Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sinai, Nile...

Sinai, Nile...

Any Questions

"We remember the fish which we ate in Egypt freely, the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic... " Num. 11:5

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

By the way: Why are American evangelical Christians so invested in denying global warming? Is it just another example for them of the delusion the entire western world is suffering under. One day they will all see Jesus descending in a cloud and the sinister global warming scientists will have to repent in dust and ashes for their corrupt agenda.

I'm sitting on the sight of the roman encampment before their final assault on Jerusalem, smelling a bit more ripe then I ever like to smell (because every thing I own is packed for the 3rd time and I can't find my deodorant). Stephen and I are supposed to move AGAIN sometime soon but were having trouble extracting the key from the boyfriend of our friend whose house we are taking advantage of for the next month while she is in South Africa. At this point he is either willfully ignoring us or he has been sent at the last moment to Iraq by our friendly US government. He does something top secret for them.

I'm in a major transition now, not just as it relates to the place I lay my head every night but also as my life is saved and being saved. What I mean is that I am now embarking on a life of service in a community environment. I have been invited to join a small team of Christians who bring Arab children to Israel for open heart surgeries. The work is about reconciliation, promoting positive contacts between Arabs and Israelis. Christians are involved because of our task in this world to promote God's kingdom. "Your kingdom come, your will be done..." We take our inspiration from the Good Samaritan who did not pass by someone in life threatening need. And we direct our efforts toward the pursuit of peace here because of Jesus' blessing on the peacemakers. The work is inspiring and I am very excited about helping to grow this ministry over the next few years. In a certain sense we Christians are here to assist Israel to be a light to the nations.

The Non profit is called Shevet Achim. We find the children mostly through our network of doctors in the Middle East. We do all the logistical planning to help the children and their families come to Israel for the surgeries. We find the funding for the surgeries which Israeli doctors and hospitals have agreed to do at cost. (averaging $3500 each). And we host the families while the children our in the hospital. Check out the website if you have a chance.

Working with this group of people includes living with a number of them in community. Stephen and I will be moving into a house that is also the Shevet office. We'll post some pictures when we can. It is a building from the 1860's built originally for a Syrian Orthodox bishop. It has some wonderfully unique features including massive (20ft) domed ceilings. It than became the first children’s hospital in Jerusalem, a history that fits well with what Shevet does. We have our own space but it is linked to the living quarters of several other missionaries working on the Shevet team. I am looking forward to learning practical skills but most of all spiritual maturity from the other members of the Shevet ministry. They are all older than Stephen and I and many have aspects of spiritual maturity that I hope to learn from.

It will be a slowish transition into working there. Hopefully this week I will get a full job description and go on a few of the runs we make into the Palestinian territories to pick up children there. I'm going to try to be more faithful with updates since I should be sitting at a computer (with Internet Access!!!!) for several hours every day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Stephen and I are visiting the legendary home of King Arthur this weekend.
I'm sitting at work being paid to do nothing at the moment. Exams are over and now I'm just waiting for the pass fail notice in the mail. This last year has been crazy hard, I can't seem to shake the stress, so I haven't been sleeping well since exams ended. That was two weeks ago. Despite that, I've managed to only remember the enjoyable parts of the year, my wonderful neighbors, the engaging courses, the fun of conquering this challenge. So, I'm glad I did it.

Stephen and I move to Jerusalem in about a month. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've been missing America, not any place in America but the feeling of being there. I miss the carelessness of it, the ease of living where things just make sense or non-sense in exactly the way you expect them to.

But I think the next two years will also be great! Stephen and I already have friends in Israel, people we met this year who were visiting scholars at the Jewish Studies Center in Oxford, and friends of his from when he lived there before. Jerusalem is such a crazy place and it draws such strange characters from all sorts of religious backgrounds. I'm looking forward to joining them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"The Gosple, as Jesus proclaimed it, has to do with the Father only and not with the Son." - Harnack.
I would love to set this as a final exam question for a theology course.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Said the Basht, "Asceticism should be practiced only at the commencement of a man's self-discipline, until his evil inclinations are subdued. Later he should conduct himself in a normal way and be in communication with his comrades. Otherwise he will fall into pride."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

That is why the Bible is there, it is a permanent witness against institutions. He chuckled and winked at me, and rambled on to another anecdote.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Today I was inspired by a Rabbi. Rabbi Leo Baeck. Survivor of the Holocaust, man of deep devotion and of great ethical action. A reformer and traditionalist. He organizes my thoughts on living a critical/skeptical religious life.

"A religious ceremony is every action which... expresses a religious thought; in contrast to the actual religious commandment of duty, its purpose is thus outside of it. The observance of the dietary laws, for example, is the practicing of a ceremony... through which the idea of sanctification is to be presented to us."

"Religion appears within reality only as historical religion which is passed on as an inheritance through the centuries. It cannot be transmitted as pure soul, for it is too intangible; it must approach man through a process of gaining corporality, of becoming symbolized. A so-called natural religion exists only in systems, but not in life. Symbolic ceremonies fulfill this function; they are the language through which religious thought is expressed."

This article comes off of Haaretz. I can't get the link to work so I'm publishing the whole thing below. It gives a good sense of Israeli concerns and expectations.

"Does Hamas still want you dead?"

By Bradley Burston

Wednesday, 25 January (62 days to election day)

With the Islamic Jihad, you know where you stand.
They want you dead.

It's part of a worldwide movement of wanting you dead. They take
orders from people in Damascus who want you dead, people in Tehran who
want you dead, people south of Beirut who want you dead.

With Hamas, knowing where you stand is less cut and dried. With
infinitely more support, personnel, sitzfleisch, than the Jihad, with
more ideological independence, and a network of free medical clinics
and free schools, it almost makes you wonder about the Death to Israel
and Death to America and the second graders they dress up and parade
around in fatigues and miniature M-16's and garlands of plastic grenades.

Now as Hamas prepares to enter the Palestinian parliament, and perhaps
the cabinet, it's time to ask - Will the real Hamas please stand up?

Forget the learned punditry. It all comes down to this: Does Hamas, in
fact, want you dead?

On the one hand, there's Nouvelle Hamas, Hamas Lite, the latter-day
Islamic Resistance Movement of conciliatory if studiously ambiguous

The poster boy for the New Hamas is Sheikh Mohammed Abu Tir, he of the
leprechaun orange beard, who dispenses homespun medical advice as he
chats amicably, disarmingly with reporters on the Palestinian campaign
trail. The color of his beard and hair? Henna. It's proven itself good
for dandruff, he observes. Even seems to have helped ease the
migraines he once suffered.

Then there's Hamas Classic. The Hamas of Khaled Mashaal. No
negotiations. No clever wording. No part of "No" to misunderstand.

"We don't have to make concessions to satisfy Israel," Mashaal said
this week, "Our position now is not to negotiate with Israel. We will
not kowtow."

There was a time, starting with Hamas' founding at the very outset of
the first Intifada, when it was no problem to know where you stood
with them. They wanted you dead and/or gone from here. They had
decided that we were all either from Russia or America, and we could
all go back there now, thank you very much.

At first they weren't prepared to do anything about it. They were
later on, though. With a vengeance.

Either because we killed their master bombmaker with an exploding cell
phone to the ear, or in order to show their continued explosive
capability, or both, they decided to decide the 1996 election and put
Benjamin Netanyahu in power. It took them nine days. Four bombs,
Ashkelon, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv. Sixty deaths. Hundreds and hundreds of

Feeling somewhat guilty about having helped them in the early 1980s,
when we thought them to be apolitical, anti-Marxist, useful, we tried
everything to stop them. Exiling 400 of them to a snowy, windblown
hilltop in south Lebanon, including their pediatrician/president Abdel
Aziz Rantisi, did nothing to deter them. We tried assassinating them,
pressing the PA to jail them, pressing the PA to stop releasing them
soon thereafter, assassinating them and assassinating them and
assassinating them.

Now we're at a loss. They're about to join the cabinet next door, and
there's nothing we can do about it.

Can we trust them? The question is academic. We won't trust them.
We'll give good reasons why not. Take Sheikh Abu Tir. Now 55, he's
spent most of his adult life in Israeli administrative detention or
otherwise jailed for weapons possession, membership in a terrorist
organization, and/or directing activities of Hamas' armed wing, Iz
al-Din al-Qassam.

"Israel respects us when we are strong," Khaled Mashaal told a
television interviewer. "This requires a long battle."

Any way you look at it, however, the battle has changed. The last time
Hamas launched a suicide bombing was in August, 2004.

The tone has changed as well. Even the unbending Mahmoud Zahar, whose
son was killed in an Israeli air strike and who narrowly escaped
assassination himself, has given a measure of ground in recent

"Negotiation is not a taboo," Zahar told reporters this week.
"Negotiations are a means. If Israel has anything to offer on the
issues of halting attacks, withdrawal, releasing prisoners... then
1,000 means can be found."

But a campaign is a campaign, and Zahar couldn't resist a dig at the
rival Fatah party. "The political crime is when we sit with the
Israelis and then come out with a wide smile to tell the Palestinian
people that there is progress, when in fact, there is not."

Oddly, the only moderating influence that seems to have consistently
worked on Hamas is Palestinian public opinion.

The group has entered politics, and even for those unafraid of a
martyr's death, there is little more terrifying for a politician than
his own constituents.

"You are about to enter the Authority. We welcome you," Fatah Gaza
leader Mohammed Dahlan told Zahar on the eve of the elections.

"It's time for you to discover the suffering of being in government."

I believe... in the power of ideals.

The Leadership of the Palestinian people has been handed over to people most Israeli's see as enemies. The speculations as to who is to blame for this development among the English I have heard talking centers on Israel as the culprit. "They wanted this, you know." "They now have the excuse they need to continue their unilateral action." "If Sharron had given more concessions when Fatah was in power they could have proven to the Palestinian People that Fatah was a party that could get things done."
From my talk with a Palestinian Christian woman, leader of an art school in Bethlehem, I understood that the people were fed up with the corruption, that Hamas had built schools in the towns they ran, they had provided the people with public services. So maybe this is why they were elected, not because people believe in their platform, not because a majority of Palestinians think that Israel has no right to exist?
But I also spoke with an Arab-Israeli, a citizen of Israel, a lawyer, educated in England, a man who passed the bar in New York; and he struggled to respond positively to the assertion that Israel has a right to be there. He managed in the end to talk pragmatically about the current facts but really, he dodged the question.
I often wonder at the society around me here, so eager to absolve others of their responsibility, as long as they aren't European. Is this a hold over of the guilt experienced because of the British Empire? I affirm the desire to stand in the shoes of the other, to have compassion but in typical American fashion I ask about the consequences. Shouldn't we respect people as agents of their own destiny? Isn't affirming their moral culpability part of affirming their humanity? Are people really such hypocrites that their ideals can be bought off through large scale public funding, masses of economic aid, development of the economy? Are people's ideals so easily eradicated by consumerism and wealth? Isn't the fundamentalist response coming from the Islamic world a reaction against consumerism and the westernization of their identity? We think that people can be bought off, how insulting.