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Letters August 2017

Radical love but what next?

Thank you Rev Dr Peter Hobson for your challenge for us to join the mustard-seed conspiracy in response to violence and terror in our world (July 2017 edition).

This is indeed a radical (at the root) response. In the safety and privacy of our homes and local churches, it is not hard to picture praying for the world, with love. Some of us may have opportunity in our day-to-day lives to interact with Muslims and hence have an opportunity to act toward them with respect and friendship.

Some of us however do not meet up with Muslims in our suburbs or places of work.

In this case, how can we best offer the world an alternative story? How can we at the wider societal level as Australian Christians engage in conversation with them? What actions can we take to demonstrate our willingness to retaliate with love? More guidance from you please.

Jenny Fitzgerald

Rev Dr Peter Hobson offers this response:

Thank you for your letter Jenny.

The article (July 2017 edition) I wrote for Journey was speaking to the role of the church in a world filled with violence and terror. It was not specifically seeking to address ways that we can build relationships with our Muslim sisters and brothers. All too often, however, we tend to automatically associate terrorism with religious extremism and violence, which is in and of itself a point of deep sadness and concern.

But in relation to the questions you raise in your letter, let me add the following.

  1. Prayer does not need to be personal and private—it can also be corporate and public. Your local church can host a time of prayer and fasting for your community. This can be a wonderful way to bring people together. This could also be a multi-faith event if you wanted to build relationships with other faiths that may be marginalised or treated with suspicion.
  2. Prayer prompts us to act. It also changes us. Prayerful engagement with any issue can give us the passion and creativity, the courage and capacity to find solutions to problems that may have seemed too hard to solve.
  3. In our contemporary world—our neighbours may not necessarily live next door or even down the road. There are online forums that we can join that can help to create space for conversation and community building.
  4. We offer the world an alternative story by constantly telling it and faithfully living it. Be at peace with yourself and your loved ones. Be creative and courageous in your peacemaking at home and at work and at play.
  5. And finally: be encouraged. Writing your letter is itself an act of faithful engagement. We can’t do everything, but we can, and must, do something.


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