Islam & Christianity: supper and evening forumSmith basically talked about the "A Common Word Between You and Us" document -- sketching out the history leading up to it, the major themes of it (love of God, love of neighbor, future dialogue), and reactions to it. While I'm now interested to learn more about this document and the discussions around it, it didn't seem to me the most useful centerpiece for a talk that, including q&a, was only an hour long. Though by telling us about various hesitant reactions to the document, she did bring up what are probably most of the major issues in "questions of intersection between Islam and Christianity."
Date: Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Time: 6:45pm - 9:00pm
Location: University Lutheran Church
Street: 66 Winthrop Street
City/Town: Cambridge, MA
Dr. Jane Smith of Harvard Divinity School will present on Islam at an evening forum in UniLu's Fireside Room. With the photographs of Jerusalem in the background, we will consider questions of intersection between Islam and Christianity. A light supper begins at 6:45, the program is at 7:30pm.
Early on I thought, "Oh, I should have invited Lizzy," but later on I wondered if she would have felt really uncomfortable being the only Muslim in a room full of Christians. I really should follow up on emailing her about getting together to chat about interfaith dialogue, though.
From Smith's handout (below the bulletin points are notes of mine from Smith's talk and audience responses):
Issues for CW:
- Do we worship the same God?
The Koran specifically condemns the Trinitarian understanding of God, for example. I also thought about nextian's post and how it can really problematically paper over differences to insist that really we are all the same. Jeff and I were talking later, and he comes from a conservative Southern Baptist background so he's really reacting against the "we have the total and exact truth, and if you don't believe exactly this then you are doomed," whereas I'm reacting against years in liberal churches where there's often almost a hesitancy to talk about why we are specifically Christian, to want to say that really we are all just good liberals.
- Does love of God mean the same thing in Islam and Christianity?
Smith pointed put that "love of God" can mean our love for God or God's love for us. She said that the Koran is all about mercy and justice, has very little about "love," so why choose that for CW?
- Does love of neighbor mean the same thing...
Smith said that Muslims understand the Quaranic "love your neighbor" to refer only to the members of the Muslim community.
- Do we respect each other's Scriptures?
I said, "What do you mean by 'respect'?"
- Can Muhammad be a prophet?
- How can we talk when some Muslims are doing terrorist acts?
One of the concerns some Christian groups raised responding to this document was: What about justice? By which they meant: the persecution and mistreatment of Christians in Muslim countries (Smith pointed out that Muslims could raise the reverse concern). I get kind of eye-roll-y around the idea that we have to fix X brokenness before we can work on fixing Y brokenness, as if we can't walk and chew gum at the same time, though I didn't actually think of that at the time.
Jeff asked why all this focus on "justice," when really "mercy" is greater, and is a theme in all three traditions.