Dear human family,
This past Sunday before church, a child in the pew behind me asked his mother why there was purple cloth over the cross. She said,
“Um, well that probably has something to do with the fact that it’s Lent.”
His mother and I both struggled with the proper words to explain Lent. Neither of us used Jesus language. We didn’t say that Lent is a somber period of time prior to Jesus being murdered and then resurrected three days later. We didn’t talk about Satan testing Jesus in the desert for 40 days. Instead, we explained that we cover crosses as a reminder to be introspective and thoughtful during the time before Easter. I offered that it’s a time to think about how we can make ourselves better people and the world a better place. Afterwards I thought about how, instead of filling this child’s head with jargon that he may remember but not understand, we sought to explain Lent in terms that anyone can understand – Christian or not, kid or adult, politician or constituent. This child can grow up and be or become who or whatever he feels called to be, whether that happens to be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Agnostic, or Atheist. The list goes on.
I realize Christians, especially Episcopalians, do things that sometimes appear silly, even to ourselves. We drape crosses in purple fabric. Swing incense. Smear ashes on our foreheads. Drink wine or grape juice and call it Jesus’ blood. Yet, these symbolic or theological rites that have been in practice for millennia have powerful meanings that carry great significance in our spiritual journeys. Yet, I argue, it isn’t our rites that make us Christian, but our hearts. And we all have hearts no matter our religious identities. Continue reading The Human Family Is Bigger Than Religion
Recently a friend shared a Washington Post opinion article on facebook titled As Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the hijab in the name of interfaith solidarity. I was so glad to read this very well-researched article and hope it sheds some light on the history and meaning of what many of us know as the hijab. Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa write:
Born in the 1960s into conservative but open-minded families (Hala in Egypt and Asra in India), we grew up without an edict that we had to cover our hair. But, starting in the 1980s, following the 1979 Iranian revolution of the minority Shiite sect and the rise of well-funded Saudi clerics from the majority Sunni sect, we have been bullied in an attempt to get us to cover our hair from men and boys. Women and girls, who are sometimes called “enforce-hers” and “Muslim mean girls,” take it a step further by even making fun of women whom they perceive as wearing the hijab inappropriately, referring to “hijabis” in skinny jeans as “ho-jabis,” using the indelicate term for “whores.”
To us, the “hijab”is a symbol of an interpretation of Islam we reject that believes that women are a sexual distraction to men, who are weak, and thus must not be tempted by the sight of our hair. We don’t buy it. This ideology promotes a social attitude that absolves men of sexually harassing women and puts the onus on the victim to protect herself by covering up.
I understand Asra and Hala’s stance completely, in fact it is something I thought about most when deciding whether or not to wear a hijab recently: the fact that it is often enforced as a patriarchal, women-are-sex-objects-we-must-keep-them-hidden-and-protected idea. Furthermore, I am aware and agree that the religious texts – verses in the Koran – have been interpreted in many ways to suit particular agendas, as is the case with almost any religion. I fully support the efforts by so many to continue to make all religions fit into today’s time, including efforts by many Muslims and non-Muslims to educate people that the interpretation of the need to wear the hijab is a subject of hot debate.
Immediately below Asra and Hala’s article, my facebook feed showed a rebuttal piece by Dilshad Ali titled Please Do (If You Want) Wear the Headscarf in the Name of Interfaith Solidarity. Before I even began reading Ali’s article I was reminded how polarizing movements can become when people group themselves across aisles to fuel to a divisive subject. Here’s a short excerpt from Dilshad’s article, but it is by no means a summary: Continue reading Why I, a Christian, Chose to Wear a Hijab in the Name of Interfaith Solidarity
I love you, terrorist.
You have a name, like I do.
You were once a child. We both were, once.
Perhaps we’ve shared the same joy that comes from riding a bicycle. We’ve shared the same flavors of favorite foods, the beauty of sunsets, the feeling of joy while playing a fun game.
We’re both human. We share the same stars, moon, sun, and earth. Our bodies work in much the same way. Food and water nourishes us and sleep invigorates us.
We both have parents and families that taught us how to discern right from wrong until we grew old enough to explore different sets of ideas and ways of thinking.
There are people in our lives we love so deeply whose losses we would grieve terribly should anything happen to them. Perhaps you’ve known grief at a young age, like me.
We are more alike than we are different. Continue reading I Love You, Terrorist