Spirituality & Practice - Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
They have been called the "Interfaith Amigos"Don Mackenzie, a recently retired United Church of Christ minister; Ted Falcon, a rabbi and popular teacher of meditation and spirituality; and Jamal Rahman, [an Imam] and cofounder of Interfaith Community Church. Together for many years they have spoken at conferences, hosted an Interfaith Radio show, taught others the essentials of dialogue and collaboration, and celebrated Ramadan and seder together in Seattle with Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
The perspective they explore in this adventuresome paperback is an inclusive spirituality which can serve as a healing balm for the wounds suffered by people and the planet. Their intention as delineated in the introduction is to "celebrate the shared healing wisdom, compassion, and vitality at the heart of the three Abrahamic faiths." The spirituality they describe "embraces differences and makes no demand that we all experience the same things. It takes us beyond our particular beliefs into shared values of love, compassion, and peace toward which we are all striving."
Mackenzie, Falcon, and Rahman begin with an exploration of the five stages of the interfaith journey:
- Moving beyond separation and suspicion
- Inquiring more deeply
- Sharing both the easy and the difficult parts
- Moving beyond safe territory
- Exploring spiritual practices from other traditions
The Interfaith Amigos began working together after 9/11, and they each share their personal faith stories. This is followed by an examination of what they call the core of their traditions: the pastor (love), the rabbi (The Sh'ma), and the [Imam] (compassion). Each then talks about things in his tradition that he is uncomfortable with and those things they are grateful for. In a very interesting section, The Interfaith Amigos visit Israel and Palestine together and confront the elephant in the room.
But the best chapter of all is the last one on the value of exploring spiritual practices from other traditions. Here Mackenzie shares Sabbath moments, journaling as lectio divina, and listening to music. Falcon offers a prayer of gratitude to begin the day and nighttime forgiveness practice. Rahman's practices include five techniques for opening the heart. They conclude:
"Spiritual practices from a wealth of traditions can help awaken you to your deeper spiritual identity, to the fullness of your human potential. Because this is so, the very nature of your experience in the world can shift. Not only will you find a rejuvenation of soul, of mind, and of body, but this final stage of the interfaith process will allow you to celebrate this healing together with other people on the interfaith journey."
CATHOLIC LIBRARY WORLD - Glen Ebisch
This book is in part a history of the ten-year friendship among three clergymen of different faiths. However, it is also intended as a guidebook for individuals and religious communities desiring to broaden their own interfaith experience. The authors lay out the stages they have traveled: coming to trust one another, discussing what they are most proud of and most negative toward in their own faiths, dealing with areas of potential conflict, and finally being able to fully explore the spiritual practices of the other religions. Not everyone wishes to discover what other faiths believe. The authors are even open to this and discuss with sensitivity the particular cases of an evangelical minister and an ultra conservative rabbi who have little interest in looking outside their own faith communities. But in the world today, there are both practical and spiritual reasons to develop an appreciation of other faiths. The openness of these men to discussing their own, sometimes rocky, faith journeys gives this book a special charm that overcomes its occasional handbook-like quality. I think this would be a valuable book for those interested in reaching out to people of other beliefs.
Congregational Libraries Today - Rabbi Louis A. Rieser
A pastor, a rabbi, and [an imam] walk into a room...no joke! Getting to the Heart of Interfaith describes the dialogue that grew between these three religious leaders over a period of several years. They describe the stages of the dialogue and share their individual reflections on the journey.
There can be a huge gap between theory and practice in the realm of interfaith dialogue. It is challenging work. The strength of this book is that it leads you inside this conversation among men who have built strong personal bonds as they have engaged in serious dialogue. The opening chapter describes the stages of an interfaith dialogue. Each of the remaining chapters describes one of those stages in detail and includes a section from each of the men (Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon, and [Imam] Jamal Rahman) on their experiences at that stage of their relationship. Their tales are proof that the interfaith encounter is transforming in multiple ways.
This book tells a personal tale within the context of a general guide to dialogue. The blend of these two elements gives this book a unique place among the many guides to interfaith dialogue.
Standard Examiner - OGDEN
Organizers of Interfaith Week, Feb. 4–11, are encouraging area residents to start reading the book now, so they will be prepared to attend a discussion on the book during this year's celebration.
The book, written by the Rev. Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and [Imam] Jamal Rahman, explores the similarities and differences among major faiths and discusses ways people of differing faiths can respect one another and work together.
Brian Davis, director of the Religion and Ethics Resource Network at Weber State University, will facilitate the book discussion at 7 p.m. Feb. 9. The location is still to be determined. Information about the event will follow in the religion pages of the Standard-Examiner.
From the Publisher
"A masterful first-hand account of interfaith dialogue. Insightful, interesting, informative and important ... [will be] of great interest to individual readers and a rich resource for religious communities seeking to create such dialogue."
Marcus J. Borg, best-selling author, The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith and other books
"[A] very personal book … proposes a road map for spiritual growth and interfaith cooperation. It will open [our] hearts and minds to each other and each other's faith traditions."
Rabbi Leonard A. Schoolman, founding director, Center for Religious Inquiry, New York; author, The Changing Christian World: A Brief Introduction for Jews
“Not an ordinary book, rather the lived experience of three religious leaders and the exploration of their faith differences. Lifts up a way to peaceful living based in understanding and compassion.”
Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary, The National Council of Churches in Christ (United States)
“Courageous…. Provides an essential and inspiring guide to religious healing and the human step to spiritual maturity.”
David Korten, board chair, YES! Magazine; author, Agenda for a New Economy and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
“Brings us something new: true and honest friendship as evidenced in tough talk and deep interspiritual sharing. Read this book and live it. Get your clergy to do the same.”
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author, The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice
“Important. The perfect book to introduce the world of interfaith cooperation and understanding [and] a great way for any local religious community's adult study group to safely dive in.”
Rev. Bud Heckman, director for external relations, Religions for Peace; author, InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook
“Written with clarity, insight and wisdom ... provides a judicious model for developing bonds across religious boundaries. Read itand put its recommendations into practice.”
Sr. Mary C. Boys, Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York City; coauthor, Christians & Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other