Faculty Scholars & Practitioners Explore the “Oys and Joys of Interreligious Engagement” at Book Launch Event

By Adam Zemel
Oys and Joys authors and editors

(Pictured left to right) Contributor Jennifer Howe Peace, editors Rabbi Or Rose and Elinore J. Pierce, and contributor Preeta Bannerjee.

On February 28, Hebrew College’s Miller Center’s “Oys and Joys of Interreligious Engagement: A Conversation and Book Launch” brought together many of the educators and practitioners who have developed the field of Interreligious Studies over the past decade or so.

The event featured co-editors Dr. Lucinda Mosher, Elinor (“Ellie”) Pierce, and Miller Center Director Rabbi Or Rose, discussing their recent releases, With the Best of Intentions: Interreligious Missteps and Mistakes and Pluralism in Practice: Case Studies of Leadership in a Religiously Diverse America, both published by Orbis Books.

Rose opened the evening by acknowledging that even at this gathering of seasoned interreligious professionals, “We are likely to make more mistakes, but we will do so together!”

With the Best of Intentions is part of a series of interreligious resources Rose and his colleagues have published over the years with Orbis, beginning with My Neighbor’s Faith in 2012. That first volume featured constructive and inspiring stories about the interreligious encounters of outstanding community leaders, scholars, public intellectuals, and activists. Since that time, the field of Interreligious Studies has matured and the co-editors believed the time had come to document cases of missteps and failures in interfaith encounters. With the Best of Intentions presents the dilemmas of over three dozen scholars and practitioners across several faiths—many of whom participated in the evening’s conversation—and includes critical discussion of what went wrong, and why.

Pierce, who is credited with bringing the case study methodology to the field, captures 12 scenarios of multi-religious encounter in her book Pluralism in Practice. In her introductory comments, Dr. Diana Eck, Founder and Director of Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, described the book as “a pedagogy of pluralism,” as it invites readers to explore real-world events and exercise their leadership skills. As Eck stated, the book provides a rich context to “enter into difficult, sometimes contentious discussions,” with guidance and focus. Rose added, “This method of reflective practice is so important because it allows one to consider consequential matters without the usual pressures the job often requires.”

Dr. Mosher ended the evening with a closing prayer from her Episcopalian tradition, which she described as one she has found helpful in situations of illness, stress, or challenge, including in complicated multi-religious contexts.

In the Morning
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring
forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I
am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still,
help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it
patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.
Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit
of Jesus.

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