Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Tales from the Front

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Tales from the Front

Article excerpt

One of the perks of being a journalist is that some people have a story they want you to tell--and they're willing to take you to the story. The Kingdom of Jordan is one of those "people," and their tourism board often takes journalists from religious publications to the country in the hopes of drumming up--you guessed it--religious tourism through our coverage.

With Mount Nebo (where Moses died), the site of Jesus' baptism, and loads of ruined ancient churches, Jordan has much to offer on that count. Add archeological masterpieces such as the ancient city of Petra, made famous by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, to natural wonders like Wadi Rum, the desert immortalized by Lawrence of Arabia, and I was hooked. Traveling during Ramadan also gave me a front-row seat to Islam's holiest month, especially as I watched our Muslim guide struggle to keep his fast while we Christians munched away. It made my Lenten fast look like a walk in the park.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

But like so many trips, my most memorable experiences were not on the official tour. In the capital, Amman, I had the good fortune of spending a day with Amjad Jamou, an Iraqi Chaldean Catholic forced from Baghdad by the war. He and his family join some 500,000 other Iraqis, many of them Christian, who have found refuge in Jordan, a country that thankfully not only tolerates but values its religious diversity.

Amjad told me his family's story and introduced me to other Iraqi refugees as well. …

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