A Skeptical Menno in the Holy Land

Sometimes when you travel, you end up having days that do not end. Days fraught with ups and downs. Days that twist and turn, jerking you from anticipation to disappointment to delight to frustration to surprise to chaotic confusion.

July 16, 2011 was one such day.

It began in Jerusalem, brought us all over the Israeli countryside, and concluded in Tel Aviv.

From my journal:

“Woke up VERY early — I got up at 3:45am so I’d have time to pack. Even so, it took me until 5 AM. Then we checked out of our guesthouse and made our way through the streets of the Old City to Jaffa Gate, and from there to the David Citadel Hotel… where we proceeded to wait until after 6 AM for the bus to pull up. At last it arrived, and we were on our way to Tel Aviv, where the bus picked up 48 more people.”

Our flight was to leave Tel Aviv quite late that night, and we figured a great way to get from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv would be a tour, to see some sites of Jesus… but our main objective for this day was to see the Sea of Galilee.

Here are some of the things we saw!

About to enter the Church of the Annunciation…




Door to the Church of the Annunciation, depicting scenes from the life of Jesus.


Walking inside the church… 


They say this is where the angel Gabriel told Mary she’d be the mother of God.


Grotto containing the Virgin Mary’s traditional home…

IMG_0663…which is now in a modern church, with an alter and carpet et cetera.


Apparently smoking a pipe is okay, though.



First century house… Jesus and Mary may have hung out here.


Looking down into more remains of the first century house…



Well, this certainly proves it.  They were here!

We’d just spent several days in Jerusalem, and had seen dubious claim after dubious claim with regards to places Jesus or King David spent time. I mean, yeah they were there. Sure! But the claims are so specific, and so… so eager, so frantic, so saturated throughout the city, that it seemed to me the root of these claims may have been a desire to touch tourist’s wallets, not necessarily convey anything meaningful or factual.

That’s just my opinion.  I don’t intend to take away from the meaningful experiences others may have in these spaces. We’re all process differently. And we DID have some great meaningful experiences on this trip. Just not in these particular locations.

Basically, if I’m being TOLD that a specific item/place is very meaningful… it will automatically feel false to me. Contrived. That’s pretty much the root of my skepticism in this case.