Hearing the Call across Traditions: Readings on Faith and Service / Edition 1

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An inspiring collection of readings that will raise deep questions about service and its roots in faith.

"There is a deep yearning among the vast majority of people of all religious and philosophical traditions to make real their most enduring shared principles—to care for creation, to serve others with compassion, and to protect and enhance the gift of life…. We believe that reflecting on these principles strengthens our capacity to embody them."
—from the Introduction

Explore the connections between faith, service, and social justice through the prose, verse, and sacred texts of the world's great faith traditions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and more. Drawing from diverse literary genres, religious and philosophical perspectives, and historical periods, these short and provocative readings cut to the heart of the many obstacles and joys that accompany lives devoted to faith and service:

Why do I serve? • Whom do I serve? • How do I serve?

This rich collection will create a platform for discussing and understanding the faith-based service of others as well as inspire you to reflect on the meaning behind your own commitment to improving the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An original and necessary work that deserves to be passed on to reading publics and citizens who gather to make things better in a spiritually and ideologically warring world."
Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago

“A usable, wonderful instrument designed to take our dreams of action and make them real. Provides new insight and wisdom that will deepen our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. I commend this book to readers and seekers of all ages!”
Michelle Nunn, CEO, Points of Light Institute; cofounder, Hands On Network;
author, Be the Change! Change the World. Change

“Brings the best wisdom of our respective traditions to guide us on the journey to faith, service, and reconciliation.”
Rabbi Sid Schwarz, founder, PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values; author, Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World

“A rich abundance of both provocative readings and, more importantly, good questions to lead those bold enough to explore with others across these lines…. [A] required anthology of readings for those earnestly seeking the path of religious cooperation.”
Rev. Bud Heckman, director for external relations, Religions for Peace;
editor, InterActive Faith:The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook

“A delightful symphony of inspiring readings from the world's religions. Finds harmony in a shared commitment and value for service and celebrates the distinctive and inviting melodies on this theme played in diverse communities of faith.”
Anantanand Rambachan, professor and chair of the religion department, St. Olaf College

“An important contribution to the field of public service. And for those who are motivated to serve because of deep faith commitments, this book will only strengthen that calling.”
Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder, Teach for America

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594733031
  • Publisher: Skylight Paths Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,296,903
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Davis, senior research and teaching associate at the Project on Civic Reflection, is co-editor of The Civically Engaged Reader: A Diverse Collection of Short and Provocative Readings on Civic Activity and Talking Service: Readings for Civic Reflection.

Dr. Eboo Patel is the founder and director of the Interfaith Youth Core and is one of the world's most sought-after speakers on the subject of the interfaith movement and the interfaith youth movement in particular. He serves as a board member for several major interfaith associations and holds membership in such exclusive organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations and the EastWest Institute. Dr. Patel is currently working on a book on the role of religious youth in the modern era. He is author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation.

Cesar Chavez was born in 1927 in Yuma, Arizona, to a family of poor migrant farm workers. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Chavez became an organizer for the Community Service Organization, working to register voters, fight racial and economic discrimination, and help create new CSO chapters. In 1962, Chavez left his position with CSO to found the National Farm Workers Association, and he gradually built a nationwide coalition of unions, church groups, students, and consumers, eventually rallying millions of supporters to the United Farm Workers. Chavez died in 1993 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. Chavez prepared the speech below during a twenty-five-day spiritual fast and presented it at a conference of Mexican Americans in 1968 in Sacramento, California.

Dorothy Day was born in Brooklyn,New York, in 1897, and raised in Chicago in a nominally Protestant home.Day became a writer, a radical social thinker, a pacifist and—in time—a convert to Catholicism. In the early 1930s, with Peter Maurin, she cofounded and for many years led the Catholic Worker movement in America, a movement joining Catholic tradition to social action. She published The Catholic Worker newspaper to promote Catholic social teaching and created "houses of hospitality" to shelter and feed the poor without financial or religious expectations in return. Day died in 1980.The following chapter on “The Faces of Poverty” appeared in Loaves and Fishes, Day's story of the Catholic Worker movement, first published in 1963.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, born in 1869, led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Known as Mahatma ("Great Soul") internationally and Bapu (“Father”) in India, Gandhi employed and wrote prodigiously about satyagraha and ahimsa—resistance to tyranny through civil disobedience and nonviolence. Before his assassination in 1948, Gandhi also led campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, and building bridges across ethnic and religious differences.The passage below appears in a letter dated October 28, 1930, which Gandhi wrote to Narandas Gandhi, secretary of the ashram.

Hafiz was born Shams-ud-din Muhammad sometime around 1320, in Shiraz, Persia. Hafiz lived in Shiraz most of his life and became a Sufi master. Scholars estimate that Hafiz wrote approximately five thousand poems, several hundred of which have survived. Hafiz became famous in the West thanks to the efforts of Goethe and Emerson, as well as Hazrat Inayat Khan. This selection was translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

An exiled Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk,Thich Nhat Hanh is a teacher, a poet, and a peace and human rights activist. Born in central Vietnam in 1926, he joined a Zen monastery at sixteen and was ordained as a monk in 1949. He founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS), a relief organization in Saigon that rebuilt bombed villages, schools, and medical centers, and resettled families during the Vietnam War. He urged the U.S. government to withdraw from Vietnam, encouraged Martin Luther King Jr. to oppose the war publicly, and led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks. His more than one hundred books include Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire (in which he coined the term engaged Buddhism) and Living Buddha, Living Christ. He currently lives in the Plum Village Monastery in France, a community he founded in 1982, and continues to be active in the peace movement.The passages selected here come from his book Peace Is Every Step.

Mark Helprin was born in 1947 and was raised in the United States and in the British West Indies. He went on to serve in the British Merchant Navy, the Israeli infantry, and the Israeli Air Force, and to write several short story collections, children's books, and novels, including Refiner’s Fire:The Life and Adventures of Marshall Pearl, a Foundling and A Soldier of the Great War. His essays and columns have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, the Wall Street Journal, and the National Review. He also served as a policy advisor and speechwriter to presidential candidate Bob Dole in 1996.This story appeared in his collection Ellis Island and Other Stories.

Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in Poland in 1907, received his early education from a yeshiva (a school for Talmudic or rabbinical study), and earned his doctorate from the University of Berlin. In 1939, six weeks before the Nazi invasion of Poland, he left for London and then for the United States, where he taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City from 1945 until his death in 1972.An activist as well as a scholar and a teacher, Heschel was deeply engaged in social movements for peace, civil rights, and interfaith understanding.The following three selections are excerpted from his 1965 work, Who Is Man?

Born in England in 1844, Gerard Manley Hopkins began writing poetry at an early age. In his early twenties, Hopkins converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism and in 1868 joined the Society of Jesuits. Hopkins continued to write poems thereafter, while serving as a priest and university teacher, but he burned most of his early poems out of a deep sense of conflict between his art and his faith, and he published very little in his lifetime."God's Grandeur" appeared in the first collection of his poems, edited by his friend Robert Bridges and published in 1918, long after the poet's death in 1889.

Kabir (1440–1518), was born in Varanasi (Benares), India, most likely in 1398. His birth and death are surrounded by legends and little is known about him. Raised by Muslim parents, Kabir later became a disciple of the Hindu bhakti saint Ramananda at a time when it was unusual for a Hindu teacher to take on a Muslim student. One of India's most revered poets and mystics, Kabir's life and teachings are spiritually significant to Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs alike. He did not claim to be Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh and rather claimed that he was "at once the child of Allah and of Râm." His compositions figure largely in Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, making up the largest contributions to the text.This poem was translated by Rabindranath Tagore.

Martin Luther King IIIis chairman and CEO of Realizing the Dream, Inc.

The XIVth Dalai Lama,Tenzin Gyatso,was born Lhamo Thondup in 1935 to a poor family in the northeastern Tibetan village of Takster.At the age of two, he was recognized by the Tibetan government as the reincarnation of the XIIIth Dalai Lama.At the age of five, he was installed as Tibet's spiritual leader, and at the age of fifteen he assumed full political authority. In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, under pressure from the Chinese, and established the Tibetan government in exile in India. The Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and he has, for much of his life, been a spiritual guide to people from all over the world.This selection appears in The Essential Dalai Lama: His Important Teachings edited by Rajiv Mehrotra.

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 to a frontier family in Kentucky and went on to serve as the sixteenth president of the United States of America. On the heels of the surprising defeat of the Grand Army at Bull Run on July 21, 1861, Lincoln and many others realized that the Civil War would not end quickly or easily. It was in response to this increasing sense of alarm that Lincoln issued the proclamation below. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, almost two and a half years after he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Gabriela Mistral, born Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga in Vicuña, Chile, in 1889, became a village schoolteacher and a poet as well as an active contributor to educational systems in Mexico and Chile. As Mistral's acclaim grew, she took teaching positions in Spanish literature at Columbia University, Middlebury College,Vassar College, and the University of Puerto Rico. In 1945, Mistral became the first female Latin American poet to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. She died in 1957.This poem was translated by Doris Dana.

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1935. After attending Vassar College, Oliver went on to write more than a dozen books of poetry and prose. Her collection of poetry, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984, and New and Selected Poems won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1992. This poem appeared in her 1990 collection, House of Light.

John Milton Oskison was born in Vinita, Oklahoma, in Indian Territory in 1874 to a Cherokee mother and a white father. After graduating from Willie Halsell College in 1894, he received a BA from Stanford University and studied literature at Harvard.A lifelong writer, Oskison first achieved success as a short story writer, then turned to journalism and later yet to novels and biography—focusing often, although not exclusively, on life in the Cherokee Nation and the intense intercultural conflicts of that place and people. He also served with the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I. "The Problem of Old Harjo" was first published in 1907 in The Southern Workman, a journal dedicated in part to promoting interracial understanding and respect.

Peggy Payne was born in 1949 in North Carolina, where she has lived all her life. After graduating from Duke University and writing for two years for the Raleigh Times, Payne became a freelance writer. She is now a novelist, a nonfiction writer, and an editorial consultant whose work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and others.The following selection is the first chapter of her 1988 novel, Revelation.

Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi, best known to English-speaking audiences as Rumi, is considered to be one of the greatest of Sufi poets. Born in 1207 in Balkh (now Afghanistan), Rumi was a teacher, theologian, and philosopher, as well as a mystic poet, whose influence spread throughout Afghanistan and central Asia,Turkey, and India. His most significant work is the Mathnawi, a multivolume work of stories and lyric poetry on teaching and Sufi lore. He also brought us the Mawlawiya (Mevlevi), a Sufi order that engages dance in its spiritual practices and that is better known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes.

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, one of the most respected spiritual leaders and teachers of his generation, has been a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California, for close to forty years. He is the founding chairman of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies and offers grants to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews threatened by the agents of Nazi savagery. He is also the founder of Jewish World Watch, which aims to raise moral consciousness within the Jewish community. Synagogues and other religious institutions are now supporting this effort across the country.

Rabbi Schulweis is the author of many books, including: Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey (Jewish Lights), Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion, For Those Who Can't Believe, Finding Each Other in Judaism, In God's Mirror, and two books of original religious poetry and meditation—From Birth to Immortality and Passages in Poetry. His Evil and the Morality of God is regarded as a classic.

Anna Swir was born Anna Swirszczynska in Warsaw, Poland, in 1909 to a family living in poverty. Swir put herself through college and published her first poem at the age of twenty-one. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Swir joined the resistance movement and became a military nurse in the Warsaw Uprising.Throughout her life, Swir wrote several books of poetry. The following poem appeared in Csezlaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan's translation of her poetry for the 1996 collection, Talking to My Body. Swir died in 1984.

Chuang-Tzu was a renowned Chinese Taoist philosopher of the fourth century BCE. Little is known about his life. He is said to have been from the town of Meng, in the modern-day Henan Province, and to have lived for many years as a hermit. Traditionally it is thought that Chuang-Tzu wrote the first seven ("inner") chapters of the compilation of writings attributed to him, the "Chuang-Tzu," and that his students and other philosophers wrote the rest. His interpretation of Taoist philosophy greatly influenced the development of Zen Buddhism. This translation is by Thomas Merton.

Born in 1819 in Long Island, New York, Walt Whitman was a poet, essayist, and journalist best known for Leaves of Grass (first published in 1855) and the poems "Song of Myself " and "I Sing the Body Electric." In the early years of the Civil War, Whitman traveled to Washington, D.C., to search for his brother,who was reported missing in action. Whitman stayed in Washington and volunteered as an aide in the hospitals, tending to sick and wounded soldiers. One of the first American poets to gain international attention, Whitman died in 1862 in Camden, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

By Eboo Patel

Part I:Why Do I Serve?
The Drum Major Instinct
Why the Buddha Had Good Digestion, from Avadanasataka
In Praise of Generosity, from the Rig Veda
Solidarity, Reciprocity, and Sanctity, three selections from
Who Is Man?
A Handful of Dates, in The Wedding of Zein and Other Stories
The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements, in Twenty Years at Hull-House
Action and Non-Action
Isaiah 58:2–12
Three Poems
Luke 10:25–37
Miserliness, from Purification of the Heart
The River, in A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
Compassion, from The Essential Dalai Lama: His Important Teachings
The Joy of Giving Joy, from On the Genealogy of Morality
Selfless Service, from the Bhagavad Gita
Surahs 93 and 107, from the Qur'an
Church, in The Things They Carried
Section 50, from Gitanjali: Song Offerings
The Base of All Metaphysics, in Leaves of Grass

Part II:Whom Do I Serve?
A Good Traveler Has No Fixed Plans, in the Tao Te Ching
The Faces of Poverty, in Loaves and Fishes
The Difference Between
The Man to Send Rain Clouds
If Not Higher
The Same Inside, in Talking to My Body
The Problem of Old Harjo
Meditation on Compassion and Not Two, from Peace Is Every Step
The Legend of the Lowly Devotee, in The Tiruvaçagam
Ruth 1–4:22
The Mexican-American and the Church
The Walk, from Leaving Yuba City
The Shopping-Bag Lady, in Alma
The Camel Driver and the Adder
A Rich Young Man on the Road, from
Salvation: Scenes from the Life of St. Francis
Say Yes Quickly
His Grace

Part III: How Do I Serve?
God’s Grandeur
The Secret of Work, in The Complete Works, I:3
Reb Yozifl and the Contractor, in Inside Kasrilevke
First Days of Spring
Sitting with the Dead, in A Bit on the Side
Mercy:The Stamp of Creation
Yajna,Welfare, and Service, from a letter to Narandas Gandhi, October 28, 1930
Reflections on Gandhi, from the Partisan Review
Levels of Giving, in Mishneh Torah
The Buddha’s Last Instruction, in House of Light
North Light—A Recollection in the Present Tense, in Ellis Island and Other Stories
Come Out and Give Something
The Pure in Heart, in Revelation
The House
Proclamation of a National Fast-Day
The Yogi Dyes His Garments
Why I Make Sam Go to Church, from Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Appendix I Toward Action:The Interfaith Youth
Core Model for Interfaith Reflection and Service
Appendix II Questions for Discussion
Appendix III Guide to Readings by Faith Tradition and Genre
About the Supporting Organizations

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