Muslims and Christians trade love poems at Yale

NEW HAVEN — I write from Yale University Law School, where the subject of the morning has not been torts but love.

L.O.V.E.

More than 150 Muslim and Christian scholars from around the world are here to find common ground. And that common ground, they say, is love — love of God and love of the neighbor.

How to translate this shared love of love into real-world understanding is, of course, the real trick. But they are giving it the old (Yale) college try.

This all stems from an open letter last year from 138 Muslim leaders to their Christian counterparts, which focused on love of God and neighbor. This letter provoked numerous responses, among them from a group of scholars at Yale.

And here we are. Everyone agrees that Islam and Christianity must get past their various raging conflicts and find something like peace. And everyone seems to agree that a focus on love is a good way to get going.

But a workshop that just finished on the concept that “God is Loving” was hopelessly academic (and I’m pretty used to religious jargon). One person even stood up to ask how it’s all going to reach the less-academic masses.

The fact that there are almost no reporters here (maybe a dozen, half from outside the U.S.) is not promising. But you have to start a dialogue somewhere, right?

One of the main forces behind the Muslim letter and this conference, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, warned that the growing animosity between Christians and Muslims can lead to war or genocide if someone doesn’t step up to the plate and do something. He’s trying.

It is an impressive gathering. There are big-name Muslim leaders from Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Bosnia, Kosovo, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Jordan and on and on.

Prince Ghazi drew one of the only laughs of the morning from a pretty serious crowd. He talked of meeting with the Dalai Lama to bring Buddhists into the loving conversation.

“I would like to say this,” Prince Ghazi said. “He is a lot nicer than you Christians.”

I have very limited Wi-Fi access here, so I don’t know if or when I’ll be able to post again…

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.