Jesus: Here, There, and Everywhere

16764657475_2481ef80df_mGertrude Stein once said of her hometown, Oakland, California, where she was raised after having been born in Pittsburgh, that “there is no there there.” This is often taken as a knock on Oakland—a city that is not really a city, that has no center, that lacks an identifiable sense of place. This is how I felt about Los Angeles when I was teenager growing up there.

Looking out into the smog from a vantage point in the Hollywood Hills, I’d ask no one in particular, “Where is the damn city?” Los Angeles, to me, was an infinite sprawl of one-story structures stretching off into the desert and the scrub brush and the impossibly dry hills.

I moved to New York City as a young man partly to find a place that had a “there.” The density of Manhattan seemed the very antithesis of Californian spatio-temporal malaise. When you walked down the streets of Manhattan, I thought, you’d know you were unmistakably somewhere. [Read more...]

Jerusalem Risen and in Ruins

Israel surprised me.

It met me in Boston where I had traveled to attend a conference.

I hadn’t planned on its being there. Laurie was going to join me later in the week. I was looking forward to her visit, looking forward to her seeing her enjoy the rather luxurious conference hotel—tenth floor corner room, windows facing north and east, the east facing window delivering up a stunning view of the spires of Trinity Church—and the luxury of time to see the city while I attended conference sessions.

But a day before Laurie arrived, Israel showed up. [Read more...]


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