A good friend of mine is in the Middle East this week on business (unconnected to matters of state). His remarks are worth sharing with our blogging community. Although I do not have his permission to pass them along (not quite possible at this moment), I am confident that he will extend some mercy for my presumptuousness. Enjoy.

Guest Blogger: Linguist

Doha, Qatar, less than two hours to boarding.

Yo, good people of Seventh!

It hasn't been easy, all this food and fancy hotel and so on, but I felt it had to be done to make the way smooth for '09 (our motto: "It'll be fine in '09!"), checking out the scene around London, etc. And tonight, a farewell dinner that included Scots, so I can claim I was researching that part of the proposed trip as well.

Explanation: along with another couple from church, we are planning a European trip in two years.

The whole thing has been nutty, and I must say I'm glad to hear that the Brit sailors have been wisely released by the poker-playing Iranians, since my host here printed out a couple of articles today predicting missile strikes against Iran on Good Friday, just when I was hoping for some quiet meditation, call me selfish!

Seriously, though, there's nothing to be gained by violence, and my encounters with Iranians in the souk (market) today reinforced that impression: they were effusing about renewed friendship between the US and Iran. Heck, all they want to do is sell souvenirs, after all, and I obliged them.

Likewise talking to a Lebanese Christian (Francophone) perfume-selling lady last night at one of the malls: all optimistic about her country's future despite last summer's devastation which we were indirectly responsible for - people still want to love us, warts and all. If they're willing to forgive us Abu Ghraib, that's all very well, but we shouldn't be quick to forgive ourselves. She waxed lyrical about God's providing for them, and I seconded the motion. I wished her and all the other good Christians I met here, Filipinos, Indians (Goans, Keralites), Lebanese Maronites, Egyptian Copts (I learned that the very word Egypt comes from the old word for those early Christians: Gpt=Cpt) a Happy Easter.

In the spirit of ecumenism, in fact, I just wished an Israeli fellow-passenger a happy belated Passover, pointing out that I live near Crawford and that no American candidate for the presidency can proceed without the AIPAC's blessing. He loved it. I wished him mazel tov as well: it's the closest I could get to 'bon voyage.

I just want you to know I've been sacrificing, and it'll take another glass of that Chassagne-Montrachet (or maybe I'll switch to white...) and some of the baklava on offer here (maybe the cute little ones with pistachio filling) at the fancy lounge to get me though to boarding time and my flat-reclining seat. Whew! The things I won't do to be able to report to the team on what current conditions in Europe are like for a preview of the Big Trip! Well, someone's gotta do it!

Well, Lord willing and Andy Jackson's treaties with the Indigenous Peoples working out, I'll be back among you this weekend. Till then, keep the faith!