For most of my career, I have covered one religious conflict after another. From the Middle East to Sarajevo, Afghanistan, to Iraq, Rwanda to Somalia, the bloodshed often had something to do with religion. Jews, Christians and Muslims in some combination would fight one another to the death.
But the three Abrahamic faiths mean more to me than war and suffering. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have come together during some of the happiest and most important moments of my life. In fact, my son Darius is the embodiment of these three faiths in one. You see, I grew up in Iran, the child of a Christian mother and a Shi'ite Muslim father. I attended Catholic church in Tehran right up until the Islamic Revolution. The man I married is Jewish-American, and we were wed by a priest and then under a Jewish chuppah. And now, the blood of these three great peoples runs through the veins of my son.
And it turns out, all three of these traditions trace their stories back to the biblical patriarchs. That's why I spent this year exploring the history and the mystery behind some of the oldest stories ever told and traveling to places where Abraham and Moses, King David and Jesus are said to have walked. We tried to learn what these stories likely meant to the ancient peoples who took such care to pass them down through the generations, and what they mean to us now. We searched for actual evidence of these stories and discovered that though they have, at times, divided us, they nevertheless still have the power -- as our ancestors surely hoped they would -- to heal us and to guide us today.
On our journey, we traveled to the remotest corners of Turkey, all across the Middle East and even to the American heartland in search of clues about the biblical stories. What we found nearly everywhere we went was that the three religions have so many beliefs and stories in common, from the hospitality of Abraham to the liberation message of the Moses story.
My 12-year-old son Darius accompanied me on this adventure and spending time with him made me realize that if you think about it, at its very heart, the Bible is really the story of a family. It's a family that, from the start, fought with one another, and forgave each other. A family that made rules and tried to keep them, or at least tried to learn from their mistakes, a family full of all kinds of people, courageous and timid, favorite sons and black sheep. And like most families, they were convinced they were special, even when everything was working against them.
It's fitting that our journey will start with a birth in a place many of us will be thinking of the next few weeks, a manger in Bethlehem. I hope you and your family will join us on this journey as we continue back -- back to the beginning.