REVIEWS & PRESS
Reviews | Press Reports | Advance Praise
This fascinating account shows how the women confront and work through age-old differences among their religions. The "crucifixion crisis" that occurs early on over the role Jews played in Jesus' death gives a clear picture of the difficulties ahead.But the three courageously continue. As they become friends, they are stunned to realize how much in their three faiths actually unites them. [ full review ]
— Chicago Tribune
Ranya Idliby is a Palestinian Muslim; Suzanne Oliver, an ex--Catholic now in the Episcopal Church; and Priscilla Warner, Jewish. Initially, the idea behind establishing a faith club was simple--the three women would collaborate on an interfaith children's book emphasizing the connections among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that would reinforce the common heritage the three religions share. In post-9/11 America, however, real life began getting in the way. Almost from the start, differences that culminated in conflict emerged; at one point, the tension even jeopardized the project altogether. Prophetically, while searching for a story to help illustrate connections among the religions, Suzanne chose the Crucifixion, which immediately set off alarm bells for Priscilla. Yet they persevered. All three agreed that to work together they had to be brutally candid, "no matter how rude or politically incorrect." Eventually--and as they make abundantly clear, not easily--conflict and anger gave way to a special kind of rapprochement that merged mutual understanding and respect. Each woman brings to the table her prejudices, unique faith stories, and personal stereotypes and misconceptions (Priscilla, for example, had those of one who had never before met a Palestinian woman). Brimming with passion and conviction, and concluding with suggestions for starting a similar faith club, this is essential reading for anyone interested in interfaith dialogue. June Sawyers
The book will mostly enlighten Americans about Islam by presenting it through the lens of religious traditions that are more familiar. Over three years, the authors grapple with difficult but timely questions: Is the crucifixion story anti-Semitic? What is the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism? How has the Christian West interpreted Muhammed? The Faith Club is engaging, offensive and provocative. The authors capture the post-9/11 leeriness of many Americans toward those claiming religious certainty, which is often linked to fundamentalism, fanaticism and intolerance.... The Faith Club is an educational tool and blueprint for others. The authors provide guidelines and a list of questions to help others initiate similar clubs. Confronting points of conflict directly and honestly is what makes the faith club work. Neighborly niceties are less important than the willingness to be vulnerable, self-searching and candid. [ full review ]
— Chicago Sun-Times
There were arguments, hurt feelings, tensions, and difficult moments during which misunderstandings and resentments almost won. But they stuck it out and eventually decided to write a book about their own experiences together, rather than the children’s book. It was the right decision. The result is an easy introduction to what Muslims, Jews and Christians believe, how those beliefs influence the ethics, morals, and values of individual. So many people who try to study religion, and I am one, delve into the heaviest books, seeking intellectual explanations for religion and spirituality. What really works about this book is that it allows us to hear how faith plays out for three real people thrust into a situation where they have to explain themselves to each other. Idliby, Oliver and Warner come across as intelligent, articulate and caring people, ut they also speak to each other in ways that most of us would never dare. What they have done is truly courageous, confronting each other with the greatest respect about the things that each holds dearest. How much more intimate with a person can you get than to explore that persons religious beliefs? The book is a terrific read. You can’t help but get wrapped up in their personal stories and by the end you feel as if you have been through the experience with them. It is also a wonderful guide for those who genuinely want to try to understand faith traditions other than their own and still have friends they cherish at the end. [ full review ]
— Washington Post / Newsweek, On Faith Blog
They originally joined together to write a children's book about the differences between their faiths. Three years and many hours of taped conversations later, they produced instead this adult book based on their recollections and growing mutual affection. But the result is no church (or mosque or synagogue) picnic: The trio periodically let it rip, confronting their own prejudices and stereotypes. [ full review ]
— Bloomberg News
In writing a children's book highlighting the commonalities among the Abrahamic religions, Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, sought Christian and Jewish collaborators. She was joined by Episcopalian-turned-Catholic Suzanne Oliver and Jewish children's book writer Warner, who both came to realize they needed to deal with their own questions, stereotypes, and concerns before starting the book. After several meetings, the trio's relationship and project seemed in jeopardy, but they painstakingly worked through their differences, accompanying one another at significant times to each of their places of worship, reading one another's Scripture, and supporting one another's doubts and fears. In the process, the women developed a strong bond that strengthened the way each practiced her own religion and moved them all toward deeper commitment to interfaith dialog, to justice, and to one another. This book, which concludes with suggestions to readers for forming their own Faith Club and includes sample questions for thought, is a documentation of Idliby, Oliver, and Warner's discussions, debates, and reflections. The world needs this book or others very similar! Highly recommended for all libraries.
— Library Journal
Three mothers’ engaging account of their interfaith dialogue
At first glance, the authors don’t seem to have much in common. Idliby is a Muslim of Palestinian descent; Warner is a Reform Jew; Oliver grew up Catholic but was drawn to the more liberal Episcopal Church as an adult. Beneath those differences lie some important similarities: All three are mothers who want to teach their children religious tolerance, and each places great stock in her religious identity. In order to learn about the religious traditions of their neighbors, the authors came together to form a “faith club,” meeting regularly to discuss prayer and ritual, their beliefs about God and the relationship between spirituality and social justice. They never shy away from potentially explosive topics, such as the way that Christian descriptions of Jesus’ crucifixion have been used to provoke anti-Jewish violence, or the question of whether people can criticize Israeli policy without being accused of anti-Semitism. Over time, the women’s religious commitments evolved: Idliby, who had felt spiritually homeless, found a community of like-minded progressive American Muslims; Oliver began to question some of her commitments to classical Christian doctrine; and Warner became more comfortable praying to and talking about God. The three charming narrators transform potentially dry theological discourses into personal, intimate heart-to-hearts. For readers who wish they could pull up a chair and join Idliby, Oliver, and Warner in their chats, the concluding chapter explains how to form your own faith club. The only weakness here is that all three authors represent decidedly liberal expressions of their religions. The conversations would have been even more interesting, albeit considerably more fraught, had they included an evangelical Christian or an Orthodox Jew or a Muslim woman who wears hijab. An invitation to discussion that’s hard to turn down—and a natural for book groups.
— KIRKUS Reviews
In the wake of 9/11, Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, sought out fellow mothers of the Jewish and Christian faiths to write a children's book on the commonalities among their respective traditions. In their first meeting, however, the women realized they would have to address their differences first. Oliver, an Episcopalian who was raised Catholic, irked Warner, a Jewish woman and children's author, with her description of the Crucifixion story, which sounded too much like "Jews killed Jesus" for Warner's taste. Idliby's efforts to join in on the usual "Judeo-Christian" debate tap into a sense of alienation she already feels in the larger Muslim community, where she is unable to find a progressive mosque that reflects her non-veil-wearing, spiritual Islam. The ladies come to call their group a "faith club" and, over time, midwife each other into stronger belief in their own religions. More Fight Club than book club, the co-authors pull no punches; their outstanding honesty makes for a page-turning read, rare for a religion nonfiction book. From Idliby's graphic defense of the Palestinian cause, Oliver's vacillations between faith and doubt, and Warner's struggles to acknowledge God's existence, almost every taboo topic is explored on this engaging spiritual ride.
— Publishers Weekly
AFTER 9/11, New Yorker Ranya Idliby stopped calling her sons by their Muslim names in public. Instead, she'd use their nicknames, Ty and Timmy. She asked her grandmother not to speak Arabic outside the home. She and her husband chose not to tell their children about the terrorist attacks. [full review]
Why did reading The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - Three Women Search for Understanding bring tears of joy to my eyes? Let me explain. For the first time in my life I felt like a book was helping the reader take a giant leap forward in understanding how religion influences and plays a part in our daily practical lives....This book, which is no less than inspired, is a collection of the authors' deep soul searching, shared through 3-way conversations in meetings. It is a pathway that allows readers to think and reflect and meditate, while pausing in reading, and ask the same questions themselves. [full review]
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THE NEW YORK TIMES
Digging Deep to Explore Her Faith, Then Inviting Readers to Listen
IN 2002, Priscilla Warner embarked on a task that forced her to explore, analyze, challenge and defend her faith and religion. The outcome of that provocative journey is “The Faith Club” (Simon & Schuster), a memoir co-written by Ms. Warner, a Reform Jew; Ranya Idliby, a Muslim of Palestinian descent; and Suzanne Oliver, a Christian who grew up Catholic and converted to Episcopalian. The book is written in the form of journal entries and dialogue from three years of documented conversations in which the women confront their feelings on an array of issues — from religious stereotypes and social injustice to the crucifixion and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict....
[ read full article ]
THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL
Faith, hope, love and understanding
Join the club. All you need is faith, in God and each other. The Faith Club, published late last year by Free Press, is a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It’s subtitled A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew – Three Women Search for Understanding. And they find it.....
[ read full article ]
NEW YORK POST
FACE-TO-FATIH: Writer moms unite 3 religions
Shortly after 9/11, Upper East Side mom Ranya Idliby felt "isolated" from her Muslim religion, rejecting the "dominant voices" of Islam that preached "violence and hate."It became a subject she would talk about frequently at her daughter's school-bus stop with Suzanne Oliver, an Episcopalian who said, "When I found out she was Palestinian, I was interested in her viewpoints." The more they talked, the more they realized the importance of their conversations at a volatile time when their beliefs were shaken....
[ read full article ]
KANSAS CITY STAR
One fascinating thing to me about the book and the experience of these women is that each began the dialogue without being an expert in her own or anyone else’s faith. And each was willing not only to learn about the faith of her writing partners but also to learn more about her own religion so she could articulate her own faith more clearly. [read full article ]
KANSAS CITY STAR
Q&A with the authors.
[read full article ]
THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL
"The Faith Club," has generated hundreds of groups around the country, they say, founded by readers hungry for a more meaningful connection with people of different faiths.
[read full article ]
THE CAPITAL TIMES
Faith club sparks dialogue between religions
Faith Club "is a call to have this dialogue," said Idliby. "You have to push yourselves out of your comfort zone in order for you to have true ownership of your religion. It is not about editing our language, but for enlightening our thoughts."
[read full article ]
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
3 faiths, 3 women, 1 unique book
The partnership began more than four years ago at a bus stop on the East Side of Manhattan with two mothers, one Muslim, the other Christian, whose daughters had started kindergarten together. A third partner, who was Jewish, was recruited a few days later with a phone call. What brought them together was a project inspired by the attack months earlier on the World Trade Center - a children's book meant to show how much the three great faiths share. The three partners finished the book quickly, but then, like so many authors, found that getting it published posed a much tougher challenge. In fact, publishers were more interested in something else - the story of how these three spiritual strangers came together to form an unusual, ongoing relationship. The women began writing again, this time for adults..... [ read full article ]
Moms find spiritual friends in Faith Club
This New York City trio is out to share with a fractious world their way of fostering interreligious understanding soul to soul. A memoir of their experiences, The Faith Club (Simon & Schuster), arrives in stores Monday, on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Gathered in Oliver's apartment to talk about their experience, they're easy, laughing, finishing one another's thoughts and bolstering one another's ideas, munching their favorite snacks, such as Warner's addictive gourmet chocolates. But The Faith Club reveals how very hard it was when they were spiritual strangers learning to lay down their guards and dredge up their deepest fears and prejudices.... [ read full article ]
SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE
'It's a call to dialogue': 9/11 spurred a trio of New Yorkers to launch an interfaith movement
The church where they were supposed to speak in Rancho Peñasquitos was closed because it was in an evacuation zone. But those three women from New York are used to crisis. After all, it was 9/11 that brought them together.... [ read full article ]
Three major religions the focus of talk by mothers
A Christian, a Jew and a Muslim decide to write a book no, it isn't the start of a bad joke, but it was the start of spiritual journey for three mothers who learned that religious differences don't necessarily have to lead to conflict..... [ read full article ]
THE WINDSOR STAR
U.S. authors of different faiths urge love thy neighbour
Religious communities in Windsor need to talk to each other to dispel their concerns, stereotypes and misunderstandings, says a trio of U.S. women who each hold different faiths.... [ read full article ]
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Advance Praise for The Faith Club:
“Millions of Americans crave a way to have interfaith conversation but have no idea where to begin. This book is a great place to start. The Faith Club is unfailingly honest, always engaging, and even suspenseful. The authors have set a path that many more will want to follow. I raced to the end to see how it all turned out. Hurrah!”
— Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born
“I loved The Faith Club because it provides hope for mothers of all backgrounds that it is indeed possible to create dialogue among us in a post-9/11 world. The book is a brilliant blueprint for creating peace among diverse people everywhere. And if there’s one thing about The Faith Club I have faith in, it's that it will catch fire among women’s groups and book clubs across America.”
— Donna Dees-Thomases, author of Looking for a Few Good Moms and founder of the Million Mom March
“Violent conflict, painful contradiction and heated controversy make up the headlines on religion today. But a deeper story is unfolding as well: Three contemporary women—a Jew, Christian and Muslim—search together across the divides of prejudice and fear. Their honesty becomes a path to connection; their courage leads into the ranges of the heart opened by their own religions. Working together, they each arrive where alone they could not go. Read this important book.”
—Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General, World Conference of Religions for Peace
“This book is the real thing: three tough, strong women take on each other's religious differences. Achieving a true sisterhood in faith that crosses the religious traditions, these sassy moms will knock you out."
— Asma Gull Hasan, author of Why I Am a Muslim and American Muslims: The New Generation
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