I had a very interesting encounter on Sunday. McMonkey has been showing some curiousity towards religion lately, so I've been taking her and Banana to a United church close to our house. On our first visit to the church, I dropped McMonk off at Sunday School where she straight-away informed the teacher, "I'm agnostic but I'm here anyways."
Yesterday's service was very, very interesting. The church board had invited Dr. Nadvi, the leader of the Calgary Islamic Centre in Calgary, to speak to the congregation on the basic tenants of Islam, so that we could better understand (and therefore be tolerant of the differences of) the muslim community. I thought it was an excellent idea. I found out afterwards that the Sunday School had discussed what Islam is about, too.
He told the congregation what the basic principle was behind Islam; how it differed from Christianity and Judaism; some of the daily practices; what the beliefs were and the rules for life as a faithful muslim. The questions that congregation members had for Dr. Nadvi centered around belief in Jesus (which muslims do, although they believe that he was just a prophet), treatment of women as lower socially (which Islam does not teach - he explained that this was more of a cultural thing) and whether or not he considered Osama bin Laden the Anti-Christ (which he doesn't, although he does not condone the actions that bin Laden had taken and doesn't consider him to be a true muslim).
Most members of the congregation that day were seniors. There was fear on most of their faces or in their actions, but I was impressed that they had come to hear this man, who (for many of them) might embody "the enemy." I made a point of thanking the minster for holding a service that expanded the group's horizons rather than corraled them.