Monthly Archives: March 2020

Socially Distanced Before It Was Cool

In the mountains of southern Colorado where I live, some people originally moved here to be away from people. Social distancing is their preferred mode of existence and recent self-quarantine guidelines require no adjustment to their normal life. I’m guessing that’s not the case for you and hope you’re staying healthy and hopeful in the midst of these crazy days.

Can I pray for you? I’d be honored to. If so, let me know how here

A friend of mine who loves Muslims fiercely shared this observation after testing negatively for Covid 19, but coughing in the grocery store check out line:

“The cashier puts on her gloves. The people behind you move to another lane. One lady puts her t-shirt over her nose. Someone else asks “are you okay?” with a tone you know is not sympathy. People in the next lane pretend like they aren’t talking to each other as they turn their faces and mumble something and giggle nervously.

Days after the retreat of my fever, I took a walk in the park with my dog. Trying desperately to stifle the tickle in my chest, something else brought tears to my eyes:

This is how Muslim women who wear the veil must feel every day.  Like the outer shell tattles on an inner terrorist-that-doesn’t-exist and the whole world is walking the other way with their Ph.D. in “Diagnostics” held tightly against their briefcase of principles.”

Such a vivid picture of what it must sometimes feel like to be “the other.” When we’re on the far side of this pandemic, I pray God will remind me of this and encourage me to close the social distance and try to connect.

But not with some in my neighborhood. They live here so they don’t have to talk to people!!


I really would be honored to pray for you. Please let me know how you’re doing. Thank you.

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Muslim Women Doing What?

Two things that are true about me: I don’t mind a lively debate from time to time and I’m usually ok with things being a little gray.

As a result, I enjoy chatting about the role women can, should, and do play in ministry. What Paul meant when he said what he did about this. And how we’re to deal with it today. In fact, I’d find it fun to kick this around with you. . .in a socially distanced way, of course!

I was surprised (embarrassingly) to discover that Muslims also wrestle with “women in ministry” issues.

Well, some of them do. Others, less so. Hui Muslims in central China began to establish Islamic schools and mosques for women as early as the 17th century. These continued through the Communist crackdown on religion in the 1950s.

Female Hui imams have served as inspiration for some of the women-led mosques emerging in our day. The daughter of a Syrian father and a Finnish mom, Sherin Khankan helped open the first female-led mosque in Denmark in 2016. Though she faced resistance to her plan to become an imam and open a mosque, she contends there is, “no valid religious criticism of us – we are on safe theological ground.”

The Quran, it seems, doesn’t talk directly about this issue. But a hadith (collections of sayings of Muhammad) recounts Muhammad asking a woman to lead prayers for her “house.” The debate is whether that only means the women in her house, the women in her village or anyone who heard the call to prayer.

The sunnah (the written traditional customs and practices) indicates against women leading mixed-gender congregations since there are no examples of this happening.

Finally, the ijma or the consensus of Islamic scholars’ opinions is pretty much, “No can do, buckaroo!” Imagine a bunch of old men agreeing women can’t share their power.

I suspect we’ll see more women in Islamic clerical leadership in days to come, along with strong resistance in some areas. Sound familiar? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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Where Do You Go When Your House Closes Down?

By now you’re inundated with Corona Virus/Covid 19 news. Can I add a super short reminder and float out one idea?

As God gives you grace, let’s resist fear and panic. We are people of Jesus. We don’t want to die any more than anyone else, but our deal with God says death is a transition to something better. I appreciate the relevance to our current situation of C.S. Lewis’s very British, very stoic thoughts on the fear of atomic weapons.

Further, we don’t just resist fear and panic, we engage with bold love and risky compassion. Download my friend Marc Van Der Woude’s mini e-book on how the Church has responded to similar situations in the past.

Specifically, I’d like to ask you to pray and think about this: Universities are closing around the U.S. (Perhaps in your country, too.) In many cases, residence halls are closing as well. While I assume great effort will be extended to provide housing for those who can’t simply “go home,” I wonder if this may be an opportunity for us to step up.

Prayerfully consider reaching out to your nearest university to ask if volunteer housing in the community might be needed for international students. I just asked my local school. It took me about five clicks to find the (presumably) right people to email. (Tweet this.)

Grace, peace, purpose and health to you.

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