Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Amazing Faith of Texas by Roy Spence and a few more photos of Israel

And here is the ridiculously sublime Mahler Adagietto from Symphony no. 5

A few more photos of my trip to Israel.

It was Sukkot the first week I was there.  This is the Feast of the Tabernacles.  It comes five days after Yom Kippur and families live in booths for a week commemorating the miraculous protection God provided the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt.  These tents or booths were everywhere.

Our first day we stayed in Tel Aviv and traveled to the ancient site of Caesarea on the Mediterranean where Herod the Great made a palace, an amphitheater, and a hippodrome.  Below is a remnant of the palace Herod made.  It is the forum where St. Paul presented his case before Felix the Procurator (Acts 25).

Roman Aqueduct

Below is the view on top of Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged the 400 Baal priests. (1 Kings 18)
The valley below is Meggido.  In the book of Revelation, it is prophesied as the pen-ultimate battle in the end times, called "Armageddon."

It is interesting to note that Bill Maher visited this area in his mockumentary "Religulous" where he explained how stupid Christians were for believing that such a peaceful, beautiful valley could possibly be the site of a war.

Our guide explained to us that beneath the ground below are buried fighter jets aimed at Jordan and Syria.  In the mountains the Jordanians and Syrians have hidden missiles aimed at Israel.

Yeah right, Bill.

More photos next week!

The Amazing Faith of Texas: Common Ground on Higher GroundThe Amazing Faith of Texas: Common Ground on Higher Ground by Roy Spence
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I will start off by saying that the photographs are superb. I love architecture and especially architecture of places of worship. Worship is an integral part of a majority of the world's population in some form or other and I think it strange how little attention is paid to it in the public venue. This book is filled with all sorts of worship buildings, mostly Christian, it is, after all Texas: country churches, large city groups...traditional, historical, modern...all of them lovely in their own right.

The book also has testimonies of individuals of different faiths and what their faith means to them. And this is where I complain.

On the one hand, the testimonies are from Christians, with a number of Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and various other beliefs I would catalog as vaguely "spiritual".

But it would be more accurate to write all the above mentioned religions with quotations marks, because every last one of them failed to define what made their beliefs unique.

I believe the author carefully selected his interviewees so as to have them say more or less the same thing, i.e. "Their faith helps them be a good person and contributes to peace on earth."

It's strange to me how most of them talk about their faith in God or Jesus Christ  primarily as an impersonal force to help them. The central focus is not God and His glory, but mankind's improvement. Every statement was some kind of general "I'm a better person because of my faith", which, on the surface sounds nice, if not a bit treacly, while avoiding the more substantial points of human nature.

I looked up the residences of the people interviewed and it appears the author carefully selected who he interviewed as well. Most of them are from the Austin area, which, if you know Austin as I know Austin, says so much. It's a huge drug, hippy culture that loves to pontificate on happy notions of world peace and "inclusion" and "acceptance", when what they really mean is let's feel good about ourselves and get high.

And that sums this book up. If you want to close your eyes and tell yourself "all roads lead to the same goal" while ignoring the fundamental differences of each faith, which is another way of demeaning people's personal beliefs, you'll love the oozy nebulous testimonies in this book

View all my reviews


mudpuddle said...

lovely photographs... i see you do feel strongly re some issues, is it not...?

Carol said...

Welcome back! Would love to visit Israel someday. For the time being I’ll visit vicariously via your photos. We’re still paying off our visit to the UK.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sharon. It looks like you had a great trip. I have not been to Israel but it looks to be an incredible place.

The book sounds a little incongruous as it sounds like it is a photographic catalogue of all kinds of places of worship but that it advocates for a particular interpretation of Christianity. I have been to Austin. I mostly associated with a more professional but laid back group when I was there. I think a lot of people in that demographic also are drawn to the the interpretation of Christianity that this book seems to highlight.

Have a great day!

R.T. said...

Austen? That explains it!

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Mudpuddle. I feel strongly about a lot of things. I guess I'm one of those people that are either hot or cold. And I probably over think a good deal many things that probably don't deserve it.

Although, as a Christian, I must say that a person's faith is extremely important to me.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Carol!

It was truly a momentous life event. If you are interested, I'll give you the information about the guide we went with. He is a semi-retired Bible professor and it cost about half of what other tours cost. Also he is extremely knowledgeable in Bible history, making it all the more relevant.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Brian.

Israel is truly such an incredible place to visit and has always been a hot spot in world events.

I would argue that the book presented all the religions it explored as forms of Universalism. I find this frustrating because it robs the reader of understanding any kind of personal attributes unique to each religion. He carefully chose advocates of each belief so that they seemed to believe the same thing. Any close study of all faiths, and in that I include atheism and agnosticism, because no one can prove God's existence or that He doesn't exist, shows that they are incompatible and mutually exclusive.

What superficially sounds tolerant is actually insulting.

And I agree. There's lots of great people who live in Austin. It's a great place to visit or live. I am guilty of oversimplifying certain demographs.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi R.T.

Well, their motto is "Keep Austin Weird."

Marian H said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that Mahler piece! I'm not very familiar with his music, but I think that's going to change now.

Your photos of Israel add to my wish to go there. I didn't realize Meggido is forested - it's incredibly beautiful! So many beautiful places on earth have been the scenes of seems like a realistic setting for Armageddon.

Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Marian, I love Mahler. I hope one day you'll be able to travel to Israel.

Sharon Wilfong said...

HI Ruth.

The only people that listen to Maher are people with the same adolescent mentality,

As for the book, I bought it while I was in Austin, so maybe the author was writing for a certain demographic.

It should be titled, "The Underwhelming Faith of Austin."

Ruth @ with freedom and books said...

Sharon...good point. "Underwhelming."

Debbie Nolan said...

Dear Sharon - I just loved seeing your photos of Israel. It is some place I would love to visit. What an amazing country - truly the Promised Land.

I often find that when people try to write about all faiths they miss the real component - There is Only One God and One Savior - am I close minded - Yes I am. I respect others right to believe as they wish and I recognize that there are good spiritual beliefs within many other faiths but unfortunately they think it depends on them instead of the unmerited favor of God - "Grace".

Along those lines have you ever heard of Robert Morris and Gateway Church in Texas? Hubby and I watch his program - great Bible teacher. He was just speaking about Israel this morning in his current message. I don't believe in was a "God thing" that I visited you today and saw the beautiful pictures of your trip.

Thanks for sharing and making my day special.


Sharon Wilfong said...

HI Debbie,

Always nice to hear from you. You just nailed it on the head, sister. I could not describe the Gospel more succinctly than you just did. It's so good to know of fellow believers, even if they live far away.

Blessings to you, sister!


Sharon Wilfong said...


I forgot to add that I do not know Gateway Church, but I will look them up.