June 29, 2023
Below is the statement by GHIAA on the Eid al-Adha Attack on Rep. Maryam Khan. Riverfront Family Church is a member of GHIAA and affirms this statement.
The Center for Leadership and Justice and the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance are appalled at the recent attack on Rep. Maryam Khan after Eid al-Adha observances in Hartford on June 28, 2023.
Islamophobia, racism, and violence against women are scourges that continue to plague our communities. When violence is inflicted against a worshiper gathered for public celebration of an important and joyful holiday of her faith tradition, entire communities are traumatized. When violence is inflicted against a woman of color wearing the garments that express her religious identity, it sends a message of fear to all women who dare to take up space in public, to all persons of color who dare to be present on city streets, and to all adherents who dare to attire themselves in accordance with their values. Specifically, when violence is perpetrated against a Muslim woman of South Asian heritage who chooses to wear a hijab and attends a public religious observance, all Muslims, all immigrants, all persons of color, and all women are left feeling deeply vulnerable, unprotected, and unwelcome. This is unacceptable.
As the first Muslim woman elected to the Connecticut state legislature, and as a powerful advocate for equity at the Capitol, and as an educator in the special ed department at Weaver High School, Rep. Khan is a barrier-breaking leader in our community. But one should not have to be an elected official, or a teacher, or anything other than a human being to receive the full protection and dignity they deserve as a resident of our state. It is a fact that GHIAA and CLJ respect and admire Rep. Khan as a leader in our legislature. And, this attack would be equally repugnant and deserving of response if it had occurred against any other participant in Eid observances this week.
As an intentionally interreligious and multiracial organization, we believe that we are all harmed whenever any member of our community is attacked on the basis of their identity. Be it Islamophobia, antisemitism, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, or any other form of bigotry, CLJ and GHIAA are united in declaring that hate and violence have no place in our society. Such acts are unconscionable and are incompatible with the teachings of every one of our venerable religious traditions.
GHIAA and CLJ stand with Rep. Khan, with the Muslim community, with women, with immigrants, with the South Asian community, and with all who experience fear as a result of this violent act. We are committed to continuing our work for concrete change toward equity, safety, and flourishing for all who are targeted and marginalized by systemic injustice. The many and varied prayers of our diverse GHIAA community are united in common petition for healing of these emotional, physical, and spiritual wounds. May the God we know by many names, including the beautiful name Allah, bless Maryam Khan and her family, and all who suffer fear and violence, and all who join in the work of justice.
The Center for Leadership and Justice
Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance
In this modern age of entertainment, television series have become more than just a source of entertainment; they have the power to touch our hearts, challenge our perspectives, and inspire us to reflect on our own lives. One such series that has captured the attention of many is "The Bear." While seemingly an ordinary show, it holds deep spiritual lessons that can resonate with our faith and journey with God. In this blog post, we will explore the profound themes of trauma, mental health, forgiveness, grief, calling/vocation, and redemption found within "The Bear" and draw insights from scripture that reinforce these important life lessons.
Lessons on Trauma: "The Bear" masterfully portrays the impact of trauma on individuals and communities. Just as the characters in the show experience pain and struggle, so do we in our own lives. However, we find hope in the words of Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." This verse reminds us that God is present with us in our most difficult moments, offering comfort, healing, and restoration.
Insights on Mental Health: Mental health is a prevalent topic in today's society, and "The Bear" addresses it with sensitivity. The show prompts us to confront the stigma surrounding mental health and encourages us to extend compassion to those who are struggling. As we engage in this conversation, we are reminded of the importance of Philippians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The Power of Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a central theme in "The Bear," highlighting its transformative power. Through the characters' journeys, we witness the freedom that comes from releasing resentment and embracing forgiveness. Jesus teaches us about the significance of forgiveness in Matthew 6:14-15: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Embracing Grief: Grief is a universal experience, and "The Bear" invites us to navigate its complexities. The show encourages us to embrace our grief and find solace in God's presence. In times of sorrow, we can find comfort in the words of Psalm 30:5: "For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Discovering Calling/Vocation: "The Bear" reminds us of the importance of discovering our calling or vocation. Each character in the series embarks on a personal journey to find their purpose. As followers of Christ, we are reminded in Romans 12:6-8 that we all have unique gifts and callings: "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them."
Hope and Redemption: Redemption is a powerful force in "The Bear." The characters experience transformation and restoration, reminding us of God's redemptive work in our lives. Ephesians 1:7 assures us of this truth: "In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace."
"The Bear" offers us spiritual lessons that mirror our own journeys of faith. Through the exploration of trauma, mental health, forgiveness, grief, calling/vocation, and redemption, we are reminded of God's unwavering presence, His desire for our healing, and the transformative power of His love. May we embrace these lessons, allowing them to guide us as we navigate our own paths of faith, always seeking to grow closer to God and embody His grace in the world.
The most recent passage our study group has discussed is found in Mark 3. For the purposes of this essay, I want to focus on Jesus’ use of a “parable,” i.e., a metaphor, and the response to Jesus by his family and by the religious authorities. In his explanation of his mission, Jesus says that “no one can break into a strong man’s house and make off with his goods unless he has first tied up the strong man” and only then “can he ransack the house” (Mark 3.27). Jesus is at this point elaborating on his response to the scribes or “doctors of the law” who have accused him of “driving out devils by (the power of) the prince of devils” (2.22). Jesus’ reply is that Satan has no interest in defeating Satan, but that only a force utterly different than Satan (“the Accuser”) would do this. Jesus identifies himself—and his followers— as the power (“regime”) bent on defeating Satan.
This is a wild way to identify people like you and me: thieves! Jesus calls us to join him in the ministry of theft and destruction. What should we steal? What should we destroy? I am thinking of institutions, traditions, and practices built on, promoting, and producing: alienation, greed, inequality, injustice, violence, and more. Our political system, our economic system, and in many ways, our religious systems need to be stolen away, “ransacked,” defeated.
As Jesus confronts and challenges the religious authorities and the settled and sacred institutions of his day, both the religious authorities and his own family worry about what he is doing (and how it will affect them). His family says Jesus is “out of his mind” (2.21) and the authorities say that he is “possessed by Beelzebul” (2.22). To his family he is demented and to the scribes he is demonic. (“Beelzebul,” by the way, was an obscure name probably derived from a Hebrew idiom meaning “Lord of the dwelling” (or “house”) with reference either to the air, or to the possessed, in whom he, the demonic, dwells.). The religious authorities accuse Jesus of being driven by the Accuser. But Jesus turns the tables on them. It is they who are aligned against God’s purposes. They are captive to the way things are. They resist criticism and change. They brutally suppress efforts at humanization. Jesus tells them he will bind the homeowner and release the captives. His is a rescue mission.
For their part, his family tries to “seize” Jesus. This is a kind of family intervention. He was courting danger and disaster, and they must have wanted to protect him, and themselves, at least their reputations. Jesus has scandalized them. Kinship was the axis of the social world in antiquity. Mark’s Jesus attacks this institution too. Notice that Mark does not offer genealogies as do Matthew and Luke. He is not interested in Jesus’ family line or ancestory.com. In Jesus’ culture and society, one’s identity was all about family connections and to be severed from family was social suicide. Jesus’ challenge to the traditional family and the “family values” of his time is revolutionary and shocking. It should motivate us to ask what about our family traditions and values might incur the same judgment.
Jesus’ challenge to the traditional authority structures, the religious, social, and political orders of the day has by Mark 4, cut quite deeply. He has repudiated the “old fabric” and the “old wine” to make way for a new regime, a new reign, a new order. The fundamental unit of resocialization into the new society, new politics, new order, will be the new family, the community of disciples and discipleship.
Thanks for reading,