Years ago I when I was hanging around the university system – teaching for money and taking courses for free – I decided to learn a little bit about Islam.
So I took a couple of courses on Islamic history. I didn’t learn enough to become a theologian, but did learn enough to question the beliefs of extremists and terrorists who claim to be Muslim. My own upbringing has given me enough Christian doctrine to question their Christian counterparts in the US and other parts of the world.
At semester’s end of one course our final assignment was to bring a traditional Middle Eastern meal to class, to share with everyone. I don’t cook. I’m one of those people who can barely fry water and who uses a smoke detector as a kitchen timer. My meal would have set the cause of interreligious relations back a thousand years or so – or accelerated it to where it is today.
While I’d rather read a menu than a recipe, the course called for a home-cooked meal. Thankfully I’ve got a good friend who is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. She’s Jewish. I called her and we had a good laugh over the reason for my request. Then she called the Lebanese Christian professor’s Muslim wife for suggestions. We found out, to no great surprise, that the ingredients, cooking techniques etc. were pretty similar. Identical in each culture, to be truthful.
The meal was wonderful, a great conclusion to an excellent course. The “A” grade was nice, but the learning, laughter and love we all shared with each other mean more to me than the finer points of theology that I may or may not remember all these years later.
Is there a way to get antagonists – in any field – not just to eat together, but to prep, eat and clean up together? To work together for common goals instead of separately for selfish ones? We all know that logic is a construct we use to make excuses for what our emotions tell us to do. Can we find ways to share good times with those we think we disagree with?
Or am I a dreamer?