At first Job’s friends were in good form on their pastoral visit: sensing the great suffering of their friend, they sat in silence with him for seven days and seven nights. Their mistake was to open their mouths and offer advice.
The enormous ecumenical impact of the Taizé community, with its haunting music and its tradition of silent prayer and meditative chant, is astonishing given that the community never promoted itself. No doubt many American Christians who have made the pilgrimage to Taizé had to suppress their initial disappointment at its unprepossessing buildings and casual presentation.
Controversies over the teaching of evolution are back in the news. President Bush and a prominent Catholic cardinal have lent their support to the teaching of “intelligent design,” a purportedly scientific alternative to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.
After last November’s election, a frustrated member of a Mennonite congregation near South Bend, Indiana, wrote an article for his congregation’s newsletter. In it, he articulated his own political convictions.
After 9/11 Americans asked: Why do they hate us?—they being shadowy extremists from the Middle East. After the terrorist bombings of 7/7 in London, Britons pondered the enemy within: How could middle-class, second-generation British Muslims do this to their fellow citizens?
Mubarak Awad, a Greek Orthodox Catholic influenced by Quakers and Mennonites, could have become the Palestinian Gandhi. After his father was killed by Jewish freedom fighters in 1948, his mother taught her children to turn the other cheek. In 1983 Awad opened the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the aim of fomenting mass nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. His peaceful efforts got him kicked out of the country in 1988. He now teaches nonviolence at American University. He remains optimistic about the prospects of nonviolent resistance in the Middle East, but fears the current conflict between Israel and Gaza is driving more people into the extremist camp (Newsweek, August 11).