Monthly Archives: February 2022

Podcast Packs a Punch

A long time ago I lived in England for a short, but glorious, time. The beauty of the West Yorkshire moors combined with a high percentage of residents of Pakistani descent and the smell of curry wafting down the street made my little bit of Bradford feel like on overlooked corner of Heaven.

So when Ira Glass told me to check out a new podcast called The Trojan Horse Affair about a scandal in Birmingham, England involving Muslims, I told him yes, I’ll listen. He said the fall out of a mysterious letter to the City Council has adversely effected thousands of school kids, mostly Muslims, in England and beyond.

Three episodes in, I’m really glad I did. And I want to invite you to check it out as well. Here’s why:

  1. A local journalist student named Hamza Syed convinces a New York Times veteran, Brian Reed, to help him get to the bottom of the scandal. Their interactions and developing friendship shed light on how life is different for brown and white people. At one point, Brian winces at the accusing tone of a man they’d hoped to interview, “He made me feel like a criminal and we’re trying to do what’s right!” Hamza replies, “That’s my *****ing life, mate.” To his credit, Brian accepts the mirror Hamza holds up to his life.
  2. Another reason to listen is that The Trojan Horse Affair points out differences among different groups of Muslims in Birmingham. It’s easy for me to slide into thinking in terms of “those Muslims,” “the Muslim world,” etc. I’m helped by a reminder that different groups of Muslims face challenges in getting along, similar to the way Christians do.

I’m only half way through, so no guarantees on how it ends! (And note: there is some explicit language.)

To benefit the rest of the Muslim Connect tribe, please share your thoughts on The Trojan Horse Affair. Even better, post some other podcasts that will help us think about Muslims the way God does and love them like Jesus does.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Forbidden Fruit: Why No Wine?

The first beer I ever drank in my life was not at a sneaky high school party or a 21st birthday bash. It was given to me by a kind and quirky old guy in central Turkey while I was coaching a short term team there.

When the team leader and I showed up to have lunch with him, he asked, “You boys drink beer?”

“No,” we answered honestly.

“OK, I’ll get you each two,” he replied, loading empties into a bucket on his bike handle bars and pedaling away.

As I recall, the kebabs he grilled were much better than the warmish Efes Pilsen!

Today, Turkey has tightened its grip on alcohol as part of teetotaling President Erdogan’s efforts to move the country toward Islamic purity. My imbibing cycling buddy would not be happy!

The Quran does make a case against consuming alcohol:

2.219: They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.”

5.90: O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, Al-Ansab , and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan‘s (Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.

Muhammad reportedly said, “Allah’s curse falls on ten groups of people who deal with alcohol. The one who distills it; The one for whom it has been distilled; The one who drinks it; The one who transports it; The one for whom it has been brought; The one who serves it; The one who sells it; The one who utilizes the money from it; The one who buys it and the one who buys it for someone else.” Whew! Inclusive.

There are questions, of course: How many Muslims avoid alcohol in order to feel self righteous, how many out of obedience and a desire for a clear mind and how many don’t avoid it much at all?

And this: Is the Muslim stance on alcohol generally better than the Christian stance?

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

School’s Out For The. . . Riots!

Joy reigned in our house last week when the kiddos got two consecutive snow days! Something not joy probably characterizes the thousands of Indian students whose schools are closed this week in Karnataka due to controversysurrounding whether or not Muslim students can wear hijabs to class.

As you’d guess, it’s challenging to discern where the controversy began. Each side would like to take the moral high ground and say, “We’re only righteously responding to the problem ‘those guys’ instigated!”

As you might also guess, I’m sympathetic to the Muslim side of this argument. I’ve seen first hand how Muslims are oppressed and marginalized in India. There’s also the reality that roughly 80% of India is Hindu compared to 15% Muslim. And the BJP (the Hindu nationalist party to which current Prime Minister Modi belongs) has seized this polarizing issue to enflame passions for their party.

I’m so glad we never see anything like this in the U.S. (wink, wink)

So what, if anything, can a thoughtful Christian do given that most of us are so far away?

You may have better ideas, but here are two things to pray and two to do:

  1. Pray for Christians who make up less than 2% of Karnataka. May they shine like stars of love and hope in the midst of these current challenges.
  2. Pray Matt. 6.10 that God’s kingdom would come in Karnataka. Jesus told us to pray this. May he also give us faith that his answer will be yes!

Two to do:

  1. Let’s examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to point out where we harbor similar hatred and lust for power.
  2. Let’s keep our eyes open for fresh ways to reach out to oppressed and marginalized people in our own lives and work.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How Do We Deal With Dubious Knowledge? 💁

I have a friend who’s obsessively careful about where his food comes from. Avoiding what he calls, “foreign kitchens,” he’s cool with what his wife cooks, but only a couple other friends and family. Well, and McDonalds and whoever makes Twinkies. He had a church friend on the ok list for awhile and enjoyed her contributions at Sunday potlucks. Then he happened to help her move to a different house. Turns out she was a hoarder with super sketchy kitchen hygiene!  He’s tightened down the list!

The trouble with understanding Muslims is there are so many and they’re so diverse. You think you’re safe with some info source (like my friend above), only to find out they have an evil agenda, other Muslims think they’re a dope or they just never wipe their stove.

One thing I do when I want to learn something about Muslims (Like today I’m curious whether or not Allah will be with those in Paradise.), is go beyond reading what Christians say, a good place to start, to reading Muslim voices.

Again, a particular Muslim’s site might represent most of the community or only 18 people and he’s just good at websites and SEO!

Here’s what might help:

1. I’d love to serve as a clearing house for you (I can hear you say, “That’s why I signed up, you goof! I sure don’t have time to survey the universe of Muslim thought! I have a life.) Yes, you do. Let me know what you’re curious about. I’ll do my best to curate helpful info. When I fail, I’ll refer you to number two:

2. I’m pretty sure that what your Muslim friends think is way more important than what is objectively true or generally thought among the global ummah. You’re not dealing with “Muslims,” you’re dealing with Fatima and Siddiq, your friends. It matters less whether or not “Islam is a religion of peace” than it does if they are people of peace.

Like Jesus usually did, we want to meet them where they are. 

The winners of the Fifth Anniversary Giveaway have been chosen (by my seven year old son asking Siri for random numbers!):
Loving Your Muslim Neighbor books: Peggy Y., Melissa C., Nate S., Wesley P., and Jonathan L.
Apple AirPods: Travis W., Amy G.
Kindle Paperwhite: Ric H.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized