“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”


The entrance to Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity


“The Door of Humility,” as it is often called


One of the news headlines this morning revealed that President Obama’s helicopter was grounded by a dust storm, so that he had to travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem via motorcade rather than by air.


Having traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and back again more times than I could possibly count, I found myself wondering why anybody would bother doing the trip by air.  After all, as Alma 7:10 famously says, Bethlehem is within “the land of Jerusalem.”


The president was due to visit the very ancient Church of the Nativity there.  The entry door to the Church is much smaller than it once was — the outlines of earlier, larger doors are still clearly visible — and visitors to it are obliged to bend over, to bow, in order to enter.  Some say that this is deliberate; the entry forces at least a show of humility.  Others suggest that it was made so small in order to prevent mounted warriors from riding into the Church on their horses.


I found myself wondering whether President Obama would be obliged to bow in order to gain access to the interior of the Church.  Or whether he would actually enter it.  Or whether a larger entrance would be made for him.


Don’t laugh.  There’s precedent:  The Jaffa Gate, one of the principal entrances into the Old City of Jerusalem through Sulaiman the Magnificent’s early-sixteenth-century walls, was grossly enlarged — mutilated? destroyed? — early in the twentieth century in order to permit Kaiser Wilhelm II to ride into the city without needing to soil the two imperial feet.


Jaffa Gate, in Jerusalem




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  • John Ziebarth

    March 23, a day that will live…..

    • danpeterson

      A very, very memorable day. Sadly.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Peace in the Middle East seems ephemeral unless the world understands and admits to the atrocities perpetrated on the innocents and understands the rule of international law regarding prisoners of war. I just yesterday watched a documentary which revealed a US funded network of torture centers in Iraq organized in part by James Steele, a veteran of the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua. There has been plenty of outrage voiced regarding the lack of transparency of the US role in dealing with prisoners of war. This documentary offers but a glimpse.

  • Good Will

    Dan, have you been sick? We haven’t seen a new post in three days!

    • mike

      O Brother (Peterson), where art thou?