Dylan was right. “The times they are a changin’.” One change is that Muslims now make up about 1% of the US population—about 3.3 million people. That number is expected to double by 2050. More and more, our neighbors and coworkers, will be Muslims. Will they be our friends as well? What are we doing to reach out to this growing minority?
In an effort to better understand a Muslim worldview, I’ve been reading a series of books on Islam. Ignorance breeds fear and misunderstanding. I recently wrote about one book, Wholly Different, by Nonie Darwish, that I found informative but largely lacking in love and compassion. Well, the book I just finished is filled with love and compassion. If I had to recommend one book on the subject, this would be it! And it’s not just me—Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus won the Christian Book Award for both “Best New Author” and “Best Non-Fiction” of 2015. Continue reading
I debated a long time about this book review. Should I write it? Should I post it?
The book has issues. The author often repeats herself, making the book much longer than necessary. The pain and anger that permeated her early life can be seen in her forceful and unapologetic approach. Her conclusions are certainly not politically correct. Many who read this book will be upset by her claims, and I hate making people upset. Yet, author Nonie Darwish presents both information I was ignorant of, and a viewpoint that I had not seen before. I think it’s important that others hear these facts and consider them carefully. Actually, I think it’s very important.
For years, the church in Europe has been in decline. We speak of rising secularism, and the evidence is everywhere. Soaring cathedrals stand empty, with the buildings for sale. The German Spiegel Online reports:
Dwindling church attendance and dire financial straits are forcing the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany to sell off church buildings en masse. Some are demolished, while others are turned into restaurants or indoor rock climbing centers.
A cathedral in the Netherlands has been turned into a skateboard park. Others are becoming mosques.
Consider someone whose life is filled with incredible hardship. Danger and disease. Sacrifice. Doubt. And yet amazing faith. Grace. Intense joy.
I’m not usually big on biographies. Many of the ones I’ve tried to read have seemed to muddle along, the story filled with inconsequential details the author just couldn’t bear to leave out. But I make an exception for Christian biographies, especially those of cross-cultural missionaries. People who obey God’s call rarely live boring lives!
When you consider Muslims, what comes to mind? A terrorist? A suicide bomber? Or perhaps a woman swathed in a black burka? How about the family next door, or your college professor, or perhaps the engineer in the next cubicle?
Because many Americans don’t personally know anyone who is a Muslim, our mental image may not match reality. Sure, some Muslims are terrorists, but many more are our neighbors and business associates—and perhaps our friends.
If you’d like to go beyond the front page news stories and discover how the “average” Muslim thinks, (if there is such a person), I highly recommend that you read The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross: Insights from an Arab Christian, by Dr. Nabeel T. Jabour. If you’d like to know how Muslims view Christianity, then I recommend this book even more highly. And if you want to move past stereotypes and fear and learn to love our Muslim neighbors, then get your hands on this book as soon as possible! Continue reading
You know when Memorial Day is, and the Fourth of July. Everyone knows that Christmas falls on December 25. But do you know when Ramadan starts? Unless you’re a Muslim, you probably have no idea.
Observing Ramadan, a month-long time of fasting and seeking God, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Just as Passover and Easter move around depending on the lunar calendar, so does Ramadan. The Islamic calendar is also based on the moon.
Christian church bombed in Nigeria. Muslim convert disowned by family.
We read the headlines, and try to imagine, but it’s very difficult to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. We love to complain about the demise of Christianity’s cultural acceptance here in the U.S., but we really have no idea what it’s like to lose our home, our family, or our life for our faith.
One way to overcome this barrier is to read Christian biographies. The dialogue may be fictionalized, but the stories are true. As we immerse ourselves in the book, we begin to identify with the main character. What happens to them? How do they react? How would we react in the same circumstances?
There’s nothing like snuggling up with a cup of tea and a good book, especially with a huge thunderstorm pounding on the roof. It’s even better when you haven’t had a chance to sit down in days, if not weeks.
With my dad all moved into his new quarters, and a huge pile of leftover furnishings and other debris filling our garage, jammed into the family room, and clogging hallways, I finally chose to take a day off. I needed it.
So Monday I sat down with a steaming mug of Irish Breakfast Tea (my favorite) and started reading Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?, by Tom Doyle. When noon arrived I took a short break to make a sandwich, propped the book up on the table, and read several more chapters. Pete arrived home. We reheated leftovers and I headed to bed, dinner in one hand, book in the other. I finally turned out the light around eleven—late for someone who normally gets up around five. And yes, I finished the book.
Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. I’m one-eighth Irish, so it is my right—my duty!—to mark the day with a celebration. I’m not much into green beer (or any other color beer, for that matter), and corned beef and cabbage actually hail from New England, not Ireland. However, having visited the Auld Sod, I can attest that it is very, very green. It is so green that the green grass reflects in the clouds, and they look green! The Blarney Stone (in the castle shown at left) has green algae growing on it (all those kisses add to the slime factor). And green is my favorite color.
Therefore, in honor of St. Pat, today’s blog is all about things that are green.