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Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America Hardcover – August 14, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Eboo Patel is a remarkable young man with the wisdom to seek truth and the courage to speak it. One of America’s foremost advocates and practitioners of interfaith understanding, he has written a book that combines timely social commentary with compelling history and a wealth of personal anecdotes. Sacred Ground is a refreshing, thought-provoking, myth-smashing, and deeply patriotic exploration of American identity and ideals.”
—Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

Sacred Ground is simultaneously a chronicle of religious tensions in post-9/11 America and an account of how to create, through trial and error and critical self-reflection, the most successful interfaith movement in the country.  Patel probes like a professor, inspires like a preacher, and writes like a poet.  I really loved this book; it is a tale that is truly hard to put down.”
—Robert D. Putnam, author of American Grace
 
“Interfaith cooperation is one of America’s founding ideals. It still sets us apart from much of the world. Eboo Patel has lived that value and, in this book, spreads that good word. Uplifting and invaluable, Sacred Ground is essential reading for our polarized era.” 
—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin
 
“Eboo Patel has been a transformative force in our young and tumultuous century. And he has an utterly original experience of what robust religious identity can mean in modern lives. With this book, he opens the idea of ‘inter-faith’ into a vision of America that is practically informative, refreshingly challenging, and full of hope.”
—Krista Tippett, host of public radio’s On Being

“At a time when ignorance and suspicion are holding us back from building true community with our neighbors, Eboo Patel offers a light in the darkness. He challenges the bigotry and intolerance that is seeping into our political rhetoric, reminding us that America is a country built on the pillars of pluralism and tolerance. In both Sacred Ground and his wonderful interfaith work, Eboo offers an opportunity for us to move to higher ground in our relationships with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and to play our part in building a ‘beloved community for all people,’ both in the United States, and around the world.”
—Rev. Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics
 
“Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, lets his love for his work and his country shine through in this brief but charming introduction to the importance of interfaith work in America… [H]is expertise and blend of compelling personal anecdotes with researched argumentation makes this work an accessible and inspiring introduction to the meaning and practice of pluralism.”
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Eboo Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core and the author of Acts of Faith. He was a member of President Obama’s inaugural faith council, is a regular contributor to the Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN, and public radio, and speaks frequently about interfaith cooperation on college campuses. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two boys.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st edition (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807077488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807077481
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joshua M. Z. Stanton on September 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
One of my greatest joys in working with Eboo Patel is watching him think. He is the sharpest wit in most of the rooms he enters, and if you manage to catch him with a surprising or unusual question after a public talk or small-group gathering, you can see his mind whirring as he finds not only a meaningful answer, but also a more compelling framework for your question.

In Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America, Eboo gives us all the gift of seeing him think. It seems apparent that he is in the process of re-framing not merely a question, but the premises of the entire interfaith movement, of which he has long been a key part.

The core of his new thinking comes out in his chapter, "The Science of Interfaith Cooperation." Reflecting humbly on a moment when he found himself unable to respond adequately to a funder's request for measurable outcomes, he poses a set of questions that the Interfaith Youth Core has already begun answering, and to which all members of the interfaith movement must attend: "How do we measure effectiveness in interfaith work? How do we track progress? What outcomes are we after, and how do we know we are reaching them?"

In response to this question, Eboo looks to quantitative, rather than qualitative evidence -- a major shift not in his own personal research and reading, but in his description of the interfaith movement and why it counts. Therein lies a gem, which may in time spawn a transformation within the interfaith movement and how it understands itself: the interfaith triangle. Says Patel,

"The more I studied this area, the more I started to see attitudes, knowledge, and relationships as three sides of a triangle.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Patel is always a clear and thoughtful writer. This book develops the fundamental approach to interfaith relationships that he has developed over his many years leading the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago. It's the most comprehensive and direct argument for the need for interfaith work and workers that I have ever read. I've been working in the field of interreligious relationships for many years, and this is the first time that I have heard anyone ask how we measure the effectiveness of that effort.

He makes an important distinction between diversity, which is a fact of modern life, and pluralism, which is developing understanding and appreciation for the diversity. Observing the example of the Dalai Lama, he points out that pluralism requires developing "appreciative knowledge about other traditions," an effort to identify "values that all religions share," understanding "the history of interfaith cooperation" here and around the world, and developing one's own "interfaith theology," based in one's own tradition.

In a time when interreligious conflict is so much in the news, and the US is challenged to include more and more religious diversity, Patel's book offers clear direction towards the strength that can come from mutual understanding and appreciation.
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Format: Hardcover
Eboo Patel is a visionary for our time. He sees potential and beauty of America's religious diversity and argues eloquently that interfaith cooperation is part of America's backbone. He offers contemporary articulation of the threats to and possibilities of interfaith bridgebuilding in America today, and an inspiring prescription for action for colleges and university, students and parents.
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Eboo Patel masterfully weaves together stories of several divisive religious happenings that have made headlines in a post-9/11 America, his own life experiences and those of the Interfaith Youth Core, and a vision for a pluralistic nation that emphasizes commonality while celebrating diversity. Since pluralism is a "responsibility" not a "birthright," he encourages people to move beyond the mere acquisition of new knowledge by engaging in interfaith conversations and forming interfaith relationships.

Authentic, well researched, and timely Sacred Ground belongs on the reading list of all who value religion and/or America. While the work of the Interfaith Youth Core is now focused on a college audience (an intentional mid-course correction Patel relates in detail), this book effectively spans generations and religions providing wisdom for all.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wonderfully honest account from Eboo Patel, a Muslim, concerning his feelings, perceptions, and life as an American and who founded the Interfaith Youth Core. He wrote,

"The idea is that serving others is a common value to all traditions-- including secular ones-- and when religiously diverse young people engage in volunteer projects together, they become both committed to the cause of interfaith cooperation and ambassadors for its importance."

Patel, Eboo (2012-08-14). Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America (p. xii). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.
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Format: Paperback
A book club of Muslim, Christian and Buddhist women chose this to read and I have not heard their responses yet but look forward to hearing what others think. I think this book is tedious and the author's good ideas are buried in lots of extraneous verbiage about himself and the situations he is describing often beleaguing the point of the need for dialogue. He spends about 1/3 of the book talking about the Córdoba Houst controversy, which I remember. While I think this suggestion probably arose out of good intention, I find it difficult to hear Patel talk about he great suffering of Muslims and then show so little understanding of the suffering of those whose loved ones and community died in the 9/11 terrorist attack, or in the ongoing aftermath of the illnesses many of those first responders still deal with. Then there is his assertion that Spain enjoyed 700 years of happy, contented and peaceful Muslim rule that was embodied in the art of Córdoba. At least three different waves of Muslim invaders from North Africa overwhelmed Christian Spain and while some Christians and Jews survived and continued to live there, they were heavily taxed and performed important functions, like banking, for the Muslims. Peace at the point of a sword is hardly happy co-existence. - I did not find his 3 keys to participating in a TV interview gratifying when number two is "never answer the question." I have seen this technique used and invariably find it annoying to disingenuous. - He makes a comment about thinking universities should offer degrees in interfaith and seems surprised when a State university president says "We don't discuss religion." Perhaps the concept of separation of church and state needs to be clarified for him.Read more ›
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