Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Creation Asks: How can the Arts assist Christianity in reconciling with Islam?

As violent protests broke out in corners of Afghanistan yesterday over a proposed Koran-burning by a lunatic fringe pastor who doesn't seem to realize he is putting Christian-Americans all over the world (not to mention the future of his country) at risk through his vitriolic speech and threatening actions; as American Muslims continue to ask the question "Will we ever belong?" (even to the degree that they once did in America pre-9/11); amidst the ridiculous debate surrounding a "Ground Zero Mosque" (a term hyperbolically reinforced by none other than Fox News) where apparently an Islamic Cultural Center containing a prayer room (which is not even actually a Mosque!) is not suitably respectful of the hallowed ground but where topless bars (The New York Dolls Gentlemen's Club and The Pussycat Lounge) less than a block away are apparently quite alright and which, as Nicholas Kristof notes in the case of The Pussycat Lounge, "says that it arranges lap dances in a private room, presumably to celebrate the sanctity of the neighborhood"; amidst all this divisive din and painfully absurd clamor, it has to strike any Christian interested in the potential of the arts as a reconciling, healing, and re-imagining force (when properly deployed) that perhaps there are ways (albeit usually small ones) that the arts can assist in mending the frayed and fraught relationship between Christianity and Islam. No doubt the future of Christianity (as well as America and the wider world) depends in no small measure upon how this strained relationship is handled in the months and years to come.

So where do we begin? One place to start thinking about potential answers to this question can be found in a previous New Creation post from this past January 2010 where the proposal of a "Festival of Abraham" was discussed. Although the author of that original New York Times Op/Ed proposing the Festival would like to see it happen on an incredibly large scale (ideally in Jerusalem and now it looks that it may well occur the not-so-distant future in Istanbul), there seems no reason why smaller versions of it couldn't pop up on college campuses, coffee shops, and in cultural centers across the nation and around the world in order to start the healing and reconciling with one's neighbors who live just around the corner, as well as those who live half-way around the globe. It's just the beginning of a response to New Creation's latest searching query which we invite you to urgently reflect upon: How can the Arts assist Christianity in reconciling with Islam?

-- Leif

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