Christmas Eve Day at Immigration in Dubai


Like dutiful Joseph and pregnant Mary, we spent Christmas Eve day  in the Middle East fulfilling a government requirement. It cost almost five hundred dollars and we didn’t get it all accomplished, but enough so that we’re still on track. Mostly we accepted the results and had a pretty good time, anyway. The high point of the day was when we left the car in the Immigration parking lot and took a bus to the Dubai Mall, where we hung out in a beautiful bookstore. I bought a book of Handel’s piano music. Even though you can download all that stuff for free on the Internet and print it out, it’s kind of nice to have it all in a book, rather than scattered around on xeroxed pages.

I recently went on a picnic with some Muslim friends, and they asked me how I could possibly believe in three gods. There is but one God, they asserted. Everyone knows that. Common sense demands that. But then I thought about the power of a story that God gave up his only son, and having lost a son myself, I know how hard a sacrifice that would be. And I thought of how recent a faith both Christianity and Islam are. One is two thousand years old and the other fifteen-hundred. There are graves here, near Dubai, in Al Ain, that are eight thousand years old! That’s earlier than the pyramids. Six thousand years before the birth of Christ.

Anyway, just some Christmas musings from the vantage point of Dubai, 100 miles from Iran, about 1,500 miles southeast of the Holy Land. Where camels wander at will over endless stretches of sand and there is no snow, ever, except inside the ski run at the Emirates Mall.

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Religion in Your Face (or Ears)


 

 

It’s five in the morning and I hear the call for prayer outside my window. I’ve gotten used to it, sort of, the way I got used to the Buddhist monks chanting over loudspeakers from the nearby temple in Thailand or Burma.  In Mexico I had to get used to church bells. It still amazes me that people in most parts of the world don’t think anyone has an aural right to privacy. And in most places, there is a state religion. It wouldn’t occur to them that it shouldn’t be so. Only in America do we assume that religion should be a matter of choice. We do, however, not tax religions, which, in effect, is a direct subsidy. I’m content to keep my opinions to myself on that one. I wish others would keep their religious chanting to themselves or at least stay away from microphones and loudspeakers when they do it.