Monday, April 04, 2011

Religious harmony between Christians and Muslims in Fairbanks, Alaska? And here you thought you knew Fairbanks.

From the Fairbanks Newsminer:

About 50 Fairbanks residents from Kuwait, Egypt, Nigeria, the Sudan, Alaska, Pennsylvania, New York, the Midwest and many others places dined on saffron rice, Scottish short bread, American chili, German potato salad, smoked salmon and banana Jell-O and much more at Christ Lutheran Church on Saturday evening.

Zakia Chowdury brought lamb and rice, a traditional food from her home of Bangladesh.

“The dish goes all the way back to the Mughal kings,” she said, referring to the empire that ruled India and present-day Bangladesh from the 15th through the 18th centuries.

This was the first potluck dinner between the Christian and Muslim communities in Fairbanks. The crowd, a mix of engineering professors, students, lawyers, teachers, religious leaders and others, discussed everything from conflict in Libya to gas prices in Alaska to Saturday Night Live.

After a short prayer and a hearty meal, attendants stood up one by one and shared where they were from and what brought them to Fairbanks. They joked about pronunciations and professional and cultural stereotypes.

“This is what world peace looks like, if you could look at it. This is the picture,” said George Riley, a member of Christ Lutheran.

The relationship started when Granata and other Christian pastors were invited to a Ramadan celebration last year. That was organized by Alaska Interfaith Power and Light, which fosters linkages among various religions and other sections of society.

“Both of our religions have a history of trying to missionize and convert others,” Granata said. “It’s not about trying to convert somebody. It’s to let the spirit of God be in our midst and do the work of the spirit, which is bringing people together and closer to God.”

Well I just have to say that after ALL of the crazy stuff that has been happening in my state these last several months, I REALLY needed to read this.

Now maybe somebody can send this story to those people in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just to let them know how much better it is to open your hearts to let the love in, rather than to open your mouths to let the hate out.


  1. Anonymous3:19 AM

    "...discussed everything from conflict in Libya to gas prices in Alaska to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE."

    In other words, we were making fun of sarah palin.

    That, my friends, is a shout out to rational people all over the world.

  2. Anonymous3:25 AM

    What a great story. Hopefully other communities will try this. We are all the same under the skin, just with different beliefs and traditions. Getting together to discuss problems affecting the entire community is the best way to get to know one another. Sounds like this was very successful.I especially like seeing the children there. They will grow up feeling part of a community that is diverse.

  3. Anonymous5:02 AM

    This is going on all over the US. This is what many of us have been trying to say. Gatherings and initiatives such as these are the rule, rather than the exception.

    People who have little contact with moderate mainstream communities of faith are so vulnerable to making erroneous universal judgments based on the most extreme stories which surface in the national media.

    Tragedies must be reported, of course, but the sad fact is that bad news gets higher ratings than good news. Many Americans remain under-informed and confused, as a result.

    I see events like this taking place all the time around my community. I am fortunate that I live in a diverse area, and one that has a complex mix of liberal and conservative activity. It gives me the opportunity to see a larger picture, I think.

  4. Anonymous5:03 AM

    My daughter lived close to Murphreesboro. This is an area that has all sorts of historical markers proudly indicating that Nathan Bedford Forrest passed thru the area.

    Yes, THAT Nathan Bedford Forrest, father of the KKK and the namesake of "Makaka" Allen's son. George Allen even played his hero in the movie Gods & Generals.

    So, no, don't expect the Cumberland to accept those heathen Muslims. The only reason they accept having Mexicans in their midst is because the primary industries are plant nurseries, and you know what good gardeners those people are.

    When Murphreesboro says they're family, they mean it. Most everyone in the are is related to each other. My daughter was never really accepted into her small community even though she's as Anglo as it comes. She just didn't have any relatives there so that made her suspect.

  5. Anonymous5:15 AM

    The best news I've ever heard on a Monday morning. Thanks for posting this!

  6. Anonymous5:22 AM

    Jesus commanded that we love our enemies. And even if you are suspicious of unity, then how about the old saying...friends close, enemies, closer! Good idea to get to know others, for whatever reason!

  7. Anonymous5:38 AM

    This is what it's all about. Why have we never learned to get along?

  8. Lynne6:59 AM

    I would love to go to something like that in Juneau. It sounds wonderful and a lot of fun...not to mention educational. Oh yeah, and delicious.

  9. Tyroanee7:33 AM

    It's nice to see and hear Peace coming from Alaskan.

  10. Gretchen10:05 AM

    Not to mention that those folks who are different from us have REALLY GOOD FOOD!

  11. JenniferinVA11:47 AM

    It's always nice when rational people in an ocean of crazy, make themselves known to one another and show the rest of the community how civility is practiced.
    In displaying their progressive nature, they bring people together and everyone learns something in the process.
    I would love to hear about this happening all around the country!

  12. honeybabe11:53 AM

    thank goodness, a little sanity at last.


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