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
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.
— Washington Post / Newsweek, On Faith Blog
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.
— Chicago Sun-Times
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.
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
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.
— Chicago Tribune
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.
— Bloomberg News
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