My name is Micah Furlong, and I’m a Jewish Christian.
… And that’s usually where the confusion begins.
To be fair, I’m a pretty unusual case. In our Western minds, we often imagine that someone can have only one categorization in matters of faith; you can either be a Baptist or a Catholic, but you can’t mix the two. But faith is an issue much more complicated than that. Few seem to believe it when someone brings up the fact that Judaism had little to no demonology before it encountered Zoroastrianism, which had plenty of it. This means that Jews were influenced by other faiths in their own tradition. Likewise, Christianity had a very underdeveloped concept of the soul until it met up with Greek philosophy. The revealed truths of different faiths often come under one heading, forgetting their original distinctiveness.
And that’s what I’m doing: practicing the religions of Judaism and Christianity separately, and in them, finding harmony.
When I say that I’m Jewish, I’m referring to much more than my ancestry; I practice the traditions that have evolved and been passed down to me for millennia. But, likewise, I engage in the Christian traditions and beliefs as well. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died so that I may live. But my understanding of this idea is augmented by the fact that I have immersed myself into Jewish ceremonies that come together to point to a God of love.
One of the most beautiful moments of my spiritual life was soon after I rejoined my ancestors in the synagogue. I was challenged by a friend to visit a mosque and, to be honest, I was terrified. But when I entered the doors, I was greeted by the acting imam (who doubled as a carpet-cleaner), and brought into their community. He taught me how to ritually cleanse myself of my impurities in their small bathroom, and showed me how to pray in their tradition. And when the hour came to pray, he bowed and whispered in Arabic a prayer of love for the same God that I am pursuing.
The best proof in my own life of God’s grace has been the fact that He answers and lets me know that He listens to my prayers. Too often, those in the community in which I grew up dismissed these other prayers due to a “lack of sincerity” or “ulterior motive.” But when I watched that little old man bow before his Creator, I knew that he spoke with the God of Abraham. Just like Christians who dismiss the Westboro Baptist Church, and just like Jews who condemn the war with Palestine, Muslims are another people of faith who are desperately trying to love God.
And what more can we ask?
As a Child of God
– Phoenix, Ore., sophomore Micah Furlong