"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Assalaam Alaikum

I am about 100 pages into the book Three Cups of Tea. Already I'm finding it to be one of the most inspiring and interesting books I've read, yet I doubt whether I would have, of my own volition, ever picked it to read. I admit that the story of an American mountain climber building a school in a remote mountain village in Pakistan sounded like it could be interesting but was not at first much of a hook. And now I wonder why. Was it because I was reluctant to spend my free time reading about poverty in some corner of the world I knew nothing about? Was it because the news has seemed so saturated for so long with Taliban this, Al-Qaeda that, etc. etc. that when I saw the words "Pakistan" and "Afghanistan" on the cover I just didn't think there was more I wanted to know? As if I knew much of anything.

Fortunately for me, someone else in a new little reading group I'm in decided it would be our first book. It is making me wonder if I would / could ever be so committed to and focused on a goal...any goal, whether a charitable or entirely selfish one...that I would choose, as did Mr. Mortenson, to sleep in my car and be hassled by the police for appearing to be homeless, for a whole year, so that I could save as much of my earnings as possible toward the goal. Now there's some faith and commitment. It seemed to come not from any outside mandate on how he ought to live his life, but from inside him. In addition to all the other things the book is about, this seems to me to be a story about true religion and the genuine practice thereof. The something that transcends culture and theology and "isms" of all sorts, that is, hopefully, the common root of all beliefs and practices aimed at promoting human well-being. It seems that a person rooted in this way would be pretty much at home wherever s/he goes, and be able to recognize everyone as a neighbor. As family.

2 comments:

adam said...

Nice write-up. I'm planning to read it as well--maybe with N--but it may have to wait until summer as I'm currently stuck in a chapter called "Cognitive Realms in Middle Childhood" and the DSM IV.

I admire people that can focus so much on a goal, especially in this case when it ostensibly is a good one.

M.A said...

I read it last October. Loved it!