These are not great times for Jewish-Muslim relations. In many ways, these are not great times for religion as such. There is so much bad religion around that we sometimes wish it didn't exist. It need not be so. It was not always so. Moments like holy times, such as the month of Ramadan and the concluding Eid el Fitr, are moments when we can imagine alternatives.
Last weekend the Pacific Coast Theological Society (PCTS) celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary in Berkeley. We read the first papers presented by its founding members. Each one had the title "What is Essential in the Christian Religion," followed by a subtitle that more precisely described that author's project.
At the end of our first session together, we had a surprising group indulgence in a morsel of dark chocolate. That little dove chocolate got my analytical gears churning about another dove, the one carrying an olive branch as a symbol of peace, who reminded me that I am an active participant in a social movement for change, peace and tolerance.