Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Acts of Faith


Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel, is the UU Common Read book this year, and I just found the time to read it.

What It's About:

Patel explores what turns a young boy or man into a religious fanatic and/or suicide bomber, and concludes that the extremists are investing in reaching youth while pluralists are failing to do so.  He then explores his own story, and how he came to finally embrace his own identity as a Muslim and simultaneously establish the Interfaith Youth Core and work to bring youth of different faiths together through the experience of doing service together.

Why I Read It:

Like I said, it's the UU Common Read, and the UUA has also just come out with a high school curriculum based off the Interfaith Youth Core that looks very interesting.

What I Thought of It:

It's an interesting story, well-written, and nicely balanced between the personal and the well-researched.  For those interested in faith formation, Patel has gifted us with an open and honest memoir of how faith identity is developed alongside all the other identities youth and young adults are forming and balancing.  I really enjoyed reading the book.

Technical Note:

This was the first book I bought on my Kindle that I ended up wanting to highlight and take notes as   I read it.  Luckily, I was able to figure out how to highlight, and it turns out there is just as much satisfaction highlighting text on the Kindle Fire as there is in doing it for real.

My Take Away:

The book left me with so many thoughts.  First and foremost is that I am inspired to do more interfaith work.  We UU's spend a lot of time bemoaning how homogenous and white we are as a denomination, and I have heard many many people ask "why don't people of color want to come here?".  Acts of Faith did a great job of illustrating how much a part of someone's identity their family's faith can be - and how embracing that faith and that identity can still mean having an open, thinking mind and a willingness to explore and hear the perspectives of others.  If we want to be open to diversity, then we should seek that without holding up some sort of UU exceptionalism that says all others should convert to our faith.  Interfaith work, out in the community, will bring us all together without losing who we each uniquely are.

Now I really want to do the Tapestry of Faith curriculum with the youth group next year.

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