Jihad And Hearts Broken Open

Before I left Sparkhill, Birmingham a traditional Muslim shopkeeper invited me to sit and talk in his shop. 'I no longer feel safe' he told me. He had refused to put up a poster for a more militant Muslim group. Jon Snow did an ITV programme in a restaurant where I had lunch. He interviewed young men who were angry that Britain's Prime Minister said those who opposed military action in Syria were aiding terrorism. They thought military action without moral and spiritual revolution is part of the problem. Their anger was fanned by Donald Trump in USA who called for all Muslims to be barred entry. His poll ratings went up 40%.

Before I left Birmingham I took a train to Wolverhampton and took Ray Gaston out to lunch. Ray has been inter-faith advisor for a Methodist District. He is part-time Vicar and part-time lecturer at Queens University. He journeyed alongside Muslims in Leeds and, at some danger to himself, lived among them in the streets of Karbala. He describes his experiences in his book 'A Heart Broken Open', which includes a chapter on Christian Jihad and how he fasts during Ramadan. Ray would like to journey with us if we harness our Way of Life and our E-studies to Muslim culture.

The house of my wonderful hosts, Joy and Geoff, was once called Bleak House. I returned to another kind of Bleak House. However, on Sunday the seven Aidan and Hilda folk on Holy Island enjoyed a pre-Christmas celebration meal at The Open Gate, lovingly prepared by Graham and Ellie. Then Sister Sally arrived. Christmas is surely meant to be not so much about broken hearts, but about hearts broken open.

Posted at 12:04pm on 23rd December 2015
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