Morning Joe | December 21, 2012
>>> 37 past the hour. joining us now for faith on fridays discussion, rabbi matthew, bishop mark , and imam w. dean sharif. all part of the interfaith coalition for hope and peace. rabbi, you know why i might eat the whole box of berger cookies.
>> i would guess you've also been asked throughout your life, why do good things -- bad things happen to good people? how could a loving god allow what happened in newtown ? what do you tell your flock when they ask that question?
>> it is probably the most asked theological question. i say to people i don't believe that god chooses one set of people, one person to have some kind of tragic circumstance happen to them. i don't believe that -- i think it is theological nausea to be honest to think that god would choose a specific person to go through a trial. but i do believe that this happens, that people have to grit and bear it but we as god's messengers on earth can be the ones who respond -- family and friends who help people walk through the valley of the shadow . when all that noise sort of disappears and clears out you might have an opportunity to see a new trajectory both for the person and i hope for the nation.
>> and god's work comes after tragedy reaching out to these people, putting yourself second, trying to be there for them in any way you can.
>> especially after the media leaves. we cannot forget this town, we cannot forget people. oftentimes after death it's a month later when people are still struggling and the world continues to spin and people continue to walk through the valley of the shadow .
>> bishop mark beckwith, we saw a priest in newtown crying.
>> there are times when it does feel impossible to bring solace to the grieving. how do you even begin? what were your thoughts initially? what would i do? how would i help from the position that you're in when you heard this?
>> yeah. i start with my wife who used to be a principal of a k through 4 school and the thought of somebody coming into the school, and they had all the security measures to make sure that didn't happen, what would she do? she would do, she said, what the principal in newtown did, at sandy hook , offer her life for kids. and then thinking about just this loss, the tragic, tragic loss, horrific expression of violence and people show up. the question was just asked on why bad things happen to good people. i'm guided by the book written 30 years ago by a raabi, when bad things happen to good people. they do. people do things to one another as we see over and over again. when bad things happen, then other people respond. they offer the comfort of each other. they go down deep to the depths of their faith. and they encourage one another. we saw this in newark five years ago when four young people late one night behind an elementary school were just talking. they're college kids and they were set upon by gang members. three were executed and one survived. there was a level of violence newark had not seen before. it brought us together. it brought us together from our respective traditions and the hope and peace that we try to offer the city of newark and now the whole country is trying to offer similar kind of hope and peace to newtown and beyond.
>> and imam, how do you do that with the people of newark ? and the people at your mosque?
>> in our community the city of newark in which of course i was raised it is unfortunate that we experience this loss and so we certainly understand the tragedy of newtown because this kind of loss in terms of children's lives being taken is something that happens too often in the cities so the violence perpetrated by people who are disturbed and people who are depressed, this mental illness that is plaguing our cities is something that, unfortunately, is plaguing, has been plaguing the inner city for quite sometime. so we have to understand that, you know, the message of hope and the message of peace begins with the language that we begin to share with our young people and that language begins to shape the minds, the hearts, and the souls of people. we can begin to monitor that language and begin to understand that that language must be language of understanding, compassion, and mercy. then i think some of the violence perpetrated as well as some of the depression that sometimes is imposed upon the soul begins to be alleviated.
>> what about, though, and i'll let you all jump in if you feel it, i'll start with rabbi, the culture we live in. this threefold problem that we've been talking about all week. i don't know anybody at this table who doesn't think that one issue is more important than the other -- mental health , the violent video games , and the violent media culture that young people are exposed to as well as the guns that are available in our society -- the assault weapons if i may and we start using that word more and more.
>> i mean, it is one thing to talk about the language and how we treat each other but don't we need to shape our society in a way where people are safe and can build safe minds ?
>> we need to break the cycle and one thing the three of us have found is that people who go to break the cycle are usually seen on the fringe because people believe there is no way in a calderon of violence that this can change. you know what? change is always happening from the fringe going to ward. i don't mean far left or right. i mean fringe pursuers of peace. it's time for us to stop being pro first amendment or antisecond amendment or pro, you know, it's time to be pro peace. it's time to be pro child. it's time to be pro community. it's time to voice our opinions loud and clear. put the politics aside and say this is a religious imperative, a moral imperative , this is an ethical imperative.
>> so jesus said, blessed are the peacemakers .
>> we celebrate as christians, you and i, the arrival of the prince of peace this time every year. how do we forward that promise?
>> jesus came into a world that was fraught with violence. he was born into a culture of violence and violence surrounded everyone who lived at that time and the message that comes through the gospel, the christian message that is the advent message, the christmas message, the primary message to my mind is fear not. we have a lot of things to be afraid of but if we're guided by fear and gripped by fear it puts us in a very difficult position. i believe that fear begets fear and we live in a culture where people become more violent because they're afraid and they arm themselves because they're afraid.
>> that stops the discussion and it doesn't allow for the interplay that we found with each other because we have three separate religious traditions but in the work that we've done together we found a commonality and solidarity and a hope that is more powerful than if we do it separately.
>> and final thoughts for the imam as we close the segment here. we celebrate two celebrations a year called recurring happiness. that is in the same spirit that was documented in the declaration of independence as inalienable rights , those rights the creator has given every human being to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ours are to remind us that pursuit of happiness has to do with the restoration of the original human spirit which is that innocence every human being is born with. then the second is the celebration of the enlightenment of that original human nature . that is the growth of knowledge, the growth of understanding and the growth of compassion.
>> enriching imam shareef, bishop beckwith, rabbi math, thank you so much.
>> our pleasure.
>> thank you.
>> happy holidays to you all.
>> happy holidays, guys. thank you all.
>> up next the latest from wall street . we're back in a moment.
>>> well now.
>> i want to see that picture again. what is that?
>> a symbolic christmas photo.
>> yeah. i think that says it all.