Years ago, I spent three weeks in Egypt, exploring church life in a predominantly Muslim country. The group I was with visited an array of Coptic and Protestant churches in Cairo and Alexandria and in country villages.
One of the most memorable moments came when we were talking to a sagacious priest. He summarized the difference between Egypt and America in two divergent images. The image of America is the rocket ship, blasting off into unknown realms, going places no human has been before. America is focused on the future and always looking ahead. The image of Egypt, he said, is the pyramids, thousands of years old and still standing in the sands outside Cairo. Rooted in a deep history, Egypt is focused on the past and the importance of tradition.