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VIEWS & REVIEWS Pastor Diane Dulin

Writing a blog is a new and wonderful opportunity.  I will share thoughts and enthusiasms, book or movie reviews, travel adventures when I have them, plus general impressions, opinions or pontificating.

Well, you probably won't let me get away with much pontificating.

I may focus on church news at times, but most often I expect to range more broadly.  Let me know what you think.  Send any topics you wish I would address.  If I think I have anything sensible to say, I'll say it.  If not, I will try to do the smart thing: I will give you the gift of silence.

Special thanks to Morgan Reeder for designing our new church website and teaching me to blog.  She is not responsible for what I write, but she's the one who made it possible for me to do so.  Below is my very first entry.

 

January 20, 2011

 

This week my reading is taking me deep into Mongolia.  I will travel there in July with Tom, during the first part of my sabbatical.  The nomadic lifestyle, grand sweep of desert and steppe, and fascinating mix of religious influences caught my interest almost a year ago.  Since then I have read many books about Mongolian history, culture and geography.

My current travel inspiration is GOBI -- TRACKING THE DESERT by John Man.  It describes his journey in southwestern Mongolia in the mid-1990s.  That was shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and sudden exit of Soviet money and personnel.  Economic distress in Soviet-built cities and disintegration of Soviet-mandated rural collectives followed.  

John Man tells of traveling through villages struggling to survive.  He describes nights spent in small hotels with dirty water and no electricity.  All across the area he encountered a jumble of abandoned Soviet era buildings and equipment.  He met families re-establishing themselves as independent nomads, and living in traditional gers (yurts) which are simple, rather elegant one-room homes, capable of being dismantled in an hour when it's time to move.     

When Tom and I travel to Mongolia this summer, I suspect we will find much progress has been made since the 1990s.  Yet, my reading suggests even now one often departs the road to drive free-form across the Gobi, and gers continue to prevail.  Since I rather enjoy (temporary) hardship when I travel, I am not too worried about gaps in electricity, lack of smooth roads, or occasional absence of hot water. 

One feature I know for certain will fascinate:  the vast landscape, the wide horizon, and the treeless desert.  Although my travel will include jet airplanes, jeeps, camels and maybe horses, I am most eager to lace up my hiking boots and walk. 

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