If you haven’t seen it yet, Zach Anner’s “Have a Little Faith” series for Soul Pancake is a delightful, generous, neighborly, and immensely human exploration of religious belief in all its diversity. His video with Mendy Pellin, exploring Hasidic Judaism, is a good introduction to this oddly beautiful series. In a previous video, Anner visited the Islamic Center of Southern California for afternoon prayers.
Anner is a self-professed “religious idiot” who has no religious faith of his own, but his approach in these videos reminds me of Swedish theologian Krister Stendahl and his “Three rules of religious understanding”:
1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.
2) Don’t compare your best to their worst.
3) Leave room for “holy envy.”
Hospitality is not always evangelistic, but all evangelism is hospitality — welcoming the stranger while also making that stranger want to be welcomed. “Practice hospitality,” the apostle Paul said. It takes practice, because it’s not always as easy as Pellin and Anner make it appear.