As I was saying earlier, I went to an open house yesterday at the Nashville Islamic Center. It was, I think, a good thing. The group really seems to bend over backward to reach out to the community and decrease the level of misunderstanding that people have about Islam. It lasted about two hours; there was a series of speakers and recitation (chanting) of verses from the Qu’ran. There was a pretty large crowd too. I met a few people there and it was a good way to get out into the my new community early.
Anyway, while I was there I met a reporter from the Tennessean (that’s Nashville’s newspaper, btw). We struck up a conversation about the event and she asked me if she could ask me a few questions about the occasion. You can see the results here.
I’ve never been interviewed by a newspaper before. So the whole experience set me to thinking about self-presentation in TV and newspaper interviews. We had our initial conversation before the presentation and she asked if she could speak to me afterward. So while the presentation was going on, the urgency to have something pithy, relevant and not dumb-sounding was playing in the back of my mind. When time came to talk, I said what was on my mind and then fretted the rest of the day hoping that I had made myself clear. I’ll let you all (my devoted readers 🙂 ) be the judge of that. Please, share your thoughts with me and with the rest of us.
Other issues came to mind afterward. I’ve been thinking alot recently about the issue of interfaith dialogue. Spending time this summer reading the Gospels with a new Jewish friend of mine and exchanging ideas about the differing ways that our traditions see God and the world has convinced me that things like this open house can extremely helpful.
While at the open house, I also met some people from the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. They were out front at the Islamic Center, registering people to vote. It’s an organization seeking to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees in TN. It’s a tough task right now. I’ve only been here about a week now but it’s not hard to see the way that election year politics has poisoned the atmosphere for the immigrant community. There are so many local politicians seeking votes on a platform of fear and prejudice regarding immigrants, in particular the Hispanic community. I would ask all of you to pray for the immigrant community in Nashville and everywhere. Pray that our churches will step forward to help and to welcome new arrivals in our country and do something to alleviate their suffering.