Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Book Review: "Religion Gone Astray"

Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of InterfaithReligion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith by Don Mackenzie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well-written exploration of -- and the interactions between -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The three co-authors (a pastor, a rabbi, and an imam) candidly look at the serious issues of exclusivity, violence, sexism/inequality, and homophobia within their religions' scriptures and traditions, and they share related personal experiences. They also review what they feel to be the core teachings shared among their religions (oneness, unconditional love, and compassion) and use those teachings to ... disarm(?) ... the uglier aspects of the divisive issues. Each topic concludes with exploratory questions and suggested spiritual practices to continue the work on your own (or in a group).

Although I enjoyed this book, and I do recommend it, I must take at least a little issue with its titular claims of getting to the "Heart of Interfaith." Each of these gentlemen espouse, at least in passing, that monotheism is superior. And, aside from a few one-liners about Buddhism, Hinduism, Atheism, and ... um ... environmentalism, this book is squarely in the camp of Abrahamic traditions. So, at best, these authors got to the heart of Ecumenicism. Still, it's a far deeper Ecumenicism than I've seen up to now. And, perhaps, this book, with its arguments against Judaism, Christianity, and Islam's claims to an exclusive Truth, represents a necessary first step in Abrahamic reconciliation that must occur before adherents of the Big Three and join in true Interfaith dialog.

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