While I was exposed to many examples of Judaism and Islam in Israel, my winter back in the United States has been fairly secular although I have traveled to the Mid-West, namely Texas, which felt different than anything I have experienced on the East Coast...In Texas there were mega-churches (everything is bigger in Texas) seen off the interstates, and in almost every town. As a matter of fact it felt as if there was a church on every corner.
I was staying in Longview, a small Texas municipality with a very quaint downtown. Downtown Longview was distinctly beautiful with the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, its sculpture garden, a row of bistros, cafes, antique shops and craft shops, and a very lovely courthouse lawn kept well groomed by the prisoners from the minimum security jail right in the heart of the town.
Being the the downtown area was so quiet it was easy to pick up every little nuance amongst the urban landscape. Two sounds that recurred throughout my time there was the sound of the railroad that ran through the downtown and the clanging of the church bells. Longview's downtown has or had four historical churches (google search results for churches in Longview). The ringing of the bells on a warm November day provided a nice soundtrack for my experience in the "Bible Belt," while I was made aware (by quite a few people back home in New York City and in Texas) of the potential dangers (or potential disapproval) of being both liberal and Jewish, I realized that we all have certain common elements in this country that can potentially unite us. Just be respectful and excellent to each other...And so I was, and everyone couldn't have been more accommodating and personable.
We are all human beings who deserve to be treated equally. With the right motivation and knowledge we may all one day realize this and live together without personal strife and condemnation of our differences. I optimistically hope that this is the message taught (or an ideology that will be reconciled and taught as we seek a more global connection) in these "Bible Belt" churches, and in Synagogues and Mosques throughout America, Europe, and the Middle East... IF we chose to accept faith (which I believe can have good outcomes where people have nothing else to lean on) then lets all come together through prayer, ritual, and belief in the fact that we are different because of our culture, but the same in our origins as human beings! Respect our differences and learn to live together as equals...That is probably what Jesus would have done.