But, as you might guess, I'm "playing" you with the title of this post. And the fact that I can do so is precisely the point of this very incisive article. (I'm sure that most of those who look at this blog are also avid readers of Titus 1:9, so I'm doing this for the three or four that aren't.)
Here's a teaser, but I encourage you to read the whole thing:
Reams have been written on the differences between Islamic and Western societies, but for sheer pithiness, it's hard to beat a quip by my former colleague, a Pakistani scholar of Islamic studies. I'd strolled into his office one day to find him on the floor, at prayer. I left, shutting his door, mortified. Later he cheerfully batted my apologies away. "That's the big difference between us," he said with a shrug. "You Westerners make love in public and pray in private. We Muslims do exactly the reverse."
At the nub of debates over Muslim integration in the West lies the question, What's decent to do in public--display your sexuality or your faith? The French have no problem with bare breasts on billboards and TV but big problems with hijab-covered heads in public schools and government offices. Many Muslims feel just the opposite. As my friend suggested, Westerners believe that prayer is something best done in private, a matter for individual souls rather than state institutions. In the Islamic world, religion is out of the closet: on the streets, chanted five times daily from minarets, enshrined in constitutions, party platforms and penal codes. Sexual matters are kept discreet.
As I am finding out more and more, the pocket of America where I now live is lagging a bit. The post-Christian era has yet to acquire significant traction in these parts. Overtly Christian prayer at all manner of public events hardly raises an eyebrow. And I have yet to see any bare breasts on billboards. But I have no doubt that we will catch up.
But on another level, small-town Hoosierland is right in the mainstream. Sure, you can still mention Jesus while giving an invocation at a community foundation luncheon, but ask anyone in the buffet line and you will get near unanimous agreement that religion is essentially a private matter, and if you walked into a co-worker's office and interrupted an obvious time of prayer, it would be nearly as awkward a moment as opening that person's bedroom door at the wrong time.
Does the Islamic world actually have something to teach us?