My wife leaves next week for 10 days in Israel. It’s a Christian tour of the Holy Land that will, presumably, visit many holy sites.
I’m staying home — not because of the cost but rather because I want her to have a good time. Nothing spoils a religious experience quite like being accompanied by an easily bored skeptic.
Following a bunch of Christians around to the supposed site of the tomb where Jesus was laid, the possible location of Christ’s birth, and the proximity where it’s rumored that he stampeded a bunch of demon-possessed hogs off a cliff isn’t my idea of a good time.
This isn’t because it’s a Christian tour. I’d feel the same way about touring alleged South American Book of Mormon sites, or going on hajj with Muslims, or retracing the Israelites’ 40-year trek in the wilderness.
I’ve been on a couple of these religious jaunts before, and it inevitably goes something like this:
Guide • “And this is the exact spot where Jesus healed a leper.”
Me • “The exact spot?”
Guide • “OK, it used to be a hundred yards over there, and before that some believe it was in the next town, but this is the exact spot now.”
Some of my wife’s friends have pointed out that I should still go because there are other historical sites in the area.
Since I doubt the tour would include a visit to Tel Saki on the Golan Heights, where eight Israeli soldiers stood their ground for three days against thousands of Syrian troops during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, I’ll pass.
Furthermore, I doubt that we’d be slipping over to El Alamein in Egypt, where, in 1942, Rommel had his butt handed to him by the British army, effectively ending German advances to the south.
It’s me. Not them. I prefer more recent history. It stands a better chance of being verifiable than stories passed down over thousands of years by people who didn’t even know the earth was round.
Sonny and I have different points of view on history as well. He loves hunting for arrowheads, points of stone thousands of years old. Arrowheads are interesting enough, I suppose, but they don’t register with me because there’s no personalized backstory attached to them.
I prefer the bullets I’ve retrieved from Civil War battlefields, a shell casing from Little Bighorn and items from shootouts here in Utah. They speak to me because I can often track down more accurate accounts of the clashes that produced them through old newspapers.
Not that newspapers always get it right, but at least they don’t confuse Pickett’s Charge with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
My interest in explainable history has encouraged me to keep an accounting of my own life through writing journals. You should give it a think. Nothing settles family history squabbles quite like documentation.
“It was the summer of ’62 that we went to Aunt Tirza’s place.”
“No, it was Christmas of ’59. I remember because she dyed her hair red.”
“It was Grandma Pokus who dyed her hair red, and it was in the spring of ’55.”
Now imagine you’re the one who can go into the basement and come up with hard evidence that it was a neighbor named Nettie who dyed her hair brown on July 22, 1969, two days after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Not that documenting occurrences is irrefutable proof of what happened. Humans are no brighter today than we were thousands of years ago. We always go for the spin.
“You’re full of it. She was a blonde, and the moon landing was a hoax.”
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.