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MennoMedia documentary airs on ABC-TV

‘Waging Peace’ features Muslim-Christian interaction 

Oct. 5, 2011

Harrisonburg, Va.—The recent 10-year commemorations of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks examined how the world has changed as a result, with many commentators noting profound distrust and animosity among some Christians and Muslims.

Muslims and Christians quiltingHowever, a new one-hour documentary, Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives, airing this fall on ABC-TV stations, examines courageous threads of peace also quietly being sown around the world. The documentary was produced by Third Way Media, a department of MennoMedia.

In the documentary, Lynne Hybels, an author, speaker, and activist from Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago says, “The rising rhetoric of hatred was just becoming deafening, and I thought whatever your politics, whatever your religion, that just can’t be right.”

Philip Clayton, dean of Claremont School of Theology and provost of Claremont Lincoln University, an interreligious consortium of schools, notes, “There remain certain sharp differences between Christianity and Islam. The two can’t sort of be brought together into one little synthesis as if they’re really saying the same thing. But from a peacemaking perspective, that’s exactly the point where our interest should begin.”

Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs for the Islamic Center of Southern California, says, “Most scholars historically have suggested that the rule in Islam is peace, but one can defend themselves when under attack, either by being compelled out of their faith or out of their land.” But, as he points out, “in fact, the Koran says very clearly to take one innocent human life is as if you take the life of all of humanity. And to save one innocent life is as if you save the life of all of humanity.”

A wide variety of additional persons add their perspectives in the documentary, including Rashied Omar, research scholar of Islamic studies and peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame; David W. Shenk, author of A Muslim and Christian in Dialogue; Martin Marty, church historian and longtime columnist for Christian Century; Peggy Gish of Christian Peacemaker Teams; Tamim Ansary, an Afghan-American author and lecturer on Islam; Najeeba Syeed-Miller, assistant professor of interreligious education at Claremont Lincoln University; Shafiq Hudda, a Shia imam in Kitchener, Ontario; Jon Hoover, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Nottingham in England; Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Core; and J.E. Rash, founder of Legacy International.

The documentary is intended to help communities find creative ways to build peaceful and just relationships, says producer Burton Buller. “The basic concept is that while Christianity and Islam both have warrior-like histories and those who take up the sword in the name of faith, another reality exists. In this time of mistrust and war, some Muslims and Christians are dedicating their lives to the pursuit of peace.”

Stories in the documentary include:

  • Muslim-Christian interaction in Ontario. Mennonite Pastor Fred Redekop and Muslim Imam Shafiq Hudda began having breakfast together, which led to getting their faith communities involved in conversation, meals, and volunteer projects, including making and knotting comforters together to give to refugees. Muslim students have also begun attending Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, and students and parents alike appreciate the opportunities to share friendship as well as discuss similar interests in faith, world history, and politics.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Middle East. Beth Pyles and Peggy Gish talk about applying the peace teachings of Jesus in violent situations in Iraq and other places. They have been part of numerous missions to that region.
  • Interfaith training in California. Claremont School of Theology, long a respected seminary for training Christian leaders, founded, along with Jewish and Muslim scholars, the Claremont Lincoln University offering religious training in all three faith traditions.
  • Peace camp in Virginia. An interfaith peace camp in Harrisonburg, Va., builds bridges of understanding for children and families from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. Children use art, writing, speaking, recreation, play, and role-play, and they visit Christian, Jewish, and Muslim places of worship.
  • Muslims and Baptist Christians share their perspectives and internal conflict on being neighboring houses of worship in a community in California.
  • A health clinic established by a group of Muslim medical students serves their low-income neighbors.
  • Interfaith Youth Core brings together young people of different religious traditions in cooperative service to others, and dialogue around shared values.

Initial funding for the Waging Peace documentary was provided through a grant from Odyssey Networks and smaller foundations and individuals.

Third Way Media was the production agency for the documentary produced by Buller Films in cooperation with Inner-Attainment TV. Sheri Hartzler and Hassanah Thomas-Tauhidi served as executive producers.

Third Way Media, based in Harrisonburg, Va., has an almost 60-year history of producing award-winning media on religious and social issues affecting North American culture. Inter-Attainment TV is a nonprofit television production company specializing in programs that educate and enlighten people about the faith and cultures of Islam.

Waging Peace will air on ABC at the discretion of local affiliated TV stations. Stations that decide to show the documentary will air it sometime between Oct. 23 and Dec. 18. For information on dates and times, see www.InterfaithBroadcasting.com. Churches are encouraged to call their local ABC TV stations to urge them to air the documentary.

The documentary was distributed to ABC stations by the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission in cooperation with the National Council of Churches.

Waging Peace is available for purchase after Nov. 1 at www.WagingPeaceAlternatives.com. The price is $24.95 in the U.S. and $27.95 in Canada. A two-minute preview of the documentary can be viewed at the website above.

MennoMedia was founded on July 1 in Harrisonburg, Va., from the merger of Mennonite Publishing Network and Third Way Media. The new agency serves both Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

Melodie Davis

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