Sunday, January 6, 2008

Amr the Hammer and his Many Mangos

Mango Mango Mis Amigos,
No, Spanish is not the official language of Egypy, but Mangoes are the official fruit of Amr the Hammer, our tour guide/Egyptologist.
This is my first post, and it is tardy, but that is only because we have done so much. To hit a few of my highlights:
1. The conversation between Amr the liberal Muslim and Cedrock the Coptic monk was amazing. I had never seen a conversation between a Christian and a person of another religion where the Christian was actually representing the oppressed minority. I have heard Christians talk about persecution in America, but c'mon. This was different. It was almost like the twilight zone. You had the Christian giving generalized descriptions of the oppressive religion in power, and you had a Muslim defending his faith while describing how many Muslims are mis-interpreting their own religion. I don't want this to sound like either one was bashing Islam. They weren't. But it was interesting to see how a more liberal Muslim reacted to a Coptic monk describing Islam in blanketed conservative terms. I have felt the part of the Muslim several times in America when I have to defend Christianity against the mass of non-Jesus like (in my opinion) Christians that get much more media attention. But here, the table was turned. And while the conversation did have a lot of passion, it was always respectful as well. Amr is so great.
2. The amount of ancient artifacts just sitting out in the open for all to touch was baffling at the Egyptian museum. I mean, really...4000 year old sarcophagi just sitting there....right front of you. And to think of the amount of gold and jewels that they retrieved from Tut's tomb, which was tiny and insignificant compared to other Pharaohs' tombs was remarkable.
3. Right now, across the street, in between two buildings, I see a minaret for a mosque. And 5 times a day, we hear Muslim prayers coming out of the loud speakers. In a country that is truly a Muslim Nation, (America is not a Christian Nation) I am allowed to experience a bit of what it is like to live in a country where religion is associated with national identity and civic life. Not just "In God We Trust" on dollar bills, Islam surrounds this country, engulfs this country. It's different and intimidating at times.

That's all I'm gonna add now; but maybe after some contemplative shisha thinking and maybe spinning around for 30 minutes straight, I'll have something cooler to say.

No comments: