In seeking to understand something of the background to the current problems in the Middle East, I’ve been in a dialogue with a friend about Islam and its relations to Christianity and Judiasm.
I’ve also been reading a book called ‘Touching the Soul of Islam’ by Bill Musk, in an attempt to understand something of the cultural differences between East and West that incline us towards particular religious beliefs and practises taking hold in our respective spheres.
One thing that worries me, not just in this debate, but more widely, is a tendency to tar everyone to whom we attach a particular label, with the same brush.
So Evangelicals’ are spoken of as if our beliefs and practises all the same and likewise Muslims’ or Jews’ or Scholars’ of a particular tradition. I’m also still shocked by how many people I meet believe that Roman Catholics are not Christians! I recently read ‘The Chosen’ by Chaim Potok in which the differences between Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews are explored, my eyes were opened to understand a little more for example, of what goes on at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Let’s not get lazy, the world isn’t black and white, shades of grey make it hugely complex and hugely rich in diversity. Perhaps we could ask ourselves: ‘If we had to, by what labels we would like ourselves to be described?’ – then most of us would realise how complex we are and everyone is.
Fearfully and wonderfully made, Praise God.