Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Sunday, June 7, 2015

About that bump in the road on the way to Damacus

The Times of Israel carried an article written by a Christian Gay Palestinian who claims to come from one of the more prominent Hamas families in the West Bank. He calls himself John Calvin now and has been studying at a bible college in Alberta. He wants to stay in Canada, but the government has ruled he is inadmissible.

What I think is rather fascinating about John Calvin's is not his 'personal narrative. After all Son of Hamas has been rather well publicized and Calvin's narrative mirrors Mosab Yousef's remarkably so. What fascinates me is his conversion to Christianity. In his own words.
From as early as I can remember, I was taught that Islam was the one true faith, that violence was the only answer, and that the Jews were our enemies. These were facts, as real and obvious as the fact that the sky is blue. These were “facts” and deep down I wasn’t sure if I believed them.

I know that lots of people lose their faith and change their minds when and where they least expect it. In Christianity, we talk about “the road to Damascus,” referencing Saul’s conversion in a part of the world that for much of my life was almost on my doorstep. My moment arrived in an Israeli jail, after I was arrested for illegally crossing the border, escaping from yet another argument with my family and the violence of my father. I was looking for answers to questions when and where I least expected them.

It was in an Israeli jail where the doubts I had about everything I had ever been taught were finally silenced. Another man, a Palestinian man, hurt me in a way I could never have imagined, in a way that just isn’t talked about in our society. If that was unexpected, that was nothing compared to what came next. The Israelis who worked in the prison – “the Jews” – looked after me and took care of me, making sure the story never got out to those who would use it against me. The Palestinians I had been taught to die for had hurt and abandoned me while the Israelis I had been taught to kill acted with compassion and helped me heal.

Shortly after this I began my journey of conversion, opening my eyes and heart to a religion that denounced violence and hatred.
This is the first time I read this, I showed it to a number of my work collegues and asked if they didn't notice something extraordinary about his conversion. They did not get what I thought was obviously outrageous and bizarre but their were Christians, and its a 'feel good' story about 'Christians'. None of the commenters at The Times of Israel have brought it up in the comments either, but then again, more than half were written by Christians who were having issues with the 'gay' part of his Christian narrative and could see little beyond that. 

Why I find his 'conversion' so bizarre is that it came about because Israelis - Jews treated him with compassion and empathy, so consequently, he decided to become a Christian. What's next? If a Muslim treats a Jew kindly, the Jew becomes a Hindu? This doesn't make any psychological sense, and it has to be the first public conversion to Christianity, which on the surface, came about because of acts of chesed performed by Jews.  And to honour the Christians, he takes the name of a man who was no friend to the Jews of his time.

I suspect, if this Son of Hamas (2) narrative wins a reprieve from deportation from Canada, it will become an increasingly common narrative heard in immigration hearings throughout the West.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds very phoney to me - not the care that he received from the Israelis' but that he converted to Christianity because of it. Anything to get what he wants ..He's tailoring his tale to his audience and I would not trust a word he says.