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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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April 22, 2013

Reflections on Peacemaking

I read about the Boston Marathon bombings over Twitter before the news hit media outlets. As someone who promotes peace through interfaith relationships and engagement and has a deep respect and love for the North American Muslim community, my gut instinct -after my initial grief - was to join the silent and not so silent cry of this now widely read Washington Post article: “Please don’t be Muslim.”  I remembered all too well how much the Muslim, Sikh, and wider immigrant community suffered from hate crimes following 9/11. In fact, they still suffer, which is why a potential re-escalation of anti-Muslim rhetoric was something that made my heart ache. Like many others I felt at a loss while trying to process what has happened and the implications what what may be coming. Peace and peacemaking seemed like a distant concept, an abstract thing. 

When I saw #muslims trending on Twitter just hours after the bombings I cringed expecting the worst, until I realized that the many of the tweets were reminding people to shy away from generalizations about Islam and Muslim Americans. Suddenly, I was reminded why peacemaking is so important in the aftermath of tragedy; why it is something we practice communally. In the midst of sitting with our grief and sitting with others in their grief, (I am reminded of Jesus’ words in the Garden, “Could you not stay awake with me one hour?”-) we also need to work towards peace, step by painful step so all of us can heal. It is crucial that we speak words of healing just as powerfully and effectively as others speak words that wound.

Throughout the search for the Tsarnaev brothers and the eventual confirmation that Dzokhar Tsarnaev was in custody, I followed – and am still following- the voices speaking out jointly against growing anti-Muslim rhetoric, hate crimes, and acts of terror. Just this morning, I opened my Facebook account to see Muslim American adolescents speaking out against terrorism and inviting their friends to dialogue with them about the misrepresentation of Islam’s message of peace. I opened emails that connected me with peacemakers from around the country working swiftly to engage their local communities in efforts of interfaith solidarity. I watched the news and heard about schools joining with their local faith communities and law enforcement to advocate for interfaith learning and relationships. I listened to pod-casts from pastors who urged their congregations to stand against all forms of discrimination and violence. I was reminded that yes we are devastated and yes, hope lives.

So, lift up hope where you are today. Speak words of love in response to words of hate. Grieve but do not despair. Remind yourself and others in your community that there are people everywhere working to put the pieces back together. When we do not, we suffer and our neighbors suffer. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Categories: Interfaith, Interfaith dialogue and relationships

Tags: boston, interfaith, peacebuilding, peacemaking, presbyterian

  1. Christine, please be careful not to confuse the biblical call to love our neighbor (in this case Muslims) with the biblical mandate to hate what is evil. Muslims are human beings in whom we are to see the image of God, and so we are to love them and seek their salvation as we do that of all other human beings. The religion of Islam, however, is quite a different reality. The streak of violence and hatred towards enemies that we find so prolific in the Muslim world stems from the authoritative texts of Islam: Quran, ahadith and sira of Muhammad. Muslims who become radicalized are indeed returning to their roots (as the word radical implies) and are seeking to live according to their revelations and to the life example of their founder, whom they believe to be the perfect paragon of human behavior. Islam is an inherently anti-Christian religion because it denies the crucifixion, resurrection and divinity of Jesus. As such it claims there is no atonement in the cross, no redemption and eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus, and no adoption as children of God because Jesus is no Son of God. As Christians, we should love Muslims, but never accord the religion of Islam stature as a legitimate alternative to Christianity.

    by Mateen Elass

    April 23, 2013

  2. Dear Neil, I really appreciate your comment and your understanding. Yes, I agree there are many religious groups throughout our world suffering persecution and injustice. In light of these painful situations a unified response against injustice and violence overall is always what we hope for as we strive for peace. However, getting there with a constituency that is diverse politically, racial/ethnically, and theologically to say the least, is quite another story. In each faith tradition, ours included, we struggle over issues big and small in our goal to be inclusive and honor one another, even when we disagree. I think these experiences in our own tradition encourage us to strive for a more nuanced view of Muslim American communities rather than moving to reduce such a diverse tradition to warlike and intolerant. Feel free to send me an email if you want to continue to conversation. I would be happy to talk.

    by Christine Hong

    PC(USA) Staff

    April 23, 2013

  3. While I understand where you're coming from, please understand where I'm coming from. When Muslims in this country and elsewhere start to condemn the persecutions and killing of Copts in Egypt, Christians in Sudan and other parts of the Muslim world, then I'll stop looking at Muslims as warlike and intolerant.

    by Neil Zampella

    April 23, 2013

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