It's all so beautifully green here!

How a travel magazine interreligiously rows in the direction of Eden and at the same time manages to survive the cliff of Jerusalem.​

When an intellectually challenging medium such as DIE ZEIT surprises you with a pope interview, then it continues right in the travel part with discussing the question of where the Garden of Eden is to be found, inviting an imam, a pastor and a rabbi to talk about the paradise.

The small interreligious seminar on the horizons of salvation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam is pleasingly insightful if you read a little between the lines. The Jew and the Christian are not very precise in their remarks, but quite worldly. The imam exclusively speaks of the hereafter, but very concretely. The Muslim paradise only comes after the “annihilation of everything”, but it is great: “It has, for example, a hundred steps, between two steps there are a thousand years. And there is a tree so big, you have to walk in its shadow for forty years until you get to the trunk. You truly need an eternal life to see it all.” The female pastor is unimpressed by the imam's big numbers and has no better idea than to ask questions about the 72 maidens: “What do I get as a woman?” The answer of the imam, that the men in paradise are also virgins, does not directly answer the question of the pastor, but it sounds correct in gender-political terms. The rabbi is skeptical: “We Jews see ourselves as a community, private paradises are not intended.”

The numbers of Muslim mystics certainly have some meaning. If we add the time for the steps and the path in the shadow, we get 50,040 years, in proportion to eternity this is not even the academic quarter-hour. Perhaps the paradise of Muslims is somewhat closer than they think. Only the talking about the “annihilation of everything”, which must precede, sounds somewhat disturbing.

The editors of DIE ZEIT want a less speculative answer, so they ask the three for a concrete place, a personal Garden of Eden. Now the imam starts to rave about the taste of a juicy pomegranate in the dryness of Damascus, while the rabbi tells of Jerusalem, where he had studied and where his first two children were born. The pastor's paradise lies “in Mecklenburg or somewhere on the Baltic coast”, where she feels the “very great resonance”.

When the emotive term Jerusalem is mentioned, the ZEIT editors have to interrupt correctly and note that the city is sacred to all three religions. The imam and the pastor shall express themselves on Jerusalem too. Then there is “a brief silence, but you could hear the brains working”. The pastor looks at her water glass, the imam allows his coffee to become cold. “Both are professionals in the interreligious dialogue. They know how to avoid a difficult topic.” The tension is released because the imam has never been to Jerusalem and the pastor doesn't want to be “deeply moved on command” by holy places. The conversation becomes conciliatory, as the rabbi thinks that the idea of a paradise didn't come out of the desert by accident, it is “an expression of an existential deficiency”. The imam likes this because it explains why paradise is always green. His guests from Turkey can't stop being amazed in Germany: “So much green!”

At the end of the conversation, it's time to pray for the imam. The pastor tries in vain to convey a devotional space: the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is at least “very reserved, optically”. However, for practical reasons, the imam rather goes to the rabbi's home: Before praying, he has to wash himself. ses

There's no cure for education

Course topics from the program booklet of an education center (February – September 2017): “Thinking of God – Painting academy – I, personally – The sound of words and colours – Zen meditation and Qi-Gong – Tracking down happiness – Waking words – Healthy by joy of life – Drumming – Thinking of God anew”.

More than 100 speakers, all well trained. For example, one person alone has the following expertise: “Educator, trainer for FamiliyTeam®, ProfiTeam® and ClassTeam®, systemic couple and family therapist”. Another: “Speaker for personality formation and family formation, adult educator, instructor in parent training, teacher in biography work (LebensMutig), organizational development and social management, in project management in the social therapeutic role playing”. A closer look at the envelope reveals: a Christian educational house. Do we, as a society in need of education, need an educational church? What therapy can help here? pez

Dislike

The first try to buy a jacket online, a good brand, from a renowned website. The parcel arrives, the jacket fits, the lapel features a bonus sticker made from metal – a skull.

Why a skull? The reason for returning it as featured on the return bill: "I don't like the item". Additional remark: Ordered a jacket only. hak

Not to see the wood...

From an ecclesial flyer about the use of church taxes:

The church “cultivates its forests in a sustainable and nature-protecting way ... enough space is consciously left for animals … When a tree is damaged by a storm, it is often cut away at a height of a few metres … woodpeckers are the first to arrive … wild bees, squirrels, bats, etc. follow …”

Jesus, as written by Markus: The axe is applied to the tree's roots; every tree that fails to bring satisfying fruits is chopped down and thrown into the fire. luw

Al Naqba – the catastrophe?

The immigration of several hundred thousand Jews from Europe in the previous centuries is part of the past history of the “catastrophe”, which Arabs call “Naqba” – the foundation of the state Israel. An Israeli Arab is asked what he thinks about that time.

His mother, he says, is ninety-five years old today and experienced that time. She says: “Jews are intelligent people. They brought technology, agricultural improvement, revived economy. Before they came, we had no electricity, no running water, no streets. There was nothing, nothing at all. Palestine was a poor country. Our shoes were made of old car tires. Jews have changed this country – it's a Garden of Eden today.” mas

Two countries – problem solved?

When asked about which country he would prefer to live in in that case, a Palestine Arab in Israel answers:

Even if he could become the king of Jordan, he would like to live here, in Israel, the place where he can freely speak the way he thinks. He adds empathically: All of the Israeli Arabs think that way, some of them just don't dare to tell. We were going to test that by asking our Palestine cab driver a slightly modified question: Could there be two countries one time? Definitely not – it's stated by the Koran, the Torah and the Bible. There shall be one country only. And that country must be a Muslim one. ses

To know the scene

What is it like when a couple wants to marry in a Catholic church, and thank God or whomever, a former altar boy is present at such an “event”.

The whole wedding party is happy about the one, who can show when to stand, kneel, sit or say “Amen”, the FAS reports on 9 October 2016. The humorous suggestion – remembering the glorious times of satire, when it still taught us to face reality – how he could market himself: “Rent a Catholic. Hallelujah instead of hossa. You want to have a party Catholic-style? Prayback instead of payback – I will be your entertainer, the best for religious parties. What I offer: profound knowledge of religious rituals, role model, bookings available for weddings, child communion, christening, funeral. The portfolio is extendable for protestant interests.” Question to his friends: “I bet I will be booked!” Nobody objects. pez

From a report about a journey through France

At the portal of the Gothic cathedral in Metz she is still standing: a crooked, blindfolded woman with a broken cane – unnoticed, forgotten. Who will lift her up after the unimaginable has happened?

Is it easier or is it harder than to re-establish the style of life of the old orders? The question is meaningless. It is only important that the blindfold is removed, not from the woman's face of the synagogue, but from the church's. This enables it to see the first and only love of God in another's face. bek

Germany can handle the introduction of the shock pictures

At the kiosk:

One pack of Marlboro, please

Which?

Gold

I got several ones. Do you want these with fallen out teeth?

No, I already have these

Hole in the neck?

No, got those already, too.

I got smoker's legs

Okay.  I do not have these, yet.

“I like being an import priest!”

In an interview with “Augsburger Allgemeine”, ZdK president Thomas Sternberg says import priest are no long-term solution for the lack of priests in Germany.

He probably is not a soccer fan. There, imports are absolutely normal. The same holds true for international management. No change is in sight. Why would I, an Italian-born, not be able to do a great job for the diocese Augsburg just as Carlo Ancelotti is now trying to do for FC Bayern. So that is why like being an “import priest” in the diocese of Augsburg, where I can put in my experience from home into counselling in Germany. In the episcopal ordinariate I am responsible for approximately 150 priests from the world church, and I do counselling as well. Hence, I feel obliged to lend a voice to the 150 priests from the world church. We like being here and do not feel like foreigners! Everybody talks about a globalised world. The Catholic church might even be the oldest, global company. Why would German churches not want to learn from priests from the world church? We are always available for help, also for the president of the central committee of the Catholics. My first advice to him would be: Pope Francis himself said after his election, he came from the end of the world. I doubt that Mr. Sternberg would consider him an “import pope” or use the word of “import” at all in this context! alp

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