Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bridging Cultures Initiative

How very exciting that SLFL is participating in Bridging Cultures initiative! This is an effort supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities that works to engage “the power of the humanities to promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.” This effort is being provided in collaboration with the American Library Association.

          “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys is a scholar-led reading and discussion program designed to foster opportunities for informed community conversations about the histories, faith, and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the United States.” The talk is designed around five books (you can find the list of books on the SLFL website here: and is organized into five themes. There is also Muslims Journey website that is available for participants that is devoted to enhancing understanding and generating ideas and thinking surrounding interaction with the five books. The website “offers online resources, including essays, videos, primary resources, interpretive articles, and suggestions for further reading.” The website can be found here:                      

          The introductory talk starts tomorrow, Monday, September 16th at 2pm in the Dickert room and thereafter will be held on the third Monday of the month at 2 p.m. I only wish I could be a part of this!                      

          This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Living in Minneapolis, MN there is a very large Muslim Somali population. In fact, my next-door neighbors are Somali and it has been a wonderful blessing and full of “teachable” moments as we have interacted and learned from them. The Muslim faith includes many diverse and unique people groups that offer unique perspectives on life. It is unfortunate that much of what is known about Islamic culture in America is what is gleaned from the news, but it only paints one side of the story and is often centered on chaos and conflict. The fact is Muslims are people who live very real lives and have experiences common to all humanity. My neighbors’ lives are not centered on war. They are a culture within a culture, living out their lives and faith much like anyone else.                     

          Just the other day on 9/11 my children and I were remembering all whose lives were affected by the tragic events on that day. One story was particularly impactful for my son because of a memorial at the Mall of America (our local mall). It was the story of Flight 93 and how the actions of the passengers and crew thwarted the attack on the U.S. Capitol. My son said, “Mom, that’s what I call a hero.” A part of that conversation was the question, “why?” As I was answering that question to the best of my ability, I was very conscious of making sure my children understood the fullness of the Islamic community. I did not want them to have one, very narrow, view of Islam but to put the actions of a very small part of extremists into the larger, much richer, Islamic community. I wanted them to understand that our neighbors are peaceful people, as are the large percentage of Muslims, and that they are living their life just like us: working, going to school, loving family, creating, investing in the community, and playing. This is the kind of information I hope everyone knows and the reason I am so excited that SLFL is spreading the knowledge as a part of Bridging Cultures

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