Harris Zafar (Twitter) is the National Spokesperson and Director of Youth Outreach for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. He lives in Portland and is a member of the Portland Rizwan Mosque. He has been on national media talking about Islam, human rights, pluralism, and freedom of religion. Harris is the author of Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions. He is my third guest in my series, “Islam 101: Meet Your Muslim Neighbor.”
In the second in my series, "Islam 101: Meet Your Muslim Neighbor" I speak with Joseph Lumbard. He is the General Editor of The Study Qur'an: A New Translation and Commentary. Dr. Lumbard is a professor at the American University of Sharjah in the Department of Arabic and Translation Studies. He was born and raised in Washington D.C. and brought up in the Episcopal Church. He converted to Islam when a student at George Washington University. He has published many articles and books on Islamic philosophy, Sufism, and Quranic Studies. Two of his books include Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition and Submission, Faith and Beauty: The Religion of Islam. He spoke with me via Skype from from Sharjah In the United Arab Emirates to talk about The Study Qur’an: A New Translation.
With the increase in instances of Islamophobia and certain presidential candidates calling for "a ban on all Muslim travel to the U.S.," it is long past time to get to know our neighbors. For the next several weeks I am presenting a series, "Meet Your Muslim Neighbor." Ali Houdroge is one of the founding members of the Islamic Center of Portland at the corner of Denney Road and Hall Boulevard in Beaverton. Mr. Houdroge was born in Lebanon and attended Portland Community College and Portland State University. He worked as an electrical engineer with the army corps of engineers for 31 years until his retirement. He has been managing the affairs of the Islamic Center since its inception in 1993, which serves a diverse Muslim Shia community from Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India.
They went into the wilderness to discover religion. What is it all about? Why are people religious? The adventure is recounted in Dr. Tom Boyd's, Lusting For Infinity: A Spiritual Odyssey. Dr. Boyd is professor emeritus of philosophy and religious studies at the University of Oklahoma. Reading Lusting For Infinity is like hanging out with your favorite professor and talking about all the great, honest, and real stuff you never have time for in class. An important book for those with inquisitive minds and searching spirits. A study guide is available as well.
John Van Hagen is a licensed psychologist with 30 years experience in a variety of clinical, training, and teaching positions. In his book Rescuing Religion: How Faith Can Survive Its Encounter With Science, he offers a way to retain a connection to biblical stories even if the characters never existed and the events never happened. We can go behind the texts to discover the struggles the authors of these texts faced. We find they connect with our own.
Steve McIntosh is a leader in the integral philosophy movement and is president of the social policy foundation The Institute for Cultural Evolution. Steve is the author of Evolution's Purpose and Integral Consciousness and he speaks to me about his latest book, The Presence of the Infinite: The Spiritual Experience of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. Food for thought for an evolving faith.
Robin Meyers has been the senior pastor of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City for over thirty years. He has a strong voice for social justice and has pulled no punches criticizing forms of Christianity co-opted by the religious right. His books include Saving Jesus From the Church, The Underground Church, and Why the Christian Right is Wrong. He returns to Religion For Life to discuss his latest book, Spiritual Defiance: Building A Beloved Community of Resistance. Based on his Beecher Lectures at Yale, Meyers calls preachers to be subversive and defiant for the social gospel.
Following her last book, Christianity After Religion, religious scholar, Diana Butler Bass, returns to Religion For Life to ask, "Where is God?" The answer that many of the "spiritual but not religious" are discovering is that God is in the world of nature and human relationships. Her latest book, Grounded: Finding God in the World, A Spiritual Revolution weaves personal experience and analysis to point to signs of this theological shift.
Rodney Wilson teaches school at a community college in Missouri. He was the first openly-gay K-12 public school teacher in Missouri and founded LGBT History Month (October). He has a master's degree in religion and history and he turned his master's thesis into a book, Killing God: Christian Fundamentalism and the Rise of Atheism. In it he analyzes the responses of 1,600 people who left religion for atheism. He found four primary factors that contributed to their "deconversion." You may resonate.
Twenty-five percent of all the people incarcerated in the world are in America's prisons. 60% of those are people of color. America is a "carceral state." Taking on "Lockdown America" a triad of "police violence, mass incarceration and the death penalty" Mark Lewis Taylor, the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, has written a second edition to The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America. Taylor finds in the symbol, "The Executed God" a "power in and of the people" to resist the state theatrics of terror with a counter theatrics to terror in three parts: "cultivating adversarial politics, creating dramatic actions, and catalyzing social movements."