Rick Love had me at the first line. In his book review of Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America by Eboo Patel, he writes, “Can a Christian learn anything from a Muslim?” Having just posted on this topic, I thought it would be good to link to his book review both because it comes from an interesting site with Muslim and Christian writers we can all learn from (Middle East Experience) and because it exemplifies what I was communicating in “Can We Learn from Others Different than Ourselves?”
Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
Protestants have a hard time listening to and learning from Catholics. Both are Christians, but we all like to find enough of a difference with others to justify not learning from them. Think of how much more true this is with people from a completely different religion? When was the last time you truly learned something significant in your life from someone of a different religion?
Yasmin Mogahed has written a helpful piece on marriage. We can all learn something from it. What so impressed me though, was that what she shared she had learned from a Christian author. She references Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. In this book he lays out research that says that men most need respect from their wives while woman most need love from their husbands. The problem, then, is that when a husband isn’t loving to his wife, she often responds with disrespect, which leads to unloving behavior from the husband and on and on. It is a cycle that can only be broken when the husband determines to love his wife whether she is respectful or not. Or when the wife determines to respect her husband whether he shows love or not. This idea about love and respect comes right out of the Bible, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).
I love that this Muslim woman is setting such a good example for the rest of us. She knows that she has a lot to learn from Christians. I have seen this first hand in my own life. It was my Syrian Muslim neighbors in Damascus who taught me what it means to be a good neighbor. This was especially good for me to learn since Jesus the Messiah commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). I have always been so grateful for what they taught me about being a good neighbor through hospitality and genuine concern and love for a neighbor.
When was the last time you learned something from someone from a different religion? If you haven’t, why not?
When I was in college, God used The Holiness of God by RC Sproul to rock my world. It was the first book of any theological substance that I had read. Before reading that book my theological understanding of God was about an inch deep. That book was like a meteor that crashed into my world and left a theological imprint a mile deep. It was seeing the holiness of God through this book that started my love for theology. Once I had seen a glimpse of God’s greatness I wanted more. Since then I’ve studied the biblical languages, read the Bible many many times and read lots of other theology books. But it all started with The Holiness of God.
This month you can get the audio book for free from Christianaudio.com.
I’m convinced that one of the most important ways we learn about those who are different than us is by learning from those who are different than us. It is good for Christians to read books about Islam written by Muslims. It is good for Muslims to read books about Christianity by Christians. We shouldn’t be afraid of learning from those with whom we disagree. We should embrace it.
Book lover, Haroon Moghul, suggests some books on Islam that he thinks would be helpful in giving non-Muslims a better picture of Islam. Here are some of the books he listed.
- Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terrorism by Mahmood Mamdani
- The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization by Richard Bulliett
- Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John Esposito
- Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11 by Geneive Abdo
- How Does It Feel to be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America by Mustafa Bayoumi
- The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life by Ingrid Mattson
- Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong
- No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam by Reza Aslan
Muslims have long played a central role in American history. Since the colonial period when an estimated 20,000 African Muslims were transported to America as slaves, through the early 20th century when Muslim immigrants entered the United States from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, to the present day, Islam has been an integral part of the American experience. The founding of the Nation of Islam in the 1930s augmented the Muslim-American population among African Americans, and this group including such prominent figures as Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Louis Farrakhan has had an enormous influence on American life and politics since the 1960s. Since passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, approximately 1 million Muslims have come to America, establishing new neighborhoods and communities in all 50 states.
Few groups are as diverse as Muslim Americans, and yet no other group has been as stereotyped, maligned, or marginalized in American society. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 produced a heavy backlash, transforming the Muslim-American experience in the United States. At the dawn of the 21st century, they are often misunderstood by mainstream society, portrayed as caricatures if they are portrayed at all.
The new Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History aims to rectify this treatment and place Muslim Americans squarely in the center of American history and culture. Written in clear and jargon-free prose, this authoritative reference provides a new and broader, more inclusive approach to American history. Including nearly 300 articles, this two-volume reference book is the first to focus on this critical subject, covering all the historical and contemporary issues, events, people, court cases, themes, and activism relating to Muslim Americans. More than 100 historians, scholars, and experts contributed to this encyclopedia, tracing the experiences and impact that Muslim Americans have had on our nation’s history for hundreds of years. Original documents, a master chronology, and an extensive bibliography complete this illustrated reference.
HT: E-baad-e News
I would recommend that every church at least be familiar with Peacemaker Ministries and the resources that they offer. I recently had an opportunity to lead a group through their small-group DVD set and study guide, and the feedback was very encouraging, with tangible fruit produced.
They have a church resource set, which contains posters, sermon outlines, a DVD, leader’s guide, and small-group participants’ guides. This is a great way to introduce a “culture of peacemaking” throughout the church. A newer resource is a DVD-based group study designed specifically church leadership teams, called The Leadership Opportunity: Living Out the Gospel Where Conflict and Leadership Intersect.
Here are some free online resources that give you an idea about their approach:
Getting to the Heart of Conflict – Conflict starts in the heart. Therefore, if we fail to address the heart in a conflict, then any solution will fall short of true reconciliation.
The Four G’s – The biblical system for resolving conflict is captured by “The Four G’s”: Glorify God, Get the log out of your own eye, Gently Restore, and Go and be reconciled.
The Slippery Slope – A visual tool for understanding the ways people tend to and ought to respond to conflict.
The Seven A’s of Confession – A guide to making a sincere and complete confession.
The PAUSE Principle – A biblical approach to negotiation.
The Four Promises of Forgiveness – A great way to remember what you are really saying (and committing to) when you say “I forgive you.”
The Peacemaker’s Pledge – Complete summary of biblical peacemaking, suitable for churches or organizations to commit to together.
Relational Commitments – A way for a church to make a mutual commitment to work together to pursue unity, maintain friendships, preserve marriages, and build relationships that reflect the love of Christ.
The Gospel of Peace Mirrored Through Peacemaking – A summary statement of how the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the core of biblical peacemaking.
Let me give you a quick outline of one of these resources (go here for the full version). They talk about The Slippery Slope, a very helpful visual for thinking about the different ways we can and should respond to conflict:
On the left side are three responses typically used by those who want to avoid or get away from conflict instead of resolving it. Starting with the most extreme, they are:
On the other side of the slippery slope spectrum are attack responses, going to the most extreme:
In the middle are responses of conciliation, recognizing that the gospel is the key to peace.
The six responses are divided into two categories:
- Overlook an offense
Again, I find these sorts of tools very helpful for providing a grid of responses to conflict.
If you’re looking for helpful books applying peacemaking to various roles and aspects of life, here is what WTS Books carries:
- Ken Sande, Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, 3rd ed.
- Alfred Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict
- Tara Klena Barthel and Judy Dabler, Peacemaking for Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict
- Ken Sande with Tom Raabe, Peacemaking for Families: A Biblical Guide to Managing Conflict in Your Home
- Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson, The Peacemaker Student Edition: Handling Conflict without Fighting Back or Running Away
- Corlette Sander, The Young Peacemaker: Teaching Students to Respond to Conflict in God’s Way
Four Feet, Two Sandals is a great children’s picture book about two Afghani refugees who become friends by sharing in a Pakistani refugee camp. Author Karen Lynn Williams gives this reason for partnering with Khadra Mohammed to write the book, “I was inspired to write this book when Khadra Mohammed came to me with the story about a refugee girl in the United States who wanted to know why there were no books about children like her.”
My wife got this book from the library. When I heard her reading it to our five year old daughter Lucy I was immediately drawn into the story. So I thought it would be fun to read it with Lucy as well and then interview her. Here is our interview.
Lucy, what did you learn about Afghanistan?
Lina had to run away with her mother and two brothers, but Feroza had to run away with her grandmother.
Because of the war.
How are these girls different than you?
They are dressed in different clothes.
How are they like you?
They shared. They moved to a different country. They like pretty shoes.
What did you like about the book?
How they become friends and share the sandals.
Is it a good book for other kids to read?
Yes, because you are learning about sharing.
If they moved next door how could we help them (one of the girls and her family move to America)?
We could share with them. And we could give them a Bible.
What kinds of things could we share with them? Could we share clothes?
Yes and we could give her more shoes.
What about friendship? Would you like to be Lina’s friend (Lina is the one who came to America)?
Yes and Feroza’s too.
Thanks to Lucy for being willing to be interviewed. In fact, she really enjoyed it and kept asking whether I was typing everything she said (full disclosure: I did edit some of her less focused and more wordy answers!).
Here is a video that explains more of the book.
I’ve wanted to read What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert since the day I first saw it. Understanding the gospel is crucial for both Muslims and Christians who are serious about peace for (at least) these reasons:
- It is through the gospel that anyone, Muslim or Christian, can have peace with God.
- Christians ought to understand the gospel because it is the basis for their beliefs.
- Muslims ought to understand the gospel because it will help them better understand Christians (and I believe understanding is a prerequisite for loving others).
Muslims and non-Muslim will find the information in this DVD to be comprehensive and enlightening. This Web Book DVD will serve as the perfect resource for those in search of information on Islam or just need to expand your knowledge.
Free E-Book on Islamic View of the Prophets
When our son Owen was born prematurely we knew that his chance of survival was low and that if he did survive it was likely that he would have significant life long disabilities. He only lived for 20 minutes. We had both Muslim friends and Christian friends imply that it was good he died so that he didn’t have to suffer life with these disabilities. I hated it when people said this, for it implied that living with disabilities was worse than death.
I’ve seen people with disabilities looked down upon in both cultures I’ve lived in: Arab and American. It seems that both “Muslim” and “Christian” cultures don’t do well in understanding that God has made us all and that he has a plan for each of us. He has made each of us, whether we have a disability or not, just the way we are.
When I saw that Krista Horning, a member of our church, wrote a book about disability I knew that I wanted to read it. When I did I had tears in my eyes as I saw the beauty and faith and hope of those with disabilities (Krista has Apert syndrome). Krista writes with profound simplicity, “God loves me just the way I am.” She adds this verse from the Psalms (Zabur), “The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made (Psalm 145:13).
I encourage you all to get a copy of Just the Way I Am: God’s Design in Disability and see the hope that God offers everyone through Jesus Christ.