Tuesday, June 17, 2008

we agree with the queen

"What in the world are we doing here?" "Why have we committed to spending a summer living in Amman, Jordan?" It's not that we ourselves are still struggling for answers to these questions, but people from all over the place continue to scratch their heads and ask, so we thought we'd spell out the method to the madness of our being here.

It's been a while now, but one day, post-9/11, a seed was planted--a seed that eventually produced fruits of interest in all things Arab and Muslim. Times are turbulent, true, but moving in the direction of the Middle East started sounding more beneficial than turning our backs to it. In the context of this trip, we decided to devote about half of it to engaging with the elements of one Arab Muslim society by immersing ourselves in it. On the surface it may smack at being foolish and idealistic to think that it will matter, but we're maintaining the faith to believe in a few ideas:

Real, personal relationships between the West and the Middle East have been replaced by politics and the media, and unfortunately, stereotypes are being enhanced instead of eliminated.
many misunderstandings between those who follow Jesus and those who follow Mohammad have resulted in a rift of fear and conflict.
Perhaps, then,
an open-minded approach to building a bridge between us and the Arab Muslim world through friendship and genuine conversation is important in light of today's global cultural climate, and at the very least we can enrich our own lives in the pursuit.

Jordan is a monarchy (quite a progressive one at that), and at the end of March, Queen Rania issued a challenge via YouTube for our different worlds to be more connected. Below is her optimistic and positive video in the spirit of dissolving stereotypes. In the words of one of my new Jordanian friends, Mohammad, "It's the time to understand each other."


Augustus Rex said...

brother and sister - this is such an encouraging post for me. I don't think you could have stated your purpose any more clearly. With that purpose in mind there is no way you can fail. To see and to be seen... the truth... I think one very wise person said something along the lines of "the truth will set you free." Yeah that's good. I love the video of the Queen; it will be interesting to see especially how the Islamic world itself deals with the polarizing rift between the fundamentalists and progressives that has been emerging in a powerful way since 9-11. I just spoke with friends in Morroco and they were telling me about the King over there and how progressive he is. Strange things are afoot and Islam itself seems to be experiencing a crisis. We are praying for you.

Christy said...

Wow. That is such a great thing that you guys are doing. It's inspiring. They say actions speak louder than words and the fact that you are there trying to break stereotypes speaks very loudly. I too will keep you guys in my prayers.

Tatum said...

Very well said and i love that you found that youtube, it's perfect. you both will have to do a lot of teaching when you come back, because we all need to learn the truth! thanks for taking the step of faith and finding out the facts from the source.

Mackenzie said...

I read a couple great books for my 'Intro to Islam' class at Fuller last summer and thought I'd pass along the titles to you:

The Prophet & The Messiah, by Moucarry

A Muslim & a Christian in Dialogue, by Kateregga & Shenk

hope you're doing well! thanks for all the updates!