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Holy Days and Holy Terror

1 October 2008 One Comment

Commentary by Mary Liston Liepold

It’s one of those weeks when the great religions observe solemnities together—and apart. Ramadan ends today with the feast of Eid al Fitr and the Jewish High Holy Days have begun, building to the solemn Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, on October 9. This week ends on October 4 with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi – he who traveled unarmed, with one unarmed companion, through the bloodbath of the Fifth Crusade to visit the Sultan Malik al Kamil. Their conversation has been called the first ecumenical dialogue.

Eight centuries later, all most people seem to know about this great and humble saint is that he liked animals. And we’re still taking baby steps toward liking other humans, especially across religious boundaries, while the harsh spirit of the Crusades goes on and on. Violence directed against Christians has destroyed 4,000 homes in the Indian state of Orissa and spread to Karnatka, Kerala, and other states in recent weeks, according to reports we’re receiving from a Peace X Peace member. This is newsworthy, in our blood-soaked world, largely because this time, Christians are the victims. And the “war on terror” continues, in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world.

In every nation, in every age, and in every religious community, women spoon soup into the survivors, bandage the wounds, and reach across boundaries to heal their communities. We clean and cook and welcome guests for the holidays. And in times and places of relative peace, we can be provocateurs as well as peacemakers, to build a sustainable peace that is grounded in full inclusion.

Amina Wadud and Katherine Jefferts Schori, a Muslim scholar and the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, both made waves in 2006 that are still making news today. Wadud’s 2006 book, Inside the Gender Jihad, is being reviewed and debated for its challenging vision of an Islam that fully includes women. Jefferts Schori continues to speak out for gays and other marginalized groups in her communion, with enough faith in God and humans to dismiss the threat of a global schism rending her church. And Israel’s Tzipi Livni heads a state based on religious identity where the Ultra-Orthodox papers won’t even publish her picture.

Sadly, division flourishes within our individual households as it does within the households of faith. So we must note that today is the first day of Domestic Violence Month, observed in the US and beyond since 1978. Peace X Peace joins the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, the Spiritual Alliance on Intimate Violence, V-Day, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and other excellent organizations in working for a world where every household is a safe one, where all people are free to worship, to love, and to realize their God-given potential without fear.

About the Author

Mary Liepold is the Editor-in-Chief at Peace X Peace. To reach Dr. Liepold, email
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One Comments to “Holy Days and Holy Terror”
  1. Barbara says:

    Your article reminded me of a quote attributed to an Unknown Monk
    c. 1100 CE (even before St Francis) How many centuries must we continue the same behaviours before we embrace this simple truth? As long as we are ego driven I suspect. Here is the quote:

    “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world. “

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