Christian-Muslim Relations Focused on by Many Chicagoland Efforts

September 22, 2006

Source: Chicago Tribune,1,2888233.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

On September 22, 2006 the Chicago Tribune reported, "The outrage and violence that erupted after Pope Benedict XVI used an offensive quote to describe Islam pushed the need for interfaith dialogue to the world's attention. Yet even before that controversial incident occurred, Christian and Muslim leaders in the Chicago area already were engaging in constructive dialogue and planning to expand those efforts. This week alone, three universities in the area are holding lectures or conferences to discuss interfaith relations between Muslims and Christians. On Thursday night, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago marked the opening of its new Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice. The director of the center is Harold Vogelaar, a retired professor of world missions and interfaith dialogue who lived in the Middle East for nearly 25 years. Vogelaar said the 14th Century quotation used by Benedict, in which a Christian emperor spoke of Islam being spread by the sword, shows that altercations between Muslims and Christians have a long, painful history. But in the opening of the new center, Vogelaar sees some hope. 'We often tend to lift up the worst and overlook the best. But with this center, we want a place where we can bring Muslims and Christians together, where we own up to our past and envision a more creative future,' he said. 'Owning up to that past can be painful. But in smaller groups, we can try to get a deeper understanding.'"