I had a very enlightening pilgrimage (as you expected). You will hear more (as you expected).
I am not recovered from my nine-hour direct flight from Istanbul to JFK, then my three-hour van ride home. So maybe I am not so coherent. But I want to offer one reflection for you to ponder. If you think the United States seems like it is descending into a religious wilderness (which it is), do not think it is alone among the nations. We often receive a lot of images on the screen and in other newsmedia of hundreds of moslems praying in the street. It looks like Islamic people are very religious. Some are, of course. But from my scant collection of evidence, I get they are just as irreligious as the rest of us, in general.
We were chatting with our boat captain about the call to prayer blaring over Bodrum. He said it was all pre-recorded and plays automatically. We asked him if he prayed five times a day and he said quickly and dismissively, “Nobody prays.” We were not sure we were always communicating with our Turkish-first friend, so we checked again. He said 98% of the people did not pray. Some of the women were devout.
OK. That was news.
In Istanbul, at the Blue Mosque, Gwen and I were “befriended” by Zeki, a handsome young, light-eyed Kurd. He gave a great tour — both of us shoeless, Gwen in a scarf, me in a skirt to cover up my infidel legs. We asked Zeki how many people prayed when the muzzein called them to prayer. He said 45% — but then he “works for the mosque.” He also told us that women don’t usually go to the little space reserved for them in the mosque to pray, they really like to pray better at home.
I think most of the Christians I know don’t pray, either — certainly not five times a day (unless you count OMG as a prayer). Christians and Moslems alike, at least in the big cities I experience, are all going to the mosque to sell carpets, so to speak, because their god is profit, or at least their god is keeping themselves as comfortable as possible.
I am so glad we are aspiring to something better. Right now we are perspiring, right along with Istanbul. But I hope we will not be breaking a sweat for profit, alone. Let’s pray five times today and see what is happening in the Kingdom of God. Something is happening in post-Christendom and post-Islamdom; we are right at the beginning of a new era of real Jesus-following. I’m excited about it.