“My Neighbor’s Faith” Book Launch
Monday, May 14, 2012
Location: Berenson Hall, Hebrew College
160 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA
Come celebrate the publication of My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Inter-Religious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation (Orbis, cover price $25), co-edited by three professors who have helped guide CIRCLE (the Center for Inter-Religious and Community Leadership Education) on The Hill:
- Jennifer Peace, Assistant Professor of Interfaith Studies at Andover Newton and CIRCLE co-director
- Gregory Mobley, Professor of Christian Bible at Andover Newton and CIRCLE co-founder
- Rabbi Or Rose, Associate Dean and Director of Informal Education in the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College and CIRCLE co-director
“It was a pleasure working with my co-editors — Jennifer Peace and Gregory Mobley — and our contributors on this project,” Rose said. “The aim of the anthology is to share with readers the changing landscape of American religious life, in which people from different faith communities are engaging one another in ways unimaginable even a few decades ago. These brief personal narratives illustrate how caring and generous educators, activists, and community leaders are attempting to address issues of commonality and difference as they work for justice and peace.”
The editors will share their vision for the project along with contributors John Makransky (Boston College) and Ji Hyang Padma (Wellesley College), who will read excerpts from the book. Books will be available for sale at Monday’s event; light refreshments will be served.
Professors Mobley and Peace shared their thoughts on the book.
What surprised you the most about the essays in the book?
Mobley: I was not surprised, but gratified to have my hunch confirmed – that persons who have the most practice of their own faith are quite good at parallel play with persons practiced in another faith.
Peace: How personal they were. We asked contributors to speak from the heart about encounters or moments that were transformative for them and so many of the responses were really moving.
What one thing do you hope the non-Christian reader will learn from the essays by Christian leaders in the book?
Peace: I think it is important that the book is not divided into chapters by the religious identity of the authors. These stories are so diverse and defy easy stereotyping. The voice of each author is quite distinct, and we purposely invited contributors from various points on their respective theological or ideological spectrums. So I would want non-Christian readers to take away the same message as Christian readers – there is no such thing as a monolithic “Christianity” or any other religion in the abstract – these are complex systems that play out in the lives of different individuals in complex and fascinating ways. When you add to the mix what happens across religions, you come up with surprising story after surprising story.
Mobley: I hope the non-Christian reader will hear authentic and credible Christian testimony from people who want neither to convert nor kill them. In the culture at large, the religious voices that have the megaphones are too often bombastic and fractious. We wanted to give an open mike to kinder, gentler voices.
And finally, what are the single largest challenge you encounter in interfaith dialogue and the single most profound joy you find in the process?
Mobley: The challenge in interfaith dialogue is to risk disagreement by giving honest articulation to matters that differentiate us. The most profound joys are to receive and offer the gift of insight into what really matters, and to make new friends.
Peace: This might be too big for me to answer meaningfully in a few lines, but I’ll say that one of the most profound joys of doing this work is just the remarkable people I’ve met along the way. I’m grateful for the integrity and wisdom I’ve encountered – which seems to correlate with committing oneself to a life rooted in values/faith and practice. A challenge in interfaith dialogue? I’m not actually all that focused on interfaith dialogue – I want to expand the sense of what interfaith or interreligious work means – to include the kinds of personal encounters described in our book. Sharing our stories, being together, working together, living in the same neighborhoods, etc., and reflecting on what all this means as we collectively face the challenges confronting us, is what interests me.