Both of the VanOsses are in school right now – I’m taking Anatomy and Microbiology at Shoreline CC and Ashley is taking World Religions (MR 456) at Fuller Seminary. It’s been fun studying and teaching each other – I point out the lateral malleolus of Ashley’s tibia and she teaches me about Hinduism and goddess worship. School is a cool gift from the Lord right now.
As part of Ash’s class, we went to visit the Idriss Mosque, the first mosque west of the Mississippi River built from the ground up (only built in 1981!). I realized how little I know about Islam and it was really great to learn about it through first hand experience. I was struck by how refreshingly simple the Islamic faith seems, built on 5 pillars (or acts of worship) that require acknowledgment of Allah as the only God and Mohammed as his last prophet, fasting, prayer five times a day, giving money to the needy, and pilgrimage to Mecca.
It was also really great (and convicting) to see the diversity of people, even at the little prayer service we went to. I would love to see that same diversity in our church!
Lately, I’ve been challenged by the line we as Christians need to walk between standing for what we believe are the essentials of our faith while still being gracious and engaging in dialogue with people whose beliefs are different than our own.
Being intentional about engaging different people of different cultures and religions is pretty challenging for me, but if I don’t – wow, would I be missing out on learning just how big the God who loves ALL people really is.
When was the last time you were the minority? When was the last time you were around people who look, believe, or act differently than yourself? It’s challenging to think about the things that intimidate us. Why do they scare us and what would it mean to step into them head on?
(Ashley would also like to note that the portrayal of Islam in Sex in the City 2 is somewhat ridiculous and vastly incorrect on many levels.)