Jaffa Street – from 12:30 to 5:15 p.m. local time.  Eventually I got over and onto Ha-Neviim Street and west on Jaffa Street, up as far as Sarei Israel Boulevard.  (Close to where Herzl comes in to Jaffa.)  There I found a liquor store at Davidka Square, seen at right.  I asked about a draft beer, but the guy indicated – in Hebrew – that I could only buy a bottle.  The one I got turned out to be a Belgian ale.  (With cherries and cherry juice in it; not bad).  I also got an Oreo ice cream sandwich. 

The combo wasn’t bad but I thought, “I came all the way to Israel just to get a frikkin’ Belgian ale?”  This was about 2:00 or so, and the ice cream was the only thing I’d eaten all day.

Along the way I stopped at a bank and got 200 New Israeli Shekels, which would help with haggling.  Then once I headed back from Sarei Israel, I found the place called “BeerBazaar.”  It’s close to Jaffa Street – “at Etz Hayyim 3” in local-ese – AND IT WAS KOSHER!

That turned out to be quite a treat.  I got two glasses of a “Negev” Israeli beer and an order of Hummus Olei Zion.  The menu said it was a “timeless Israeli dish to complement your Israeli beer.”  So I sat happily at my high-top table just outside the front door – after all that hiking and checking my street-map periodically – and watched the street life passing by.

The hummus, pita bread plus a side of sweet pickles and olives were pretty filling, and it cost a mere 33 shekels.  (About 11 dollars, including the two beers.)  I saved two slices of bread for later, as necessary.  (I finally threw the bread away some days later, at St. George’s.)

Then I came home and took a nap until about 7:00.  I was hoping the jet lag had been whipped, but then I heard another “explosion,” about 7:33 p.m. local.  I later found out those explosions were mere souped-up firecrackers.  (The Israelis won’t let the Muslims fire a real cannon.)  And they were merely alarm clocks, for Ramadan (As illustrated below left.)

The one at 4:08 in the morning let faithful Muslims know to get up and get something to eat and drink, before the all-day fast.  The one around 7:30 p.m. let them know the fast was over – and that they could finally have something to eat and drink.

Later on that busy Sunday, May 12, I hiked up to St. George’s again, but the front gates were all locked up.  Which was good for security, but didn’t do me any good.  (I wanted to see if any other pilgrims from St. Andrews had arrived.)  But from there I shunted over to the Leonardo Moria Classic hotel, a mere .2 (point 2) miles to the west.  It was pretty swanky, AND it had a bar.  And a piano bar – some guy playing piano – at that.

There I got a short Heineken’s first, mostly because I couldn’t read the other two draft-beer choices.  But after further questioning and banter with the bartender, it turned out that one of the other draft choices was the Maccabee Israeli beer I’d heard so much about.

It turned out to be mostly old people in the bar area, but still interesting to watch the local give-and-take, and while enjoying the piano playing.  After that I wended my way home, back to Herod’s Guest House on Isfahani Street, after two beers and kibbutzing at “the Leonardo.”

I’d just come in the guest house when I met “Greta,” doing some laundry.  Despite the German name, it turned out she was from Italy.  She was there as an exchange student and staying at Herod’s awhile to write a book.  So I offered that maybe I could visit her some time over the next two weeks, and maybe we could have a Starbucks and discuss international politics…

And the evening and the morning were the first day – in Jerusalem…

*   *   *   *

wallsep1

Looking ahead, to our visit to the Wall of Separation

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of BeerBazaar.  See also Beerbazaar – Image Results.  A note, “Etz Hayyim 3” is near the intersection with Jaffa Street, part of the “Mahane Yehuda Covered Market.”

Re:  “Saladin Street.”  It’s actually “Salah e-Din” Street.

Re:  “Bars I found – before I left – on Google Maps.”  The subject of a future post, “The nightlife in Jerusalem.”  A side note:  I never did find the Hataklit Bar, which ostensibly offered karaoke.  It’s at “Heleni ha-Malka Street 7,” which definitely sounds Hawaiian, and may be why I never found it.

Re:  “The Pilgrim Guest House … not the Cathedral or the School.”  I discovered the difference around mid-day Sunday, the 12th.  Looking for the guest house, I wandered into the school area across Nablus Street.  Some Turkish-looking guy gave me a look that indicated “what the hell are you doing here?”  He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak whatever he was talking.  However – perhaps taking pity – he DID make me a cup of strong Turkish-style coffee.  We sat in comradely silence while it was brewing, then he handed me the coffee and bid me adieu, after which I found the guest house.

Later that evening, I was walking back to Isfahani Street after my two beers and kibbutzing at the Leonardo bar.  (Catty-corner to St. George’s, about a two-minute walk.)  There’s a St. George’s gift shop on Nablus, across from the gated “Pilgrim” complex.  And who should be walking out the gift shop but the same friendly guy who made me a cup of coffee that morning?  So we waved at each other and a gesture of international friendship was thereby made.

I figured there was some kind of lesson there... 

Re:  Davidka Square.  The photo shows only a part of the Square, which memorializes the “Davidka,” a jury-rigged mortar:

In the early stages of the War of Independence [in 1948], the Israeli army had no artillery other than a primitive, homemade mortar that was not accurate but that made a thunderous explosion.  The noise from this weapon – called the Davidka (“Little David”) after its inventor, engineer David Leibovitch – often sent the enemy fleeing in panic…  The Israeli army used the Davidka exclusively until July 1948, when it was able to acquire conventional artillery such as mountain howitzers, cannons and field guns.

Above left is a better view of the Square, at night, with its benches and adjoining stores.

The “Ramadan” image is courtesy of Ramadan Cannon – Image Results The image is accompanied by a Tom Powers — VIEW FROM JERUSALEM article, “Jerusalem’s Ramadan Cannon, Then & Now.”  The article includes a description of the photo at issue, dated 1918, “from a personal album compiled by John D. Whiting of the American Colony.”  The photo features “Gordon’s Calvary, a hilltop just northeast of Damascus Gate.”  Further, it looks “east toward the Mount of Olives-Scopus ridge, [and] the people pictured are locals in traditional dress.”  (“Gordon’s Calvary” is also known as the Garden Tomb or the “rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem, which was unearthed in 1867 and is considered by some Christians to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.”  See Garden Tomb – Wikipedia.)

The lower image is a photo I took…  The “Wall of Separation” is also called the Israeli West Bank barrier, i.e., the “separation barrier in the West Bank or along the Green Line.  Israel considers it a security barrier against terrorism, while Palestinians call it a racial segregation or apartheid wall.”  Some 440 miles long, it “cuts at times 18 kilometres (11 mi) deep into the West Bank, isolating about 9% of it, leaving an estimated 25,000 Palestinians isolated from the bulk of that territory…  The barrier was built during the Second Intifada that began in September 2000, and was defended by the Israeli government as necessary to stop the wave of violence inside Israel that the uprising had brought with it.”  As a side note, “The International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the barrier is a violation of international law.  In 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that stated the wall contradicts international law and should be removed; the vote was 144–4 with 12 abstentions.”  (Wikipedia.)

And I never did see Greta again…

*   *   *   *

As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)

Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.”  See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.  

Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”    

http://www.toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpgIn other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.”  See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001.  The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.”

*  Re: “mystical.”  As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.”  See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism.  (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)

For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?

“Back from three weeks in Israel…”

.

Night-dining area, St. George’s College.  (28 shekels at the lower-left bar gets you a Taybeh…)

*   *   *   *

Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

This blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (See John 6:37.)  The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance (John 10:10.)   The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12.)  The fourth – and most overlooked – is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with an open mind.  See Luke 24:45:  “Then He” – Jesus – “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

And this thought ties them together:

The only way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is – as noted – to read the Bible with an open mind.  For more, see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.

In the meantime:

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, people sitting, child, hat and outdoorI did my last post on May 2.  Since then I spent three weeks – 18 or 19 days – on a pilgrimage in Israel.  (Including traveling to and from.  I left the night of May 10 and got back the night of May 29.) 

It was part of a course given by St. George’s College, Jerusalem.  

A side note:  For visits to many churches and all Muslim areas in Jerusalem, you’re expected to “dress modestly.”  Ladies showing bare knees – like those at right – get brown cover-leg skirts.

The Jerusalem experience was wonderful, overwhelming, intimidating and enlightening.  But let’s start with the most recent “cluster” – half a word – part of the pilgrimage that happened.  It occurred on Wednesday, May 29, the day I spent 11 hours flying back home.  (And, considering the time change, 26 hours straight without sleep before I got back home.)

The problem was that I got all cocky from the day before, when I’d made an easy connection from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.  (On Monday the 28th.)  That is, after parting ways with the other pilgrims in my church group, I made a fairly-easy two-mile trek from the College to the central bus station in Jerusalem.  (Lugging 30 pounds in a back-pack and large gym-bag to be checked at the airport.)  Then from the Tel Aviv bus station I hiked a “mere” mile, to my night’s lodging at “Yavne 26.”  (They list the street number last.)  On the way I managed a visit to the Haganah Museum, right around the corner from Yavne 26, at “Rothschild Boulevard 23.”

Later that evening I managed to hook up with eight or nine fellow pilgrims from Georgia, who – unbeknownst to me – were staying at the Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, two or three blocks from my place.  (And despite the fact that the guy at the front desk wouldn’t take a message, let alone make contact, so I had to check the local eateries, and found them basically across the street.)

Unfortunately my visit to the bar at Abraham’s was cut short because I was all hyped up to get to Ben Gurion airport early enough to get through the vaunted Israeli airport security.  All the guides said that you should get to the airport at least three hours ahead of time, so since my flight was at 9:55, I figured I should be at the airport by 6:55 a.m.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorAnother side note:  Gentlemen who wear shorts – or otherwise show their knees at “many churches and all Muslim areas in the city” – are also given “skirts.”  (Like the two dumbasses at left.)

So anyway, to get to the airport on time, I got up at 4:00 a.m. and started hiking back to the Haganah train station on Levinsky Street.  (Where I’d just hiked up the previous day.)  But I missed the intersection – “wool-gathering” I suppose – and had to double back.  As it turned out I hiked an hour – with the same 30 pounds of baggage – but got to the train station right about six a.m.

Then the real trouble started…

I got a ticket easily, but only after gashing my left forearm.  (I was rushing to “unpack” at yet another security check-point, just inside the train-station entrance.)  To make the lugging easier I’d tied together the upper arm straps of my pack with a knotted handkerchief, but after a sweaty hour’s walk it got “un-tieable.”  So to get the pack off I had to lift it up over my head, and in the process gashed my forearm.  And got blood all over the upper-leg portion of my jeans.  (I could just hear Israeli security:  “And where have you been to get all that blood all over you?”)

Then I got on the wrong train.  It was on Platform 3, like the ticket guy said, but it ended up going the wrong direction.  The train I got on – at the wrong time, it turned out – went to Lod.  That’s a beautiful city 9.3 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, but it’s not the Ben Gurion airport.

Once I found that out – after finding someone who spoke English – it seemed like forever to get back to the central station.  On the way a friendly uniformed Israeli suggested I take a taxi from the central station; about 65 shekels, or 22 dollars.  I was all set to do that, but getting off the train another Israeli – in blue jeans and flip-flops – fell down right behind me, missing the first step down.  I helped him up and asked if he was all right.  Then he asked if I was trying to get to the airport.  (He probably overheard my plaintive cries for directions somewhere along the way.)

He helped me get on the right train, the 7:09 going in the right direction, so I suppose there’s a lesson there.  Then while waiting for the 7:09 train, two lovely young Israelis in brown uniforms sat next to me while we waited.  (Incidentally, I’d done a lot of praying on the train to and from Lod.)  Then the 7:09 got delayed an extra six or seven minutes, so I got to enjoy their company even longer.  (Another note:  Tel Aviv in general was a nice change from Jerusalem, appreciating-the-opposite-sex-wise.  I.e., there were fewer women all covered up with burkas and such.)

That pleasant “accompaniment” wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gotten on the wrong train, going the wrong direction, so I suppose there’s a spiritual object lesson lesson there too…

The end result was that despite getting to the airport at 7:35 a.m. – instead of 6:55 like I should have – I got through the numerous layers of the “vaunted Israeli airport security” in plenty of time to get to Gate C-6.  (I had time to relax for 30 or 40 minutes, and finally have some breakfast:  Mango juice and a “lox” croissant.)  And to remember the time I’d just spent in the company of two lovely Israeli Female Soldiers (Not unlike the one shown below, from 1948.)

I’ll be writing more – lots more – on other lessons learned (and experiences experienced) from my pilgrimage to Israel.  But for now it’s enough to enjoy the comforts of home once again.  Here, on the functional equivalent of “my own back doorsteps,” I can – a la  John Steinbeck – finally come to think about all I’ve seen in the last three weeks, then “try to arrange some pattern of thought to accommodate the teeming crowds of my seeing and hearing.”  In other words, to make some sense of all I’ve seen, heard and experienced those last three weeks.

At least until my next pilgrimage, to the Camino Portugues in September…

*   *   *   *

A “Haganah female officer in 1948…”

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of St. George’s College Jerusalem Israel – Image Results.  See also Home | Saint George’s College Jerusalem, for more on available courses and staff members.  The course in question was “The Palestine of Jesus.”  (See the link at the “Home” page.) 

Re: Taybeh.  See Taybeh Brewery – Wikipedia, on the “Palestinian brewery founded in 1994[, at] the West Bank village of Taybeh,” 22 miles north of Jerusalem.  “It produced its first beer in 1995 and has since developed a global following.  It is the first microbrewery in the Middle East.”  The other beer available to St. George pilgrims is “Maccabee,” brewed by Tempo Beer Industries “Maccabee (Hebrew: מכבי‎) is a 4.9% ABV pale lager that was first brewed in 1968.  It is distributed in Israel and is also marketed in the United States and Europe.”  I found Maccabee on draft at the LEONARDO MORIA CLASSIC HOTEL, Jerusalem 9 Georges St., a mere four-minute walk from St. George’s.

Re:  Cover-leg skirts.  Ladies are also cautioned not to have bare shoulders or visible cleavage.

Re:  “Vaunted airport security.”  The link is to What To Expect At Israel’s Airport Security. | Bemused Backpacker.  See also Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security, or you could Google “vaunted Israeli airport security.”  Also, I found out the next  morning – Thursday the 30th, at home – that Lod is actually pretty close to Ben Gurion airport.  It’s a little over two miles as the crow flies, but walking the route involves “restricted usage or private roads.”  See also Lod Airport massacre – Wikipedia, about the “terrorist attack [on] May 30, 1972, in which three members of the Japanese Red Army … attacked Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport) near Tel Aviv.”

Now they tell me!!!

Yet another note:  “Wadie Haddad, the primary organizer of the attack, was assassinated by Mossad in early 1978.”  (Those guys don’t fool around.)

Re:  Accompaniment.  In the sense of “something incidental or added for ornament, symmetry, etc.”  See Definition of Accompaniment at Dictionary.com.

The Steinbeck reference is to the Penguin Books paperback version of Travels with Charley:  In search of America, detailing his 1960 road trip travelogue, at pages 108-109.  He described the feeling – “like constipation” – of being overwhelmed by his experiences, as in going to the “Uffizi in Florence [or] the Louvre in Paris.”  In yet another memorable passage he made an apt comparison:

Maybe understanding is only possible after.  Years ago when I used to work in the woods it was said of lumber men that they did their logging in the whorehouse and their sex in the woods.  So I have to find my way through the exploding production lines of the Middle West while sitting alone beside a lake in northern Michigan. [Emphasis added.] 

Re:  The Camino Portugués, also called the “Portuguese Way.”  It’s the collective name of the “Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes starting in Portugal,” beginning in either Porto or Lisbon (My companions and I will be starting in Porto.)  As Wikipedia noted, the Portuguese Way is the “second most popular route after the French Way,” which my Utah brother and I hiked-and-biked in 2017.  See – from October 2017 – “Hola! Buen Camino!”  A review of the post shows that some of my pictures got  “screwed up…”  But it’s still good for reference and informational purposes.

The lower image is courtesy of Haganah – Wikipedia.  Caption:  “Haganah female officer in 1948.”  For more on the topic, Google “Israeli women soldiers brown uniform.”  That led me to sites like Pictures of Israeli Female Soldiers In and Out of Uniform, Israeli female soldiers are not afraid to reveal their assets, and 18 Pics Of Hot Israeli Army Girls IDF | Female Supermodel.  

*   *   *   *

As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)

Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.”  See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.  

Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”    

http://www.toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpgIn other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.”  See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001.  The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.”

*  Re: “mystical.”  As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.”  See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism.  (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)

For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?

 

“If I Forget Thee, Oh Jerusalem…”

By the waters of Babylon,” in exile, where a Hebrew Remnant finalized the Old Testament…

*   *   *   *

Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

This blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (See John 6:37.)  The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance (John 10:10.)   The third is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12.)  The fourth – and most overlooked – is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with an open mind.  See Luke 24:45:  “Then He” – Jesus – “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

And this thought ties them together:

The only way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is – as noted – to read the Bible with an open mind.  For more, see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.

In the meantime:

As noted in “On to Jerusalem,” this upcoming May 10th I’ll be flying to Jerusalem for a two-week  pilgrimage (As part of a local church group.)  To that end, I’ve been listening to a series of lectures-on-CD, The World of Biblical Israel | The Great Courses Plus.

And in the process of doing this post, I stumbled on a Jerusalem Post article that tied in to a point the professor made in Lecture 2, “By the Rivers of Bablyon – Exile.”  The article:  If I Forget Thee, Oh Jerusalem:

There is an almost natural magnetic draw to Jerusalem that stirs within us a special emotion. For millions of people around the world the heart of ancient Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, symbolizes spirituality and mysticism, a place of prayer and miracles, the centre of the world and a holy portal to God.

Note the “spirituality and mysticism” part, which ties in with frequent themes of this post.  (That the “spiritual path” has more to offer than the “literal path.*”)  But the point here is this:  The title of that article is from Psalm 137:5-6:  “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”  (That’s from the King James Version; the Bible God uses.)  

Which just happened to tie in with the Biblical Israel Lecture 2, described further below.

See also Psalm 137 – Wikipedia, which described “Nebuchadnezzar II‘s successful siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC.”  That ended up with the people of Judah being “deported to Babylonia, where they were held captive until some time after the Fall of Babylon,” in 539 BC:

In English it [Psalm 137] is generally known as “By the rivers of Babylon,” which is how its first words are translated in the King James Version…  The psalm is a communal lament about being in exile after the Babylonian captivity, and yearning for Jerusalem.  The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies.  It has been set to music often, and was paraphrased in hymns.

So anyway, Professor Cynthia R. Chapman began by focusing on Psalm 137 as the story of how the final version of the Old Testament got made up by that Hebrew Remnant – those people in exile.  In other words, something very good – the final version of the Old Testament – was the result of something very bad happening to “God’s Chosen People.”

According to Professor Chapman, Psalm 137 constitutes both the mid-point – the very middle – of years of Ancient Jewish history, and also the very middle of Bible itself.*  And Psalm 137 came at precisely the time when the books of the Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament – were collected, edited and redacted.  And it all came about because of the Exile, that “national disgrace.”

That is, the Old Testament as we know it didn’t exist before 586 B.C., the year many Judeans were taken from their homeland.  (After the horrors of the Babylonian conquest.)  Then they went through a “death march,” 800 miles to Babylon, during which many of the Remnant died along the way.  (Those who weren’t executed during the post-siege “mop up.”)  After those horrors – and the shame of this national disgrace – they compiled, edited and shaped their collected national stories into a “virtual library.”  A library that connected them to their homeland.

In other words, before the calamity of the Exile, many books (in the form of scrolls) existed, but “here is where they were first collected into what we know as the Old Testament today.”

Eadwine psalter - Trinity College Lib - f.243v.jpgThat idea was mirrored in Babylon captivity, at Psalm 137 – Wikipedia:

This period saw … the emergence of the central role of the Torah in Jewish life.  According to many historical-critical scholars, the Torah was redacted during this time, and began to be regarded as the authoritative text for Jews.  This period saw their transformation into an ethno-religious group who could survive without a central Temple.

The link-article went on to say the period of exile “was a rich one for Hebrew literature.”  For example, the Book of Jeremiah 39–43 saw the exile “as a lost opportunity.”  Also, the “Priestly source, one of the four main sources of the Torah/Pentateuch in the Bible, is primarily a product of the post-exilic period,” while also “during this Persian period, the final redaction of the Pentateuch purportedly took place.”

I’ve written before about Moses writing the Torah – the first five books of the Bible – during and right after the 40 years of “wandering in the wilderness.”  (See e.g. On Moses and Paul “dumbing it down,” and My Lenten meditation.)  Which would mean those first five books of the Bible were written some time before 1,400 B.C., about the time Moses died. (What year did Moses die – answers.com.)  But it was only some 800 years later – and the product of a humiliating national disgrace – that the final version of the Old Testament as we know it came into being.

I’ll be writing more about Psalm 137 and “On to Jerusalem” in a later post.  In the meantime, here’s wishing you a happy Easter.  And a reminder that that joyous occasion could only come about after 40 days of Lenten “doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego.”  Not to mention a humiliating death on the cross.

You know, I’ll bet there’s a lesson that can be gleaned from all this…

*   *   *   *

James Tissot, “The Flight of the Prisoners,” from Jerusalem and on into exile…

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Psalm 137 – Wikipedia.  The full caption: “By the Waters of Babylon, painting by Arthur Hackerc. 1888.”

About the photo to the right of the paragraph beginning, “As told in ‘On to Jerusalem:'”  From the Wikipedia article on Jerusalem, the caption reads:  “Israeli policemen meet a Jordanian Legionnaire near the Mandelbaum Gate (circa 1950).”

As to the “Great Course,” see also The World of Biblical Israel – English.  Other books I’m reading for the upcoming include Entebbe: A Defining Moment In the War On Terrorism, by Iddo Netanyahu.

As to the “piritual path being better than the literal path.  See John 4:24:  “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”  (See also Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, which noted of God that “His will has been expressed in the seeking.  But His very nature and essence is spirit, and it follows from this that all true worship must be spiritual.”)  And of course 2d Corinthians 3:6, saying the letter of the law kills, “but the Spirit [of God’s law] gives life.”

Re:  Psalm 137:5-6.  See also Psalm 137:5 Commentaries: If I forget you…, and Psalm 137 – Commentary in Easy EnglishAlso, “137” is an Imprecatory Psalm See Wikipedia, on those  invoking “judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God.”

Re:  “Babylon.”  See Wikipedia:  “The remains of the city are in present-day HillahBabil GovernorateIraq, about 85 kilometres (53 mi) south of Baghdad, comprising a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris.”  There’s probably a lesson there too…

Re:  Psalm 137 as “the very middle of Bible itself.”  In my Good News Bible, Psalm 137 folds out pretty much right at the middle.  Also, it’s on page 687 of a combined 1,395 pages.  (1,041 for the Old Testament, 354 for the New Testament.)  The precise mid-point page would be “697.5.”

About the image to the right of the paragraph, “That idea was mirrored in Babylon captivity.”  From Psalm 137 – Wikipedia, it’s captioned “Psalm 137 in the Eadwine Psalter (12th century).”  

The lower image is courtesy of the Babylonian captivity link at Psalm 137 – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “James TissotThe Flight of the Prisoners.”  That article added these notes:

In the Hebrew Bible, the captivity in Babylon is presented as a punishment for idolatry and disobedience to Yahweh in a similar way to the presentation of Israelite slavery in Egypt followed by deliverance. The Babylonian Captivity had a number of serious effects on Judaism and Jewish culture.  For example, the current Hebrew alphabet was adopted during this period, replacing the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet.

This period saw the last high-point of biblicalprophecy in the person of Ezekiel, followed by the emergence of the central role of the Torah in Jewish life.  According to many historical-critical scholars, the Torah was redacted during this time, and began to be regarded as the authoritative text for Jews.  This period saw their transformation into an ethno-religious group who could survive without a central Temple.

This process coincided with the emergence of scribes and sages as Jewish leaders (see Ezra). Prior to exile, the people of Israel had been organized according to tribe.  Afterwards, they were organized by smaller family groups.  Only the tribe of Levi continued in its temple role after the return.  After this time, there were always sizable numbers of Jews living outside Eretz Israel;  thus, it also marks the beginning of the “Jewish diaspora,…”

Also, as to Hebrews killed during the post-siege mop-up, see 2d Kings 25, verses 8-12:

On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard … came to Jerusalem.  He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem.  Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon.  But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

Also verse 18-20, describing the number of prisoners taken, mostly high-ranking officials.  And verses 20-21:  “Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

*   *   *   *

As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes.  The first is that God will accept anyone.  (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”)  The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.)   The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus.  (John 14:12).    A fourth theme:  The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity.  According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable…  Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians.  They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.”  But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…   (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…)

Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.”  See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by “learning the fundamentals.”  But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.  

Also, and as noted in “Buck private,” I’d previously said the theme of this blog was that if you really want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”    

http://www.toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpgIn other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.”  See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001.  The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.”

*  Re: “mystical.”  As originally used, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.”  See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism.  (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”)

For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?

“On to Jerusalem!”

A late-afternoon view of Jerusalem – with the Dome of the Rock, in gold, in the left foreground…

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And speaking of pilgrimages This May I’ll be making such a two-week journey to Jerusalem (As part of a local church group.)  On that note, Kenneth Clark – the noted British “art historian, museum director, and broadcaster” – discussed the origin of such spiritual journeys in his 1969 TV series, Civilisation (The following quotes are from the book version, at pages 40-42.)  

In Chapter 2 – “The Great Thaw” – Clark noted the “sudden reawakening of European civilization in the 12th century.” (That is, the years from 1101 to 1199 or so.)  He said that “great thaw” – the sudden spurt of growth in human development – did not come about from mere idle contemplation.  Instead it came as the result of action:  “a vigorous, violent sense of movement, both physical and intellectual.”

The physical – action – part took the form of pilgrimages; most often to Jerusalem.  That led in turn to the Crusades (“Traditionally, they [the Crusades] took place between 1095 and 1291;” and of course “the most important place of pilgrimage was Jerusalem.”)   But these early pilgrimages were not at all like our “cruises or holidays abroad” today.  For one thing they took a long time; often two or three years.  “For another, they involved real hardship and danger.”

That is, despite efforts to organize (“pilgrims used to go in parties of 7000 at a time”), “elderly abbots and middle-aged widows often died on the way to Jerusalem.”  (Note that our church group requires a doctor’s note from those over 70, saying they “must be able to walk three miles at once at a normal pace” – at least 2-and-a-half miles an hour – “without assistance from others.”)

Another difference:  Today such a pilgrimage is typically “a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs.”  But in those early days, the “point of a pilgrimage was to look at relics.”  (On that note, see 2015’s On Peter, Paul – and other “relics.”)

The belief in the “magic” of relics – Clark said – was a product of the Medieval Mind.  “The medieval pilgrim really believed that by contemplating a reliquary containing the head or even the fingers of a saint he would persuade that particular saint to intercede on his behalf with God.”  (Clark cited an example, Saint Foy, a “little girl of who in late Roman times” was put to death for refusing to worship idols, and then was “turned into one herself.”  That is, an idol.*)  

Portrait of Napoleon in his forties, in high-ranking white and dark blue military dress uniform. In the original image He stands amid rich 18th-century furniture laden with papers, and gazes at the viewer. His hair is Brutus style, cropped close but with a short fringe in front, and his right hand is tucked in his waistcoat.In other words, the man with a Medieval Mind believed that by going on a pilgrimage – and in the process venerating relics – he could “get good stuff from God.”  Which is of course the same incentive for many practicing Christians today.  (If not for those of any religion.)   Or as Napoleon put it, “Men are moved by only two things:  fear and self-interest.”

But we digress…  As seen in the links at the right of this page, I’ve devoted a whole category to Pilgrimages(Including – the summer of 2018 – I’m back from my Rideau pilgrimage, and – October 2017 – “Hola! Buen Camino!”) 

On the topic being discussed, the most relevant blog-post is probably On St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts, from September 2016.   That post pointed out that St. James the Greater is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.  And it indicated that on a true pilgrimage – usually by and through “the raw experience of hunger, cold, lack of sleep” – we can “quite often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings.”  And it noted that a true pilgrimage can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.

In Back from Rideau, the chief ordeal was hour after hour of butt-numbing, back-aching canoe-paddling.  In Buen Camino the chief ordeal was hour after hour of hiking, much of it across the dry and dusty Meseta of northern Spain.  Which meant sore achy feet and blister upon blister.  (At least for the first 250 miles.  From León, we mountain-biked the remaining 200 miles.  Which just meant different parts of the body got sore, achy and/or blistered.)

So the question for the upcoming trip to Jerusalem:  “What part of the trip will help me ‘find a sense of my fragility as a mere human being?'”  And “What part of the trip will be ‘most chastening, and also most liberating?’”  Or maybe I’ll find somewhere a relic to venerate, and so in turn get some “good stuff from God.”  (Aside from being chastened and liberated…)

On that note: Stay tuned!  There may well be “further bulletins as events warrant!”

Calvin and Hobbes

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On another note, last Monday – March 25 – was the Feast of the Annunciation.  See The Annunciation “gets the ball rolling,” from March 2015.  The full title is the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the post showed how in this case the early Church “figured it backwards.”  That is, they started with the birth of Jesus on December 25, then figured backwards nine months.  Since they said Jesus was born on December 25, He had to have been “conceived” on the previous March 25.  That’s where the Annunciation comes in.

It celebrates “the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his Incarnation.”  There’s more on the Incarnation in the post, along with how and why the Conception and Annunciation both got to happen on the same day.  Now, about that “getting the ball rolling.”

Technically the liturgical year – the church’s calendar year, illustrated at left – begins with Advent (December 1 or so), and goes through next November.  (When it starts all over again.)  But it could be argued that the liturgical year properly starts with the Annunciation; that is, the first moment when it became obvious that God would intervene on our behalf, by and through the birth, life and death of Jesus.

More to the point, the church year “sets out to attune the life of the Christian to the life of Jesus.”  (It’s not an “arbitrary arrangement of ancient holy days”):

It is an excursion into life from the Christian perspective [and] proposes to help us to year after year immerse ourselves into the sense and substance of the Christian life…   It is an adventure in human growth;  it is an exercise in spiritual ripening.

As noted in the “ball rolling” post, I couldn’t have put it better myself.  Thus in one sense the Church Year does begin with Advent.  On the other hand, you could say that while “technically the liturgical year begins” with Advent, it’s the Annunciation that gets the ball rolling

And speaking of “getting the ball rolling.”  Who knows:  My upcoming adventure in Jerusalem will result in some personal “human growth.”  At the very least it should be:

“An exercise in spiritual ripening…

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St. James the Greater, dressed and accoutred as the quintessential Pilgrim…’

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The upper image is courtesy of Jerusalem – Image Results.  See also Jerusalem – WikipediaNote that the post-title – “On to Jerusalem!” – is an allusion to the Civil War’s famous (or infamous) battle cry, “On to Richmond!”  See the National Park Service’s The Focal Point of the Civil War, and Richmond in the American Civil War – Wikipedia.

I cited Clark’s book in On Moses and Paul “dumbing it down:”

Which is another way of saying that all the people who wrote the Bible had to keep in mind the human limitations of their audience.  They were trying to put incomprehensible things into plain and simple language that even the most obtuse dolt could understand.  Or to paraphrase Sir Kenneth Clark, the people who wrote the Bible had to have the intellectual power to make God comprehensible.

The Kenneth Clark paraphrase is from the hardcover book version of Clark’s Civilisation (TV series). On pages 84-85 of the book, Clark compared the poet Dante with the painter Giotto.  Then on page 85, Clark noted the differences between the two men, beginning with the fact that “their imaginations moved on very different planes.”  But in the film version – and only in the film or TV version – Clark said Dante had  “that heroic contempt for baseness that was to come again in Michelangelo.   Above all, that vision of a heavenly order and the intellectual power to make it comprehensible.”  Which is the phrase that drew my attention…  See also Wikipedia, for more on the TV series.

Clark’s writing about early pilgrimages – especially to Jerusalem – are at pages 40-42 of the book.

Re:  The medieval mind.  The link is to The Medieval Mind: A Meditation:

The latter [people in the Middle Ages] were drenched in mysticism, whereas the contemporary world has been shaped by rationalism so that mystical concepts and experiences have been stripped away except among a small number of people steeped in the religious thought of our Western ancestors…  [Also:]  It can be argued that the decline of pilgrimages is a loss to Christian spiritual life in an age of unbelief and immorality when people have a profound need for spiritual examples.

Re:  Saint Foy, put to death for refusing to worship idols, then “turned into one herself.”  (The “idol” is shown at left.)  Clark wrote that she was “obstinate in the face of reasonable persuasion – a Christian Antigone” – and so was martyred.  But then her relics began to work miracles,” including the restoration of sight to a man who eyes had been gouged out “by a jealous priest.”  As to the little girl whose “relics” were turned into an idol – even though she’d been put to death for refusing to worship idols – “that’s the medieval mind.  They care passionately about the truth, but their sense of evidence was different than ours.” 

Also, the link in the text is to St. Foy’s Golden Reliquary – Conques, France – Atlas Obscura, about the “huge golden reliquary of a testicle smashing saint.”  The article added that “Pilgrims pray to saints for holy intercession in all kinds of problems, but they should be very careful what they ask for when approaching St. Foy, who seems to have a wicked sense of humor.”  That is, “St. Foy developed her reputation for… unusual cures. [Ellipses in the original.]  Notably, when a knight came to her seeking a cure for a herniated scrotum, she, via vision, helpfully suggested that he find a blacksmith willing to smash it with a white-hot hammer.”  See the article for the “rest of the story…” 

Also, re “idol.”  See Idolatry – Wikipedia:  “ldolatry literally means the worship of an ‘idol,’ also known as a worship cult image, in the form of a physical image, such as a statue.  In Abrahamic religions, namely Christianity, Islam and Judaism, idolatry connotes the worship of something or someone other than God as if it were God.”  Note the subtle difference to the medieval mind, asking the “saint” in question to intercede with God…

Re:  Hiking the Meseta part of the Camino de Santiago:  “Many people avoid the Meseta, catching the bus from Burgos to Leon,” while others – who aren’t so wussified – think that misses the whole point of hiking the Camino.

I borrowed the “further bulletins” cartoon from The Transfiguration of Jesus – 2016.

I borrowed the lower image from St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts, from 2016.  See also Wikipedia, with full caption, “Saint James the Elder by Rembrandt[.]  He is depicted clothed as a pilgrim;  note the scallop shell on his shoulder and his staff and pilgrim’s hat beside him.”  Also, the “sluts” post noted in part:  “Of course the two [pilgrimages] I went on this summer weren’t close to being like going to Jerusalem.  (See Back in the saddle again, again.)  But for next summer – more precisely, September 2017 – my brother and I plan to hike the Camino de Santiago…”  (Can you say foreshadowing?)