The Holy City

This is the time when I’m often in a dozen places at once . . . at home in Panama, struggling to finish  up all the projects on the farm I wanted to accomplish during my “vacation” from the ship . . . with only 19 days to go! . . .  and working on lectures, sail-ins, and scenic cruising bridge commentaries for the places we’re scheduled (hopefully!) to visit.  PACIFIC PRINCESS will be doing a Black Sea Cruise and then a series of Holy Land and Egypt cruises.   So I might be, at any moment, mentally in Panama, or Israel, or Egypt or wherever.

One of the things I’m struggling with is how to inform as well as prepare our guests for our calls in Israel, Ashod and Haifa with all of the Biblical sites.  Additionally on many of the cruises we’re also visiting Patmos [where John of Patmos wrote the book of REVELATION] and Ephesus [visited by Paul, John and traditionally the place where Mary the Mother of Jesus spent her retirement years].  As you might anticipate guest expectations run pretty high visiting some of the most important religious sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims.  Yet these are tourist sites with lots of souvenir sellers and people grubbing for money on every corner for everything.  So my challenge is to tell them what they need to know, prepare them for the port and give them realistic expectations.

To make things more difficult I have one lecture on one sea day before we hit all of these ports of huge significance and only one hour to accomplish all this.   So I’m working on a talk called “Holy Cities” which will cover all in one fell swoop.  I will try . . . in one hour!! . . . to cover ten thousand years of history, three major religions, Biblical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, and where to find bathrooms and how to use Easter-style squat toilets . . . as well as how to bargain for carpets!  I feel my talk has about as much chance for success as achieving peace in the Middle East, but I rush in never-the-less.

My inspiration for this talk . . .

Actually the history of this well-known and beloved song is different from what many expect. It is not a church or religious song. It was written in 1892 written not as religious song but as a Victorian ballad. Sentimental, religious-sounding songs were popular in Victorian England. The writers were prominent Freemasons and the universalist message – “The gates were open wide, And all who would might enter, And no none was denied” was based on Masonic religious doctrine and not Christian doctrine.

Unfortunately the real Jerusalem . . . well, I like this poem by Hans Bouma, a Dutchman, that I’m going to try to incorporate:

So this is it
City of my dreams
City of peace

Forget it

City of discord
City of injustice
City of violence

At any moment
Anywhere here
A bomb may explode

City of glamour
City of kitsch
City of commercialization

People try to make money
Out of anything, even
Out of the holiest

But I will not give up
I dream my dream

I shall believe in it

It promises to be an interesting contract.

One thought on “The Holy City

  1. Hi Richard,

    Found your blog through cruise critic. We’re on the Nov 3 cruise and we’re on this cruise only because it IS a Holy Land cruise. We’re Christians and we’re really interested in what you will have to say about the Holy Sites although of course we will be reading up ourselves before hand.
    We would happily sit through a longer lecture or a separate lecture on the holy sites if you need!

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