I’ve got two articles elsewhere today. They carry the same title, but they’re a bit different. One is an OpEd in the Minneapolis StarTribune:
It may have been the jet lag, but a couple of articles in the Sept. 1 Star Tribune rubbed me the wrong way.
After 30 hours of planes, layovers and passport control lines, I’d returned home from Sri Lanka to see headlines and photos of Christians happily worshipping outdoors (“Summer in the Cities: Heavens above“) and Muslim worshippers being suspiciously watched and photographed by their neighbors (“Cities tread warily on holy ground“).
I am a Christian — a Christian theologian, not to put too fine a point on it — so I’m generally sympathetic to my coreligionists. But here’s what was striking: the Lutherans of Burnsville have been worshipping outdoors, unmolested, for four decades. Meanwhile, the Muslims of Bloomington, only seven months in, are under duress because they’re causing traffic problems in the neighborhood.
I visited Sri Lanka, the tropical island that hangs like an earring off the southern tip of India, at the invitation of World Vision. A Christian development and relief organization, World Vision is best known for its child-sponsorship program, and that’s what I was there to see.
“We always look for connections.”
That’s what the Muslim imam tells me and my fellow travelers when we ask how it is he can partner with a Christian organization. We’ve been in Sri Lanka a week. We’ve gotten the lay of the land. And we’d all been amazed at how well the various religions of Sri Lanka—Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian—got along. It’s even more amazing considering Sri Lanka is just two years removed from a 20-year armed rebellion by the Tamil Tigers.