To the editor:
Dr. Emil Homerin, in his March 12 presentation on Islam, did not take the time to tell about some exciting ways in which Christianity and Islam are creatively dialoguing in our increasingly interconnected world. I am sure there are many, many more local examples beyond those with which I am familiar:
-Gail Schlosser, a former InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff person (a lay chaplain) at Geneseo, has worked in London for over 10 years since leaving Geneseo, doing transition-bridging work with Muslim women in lower socioeconomic status areas.
-As part of the widespread "adopt a people-group" effort to encourage international awareness, one of the large churches up near Rochester (Browncroft Community Church) has "adopted" Senegal, an East African Muslim country. The church regularly sends medical and educational teams to back-country areas and welcomes Senegalese representatives to the United States.
-Two Geneseo grads, Mike and Wendy Eaton, who now work for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in New York City, have led month-long student trips to Palestine. There the students interact with Palestinians, learn more about the complex situation they and Israelis face, and carry out service projects.
-The recent IVCF conference for college/university faculty and grad students in Western New York featured Yale University's professor of world religions, Lamin Sanneh, as well as the Cornell University Muslim chaplain, dialoguing on Christian-Muslim relations both in the United States and around the world.
Disappointingly, Homerin's concluding sentences implicitly denounced faithful Christians and Muslims - indeed those who have faith in any religious belief system at all. He announced that the only hope for the future was "secular humanism," a slim hope indeed in light of recent sociological research substantiating the deep impact of faith in today's multicultural world. (See, for example, the work of Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow or Notre Dame's Christian Smith.)
Homerin's understandings reflect a sad failure to recognize that the only reasonable hope for world peace and justice is found in people of faith - and those without faith - who "speak the truth in love" and commit themselves to the highest and best understandings of their heritages.
-Dr. Ernest Balajthy
Professor of education