Subversive Interfaith Friendships in a World at War
THE GOSPEL OF RUTBA: War, Peace, and the Good Samaritan Story in Iraq
Media contact: Will Bower of Allen Media Strategies
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In remembrance of “Shock & Awe, ” the U.S.-led bombardment of Iraq initiated on March 19, 2003, Christian peace activist-author Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way, author-journalist Greg Barrett of The Gospel of Rutba, Jeremy Courtney of Baghdad’s Preemptive Love Coalition, and Iraqi-American Sami Rasouli of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams, will speak of real-life events in Iraq that redefine the idea of “enemy.”
On consecutive nights in New York City (March 18 at 8 p.m. in Park Ave. Christian Church) and Washington, D.C. (March 19 at 7 p.m. in New York Ave. Presbyterian Church), the 10-year anniversary of the war on Iraq will be remembered in storytelling, first-person accounts, film, photos, conversation, and the inspired songs of musician John Francis. Also, exclusive to the event in Washington, D.C., poet Kathleen O’Toole will read. Events will be streamed live on Ustream at The Gospel of Rutba LIVE.
Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution and co-author of Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said, among other books, is a founding partner of The Simple Way, a faith community in downtown Philadelphia that helps to plant and connect radical faith communities globally. As a leader of the burgeoning Neo-monastic movement, Claiborne writes and travels extensively to speak about peacemaking, social justice, and how the lessons of Jesus guide humanity away from violence and materialism. Claiborne spent three weeks in Baghdad and resided alongside everyday Iraqis during the first nine days of the 2003 invasion.
Greg Barrett, a former newspaper and wire correspondent based in Washington, D.C., is the author of The Gospel of Rutba. The book examines the U.S. military industrial complex and the lives of peacemakers in prewar and war-torn Iraq. He returned to Iraq in 2010 with Claiborne and others to tell the awe-inspiring story of Rutba. His reporting spans Thailand, Mexico, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and his previous book, The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions & Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok, is a Nautilus Book Award Silver Medalist. He speaks frequently on college campuses and in churches.
Jeremy Courtney, a native of Texas, lives in Iraq with his family and is the founder and executive director of Preemptive Love Coalition, a five-year-old international charity that has provided more than 300 heart surgeries to a backlog of Iraqi children suffering from birth defects. He speaks frequently about how acts of love and charity can help reconcile “enemies” and heal the wounds of war. His book, Preemptive Love: Thousands of Dying Children, One Family’s Audacious Quest, and a Love that Risks Everything to Undermine Hate, will be released in October.
Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi-American raised in Najaf, Iraq, is the co-founder of Muslim Peacemaker Teams and the Minnesota-based Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP). Rasouli was living in Minneapolis and owned Sinbad’s cafe and market when he moved home to Najaf in 2004 to help Iraq heal and rebuild. He speaks frequently in the United States and the Middle East on issues of war and peace. In 2010 he accompanied Claiborne and Barrett back to Iraq and to help facilitate their interviews with Rutba’s Good Samaritans.
John Francis, a singer/songwriter based in Philadelphia, PA, has received two national lyricist awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP): Socially Conscious Songwriter of the Year (2011), and Lyricist of the Year (2007). His record, “The Better Angels“, recorded in the fabled studio of Johnny Cash and produced by John Carter Cash (son of Johnny and June Carter), is an artful mix of Rock, Folk, Country and Gospel. “Like the best story-songs from Springsteen…the tale and the telling haunt the listener.” (Sojourners Magazine). Heavy radio play allows John Francis to tour extensively in the US, Canada, and Europe. Francis is also one of the music directors for Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, and the founder of ‘The City of Love’ music festival.
Kathleen O’Toole, a poet living in Washington, D.C., explores the intersections of faith, creativity, war, and public policy in her work. She’s published two volumes of poetry, Practice and Meanwhile.
Photo Credit: Jamie Moffett