stories on a plane and a mudhouse sabbath

The first leg of my journey to Israel is over. I’ve learned that the Western time zone is weird, In-‘n-Out Burger makes the best cheesburgers in America (whether the same can be said for the world is yet to be determined), and California is a heck of a lot warmer than Ohio. (sorry all Ohio friends). 

On Wednesday I kissed the Buckeye state audieu, and the only (figurative) tears I shed were for my family, who waved goodbye to Joellyn and I as we walked through security at Dayton International Airport. The three-hour plane ride to Dallas/Fort Worth was uneventful, especially for Joellyn who slept the whole time. After reading for a little bit, I eventually succumed to the heavy eyelids too. The only interesting thing I can think of from that flight is that I think I may have seen former Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Shafer sitting in first class reading what looked like Cosmopolitan, but I can’t confirm this. If he was reading Cosmo, I can see why Rodriguez fired him and why he didn’t get along well with the rest of the staff. The Michigan coaches only read Scientific American and the New Yorker. And Rivals, of course. 
We landed in Dallas/Fort Worth, and took one of those cool tram-things to our gate (C26, IIRC). There was a label on the glass of the tram that made me laugh and think of my Cedarville friends. It said “Experienc DFW” and all I could think of for a minute was why they would advertise David Foster Wallace on an airport tram. Seth, that was for you. 
I got coffee at Starbucks, then boarded the plane with Joellyn. According to the captain, our destination was Los Angeles, and the local temperature was 70 degrees. Oh yeah, I thought. This is the life
As I sat in my seat and read my book before take-off, I saw an orthodox Jewish man wearing a kappah and sporting a gigantic gray beard slide into a seat a couple rows in front of us. He was holding an old-looking book, which I assume was either the Torah or the Talmud (I would guess the latter). I felt a sudden and profound dissapointment that I wasn’t sitting beside him. It was perfect, really. I was on my way to study in Israel, thinking about Jewish culture, and reading a small book (per Chris Pluger’s suggestion, kudos to you) by Lauren Winner called Mudhouse Sabbath, a collection of personal essays in which Ms. Winner–who converted from Judaism to Christianity in college–explores what she misses about the Jewish faith, and what about that faith could enrich our lives as followers of Christ. As I saw that man sitting there, I wanted to ask him so many questions. This made me think, “Man, I really want to learn more about Jewish thought, culture and religion. What is it that they believe? What can we learn from them?” 
Uh…check. 

Our time in California was awesome. It was great to spend time with my family and go to some cool places like In-‘n-Out Burger, some neat malls, 3rd Avenue Promenade, the beach, Santa Monica peir and do some cool things like golfing, hear Sinclair Ferguson speak at the Master’s College Truth and Life Conference, sit and read (Hey. It’s me). 
It was nice to relax before going to the grind. Who am I kidding, it’s Israel, dude. Israel. What’s so grinding? Besides the sand in your teeth. But that’s culture, man. It’s part of the ambiance. I’d rather have holy sand in my teeth rather than Cedarville snow drifts and, uh, whatever else is going on back there. You all have my deepest sympathies.
And on Mudhouse Sabbath, I spent much of the airplane ride to Los Angeles putting together an short response to the book that I think will benefit all of you, but this is long enough already. Tomorrow is the 15-hour flying part, actually to Israel this time. Goodbye, America. When I come back you will have a new president (that is weird to think about). 
‘Till I post again. See you on the other side. 
 
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