Daniel S. BROWN, Jr., ed. Interfaith Dialogue in Practice: Christian, Muslim, Jew. Kansis City, MO: Rockhurst University Press, 2013. Pp. 160. $30 sc. ISBN 978-1-886761-32-2. Reviewed by Oswald John NIRA, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, TX 78207

        The nine essays in this text provide practical suggestions to initiate and develop interreligious dialogue.  This is not a text that surveys the major underpinnings of selected religious traditions; nor is this a text that reviews the history or cultural context of religious systems.  Rather, the stated goal of this text is greater understanding between religious adherents, “to hear and to better understand each other’s pain and what it is that hurts each other... this is the purpose of interfaith dialogue at all levels—to increase understanding, to heal wounds, and to bring together ‘them’ and ‘us’ to become ‘we.’” (p. xi) This text would be beneficial for graduate programs in institutional leadership, interreligious dialogue and spirituality, wherein the application of communication techniques can potentially afford greater understanding and clarity between religious adherents and communities.

The central focus is the Abrahamic traditions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—examined with a method (unfamiliar to this reviewer) called “communication perspectives.” Kimberly A. Pearce and W. Barnett Pearce, cite communication scholars, sketch out the communication perspective method consisting of “collaborative problem solving, appreciation for different perspectives, and identification of common ground.” (p. xi) This method includes an examination of the elements of language, listening strategies, and personal interaction. An in-depth bibliography is provided, citing the aforementioned scholars and other experts in the field.

Jacob Stutzman, in “Religious Literacy and Epcot Interfaith Dialogue” argues that religious literacy is an essential requirement for all individuals, lest all become deluded and therefore impoverished by an “Epcot” experience of faith that is blanched of vital and meaningful particularities of faith tenets and practices (p. 48-49). Jeffrey B. Kurtz and Mark R. Orten, in “Interreligious Dialogue and Higher Education,” offer clear and pointed arrangements through which an educational institution can provide opportunities for an interreligious community. Institutions can employ “rhetorical ruptures”, a plan that uses detailed rhetorical techniques, to surface collaborative opportunities and wrestle with “uncomfortable ‘truths’”, leading to stronger and organic cooperation. In addition, Kurtz and Orten analyze the notion of pluralism, drawing out how “perceived or claimed lines of religious difference” can muzzle the “diversity within these (religious) traditions” and foster “uncertainty over how to think through forms of religious difference that do not fit the neat contours such a model pluralism typically provides.” (p. 87)

Directors of interreligious programs may consider adding this text to their shelf as a practical guide to foment greater understanding between religious adherents that populate their increasingly diverse campuses.