Sunday, December 10, 2017
Jerusalem Syndrome, by Hilary Davidson
This is Davidson's second appearance in this column.
Usually when I point out that I might not be objective about a story it is because I am friends with the author (like last week). This week the reason is different: I have visited most of the places she describes.
Suzanne is visiting Israel for the first time. It would be a great visit except for the people she is traveling with, a group from her church. Well, not exactly her church. Husband Bobby made them join it because it is the road to promotion at his company.
And the head of the church, Pastor Ted, is a major jerk. He's the one who brings up Jerusalem Syndrome -- and let's talk about that for a moment. It refers to a mental derangement in which the patient, typically an American or European Christian visits the Holy Land and freaks out. Suddenly they are out on the streets of Jerusalem, wrapped in bed sheets, proclaiming themselves John the Baptist or Mary Magdalene.
I understand why it occurs. People have heard about these places since they were toddlers and suddenly each one is real. The road you take to Jericho is the same one in the parable of the Good Samaritan. It's sort of like visiting the Black Forest and the tour guide casually pointing to a decaying cabin and says "That's where Goldilocks met the Three Bears." Except more so, because this is about your religion. Some people's heads just explode.
When I read the story I thought it was odd that Pastor Ted describes something much more minor as Jerusalem Syndrome, but it actually makes perfect sense. He is a control freak and part of that is attacking any sign of rebellion.
And Suzanne is beginning to rebel... I enjoyed this story a lot.