Day 3, and we’ve taken the road to the South through a rather commercialised Baptism site on the Jordan, through Jericho, and down to Bethlehem. We are actually staying behind the wall in the (comparatively) new Franciscan hostel next to the Church of the Nativity.
Today has seen close encounters with Holy Oil, A White-Robed Army of American Baptists being baptised among the fishes, and the security fence which was erected in 2003 to divide Israel from the occupied West Bank. People are trying to be polite aout it, but the contrasts between quality of life both sides are disturbing to many members of our party. Big basic issues of justice and equity arise, and the signs are not good.
We have also some up against the full force of today”s Religious Souvenirs market — wanting to help delightful people to turn an honest bob, but sonewhat blown away by some of the Holy Things on offer. After thirty years doing this job I ought to know what to go for in a religious tat shop, but have to say I found myself strangely confused on this score!