Jun 4, 2013

Religion as a Bridge of Cooperation

By Nancy Agafitei

In January of 2013, the Barbara Bush Branch Library received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association entitled Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys. Termed a “bookshelf” grant, it provides a collection of 25 books, 3 DVDs, and other special resources chosen with a view to familiarizing the American public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world.
The Bookshelf is not intended to be a comprehensive study of Islam as a religion or of the Muslim world in all its complexity. Rather it seeks to introduce readers to new and diverse perspectives on the people, places, histories, beliefs, practices, and cultures of Muslims in the United States and around the world. The collection is organized around five themes, including American Stories, Connected Histories, Literary Reflections, Pathways of Faith, and Points of View. Read more about the grant at www.programminglibrarian.org/muslimjourneys. One of the titles included as part of the American Stories theme is “Acts of Faith” by Eboo Patel. His book is a remarkable account of coming of age and coming to understand what led him toward religious pluralism rather than hatred of other religions. His story is a hopeful and moving testament to the power and passion of young people, and to the notion that we find the fulfillment of our identities in the work we do in the world.
Dr. Patel is the founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit dedicated to building the interfaith youth movement. He has a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford. He is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio and writes the Faith Divide blog for the Washington Post. Dr. Patel’s core belief is that religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He is inspired to build this bridge by his faith as a Muslim, his Indian heritage, and his American citizenship. He has spoken about this vision at places like the TED conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.
The Anti-Defamation League and its Coalition for Mutual Respect invite you to hear Dr. Patel at a special Religious Leader Institute program on Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 12:00 – 2:00pm at Christ the King Lutheran Church (ctkelc.org ), 2353 Rice Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77005.  The program is complimentary, and lunch will be served. Youth and young adults are especially encouraged to attend. Attendees must RSVP to Angela Atlas (aatlas@adl.org).
During the next six months, other programs and activities related to the “Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys” books will be presented at the Barbara Bush Library. Watch this blog for details.

Nancy Agafitei is the Branch Librarian at the Barbara Bush Branch of Harris County Public Library, Vice President of Hosanna Lutheran Church, and facilitator of a women's Interfaith discussion group. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Interfaith Houston.

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