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Iran RPCV Gordon Morrison sees world faiths up close
1626,ECP_782_3093229,00.html, Iran RPCV Gordon Morrison sees world faiths up close
Grant lets rector see world faiths up close
By PHILIP ELLIOTT Courier & Press staff writer 461-0783 or firstname.lastname@example.org
August 7, 2004
# a Syrian mosque, the Rev. Gordon Morrison watched his grandson dart through the aisles, smiling coyly at the faithful gathered there for reflection. He would inch close to them and flirt in his 3-year-old way until the women gave him candy.
"He sort of picked his victims," said Morrison, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Henderson, Ky.
That was the scene Morrison was sent this summer to observe: the peaceful coexistence of Islam and Christianity - and their followers - around the world.
Morrison received a National Clergy Renewal Program grant, funded by the Lilly Endowment, of $42,955. The endowment supported 117 U.S. clergy to pursue scholarship, spiritual renewal or self investigation.
"It let me see, firsthand, how we really can learn from each other and respect each other," he said.
In that Syrian place, where Christians and Muslims alike honored John the Baptist, the two faiths coexisted and respected each other. Muslims and Christians share so many of the roots of their faith that it really isn't an issue for them. It's not uncommon in that country, one of 11 countries Morrison visited this summer on sabbatical.
And it shouldn't be that way in the United States, either, he said.
The former Peace Corps volunteer worked in Iran and later worked in the Episcopal diocese there. During those times, he studied the common beliefs in both religions and how the two shared stories.
But those common roots have produced very different fruits around the world, he said. His travels to England, Scotland, Bosnia, Hungary, Syria, Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Fiji provided stark contrasts. He saw Australian camps where Christians and Muslims were forced to meet each other. "They really haven't been around each other that much."
He saw Bosnian streets where Muslims helped Christians despite an ethic war that decimated the country. "I think the most tragic thing was Bosnia. Every street was potmarked."
He saw Fiji land controlled by an indigenous population and lifestyles cramped by ethnic and religious restrictions.
"I think trouble's brewing there. I hope I'm wrong, but without justice there cannot be peace."
He said he's not sure what his specifically trip taught him.
"I'm still digesting," he said. "I hope our parish will have a greater understanding."
And from that, he said, his parishioners could create greater understanding in the Tri-State.