A change of heart can mean many things. I think it is the movement from resentment to gratitude. From “Why is this happening to me?” to “Why not?”
Jesus had a pure heart. Just like Thomas Merton. Just like Hussain. They don’t care about anything except telling what is true. They give voice to the unspeakable. They tell of the unspeakable evil in high places.
Lent is a practice. It is a practice preparing us for tests. Taking on a practice, giving up a pleasure for the season, fasting periodically, say one or two days a week, sunrise to sunset, engaging in a study or reflection that you may not normally do, exploring some inconvenient truth that needs attention, learning about the suffering of another, practicing compassion.
Then of course, failing at what you set out to do is part of the practice. Maybe you won’t fail. Then the test wasn’t challenging enough.
Matthew Fox said that we are all artists. We can never shirk our responsibility for our own creativity or the joy of that. We are all prophets, too, meaning that we all are called to speak our truth, to say what it is that we feel is true and right and good and to share that. To bear witness is the phrase I love to use. To say, “This is what I see. This is what I hear.” We say it regardless of what it is, because it may be the thing that we need to see or hear or say or hear from another that can actually lead to our salvation and to our healing.
So there’s actually kind of this interesting similarity, I think, between the Muslim Jesus and the historical Jesus of the Jesus Seminar.
This is what I do. I am not some slick marketer who can come in and tell you how to get young people in the church, or sing and dance to soft hits of the 80s. I find most of that stuff to be a bunch of bull. I can however tell you what I think is going on and help open discussions on how we might respond, theologically, ethically, and practically to changes that are coming.
Our minds are not free if they don’t take us where our doubts take us. They are not free if we allow others to set the boundaries of what we can and cannot explore. We should search for what we think is true even if doing so challenges conventional wisdom.
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
King didn’t stop the war. The war machine has morphed and magnified 100 times since his time. It is worse than it has ever been. King did not succeed. But he spoke the truth. A truth that we can only trust will bear fruit in God’s time.
Interfaith work is authentic, in my opinion, only to the degree that we can be changed by the encounter. Otherwise it’s just talking heads. To enter into interfaith activity or any kind of faith activity we must be vulnerable enough to know that that activity may change us in significant and important ways. And only then is it an interfaith activity. And so, yes, I have been changed this past year in my engagement with Islam and the trip to Arbaeen and the work about that.
But that shouldn’t be unusual. We should all be engaged in that in some form or another wherever we are on our path. I find that a fruitful thing to make me, I would hope, a better Christian. In fact, I think there are very exciting things between Christianity and Islam that is worth all of us to explore.