Friday, July 23, 2004

it is time

It's time for me to get a move on! The departure time for Youth Mission 2004--The Trip is approaching. AAA!!! Yet, for some reason, I don't feel anxious about it right now. That probably means I've forgotten something terribly important. oy. We can only hope that actually I am just remarkably well prepared after last week's freak-out. we'll see!! You can follow the group's adventures with the link to the left there: Fab-CNC-Youth. :-) good times.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

GRR. AARGH...

I currently hate electronic equipment. computers, printers, copy machines, all of it. I'm going to kinko's because my patience for the machines has run out. I don't want to deal any more. The mission trip leaves in 36 hours. I can't get the copy machine to work. This is very irritating. Very. How do I copy the devotional booklet? How do I copy those participant release forms? How do I copy kid's insurance cards? All of this is a mystery to me right now. And so, with the people who produce Buffy, I say "Grr. Aargh."

And I go home after a 9+ hour work day. grr. argh.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Just Keep Praying

Just Keep Praying
Luke 11.1-13
CNCP
July 18 2004


Once upon a time, there was a committee meeting at a church. At the beginning, committee member Bob said, “Can we start with prayer?” Everyone agreed this would be a very good idea, so Bob said, “who would like to pray?” No one answered. Everyone looked around nervously, looking everywhere except at other people. After nearly a minute, Bob said, “I’m sorry I asked. I guess I’ll do it, but it won’t be good.”
Once upon a time, Jesus was praying in a certain place. His disciples saw it and thought “wow, I wish I could be like that. Hey, Barnabas, don’t you want to be able to pray like that?” So they mustered their courage, approached Jesus and asked him to teach them to do what he did, to pray.
Have you ever been in one of these stories? I know I have definitely been in the first one. I’ve been the person who looked away (or even who says, “not me!”) when asked to pray at a meeting or at a meal. I’ve been the one who agrees to pray but only with the disclaimer that it won’t be very good. And I freely admit that I have never had the courage to approach the Lord and say “teach me to pray.”
I have sat in pews of churches and listened to preachers and liturgists pray. I’ve been at prayer meetings where people pray beautifully. Let me tell you, after hearing a preacher pray or listening to a televangelist for even a minute, I always feel like there’s no way I could ever pray, especially in public. I am completely intimidated by the idea that someone is going to listen to the words I say and is going to try to use them to pray, and I’m even more intimidated by the idea that, there on the spot I need to come up with words that express to God the prayers we all want to pray for this moment. It’s quite a tall order. Then, when I’m alone, I think I still need all those beautiful phrases and big words, those scriptural references and a mental list of current world events. Soon I’m snoozing away because I can’t keep track of it all and sleep sort of creeps up. And to ask for help from the Lord, or from anyone, would be to admit that I can’t do it. I can’t just pick it up in church, I can’t just come up with wonderful prayers without some sort of help, or at least advance planning. I can’t just do it without practice. It almost feels like admitting I’m not a good Christian somehow.
Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t say any of those things when his disciples, who’ve been following him around, listening to him preach and pray, ask him to teach them. Jesus has no commentary like the usual “how much longer must I be with you” or some version of “I can’t believe you don’t get it yet!” Jesus simply says, “When you pray, say this.” And what he tells them to say isn’t fancy. In fact, it’s not even the beautiful language we learned from the King James version of the prayer recorded in Matthew. The prayer Jesus teaches in Luke’s gospel is five short sentences that kind of fall off your tongue and hit the floor. “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” That’s it. No “who art in heaven,” no “deliver us from evil” no “thine is the kingdom.” Just “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, give us each day our daily bread, forgive us our sins, and do not bring us to the time of trial.” No big words, no beautiful phrases, no list of current world events. Compared to the prayers of the people we hear from this pulpit every week, this prayer Jesus teaches is kind of, well, flat and boring. Or, alternatively, compared to this prayer that Jesus teaches, the prayers of the people we hear from this pulpit every week are full of heaps of empty phrases like those of the gentiles.
Well, I don’t know about you, but as much as I love the Lord’s Prayer and think it’s great for gathering up all the prayers of our hearts, it doesn’t feel to me like I’ve really prayed for that sick friend if I just say the Lord’s Prayer for her. If this is the model of prayer for us, how do we appropriate the petitions of this prayer for our own prayers?
First, I think, we have to ask why we pray. Are we praying because we want a specific thing to happen or not happen? Are we praying because we feel like we should? What’s the point of prayer? The Confessions of our church say that in prayer people seek after and are found by the one true God, we listen and wait upon God, we call God by name, remember God’s gracious acts, and offer ourselves to God. We, and all the children of God, are enabled by the Holy Spirit to plead for ourselves and for others and on behalf of the whole world. As the children of God we have the privilege of placing ourselves before God, open and vulnerable, and laying out the desires and anxieties of our hearts, of our community, of our world. And we expect that God listens to us as God’s children and will not neglect our prayers but will show us God’s love, mercy, and grace.
But what about those times when it feels like God isn’t listening, or isn’t answering, or has chosen to answer with a no? What about when we pray for someone to get better and they don’t? What about when we pray for an end to violence in different parts of the world or even on the streets of our own city, and yet it continues? What about when we pray for the safety of our friends and family and accidents happen?
How do we reconcile that experience with these words of Jesus? Ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. I would be willing to bet that everyone here has at some point asked and not received, knocked and only seen closed door after closed door. It’s hard to take Jesus’ words seriously. We all know that God isn’t in the business of simply giving us what we want. No matter how nicely we ask, no matter how much bargaining we do, no matter how lovely our phrases and how big our words, sometimes it seems that we just can’t have it.
Maybe it feels like God is the neighbor in Jesus’ parable. The one who says, “no, I won’t get out of bed and give you bread. It’s midnight, for goodness sake! You’re going to wake the children. I’m asleep. Go away!”
If so, though, Jesus says what to do. He says that the man who knocked and asked for help was persistent. The man kept knocking and shouting, possibly rousing the whole neighborhood. He was annoying, like a small child that continuously asks for a Popsicle. “mommy, I want a Popsicle. mommy, I want a Popsicle. mommy, can I have a Popsicle? mooommmm…….?” Jesus says that the neighbor would indeed get up and give his friend whatever he needs, if for no other reason than to get him to go away. Just keep knocking. Just keep shouting. Just keep asking. Just keep praying.
Now, I’m not saying that God wants us to go away and will answer our prayers in an attempt to shut us up. But I’m also not saying that the answer will necessarily be what we want. Jesus says that the neighbor will give the man whatever he needs. The man asked for three loaves of bread. Perhaps the neighbor gave him one. Or perhaps the man gave him some hummus and a cucumber. Or a loaf of bread and some figs. We have no way of knowing what the answer really was. Perhaps we ought to remember the same thing about our prayers. We may ask and ask and ask, pray and pray and pray, knock and shout and beg, but what we get isn’t necessarily what we asked for. We get sugar-free grape juice instead of a Popsicle. Or we think our prayers have gone unanswered, or worse—that the answer is no—when perhaps we’re looking in the wrong place for our answer. Do we want to have God’s answer, or are we only willing to accept the answer we started out looking for?
Many churches around the country have adopted a motto and a program of prayer. It’s called “Pray Until Something Happens”, with the acronym PUSH. No one says what that “something” will be. Often I think it’s probably a surprise. What I think is so intriguing about this, though, is the acronym. PUSH suggests that it’s not an easy task. “Push” is what you say when there are two of you trying to move a big car with a dead battery. “Push” is what you say to a soon-to-be-mother as she strives mightily to give birth. Pushing is hard work, something you have to do more than once to get where you need to be. Just keep knocking. Just keep shouting. Just keep asking. Just keep praying.
The psalms show us bunches of prayers that aren’t easy. They record a prayer life of sorrow and anguish, anger and bitterness, begging and pleading, and yet through it all gratitude and praise. That’s what the Lord’s Prayer shows us too. Beginning with praise, praying first for the coming of God’s kingdom, and asking for those things we need. When we pray, we should pray as Jesus taught. When we pray, we should pray until something happens, even if we don’t know what that something will be, because, as children of God, we trust that something will happen. If nothing else, God listens to us and loves us as God’s own people, and we may be changed by our prayer more than we know.
Most of us have seen the movie “Finding Nemo.” Dorie, the blue fish who helps Nemo’s dad find him, sings a little song with the words “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” These two little fish manage to swim all the way to Sydney from wherever it is that they started. Once they find Nemo, they meet some fish who are about to get pulled into a boat and eaten for dinner. Nemo, with his new-found confidence and the creativity sparked in him by his tank-mates at the dentist’s office, knows how to help them. He tells the fish that they have to swim down all together, and keep swimming as hard as they can, pushing on the net they are trapped in. Dorie sings her little song again, “just keep swimming,” and the fish manage to literally break free. They pushed and pushed. They just kept swimming until something happened.
The Holy Spirit is kind of like Dorie for us. The Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing. When we don’t know how to pray, or are speechless with gratitude or with grief or with anxiety, the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. When we’re sure that our prayers can’t possibly be any good, the Spirit can and will inspire us. The Spirit gives us the words, the desire, and the persistence to speak with God, and in this holy conversation we learn to pray for any and all.
So…why not ask the Lord to teach us to pray? His words aren’t fancy, his tone is conversational, and there is nothing about it that is complicated or even particularly good from a literary point of view. That alone should convince us that it isn’t about the words we use. And why not go ahead and pray? Pray in meetings, pray at home, pray unabashedly without apology. All prayers are good enough for God, who will indeed get up and give us whatever we need. Look in strange, unexpected places for surprising ways something might happen. Push hard and pray until something happens. Just keep knocking. Just keep asking. Just keep shouting. Just keep praying.
Amen.

Friday, July 16, 2004

aaa!!!

well, the mission trip is getting close. almost everything is arranged, except for a few crucial things, like transportation. hopefully that will be taken care of soon!!
also getting close is Sunday, when I'm supposed to be preaching on prayer. right now there is no sermon. hopefully that will change soon, very soon! oy.
took a trip to six flags on monday with the youth. hilariously fun. ah, batman. twice in a row we rode batman with no waiting! then came the rain, as we were waiting in line for a water ride. they shut down the rides because of lightning and thunder that came with the downpour.
interestingly, as we were waiting in line for a ride that would get us soaking wet, when it started to rain we all ran for cover. For some reason we didn't want to get wet, in spite of that whole water-ride thing. bizarre.

anyway...it's busy for me right now as i try to get everything done. and i'm tired and want a day off. but no.....it is not forthcoming. perhaps not until we get back from this trip, actually. oy.

in the meantime, it's reasonably nice outside. maybe i'll see if i can write a sermon on the patio. ah...patio...ah, mosquitos and bees....maybe not. ;-)

Alive: the reflection paper part VI

Israel had a different feel to it. It was much more western, generally much busier, and there I met different people. I met some teenagers from across North America who were touring Israel for ten days on a birthright tour. I met Palestinian shopkeepers in the Old City. I met women at the Western (Wailing) Wall. We crossed paths with a group of trainees for the Israeli army, carrying their big guns, at an archaeological site. We met Naim Ateek with a group from Christian Peacemaker Teams. We met people at the Taba border crossing who couldn’t seem to remember that they had our passports and so kept asking us for them. We met an American priest and teacher from Bethlehem who told us about the education situation in the West Bank. We met people in Bethlehem who opened their shop or their restaurant specifically because we were coming in.
What they said was of a vastly different tone than what we had heard in the Arab countries. My encounters with people in the Arab countries were mostly friendly, sometimes sad or difficult, but almost all hopeful. The conversations with people in Israel/Palestine were also friendly but distinctly less hopeful. Especially where Palestinians are concerned, I would say that hope is one of the few things distinctly not alive right now—and is perhaps exactly what needs reviving if there is ever to be anything close to peace and justice.
We saw the “Apartheid Wall” (as George called it) many times. We saw how it cuts off villages from their fields, how its construction has required the bulldozing of olive trees, how it has guard towers and barbed wire and is 20 feet tall and looks exactly like the concrete walls of an American prison. We heard—from George and from others—what life is like inside, where the population is expanding (inside the limited space) because Arab families have many children, the economy is shattered because agriculture has been left outside the wall and tourism is ended when people can’t get in, the people have no access to hospitals, and the Palestinians on the inside must have special permission to come outside the wall. We saw and heard about a Jerusalem where Palestinians with a West Bank ID aren’t allowed in the Old City and if they are caught inside they can be (and are) imprisoned for up to three months, a system where Palestinians have special stickers on their cars identifying them as Palestinian rather than Israeli.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Alive: the reflection paper part V

A big part of our experience was the people we encountered. We had local guides in each country, we met servers, shopkeepers, fellow travelers, and the occasional random person on the street. In the Umayyad Mosque we met some Irani women as the women in our group gathered for a group photo. They asked to be in our picture and to have their photos taken with us. When they discovered where we were from they smiled and giggled. We all shared some sparkling eyes and smiles—a moment of camaraderie and hope. At Crak de Chevaliers I met an American couple who live in the Middle East for business. In Hama I met a couple of men in the street to whom I talked for a few minutes—one was a schoolteacher who spoke about what life was like in this town and who helped me learn a few Arabic words, the other a teenager from Canada whose family was from Hama and who had been forced into this trip by his mom and wasn’t particularly appreciative. In Petra I got asked on a date by one of the dining room staff. I had two marriage proposals in Jordan and two in the Sinai—all four turned down. In Amman I met a shopkeeper who told me his life story and asked that I and my friends would both pray for him and his country and that we would encourage the tourism industry because the economy has been so devastated by conflict in the region. He shared a sad story but our conversation ended with hope for a better time. On the ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba, we were the only westerners on board. I had been stared at a lot on the trip so far (mainly because of my blonde curly hair) but this was the epitome of staring. I could feel the eyes on me. I didn’t meet any of the people on the ferry because they were mainly men and that seemed inappropriate. It certainly was an experience of the average person, though—the people appeared to be mainly working class, mostly men, with the occasional harried family with lots of antsy children. All people going about their daily life and work in the midst of the things that make our evening news.

baby bird!!


this baby bird, recently hatched in my garage, was outside for the first time last weekend. It was so adorable, I had to take some pictures. Here's one, highly zoomed in, of my little cheepy friend. he's gone now. I haven't seen any of the four chicks since they first left the nest on Monday. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Alive: the reflection paper part IV

The people of God were also alive and well right in our bus. Our group was an intense one—we had intense conversations, intense learning, and intense fun. As we learned about one another and our respective traditions, I could sometimes feel the ecumenical relations improving. We worked together to translate Greek inscriptions on mosaics, to remember the Hebrew we learned and turn it into something approximating modern Hebrew, to do water ballet in the Dead Sea, to climb thousands of stairs—and to get down again! I struggled quite a bit with my sense of call to Scotland—where I was supposed to go in September—and my colleagues helped me think through that and make a decision consistent with what I felt led to do. Friendships developed that could truly last—once people have traveled together they really know what their friends are like! We truly developed a Christian community: we ate together, worshipped together, worked together, traveled together, lived together, had fun together, were serious together, prayed together. We helped each other along in the hard places, shared our resources, and pined after pizza. And as we traveled these places, met people, and shared experiences we processed our thoughts and our vision, and carefully thought through some things (and the theology) we thought we knew, and many of us learned to discuss or even defend our position without getting defensive—a crucial skill for the church. Each person contributed something incredibly valuable to the whole experience for me—whether in knowledge, excitement, or personability. I spent much time wondering what I would contribute to the group, but I have realized now that it may not be the same for each person. What others contributed to my experience may not be what they contributed to my roommate’s experience, even. As a group, however, I think we learned how to be the church—the community of God’s people who live together in spite of their differences, loving one another as Christ loved us.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Alive: the reflection paper part III

Of course, the places of worship often expressed the centuries of the faithful in several ways, as did our experiences in them. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus has been a pilgrimage site for hundreds of years, and was one of the busiest and most active religious sites we visited. Shoeless people, many covered from head to toe (some even with their faces completely covered), walking about, praying, visiting the shrines for the heads of important people (John the Baptist and Ali both supposedly left their heads in Damascus), or just resting in the cool of the sanctuary. The church at Gethsemane has purple cross stained glass windows, amazing mosaics and a dark and somber feel echoing the events on its ground of nearly 2000 years ago and the attitude with which most people approach those events. The church I came to call the “Jesus Wept” church, with its teardrop design and the Korean group singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” as we arrived, and our group singing “Amazing Grace” as a few other random tourists joined us, singing as we looked out the window at the Old City of Jerusalem and the golden Dome of the Rock. The Church of St. Anne with its high ceilings, amazing acoustics, and our voices being lifted up as we sing the Doxology to the tune Old Hundredth—words billions have sung over the ages, a tune made for that space—a holy thrill. Both the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity, witnessing to the too-old schism between churches/denominations, and also to the possibility of sharing and relationship between those of differing theological histories and worship styles. St. Katherine’s Monastery, with a mosque minaret next to its belltower, showing the world that peaceful coexistence can be more than just a dream. Each of these places gave voice to the church through the ages. They marked our way as we traveled these places we’ve read about and helped us fit ourselves into the divine-human narrative. The people of God, in every tradition, in every time, and even in every place, were especially alive for me in these spaces.
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Friday, July 02, 2004

The Sea of Galilee


The Sea of Galilee, from the Gentile side looking over at the Jewish side (as they would have been in Jesus' day).  Posted by Hello

cool

this whole photo-posting thing is very cool. Very Very Cool, in fact. wow.

The Wilderness of Sin(ai)


The Wilderness. As in Exodus wilderness. It was hot and all looked the same. Understand the 40 years? Posted by Hello

Castle!


Crak de Chevaliers: a Crusader castle. The coolest Crusader castle. Here we're looking at it from my hotel room. Super super cool inside too--stables and wells and big rooms and ovens and places to pour boiling oil on invaders...yeah. Posted by Hello

Alive: the Reflection Paper, part II

As the historical record took on flesh, I found that another thing alive and well was the cloud of witnesses. Those who have gone before us in faith, and those who are alongside us in a different path of faith, were everywhere we looked. Since returning, I haven’t been able to open the Bible without exclaiming (usually aloud, even in church—much to the dismay of my fellow pew-dwellers) “I’ve been there!” or “I’ve seen that!” As we traveled in Damascus, Hama, Aram, Edom, Sinai, to Mt. Carmel, to Mt. Nebo, to the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem, the communion of saints was practically palpable. We walked where Paul walked. We explored a city Isaiah prophesied against. We stood where Moses stood and looked into the Promised Land. We explored the city John the Baptist may have known. We climbed the mountain of Moses and we looked down on the valley from the place where Elijah beat the prophets. We saw Peter’s house and a city and synagogue Jesus would have known, we worshipped on the Mount of Beatitudes. We looked at the spring Mary drew water from, we visited Herod the Great’s cities, we saw the birthplace and the tomb of Jesus. Whether or not any of these traditional sites is indeed the historical place almost doesn’t matter—what matters is that for thousands of years (or at least a thousand and a half) people have thought it was the place. For thousands of years people have come to pray and to worship, to see the place and take back an experience of the living God. For me, the important thing wasn’t touching the hole where the cross may have stood, but praying in a place where millions of people have prayed. It wasn’t about whether Jesus was buried in the cave in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Garden Tomb, it was about the thick cloud of witnesses in the place (no, that wasn’t just incense!).
In some cases, it was also about experiencing something that probably hasn’t changed much through the centuries. The high place at Petra forced me to understand how important sacrificing in a high place was—it was nearly 800 steps up, and had a view of the whole city and was clearly the best place for worship involving sacrifices—it’s high and unobstructed so the smoke could rise to the heavens. When they say “the high place” they mean literally high! Important sacrifices required a lot of effort, it wasn’t just a casual undertaking. Those 800 steps probably weren’t there at first, and carrying a live animal up there would have been hard work—I wasn’t sure I could even carry myself up there. The climb up Mt. Sinai was hard, even given that we rode camels halfway up (which, by the way, was one of my favorite things!). No wonder Moses was so irritated that he had to go up again and again. The wilderness of Sinai looks like the kind of place one could get lost in. The Promised Land does look awfully good after that wilderness, too! The Sea of Galilee could easily have a quick storm that would swamp one of those little boats, and it takes a deceptively long time to cross. Not much of the experience of some of these places has changed—often just some stairs, or a new town in the valley, or a boat with a roof on the back make it clear that we are in the 21st, not the 1st, century.
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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Alive: the Reflection Paper, part I

Alive
Teri Peterson
Columbia Seminary, Decatur GA

As our group gathered in mid-May for the first time, many were worried about taking this trip this year. Some had already withdrawn. Some thought about it, and one didn’t come back for our second day of orientation. Would it be safe? Our friends and families prayed that we would come back alive; we prayed that we would be a good group and that we would learn a lot. Both prayers were answered!
From the moment we landed in Damascus until the moment we returned to Atlanta (or for some, wherever else they flew on to) we seemed to go non-stop. The many hotels, bus rides, 7am wake up calls, “short five-minute walks,” and endless meals of hummus were part of our daily routine. Also part of our daily routine (which wouldn’t have been routine anywhere else, or with anyone else!) were ruins. So many Bronze Age/Roman/Byzantine/Crusader ruins, so little time. We explored these tells, these ancient civilizations. We learned history, archaeology, culture, and more. Imaginations came alive as we pondered what life was like in Apamea. What was it like when part of daily life involved walking on a mile-long colonnaded road, bustling with carts and people? What was it like to daily feel dwarfed by the several-story high columns? And then, what was life like for the archaeologists who found a whole city buried under a meadow and began to “reconstruct again” (as Walid would say) the sparkling white colonnade? The very place was alive with those who had walked the same Roman pavement before us.
History itself came alive for me when we visited Crak de Chevaliers. My courses in the Crusades served me well as I recalled Raymond of Giles and his armies and successors taking this castle and holding it even against Saladin. Walking the corridors where hundreds of years of life had taken place was truly breathtaking, as was the view. People had lived and died there, poured hot oil on invaders, ridden horses in the hallway, hidden behind the safety of slanted walls and a moat, admired the view, expanded the castle, lived in its walls, and been asked to leave by the government’s historical preservation interests. Amazing.
Imagine life in a city carved out of the mountainside, with bright watercolor-type streaks and swirls lining your walls and ceiling. Imagine attending plays in theaters with perfect acoustics. Imagine living in a ruined city, adding your own layer to the thousands of years of life below. The several thousand years of civilization in these places still lives today, in ruined cities, in art and even writing, and in the people who continue to go about everyday life in the places tourists flock to.

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at last

ok, i've been getting requests to hurry up with the "how was it" post. here you go.

It was great.

Sunny. hot. a lot of walking and climbing. intense. lots of learning. more roman columns than you've ever seen (unless you happen to have been there, in which case, approximately exactly the number of roman columns you have previously seen. probably more than in rome.). great times walking with Paul and Moses and Jesus, etc. except on water. none of us had the guts to test out the "walking on the Sea of Galilee" option--we stayed in the boat. lots of great people. lots of cool places. lots of hummus. lots of craving pizza and Dr. Pepper. lots of horrific things to see, like the Wall in Palestine, the state of Bethlehem, the bulldozing of olive trees, etc. lots of great things, like children playing in Damascus, people visiting churches, the 6th-century (never destroyed!) church of the nativity, the Palestinian Christians who were so happy to see us that they opened not one but two shops for us in Bethlehem, etc. Also cool: the Parthenon. just saying.

Anyway, it was an amazing trip. I learned a lot of history and met a lot of really great people. Made some good friends. Learned a lot about myself. Had some "holy thrills" like singing in an acoustically perfect church, looking at the Promised Land from Mt. Nebo, worshipping on the Mt. of Beatitudes, etc. I came home tan and fit, and with a great sense of the people. It seems that the Arab countries are hopeful. Unfortunately, Israel/Palestine doesn't have much hope. In fact, I came home feeling rather like many of the people I talked to there, who are quite hopeless about the situation and don't see how there can be peace in their lifetime. As Shirley Guthrie says in Christian Doctrine, however, our only hope is in God, not in ourselves. So there you go.

I'll be posting my paper here shortly. It's five pages, single-spaced, in Word. I'll put it up a section at a time. Enjoy. Also, I'm putting a link over there <--- on the left to My Yahoo Photos. 287 photos of the trip. Enjoy!