The Other

The Unseen Life of Refugees in Greece

Sitting on the floor of my Afghan friend’s small apartment, our mouths watered as the smells of turmeric and basmati rice covered in hot oil and salt floated from Masuma’s kitchen. Stuck in a never-ending game of UNO with her…

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Be Not Afraid

We don’t know quite what else to do We have all our beliefs But we don’t want our beliefs God of peace, We want you. –Aaron Weiss   I have irrational fears.   They used to be small–pumping my own…

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Life in Za’atari: One Month in a Refugee Camp

I remember seeing the images, pictures of children covered in dust, debris, and blood. The 2015 photograph of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, who drowned during his family’s flight to Europe, left me devastated. More photographs followed, images of devastation…

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Inhabiting Instead of Defending

I’m making dinner when a group of strangers comes tromping through my garden to the back pasture where the steers and pigs live, stopping first to see what I’m growing in the garden. My dog is barking at them. He’s…

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The Refugee Down the Pew

Sitting down the pew from her, you wouldn’t be able to tell. She’s got a small scar on her cheek from a fight with a boy in camp. She has another on her knee, the result of a fall as…

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The Choice Between Life and Death

Let’s talk about evil. Sometimes folks accuse people who want to abolish the death penalty of being unrealistic, utopian, or oblivious to the fact that evil is real. What do we do with someone who is a threat to society?…

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Starved for Beauty

I was nervous the first time I met the men. Possibly even afraid.   They were behind bars. Locked up in a maximum-security facility. Separated from society because they had done bad things. And most of them were going to…

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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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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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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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