Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thinking About St. Francis at Christmas time

I'm taking a break from packing and I thought I'd throw up a post. I saved an op-ed from the NY Times that went out on Christmas day--one appropriate for the date and for the times we live in. It's by Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish Saved Civilization and other works. In it he describes the encounter of St. Francis of Assissi with Muslim leaders during the Crusades. He leads off with the following words:

AMID all the useless bloodshed of the Crusades, there is one story that suggests an extended clash of civilizations between Islam and the West was not preordained. It concerns the early 13th-century friar Francis of Assisi, who joined the Fifth Crusade not as a warrior but as a peacemaker.

How nice to hear the idea suggested that the so-called "Clash of Civilizations" need not be predestined from Creation and a necessary part of some sadistic apocalyptic scenario.

When I was in St. Joseph, my new home--YEAH!--back in September, I picked up a copy of the St. Joe paper. In it, I read a letter to the editor from someone espousing the idea that we Americans, as a Christian nation, are at war with Islam. It made me want to gag and made me a little concerned about my new home--but to be fair, there are folks with these kind of views everywhere. I wonder if the writer of that letter has ever even met a Muslim. If he had, he might have realized that most Muslims like most Christians just want to live in peace, go to t heir jobs and raise their families like everybody else.

Cahill concludes his op-ed with a quote from the British rabbi, Jonathan Sacks:

“Those who are confident of their faith are not threatened but enlarged by the different faiths of others. ... There are, surely, many ways of arriving at this generosity of spirit and each faith may need to find its own.”

I agree with Sacks who urges us to possess “the confidence to recognize the irreducible, glorious dignity of difference.”

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My New Diigs

After posting sporadically to my previous blog--The CONGOblog--I've come to It was time for a blog change since I'm moving to a new church and no longer will be running the web site of my church in New York ( So, whether you've read something I wrote on my old blog or just happened to stumble on to this one, WELCOME!

I'll be posting--hopefully more regularly than I did on my last blog--on the intersection of faith and culture and politics and whatever else crosses my mind. Generally, I lean to the left as far as political and religious classifications go, but I also like to think that my faith is fairly traditional. I believe God is more interested in welcoming, including and connecting with people than condemning and excluding people. I also believe that the Church should seek to model this same time of hospitality and compassion. Unfortunately, the face of Christianity and maybe religion in general is one of irrational arrogance rather than compassionate humility.

Over the next two weeks or so, I'm moving from NY to the Show Me State, so I may have little to stick here, but check back with me about mid-January or so.