Next week, I am going on a trip that I never thought would be on my bucket list. I will be taking a journey to the Holy Lands of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions. We will be visiting the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Cana, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron. The trip is being led by an old college friend who is now a progressive Lutheran Minister and was the minister of the Christian church in Jerusalem for many years—I believe his insight into the faith, the conflicts and the ramifications for our day will shape me for many years to come.
In my youth, I went to protestant churches however I didn’t learn much about the Bible. Later, I went to a Lutheran college and took two religion classes, but I didn’t learn much about the Bible there either. And later still, when I went to seminary, what I studied about the Bible was about its history, its context and how to critically interpret it. However since I didn’t consider myself a Christian, and I don’t belong to a faith that sees the Bible as its primary source, it is not something that I’ve ever really known or understood.
Don’t worry—I’m not doing this trip as part of any conversion. But rather, as a religious professional, I am finding that these are gaps in my knowledge, and I am intrigued to fill them in. All of my seminary study has made me curious to learn more. The struggles between the Christians, Muslims and Jews are rooted in that area, are foundational to the religious oppression we have always seen—and continue to see (darn it, Kanye)—in our world; understanding them will help make me a better minister.