Loving God and Neighbor:Christians and Muslims at Yale

This week, more than 150 Muslim and Christian leaders gathered at Yale University to carry on the dialogue that was begun with the publication of A Common Word Between Us and You by a group of distinguished Muslim scholars and the subsequent responses from Christian leaders around the world. The conference is being sponsored by the Yale Reconciliation Project and His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan. The Monday night keynote address was given by Senator John Kerry, as he stressed the pressing need to find common ground:

In a world where today a Catholic, a Protestant, a Russian Orthodox Christian, a Confucian ex-Communist, a Hindu, a Muslim, and many assume a Jewish finger sits on a nuclear button, it’s a delusion to think we can retreat to our safe spaces. . . The reality is that our faiths– and fates– are inextricably intertwined. The poet Auden said it best, “We must love one another or die.” It’s a delusion to think we have any choice but to find a way to live together.

He noted the tremendous difficulties that accompanied the American experiment of creating a society where there exists a pluralism of viewpoints, goals, and religious orientations, and declared:

From many faiths, one shared country. That achievement rests on our solution to the age-old question: Who defines the truth in public space? Our experiment has succeeded because we’ve allowed for different notions of truth in public life. Many believe that to do otherwise is to invite permanent war.

and then Kerry challenged those present:

Can our great faith traditions come together and forge a consensus on the conditions of life that will empower people to find their own fulfillment? It seems to me that we cannot move forward as a planet if we do not come to some rough consensus on what these broad rights are. Beyond that we must find ways to secure these goods for everyone on our planet while simultaneously discussing, arguing and sharing our particular understandings of God and God’s call for how we are to live our lives.

As the conference unfolds, Yale will make video of the sessions available online. As of today, you can find Kerry’s keynote; the welcome; a keynote address from Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric; a Conference panel on Loving God with Ayot Mohaghagh Damad, Naim Travna, and David Ford; and a panel on Loving Neighbor with Mustafa Cherif, Martin Accad, and Tokunboh Adeyemo. More videos will be posted when available.

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