April 17, 2012
In Peace Catalyst International, we aspire to launch a global movement of Jesus-centered peacemaking communities. To that end, our PCI team in Raleigh has helped to catalyze a significant movement of Muslims and Christians who are moving beyond unhelpful stereotypes and are building bridges of friendship and trust. Back in the fall, however, things took a major twist for us. A well-respected local rabbi reached out, basically saying that he had heard about our work in bringing Muslims and Christians together and that he wanted his Jewish congregation in on the fun.
April 12, 2012
I was privileged to view an extraordinary documentary recently that presents a very different picture of Christian-Muslim relations than that which is promoted by the media and religious extremists. The name of the documentary is Different Books, Common Word, produced by the Baptist Center of Ethics in 2009.
April 10, 2012
Are today's evangelical Christians going to miss the opportunity to be peacemakers in this generation? Generational blind spots have caused many Christians to miss the blessing of following Jesus as a peacemaker in the issues of their day-slavery, human rights of Native Americans, Japanese who were interned in camps during WWII, minorities during the civil rights era, etc. Is the issue of how we treat our Muslim neighbors nearby or around the world going to be another one of those missed opportunities?
April 4, 2012
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of North Carolina homeschoolers and then leading them on a tour of their neighborhood mosque. A few minutes before we would go across the street to the mosque, I asked the kids if they had ever been to a mosque and how they were feeling about our pending visit.
April 3, 2012
People like learning from experts. And better yet, experts who not only know their stuff but who give good advice based on personal experiences. As we learn from them and experience for ourselves the truth of what they have to teach, they become more credible. They are teachers we can trust. In Indonesia we have a phrase for people like this: sudah makan banyak garam, which literally means people who "have eaten much salt." People who eat much salt have a lot of life experience and know what they are talking about.
March 27, 2012
We were honored to have Brandon Sipes and Jim Weigel with our Arizona staff team last week. They belong to a group of people who developed the Kumi method. What is Kumi? It's an approach to conflict transformation that developed out of the issues in Israel-Palestine and is now being used around the world in many types of conflict. We wanted to hear from Brandon and Jim about their work and see how it could help us with our own work of peacemaking.
March 23, 2012
The year from spring 2011 to the coming spring of 2012 has been a year full of women proclaiming "Peace!" at the top of their lungs. Not quiet wishes for tranquility or ease, but bold pushes toward equity and right-ness, even as they are buffeted in the process. Faced with such conviction, I wonder if their demands don't carry the same weight we assign to formal "prayer": an act moving people beyond themselves in acknowledgement of Something bigger, Someone more gracious and powerful. Across boundaries of age, economic status, nationality, and religion, women are reaching for more. Praying.
March 16, 2012
As people of faith, both Christians and Muslims, God calls us to face this issue head on from both the macro level (thinking about the poorest of the poor worldwide) and the micro level (what we can do locally). God also expects us to work simultaneously on long-term solutions, tackling systemic injustices globally, nationally, and even locally; and on short term poverty alleviation, that is, assisting victims of floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
March 13, 2012
You are already aware of what comes to mind when people think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: young Israeli soldiers with machine guns. Palestinian boys throwing rocks at these machine gun-toting Israelis. Palestinian suicide bombers blowing up buses of Israelis. The massive cement wall snaking its way through this divided country bringing "security" to Israelis and "oppression" to the Palestinians. I just spent 10 days in the un-holy land and I, too, picture all of the scenes above. But I now have a new way of seeing the threats upon Israelis and the occupation of the Palestinians.
March 8, 2012
This week I made my second-ever visit to a synagogue and for the first time participated in a brit milah, the Jewish circumcision ritual. Rabbi Eric Solomon and Rabbi Jenny Solomon, of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, recently welcomed their son into the world, and they honored me immensely by inviting me to join other friends and family at the ceremony.