I have written a book titled INTRUSION which ends with the foundation of a group, “the children of Abraham.” Although it is fictional, I would not think but that the Pope was saying the same thing: differences are a source of riots, wars, and general disorder.
Of course, only three branches of religion spring from Abraham: Jews, Christians, Muslims. But without gong further east, this covers a good part of Europe Africa, and even the United States. He included in this partnership for the common good atheists, who, contrary to the opinion of many, live by the same 10 commandments that “religious” people do. I have never found it an impairment to working together.
However since I came to this idea a bit ahead of the Pope, and wrote it down,and will carry it on in another volume, I wonder how many of us agree with us? We have served in Methodist and Episcopal churches although we are Roman Catholics, not in a “platform ecumenism, but the real thing (like chowder dinners for Lent–) (never can I face another bowl of clam chowder)–while the Episcopalians, now members of the Anglican Communion, operated a soup kitchen where, since we somehow carried he costs ourselves, we could pray for people without taking government money. One finds our guests , many of them, had deep faith–even if it meant arguing. (I once found a 17 page tract on my windshield).
However, with social friendship, one learns quite a lot. Take Ramadan. Fasting from dawn to dusk–this means not drinking anything either!! My son and daughter-in-law had a child care working and living with them for nearly four years and I have watched her sit on the lawn with us while our son broiled steaks–without a murmur. Than there was the skimpily clad woman on TV–we both burst out laughing at the same time. “Yes, we could use a bit more modesty,” said I.
Another Muslim friend told me it was easy–get up before sunrise and eat a big meal. That still doesn’t sound too easy to me. Not to mention the first prayer of the day is said BEFORE sunrise!
What should I say about the Jews? I never grew up thinking there was any division between us, as my father had a friend Manny, and every Christmas time he would call him and sing “Oh Come OH Come Emmanuel,” and we would exchange church/synagogue visits. The Torah, mishrash the apocrypha–they all include wisdom and law. Anyone ever notice the 1- commandments cover the whole ball park? The first two relate to God, the rest to human behavior. Doesn’t a visit to your neighbor’s faith practices sound better than telling Protestants they are going straight to hell? No joke–I was told that.
So, how can the concept of the children of Abraham help us? The divine personage the Sidi of my novel always refers to as “the lady” does not put her in any “faith camp,” but spreads her wings over all Abraham’s children, just as her apparition did, for three whole years.
If you haven’t heard about her, browse “Our Lady of Zeitoun!”