FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — When Jason Criss Howk’s Army career came to an end in 2015, he thought he’d spend his days teaching and fishing.
But a wake-up call at a Pinehurst library changed those plans. And while Howk does teach, he’s found a new mission, too: Explaining the Middle East, Islam and Muslim culture to a population that has little experience, but strong opinions on those topics.
At times, it has been a combative undertaking.
Howk has spoken at small rural churches across the Southeast and has, on occasion, had to be escorted to his car by church leaders at the end of the night.
But that hasn’t stopped his one-man mission to better educate America and, in the process, help promote tolerance.
His efforts have expanded since he retired. In 2017, he published “The Quran: A Chronological Modern English Interpretation” through Old Stone Press. The book is intended for audiences that have little familiarity with Islam, the Quran or Muslim culture.
And earlier this year, he launched a podcast called “We’re Just Talking About It.”
Howk’s interest in Islam is tied to his experiences as a soldier.
He served as an enlisted paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division in the 1990s and returned as an officer a decade later.