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The Pastor and the Imam

Yesterday I went to a presentation at Glasgow University hosted by the chaplaincy and featuring two men form Nigeria awarded honorary doctorates for their work on mediation between faith and/or racial communities in some of the most violent parts of Africa.  You read more about the DVD they showed us here.

The story was an inspiring one, if far from unique, showing how two men from pretty conservative faith perspectives and each having been involved in religious militia had found a way to overcome their hatred in order to work for peace.  I'm not entirely convinced the nature of interfaith dialogue was clear from the film, though it was more visible in the Q&A that followed, nor did this DVD illustrate how the mediation or reconciliation worked.  A second DVD, not yet on sale, called An African Answer (here at time of posting) moved this on somewhat with an example from Kenya and showed how a racially (tribally) divided Christian community was helped to rebuild relationships.

It was an interesting session, with very personable speakers.  It has taken them around 15 years to reach the trust they clearly share... this has been no quick fix but a long and sometimes painful process.  I couldn't help feeling that the images that most powerfully illustrated what had been achieved were those of the two wives.  The pastor's wife with bare arms, legs and head wearing fairly low cut top walked hand-in-hand with the imam's wife, whose sparkling eyes peeked out from head-to-toe black clothing.  Neither had compromised on her beliefs or practices but each had learned to love the other.

I'm not sure I learned anything new about dialogue or about reconciliaton, but it was good to see it in action.

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