When a Christian and Muslim met in Paris

Women of faith face extra challenges – within our religious communities and outside of them – to have our voices heardVirgin-Mary-007

It’s the season when nearly a third of the global population is preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I am a Christian and I love this time of year, but not necessarily because of the focus on the Christ child. Don’t get me wrong, I am awed by the doctrine of the Incarnation, but to be honest, I get much more excited about Easter, the resurrection and the idea of a God that can redeem even death.

Rather, what I love about the current season is the spotlight, however brief, it shines on a poor, courageous young girl named Mary. Maybe it’s because I love any excuse to give a platform to any woman typically regulated to the margins of socio-political, ethno-cultural and religious narratives. We gloss over the significance that for at least a few chapters of the traditional Judeo-Christian narrative Mary, a second-class citizen as a woman in her historical period, is given a voice. And her voice is one that not only converses with the divine, but sings of God’s remembrance and provision for the marginalized.

Whether we choose to admit it or not, the reality is that women are still marginalized in religious traditions centuries later. Women of the Abrahamic faiths are still working, not only to speak aloud, but to have their voices heard and recognized as valuable and necessary. I wonder what it would look like if women across faith traditions began talking together about this shared challenge.

In my own recent personal experience, a young woman walked up to me while I was greeting folks during the church coffee hour after a discussion in Paris about women of faith telling their difficult stories.

I stared for a second too long at the dichotomy, she, a Muslim woman in her 20s wearing a turquoise colored hijab holding my book titled, Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith. I asked her name and signed the book. Then I asked if she was a member of this church. I knew the answer but didn’t want to make any assumptions. I am too familiar with being on the receiving end of rash judgments.


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