The Gulen Movement: A Shared Bridge between the U.S. and Islam by Peter J. Mehl

A lively Around the Fountain program took place at Multicultural Mosaic Foundation on

September 19, 2015. There were about fifteen participants, and they discussed the Fountain

Magazine article The Gulen Movement: A Shared Bridge between the U.S. and Islam by

Peter J. Mehl. Dr. Mehl is a Professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Central

Arkansas, and shared his views on the Gülen Movement’s intercultural and educational

endeavors in his article. The participants enjoyed Turkish tea, cake, and various snacks during

the program.

The excerpt “Life is a shared bridge of ‘passing over’ and ‘coming back.’ It is a passing

over to other cultures and faiths, not to disown one’s own heritage, but to come back to

incorporate new wisdoms and insight into one’s own worldview. The Gülen Movement is one

such bridge,” summarizes the main idea of the article that the participants of the discussion

pondered on. Participants also reflected on their experiences with the Movement, and drew

parallels between the social relations in the United States and Turkey. Some of the participants

had visited Turkey multiple times and expressed how the two visits differed and how the

representation of minorities in Turkey presented problems in interfaith relations. Others

expressed the need to act on shared interfaith/intercultural vision to make a difference in society

and how the Movement accomplished this, while emphasizing there is still a lot of space for

improvement. The Movement’s potential for building social capital, integration of migrants to

the U.S. culture and various processes that enabled or makes integration difficult were also

discussed. The humanitarian assistance programs the Movement engaged with locally Colorado

and worldwide were also mentioned along with how Muslim groups work to help the homeless

in Colorado. Various perspectives on interfaith and interracial relations were also mentioned

during the discussion.