Last week, Friday July 22, 2011 to be exact, the world was again horrified by violence from a religious fundamentalist. Because it happened in a country known for tolerance and included horrific violence to kids, we paid attention. Violence fueled by fundamentalism and ideology is happening in way too many places on our planet. And I’m not even talking about the violence wrought from economic disparities, domestic disputes, and other run-of-the-mill crimes against humanity.
Our elected leaders cannot even have civil, productive dialogues about issues that directly impact our lives like the economy, health care, and education. How do we even hope for them to have any ideological discussion that impacts our very democratic foundation like voters’ rights and the First Amendment?
We can’t blame it all on our elected officials. How many of us can have these conversations? Are we willing to discuss difficult subjects with others purely for the opportunity to be enlightened and deepen our understanding of something of which we might not know very much? Are we open to exploring a belief system or an idea of someone else just to see what their perspective might be? Even if we aren’t interested in changing our own beliefs, can we at least not be judgmental about someone having their own beliefs and allowing then to maintain their own convictions?
Three women, from three faiths – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism – got together in the aftermath of 9/11 to write a children’s picture book t0 highlight the connections between their faiths. As they started talking about what they believed, misunderstandings and stereotypes surfaced. The project was almost doomed before it ever got off the ground!
They decided that in order to talk about the things that united them, they needed to address the things that divided them in their beliefs about faith, God, and religion. They made a commitment to meet regularly, in each other’s living rooms over tea and dark chocolate, to talk and explore this complicated, often volatile, subject matter.
The Faith Club is a compilation of their taped conversations and private journals. It’s an invitation to eavesdrop on their private conversations as they wrestled with and articulated their thoughts on jihad to Jesus, holy texts and heaven.
I read this a few years ago, but in light of the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the ongoing religious tensions (among other things) in our own country, I thought I’d share it with you. Of course, I’d love to hear what you think!!