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The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew-- Three Women Search for Understanding Hardcover – October 3, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
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. (Oct. 3)
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*Starred Review* Ranya Idliby is a Palestinian Muslim; Suzanne Oliver, an ex--Catholic now in the Episcopal Church; and Priscilla Warner, Jewish. Initially, the idea behind establishing a faith club was simple--the three women would collaborate on an interfaith children's book emphasizing the connections among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that would reinforce the common heritage the three religions share. In post-9/11 America, however, real life began getting in the way. Almost from the start, differences that culminated in conflict emerged; at one point, the tension even jeopardized the project altogether. Prophetically, while searching for a story to help illustrate connections among the religions, Suzanne chose the Crucifixion, which immediately set off alarm bells for Priscilla. Yet they persevered. All three agreed that to work together they had to be brutally candid, "no matter how rude or politically incorrect." Eventually--and as they make abundantly clear, not easily--conflict and anger gave way to a special kind of rapprochement that merged mutual understanding and respect. Each woman brings to the table her prejudices, unique faith stories, and personal stereotypes and misconceptions (Priscilla, for example, had those of one who had never before met a Palestinian woman). Brimming with passion and conviction, and concluding with suggestions for starting a similar faith club, this is essential reading for anyone interested in interfaith dialogue. June Sawyers
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