Jun 17, 2007

a woman of two faiths

Today's religious installment from the Times concerns a woman who has not one, but two faiths.
Redding, who will begin teaching the New Testament as a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University this fall, has a different analogy: "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both."

Redding doesn't feel she has to resolve all the contradictions. People within one religion can't even agree on all the details, she said. "So why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam?

"At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I need."

She says she felt an inexplicable call to become Muslim, and to surrender to God — the meaning of the word "Islam."

"It wasn't about intellect," she said. "All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.

"I could not not be a Muslim."

...Frank Spina, an Episcopal priest and also a professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Seattle Pacific University, puts it bluntly.

"I just do not think this sort of thing works," he said. "I think you have to give up what is essential to Christianity to make the moves that she has done."
Well, which is stranger? Believing that one can be totally Christian and Muslim, or believing that one can be totally human and divine?


Mark said...

Which is stranger?

Believing god can be man?
... or ...
Believing God can be man and that he can't at the same time? I'd opt for the second.

TeacherRefPoet said...

As a parishioner at St. Mark's, I always loved Redding's sermons. She, like the rest of St. Mark's believes in an intellectually active pursuit of God. I'll never forget an early trip to St. Mark's, where Redding said something like "I have a lot of trouble with this reading, so I looked harder and deeper." The idea that our intellects bring us closer to God--I like that.

Sometimes our intellects, and our efforts to get closer to God, bring us in bizarre places that we might not otherwise expect.

I won't be following Redding to Islam, but God bless her for following her mind and heart, even into a paradox.

I firmly believe in a loving God who won't be troubled by our silly intramural disagreements over His nature--and this is one of them.

TeacherRefPoet said...

I was going to post on this, but my wife has done it well, so now I need not. houseofswank.typepad.com

Jim Anderson said...

Mark, If you notice, Redding says the two are compatible "at the most basic level." That, snark aside, is what needs defining.

Jim Anderson said...

trp, here's a link to your wife's post.

TeacherRefPoet said...

"At the most basic level," both worship the God that appeared to Abraham.