Our daughter Molly has just earned her Ph.D. in theological ethics from a seminary whose students and professors come from three faiths: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. The seminary does globally important work facilitating interfaith dialogue, often behind the scenes, at the highest levels of political and cultural divides.
Early in her course work, I sat in with Molly on a Jewish history seminar and a workshop on interfaith dialogue, both led by a Jewish professor whose son had been a soldier in the Israel army–that is, a professor whose personal life is as deeply invested in his subject and his faith as is his scholarship.
The students of this devout Jew included five young Muslim women newly arrived from Israel’s restive neighbor, Syria; a Pakistani Catholic whose Christianity made him the target of those exploiting his Muslim government’s blasphemy laws; Molly, who, at the ripe age of 27, is an Episcopal priest in a World Wide Anglican Communion fractured over the issues of female bishops and same-sex marriage; and me.
I brought to the table some experience preparing for and teaching a high school Literature of Genocide class, a relatively brief stint as a teacher in the Middle East, and a long history as a member of a privileged race and culture whose powerful entitlement and unchallenged authority had, in my life up until then, largely been invisible to me.