Sunday, November 16, 2008

Interfaith Dialogue

This past Wednesday, the three very inspirational authors of The Faith Club came to speak at school. The Muslim, Christian, and Jew wrote the book to tell the story of how interfaith dialogue transformed their lives and strengthened their faiths. I have not read the book, but hope to in the future. The following is what they spoke about.

Their story began in New York after 9/11, when the Muslim woman wanted to write a children’s book about the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and was looking for a Christian and a Jew to coauthor it with her. The Muslim woman felt like there were increasingly prominent stereotypes of her faith throughout America after 9/11, and she wanted her children to realize that Islam had strong roots in Judaism and Christianity. After all, she said, Muslims believe in the prophet Moses, the virgin birth of Jesus, and the sacred text of the Torah and the Gospels.

The Christian woman entered into this conversation feeling like her faith was the best of the three, and came to realize that she had been stereotyping people of other religions. Through the relationship with her newfound Muslim friend, she discovered that the stereotypes of Muslims she had believed were not true. The Qur'an does not reward people for killing, and a true form of Islam is not oppressive to women. The Jewish woman began by quoting a priest, who told her, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty.” Throughout this interfaith dialogue, she had a lot of doubts, but was strengthened by the common foundation these religions have of loving God and loving others.

These women had difficult discussions throughout their journey together, but came to agree that each religion has been used to promote both good and evil in the world. The Muslim woman, who was also Palestinian, began having challenging conversations with the Jewish woman about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Jewish woman had never met a Palestinian before, but her Rabbi had verbally shown support for the Israelis in the conflict. She gained a new understanding through this conversation and began to give a voice to Palestinians when discussing the conflict with her Jewish friends, because she said, it doesn’t serve anyone to compare suffering. The Christian woman began to reflect on how the Bible had been used both to justify slavery, and as a foundation for the abolitionists who fought against it. She said that today it is being used in America both to empower the marginalized, and to justify the unjust treatment of women and homosexuals. In this discussion, all three women agreed that it is extremely important to read the Bible contextually and historically.

Each woman became stronger in her faith through this dialogue. The Christian woman has been criticized for not being an exclusivist (one who believes that no other faiths lead to eternal life), and she said that she’s okay with that, because she is not an exclusivist. She thinks that Christians say that they respect people of other faiths or walks of life, but fail to have relationships with them and learn from them, and therefore, easily condemn them. The Jewish woman said that nobody has a monopoly on the truth, and that no religion is perfect, because it is man’s attempt to understand God.

These women say they are trying to create a passionate middle for each faith, realizing that there are extremists in every religion. They believe that religion is a part of what divides people and causes conflict, but they think that religion can be a part of the solution. In their opinion, part of this solution needs to include interfaith dialogue, where people come to the conversation not from a place of righteousness, but with a heart for learning and growing. The Jewish woman concluded with this statement: “I am so grateful that I can find God in so many different places as a result of this experience.”


  1. Too long. I bet it'd interesting and more than worth my time though. :)I'm kidding, kinda. Love ya sis.

  2. hahaha Travis makes me laugh, I didnt think it was too long though, it was very interesting, I would like to read this book because I have thought and read a bit on the issue of inter faith relations and I and it seems that there are some things that dont make sense to me, and that this book may be overlooking. I have too many annoying comments on this subject maybe I should start my own blog so you could atagonize me! Dont you just wish there was one book that had all the answers!

  3. I just want to say that I think interfaith relations are very important ans I think it is stupid how we underplay that in the church we can learn so much from each other! I think me previous post made me sound like I was against it or something. My "belief" in absolute truth however clashes with some of the particulars of certain relationships however