Jeff Weiss of The Dallas Morning News, who is one of the nation's best-known religion-beat specialists, sent me an email this weekend with a subject line that was impossible to ignore. It read: "this one was partly inspired by some of the chat on getreligion." The story is called "Despite shared roots, three faiths find plenty to fight about," and Weiss set out to do the impossible in a punchy news feature -- compare and contrast the beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam on several basic religious questions. Of course, as I wrote that sentence I heard the same voice in my head that I am sure Jeff heard as he started work on this one: Compare and contrast the beliefs of Judaism (which one?), Christianity (which one?) and Islam (which one?) in a newspaper story?
This was an ambitious task, to say the least. Here is the summary section of the story:
For all the post-9/11 talk about common roots and interfaith discussion, some theologians say interfaith dust-ups like the one involving Benedict are inevitable. That's because some of the disagreements are so fundamental.
"Abrahamic" is a big-tent word that implies the three faiths are part of one family. Why can't we all get along?
But no fights are nastier than family fights -- particularly when the battle is over the inheritance. And that's what was at stake in the most recent squabble: Which faith carries the divine legacy of Abraham, the biblical (and Quranic) patriarch to whom God promises, in Genesis, "and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves"?
Of course, it's hard enough to offer a detailed summary of one or two clashing groups' beliefs on a specific question raised by a specific story. How do you think Weiss did taking on so many topics all at once?
Oh, and the art with this post is not a comment on the News article. Honest. Check it out.