Having read through the Bible several times – not counting Leviticus, Numbers, that one really long Psalm, the Minor Prophets or Third John (the second sequel is always the worst) – I’ve learned a few things and applied even less. Naturally, I tend to keep an eye out for the often-overlooked minutiae of the Greatest Story Ever Told as Produced by Mark Burnett and the Angel That Touched Him, and one such seemingly (and probably) irrelevant item I’ve noticed is that events in the Bible only take place during the summer. You read me right, mon amie, there is no winter in the Word.
Sure, some would argue that most of the Bible is set in what is considered a climatic subtropical zone that does not, therefore, experience extreme seasonal swings. By this logic, you could call El Paso the Jerusalem of Tejas, so like, whatever, hippies, knock it off. The point I’m trying to make, however obliquely, is that the Bible, being the repository of Truth that it is, obviously points to the Holy Land as the ultimate place to take a road trip in the family truckster. Or chariot. Or donkey. Or the communal sandals. Hope they’re Keens.
Of course, I’m not recommending that you drive all the way to Israel as the Atlantic would prove too difficult for even the most lightly scuffed of Range Rovers to ford, and no one wants to go through Jersey anyway. But once you’ve alighted with your brood upon the fertile soil of the Fertile Crescent, acquired a suitable rental vehicle/mammal and fired up your phone’s Gospel Positioning System (see what I did there, huh, huh?), you may be left wondering, “Where did all my cash go?” Also, “Is this robe made of CoolMax?” And finally, “Where can we go that’s off the beaten path of holy hucksterism, but still fills our family with awe, reverence, wonder and hummus?” Glad I asked for you.
Peter’s Mother-In-Law’s Apartment – Above a restored bungalow along a quite side street in Bethsaida that once possibly belonged to Simon “The Original and Forever Champion Rock” Peter is an apartment that even less probably belonged to his mother-in-law, whom I like to think was named Mama Baklava. However, this small abode has since been converted into a yeastless carb bar named, not Mama B’s, but Uncle Si’s Hardtack Haven (“Home of the throwed, unleavened, concussive rolls.”). Bring the kids if you want to combine lessons in Biblical- and Civil War-era cracker making (history times two!), the benefits of yeast (science!) and niche marketing (niche marketing!). Just remember there are no public restrooms available. Or ketchup.
Leper Larry’s Leperatorium – This celebration of all things leprous is akin to taking your kids to the see the (True Fact Alert) barbed wire exhibit at the National Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas. It’s highly educational, slightly creepy and you really shouldn’t touch anything. Granted, the lepers at Larry’s aren’t genuine; this is the 21st century people – we have treatments for such things available under Netanyahucare. Nonetheless, the kiddos will learn all sorts of Biblical truths about kindness, generosity and hygiene. And everyone will love the Cirque du Soleil-style finale.
House of Nard – Sure, you could pick up a lovely alabasterique box of airport-quality nard at the Ben Gurion duty free shop, but that’s cheating. And quite possibly Crisco. Instead, walk in the footsteps of Mary of Bethany and go for the good stuff. Is a year’s wages too much to spend when teaching your spawn about the pricelessness of Christ’s love? Dave Ramsey would say yes. I would say that Upromise credit card is about to kick back some sweet rewards.
Legion’s Landing & Swine Hills (Dual Attraction) – If you’re feeling moved by the Spirit or happened to have clipped the 2-for-1 admission coupon from the Thrifty Shekel, you’ll want to cross over into Jordan to visit the ancient site of Gadara, where Jesus healed a demoniac and wasted an awful lot of bacon. While the exact site of the Lord’s combo miracle is unknown (despite what Rabbi Ralph’s Map of Gentile Foolishness might say), this rarely busy attraction boasts an animatronic demoniac that eerily resembles a first generation Andrew Jackson from EPCOT’s Hall of Presidents, a kosher deli, sno-cones and the world’s only Pig-A-Pult in which youngsters get to yank the cord on a trebuchet and send Honeybaked’s gamiest rejects hurtling into the Sea of Galilee.
Zacchaeus’s Sycamore – Everyone who’s been subjected to kindergarten-level Sunday school or VBS knows the cruel, heightism-encouraging ditty about Zacchaeus and his challenges as a stature-disadvantaged seeker. Now, for just a few shekels per person, each member of your family limber enough to shimmy up a sycamore without straining a UB (upper booty) tendon can catch a glimpse of what the reformed tax collector himself might have seen had he managed to double Methuselah’s lifespan. That is, an internet café. On the plus side, ficus sycomorus trees can actually live over 2,000 years, so you might not be getting totally fleeced out of your shekels.
But if anyone claims their ficus sycomorus is the Mother Tree of Fig Newtons, walk away as quickly as your Keens will carry you.