Two impassioned responses

Here’s an impassioned response from a Christian musician to yesterday’s post “from a Muslim friend,” followed by what another Christian is doing to provide an alternative to the immoral insanity of Quran burning and prejudice … “small pebbles” that can make a big difference.

Good morning. I hope you are well.
I am taking my time digesting A Generous Orthodoxy, have read it twice, and am continuously encouraged by it. Thank you for your voice and courage. Please don’t ever stop.
I have never written you before. But today, I am writing from a place of grief. I’m grieving about all of the under-the-surface violence in the air aimed towards Muslims – Ground Zero Mosque, Florida Qur’an burning, etc…
Thank you for your positive post today “From a Muslim friend…”
I play in a Christian worship band, and am trying to do my daily best in my walk/relationship with my Creator. I also revere, pursue and study other religions/traditions to know the blood heart sweat and tears of my fellow brothers and sisters on this planet.
The notion of “They will know we are Christians by our love”, is sadly not ringing out in the media these days.
Say what you will about the media, but just as easily as a portion of confused and misguided middle-easterners can give all Muslims a bad name through non-stop negative image media coverage, so will these confused and misguided Floridians set back the work of the Kingdom worldwide, period.
No doubt there is much strife and evil and violence in the middle east. There is much to grieve and maybe even be fearful of. That misguided hate and violence is present EVERYWHERE in this world, BUT-
ROMANS 12:14-21!
Just as positive and constructive Islam groups are planning to hand out copies of the Qur’an for everyone burned (instead of reciprocal violence or returned hate-speech), we have a chance to live to make God famous and obey HIM by overcoming evil with good!
What if we started something?
What if we reversed the tide and overcame evil from all corners of the world with good?
What if US Churches did something news-worthy that was POSITIVE, redemptive, and built people up? Not for the sake of the news but for the sake of HIM, redemption!
What if Churches partnered a Christian family with a Muslim family to know each others’ faces and stories and hearts?
What if we planned/led an hour long prayer this Saturday morning or afternoon at our churches and event centers nationwide and invited Muslim leaders or friends to join in?
What if Churches partnered with “sister” mosques?
What if we started an inter-faith/all-faith dialogue and redemption groups?
What if…?
I don’t know… I’m freakin out though. I feel called to step up.
A new article today hints that the Florida Church may back off a bit from their plan, mostly due to Petraeus’ comments that this could endanger troops in Afghanistan and worldwide efforts:
But even if they do call it off or lessen the demonstration, they have encouraged others nationwide to do the same.
There must be something we could do to reverse this trend, put HIM/redemption in the spotlight?????!!!!
Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate everything you bring to the table. The good, the messy, the learning lessons, the humility, trial and error.
I am praying about all of this, and I am hoping to start something…
I guess the reason I have wrote you is that I just want to ask you to pray about this. I know there is a way, big or small, that LIGHT can be spoken into this growing darkness.
And thank you as always for being twenty steps ahead of me!

Here’s what another friend wrote recently:

I do not lead an organization and do not have a public, international voice. The ripple of my pebble in the great sea of life is relatively small, (in some ways of looking at the matter).
So, my question:
What would you recommend, in terms of tangible ACTIONS (daily, weekly, monthly or yearly?) that the common person can actually do in the course of their daily life? Remember that the vast majority of the world are not globetrotters, former senators, tenured professors or friends of Presidents and Kings. What ought to be the shape of a life for 3.7 billion Christian and Muslim “small pebbles?” (E.g. People like my Mom, a piano teacher in small town Iowa who has one Muslim student and lives a few blocks from a new mosque that is currently under construction. Or people like your Moms.) I’m not telling you what “you” should do, I’m asking you what you think “I” should do…
Or, another way to ask the question:
What do each of you actually do, on a daily basis, that does not require funding, that does not depend on prior connections, that doesn’t require the organization or mobilization of people in your direct employment in your organization, etc. I’m talking about your life in your town where you raise your kids.
Here’s what I’m doing as a small pebble here in the U.S.A.:
–I assume the best of my Muslim friends and of Muslims in general, taking them at their word and taking their statements as genuine reflections of their honest beliefs (rather than assume they are just being politically correct or hiding some sinister beliefs that I am told “they” all believe).
–I attend my local mosque, as a Christian, every Friday night, to sit under the imam’s teaching from the Qur’an in order to hear directly from him what he actually teaches my neighbors. This is also a great context for making new friends.
–I treat the mosque like a place where I am welcome, and I feel free to come and go like a regular person
–I read the Qur’an to understand personally and first hand what it actually says and then ask Muslim friends or the Imam when I have a question. (FYI, I also read the Bible on a daily basis.)
–I attended an Iftar at the mosque where I met a new friend
–I invited this new friend and his family to my home for a meal (we’re setting up a time within the next 10 days)
–I try to read widely from many sources and perspectives attempting to see the world through others’ eyes (a Muslim-Christian virtual library could be a nice online resource to help regular people by directing them to good resources)
–I comment on facebook and engage in sustained dialogue with my non-Muslim friends, seeking to be a voice of love-for-Muslims in their lives
–I go out of my way to build friendships with Muslims in my neighborhood and at work (Nabil, Asif, Ali, Mirza, Emad, Emaam, Habbiba, Rizwan, Abdi, etc, are some of my friends)
–I ask questions of my Muslims friends to better understand their lives (about holidays, theology, music, family, fasting, politics, poetry, culture, hopes/fears and so on).
–I share the love, forgiveness and assurance of salvation I have found in Jesus Christ and enjoy an open dialogue with them about this. I also strive to make the shape of my life line up with the example of Jesus (thoughts, attitudes, values, etc).
–When my Muslim friends suggest books, articles, videos, etc that I ought to watch/read, I follow through and learn as much as I can. I engage in an open and sustained dialogue with them, assuming that: we both love God; we both are grateful for the tradition in which we have been raised; we both have questions; and we both have found answers that we each find deeply compelling. This is a conversation among friends.
I’m sure that this description is shamefully limited. I’m sure that God will continue to expand the ripple of my pebble. BUT I am convinced that the volume of the Rock of Gibraltar is tiny compared to the cumulative mass of all the grains of sand on the shores encircling the Mediterranean. There is a part of me that thinks all these “initiatives” that we start/join are very important, but they are still only a few big rocks. They make big ripples compared to small pebbles… but what if we mobilized all the pebbles?
What should the daily life of 3.7 billion Muslims and Christians (like me) actually look like? What are the things that bring peace? (Jesus had a lot to say about that 🙂 )

Also – see Fr. Preble’s response to the Quran-burning pastor here.
One of my favorite Bruce Cockburn lines again comes to mind: “Around every evil there gathers love.” Thank God for these good responses to something stupid, misguided, destructive, ugly, and evil.