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Winter Light

By Paul Chaffee


Bittersweet may be the best word for the final months of 2015. The international gathering of leaders in Paris took climate change more seriously than ever before, a major step forward in terms of what is required. But the climate agreements were punctuated by violent massacres in Paris and San Bernardino and by the ongoing chaos in the Middle East, which has never been more toxic.

In these sad times it’s been gratifying to witness people of faith and practice reaching out to their neighbor Muslims in the peace-loving traditions we share. A growing list of local stories exploring healthy interfaith relationships with Muslims appeared on my computer this past month, and when the Charter of Compassion published the first edition of Islamophobia Guidebook late last month, I knew we had a special issue to address. You’ll find five articles focused on “Understanding and Addressing Islamophobia,” all of them arguing, one way or another, that we affirm the religious diversity promised by the founders of the U.S. Constitution and that we treat each other with respect and good-will. The section includes the story of a woman of color, a Muslim immigrant, who joined the U.S. Army and served with distinction for 35 years, including many as a Muslim chaplain.

You’ll see from this month’s other contributions that in spite of the violence and mayhem in the world today, good-willed people of faith and practice everywhere are exploring the emerging interfaith culture around us in positive, creative ways. There is so much to share, so much to do. This month’s articles by T. Thorn Coyle, Marcus Braybrooke, Mark Waters, Mary Hunt, Lauren Zinn, and Saphira Rameshfar represent the tip of the iceberg. Enjoy.