Century Marks

Century Marks

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A new 40-mile path makes it possible figuratively, if not literally, to hike the trail that Jesus took from his hometown of Nazareth to Capernaum. Laid out in 2007 by cofounders David Landis and Maoz Inon, it stitches together roads, dirt trails and tracks that take hikers through beautiful parts of Galilee as well as some less than savory sights. The trail connects Israeli and Arab towns, biblical sites, kibbutz fields, national parks, a Bedouin village and Roman, Crusader and Byzantine ruins. Side benefits of the trail: it breaks down barriers between Jews and Arabs, and it makes accessible some sites that the tour buses do not visit (Backpacker, March).

Tapped out

Bottled water uses nonrenewable resources--in the oil that goes into making the bottles themselves. The bottles fill up landfills and add to what is called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," one of the huge masses of garbage and other waste floating in the Pacific and other oceans. The use of bottled water also creates what is called an "inverted quarantine." Bottled water sends the message that tap water isn't really safe to use. People who can afford bottled water quarantine themselves from public water. Their time and money would be better spent, and justice served, by advocating for safe water to drink for everyone (Word & World, Winter).

Trauma healing

Last September a suicide bomber set off a bomb in a Pente­costal church in Solo, a city in Central Java, Indonesia. The bomber was killed and 24 people were injured as they were leaving the church, 11 of whom needed surgery. Members of Forum Across Religions and Groups (FPLAG), an interfaith peace forum, immediately kicked into action. Its members were dissuaded from making statements that would inflame relations between Christians and Muslims. The group reinforced the point that Muslim leaders rejected bombing as an expression of Islam. FPLAG also worked at healing congregants traumatized by the bombing, some of them children afraid to return to church. FPLAG represents every religious group in Solo, including Christians, Muslims and Hindus. Their meetings rotate between their worship centers (mcc.org).

Jerusalem syndrome

An estimated 50 to 100 pilgrims to the Holy Land each year are afflicted by what psychiatrists call the Jerusalem syndrome. Most of them are evangelical Christians. One woman was convinced she was Jesus' mother, searching for her baby in Bethle­hem. Another man was convinced he was King David. In some cases, people come to think of themselves as the Messiah. "There's a joke in psychiatry: if you talk to God, it's called praying; if God talks to you, you're nuts. In Jeru­salem God seems to be particularly chatty around Easter, Passover and Christ­mas--the peak seasons for the syndrome," writes Chris Nashawaty in Wired magazine (March). The best cure is to leave the Holy Land.

Doubt about doubts

In a public debate last month with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, atheist Richard Dawkins surprised the audience by conceding a bit of doubt about his conviction that there is no such thing as a creator. But the evolutionary biologist swiftly added that he was "6.9 out of seven" certain of his long-standing atheist beliefs. "What I can't understand is why you can't see [that life started from nothing] is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God," Dawkins told Williams. The archbishop replied that he "entirely agreed" with the "beauty" part of Dawkins's statement, but added, "I'm not talking about God as an extra who you can shoehorn into that" (RNS).