Rachel Pieh Jones

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Are You Afraid of Toddlers? Dogs? Muslims?

*This post was first published at SheLoves Magazine in 2015. Many years ago, sadly we have not come very far and it is still relevant. 

A Catholic, a Protestant, and a Muslim. Kenyan, American, Somali.

Are you afraid of your toddler? Are you afraid of your dog?

Are you afraid of Muslims? I say “Muslims” instead of “terrorists” because, as media outlets and Franklin Graham apparently want us to believe, the two words are synonymous.

Franklin Graham seems to believe we should be afraid of Muslims and that we are at war with Muslims both in the US and abroad. A few weeks ago he said immigration needs to be closed to Muslims, that we are under attack. He isn’t alone in this kind of ignorant fear-mongering. Over 160,000 people liked his Facebook post.

In the United States in 2013, three people were killed by terrorists (who were Muslim), all three at the Boston Marathon. That same year, five people were shot by gun-wielding toddlers, and about 34 died of dog bites.

Why didn’t Graham insist we prohibit toddlers inside our borders? Why hasn’t he called for a moratorium on dog ownership?

I think I know, partly, why. He is comfortable with toddlers and dogs. But he might not know many Muslims. We fear the unknown. We fear the unfamiliar and we fear difference.

 

 

But our faith calls us to not be afraid and to live a life of love, which casts out fear. We are to welcome the stranger, care for the outcast, bless the foreigner or alien.

Carl Medearis wrote to Graham: If “Muslims” are your enemies, it’s clear what Jesus calls us to do with enemies.  And if these “Muslims” are your neighbors (and many of them are), it’s clear what Jesus asks us to do with neighbors.  Either way I think you’re stuck. You gotta love em.   

And Marilyn Gardner wrote: To build relationships with people of other faiths is not compromising our faith. Rather, it’s living out a faith that is not threatened but firm.

I think as Christians get to know Muslims on an individual basis they will discover Muslims also grieve when Marines are shot, they also are horrified when marathoners are bombed, they reject violence.

Graham’s inflammatory words only increase fear and divisions. This is not the way of Jesus or the Kingdom.

Discussion:

  • How can we help each other move from fear to faith?
  • How do we speak up about the fear-mongering about Islam? How do we prepare ourselves to speak truth and love in the face of fear?
  • How can you grow in building a cross-religious friendship?

For more:

Carl Medearis: An Open Letter to Franklin Graham

Marilyn Gardner: Dear Mr. Graham, Let Me Introduce You to Some Friends

By |September 22nd, 2020|Categories: Faith, Islam|1 Comment

Go Back to the Broken Places

*A post from 2014, reposted. It feels still relevant and I hope it encourages all of us that we can find beauty and hope and perspective even from our painful experiences. What will we think about this pandemic period when we look back from ten years after? How will we be different? How will we be better?

somalilandTwo weeks ago I was in Hargeisa, Somaliland. For the first time since we evacuated in 2003.

I haven’t written publicly about it yet because I didn’t know what to tell you. It felt both normal and terrifying, right and humbling. I was surprised at the physicality of my response to returning. I hadn’t expected to feel so much anxiety, so much hyper-vigilance that in retrospect seems laughable. Probably the suicide bomb in Djibouti two weeks prior didn’t help. Probably the al-Shabaab attack on people watching the World Cup in Kenya, while we were in Hargeisa didn’t help. Probably the way we left in 2003 didn’t help. Probably my own cowardice, weak faith, and the way I have gotten comfortable in Djibouti didn’t help.

But spending a week in Hargeisa did help. Some things have changed, many things have not. But the longer we stayed, the looser my tense shoulders became and I experienced fewer wild images (completely in my own mind) of violence that made my heart race.

The week was a mix of market trips, women’s gym hours, delicious food, remembering how to tuck a headscarf, ideal weather, my fifteenth wedding anniversary, Tom spending hours and hours completing his PhD research, and a hike up one of the hills known as the Girl’s Breast.

There are so many things to share, to reflect on, to say. But for now, I’ll leave you with one thing: Go back.

When something scared you and wrecked your dream and changed your life, and when you are healed and holding a new dream and thankful for the way life changed, go back to that broken place.

What was shattered just might be redeemed. You’ll likely still bear a scar, you always will. But in Bev Murril’s words, it is a scar of honor and you might be surprised at the stories you discover, the gifts you’ve been given, through that very pain.

somaliland2

You might find a slice of beauty there.

 

By |September 18th, 2020|Categories: somalia|Tags: , , |8 Comments

Announcing The Expat Cookbook!

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(Anyone who pre-orders the Kindle book and sends me a copy of your receipt will receive a free e-copy of Djiboutilicious. If you order the paperback and send your receipt, I will send you a free e-copy of your choice: either Djiboutilicious or The Expat Cookbook.)

Right now feels like a really weird time to talk about launching a cookbook that is geared toward those of us with international lifestyles. Who is traveling? Well, me, for one. We got home to Djibouti last week (after a 30-hour flight wearing masks and plastic face shields curtesy of Qatar Airlines and a 3-hour wait at the Djibouti airport for spit tests – negative).

The Expat Cookbook could come off as tone deaf. I understand that. I made it a long time ago, before Covid changed our lives. I could have sent it out into the world back in April but the world had broken and I just couldn’t do it. So I shelved it.

I decided to release it in October because maybe you know someone who will travel abroad or move abroad in the new year. Maybe you will be heading back to your host country and want some fresh ideas. Maybe you, like me, just have a lot of hope. I’m releasing this book in hope.

Hope that the planet finds healing. Hope that these recipes are delicious. Hope that this book will help you feel good about what you feed your family. Hope that what is in here will take a little pressure off decision-making and all the work of expat living. Those are small hopes compared to the first one. But we must keep going, making things, living our lives.

Recipes include things like overnight oats like 15 ways and about a million, okay more like a dozen, ways to spruce up pancakes or waffles. So many smoothies. So many ways to make popcorn more interesting. So many ideas for what you can bring on an airplane and how to pack it. Ideas for what to bring camping or hiking, what to eat at the office if you don’t have a fridge, what kind of food can you put in a box and mail to someone you love on the other side of the planet because we all know that food=love.

Anyone who pre-orders the Kindle book and sends me a copy of your receipt will receive a free e-copy of Djiboutilicious. If you order the paperback and send your receipt, I will send you a free e-copy of your choice: either Djiboutilicious or The Expat Cookbook.

Also, I’ve put the book on Payhip as well, this is a digital version only. The difference between Payhip and Amazon ordering is that I receive a much larger percentage of the price (rather than so much of it going to Amazon). If you order from Payhip, the same deal applies as above. Just let me know and I’ll send you Djiboutilicious.

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Book Club Time

It seems everyone is starting online book clubs these days and I’ve joined the crowd.

At Do Good Better we will be discussing Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World, by Dr. Anu Taranath. The book is immensely practical and also thought-provoking and challenging. You can’t read it and not be changed and I knew when I started chapter 1 that I wanted to read it in a group, to better engage with the ideas.

To find out more about how the book club will work and how you can join us (including joining us for a Zoom call with the author at the end of our time reading), go to Do Good Better. You’ll also discover what list this book made that is absolutely incredible and makes me even more excited to read it and talk with the author!

Ethical Storytelling Podcast Interview

I had the honor of talking with Genelle Aldred of Ethical Storytelling way back in December, a million years ago.

I barely remember what we talked about and am adamantly against listening to my own podcast interviews when they come out. So I couldn’t tell you what this is about specifically, but generally, I can tell you this is about how to tell stories of local people with honor, dignity, and respect. How to highlight their voices and not mine, how to let others shine.

I can also tell you that this interview comes out as the final in a series that started with Lisa Sharon Harper. Yes. Lisa Sharon Harper. I can’t even believe I get to follow her. If you listen to anything, go back and listen to her interviews in this series. She is so wise and speaks truth, I could listen to her all day long.

Click here to listen to my interview with Genelle.

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