Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Week 13: Thanksgiving/Biblical Excursion

*I apologize once again if the formatting is off...

Thanksgiving Part 2
 Believe it or not, I celebrated Thanksgiving twice in Amman. Between the two dinners, three turkeys, cranberries in a can, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and homemade stuffing I consumed everything you'd hope to find in the States. We even watched the Charlie Brown special together on Hulu! It was an interesting change of pace as my American friends and I explained our customs to Jordanian guests. From explaining Thanksgiving in another cultural context I realized how some things are simply lost in translation. For example the dog show is against the grain of Middle Eastern customs as dogs are considered unclean. Also American Football does not gain the same resonance in Arabic culture as it does for Americans. It was refreshing to have so many symbols of home sitting out on a table for my taking. I have to admit, I am really beginning to miss our cuisine and portion sizes.

 Last week my program went on our final excursion to the key Biblical sites of Jordan. Above is a mosaic from, if I remember correctly, a 6th century church in Madaba. The mosaics there are unlike anything I have ever seen in Jordan or anywhere else in the world. At one site, it felt like a single mosaic could fill an entire school gym. Maybe I'm evoking hyperbole, but it's the best I can do to convey my sense of awe.

Here is the view from Mt. Nebo. I learned that this is where God led Moses at the end of his life in order to show him the Promised Land. I had no idea that, according to tradition, Moses died up on Mt. Nebo. Judging by the statues and tributes to Pope John Paul II it seemed that he had been there around the year 2000.

Pope-mobile mosaic
Here you can see the Jordanian take on the Pope-mobile, Queen Rania, his Majesty King Abdullah II, and his Holiness Pope John Paul II. This is actually a real mosaic! It is placed right near Jesus' baptism sight in commemoration of the Pope's visit in 2002(?). Just like whoever decided to place it there, I thought the mosaic was a fantastic example of inter-faith relations.

Baptism Site
Though the Jordan River has receded to the Jordan Creek, this spot is said to be Jesus' Baptism site. It was hard to wrap my head around how one baptism begat a new Abrahamic religion which begat the belief system of billions. My time at all of the biblical sites brought me back to my days in Vacation Bible School. I'm sorry if this entry seems a little short, but I'm doing my best juggling final papers, rehearsals for my Christmas concert, and final exams. In case you were wondering some stores put up Christmas trees here in Jordan. Because I am in a Christian choir I have been able to get in the spirit by singing all of our traditional carols in preparation for our concert on the 12th and 13th. I am saving the best for last with this blog. My final entry will be a compilation of all the Arabic words I've picked up on that show a possible relationship with Spanish and/or English. I've been looking forward to sharing them with you all semester because of their importance for inter-cultural understanding.


  1. I hope that dry river bed is not what we are looking forward to on the mighty mississippi with all the drought of the past few years. Yikes! B

  2. I don't think it would get that bad for us. Luckily we're not one of the driest places in the world. I can't wait to come visit in less than a week!