Essays

Short personal, cultural, and journalistic essays for those on the margins of faith

The Physical Nature of Faith

Women wrapped in stunning, bright fabrics kneeled on individual carpets. I sat on the floor, and children toddled around us all. This section of the mosque—designated for women only—was reverent, but filled with the buzzing hum of prayers, occasional whispers,…

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The Skeptic’s Guide to Spiritual Practices: Prayer

Last week I started watching Netflix’s new adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. I was skeptical. Having been raised on the 1980s version starring Megan Follows, I couldn’t fathom another actress embodying the iconic role of Anne Shirley in quite…

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The Daughter of Muhammad

When Zain and I first met at Virginia Commonwealth University, she introduced herself as a Pakistani American and an ethnic Pashtun. Her family’s origins are in the Swat Valley. “Have you ever heard of it?” she asked me. “It’s the…

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Growing Up with Buddhism

What I want to tell you about my childhood is how good it was. My parents were American Christians, but they weren’t afraid of other cultures. The very reason we went overseas was that they fell in love with the…

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Not Defined by Our Broken Parts

Paul calls me on an ugly day, the sky an even, dull gray and leaking onto my window. The connection is patchy and there’s background noise on his end. But even with this, I can hear the anxiety in his…

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My Christ-like Muslim Neighbor

We moved into our home three years ago. We immediately got to know other people in the neighborhood; most of who actually attended our church down the street. Having a built-in Christian community was nice. We shared faith and ideologies….

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Dinner with a Muslim Sheikh

  On an otherwise normal Friday night, I found myself on the peninsula that gave birth to Islam. In a neighborhood in Muscat, Oman, I sat cross-legged beside a Muslim professor of Sharia law. I was a long way from…

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Searching for a Faith Like Summer

He died during finals week. I was 20 years old and a college sophomore. Somewhere between articulating in paragraph format Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid and Eric Fromm’s Eight Basic Needs, my childhood hero passed away.   George was my fourth grade…

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As American as Baseball and the Qur’an

On a hot, sticky, spring night in South Carolina, I finished umpiring a Little League baseball game and sweating through the subjective equity of balls and strikes. After navigating the competitive juices of nine- and ten-year-olds (and their mild-mannered parents!),…

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Loving My Muslim Neighbor

“They aren’t even Muslim!” Mohammad said angrily.   My family had been getting to know the Syrian family who immigrated to Michigan as they ran from war and ISIS.   “They kill and drive innocents from their homes. We had…

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