Last week the hubs and I went to a dinner at Wichita State University, hosted by Interfaith Ministries.
My husband had done some work with an engineering professor at the university. The professor, a Muslim had asked my husband a few questions about his Christian faith.
He was an organizer of this event, that has been ongoing for 10 years,
and thought we might enjoy it.
I did not know what to expect.
The food was fabulous... WSU put on the dog, or at least the puppy. No Bordeaux or Chianti as this appeared to be a Muslim sponsored event.
There was hummus and warm pita bread set out on tables. Hummus is a staple in most restaurants here.
Still surprised by the ethnicity of Wichita... the Greeks and Lebanese have found a home in the wild west.
The speaker, a Muslim best selling author from Turkey. He has done it all in the speaking, writing world, from NPR to Ted-Talks.
Well spoken and desiring to put to rest some of the misconceptions of the Muslim faith. Along with that, he was quick to add some of the grossly heinous crimes carried out in the name of Islam.
He condemns and also points to extreme people doing extreme things. His book is titled,
Islam Without Extremes.
He did not speak of the stoning of women, marriage of young girls, or lack of access to education.
Somehow, I thought these would have been important but maybe time did not allow.
He openly shared that he believes there is a freedom deficit in the Islamic world and my favorite words he spoke... You cannot institute a faith. You can only propose a faith.
There was a short, too short question and answer time.
An Indian man with a thick accent asked a question.. which ended up a long dialogue on his thoughts... on what, we were unsure. Awesome.
An older french gentleman asked if the author was aware of certain groups with Islam ties in France. The author did not. I don't think they were nice groups. Could be wrong here.
Then my favorite.
A man. A Black man with the most beautiful deep baritone voice and beautiful smile... A man that looked like he might have been a left tackle for the Chicago Bears...
asked a question.
"How Does Love Fit In Your Faith?"
The author hesitated a minute.
He shared that in the Muslim faith there are 99 characteristics of God and love is one of them.
He said his faith could do a better job with love, instead of focusing on the negative. He said it should be talked about more, shown to others more...
I could see he was feeling certain that love needed to be a main characteristic of his faith, but had missed the mark.
I appreciated his words and uncomfortableness in this discussion.
We have all missed the mark when it comes to love in our faith walk.
Love needs to be at the forefront of faith...
or we are a clanging cymbal and banging gong.
When I think of how love fits in my faith, it is this.
God Is Love. It is not one of His Characteristics. He IS Love.
My takeaway is this...
While I may have disagreed with some of his statements, I came away informed on some issues. I realize you can't blanket statement a culture or a people.
I've met some ugly Christians, Jews, and atheists.
I've met some beautiful Christians, Jews and Atheists.
We are individuals.
While I believe it is difficult to come together as religions, without undermining and watering down our own beliefs, I do believe we can love one another, sharing deep respect for one another, as people.
We do not have to agree when it comes to our faith differences, but we do need to love, and it can be done.
And Love Has Everything To Do With It.
Just ask Tina.