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The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew-- Three Women Search for Understanding Paperback – Bargain Price, June 5, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 277 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743290488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743290487
  • ASIN: B0013L4CYA
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Reinert on November 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a wonderful pastor once said from the pulpit, you can't deal with a forty year old's problems with a belief system that you learned when you were twelve. This book is a definite help in growing that faith; but growth is sometimes painful and what you started with may not be what you wind up with.

A first I was a bit skeptical; the book appeared to be a group of wealthy highly educated ivy league women sitting around the table discussing religion, but did I underestimate! This book is truly a profound exposure of the beliefs, prejudices, hopes, fears, and foundations of three major religions without the theologians. These women may live in expensive houses, but faith, lack of faith, or misunderstanding of faith is universal. They say the things that many of us think but are either embarrassed or too confused to express, and they say them to the very people that share a similar confusion but from a different perspective. Through that often painful exposure comes understanding, or the acceptance that some things cannot be understood. Someone in the book makes the statement that the opposite of faith isn't doubt, it is certainty. That makes a ton on sense.

It would be wonderful to follow up the reading of this book with discussions in such a faith club as the book suggests; however, I would warn that such open discussions probably cannot happen randomly or quickly. These three women spent more than a year coming to the stage that they could openly take their ideas outside of their group even to their own families and friends. Understanding your own faith much less someone else's, isn't quick; I greatly admire the perservance it took these women to "walk the walk" and then to have the courage to share it with the world.
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Format: Hardcover
The Faith Club arose out of the rubble of 9-11, as three young mothers living in New York City - a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew - agreed to meet together to discuss their differing faiths and how they might learn to live together in peace.

They could not have imagined what was in store for them.

At a minimum, it meant hours of gut-wrenching, painful, honest self-disclosure, as they explained to each other, as best they could, what they believed and why, and as they challenged each other with the obvious ambiguities and inconsistencies of their different faith perspectives.

It also meant a lot of personal growth as, through the process of interfaith dialogue - and we're talking about a period of over two years here - the women grappled with what they really believed, as opposed to what they had always been taught - and as they seriously considered the faith and understanding of each other.

No holds were barred. They talked openly and honestly about everything you can imagine: The Christian understanding of Jesus' crucifixion and whether or not the Jews were to blame; the Jewish claim to a Promised Land and what that meant for Palestinians; the suspicion that all Muslims are terrorists-in-waiting, versus the fact that the majority of Muslims are as peace-loving as everyone else.

Out of their dialogue, the women came to appreciate and accept each other as individuals who share a common humanity and a common quest for peace, albeit from different faith perspectives. More than that, they came to love each other, and that love helped them bridge the gap between their different religious traditions.

What I appreciated most about The Faith Club is its raw, often brutal, honesty.
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Format: Hardcover
This book does more than put a band-aid on the uneasy co-existence of the three Abrahamic faiths in America and over the world. The authors here confront stereotypes about their own and each others' faiths, and they don't pull any punches. The Jewish woman, Priscilla, confronts Christian Suzanne, challenging her claim that she'd never heard Jews being blamed for Christ's death. But that's nothing compared to the discussion that emerges when the Israel-Palestine situation comes up.

I strongly recommend this book for Americans who simplistically wonder "Why don't the Arabs just take care of the Palestinian problem?" The Muslim, Ranya, whose parents lost their ancestral home when Israel came into being, offers the little-heard (in this country) story of

Palestinian dispossession. She is quite clear in her condemnation of Muslim extremists, and it is wonderful to read how she has become an important figure in uniting the American Muslim community, which is overwhelmingly moderate, and represents a sort of diaspora from around the world. I learned that most Muslims in the world aren't even Arabs, many do not wear head dress, and that the faith itself is much closer to my personal beliefs (raised Catholic, married to a Jew) than I would have guessed. Ich bin ein Muslim -- who knew?

While, unlike Suzanne, I had a thorough education in the horror Christians have inflicted on Jews, I was taught next to nothing about Muslims -- just the oft-repeated story about the thousand virgins who are the reward for those who self-annhiliate in the name of Allah. Americans need to have this, and the many other negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims, corrected.
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