Monday, August 22, 2005

Hooray! I got some Ink!

I wrote a little editorial piece that actually got published.

Here it is:

I recently received my free copy of the Quran from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). I expected a little pocket size version of the text. Instead, I received a full size leather bound volume, with gold embossed lettering.

I wish to thank Nihad Awad, and CAIR for funding this effort. They obviously care deeply for their cause, and are sincere in their efforts to spread understanding and tolerance. Mr. Awad's accompanying letter requested that I treat the Quran with respect. I assure him that I honor his generous gift.

I have read through the text and was surprised to find that the Quran and the Bible share many of the same stories and characters. Mary, Joseph, Moses, The story of David and Goliath, Noah's flood, and other familiar teachings are found all throughout the Quran. Jesus is referred to 22 times.

Anyone who centers their world-view in Jewish, Islamic or Christian tradition should be aware that all three religions offer valuable primary source material. These texts offer great historical insight into the early civilizations of the Middle-East, and the struggles between different sub-cultures. They share in the same purpose: to offer moral guidance and honor the divine. For me, it became clear that all of these seemingly different religions grew from the same tree.

My criticism is that both the Bible and the Quran are written with the voice of patriarchal nationalism, each espousing their truth as the only right way. I hope that someday people will rise to a higher level of enlightenment, and see that the divine is not exclusive to any one sect. It is within everything, and available to everyone. It is up to us to glean the divine from all we encounter, from the miracle of a seed that grows to a tree, to the teachings of the diverse and beautiful, Holy Scriptures of the world.

Instead of fighting over our differences, I suggest we explore our commonalities.

May the reward of the fruit from the tree of life go to CAIR, and everyone who extends the olive branch of, mutual respect, diversity and peace.


ME Strauss said...

It was a surprise to me too to find out that a Moslem friend knew and honored the story of Jesus. It's sad that a survey of world religions is part of the curriculum of other countries, but out separation of church and state somehow makes us unable to see our way to make it possible here.

ME Strauss said...

Oh and sorry.
Your thoughts had so captured my mind. Congratulations!!!

Kelley Bell said...

I agree, (I think). It is sad that a survey of world religions can not be part of public education in the US.

but, I worry that if it were, it would be abused by those who whould use it to convert or indoctronate young minds.

We do have survey of world religions available at the college level, which is a time when young people are questioning values, and mature enough to evaluate the complexities of such a broad subject matter.

Children do need to be taught morality and spirituality, but Im not so sure that I want to delegate these important matters to my government or public educators.

It is probably best left to parents.

On the other hand, when children are learning about history, sociology, and noted historical figures, I feel that it would be wrong to eliminate religious context and influences from these discussions.

For example, our public grade school put up a large display of the Vatican and the history of the Popes during the recent conclave. They were teaching it as current events. When doing a study of currency, they drew pictures of coins with the words "In God we Trust"

I was O.K. with that, to a point.

What I did not approve of was how the music teacher put lyrics to Christian bible songs all over the walls of her classroom, and emphasised these songs for the big Christmas program. She was obviously using her influence as an adult in a position of athority to encourage the children to embrace her religion.

Another example is the current debate over Intellegent Design. While I agree that the theory is worth discussion, I oppose it in the public schools because I know that it will be misused by certain teachers as a way to promote a specific religion.

When the day comes that the people of our nation show true respect for religious diversity, I will support the implementation of unbiased religious education in the public school curriculum.

But for now, all I need do is watch the old Spencer Tracy movie "Inherit the Wind" to realize how far away we are from that possibility.