Do you remember Morgan Spurlock? He was nominated for an Academy Award for Supersize Me back in 2005. Well he began a series in 2005-2006 called 30 Days that ran on FX. Sarah & I were looking for a new TV show to watch on DVD and picked it up. It is amazing and one of the most educational and eye-opening shows around. The basic premise is that someone does something completely different for 30 days to step into the shoes of someone else in society or into the shoes of some other societal situation. So a Christian from WV lives with a Muslim family and practices Islam for 30 days, an Atheist lives with a Christian fundamentalist family for 30 days, a couple live on minimum wage for 30 days, etc. I know it’s an old show by now, but if you haven’t seen it, pick it up. It certainly makes me a lot more careful not to stereotype and to watch what I say about other people’s religion and culture.
In the most recent episode we watched, a Christian man lived with a Muslim family for 30 days. It was interesting to see, first of all, his pyschological conflict as to whether he was able to pray the prayers since he was a Christian. He didn’t know if that violated his own faith. More than that thought, it put a face to a nameless label. There were plenty of Muslims living daily lives in Dearborn, MI, just like any American. One thing was different however – the self-discipline. I was very impressed by their self-discipline and the practice of praying five times a day. That seemed to help them keep their focus on God. It is certainly something I could learn from.
There was one poignant point made by one of the teachers when the Christian was wrestling with whether it violated his faith to participate. He insighfully said, “You’re here to learn, not to believe.” I think this is a very helpful statement when dialoguing with people of other faiths. Rather than get offended, remember that most people aren’t trying to convert, only to have you understand. So instead of being close-minded and defensive, we should try to remember that we dialogue to learn, no one said we had to believe. Sometimes our fear of lack of faith on our own part leads us to dismiss out of hand the faith of another.