Tuesday, May 2, 2006

my unexpected interview

So I was at St. Patrick’s Guild Saturday afternoon, buying a baptism gift for a friend's baby, when I ran into a woman Steve and I used to know. (OK, she was our natural family planning teacher, back in the days when we thought fertility awareness and good timing would be all we needed to get me pregnant.) She took note of my big belly, and we had a few excited moments of catching up. I almost forgot that she and I had really rubbed each other the wrong way during those classes.

An older, grey-haired man with a Roman collar shortly joined her, and she introduced us. He happened to be a bishop from Pakistan, in town for the weekend. They had gotten together to talk about NFP stuff, and she was helping him borrow a red stole he could wear for Masses the next day, as he'd accidentally left his at home. It turned out he was staying at the Basilica and preaching at all the weekend Masses there to raise money for his diocese. He was so delightful to chat with in the store that I asked if he'd be available for an interview, and he gave me his cell phone number.

We met yesterday morning, before he left for the airport, in the guest quarters of the Basilica rectory — which I have to say is nicer than many B&B rooms I've seen. (It worked out well for the bishop, too, as I was able to return the stole to St. Patrick's Guild for him afterward. And he gave me a Pakistani pillow slipcover as a gift!) We talked for an hour and a half about life for the minority Christian population in Pakistan, their views of the war in Iraq, Muslim views of Christians, etc. He had some intelligent, thoughtful, and sometimes surprising things to say — all of which are too jumbled in my mind to get anything down right now. Except the story he told about one of his parishioners, a Catholic teenager who was found murdered outside his family's home after it was learned that he had been friendly with a local Muslim girl around his age. She was found dead, too, and common knowledge held that her father had taken justice into his own hands.

Now I'm in the middle of the tough part — transcribing the interview so I can shape it into something readable. It's brain-numbing work, and I'm doing what I can to prolong this break! I'd better get back to it, though.


Liz P. said...

I doubt that you need more information, but if you do, one of my favorite professors at Luther was Pakistani and Christian (not attached to any one denomination...though his wife teaches at St. Thomas too).

He has many stories of being Christian in Pakistan, of converting (his family is primarily muslim), of living as a Christian Arab in America today, etc. He is remarkable. If you wanted I could put you in touch with him. Although I'm sure that you have a lot of info already. I'd love to read the article when you finish.

Liz p. said...

Oh, and he still goes back often to visit his family and they throw him in jail everytime he goes back...so nice of them. While I was at Luther he had pancreatitis and almost died and it basically goes back to damage done getting beaten in jail through the years.

Emilie said...

Goodness, Liz, that sounds awful. Is he jailed/beaten because he converted to Christianity? I just got through transcribing a part where the bishop says some Christian girls are enticed and "sometimes forcibly married to a Muslim, and then they have to become Muslim, and their children are Muslims. But the other way around [eg. someone converting to Christianity] doesn’t happen. . . . The only way for them to survive is to leave the country."