Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Diffusing Tension with Respect

The book version of the Encountering the World of Islam ministry I'm involved with was recently given quite an encouraging review here. I'm glad to be associated with a group that goes out of its way to give Christians a more balanced, sympathetic view of Muslims than they might find otherwise.

I mentioned in a newsletter a while back that research shows the vast majority (86.7 percent) of Muslims don't personally know ANY Christians. Presumably it goes both ways. Most Christians don't know any Muslims. Without relationships, how can there be trust and respect, much less any other kind of understanding or influence?

For further thoughts as well as the background and source info on this statistic see Perfect Strangers: Christians Living Among Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, published in Lausanne World Pulse.

I know a guy who is taking a fascinating approach, not to Muslims per se but to extremists of every stripe (most of whom live among many people who are much more moderate). He's building the foundation for a network of Christians who are willing to pray for 'enemies' by name... who will 'Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer.' Wild, huh?


Have you seen the latest 'Time Magazine?' The lead story (per cover copy) is: "What Makes Us Good/Evil: Humans are the planet's most noble creatures - and its most savage. Science is discovering why." It includes a discussion, from a scientific perspective, of why people have such a hard time relating to or making decisions that favor people on the other side of the world. Read the whole article here. Here are some excerpts.
"...Our species has a very conflicted sense of when we ought to help someone else and when we ought not, but the general rule is, Help those close to home and ignore those far away. [This is] rooted in you from a time when the welfare of your tribe was essential for your survival but the welfare of an opposing tribe was not - and might even be a threat."

"...We retain a powerful remnant of that primal dichotomy, which is what impels us to step in and help a mugging victim, but allows us to decline to send a small contribution to help the people of Darfur. 'The idea that you can save the life of a stranger on the other side of the world by making a modest material sacrifice is not the kind of situation our social brains are prepared for,' says [Harvard University's assistant professor of psychology Joshua] Greene."

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