Brian McLaren on “The Innocence of Muslims”

Brian McLaren has a new book out: Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. With all of the turmoil in the Middle East regarding the (ridiculous) film The Innocence of Muslims, I thought I’d dial Brian up on Google+ and ask him for his thoughts about what thoughtful Christians can do.

To be honest, I’m feeling downhearted about the whole situation. If someone as gifted and goodhearted at Ambassador Chris Stevens can’t get through to Libyans/Arabs/Muslims, what can I do from my Midwestern suburbs? So, I asked Brian that, and a couple other questions:

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Respecting Ramadan

My friend, Chris Heuertz, has a thoughtful and challenging post for all Christians:

Christmas, of course, is a sacred religious festival for Christians, celebrating the birth of our Christ. And so the recognition of this religious holiday from so many Muslim friends always surprised me. Isa or Jesus is a revered prophet in the Islamic tradition, and so there are clear hinges for Muslims to observe portions of the celebrations, but holiday greetings have always been a sincere affirmation of friendship.

Though many of my Muslim friends remembered me on many of the Christian holidays, I routinely failed to recognize theirs.

Ramadan is not only a special time for Muslims, but for people of all faiths. For non-Muslims, we are invited to consider making our own sacrifices and we are challenged to follow the example of our devoted friends. This is a prayerful time to consider what a more peaceful world might look like if we’d all prioritize periods of religious or non-religious purification.

So this week, to honor your valued friendships with Muslims return the respect and affirmation by wishing them “Ramadan Mubarak.” And come mid-August when the first crescent of the new moon is visible and the fast is completed be sure to wish them “Eid ul-Fitr Mubarak” or “Eid Mubarak” to celebrate their devotion and sacrifices.

via Ramadan, a sacred time for reflection, sacrifice to Muslims and appreciation as non-Muslims – Guest Voices – The Washington Post.

Being Gay in Islam: Not Easy

The Economist reports on the slowly shifting sands of GLBT rights in Islam:

Gay life in the open in Muslim-majority countries is rare, but the closet is spacious. Countries with fierce laws, such as Saudi Arabia, also have flourishing gay scenes at all levels of society. Syria’s otherwise fearsome police rarely arrest gays. Sibkeh park in Damascus is a tree-filled children’s playground during the day. By night it is known for the young men who linger on its benches or walls. Wealthy Afghans buy bachabazi, (dancing boys) as catamites.

READ THE REST Islam and homosexuality: Straight but narrow | The Economist.

Three Predictions for 2011

Yesterday I appeared on Doug Pagitt Radio to look back at my predictions for the year in religion, entered a year ago, and to make some new predictions for the coming year.  I’ll post the video of the show when it’s available later today.  Until then, here’s a recap:

Regarding last year, we agreed that Muslims were less deference in American society.  I had predicted last year that politicians and pundits would stop calling Islam a “religion of peace,” and Pres W was so fond of doing. Indeed, the Religion News Service rated the NYC mosque debate as the number one religion story of 2010, and that was surely a debate ginned up with angry rhetoric from the right.  And not many prominent lefties weighed in — when Obama did, he did so tepidly and had to semi-retract a day later.

None of my other predictions could be so clearly declared accurate or inaccurate.

As for the coming year, I made three predictions:

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