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 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.