Abraham’s ChildrenKelly James Clark, ed. (Yale University Press: June 26, 2012), 312 pages.
Scarcely any country in today’s world can claim to be free of intolerance. Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, Sudan, the Balkans, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and the Caucasus are just some of the areas of intractable conflict apparently inspired or exacerbated by religious differences. Can devoted Jews, Christians, or Muslims remain true to their own fundamental beliefs and practices, yet also find paths toward liberty, tolerance, and respect for those of other faiths? In this vitally important book, fifteen influential practitioners of the Abrahamic religions address religious liberty and tolerance from the perspectives of their own faith traditions. Former president Jimmy Carter, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Indonesia’s first democratically elected president, Abdurrahman Wahid, and the other writers draw on their personal experiences and on the sacred writings that are central in their own religious lives. Rather than relying on “pure reason,” as secularists might prefer, the contributors celebrate religious traditions and find within them a way toward mutual peace, uncompromised liberty, and principled tolerance. Offering a counterbalance to incendiary religious leaders who cite Holy Writ to justify intolerance and violence, the contributors reveal how tolerance and respect for believers in other faiths stand at the core of the Abrahamic traditions.
“Tolerance is in all-too-short supply in our world. Most attempts to cultivate greater tolerance urge us to set aside our differences, including our religious differences, and focus on what unites us. Many people find it difficult if not impossible to do that. The authors in this collection, each one a leading member of one or another of the Abrahamic religions, take a strikingly different and fresh approach. Each one probes the resources of his or her own religion to make a case for tolerating one’s fellow human beings even when one disagrees on important matters. Over and over I had the experience of scales falling off my eyes. It would be hard to exaggerate the importance and promise of these fascinating essays for advancing the cause of tolerance.” ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu