Our postmodern world has many allowances. Free thinking individuals have been set free from the constraints of rationality. No longer does one have to have consistency or coherence in their beliefs or practice. Cognitive dissonance is a thing of the past being such that cognition need not create problems with regards to your faith or practice. Syncretism is in. You can take “the best of” from the various belief systems at the smÃ¶rgÃ¥sbord of reality.
“I am both Muslim and Christian.” These are the words of Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, Episcopal priest and former director of faith formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.Â BeingÂ emotionally struck by a Muslim prayerÂ 15 months ago, Redding converte . . . no, Redding synchronized her Christian faith with her newly found Muslim faith. Indeed, there is no need for conversion anymore when one can simply add one faith to another.
Hanging in her car, ReddingÂ has a cross.Â Beside this cross,Â she has a leather heart with the Arabic symbol for Allah marked on it. “For me, that symbolizes who I am,” Redding said. “I look through Jesus and I see Allah.”
The article that broke this story says that both Muslim and Christian scholars are mixed concerning this issue. Some call her breakthrough a bridge. Others say they will have to look into this further. Few are saying that this is not possible. Redding, who graduated from Brown University, earned her master’s degrees from two seminaries and received her Ph.D. in New Testament from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, believes that the two religions are compatible. “I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I’m both an American of African descent and a woman. I’m 100 percent both” says Redding. “At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That’s all I need.”
Forget the fact that Muslims and Christians have mutually exclusive beliefs that have defined them historically (does history matter?), forget the fact that they have two distinct definitions of God, forget the fact that they use two different and doctrinally exclusive books that define their religion, forget the fact that Christianity has redemption based on grace and Islam’s is based upon submission, and most importantly, forget the fact that when confronted by Christ’s question “Who do you say that I am?” Muslims answer “A great prophet who was not God” and Christians answer “the eternal God-man who created all things.” Forget all of these issues and many more and then you can join Redding. If you were to alleviate yourselves of the problem of rationality, then you can say with Redding, “It wasn’t about intellect. All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.”
Such is the opportunities of the postmodern world. Itâ€™s not about intellect. Itâ€™s about what feels right. Itâ€™s about free thinking. Itâ€™s about breaking free from the former constraints of the mind, searching for something deeper. It’s about the heart; the heart that calls one to its hopes without consulting the mind; the heart whose cognition regards no source, is the ultimate guide.
What do you think? . . .Â I mean feel?
Such are the opportunities of our postmodern world.Â