Monday, January 1, 2018

The return of the Jedi...

For a brief period in 2010-11, I began to reflect on the relationship and intersection of faith and culture (broadly defined). My last post was Aug. 24, 2011. I have recently been challenged by my daughter, who strives to write daily, to do so myself. (I normally say, "when I retire, I'll begin writing," or something like that.) I have found myself being drawn in by her challenge, and have decided to seek to resurrect this blog, continuing to reflect on the ideas and practices and realities that keep me busy day in and day out. As from the beginning, I write mainly for myself, as a way of “processing” that which is important to me; but I welcome you to join me in the journey, to raise questions, voice opinions, give feedback, etc.

To jump quickly over the past 6+ years, in August of 2013 I became Director of a Middle East studies program. In the past 4 ½ years of directing the program, we have welcomed over 100 students into our world, the world of engaging the peoples, cultures, religions, and issues of the North Africa Middle East (MENA) region (and specifically the Arab Muslim context).

Our students come from Christian colleges and universities, and our program by design is a faith-based program. We challenge our students to work through what it means to engage the people (Muslim and Christian Arabs of various nationalities, and Jewish and other Israelis, and whoever else we meet along the way) and issues (Islam, ISIS/“daesh,” “Arab spring,” the Syrian war and refugee crisis, and more) from a “Christ-centered” perspective.

In other words, our program “lives” where we have lived for the past 34 years, at the intersection of faith and culture in the Middle East.

As such, I have the wonderful opportunity of interacting almost daily, over the course of a semester, with 12-18 students, on the issues that most engage me, and for which I began this blog almost eight years ago.

I hope to write and post regularly, insha’allah (God willing).

P.S. The title is related to the fact that I have just become a grandfather, and in Arabic, "my grandfather" is "jedi." I am now a Jedi. :-)

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