I have lately been reading stories of the desert monastics, collected by the monk John Moschos in the seventh century. I don’t think I get it.
My pattern has been to feel slightly offended—sometimes even disgusted—by a story, and then walk away from it, wander around for awhile and finally realize that the story was probably a joke. In its own context, the main thing it elicited was probably laughter. But for me the humor is so strange, so wry, so unexpected that I don’t perceive it for hours.
I get jealous. I try not to, but I hope that I’ve also begun to recognize and constructively use the emotion. Here are some dos and don’ts that I practice to make sure that the little green monster doesn’t take over my life.
Petra is Jordan’s most popular tourist attraction, and it’s in an area where many poor Bedouins live. So you’re never far from a vendor of some kind, though once you get into the park a ways their wares get a bit tamer. But neither Indiana Jones tote bags nor simple camel-bone beads can distract you from what you’re seeing in the ancient Nabatean city.
Associate pastors, youth ministers, and other staff ministers often do the unglamorous jobs of ministry without much recognition. Associates have a calling and a title, but they often do not preach, must attend church meetings, and juggle several responsibilities which may be unrelated to their job description. It can be a thankless job.
On Saturday I broke off from the tour group and went to Fuheis, a town of 20,000 outside Amman. Fuheis is an anomaly in Jordan: it’s almost entirely Christian, majority Orthodox with many Catholics and a smattering of evangelicals. My companions for the afternoon were from the smattering, a pair of Baptist converts.