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The Holy Man in the White Van Syndrome

Apparently it has become quite the meme to convert vans into small RVs, and then show it off on You Tube. There are good practical reasons for that.  In fact there are several reasons to admire this phenomenon.

But there is something strange about it, too. They seem to think they are the first person on the planet who has ever done something like this before; that the Yoob Toob viewer needs a thousand-and-one microscopic details; and that they are now some sort of celebrity.

No sooner does the guy convert his van and begin travelling around from parking lot to parking lot with plastic bags full of his own offal and excrement, than he discovers himself to be imbued with a Higher Form of Wisdom.

He probably grows a beard. Add a blog and a Yoob Toob channel and he can begin his Ministry to offereth mankind Salvation. This is just an internet-age version of what many societies have had. 

India had its sadhus and fakirs. 

Early Christianity had its St. Simon Stylites.  Holy Russia had its starets, such as Rasputin, with his beard and mesmerizing stare.

Not-so-distant America had its Elmer Gantry-s.

(My personal favorite is Diogenes of ancient Athens, but since he didn't travel, he must be disqualified.)

And what about St. Paul? (Now that is a dreadful thought for Easter, when I posted this.) They didn't have white cargo vans in his day, but he was a constant traveler, arriving in a ship at one eastern Mediterranean seaport after another. He got off the ship and told his whoppers and people believed it. Why so?

Traveling seems to be a theme common to many of these prophets of the desert. They make use of a psychological trick: whose reverse is "a prophet is not known in his own country..."  That is an ironical statement to have made it into the New Testament. Isn't there a corollary to it: 'beware the traveling holy man, who is probably just a charlatan.'

Since this Easter is also April Fool's Day, this post is trying to connect these two incongruous dates. I hope this isn't seen as mere mockery. Yes, we can have some fun with the traveling holy man, but there is an element in him that can be appreciated and respected. His success is so many incarnations and  in different times and societies might suggest that he is meeting a fundamental human need. 

Geographical travel symbolizes the philosophical and psychological arc that the listener yearns for. And they yearn for it because "man does not live by bread alone..."