February 21, 2015 § 2 Comments
There’s an interesting discussion going on at Christianity Today’s her·meneutics blog. It begins with a post by Patricia Raybon, co-author of the soon-to-be-released Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace.
In “A Nation of ‘Suspect Thy Neighbor,'” Raybon writes about her husband’s suspicion upon seeing an unfamiliar car parked in front of their house. She writes that following 9/11, “We’ve become not just a nation of strangers, but strangers who suspect each other on principle.” And then she shares another family story.
Ten years ago, Raybon’s daughter, Alana, left the church and became a Muslim. Recently, while mother and daughter were together, a man saw Alana, with her head covered, and yelled to her, “Go home!”
That man wasn’t interested in a conversation, but Raybon is. In the comments following her post, several readers have responded. Some are supportive. Some are not.
Dagney Reardon writes, “I’m sorry—I’ve having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’m suppose to feel sorry for a Muslim-convert American woman for being subjected to a verbal insult . . .” He compares her situation to that of women in Islamic countries and then refers to the recent beheadings of Coptic Christians by the Islamic State in Lybia. “God has not even begun to give me the wisdom or insight to relate to a person who would deliberately choose to align themselves with a religion that condones such unspeakable horror.”
I don’t usually read comment sections on the internet. There’s just too much vitriol. But Christianity Today‘s policy of allowing only subscribers or registered users ups the level of engagedness and civility. And what I appreciate the most is the willingness of CT authors to answer back. I’m not sure what I would have said in response to the above comment, but Raybon was obviously prepared. “Thank you, Dagney, for your comments,” she writes. “Your argument is interesting. You are right, in fact, about one key thing. No reasonable person would deliberately choose to align with a religion that condones unspeakable horror.” And she ends her response with this:
I’m reaching different conclusions than you. But at least you and I are talking. For such a time as this, talking is a seriously good place to start. Thank you, indeed, for sharing your thoughts. Measured conversations need to happen on these matters. Thank you for taking part in this one. Kind regards, Patricia.
As I’m writing this, Reardon and Raybon have responded again to each other. And to another commenter who disagrees with her, Raybon writes, “Thanks, meantime, for sharing your thoughts. Another view always stretches my thinking.”
I appreciate the “measured conversation” that Raybon has begun. I hope it continues, at her·meneutics and beyond.
(Patricia Raybon, “A Nation of ‘Suspect Thy Neighbor,'” her·meneutics, February 20, 2015)
November 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
Next month, my son Peter will graduate from Missouri Southern State University. As part of his education, this past summer he attended the Summer Peace Institute at the UN-mandated University for Peace in San José, Costa Rica. As a recipient of MSSU’s McCaleb Initiative for Peace, he reported on his experience for the university’s student-run newspaper, The Chart. Following is one of the eight articles he wrote for the paper. I will post another of his articles on Tuesday.
Most of the students at the UPEACE-Berkeley summer program came from backgrounds in subjects like peace and conflict studies, economics, politics, sociology, law and anthropology.
Satoshi Miyatani, a rocket scientist, was one of the exceptions.
A recent graduate of aerospace engineering at the University of Tokyo, Miyatani now hopes to attend graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
But why did Miyatani choose to attend a program focused on peace?
Miyatani’s reasoning goes back two years to an event that was significant for him and for Japan.
On the afternoon of March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima, Japan.
Miyatani was staying at a hotel in Fukushima at the time of the earthquake.
“I have never experienced such a big earthquake,” he says. “The ground was shaking. Everything was shaking.”
Tsunami waves caused by the earthquake battered Fukushima’s coast, even reaching Miyatani’s hotel. The hotel owner drove Miyatani to safety. Thirty minutes after they left the hotel, it was destroyed by the tsunami.
“I almost lost my life,” recalls Miyatani.
For the next week, he slept on a gymnasium floor made cold by the Japanese winter and ate only dry, tasteless cookies.
Before this near-death experience, Miyatani was only interested in developing machines, as most of his fellow engineering students still are. After this experience, he wanted to help victims of natural disasters such as he had endured. He resolved to study the environment and contribute to peace by applying his specialty in aerospace engineering.
Miyatani speaks humbly about his 100-page bachelor’s thesis, which addresses his change of thinking. He describes how satellites can be used to monitor the effects of natural disasters and inform disaster response.
His thesis focuses on the use of many satellites to maximize the information gathered and minimize the time of response.
For the first portion of the UPEACE-Berkeley program, Miyatani says, “Every day I can get a new idea from the lecture.”
His favorite lecture was given by Dr. Bryan Down-Uribe about the environment and climate change. Down-Uribe employed a more scientific approach than previous lecturers, using more statistics, graphs and charts. Miyatani says he was “used to this type of lecture.”
During the field work portion of the UPEACE-Berkeley program, Miyatani went with four other students to work with an indigenous Costa Rican family in Kéköldi.
After a long bus ride toward the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, he and his group hiked an hour into the jungle to reach the research center where they stayed during the field work.
Miyatani says the group worked hard every day— digging and building trails, counting frogs and repairing a bird observation tower.
They also had no electricity during the day time, but “we could survive,” Miyatani says, chuckling.
Drawing a larger lesson from his experience in Kéköldi, Miyatani says, “In the city, there are a lot of things such as supermarkets, Internet, electricity. Everything is useful, but, actually, I don’t think we need to use it.”
Miyatani feels the tension between what he is learning in Japan and what he has learned in Costa Rica: “My major is aerospace engineering, so every day I also study about technology, but there is no technology in Kéköldi.”
“I have no idea how to apply the idea to my life. I have to think more,” he says.
While he is thinking about how to apply his experience in Costa Rica to his life, Miyatani is also planning to commemorate the experience with his work.
As a rocket scientist, Miyatani has launched a satellite into a space and talks excitedly about launching more, proudly declaring what the name of the next satellite will be: Kéköldi.