CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS?
Pope Benedict XVI issued a new call for peace yesterday, calling wars "useless slaughters," in an echo of a pope's words 90 years ago. You have to wonder why the voices calling for peace don't just give up and go home once they've read history. I don't want them to give up, but I do wonder why they don't.
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A HOPEFUL MUSLIM-AMERICAN VOICE
I'm often asked -- often in a hostile tone -- why traditional Muslims don't speak out more often and with more passion about the radicals who claim to operate in Islam's name.
Well, I agree that Islam clearly is in a struggle for its heart and soul, and -- despite some troubling statistics about young American Muslims who have sympathy for suicide bombers (I discussed that in this May entry)-- I often think it's Muslims in America who will create a model for how Islam can prosper and be a healthy and constructive force in the human community.
That's why I was pleased a few days ago to listen to an interview on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" shows that featured a young and articulate American Muslim named Eboo Patel.
Patel is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. He's also of a group called Interfaith Youth Core.
In the NPR interview, he said that the people of various faiths who are part of Interfaith Youth Core are sure they have found the right religion and some of the IYC members probably believe other members will spend eternity in hell, but despite that they all can and do agree that they can work together to accomplish such important social goals as improving housing for poor people.
The NPR link I've given you has an excerpt from Patel's book. I encourage you to give it a read because I agree with him that "one of the most important questions of our time" is this: "In a world of passionate religiousity and intense interaction, how will people from different faith backgrounds engage one another?"
Some days, reading the comments left on this blog, I become pessimistic about whether it's possible for people of differing beliefs to treat one another with respect and civility. But I haven't given up hope. And hearing a rational voice like Patel's gives me courage.
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