Jerusalem University


We had our first raindrops of the season this last week.  It was nice to hear the slight pattering on the outdoor umbrellas, but more than anything I think it just made the summer angry.  The first part of September had unseasonably cool temperatures for this time of year—around 80 in the afternoon and mid 60s at night.  After those couple dozen drops of rain, the sun came out and sent its rays through the clouds in a near perfect imitation of the Death Star obliterating Alderaan.  It hasn’t let up since.  These past several days have topped 90s in the afternoon and with a crazy high humidity to boot.  This has led to several experiments in homemade iced coffee.

Just in case there are any Star Wars non-geeks out there, here’s the visual for that reference.

When in a hurry, I steal from my stash of Starbucks Via, but when there is time to be had, I use some of my coffee beans from Florence to make an overnight cold brewed press.  The real question that has been bothering  me this week, how do I savor this iced coffee all afternoon without watering it down by continually adding ice?  Vat 19Purveyors of Curiously Awesome Products has come up with a perfect solution to my cold beverage needs.  You’ve heard of USB cup warmers right?  Well, this not only can heat your cup up…but it also can cool it down!  All with just a flip of the switch.  Thanks Vat 19 for introducing me to the USB Cup Warmer and Cooler.

Here is an excerpt from the product description

This product could save your marriage

Yes, that’s a bold statement. In fact, it’s bold and orange. Here’s the point: With the flick of a switch, you can go from heating a beverage to cooling a beverage. This can have serious impact on your life.

Imagine the following scenario: Your spouse yells, “Honey, the neighbor’s cat is scratching little Johnny’s leg!” You grab a piping hot cup of coffee off your USB Beverage Cup Warmer & Cooler and toss it on Mr. Jinx. He runs away, a little shocked, but not injured. This is good, but not spectacular. Your son has sustained a few nasty scrapes.

So, you grab a bottle of water (which you smartly put on the USB Beverage Cup Warmer & Cooler after grabbing the cat-dousing hot cup of joe) and rinse out those scrapes. Your son is feeling better, your spouse is reminded why they married you, and Mr. Jinx will have a nice coffee surprise the next time he licks himself clean. Everyone’s happy!

A thought just hit me, not a heavy thought, so don’t worry too much, but it is a thought nonetheless.  My office is mostly made up of white walls and a beautifully arched ceiling, but it is lacking in anything that makes it particularly Cameron-esque.  I like it, but it needs something to add a bit of spice to the decor.  I may shell out the $9.95 and get the coffee warmer gadget, but I need something more.  Do any of you have some office personalization recommendations?  Here a few pictures, so you know what I have to work with.

from the computer

from the desk chair

from the outside looking in

from the door frame

from the corner

I do have a pretty sweet window and couch/mattress thing

…and looking through these, perhaps I should clean and straighten up before the next round of photos.

from the window

So whatcha think? What else do I need?

Perhaps a membership to this gym?

It has been nearly three months since I last wrote a blog. There are various and sundry reasons for such a long pause in posting. Most of them are lame, a few are good, but the end result was the same. Now, with this semester almost finished, I return to this blog to start all over again. Here are a few of the things that have happened since I last wrote.

I marched in a procession down the Mount of Olives while waving a palm branch on Palm Sunday.

Later that night I threatened the school with salad tongs while wearing my Easter shirt

I spent most of my Easter writing about Iron Age stone weights with my friends in the library.

I made friends with a long-eared sheep

While sitting under the night shade of a palm tree, I read the words of Robinson Crusoe by candlelight with the gently pulsing surf of the Red Sea tingling my senses

I made an epic Ultimate Frisbee catch in the Valley of Gehenna

My roommates and I took part in a Valentines Day Murder Mystery Dinner. Ian had to go as a French maid, while Josh was chosen to be the baroness. The guy-girl ratio has not been in our favor at all this semester.

And other than too many papers written about too many things, not so much has happened lately.  Oh, I did reach the halfway point awhile back.  In no time at all, I’ll be back for Christmas…yay!

It has been a week since Thanksgiving. I think my body has finally overcome the satiation of turkey and stuffing from last week. Although it may take another decade or so for my heart to overcome what those Ducks did to me last weekend. Once more my dreams for my Beaver team came to a sudden end. Ah well, such is life. I just hope I didn’t predict this earlier this fall. Probably the saddest thing, though, is no one over here knew or cared to share my forlorn football feelings.

In other news, I finally finished the last of my projects for this semester. I have spent an absolutely ridiculous amount of time studying and writing over the past couple weeks. I only have one more final tomorrow afternoon, and then I can say goodbye to this semester. As many of you know, I am studying Middle Eastern Culture and Religion over here at Jerusalem University. Here are some of the fun topics I’ve been able to write about…

  • The Role of Water in the Modern State of Israel: The Real Cause of Conflict in the Middle East
  • Christian’s in Bethlehem: A Disappearing Community
    • This was a controversial paper that attempted to explain how the Christian community in Bethlehem has gone from being an overwhelming majority to a disappearing minority of the population. Is it purely economics, or increasing Islamist feelings?
  • Christians in the Holy Land: The Difference Between Legal Status and Every Day Life
    • This was a fun paper as I got to explore the laws and legislation of both Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. Theoretically, Christians are equal before the law with the same legal rights as everyone else, but the facts on the ground and active discrimination seemed to indicate otherwise.

If any of you want to take a look at these, just let me know and I’ll email them to you.

A few nights ago, many of us saw a sight in the sky that hasn’t been seen in many years. Have you ever noticed that really bright star that occasionally hangs out by the moon at night? Well, it’s not so much a star. It is actually the planet Venus, and two nights ago it was joined by Jupiter.

So who really cares? besides star gazers and astronomy students, I mean? Well, it is just possible that on June 2, 2 B.C. several Magi from the East may have cared. They may have cared so much that they packed up their suitcases, bought a couple of expensive souvenirs, and hopped the closest camel for a non-stop journey to Bethlehem to hang out with a baby king. Who really knows if Jupiter was the star the Magi followed? Not me, but I do know that even though this conjunction with Venus and Mars happened this December, it is accepted by most that Jesus wasn’t actually born in December. Shocking news, I know…but at least we still have Santa.

Here’s a better view from the roof of my school.  Just to the left and five miles away is that little town of Bethlehem.

On Saturday morning I head off to Egypt for 8 days.  I audited a class on Ancient Egypt this fall and as an end-of-the-semester celebration, we get to go hike over pyramids, sphynxes, and other miscellaneous five thousand year-old ruins.  Dr. Wright told us to remember to pack imodium, toilet paper, and our passports…in that order of importance.  I guess it is the rare soul who survives Egypt with intestinal fortitude still intact.  I may not post again before I leave, but when I get back, I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the details…

In an effort to continue the spread of creativity across this planet, here’s a fun blog concept I wish I would have thought of first.  Strangely our caffeinated obsessions are not so totally different.  Read more here.

    I have been told that today is Thanksgiving. It is a bit surprising, for none of the usual fanfare that goes with this holiday is attended here. Both today and tomorrow, we have regular classes here at JUC. I guess Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and since we are in Israel, there is apparently no desire by the administration to give us a bit of freedom from our studies or classes. All is not quite lost, though, we will be having a massive Turkey dinner tonight. All of the off-campus students are coming and joining us for a massive feast of biblical proportions–turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and everything else included. Afterward, we might kick of the Christmas season with a viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. It should be a fun event, but it is an odd beginning to my holiday season here in Jerusalem.

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    On most previous Thanksgiving Thursdays I have enjoyed the food and fellowship and fun of friends and family back home. We have dinner at one home and eventually migrate to other homes as the day progresses. Football covers the TV screen and Black Friday adds cover the floor. Each store’s add is meticulously picked through multiple times. No great deal goes unconsidered. As darkness descends and the decadent desserts appear with the coffee, plans are hatched for the scouring of cities on the morrow. Shopping lists are exchanged, baby-sitting is arranged, and plans for coffee halfway through are made. Alas, I am missing all of this excitement this year. It is a sad moment…just one of the first that I will miss. If any of you remember, send me a line and let me know what’s going on.

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    Just out of curiosity, did any of you watch the video I posted last week about the Advent Conspiracy? What did you think about it? And are you going to do anything about it? If no one acts, then I am just guilty of spreading another good idea that satisfies our consciences, but does little to make a tangible difference.

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    Enough of the not-so-happy thoughts. Here are some of the things that I found myself being grateful for today.

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  1. I got a good six hours of sleep last night.
  2. Only a few blood-sucking terrorist mosquitoes attacked me while I was getting the above-mentioned good sleep.
  3. I have made a dozen great new friends this last semester, and several of them are staying around for the Spring Semester as well.
  4. I have been supplied with Chai from home since I arrived over three months ago.
  5. I’m meeting Casey in Cairo in one month.
  6. Last night I got to pray on top of Mount Zion…because it’s only a hundred steps from my dorm room.
  7. God has proven his faithfulness once more through his peace and calm that is irrationally filling my heart right now.
  8. Finally, a glimpse of my future has been found.
  9. I have family and friends who love and miss me back home.
  10. My run-in with a telephone pole while diving for a Frisbee only dented my leg. It didn’t wound me permanently.
  11. I found cheap exploding chocolate today. Think milk chocolate combined with pop rocks. It’s brilliant, and only in the Middle East would they devise a chocolatey treat that literally explodes in your mouth.
  12. I am really grateful for super-amazing sights like these…

This is the end of the aqueduct near Caesarea Maritime

We like to explore rocky ruins by the seashore

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Nicole and Jennilee play in the rain amidst ancient marble columns

At some point during the middle of my high school years, I discovered that if I have a normal bowl of cereal with milk in the morning, then I will promptly fall asleep on the way to school. This was all fine and dandy when I rode the bus to school, but when I started driving, it became a bit more of a problem. In order to prevent the startling experience of waking up behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, I swore off cereal with milk and started down a path of early morning alternative nutritional supplements. After a brief foray into the aviary kingdom, I decided they could keep their breakfasts to themselves (true story). Eventually I settled in on some type of cooked breakfast–omelets, bacon, sausage, hash browns, muffins, bagels, fruit shakes, leftover steak, top ramen, mac ‘n cheese, last night’s Chinese, etc. In order not to show discrimination toward any type of food (besides milk), I allowed myself to cook and eat any and everything during the breakfast hours. However, with the addition of every other food to my morning breakfast, the lowly cereal became a forgotten part of my life…until last week, that is.

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Here at JUC, I usually make a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast every morning. Last week, though, the panini grill in the dining room short-circuited and my morning routines were completely disrupted. I mourned deeply, but quickly.  We had become quite close friends for awhile. I eventually settled on microwaving bread and cheese, but it left me feeling cheated and unsatisfied. In desperation I went up to the kitchen and grabbed a bowl of crunchy corn flakes. It was then that I had my greatest epiphany of the last eight days. Why does a bowl of cereal demand milk? Why can’t I just put honey on it and eat it like that? With no good reason coming to mind, I promptly began to chow down on corn flakes and honey. And that is currently what I am doing between the typing of phrases.

*CRUNCH* all the students in the library look up at Cameron.

*CRUNCH* they all shoot Cameron evil glances.

*CRUNCH* some of them begin to make slashing gestures in front of their necks. *CRUNCH*CRUNCH*CRUNCH*CRUNCH* in panic Cameron giddily flees from the library laughing gleefully as his sugar-induced heart pumps out a steady 180 beats per minute

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Lesson learned–only in the crunching of corn flakes in said library will one ever hear a crunching echo back.

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Side note–I discovered a good plot to destroy the American economy at Christmas this year. It’s called Advent Conspiracy and I think all of you should join it with me. How many of us complain about the materialistic elements of Christmas? I think most of us…although we all seem to enjoy the benefits of such materialism. Well here is a healthy alternative that will make you think.

So why don’t we do something a little different for Christmas this year?  How much would it really hurt?

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Second side note–Advent Conspirary claims it will only take $10 Billion to solve the world’s water problem.  I’m a bit skeptical, but that shouldn’t keep us from doing anything at all.

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ps. Since our politicians tell us the best way to overcome our nation’s economic woes is by spending more money, does this video by advocating more generosity compromise our economic future?  Thus, our choices seem quite grim…

Option 1–help malnourished child drink clean water and survive into adulthood.

Option 2–spend money America so that we won’t have to read depressing headlines any more.  It’s a pretty tough choice, isn’t it?

    Last night a combination of forces came together to change the physical features of this boy’s face. In honor of the thirty-first day of October, my school had a huge Festivus for the Rest of Us party. To kick it off we were all forced to dress up in costume for Shabbat dinner. I went as a Roman statesman, but how many of those have you ever seen sporting a beard? Not very many–unless you’re Russel Crowe, but he was a military general and a gladiator. Not a statesman or politician. In order to begin my costuming, I had to shave off my beard. No one here in Jerusalem has ever seen me without a beard. I shocked quite a few when I came to dinner, but that may have had more to do with my toga wardrobe malfunction. Wearing a toga can quickly turn into a sketchy and scandalous affair. Fortunately, I don’t think too many people were scarred because of it (or should that be scared?) Either way, I don’t think I left any permanent damage.

    My roommate, Ian, dressed up as Samson, and I came as a clean-shaven Roman

    Here’s another fun fact…the last day of October in 1517 is when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg. The world has never been the same since. Sadly I don’t think I did anything today that will completely alter the course of history and theological development. Although, I did have a good cup of coffee thanks to all my friends back home who still love me and send caffeine my way.

    This past weekend I went up with class to the Galilee region of Israel.  Here is a picture of us overlooking the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes in the north.

I’m sitting in the Student Lounge at my school. My friend John is plucking away at the guitar that usually stands in the corner. His voice carries the lyrics through the room. The dim lighting combines with this to create a Northwest café feel.

Another friend, Will, joins with the song without even looking up from his homework.

“take my hand, take my fear…I will worship you, Lord…only you Lord.”

Spontaneous moments of worship that fade into music are one my favorite things in life. My school is overly blessed with musical genius (I wonder how I got left out).

John is now playing a favorite tune from Jack Johnson. And the mood of worship is undiminished. Is that strange to you? How can a secular song with “unglorifying” lyrics be worship? It’s a good question. Typically I would suggest an answer, but this night I am just observing.

Another friend, Teresa, says that we are created to worship…and sometimes when we create beauty in whatever form, we worship God without even knowing it.

This begs the question, can worship happen on accident? To take it further, can a non-Christian worship God without intending to?

It is common today to be intentional–to act intentionally, to speak intentionally, to think intentionally, to mourn intentionally, to relax intentionally…even to worship intentionally. How many things do we do accidentally? and could that be a worship?

I head to Galilee tomorrow for four days.  I’m quite stoked, for it will be wonderful to get out of the city for awhile.  Hopefully, I’ll have some pictures to share with you by the time I get back.

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