Tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading up to Yale to cover the first day of: Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Christians and Muslims.
This is a big, week-long gathering of more than 150 Muslim and Christian leaders from around the world.
Yes, the goal is to learn how to get along (better).
It dates back to last year’s open letter from 138 Muslim leaders to world Christendom, which basically made the argument that both Islam and Christianity center around a love of God and a love of the neighbor. So why can’t we get along?
Among the many responses came a statement from scholars at Yale, which was eventually signed by more than 300 deep thinkers. Yes, everyone was in favor of getting along.
The Vatican hosted several of the Muslim letter writers for a meeting. More good vibes.
And now the first of several major conferences to further advance the good vibes is happening at Yale. Others to come at Cambridge U, the Vatican, at Georgetown U and in Jordan.
The Big Question, it seems to me, is how you get past the very general agreements (For example: We all love God) and figure out how to apply religious teachings to all the trouble in the world. That’s why it’s about Word and Deed, I suppose.
Day one of the public session (the scholars have been meeting behind closed doors for several days) will feature panels called “God is Loving,” “Loving God” and “Loving Neighbor.”
We’ll see how it goes. I hope to blog (Web connection permitting).
The keynotes will be by the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, H.E. Shaykh Mustafa CeriÄ‡ (that’s him), and Sen. John F. Kerry. Kerry must have talked about interfaith relations during his ill-fated presidential campaign, but I don’t recall anything off the top.
The conference website defines the “issues” being faced this way:
Central to the task of the Reconciliation Program is bridge-building scholarship on the critical social, political, moral/ethical and theological issues which sometimes divide Muslims and Christians, and on concerns which unite them.
Though contemporary social and political issues often seem most pressing in the glare of media coverage, it is perhaps the theological and moral/ethical issues which are most important to Muslim and Christian people of faith. Reconciliation Program research seeks to help Muslims and Christians to find common ground on issues where they frequently think no common ground exists. And in areas where they do disagree, it seeks to foster mutual understanding, so that differences may be construed with respect, sympathy and fairness.
On this page we offer draft articles on a number of important theological issues and political issues in Muslim-Christian dialogue. The list of issues here is far from exhaustive, and the articles represent just a tentative beginning, but they are offered by way of beginning a conversation which we hope will enrich all concerned.