Often in the language of a religious community, any of them, the common terminology for your fellow like-minded theist is that of “brother” or “sister.” This concept appears instinctual in some ways, yet reveals the hope of a family assocation amongst the adherents to the faith. Our time together in Chicago made recall a previous conversation from years ago from a close friend of mine named Fariah, who I jokingly call Farishta from time to time (Urdu speakers, your time has come). Fariah Amin and I became friends when I was a freshmen, and I essentially asked her as stranger, “Look I don’t know any Muslims, do you mind if I ask some questions so that I can learn more about your faith?” However awkward a beginning, Fariah and I became well acquainted, friends, and occasionally partners in crime. At one point last year during Ramadan, we were chatting online about the “greatness of Halal Chinese food,” and how “Cart’s Chicken and Rice would totally be the way to go for Eid al-Fitr,” when she said something that caught me by surprise: “Sometimes I forget Frank that you’re not Muslim.” I paused and comtemplated my response…I was at first apprehension about meeting the Fellows. I assumed I would be considered a heathen at the drop of my first New York-styled F-bomb. Or just an awkward outsider to a group of younger idealists eager to turn in their applications for the Peace Corps directly after finishing their GMATs and LSATs. Wow, was I wrong (someone write that down, you won’t hear that anytime soon again). One thing that I often being in the City (we call NYC the City, bc let’s face it, its THE City;) is that religion is so removed from conversation, I don’t often get a chance to express my understanding of the world from the worldview of my theological understanding. Being that I studying theology as much as I have guitar, its almost as if I moved to the city without any guitars, to exercise that part of my identity. Being amongst others, I quickly find myself. I am a Christian, and that has many different manifestations in my life. However, what I find even more interesting is that we have a community, a community of religious people. A family. Let’s face it, my family-by-birth is my heritage, a common thread, but we are all different. Those variations make the dynamics so powerful. Amongst other religious people, I can see our differences that are to be celebrated, and our community and love of understanding, trying to rough it as a theist in a growingly anti-God society. We have become family…I finally came up with my answer to Fariah: “Well I would rather be your close cousin than your distant brother.” Amen.
My Close Cousin 22 November , 2007