The traveler eats whatever food is placed before her; she aims to learn as much of the language as possible. A tourist sacrifices less.
Over the last generation, the institution of pilgrimage has experienced a startling revival across what we often dismiss as secular Europe.
Why are Presbyterians fixated on Israel? I frequently speak to church groups about pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I speak as a pilgrim, but the conversation often turns to politics. Inevitably someone will ask about our denomination’s position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There’s no simple answer.
Shared holy places might puzzle American or European Christians. In the rest of the world, religions have rarely enjoyed such a monopoly.
What is it about Western culture that makes it so difficult to taste God? Why would we rather prove propositions than experience the holy?
Public ritual might be construed as a benign relic, as imperialism or as marketing. Or it might be seen as a form of pilgrimage.
During spring break I made a pilgrimage. With my husband and my daughter, I traced the path Virginia Woolf took through Italy in 1908.
When I walked into a screening of The Way, which opens today, I knew very little about the film; only that it stars Martin Sheen and is directed by his son, Emilio Estevez, and that it involves pilgrims hiking El Camino de Santiago, a 450-mile historical pilgrimage route across northern Spain.
Surely there are ten or 12 people a day who would sign up for a Jerusalem tour designed to deepen their questions instead of answering them.