Coptic Christians demonstrating after conflicts in Egypt.
by John Bryson Chane
from The Washington Post
As Egyptians come to terms with the near-sweep of the Muslim Brotherhood in their new government, no one is more apprehensive of what this new government means than Egypt’s minority Christian population. The new president, Mohamed Morsi, has promised protection for minorities, but Coptic Christians in Egypt are still nervous about the future. And they are not alone. In countries across the Middle East, life for religious minorities is often uncertain; and as the violence of the Arab Spring continues, these groups remain at risk of persecution and discrimination.
But a gathering of Christian and Muslim faith leaders in Beirut last month gives me hope that religious leaders can play a role in speaking up for minority religions and negotiating conflicts between groups. The symbolism of holding such a meeting in Beirut is resonant and powerful. For Protestants and Catholics to come together with Shi’ites and Sunnis in a city so often shredded by sectarian violence sends a powerful message to faith communities and the world.
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From The Huffington Post
I am of the firm belief that every one of us carries within us something that is marginalized, some trait or piece of personal history that has been (or that we wish would be) left behind or cast off — the malformed foot, the embarrassing immigrant heritage, the emotional scars left by an abusive, alcoholic mother. It is this concept (compounded by an allegiance to Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious) that has led me to conclude that those whom society has cast off as “them” are, in reality, “us,” and which drove the creation of my newest body of work, Golden States of Grace: Prayers of the Disinherited.
Since I began Golden States of Grace in 2003, it has often felt as if our world has drawn increasingly stark divisions between “us” and “them,” be those divides cultural, political, socioeconomic, or religious. Additionally, representations across faith lines have become filled with stereotypes and, at times, outright hatred of “the other.” National and international events demonstrate almost daily that we live in a fundamentally faith-based society that has grown increasingly intolerant of those who do not clearly embrace the narrowly defined codes of morality and religious worship. (The day before I began editing this book, a man with a gun entered a church in Knoxville, Tennessee and shot eight people, killing two. His motive: they were too liberal in that they supported the inclusion of gays, racial desegregation and women’s rights.) This body of work aims specifically to counteract that intolerance, hoping its audience might open itself to discovering (if not experiencing) faith from the bottom up.
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