The Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, the Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine reflects on breaking the cycle of hate between Christians and Muslims in the Huffington Post:
Turning Cheeks: Why Christians and Muslims Should Break the Cycle of Hate
By James Kowalski in The Huffington Post
Last fall I was in Switzerland at a seminar that included several Iranian scholars. The topic was Ecological and Environmental Justice, and Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered around a table studying their respective sacred texts and traditions. What did each say about our stewardship of this planet and responsibilities to care for resources without which future generations will not be able to survive? That seminar took place as Florida pastor Terry Jones was threatening to burn a copy the Quran. I came to appreciate what we would lose if the Quran and its teaching about the environment were to be destroyed: a long tradition of theology about what it means to be faithful to this planet and to each other.
Repeatedly, my Muslim colleagues asked, "What could be so much more important to you, when we say that burning a copy of the Quran would rupture our relationship because of the desecration and disrespect shown?" I kept trying to explain that, as an American, as sacred as my religious vows are, I have a socially binding contract in the vow each American citizen makes to the United States Constitution. I thought burning the Quran would be disrespectful and wrong, but that someone still had the right to do it in my country -- even though I hoped they would not.
Terry Jones did not act then. Instead, he traveled to New York City and met with Muslims -- for the first time, I imagined. Perhaps he even read some portions of the Quran -- also likely for the first time. I wanted to believe education and conversation could open anyone to the realities that in diverse societies we either live together or tear each other down. I was not sure Jones would change, but I wanted also to believe he would see that burning the Quran was more dangerous than courageous, and that any idea it "sent a message" was misguided.