Monthly Archives: June 2019

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…

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wallsep1

Looking ahead, to our visit to the Wall of Separation

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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…

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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.  

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…”

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

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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:

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…

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A “Haganah female officer in 1948…”

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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?