Just a quick update for you all:
Tom and I have been in Rome for about a week now, and have enjoyed the cooler weather and fewer crowds that wintertime has allotted us. Accomodations are also much cheaper--we've gotten away with a double room with private bathroom for $65/night, right next to the railway station. My thoughts have been running to the vast differences between the Holy Land and Rome, the de facto Christian capital, and it is consoling to be here in this place where everything has the mark of Christendom upon it. It feels like somewhat of a panacea for the possible complexes one might inherit from spending two and a half months in Israel.
Anyhow, these are thoughts that I'd like to develop when I have more time. For now, it's off to the Pantheon! Check back soon for more in-depth reflections on what it's been like overseas, as well as thoughts on Pope Benedict's Truth and Tolerance (in which he grapples with the question of world religions).