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My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Friday, July 30, 2004


The imam & the rabbi


>> East-West Center

The danger to the second Lama Jey Tsong Khapa was not over, HPD Officer Quinn Ah Sun knew. Merely mitigated. Still, he allowed himself a fleeting moment of feel-good when the police radio ear-piece he wore crackled with news that four presumed members of Te-Wu were just picked up outside Jefferson Hall. Though they protested that they were bankers, two carried flash-bang smoke bombs, the other two grenades and pistols. It was Quinn who'd passed on names and photos of Te-Wu members to his buddy Charlie at the FBI, which led to those four arrests.

But this was no time for gloating. Other dangers still lurked, both outside the hall and here inside.

Quinn watched from the back of the hall, beside the towering koa doors through which they'd entered, as one by one the invited religious leaders rose, identified themselves and their church affiliation. It was quite a thing, Quinn thought, to see churchmen of differing faiths gathered in peace. This is what religion ought to be about, not crusades, missions or jihads.

And it was an impressive group. Rev. Mits was there, along with Rabbi Avi, Father Terry and Father Mark, Pastor Wayne and Pastor Han, Bishop Chang and Bishop Yosemuri, and Kahu Kekapa, as well as the newest goddess, St. Meg the Divine, just back from her first healing tour on the mainland. There were a variety of nuns, both Buddhist and Catholic. Among them was the lama's eternal consort, Bodhicita Guzman, dressed in a gray habit and more-salt-than-pepper wig. It was such a thorough disguise, if Quinn hadn't seen her after she changed at HPD headquarters into her Sister Mary Miraculoso outfit, he'd never guess it was the beautiful, buxom Bodhicita. A total transformation -- looks, bearing, posture, attitude.

Then there were the Muslims.

And that was the problem. Bodhicita's former lover Fon Du, head of the local Te-Wu, said the Chinese secret police would use someone dressed as a Muslim imam to attack the young lama this time.

There was a pleasant fellow named Abdullah from the local Muslim congregation. Charlie at the FBI said those folks were good Muslims, good folks. And Abdullah showed that, apologizing to the lama for the misguided sins of the Taliban in destroying centuries' old statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. "We welcome your message of peace," he said.

But Abdullah was a lay leader, not a full-on Islamic cleric. Quinn spotted two of those in robes and head wraps, on opposite ides of the room. Interestingly, one of the bearded imams had entered with a bearded Jewish rabbi in skull cap and robes.

"I am Imam Sharif, this is Rabbi Sol," he said with a slight British accent. "We travel together, preaching peace among Jews and Muslims."

How come then, Quinn wondered, you look kind of pa-ke?



See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at dchapman@midweek.com

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