Generous Orthodoxy  

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bulletins from the furor about Islam

Billy Graham, please call Terry Jones! Rick Warren, please call Terry Jones! Tim LaHaye, call him! Are we going to let 30 people in Gainesville, Florida put the entire American experiment in potentially mortal danger? Is this insane project -- burning Korans -- really going to go forward? It isn't enough for Episcopal and Roman Catholic bishops to weigh in. Even the estimable Richard Cizik speaks only for liberal evangelicals. The Christian Right has to get involved.

As for the hot-button issue of the day, the "mosque at ground zero" (which it isn't--it's a community center in downtown Manhattan), the idealistic (maybe too idealistic?) imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who envisioned the whole thing, has written an op-ed piece which appears in the New York Times today. It is remarkably cogent and gracious on a number of levels. Most people don't know why his project is to be called Cordoba House, and his explanation is winsome:

Our name, Cordoba, was inspired by the city in Spain where Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed in the Middle Ages during a period of great cultural enrichment created by Muslims. Our initiative is intended to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures.

He makes the best case for "Abrahamic" cooperation that I've seen:

Cordoba House will be built on the two fundamental commandments common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam: to love the Lord our creator with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength; and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We want to foster a culture of worship authentic to each religious tradition, and also a culture of forging personal bonds across religious traditions.

The content and tone of what he has written feels to me like a breakthrough. May it be so.

PS. Later reports indicated that the young, somewhat inexperienced developer and the older, idealistic imam have conflicting visions for the site. It's an ongoing drama.