Having returned from a very interesting forum at Haifa University on Arabic translations of Aristotle's works on sleep and dreaming, given by a female member of the university (would this still be allowed in Britain, I wonder: I mean a Jewish woman discussing Islam in critical fashion!), I was somewhat concerned to read the following reaction in the Jerusalem Post to yesterday's visit to Israel by the Archbishop of Canterbury:
I have contacted Lambeth Palace who taped the conversation with the Archbishop and they are going to get back to me.
In the meantime, here is the official statement from Lambeth Palace about what they consider to be a very successful trip to Israel, not least because of what it might mean for future interfaith dialogue and the peace process:
All I can say is that I have found the new Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem to be courtesy itself. And I have been invited to a meeting on Monday with the Church of England's representative in the North of Israel, in Nazareth no less - the first time I shall have visited the city. Buses go from Haifa University, which is extremely useful!
We can only speak as we find, and although I normally find journalists the most trustworthy and honourable of people (yes, you read that correctly) on this occasion I wonder what happened.
Meanwhile, this is what an Anglican vicar friend, on a visit to Jerusalem last week (having popped in to see me in Haifa) had to say about the growth of churches in that city:
Sunday evening seems to have been good for both of us - our time as a family at the King of Kings church was magnificent - a packed church as big as a cinema with loads of young people and singing and talks that were so engaging that the 2 1/2 hours it took flew by, even for our son, who seemed to enjoy it most!
There was an opportunity for response at the end that lots of people took and I had the sense that the church was full of vision and purpose. Apparently they have a 'Prayer tower' on the 14th floor of the shopping centre they are in in which someone is praying continuously - they have 24/7 prayer going on all the time for Israel. I've never heard of any church managing that for anything before.
I am impressed by Israel's willingness to allow the new churches to grow within it - there were only 3 churches in Jerusalem when I was there in 79/80 and now I hear there are 14.