World Religion Wednesday: Put aside religious background, wash some feet!

There is more happening in the Middle East than the media emphasizes. Calm down, center yourself, and really imagine what true peace and reconciliation could look like. NOTHING is impossible with God.

Faith often wears the clothes of perseverance.

A while ago I wrote the following blog post. I re-read it today. I meditated on it to encourage myself. May it encourage you as well. Whatever you do, don’t give up on the journey to your destiny. It matters to God and it matters to the world.

The Evening an Orthodox Jewish Man Spat in My Face: an excerpt from my book


Then we see a large synagogue situated on a corner – a jackpot of people in party-mode. I snap some 7-12 year old boys – and then one of them begins yelling at me furiously, “Nooooo!” Aw, man. “Shlee-ha” I concede, yet again.

What to do?

Ah! And then I see two very Western-looking men about my age standing against the synagogue wall encircled by several Orthodox men in satin and gold embossed robes. One of the hopefully-English-speaking (no one thus far has seemed to speak any English other than “no” and “camera”), has a sizeable camera dangling from his neck. Perhaps, he can better tell me what the protocol seems to be.

I approach the circle slowly. “Hey, how is the photo-taking going? Do you have an idea as to what’s appropriate and what’s not?”

I barely have the question out of my mouth when one of the Orthodox men, this one in a decadent gold robe,

spits in my face.

Very brazenly, disdainfully, irately, spits in my face.

And then he storms off, joined by the other Orthodox men.

I chuckle to the Westerners, “Okaaaaay,” while wiping the alcohol-infused saliva from my face. Westerner-with-camera, soon identified as a Canadian from Winnipeg, tells me he had difficulty taking pictures, but as long as he seems cautious while pointing-and-shooting, it has been okay. There is a pause as Westerner-without-camera (also from Winnipeg) stretches out his hand to wipe the spittle remnants from my cheek. “Thanks,” I smile. “That happened because you are a woman with a camera. Sorry, about that,” the fellow photographer explains. “Oh, I see. I wondered about that.” I assert. And we have the usual, “What are you doing in Jerusalem?” exchange and bid farewell to the scene of the crime /spit-shine.

We make our way out of Mea Shearim and back to the city center in time to catch the end of the monstrous block party taking place: crazy costumes, happy dancing, a stage, and about a thousand people celebrating. Here, I take endless photos, and no one bats an eye. In fact, people leap in front of my camera in hopes of becoming part of my Purim memories.

And they will be; but that man in gold, though I have no photo of him, he will be forever memorialized in my mental scrapbook of Purim. Lesson learned: if you really want to go down in history, spit in someone’s face – that is a surefire way to stand out in the crowd.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a spray of saliva must be worth tens of thousands.

Take it from me. I can still feel the drippy, silent words resting on the apples of my cheeks. Gross. And really memorable.


My EBOOK for sale!

First of all, this is not THE book I am working on – that book is a memoir. THIS is a compilation of my academic writings about the Middle East. Check it out! And be sure to tell your friends too! Enjoy. Preview it HERE.

Buy it on Amazon for $3.99 HERE.

The book is approximately 140 pages long (depends on the device you read it on). Here’s the Table of Contents:

Table of Contents


Chapter One

Issues in the Modern Middle East: Questions and Answers

Chapter Two

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)

Chapter Three

Israel’s War of Independence

Chapter Four

Arab Nationalism

Chapter Five

Arab Regimes

Chapter Six

The Middle East in the Ottoman Empire

Chapter Seven

Snapshots of the Crusades: The Battle for the Holy Land

Chapter Eight

Afghanistan’s Taliban: A consideration of justice, injustice, & Christian response

Chapter Nine

Zionism: Zion is mmmmm . . . a lot of things

Chapter Ten

Jewish Thought and Practice: Rites Regarding Life and Death

Chapter Eleven

A Look at Christianity among Arabs in Israel

Chapter Twelve

The Islamic “Story of Jesus”

Closing Thoughts

Appetizers from the book I am writing

The new year has dawned. My return to Iraq is in a holding pattern: unknown and waiting. The gift of this time, the glory of this time, the guts of this time – this month, this season, this blink – includes finishing the book I am writing. I have written 150 pages thus far. I estimate over 100 to go. It’s quite an undertaking, but I am confident it will transform lives, and inspire people to do the “impossible”, live with outrageous hope, and love their neighborhoods to life. In honor of my first day of book writing in 2012, here are some excerpts. Enjoy, share with others, and let me know what you think.

The background on why I am writing a book:


Go ahead, make a cup of tea, light a candle, open a window for some fresh air, take a deep breath, and relax. All our lives are roads of joy and discovery, success and wonder. Come journey with me. 

About my grandma and seeing the unseen:

About being delivered of ten years of chronic depression and suicidal thoughts:

About travel, wonder, and nations falling in love with Jesus:

About my first experience speaking in tongues:

About God speaking to my mom through the actress Cybill Shepherd:

About making a new friend in Bulgaria and running into him in Massachusetts months later:

About a Muslim friend in Turkey and courageous questions over the Bosphorus Strait:

About a community house and a mentally unstable refugee at Easter lunch:

About one particular impossibility-defying day living in Palestine:


Also, my book is available for pre-purchasing. In fact, I need to raise money to pre-purchase my own books from the publisher. Every $20 contribution you make reserves you a copy!


Check it out and spread the word!

Also, please “like” my author page: