Archive for January, 2015

We at First Mennonite are in the business of making religion happen together. Religion has been much in the news lately, with the question hovering all around: Does religion make for violence or non-violence?

It is a powerful and complex question. All religions seem to reflect enormous violence in their ancient texts. And all religions have powerful statements about finding peace, making peace, refusing violence, care for the victim and weak. It is all deeply paradoxical. How can we find a strong sense of our own place, and feel confident that we are on a good path that is based not in wishful thinking but rather thoughtful reflection on what is most true and real about the relationship between human and divine?

Maajid Nawaz was 16 when he joined a radical Islamist group. Now he leads the counter-extremism think tank “Quilliam, and is a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate.

In the Fresh Air podcast “”How Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ Led a Radical Muslim to Moderation”, Nawaz offers answers the question about violence and Islam by saying that in his view religions are not one way or the other. Rather, they always have been and always will be whatever their followers make of them.

I think this is exactly right. It is a secular way of saying that we must live in the dynamic way of the Holy Spirit in order to find what is the best of the Christ-spirit for our day. There will be no guarantee or simple landing-spot from the Bible or from our tradition. Each generation in its day must offer its own incarnation of the Spirit to demonstrate again on earth what we hold to be possible and true and wonderful about our faith. There is ultimately no other appeal.

How do we do this at First Mennonite? I experience it through Sunday morning reflections and hymns and prayers, through service work, and through the character of our relationships with each other (kindness, care, respect, believing the best of each other). How do you experience this? How are you finding your way on the path of faith in these days? How do you long to bear witness for peace? How are you bearing witness for peace?

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