Subtitle: The Eye-Opening, Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi, and a Sheikh
Recommended to me by: David Mitchell
Somewhere along the way, I acquired the mistaken idea that “interfaith” is a watered-down, lowest-common-denominator version of religion. This book makes clear that interfaith is a vibrant, active process of building connections and understanding.
The book is both a practical guide to interfaith work and the story of how the three men’s friendship developed. It includes their backgrounds, key beliefs from their religions, difficulties they have with their religions, and their descriptions of a challenging group trip to Israel. As each of them write in turn, I come to trust their inclusiveness, openness, and willingness to face difficult truths.
I was interested to notice that despite my Jewish heritage I resonated the most with Jamal’s description of Muslim practices, which are focused on compassion. In writing about Israel, he mentions his sense of Ein Gedi oasis as a sacred place, a sanctuary. I have long described it as my favorite place on the planet. In the middle of the desert, near Masada and the Dead Sea, it feels like a miraculous gift to be enclosed in rustling bamboo with water flowing down the path.
Their suggested steps for interfaith work are
- Moving beyond separation and suspicion
- Inquiring more deeply
- Sharing both the easy and the difficult parts
- Moving beyond safe territory
- Exploring spiritual practices from other traditions
To me these steps form a bridge across many types of difference, including racial and cultural differences.