My brothers-from-other-mothers Dawud Wharnsby and Billy Jonas and I have a musical trio together, Abraham Jam. All three of us are songwriters and have musical careers on our own, but we have gathered together from time to time over the last dozen years or so to make music together. We are not currently touring, but we remain very close friends, and are working on some creative endeavors together.
“Harmony” is an important word for us, not just because of its musical meaning, but because the three of us are on the paths of the three different branches of Abrahamic tradition — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As a synonym for peace, “harmony” means more to us than “unity,” perhaps because we are musicians and understand those words in a musical context; unison singing is where everyone is singing the same note, but harmony is when we are singing different notes that sound good together. Peacemaking is often misunderstood as coming to a point of agreement. It may be better understood as finding a healthy way forward together in the midst of disagreement.
Activism can be understood to have two parts — interrupting what we see as wrong, and creating and modeling a better way. As Richard Rohr famously wrote, “the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” Abraham Jam is an effort toward that. If you would like to know more about the trio, there is a short documentary at abrahamjam.com.
In this time of staggering violence and upheaval in the Middle East, we feel a need to speak into the global conversation from our particular social location as an interfaith trio, and after much conversation, this is what we want to say.
Blessings on us all, as we navigate troubled waters and try to find a way forward.