A man with a long beard, exotic accent, flowing robes and a staff enters the mainstream American culture of Phoenix and becomes a beacon for the most assimilated people in the city. It is as if his otherness transmits an aura of authenticity, spiritual profundity and religious truth.
Something happens in Mexico and I still can't put my finger on it. It happens when we meet among close friends as much as it happens when we meet among family: someone always ends up crying. Why the hell is that?
Yosra objected to the visual representation of God, regardless of the light in which it was being presented, and asked that I shield such things from her view by selectively blocking any similar content from appearing on her computer screen.
Yes, we are all different and the same. And I believe a true religious experience is one that leads us to see our differences as variations on a theme, variations that make the whole even more breathtaking and beautiful.
I caught up with Stephen Prothero, author of God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World -- And Why Their Differences Matter, to chat with him about religious zealotry, atheists, and Islamic pride.
All religions may well be ultimately the same, Prothero's book notwithstanding -- systems of practices and beliefs that share many of the same attributes and values, including, perhaps ironically, that of not being literally true.