"Here we have a multifaith, multi-approach, multi-ideological site flourishing—at a time when we’re supposed to be getting more fragmented, more contentious, more divided.” So wrote Steve Waldman, editor-in-chief and cofounder of Beliefnet (www.belief.net) at the beginning of the year on the first anniversary of the site.
The drive from Afula in Israel south to Jalame in the West Bank takes only minutes, but these two towns are worlds apart. Afula is a relatively affluent suburb with ATMs, tree-lined streets and pleasant neighborhoods.
Up until some point in the 1960s, people of a certain class routinely belonged to segregated country clubs without giving it much thought—it was “normal.” And then, in the space of a few years, those memberships became immoral.
During the Vietnam war, pictures of death and destruction filled our television screens. In the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pictures of terrorized children and suicide bombings have appeared on our computer screens. Anyone interested in following this conflict can log on to sites showing images of demonstrators on the West Bank or of stone-throwing youth facing tanks.
My encounters with Arab Christians in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine have changed the way I look at both the New Testament and the mission of the church. My richest experiences have been in Palestine, because my career has brought me back to the Holy Land again and again. Each time I entered this world, I made new friends among Palestinian Christians, who have shaped me in many ways.