Countering Religious Extremism
This book invites readers on a journey. Those interviewed for this book have already built bridges of understanding and have crossed them into a far better future, one superior to the vision of extremism or Western materialism. We call on people who love their faith to join us.
Have you ever encountered someone who sees religion as a matter of “you’re either with me or you’re against me”? Or maybe you’ve met someone, however well-meaning, intent on converting everyone they meet. Countering Religious Extremism: The Healing Power of Spiritual Friendships offers an approach to faith, unity, and relationship that recognizes the individual person and their situation, instead of seeing people of other faiths solely as enemies or potential converts.
The model for creating spiritual friendships that will change the world comes from a group of Christian and Muslim men known as the “Shapiro gang,” who meet at a deli for lunch a couple of times per month. What holds the group together is the esteem and love that they have for one another. The question is this: if these ordinary men meeting at Shapiro’s for over 18 years can encourage one another in their adventure with God, what could similar groups across this country and around the world accomplish? Margaret Mead’s familiar adage certainly applies to each interfaith group featured in this book: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
Join the Shapiro gang and other interfaith groups on a journey of relationships built on faith and the desire to stand together in the face of division. These groups are building bridges of understanding and crossing them into a far better future, one superior to the popular visions of extremism or Western materialism. Together, they call on all people who love their faith to join them.
Quotes from the Book
This book is the record of the spiritual gifts, the treasures that I and others have received from spiritual friendships. These experiences give me hope that religious extremism, such as that promulgated by ISIS/ISIL as well as by hate groups in our own country, will not be the world’s future.
As will become clear from the chapters that follow, diverse communities already exist where the “religious other” is perceived not as a threat but as a gift of God.
Partners in spiritual friendships know that religious tension, hatred, and violence need not be humanity’s future. They know that the healing power of religion is just dawning, and this power can transform the lives of individuals. Between peoples of faith, religions can build not walls of separation but bridges of understanding. Such bridge building is essential in providing a viable alternative to religious extremism.
Extremist utopian visions always end up in stifling uniformity and isolation. In contrast, spiritual friendships acknowledge, yes, even celebrate, religious diversity. They offer a future of new and life-enriching possibilities, where across religious lines people of faith encourage one another to live more compassionately; where, without sacrificing their distinctiveness, peoples of faith cooperate in purposeful and healing action and give birth to new methods of defusing religious suspicion and hatred.
About the Author
David Carlson is Professor, Philosophy and Religion at Franklin College, Franklin IN where he has been teaching for 36 years. In 2011, Carlson published Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World. David recent co-founded Shoulder to Shoulder in Interfaith Witness, a central Indiana-based group that brings people of all faiths together. One of their first actions was: “We Stand With American Muslims,” a yard-sign campaign showing support for the Muslim community.
|Publication Date||Mar 28, 2017|