From the St. John’s Bible, which may be the only contemporary Christian example of illuminated manuscript work (though by no means is it the only contemporary illuminated manuscript, let alone Bible, today; there are beautiful works within the Jewish tradition of script-work, from Bibles to megillot), to the video on hijab featuring many varied opinions on the wearing of the hair-covering, to the procession of artworks by Lisa Sweet, we’ve had numerous opportunities for growth and learning this week.
There are so many ways to approach religion, whether we learn from a panel of speakers on one religion (such as the panel on Islam featuring Mustafa and Heather), or many faiths (featuring Asmaa’, Slim, and myself), investigating artwork by looking at others or doing it ourselves, writing parables or doing exegesis, or more, we have so many avenues open to us that can connect us beyond our agreements or disagreements on what we believe.
I wish to express something of an apology for not being the greatest public speaker; it is not my forté (though something I am working on), and I sincerely hope that everyone did get something wonderful from it. I know I did. I learned a lot about what can shape a narrative intentionally or not, and I feel that through both the panel and the parable writing (though less the parable), I have realized how much ground to cover I have when it comes to putting across the actual elevator-pitch version of what I want to put across, of what holds a narrative together, and sometimes when you should just wrap up and tie things off. Concise answers in the positive light I actually feel, rather than with the weight of history, truly can change a narrative. From the panels I’ve both sat on, listened to, to the video on hijab, to the other things we’ve engaged in this week to numerous to mention, let alone my outside life (which engages Judaism and Israel on numerous levels), there have been valuable lessons in narrative, in cross-cultural exchange, in civil and compassionate dialogue, and in how to share and express one’s self regardless of the medium you are using.
I see the work of the St. John’s Bible, the work of the filmmakers of the documentary on hijab, etc, as working towards understanding, towards communion with each other regardless of belief, regardless of where we are coming from, and trying to bring us together in a way that heals our traumas, allows us to live with one another in love, in a practical reality beyond ego.