June 29, 2008

Jerusalem

I haven't blogged yet about our trip to the Holy Land. Really, I'm not a good enough writer to express what feel. And what I feel will tend to be regarded as crazy by most people, since I believe that there is, all around us, much that is real without being in any way observable by natural or scientific means. I am very much not a Nominalist, and Nominalism is the factory-default setting for people in our culture. (In fact I'm coming to suspect that the common thread in all the things that creep me out, and that I blog against, such as Communism, Postmodernism, Nihilism, Deconstructionism, "Progressivism" and the like is....Nominalism. Here's a summary on that subject)

And the unseen realities are not off in some woo woo "spiritual realm;" they interpenetrate our world at every point. The eyes of Faith can, to some extent perceive them. And yes of course I'm aware that such subtleties can be just self-deception, just products of the imagination. BUT, but, going up to Jerusalem...It's like having pondered hints of the unseen that are sort of like faded postcards of Yosemite...and then actually going to Yosemite. Words are useless. The reality is awesome....

Anyway, I just blog for the fun of it, so it doesn't matter what I write. Pass by, or pay attention. SO, attendez! (And thank you Mary Anderberg for prodding me.) In the picture below you are standing on the Mount of Olives. You are looking west. In the foreground is the Jewish cemetery. (The world's most expensive, by the way. You could easily pay a million bucks to rest your bones there.) It's hard to realize it in the picture, but the hillside is steep, especially past those spiky junipers. You can walk down that walled road on your right and you will go down to the Garden of Gethsemane hidden below the brow of the hill.

Mount of Olives, looking west over Kidron

The Valley is the Kidron Valley. Above the spiky trees you can see its other slope. There are the remains of old terraces of olive trees, then a road, then the Moslem Cemetery, and then, the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Which on this side are where they have been for more than 2,000 years. (They've been rebuilt a few times, but in the same place.) Behind the wall you see a lot of greenery. That is the Temple Mount. It is a broad plateau built up over what was once a hill by the construction of vast retaining walls, the largest of them built by Herod the Great, who died in 4 B.C. Before AD 70 the plateau was covered by the Temple Complex, and, where that gold dome is, The Temple of Jerusalem. The gold dome is on the Dome of the Rock, a Moslem shrine (Not a mosque.)

When you look at that dome you are looking at the center of the world. Not the scientific center, but the real center. That's the very hill where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son. The very place where King David planned, and Solomon built the first Temple...

Or, more accurately, you are looking at what used to be the center. 2,000 years ago the center was moved. Look to the left and a little above the dome. You will see a small grey shape, below the tallest building on the horizon. That's the grey dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (It's not really small—just distant.) That's the place where Jesus of Nazareth was killed, buried, and rose again to life.

In Roman days it was a knob of rock just outside the city walls, with quarries, and also with the rock-cut tombs used by those who could afford them. A good conspicuous place for making an example of those who don't appreciate the benefits of big government....

Now I had none of this geography clear in my head when I went to Jerusalem. Perhaps I dozed off in Sunday school, but I had never got the hang of how things fit together. Saliba, our splendid guide, would always get us going early in the mornings to miss the crowds. So we wandered onto the Temple Mount when almost no one else was there. That in itself was a moment of a lifetime. But then we walked to the Dome of the Rock, and Saliba pointed out that you could draw a straight line between the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden of Gethsemane, and it would pass exactly though the Temple. You can see it. That just made my hair want to stand on end.

If I maintain my energy perhaps next Sunday I'll walk you downhill, down the walled road that's on the right side of the photo...

Posted by John Weidner at June 29, 2008 5:52 AM
Weblog by John Weidner