Friday, March 26, 2010

Jerusalem Hat Trick

When I took a trip to Israel, I was struck by all the touristy-trap type stuff that was waiting for pilgrims around every corner. While I was never offered a piece of bone that was one of the martyrs, a splinter from the cross or ash from the original Wednesday(???), it did seem that every where you looked you could find a place where Jesus, one or more of the apostles or one of the patriarchs did something or the other. These sites, some authentic and some quite dubious, always included some articles you could buy to remember what had happened.

As I was arranging my office, which I hope to get you pictures of once I decorate it and all that, I found some of the keepsakes I got from while I was there. I have certificates attesting to my pilgrimage, commemorating my baptism in the Jordan River and proving that I climbed up Masada. And, I do have some very vivid memories of my experiences in the Holy Land.

Here, let me tell you about one of the experiences I had that you wouldn't expect from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

On trips like these, you always end up getting closer to some people than others, for whatever reason. During some of the free time we had, I went bumping about in the Arab Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem with Steve and David. Steve was my Jewish friend that planned on becoming a Mass Crusade Evangelist and who introduced me to some of the locals that he happened to know. David was a rough and tumble adventurer sort. I had no idea what he was doing at a Seminary, but he wasn't about to pass up a trip to somewhere cool, like Israel.

To give you some background, I was living in Texas at the time (that's where the school was) and had recently returned from a war in the Arab world. Maybe not the most diplomatic combination in the Arab Quarter. The Old City, especially the Arab Quarter, is full of shop type booths. Sort of picture the Suq in Raiders of the Lost Ark. My revelation that it looked like this came when I realized that I didn't have a whip or a revolver and I might soon be in need of one.

One of the vendors was selling hats and he seemed to think that his hats were much better than Steve's authentic Texas Guy Cowboy Hat. Steve politely tried to explain that he didn't want a hat and that his hat was one of the best ever until the vendor reached up and snatched it off his head. Since I was living in Texas, I knew the value of a man's hat, so I quickly grabbed the vendor's arm and snatched back the hat, put my finger in his face and told him not to touch his hat. The vendor looked pretty mad and a few of his buddies shuffled up behind him, like you'd see in a bad Kung Fu movie. Or a Billy Jack movie. Those movies are bad and they always have groups of angry men gathering behind their ring leader. If you don't know Billy Jack, you are probably better off.

Realizing that I lacked a little bit of the training that Billy Jack had and that my friends were not an elite group of heavily armed operatives, we backed off and got back to some more traditional Holy Land Adventuring. In retrospect, I should have punched someone. It would probably have made for a much better story.

And, If you thought I was going to blog about how our country has decided to try and ban Israel from building some houses in a place where, historically, no-one has ever lived in order to try and appease the Palestinians and in turn pissing off one of our closest allies, I apologize, you will have to look elsewhere for opinions about that issue.

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