Key themes encountered:
Today my wife and I had tea with Dr. Ida Glaser, the former director of the Centre for Christian and Muslim Studies in Oxford, who this past year was a guest lecturer in Houston for my wife’s PhD program. She invited us into her home in the afternoon where we enjoyed fruit, crumpets, jam, and conversation. Being in England, particularly Oxford, religion and politics are always “on the table” for discussion. Of particular interest in our tea-time conversation was the American evangelical understanding and characterization of Muslims and its impact on the church’s ability to coexist with Muslims, let alone effectively connect and minister to this growing population.
Oxford is a remarkable place to be when contemplating themes such as globalization and cultural intelligence. The city is predominated with Christian chapels and relics, not at all by coincidence, yet it attracts individuals of all cultures and religions and incubates the serious discourse of competing and converging ideas that ultimately transpire. The result: a university world-renown for producing many of our world’s greatest writers, researchers, and political leaders.
If this is the result of bringing together and discussing various and often antithetical concepts, I cannot help but wonder how much America is deprived of when faith and political leaders deploy the demonization and mischaracterization of immigrants and non-Christian sects. There are without question individuals and groups who seek to forcefully subjugate other peoples and their beliefs, these we must not allow to garner even a foothold, but many more are the individuals and groups who would seek to live in peaceful discourse with one another if today’s leaders would demonstrate gestures of civility and respect, such as talking tothose of different beliefs rather than ator pastthem. Leaders must help their followers cope with the uncertainties and fears that come with being introduced to vastly different culture groups, and unless there be a legitimate threat to life and liberty not exacerbate their angst.