The Faith Club

I have been struggling with this post all week. My book club met a few nights ago to discuss The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew — Three Women Search for Understanding, by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner. My first draft of the post lauded the book and two of the authors but strongly criticized the third. At book club, I made a judgmental comment about children of intermarriage, and it greatly offended one of my friends. We tried to resolve our differences that evening, but I had to call her the next day to apologize. The thing is, I don’t feel like I should apologize for my convictions or censor myself in a close-knit group. So, I’m going to post what I really thought of The Faith Club. Anyone who takes umbrage with my opinion should contact me through the Phone The Zone tab above.

Our small group talked for hours and hours. It was a passionate dialogue about a terrific book. As I was the only Jew in the group, the other women were curious to hear my reaction to the book. While I learned a lot about Christianity and Islam, I curious to see whether any of the others — one devout Catholic and the others Christian — gained any insight into Judaism. Not much, and IMVHO, what they did learn was from me and not the book.

Why? Because of the three authors, the Jewish woman’s perspective was the weakest. Ranya Idliby, a Palestinian-American Muslim, was strong in both her faith and culture; she has strong knowledge of her faith’s scripture. Suzanne Oliver, who was raised Catholic but is now Episcopalian, was also strong in her faith and well-versed in New Testament scripture. Priscilla Warner, born and raised Jewish, has a strong Jewish cultural identity but has comparatively weak knowledge of the Torah and Old Testament Scriptures. My difficulty with Ms. Warner mirrors my struggle with Reform Judaism: too dismissive of Jewish law and too little emphasis on Torah and scriptural learning in religious school, to cite a couple of examples.

The bias is mine. The opinions are mine. The blog is mine. Compliments and comments and even constructive criticism are always welcome. Flames are not and will be deleted.

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5 thoughts on “The Faith Club

  1. So now I’m dying to know what you said that was so controversial. Surely you are allowed to feel that the author who should have been most representative of your point of view was weak?

    I am curious about the children of interfaith marriage issue – I’m extremely open to having Jewish grandchildren and wouldn’t remotely interfere with their religious upbringing. Is that an insulting thing to say to a Jewish person since I’m of Christian background? Email me privately if you prefer.

  2. hey there,

    i’m also interested in the controversy. FWIW. i intermarried, and the interesting thing is that it has made me that much more committed to making sure my kids understand and experience being jewish. the responsibility is all on me, and i feel it. it probably helps that we decided this before we got married; and while BS doesn’t help much beyond the seder table and the menorah lightings, he doesn’t ever stop us from this pursuit, either.

  3. Pingback: The Faith Club - Part II « Add It To The List

  4. Hi –
    This is Priscilla Warner, from The Faith Club…I was googling and found this blog. Thanks so much for reading our book and writing about us and your book club discussion. It sounds as though you did not censor yourselves, which is great, as difficult as that might be. You are brave to recount that you made a judgmental comment, offended a friend and tried to resolve your differences. That’s what Ranya, Suzanne and I tried to do in our experience as we recounted it and urge others to do as well – speak respectfully, listen carefully, admit prejudices and stereotypes, turn “the other” into a person and live life with an open heart and mind. We are not theologians, scholars or clergy. We’re people committed to encouraging grass roots interfaith dialogue all over the world. Thanks again for reading our book.

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