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Archive for the ‘germany’ tag

My Neighbor’s Faith: Trouble Praying

Nancy Fuchs Kreimer is the Director of the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where she is Associate Professor of Religious Studies.

by Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer
from the Huffington Post

“I envy you Jews,” said the young German as he poured my morning coffee.

The year was 1980. I was the guest of a graduate student at Heidelberg University. My stay in his home was part of a month-long trip through Germany with Jews and Christians engaged in “post-Holocaust interfaith dialogue.”

My host’s statement surprised and bewildered me. I was just beginning my dissertation on the topic of anti-Judaism in Protestant “Old Testament” theology and I thought I knew a lot about the relationship between Jews and Christians. In fact, I was planning to devote my career to helping Christians see their complicity in the suffering of the Jews and to transcend the flaws in their theology. I could understand my host feeling sorry for us Jews. I could understand him apologizing to us. But I could not understand him envying us.

“Why in the world would you envy Jews?” I asked.

His reply changed my life.

“I envy you because it is easier for you to pray. You see, we young Germans carry the weight of what our parents and grandparents did — or did not do — during the war. It is hard for us to talk to God. We feel a little embarrassed.” Although the conversation took place 30 years ago, I can conjure it up in an instant: the earnestness in my fellow student’s voice, the clarity in his blue eyes.

I had thought, until then, that it was we Jews, the victims, who had trouble praying! There was something about the way he said it — perhaps the phrase “a little embarrassed” — that made it feel completely genuine. This conversation clarified for me my core belief, a very useful thing to discover at the age of 27. After that morning, I possessed an orienting idea, a place to check in regularly to see if my plans were aligned with what I believed.

I believe that we should live our lives so that our children won’t be “a little embarrassed” if they want to pray. Until that morning, I thought that meant being a good daughter, a compassionate friend and a dutiful citizen. But now I saw something new: taking responsibility for the group from which I derive my identity, the group whose actions will lead my children to be proud or embarrassed before God. For me, that group was and is the Jewish people.

The immediate result of this revelation was that I changed my dissertation topic. Rather than looking at problematic Christian texts, I would study problematic Jewish writings. I would investigate the ways in which my own tradition misunderstands others rather than point a finger at the others for misunderstanding us.

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Integration in Germany is Making Progress

by Jonathan Laurence

You wouldn’t expect it in light of the resurgent German debate about the willingness of young Muslims to integrate into mainstream society, but integration in Germany is actually faring better than expected.

With his highly selective summary of a 700- page integration report – focusing on the one in four “non-German Muslims” who resist majority society – Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich confirmed his pattern of expressing skepticism about Muslim integration in Germany.

From the moment Friedrich took office, he updated the 1990s conservatives mantra that “Germany is not a country of immigration” for the post-citizenship reform era by arguing that Islam did not truly “belong” to Germany. He thereby inserted himself in a decades-long tradition of conservative politicians in denial of the country’s ethno-religious diversity.

Germany is lacking the mainstream political leaders who can take away the punchbowl of nationalism and assume the adult role of informing the German public that they are now a diverse society. The new nationality law may mean that most Turkish-Germans would be born with German citizenship from 2000 onwards, but German politicians have still not fully digested the implications of cultural diversity that follow from that reform.

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German Muslims Show Solidarity with Threatened Catholic Churches

by Ruby Russell
from ENI News

Three Catholic churches in the west German region of North-Rhine Westphalia that may have to close this month have received a show of solidarity from the local Muslim community.

Muhammed Al, chairman of the Merkez Mosque Association, wrote to Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck, head of the Essen diocese, on behalf of local Muslims last fall about the three Catholic churches in the town of Duisberg.

“We emphasized our long years of cooperation with the parishes and the importance of the churches in the area. We said this should be seen not just from a financial perspective, but also a cultural and social perspective [including] for the sake of interfaith and cultural dialogue,” Al said in an interview.

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Praying for Peace with the Community of Sant’Egidio

by Katherine Marshall
from Huffington Post

For 25 years, the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic group inspired by the ideals of true friendship with the poor, has organized an annual gathering of religious and lay leaders from all corners of the world. Peace is the theme always, and the event has the character of a pilgrimage, as it takes place each year in a different city. This year it is in Munich, and this sparkling city in southern Germany is witnessing a colorful array of visitors that represents a living pageant of world religious history. Catholic and Orthodox leaders are perhaps the most obvious, in their contrasting red, white and black robes and hats, but a splash of orange on monks from South and southeast Asia, more sober garb on Japanese Buddhists and the meticulous robes of the Japanese Shinto group are testimony to the wide reach of this gathering.

The annual event brings the leaders together to demonstrate that indeed peace is for them a powerful and common bond. Dozens of panel discussions explore different conflict situations and issues. And there is a vivid public face. This year’s title and theme is, with a somewhat stilted but thought-provoking title, “Bound to Live Together: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue.” “Bound to” evokes the powerful links in today’s globalized world. Speaking among many other issues to Europe’s tensions in grappling with immigrants, “bound to” also means that we simply have to live together, like it or not.

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German Muslim community works toward understanding in minaret debate

In Volkingen, Germany a Muslim congregation applied to build a minaret and three golden cupolas on the roof of the old movie theater it had converted into a mosque. The far-right party in the state of Saarland, emboldened by last year’s ban on minarets in Switzerland raised the issue, calling the proposed 28-foot minaret “the bayonet of Islam.”

Read how the Muslim congregation responded to resistance from their community by taking steps to forge peaceful relations.

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March 26th, 2010 at 5:05 am