Albert and Steve: Muslim and Agnostic

Artists Statement

We met because Albert told Steve his old North Face backpack was really fresh.

“Fresh?  You mean like it smells bad?”

“No man, it’s cool.”

Steve looked it up on the web.  Origin: 1980’s NY hip hop, “highly approved by someone”.   Cool, if outdated.

We talked.  Albert’s a 20 year old Muslim who grew up in Yakima.  Steve’s an agnostic who grew up in Ellensburg.  He’s turning 70 a couple weeks after we write this Artists Statement and post it with our video on the blog.  Neither one of us knows jack about blogging, but we guess we’ll learn, as with so much else in this class.

We asked ourselves:  How can a committed Muslim and a committed agnostic work toward mutual understanding?  The question wasn’t “Can we?”  But “How?”   The answer was:  Make a film together about our beliefs.  Do it with good will and respect and we’ll be working toward mutual understanding in the world.

Albert told Steve about Islam, took him to the Mosque, showed him how to pray, talked about heaven and hell.  Steve told Albert about agnosticism—not always easy, because despite being one, he doesn’t often try to explain it in detail.

Our styles are very different.  Steve’s a writer, Albert is a texter.  Albert jumps right in, Steve gets nervous if he doesn’t have a plan.  Albert doesn’t give a rip about recycling; Steve does.  Steve doesn’t give a rip about Hell; Albert does.

But we both do art, we both make music, and we both try to follow the Golden Rule.  We learned a lot making the video, about each other and ourselves.  We spoke openly and listened closely, gradually fading out the debate impulse, cranking up the dialog.  We’re not expecting any big conversions, in ourselves or in the other person, but we’re seeing changes we like.

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