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Sources – Pluralism: three or more faiths in conversation

Abu-Nimer, Muhammed, Amal Khoury and Emily Welty. Unity in Diversity: Interfaith Dialogue in the Middle East. Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace, 2007.

Nowhere are the stakes of sectarian conflict as high as in theMiddle East, and nowhere is the practice of interfaith dialogue (IFD) more fraught with difficulty. The questions, then, naturally arise: What sort of person tries something as audacious as interfaith dialogue in such a polarized climate? And what do they hope to gain? The answers to both questions are surprisingly diverse. The authors, after briefly introducing IFD’s central concepts and terms, its various models, and the nature of IFD in a Middle Eastern context, go on to discuss the intricate relationships between interfaith activities and religious identity, nationalism, violence, and peacemaking in four very different settings: Israel/Palestine,Lebanon,Egypt, andJordan. But they have gone beyond mere reportage and analysis, interviewing the whole cross-section of local IFD workers: not only clerics and dialoguing professionals, but also Palestinian housewives, Maronite civic leaders, Israeli schoolteachers, Coptic storekeepers laypersons who are often more eloquent than any scholar at expressing the realities, hopes, and frustrations of IFD within their home countries. Liberally quoting these frontline workers, the authors take on the perennial dilemma faced by IFD proponents: avoid politics and risk irrelevance, or take up the political questions and risk politicizing the dialogue, with all the disruptive effects this implies. Above all, this important book demonstrates the desire for interfaith dialogue in these polarized societies, and the extent to which, against strong odds, religious communities are connecting with each other.

Bar-On, Dan. Tell Your Life Story: Creating Dialogue Among Jews and Germans, Israelis and Palestinians. New York: Central European University Press, 2006.

The title describes Dan Bar-On’s method of using storytelling as both a qualitative biographical research method and as an intervention, to bring people from opposite sides to a dialogue. Such work needs slow pace and long-term commitment, with a special combination of a scientific rigorous analysis with a sensitive approach toward the people one approaches.

Beversluis, Joel. Catholicism and Other Religions: Introducing Interfaith Dialogue. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2000.

Now in its third edition, this is the most comprehensive work available on the rich variety of paths available to today’s spiritual seekers. More than a reference work, it explores how religions can collaborate to help the world. Essays explore interfaith community and spiritual practices such as theosophy, wicca, and indigenous religions. Portraits of all the major religious traditions are also included. This revised text offers an unparalleled look at where spirituality is headed in the coming millennium.

Boase, Roger. Islam and Global Dialogue: Religious Pluralism and the Pursuit of Peace. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005.

At a time when the world is becoming increasingly interdependent, multi-cultural and multi-religious, the concept of religious pluralism is under assault as a result of hatred, prejudice and misunderstanding from both religious exclusivists and dogmatic secularists. In this important and timely book, twenty internationally acclaimed scholars and leading religious thinkers respond to contemporary challenges in different ways. Some discuss the idea of a dialogue of civilisations; others explore the interfaith principles and ethical resources of their own spiritual traditions. All of them reject the notion that any single religion can claim a monopoly of wisdom; all are committed to the ideal of a just and peaceful society in which people of different religions and cultures can happily coexist. More space is here given to Islam than to Judaism and Christianity because, as a result of negative stereotypes, it is the most misunderstood of the major world religions. HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan contributes the Foreword.

Braybrooke, Marcus. Pilgrimage of Hope: One Hundred Years of Global Interfaith Dialogue. New York: Crossroad, 1992.

The standard history of the first hundred years of the interfaith organisations – from the Parliament of Religions in 1893 to preparations for the centenary events of 1993.

Brodeur, Patrice. Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2006.

Violence committed by religious young people has become a regular feature of our daily news reports. What we hear less about are the growing numbers of religious young people from all faith backgrounds who are committed to interfaith understanding and cooperation.

Byrne, Maire. The Names of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: A Basis for Interfaith Dialogue. New York: Continuum International, 2011.

Exploration of divine designations in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Qur’an, using comparative theology to ascertain if there is common language for interfaith dialogue.

Chetti, Daniel and M.P. Joseph eds. Ethical Issues in the Struggles for Justice: Quest for Pluriform Communities. Tiruvalla, Kerala, India: Christava Sahitya Samiti, 1998.

Many visions of perfection are more or less the same or at least analogical, and therefore if each faith keeps its ethics of law dynamic within the framework of, and in tension with, its own transcendent vision of perfection, the different religious and secular faiths can have fruitful dialogue. This is needed in the depth of the nature of human alienation which makes love impossible.

There is a tendency towards monocultures threatening the mosaic of religious plurality and an open human community. It is in such an unmerciful environment that destructive and violent forces, hatred and lust for power, emerge and take over. To enter into dialogue across this monoculturism requires an opening of the mind and heart to others. It is in a culture of dialogue that we are enabled to build the new communities that the world requires.

Cornille, Catherine. Criteria of Discernment in Interreligious Dialogue. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009.

Criteria of Discernment in Interreligious Dialoguefocuses on the principles and norms used within particular religions when judging what is true and valuable in other religious traditions.  While always implicitly operative, this volume attempts to make those criteria explicit, and the object of internal religious as well as interreligious reflection.  Besides ethical criteria, which are present in all religious traditions, the volume illustrates the differences in both principles and processes of discernment, not only between, but also within particular religious traditions.  As such, Protestant principles of discernment (R. Bernhardt) are somewhat different from Roman Catholic ones (G. D’Costa) and Tibetan Buddhist (J. Simmer-Brown, J. Makransky) from Pure Land Buddhist ones (M. Unno).

Falcon, Ted, Don Mackenzie, and Jamal Rahman. Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi & a Sheikh. Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2009.

A deeply personal journey to interfaith collaboration that offers hope for an inclusive and healing way of being together in the world.

Too often religion seems to fuel more hatred than love, more conflict than collaboration. Interfaith Talk Radio’s “interfaith amigos”–a pastor, a rabbi and a sheikh–provide a rich understanding of the road to interfaith collaboration by sharing their stories, challenges, and the inner spiritual work necessary to go beyond tolerance to a vital, inclusive spirituality.

From their deep commitment and lived experience, they present ways we can work together to transcend the differences that have divided us historically. Together they explore:
* The five stages of the interfaith journey
* The power of our stories
* The core of our traditions
* The promises and problems of our traditions
* New dimensions of spiritual identity
* And much more

Along with inspiring insights and encouragement for tapping into the promise of interfaith dialogue, they provide practical actions, additional readings and discussion questions to help you embody their revolutionary spirit of healing.

Forward, Martin. Inter-religious Dialogue: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Oneworld, 2001.

Covering everything from the global ethic to the role of women, this is an accessible and indispensible guide to the role of inter-faith dialogue, showing how the flow of ideas between religions can help to advance today’s multifaith society.

Goldhill, Simon. Jerusalem: City of Longing. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2009.

Jerusalem is the site of some of the most famous religious monuments in the world, from the Dome of the Rock to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to the Western Wall of the Temple. Since the nineteenth century, the city has been a premier tourist destination, not least because of the countless religious pilgrims from the three Abrahamic faiths. But Jerusalem is more than a tourist site—it is a city where every square mile is layered with historical significance, religious intensity, and extraordinary stories. It is a city rebuilt by each ruling Empire in its own way: the Jews, the Romans, the Christians, the Muslims, and for the past sixty years, the modern Israelis. What makes Jerusalem so unique is the heady mix, in one place, of centuries of passion and scandal, kingdom-threatening wars and petty squabbles, architectural magnificence and bizarre relics, spiritual longing and political cruelty. It is a history marked by three great forces: religion, war, and monumentality. In this book, Simon Goldhill takes on this peculiar archaeology of human imagination, hope, and disaster to provide a tour through the history of this most image-filled and ideology-laden city—from the bedrock of the Old City to the towering roofs of the Holy Sepulcher. Along the way, we discover through layers of buried and exposed memories—the long history, the forgotten stories, and the lesser-known aspects of contemporary politics that continue to make Jerusalem one of the most embattled cities in the world.

Griffin, David Ray. Deep Religious Pluralism. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.

A groundbreaking work, “Deep Religious Pluralism” is based on the conviction that the philosophy articulated by Alfred North Whitehead encourages not only religious diversity but deep religious pluralism.

In Part I, David Ray Griffin explains how the Whitehead-based religious pluralism of John Cobb avoids the problems in John Hick’s type of pluralism, which have led many thinkers, such as Mark Heim, to reject pluralism as such.  Griffinshows that Cobb has achieved precisely the ideal articulated in Heim’s own Salvations—a position that can see truth in the various traditions without neglecting their differences.

In Part II, Steve Odin and John Shunji Yokota extend Cobb’s Buddhist-Christian dialogue.

In Part III, Sandra Lubarsky, Jeffery Long, Mustafa Ruzgar, Christopher Ives, Michael Lodahl, Chung-ying Cheng, and Wang Shik Jang employ Whiteheadian philosophy to develop, respectively, Jewish, Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Evangelical Christian, Daoist-Confucian, and Asian Christian versions of deep religious pluralism.

In Part IV, John Cobb explains the main Whiteheadian assumptions on which his form of religious pluralism has been based.

Grose, George B. and Benjamin J. Hubbard, eds. The Abraham Connection: A Jew, Christian and Muslim in Dialogue. Notre Dame, IN: Cross Cultural Publications, Cross Roads Books, 1994.

This is a book of live dialogue between representatives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – the Abrahamic faiths of historical revelation – and is the fruit of twenty years of pioneering interfaith work by The Academy for Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies. The participants exchanged views on the significance of Abraham and the founding figures of each faith (Moses, Jesus and Muhammad); examined how the three religions are connected; compared ideas on the nature of revelation, scripture, law and grace; explored the meaning of peoplehood in each community and – in the final section – reflected on how they had been affected by the dialogues.

Hedges, Paul. Controversies in Interreligious Dialogue and the Theology of Religions. London: SCM Press, 2010.

Controversies in Interreligious Dialogue and the Theology of Religions provides a guide and critical extension to contemporary controversies in the theology of religions and interreligious dialogue. Paul Hedges reflects on how the traditional typology for the theology of religions may be rethought and seen as viable, offering a reformulation of it. He critically assesses the main line of critique from post-modern theology, that of particularity, and its alternative vision. Finally, he suggests ways forward and considers how these debates impact on the practice in interreligious dialogue.

Hicks, Douglas A. Religion and the Workplace: Pluralism, Spirituality, Leadership. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

How can company leaders and employees negotiate their different religious and spiritual commitments in the workplace? This analysis proposes constructive solutions based on a concept of respectful pluralism which allows for the expression of individual beliefs and practices. At a time of international debate over religious conflict and tolerance, workforces in various parts of the world are more diverse than ever before. Religion and spirituality are often strongly linked to employees’ identities. From the perspective of the employer, however, they can be distracting or divisive influences.

Hinze, Bradford and Irfan Omar, eds. Heirs of Abraham: The Future of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Relations. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005.

The three Abrahamic traditions have a long history of clashes, often with disastrous results. This book offers an alternative to those who see only a future like the past: of increasing friction and violence.

Three of the most respected figures representing Catholic Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, Professor Reuven Firestone, and Professor Mahmoud Ayoub—show that collaboration can work, and that it is possible to foster mutual understanding and appreciation of the different traditions in practical ways.

Ibn-Stanford, Antar. Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Comparative Religion, Inter-Faith Dialogue Resource. BookSurge Publishing, 2005.

As the title indicates, this book is an exposition of the beliefs and practices of Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is a treasure chest of quotes from the scriptures of these world religions that illustrates their similar beliefs and practices. In addition, it contains autobiographical material of an American convert to Islam-how he converted and his reaction to the beliefs and practices of Islam. The material is invaluable to those interested in comparative religion and interfaith dialogue.

Idliby, Ranya, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner. The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew– Three Women Search for Understanding. New York: Free Press, 2006.

In the wake of 9/11, Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, sought out fellow mothers of the Jewish and Christian faiths to write a children’s book on the commonalities among their respective traditions. In their first meeting, however, the women realized they would have to address their differences first. Oliver, an Episcopalian who was raised Catholic, irked Warner, a Jewish woman and children’s author, with her description of the Crucifixion story, which sounded too much like “Jews killed Jesus” for Warner’s taste. Idliby’s efforts to join in on the usual “Judeo-Christian” debate tap into a sense of alienation she already feels in the larger Muslim community, where she is unable to find a progressive mosque that reflects her non–veil-wearing, spiritual Islam. The ladies come to call their group a “faith club” and, over time, midwife each other into stronger belief in their own respective religions. More Fight Club than book club, the coauthors pull no punches; their outstanding honesty makes for a page-turning read, rare for a religion nonfiction book. From Idliby’s graphic defense of the Palestinian cause, Oliver’s vacillations between faith and doubt, and Warner’s struggles to acknowledge God’s existence, almost every taboo topic is explored on this engaging spiritual ride.

Kazanjian, Victor H. and Peter L. Laurence, eds. Education as Transformation: Religious Pluralism, Spirituality, and a New Vision for Higher Education in America. New York: P. Lang, 2000.

Reflecting a national movement that seeks to create a more holistic model of learning and teaching on college and university campuses, ‘Education as Transformation’ is a collection of twenty-eight essays written by a wide range of educators–including presidents, chancellors, deans, faculty members, administrators, religious life professionals, students, and other leaders in the field of education–on the themes of religious pluralism and spirituality in higher education. These essays provide scholarly analysis, practical information, and inspiration for those who agree that higher education can combine both head and heart in the teaching and learning process and in campus and community life. In seeking to articulate a new vision for higher education inAmerica, the authors explore the possibility that both scholarship and spirituality are essential to fostering global learning communities and responsible global citizens who can address the challenges of a diverse world.

King, Ursula. The Search for Spirituality: Our Global Quest for a Spiritual Life. New York: Bluebridge, 2008.

Full of vision, hope, and inspiration, this profound and passionate manifesto provides a fascinating overview of the incredibly rich and diverse spiritual landscapes of our world—feeding a deep longing for a life of wholeness and meaning and a society of greater peace and justice. Drawing from a wide variety of faiths and secular traditions, this book looks at cultural diversity and religious pluralism; clarifies the meaning of spirituality in different languages, faiths, and societies; and shows how numerous new approaches to spirituality have emerged. Also explored are the spiritual dimensions of nature, science, and technology; the transcending experiences of art and spirit; and the powerful expressions of ecological spirituality found around the world. New insights are provided that highlight the major differences that exist between spiritualities while also pointing out the various parallels and points of convergence.

There is a tendency towards monocultures threatening the mosaic of religious plurality and an open human community. It is in such an unmerciful environment that destructive and violent forces, hatred and lust for power, emerge and take over. To enter into dialogue across this monoculturism requires an opening of the mind and heart to others. It is in a culture of dialogue that we are enabled to build the new communities that the world requires.

Knitter, Paul F., ed. The Myth of Religious Superiority: Multifaith Explorations of Religious Pluralism. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005.

In this challenging book, the leading exponents of the idea that all religions are a refraction of a truth no single tradition can exclusively reveal discuss what to make of that conviction in today’s world of interreligious rivalry and strife. The authors represent a variety of faith traditions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam.

Knitter, Paul F. One Earth, Many Religions: Multifaith Dialogue and Global Responsibility. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995.

One of the world’s foremost exponents of the “pluralist” position as the most adequate Christian theological account of religious diversity turns to a new and urgent issue facing the community of world religions. For Paul Knitter, the spectre of environmental and social injustice looms over any serious discussion of humankind’s future. As urgent as it is to have peace among the world’s believers to achieve peace among nations, it is urgent that these communities unite in understanding and defending of the earth. In One Earth Many Religions Knitter looks back at his own “dialogical odyssey” and forward to the way that interfaith encounters and dialogue must focus attention on new challenges. Nothing less than enlisting the commitment of the world’s religions on the task of saving our common home will do. In making that case, Knitter makes clear the complex structurespolitical, economic, and social as well as religious – that face those who approach this task. While articulating a “this-worldly soteriology” necessary to overcome our eco-human plight, Knitter offers practical considerations on actions and projects that have and should have been undertaken to stem the tide of environmental and human suffering. The global crisis is both at the center of One Earth Many Religions and a test case for Knitter and others engaged in the dialogue of religions. Can religious differences concerning the nature of the transcendent themselves be transcended in order to promote eco-human well-being? The issue seems basic and clearif interreligious dialogue cannot effect such a change, then one must question whether religion is of any use whatsoever.

Magonet, Jonathan. Talking to the Other: Jewish Interfaith Dialogue with Christians and Muslims. New York: I.B. Taurus, 2003.

Rabbi Jonathan Magonet has long been engaged in a dialogue between Jews and Muslims. For over 30 years he has organized the annual Jewish-Christian-Muslim student conference inBasle, and has lectured on these themes, and participated himself in interfaith conferences all over the world. In this book he explores the issues that arise in such an encounter, the traps that so easily hinder relationships, and the historical and theological problems to be confronted once a basis of trust has been established. As well as examining specific areas that need to be addressed in the Jewish encounter with Christians and Muslims, he challenges the Jewish community to broaden its commitment to interfaith dialogue in a complex and rapidly changing world.

May, John D’Arcy, ed. Pluralism and the Religions: The Theological and Political Dimensions. London: Cassell, 1998.

Inter-religious dialogue usually takes place between middle-class, relatively affluent men. It is bogged in the patriarchal history of the religions, and sidesteps both the global dialogue of women, and the real life experience of pluralism among the poor. Conducted from a Christian perspective in non-Christian societies, it also takes place in the context of a religion which is itself a Western import. This collection of essays was born inIreland, a country in which Christian responses to pluralism have so far failed, and it marks the 50th anniversary of theIrishSchoolof Ecumenics. Here Asian and European theologians suggest that a new approach to pluralism is needed, dealing with topics such as poverty, the arms race, the ecological and feminist movements. Contributors consider both the theological dimension and the political dimension, underlining the team’s conviction that it is in the real world that the history of salvation happens and the kingdom of God is created.­­

Mays, Rebecca Kratz, ed. Interfaith Dialogue at the Grass Roots. Philadelphia: Ecumenical Press, 2009.

When diverse faiths come together the encounter can be intense, awkward, even violent, but creating a dialogue can help reconcile differences. We can sustain respect and create peace with “the other” without doing harm to the sincerity of our own particular religious tradition. In the process, everyone learns and grows, experiencing greater religious tolerance and understanding.

The contributors to Interfaith Dialogue at the Grass Roots consider the patience and passion involved in promoting such interfaith activities. The essays seek to empower rabbis, imams, pastors, and their congregants to take up the work of interreligious dialogue as a peacemaking activity. The book provides guidelines for conducting interfaith encounters, showing how storytelling and conversations can make these meetings productive and constructive. Additional chapters reveal how to establish and inspire peace. Lastly, Joseph Stoutzenberger writes questions for reflection and suggestions for action at the end of each chapter.

McCarthy, Kate. Interfaith Encounters in America. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007.

From its most cosmopolitan urban centers to the rural Midwest, theUnited Statesis experiencing a rising tide of religious interest. While terrorist attacks keep Americans fixed on an abhorrent vision of militant Islam, popular films such as The Passion of the Christ and The Da Vinci Code make blockbuster material of the origins of Christianity. The 2004 presidential election, we are told, was decided on the basis of religiously driven moral values. A majority of Americans are reported to believe that religious differences are the biggest obstacle to world peace.

Beneath the superficial banter of the media and popular culture, however, are quieter conversations about what it means to be religious in America today–conversations among recent immigrants about how to adapt their practices to life in new land, conversations among young people who are finding new meaning in religions rejected by their parents, conversations among the religiously unaffiliated about eclectic new spiritualities encountered in magazines, book groups, or online. Interfaith Encounters inAmericatakes a compelling look at these seldom acknowledged exchanges, showing how, despite their incompatibilities, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu Americans, among others, are using their beliefs to commit to the values of a pluralistic society rather than to widen existing divisions.

Chapters survey the intellectual exchanges among scholars of philosophy, religion, and theology about how to make sense of conflicting claims, as well as the relevance and applicability of these ideas “on the ground” where real people with different religious identities intentionally unite for shared purposes that range from national public policy initiatives to small town community interfaith groups, from couples negotiating interfaith marriages to those exploring religious issues with strangers in online interfaith discussion groups.

Written in engaging and accessible prose, this book provides an important reassessment of the problems, values, and goals of contemporary religion in theUnited States. It is essential reading for scholars of religion, sociology, and American studies, as well as anyone who is concerned with the purported impossibility of religious pluralism.

Merdjanova, Ina and Patrice Brodeur. Religion as a Conversation Starter: Interreligious Dialogue for Peacebuilding in the Balkans. New York: Continuum, 2009.

Religion as a Conversation Starter is the first comprehensive analysis of the present state of interreligious dialogue for peacebuilding inSoutheast Europe. It is based on empirically grounded and policy-oriented research, carried out throughout the Balkans. The study maps recent interreligious relations in this part of the world, throwing light on both the achievements and challenges of interreligious dialogue for peacebuilding in particular, and offering a set of up-to-date policy recommendations, whilst contributing to a greater understanding of the local particularities and how they relate to broader trends transnationally. Interreligious dialogue has been a central tool in the continuous international efforts to promote peaceful living together in multicultural and multireligious societies. This fascinating monograph explores the place of interreligious dialogue as a primary method in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and will be of interest to scholars of religious and peace studies, as well as those who advocate and carry out organized interventions in religion-related spheres.

Miles-Yepez, Netanel. The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue. New York: Lantern Books, 2006.

For twenty years, a group of spiritual seekers from many religious traditions met in various places around theUnited Statesunder the rubric of the Snowmass Conferences to engage in the deepest form of interreligious dialogue. The experience was intimate and trusting, transformative and inspiring. To encourage openness and honesty, no audio or visual recording was made of, and no articles were written about, the encounters.

When these encounters came to an end, it was agreed that reflections on what had happened emotionally, spiritually, philosophically, and theologically during the Snowmass dialogues should be written down. The result is The Common Heart.

Here is an extraordinary exploration of the wealth of the world’s spiritual traditions combined with dialogue from the heart about the differences and similarities between their paths of wisdom. Participants include Fr. Thomas Keating, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Swami Atmarupananda, Dr. Ibrahim Gamard, Imam Bilal Hyde, Pema Chödrön, Rabbi Henoch Dov Hoffman, and many others.

Mortensen, Viggo, ed. Theology and the Religions: A Dialogue. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2003.

The academic study of religion is undergoing great changes in response to globalization. Just as sociologists now find it necessary to think in terms of multiculturalism, so religion scholars and theologians today must work in the context of multireligiosity. Globalization is leading not only to multiethnic societies but also to plurality in religions and worldviews.”Theology and the Religions: A Dialogue” offers the first sustained analysis of the trend toward multireligiosity and its implications for the study of religion. Drawing on the resources of cultural analysis, religious studies, and theology, an international slate of scholars explores the relation of multiculturality and multireligiosity, the need for interreligious dialogue, and the possibilities for a theology of religions. This groundbreaking work is supported by case studies of various religious traditions in diverse cultures from around the world. Special attention is paid to Christian theological reflection, however, since, as a global religion, Christianity is particularly challenged by multireligiosity. Offering an engaging, wide-angle view of religion worldwide, “Theology and the Religions” makes a vital contribution to our understanding of the forces shaping the future of religious and social life.

The Muslim World Journal of Human Rights is a publication of the Berkeley Electronic Press, and is the only peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the pressing question of human rights in the Muslim world. The journal approaches this complex issue through multiple interdisciplinary lenses: Islam and Islamic law, socio-economic and political factors, institutions, and gender and minority rights. The editors, Mashood Baderin (School ofOriental and African Studies), Mahmood Monshipouri (QuinnipiacUniversity), Shadi Mokhtari (YorkUniversity), and Lynn Welchman (School ofOriental and African Studies) have created a unique academic forum to address real-world political issues and to encourage new methods in the field. Recent articles concern such topics as Women’s Sexual Health and Rights inSenegal, Islam and Gender Justice, Human Rights Post-9/11, the Extension of Shari’ah inNorthern Nigeria, and Human Rights in Islamic Malaysia.

Nelson, Eric: “The Religious Origins of Religious Tolerance.”   The 2010 Annual Templeton Lecture at the Foreign Policy Research Institute

O’Neill, Maura. Mending a Torn World: Women in Interreligious Dialogue. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007.

The voices of women are typically excluded from dialogues between representatives of world religions. This exclusion has the additional effect of obscuring the very real diversity of women’s perspectives within each tradition. This book remedies both forms of omission—highlighting the contributions of women in interreligious dialogue, while also exposing the significant differences between “conservative” and “progressive” voices within their respective traditions.

In a dialogue around issues of justice and peace, can these women find common ground? In part 1, Maura O’Neill attempts to understand the issues and explores the challenges to dialogue among Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist women. In part 2, she explores how the progressive-conservative divide within the various traditions complicates the project of dialogue. Disagreements on gender issues are endemic in every tradition, and in an age when every people and culture reels before the assaults of modernity, finding solutions is difficult. O’Neill does not pretend to solve these problems, but she brings new understanding and light to the search.

Patalon, Miroslaw. The Philosophical Basis of Inter-Religious Dialogue: The Process Perspective. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Pub., 2009.

In the present epoch of tensions between civilizations, challenges being brought by globalization processes and the necessity of the coexistence of various cultures and traditions, the subject of inter-religious dialogue seems to be particularly significant. Can religions remain isolated islands? Are their claims of being the only source of theological truth justified? Or should it rather be understood as an effect of interaction between different points of view and common effort of looking for the answers to the questions about God and his relations to the world? What is the role of dialogue? Is it only a politically correct element or maybe something more essential – the basis of reasonable existence and development of religion? Should the direction traced by 20th century’s partisans of ecumenical movements be widened in order to embrace also non Christian religions? What is the orthodoxy and where are its boundaries? The process philosophy creates a convenient and favorable atmosphere for this kind of considerations. The articles of this selection represent different points of view of the discussed topic. The book is addressed to all who deal with the inter-religious dialogue: both clergy and laymen as well as scholars and students interested in the subject.

Phan, Peter C. Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004.

In a new, daring book, Peter Phan shows that being monoreligious is going to become ever more rare. Instead, migration, globalization, and postmodern thought have created a situation where boundaries are porous and most people will be genuinely religious only if they live interreligiously. Himself both Vietnamese and American, Peter Phan knows in his body the stresses of intercultural and interreligious living. In this splendid volume he asks questions about and reflects on such issues as whether cultural diversity is a blessing or a curse in the spiritual life. Whether there is an essential core identity that must be passed on in Catholic education. Whether there are true equivalents in the search for interreligious understanding. How one is to preach about Jews and Judaism. What does the Holocaust mean from the perspective of Asian liberation theology. While it is understandable that gatekeepers and boundary watchers want to keep their various traditions pure, Phan reflects on the question, How much uniformity people in a postmodern world can and will tolerate in life, liturgy, and denominational self-definition? And he does so in ways that will cause both lazy pluralists and unreflective gatekeepers realize both how high are the stakes and how difficult finding answers will be.

Pinto, Henrique. Foucault, Christianity and Interfaith Dialogue. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Foucault, Christianity and Interfaith Dialogue develops a new model for interfaith dialogue using the work of the French historian of ideas, Michel Foucault. The author argues that it is the injustice done to the ‘Other’ by Roman Catholic, Protestant and other centred and unitary models of religious pluralism that allows the introduction of Foucault’s de-centring of transcendence and human reason as an alternative model for understanding religious diversity and the role it ought to play, in the constitution of the self and the making of society. This Foucaultian approach provides a new direction for interfaith dialogue in the modern world and leads to an ethical rather than a nihilistic position while fostering a non-unitary theology of religious pluralism and an open-textured process of self-transformation.
The author’s original and imaginative application and expansion of Foucault’s concept of the ‘More’ from The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969) makes important and original contributions to academic work on Foucault and contemporary theology.

Race, Alan and Ingrid Shafer, eds. Religions in Dialogue: From Theocracy to Democracy. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as Abrahamic religions, share much theological common ground and the momentum for dialogue between them at theological levels has greatly increased in recent decades. This book explores the relationship between religion and the modern democratic state from the perspective of these three monotheistic traditions. It investigates how the three religions in dialogue might overcome their historic antagonism as a prelude to working for the development of the global common good. As part of the test of religious ideals, some of the contributions bring theory down to earth by examining the role of religion in three democratic states with different histories -Turkey,Indonesia,India- and also in relation to a culture of human rights. Drawing together leading Muslim, Christian, and Jewish authors fromAmerica, Europe andAsia, the book presents a rare collaboration of faiths and ideas to make a contribution to studies of inter-religious dialogue and the changing role of religion in the democratic state.

Rothstein, Edward, Exhibition Review: “Abraham’s Progeny, and their Texts.” New York Times, October 22, 2010.

“Three Faiths,” an exhibition at the New York Public Library, examines the braid of belief that binds Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Sharma, Arvind, ed. Part of the Problem, Part of the Solution: Religion Today and Tomorrow. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008.

Part of the Problem, Part of the Solution unleashes religion’s true potential to do good by bridging the modern divide between religion and an ever pervasive secular society, a notion often loathed by individuals on both sides of the religious aisle. As noted scholars such as Huston Smith, Karen Armstrong, Rosemary Radford Reuther, Harvey Cox, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr explain throughout the conversations related in this text, people of varied and conflicting faiths can come together to engage in civil, useful dialogue, and members of quite varied religious traditions can work together for the benefit of all humankind and can help defuse the world’s current epidemic of violence. By showing how religion is an instrument in human affairs that can be tuned for both good and evil, this book lays the groundwork for an important cooperative effort to blossom.

Furthermore, today’s trend of associating all religion with suspicion has spiraled into a dangerous situation-that in discarding all religion because some of it causes harm, one risks throwing away the baby with the bathwater. Books such as When Religion Becomes Evil by Charles Kimball,The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett, and God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens have created quite a sensation, leaving the impression that religion, at its root, brings more heartache than handshakes. This development has dismayed many scholars, students, and practitioners of religion, of all faiths, who believe that only half the story-the negative half-is being told. Although demonstrating that certain religious beliefs have surely contributed to the violence that has occurred in this century, this book also explores how other religious teachings can help solve the epidemic of violence.

Sloyan, Gerald S., ed. Religions of the Book. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996.

This collection of essays from the 38th meeting of the College Theology Society addresses the roles of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in contemporary society. It also includes complementary essays on a wide range of religious topics.

Smock, David R. Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding. Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2002.

As the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish contributors to this volume have discovered firsthand, religion is better at fostering peace than at fueling war. Rarely, conclude the authors, is religion the principal cause of international conflict, even though some adversaries may argue differently. But religion can often be invaluable in promoting understanding and reconciliation-and the need to exploit that potential has never been greater.

Drawing on their extensive experience in organizing interaction and cooperation across religious boundaries in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, Northern Ireland, and the Balkans, the contributors explore the formidable potential of interfaith dialogue. The first part of the volume analyzes the concept and its varied application; the second focuses on its practice in specific zones of conflict; and the third assesses the experiences and approaches of particular organizations.

When organized creatively, interfaith dialogue can nurture deep engagement at all levels of the religious hierarchy, including the community level. It draws strength from the peacemaking traditions shared by many faiths and from the power of religious ritual and symbolism. Yet, as the authors also make plain, it also has its limitations and carries great risks.

Swidler, Leonard, Reuven Firestone, and Kalid Duran. Trialogue: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Dialogue. New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2007.

Author Leonard Swidler himself is one of the American originators of the term trialogue and here he raises it to a new level as he shares the podium with professors Reuven Firestone and Khalid Duran. These three professors, beginning with Firestone and Judaism, present their faith traditions and the challenges as well as possibilities for genuine trialogue. Each offers invaluable insights into the ways they share Hebraic roots and Abrahamic traditions and how their beliefs and practices have evolved through the centuries up to and including the present. Throughout the text, readers are encouraged to pause for reflection and or discussion of the key points presented by the authors. This is a fascinating, enlightening, and highly recommended introduction to these three great faith traditions and how they evolved and are practiced today.

Swidler, Leonard, ed. Theoria, Praxis: How Jews, Christians and Muslims Can Together Move from Theory to Practice. Leuven: Peeters, 1998.

In 1989, twenty-seven scholars of religion evenly divided among Jews, Christians and Muslims met for three days at a Catholic retreat outsidePhiladelphia,USA. This was the beginning of the “International Scholars’ Annual Trialogue”. This volume is composed of the best essays prepared and molded during those yearly dialogues through 1994. Half of the papers are background studies on the current state of particular questions. The other half turn in the direction of how to think better about the problems that have divided us in the past – how to move into new images that may free our minds and affections for significant progress in the future. fall under five headings: 1) overlap among the three Abrahamic traditions; 2) what remains distinctive in each tradition; 3) present lacunae on the way to political cooperation; 4) present lacunae on the way to sharing worship; and 5) how best to orient future intellectual exchanges. “Global” culture that has been building since World War II requires that we find images of humanity that make the common weal bulk much larger than any partial, local or practical prosperities. This volume helps two fifths of the world’s population begin that task.

Thinking Together. Faces of the Other: A Contribution to Inter-religious Relations And Dialogue by the Group “Thinking Together.” Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2005.

How can we, in the midst of our religious diversity, express common convictions and explore core issues present in all our religious traditions? The people of different faiths who constitute the multi-religious think-tank called ‘Thinking Together’, brought together by the WCC, are open to focusing together on some of the basic issues of belief and religion. This book carries a story from each religious tradition represented in the group, which reflects how that tradition has wrestled with how to look upon the other. The group hopes that these stories will contribute to a new reading of those dimensions in our religious traditions that help us provide or create space for the other as a significant other.

Twiss, Sumner and Bruce Grelle. Explorations In Global Ethics: Comparative Religious Ethics and Interreligious Dialogue. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000.

This volume for the first time brings the scholarly discipline of comparative religious ethics into constructive collaboration with the community of interreligious dialogue. Its design is premised on two important insights. First, interreligious dialogue offers to comparative religious ethics a new, more persuasive rationale, agenda of issues, and practical orientation. Second, comparative religious ethics offers to interreligious dialogue an arsenal of critical tools and methods which will enhance the sophistication of its practical work. In this way, both theory (a dominant concern and strength of comparative religious ethics) and praxis (a dominant concern and strength of interreligious moral dialogue) are joined together in mutual effort, each contributing to the benefit of the other.The volume’s contributors share this vision of collaboration, drawing explicitly from both communities of discourse in a manner that crosses disciplinary and professional boundaries to deal creatively and constructively with important methodological and global moral issue. Although theory and practice cannot easily be separated in such a collaborative project, for the purpose of clarity, the volume is divided into two main parts. The first specifically engages questions of method, theory, and the social role of the public intellectual; the second, on substantive moral themes and issues, many of which were raised at the 1993 Parliament. Taken together, the volume’s essays articulate and illustrate new ways of approaching contemporary moral concerns cross-culturally yet with a rigor appropriate to our complex and pluralistic world.

United States Institute of World Peace: 

Online Certificate Course in Interfaith Conflict Resolution (free) through the United States Institute of Peace

The Religion and Peacemaking program at the United States Institute of Peace conducts research, identifies best practices, and develops new peacebuilding tools for religious leaders and organizations; helps define and shape the field of religious peacebuilding; and in cooperation with USIP’s other Centers, develops and implements integrated strategies for the Institute’s conflict-specific work, including projects with religious communities in zones of conflict.

Vroom, Hendrik. No Other Gods: Christian Belief in Dialogue with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996.

In today’s pluralistic culture, Christianity is no longer the dominant belief system. Interest in religion is on the increase again after having declined in the seventies, but this does not mean that people are returning to the same positions they once held. Eastern religions, especially, have attracted wide interest. This significant work by Hendrik Vroom presses the theological and dialogical dimensions of religious pluralism. Vroom here makes a broad study of the views of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, especially their views on truth, and explores their mutual relationships. In the process, he seeks to answer a crucial question for our time: For what reasons would a person who has read extensively on Buddhist, Hindu, or Islamic thought continue to be a Christian?


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