News of Note

Some news articles we find interesting….

Articles outlining the faith community’s response to possible attack on Syria:

A Joint statement from the faith community coordinated by Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Ways to take action with FCNL

Pax Christi International: “Dialogue is the only way towards an end of violence in Syria

Sojourners – Faith in Action for Social Justice: http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/08/29/syria-we-must-use-moral-compass-guide-our-moral-outrage

United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Franciscans, and other Denominations compose a letter to President Barack Obama

Franciscans:  http://www.escofm.org/1/post/2013/07/conference-joins-other-christian-groups-calling-for-action-on-syria.html

Presbyterians (PCUSA): Stated Clerk issues statement in the wake of the escalating violence in Syria

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Rapid Worldwide growth for Jewish-Muslim Alliance

Like the First Zionist Congress, a Swiss hotel was where 30-year Ilja Sichrovsky’s vision for the Jewish future took off.  As an international development student in Vienna, Sichrovsky spent the better part of his 20s touring the world. From Mexico to Scotland, the Berlin-born activist developed a passion for international projects and networking.

In 2007, Sichrovsky participated in Harvard University’s Model United Nations conference. There, in a Geneva hotel room, he stumbled upon a new life path.

“A Muslim member of the Pakistani delegation asked if I was a Jew, and told me I was the first Jew he had met,” Sichrovsky recalled. “We were elite and well-read, but quickly realized we knew nothing about each other. After determining we were safe, we spent the whole night learning about each other.”

Following the encounter, Sichrovsky convened like-minded peers to change the state of Jewish-Muslim relations…..

“Sometimes this work feels like a Google Maps system where the zoom feature is broken,” Sichrovsky said. “You go in and out, and in and out, constantly, and you’re not always in control.”

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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Muslim Clerics Visit Nazi Death Camp

Imams from the US and several Muslim countries are touring Poland this week to learn more about European Jewry.  Thirteen imams from Indonesia, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bosnia and other Muslim lands, along with five American imams, visited the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on Monday.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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For Sikhs and Muslims, fear after a terror attack…

As suspicion and profiling flooded news and social media, we heard reports of fear and hate in public spaces, including at least two violent hate crimes. Last Monday in the Bronx,Abdullah Faruque was beaten by a group of men who cursed at him and called him an Arab. On Tuesday, passengers on a plane headed to Chicago from Logan Airport were de-boarded because some expressed concern after overhearing them speak Arabic. On Wednesday, Palestinian woman Heba Abolaban was punched by a man she say screamed, ”‘F— you Muslims! You are terrorists! I hate you! You are involved in the Boston explosions!”

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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Will the new Pope be good for the Jews?

Quite a lot of Jewish ink has been spilled over the last few weeks analyzing the pontificate of the now retired Benedict XVI, prognosticating on who might be his successor, and, once announced, reporting every detail of Francis’ history with the Jewish community.  This Jewish interest with the papacy must be seen in light of the history of Jewish-Christian relations over the centuries, and, more recently, both ongoing changes in Roman Catholic Church and the specific actions and statements of both John Paul II and Benedict XVI…..

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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…..Congress Disposes

Franklin Roosevelt enjoyed the overwhelming support of American Jews during his presidency, and the reasons are clear. In his three-plus terms from 1933 to 1945, he led the war against Hitler, supported a Jewish homeland in Palestine, appointed a Jew to the Supreme Court, chose another to be his secretary of the Treasury and surrounded himself with Jewish advisers who helped shape the laws that revolutionized the role of government in American life — what some critics sneeringly called the “Jew Deal.” Then, of course, there was Eleanor Roosevelt, whose concern for minorities fused the bond even tighter. When Roose­velt died in 1945, the Rabbinical Assembly of America described him, almost supernaturally, as an “immortal leader of humanity and a peerless servant of God.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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Attack on Christians in Egypt Comes After a Pledge

Police officers firing tear gas joined with a rock-throwing crowd fighting a group of Christian mourners Sunday in a battle that escalated into an attack on Egypt’s main Coptic Christian Cathedral that lasted for hours. It was the third day of an outburst of sectarian violence that is testing the pledges of Egypt’s Islamist president to protect the country’s Christian minority. By nightfall, at least one person had died from the day’s clashes, bringing the weekend’s death toll to six.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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How Skeptics and Believers Can Connect

I DO not call myself a Christian. So maybe I should not have been surprised when I went on my first Christian radio show, a year ago, and the host set out to save me — live, on a nationally syndicated program, for 30 minutes. In the few seconds before I was connected, when I could hear him on the air but he could not hear me, he explained: “Listen, she’s not one of us. But I won’t fight with her.” It was a pledge he did not keep….
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Pope Appeals for More Interreligious Dialogue

Pope Francis appealed for more intense dialogue with Islam on Friday, while calling on church leaders to renew diplomatic discourse with countries that do not have official ties with the Holy See, like China.
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10 Years Later: An American Muslim Looks Back at Iraq
I didn’t want to write on the occasion of the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary. So much has been written, and so much of it dully offensive, structurally racist, or profoundly heartless, that I thought it better to skip the subject altogether. What, really, could I say to capture how we should feel? But the woman who commands my building’s front desk in the late night hours is Iraqi.
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Building a Groundswell, Lighting Up the Network

When a dozen twenty-somethings gathered in my tiny living room in the fall of 2010, vexed about the firestorm of protest against Park 51, an Islamic center planned in Manhattan known as “the Ground Zero Mosque,” we had no idea that we were planting the seed for a movement.

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Obama’s wise choice for the White House’s faith office

Largely lost last week in news about the election of Pope Francis and the ongoing wrangling around the budget was the announcement that President Obamhad appointed Melissa Rogers as the new director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Signs of the End of the Christian Church as We Have Known It

from Spirituality and Practice website- reviewing Diana Butler Bass’s new book, Christianity After Religion

• “Since 1960, the number of Americans claiming belief in God went from a ‘most emphatic’ 97 percent to 71 percent — a 26 point drop.”

• “Only 20 percent of the population attend church each weekend.”

• “Roughly 44 percent of Americans have left their childhood faith in favor of another denomination or religion or by dropping any religious affiliation at all.”

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Father Gerald Murray on the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation surprised especially those in the Roman Catholic Church. Father Gerald Murray, who leads Church of the Holy Family near the United Nations in New York City, reflected on the legacy the pope will leave. “Did the pope accomplish everything he wanted to do?” Murray said. “I don’t think he did because, naturally, no one does in life. “ Still, Murray said, his resignation will leave a mark, as well as his writings and teachings. “So we’re very grateful for this pope because he’s provided a lot of guidance and inspiration,” he said.

SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE

Richard Land on the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise announcement of his upcoming resignation has prompted many faith leaders to reflect on his tenure. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, signed the 1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together ecumenical document that found common ground between religious leaders. Land discusses Pope Benedict’s greatest achievements, the Catholic Church’s relations with other religions, evangelicals’ relationship with Catholics, and the future of the Catholic Church.

SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE

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Experiencing Islam: An interview with Homayra Ziad, PhD

In January, Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School offered for the first time a joint winter seminar on Islam for rabbinical, cantorial and ministerial students. This one-week intensive course, “Experiencing Islam,” was led by Homayra Ziad, assistant professor of religion at Trinity College. Following her time on our hilltop campus, Ziad spoke with the staff at the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education (CIRCLE) about her teaching experience at Hebrew College and Andover Newton.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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New textbook study threatens to undercut argument that Palestinian schools preach hate

WASHINGTON (JTA) – An in-depth comparative study of Palestinian and Israeli school textbooks is offering some conclusions that already are making some Israeli government officials very unhappy: Palestinian textbooks do not have as much anti-Israel incitement as often portrayed.

While this finding might appear to be welcome news for supporters of Israel, it also threatens to undercut one of the central elements of the official Israeli narrative. For years, the charge that Palestinians “educate to hate” has been an Israeli trump card in undermining claims that Palestinian statehood is overdue, and it is an article of faith among many lawmakers in Congress…..

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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MERKEL RAISES EYEBROWS BY RAISING RELIGION

BERLIN, Germany — When Barack Obama traveled to the eastern city of Dresden with Angela Merkel in 2009, they stopped at the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady. Leveled by Allied bombing raids in 1945, the towering landmark was painstakingly rebuilt after German reunification.

At the end of their visit, the US president and his German counterpart sat together in quiet prayer — something Germans wouldn’t know because photographs of that moment didn’t appear in the press here.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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Deterrence is the idea behind Israel’s strikes in Gaza, but how far will conflict with Hamas go?

It’s not clear how far Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense will last, what price Israeli civilians will pay and whether it will succeed in deterring Hamas from future attacks on Israel. Ben Sales reports for JTA.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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Hajj and the Journey of Peacemaker

This morning I was preparing my 6-year-old son for his Islamic school Hajj celebration day. They practice the various rites in order to prepare for what it will be like when, Inshallah (God-willing), they have the chance to make this sacred journey. As we spoke of the purpose of Hajj, three very distinct connections resonated with me as a peacemaker.

Story continues on the author’s blog …

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Free speech, religion clash over anti-Muslim film

“While the man behind an anti-Islam movie that ignited violence across the Middle East would likely face swift punishment in his native Egypt for making the film, in America the government is in the thorny position of protecting his free speech rights and looking out for his safety even while condemning his message.”

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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